Who Actually Earns $400,000 Per Year?

by Emily Guy Birken · 6,426 comments


After the unending media coverage of the fiscal cliff throughout December 2012, it was a relief to everyone when a last-minute compromise was reached. In particular, the most reported-on compromise had to do with the extension of the Bush-era tax cuts. Those cuts will remain in place permanently for any individual making less than $400,000 per year, and for couples earning less than $450,000. Those fortunate few who make more than that amount will see their rates rise from 35% to 39.6%.

The news about this particular tax rate increase got me wondering: what professions can expect to earn that kind of money? Since I don’t personally know anyone bringing home $400,000 per year, I decided to find out what kind of jobs command such high salaries:

1. The President

Perhaps the most famous $400,000 per year job is the leader of the free world. The office of president not only pays a $400,000 annual salary, but also provides the president with a $50,000 annual expense account, a $100,000 nontaxable travel account, and a $19,000 entertainment account.

There are some obvious downsides to this particular career, however. Besides being very difficult to get, the job is highly stressful, and advancement post-office can be considered somewhat iffy. And, of course, you can’t expect regular raises: the last salary increase for the commander-in-chief (from $200,000 to the current rate) was in 2001. Prior to that, the previous raise (from $100,000) occurred in 1969.

2. Surgeons and specialists

Even a local general practitioner can expect to pull in over $100,000 per year, but the real money in medicine is reserved for those who specialize. Anesthesiologists, heart surgeons, and brain surgeons can all expect to make up to $400,000 per year at the height of their career. Plastic surgeons can make up to twice that amount.

3. CEOs

The median salary of a Chief Executive Officer is over $700,000. These directors are in charge of both short- and long-term profitability for their companies. CEOs generally have to know the industry backwards and forwards (although there are certainly plenty of counter-examples), and need to have worked their way up over many years.

4. Wall Street Bankers and Lawyers

If you work in either finance or finance law, the place to go for fat paychecks is Wall Street. According to an October 2012 report, “the average salary of financial industry employees in New York City rose to $362,950 in 2011.” While that still falls short of the mark required for the higher tax bracket, it’s important to remember that this figure represents the average (meaning some people are making more) and that there have almost certainly been raises in the past year and a half.

The Top Percent of the Top Percent

These high-income earners are really rare. Consider the fact that most articles listing the highest paying jobs in America don’t even include any professions with median salaries of $400,000. Those individuals making $400,000 per year are in the top one percent of the top one percent — and often, they’re also public figures.

Thankfully, even though individuals in this bracket are few and far between, the government estimates that raising the tax rate on this small group will raise about $600 billion in new revenues over the next decade.

Not bad for a group that small.

What other professions that earn annual incomes of $400,000? 

Money Saving Tip: An incredibly effective way to save more is to reduce your monthly Internet and TV costs. Click here for the current Verizon FiOS promotion codes and promos to see if you can save more money every month from now on.

{ read the comments below or add one }

Peter June 15, 2016 at 8:37 am

More evidence in the last few days about what I view to be the true problem with our society…. The media coverage of the Orlando shooting truly shows what I hate about the mindset of America today. Fox News (and other conservative outlets) have run nothing but story after story trying to peel apart the killer and connect the dots to ISIS or a more ongoing threat. “We are all in constant danger and the threat is from Muslims” is the narrative. Meanwhile, MSNBC (and other liberal outlets) have run story after story about the victims, focusing on the ongoing persecutions of gays and lack of gun control being the key issue. Again, storytelling from a narrative standpoint. And just TRY and convince someone from either side that their narrative isn’t the true or important one.

Then, I read Jay Leno’s comments this morning about Tesla. Tesla – and most of what Elon Musk has been doing – is what America is all about. Entrepreneurship, innovation, imagination….. add to this the quite noble motivation of Elon Musk to forego financial gain to try and change the world – change how we consume energy and change the environmental footprint. This story (Tesla) should be applauded by left and right alike. Yet, the media continues to try and wreck them – printing negative story after negative story trying to undermine the company. Leno wonders aloud why we as a society are so much more attracted to colossal failure than we are ingenuity and entrepreneurship.

It really is a shame. Our politicians feed into this. Everyone is on a team – you are with one party or the other. You believe in global warming and that we are the cause, or you don’t. You support the gay community or you are against them. Everyone is stereotyped into subgroups – Christians, the 1%, liberals, socialists, racists, welfare queens, etc.

The days of open dialogue and thought are gone. Some of the posters in this thread have practically been a case study in this as I have mentioned many times. My hope is that a third party (right now it is Libertarians) emerges that simply approaches each issue with thought. Until then, the gridlock and utter stupidity of our discourse will keep us sitting in a low-growth economy …. and the anger and frustration will build and build, and lines will be drawn.

I found it refreshing the other day when Gary Johnson (Libertarian candidate) was asked about gun control in the wake of the Orlando shooting. He aligns more with Trump on this – thinking that less guns is not the answer – and walked through his logic. When told that his running mate, William Weld, had just told the media he was for stricter gun control laws, his comment was interesting. Johnson told the reporter that he and Weld do not “coordinate” their talking points or positions. What a novel idea!

The left and right – and the media that cover them – write a narrative that everyone must adhere to. This is big-brother mind control at its best – and it must stop. The first step to this is the dismantling of the two party system in my opinion. Fortunately, both parties are doing a good job of coming apart on their own. One party had 17 candidates and the winner is a reckless, divisive, wildly unpopular candidate. The other party had a career liar and shady actor (who is still under investigation by the FBI) run against a 74 year old promising free everything for everyone.

How anyone can still feel like a Republican or Democrat in this environment is beyond me. More free thinking and compromise!


Stevendad June 16, 2016 at 12:45 pm

Reminds me of a favorite meme: Libertarians: diligently plotting to take over the World and leave you alone.


Peter N June 30, 2016 at 9:59 pm

I agree with that.


Stevendad June 16, 2016 at 9:07 am

Correct in the outflow from middle class. Of course, this is as much due to government intervention as greed. Dodd Frank discourages lending to any one but very low risk people. Thus despite very low rates there is little capital flow to MC. Also, the unfettered flow of cheap labor in low and high skilled careers lowers wages. Dens and Repubs both have blame there. Again, both sides a screwing the middle. I’d like to see Dodd Frank safe harbors defined, a $50k deduction for inventory taxes, reform corporate taxes and, like I said, note shareholder activism in the corporate world.


Peter June 16, 2016 at 8:58 pm

Great points…..never thought about that particular point….how lending is now so much harder for the middle class.


Stevendad June 18, 2016 at 11:02 am

I thought Carly Fiorina said it well: government creates problems with “best intentions” and heavy handedness then creates “solutions” that usually make things worse. Govt: Congress (esp Dems) / Fed / Bush admin created / allowed irresponsible lending then passed overreaching and unwieldy law to fix it. Nice work guys.


Stevendad June 21, 2016 at 6:31 am

This is interesting. Steven H, if you have the honesty and courage, comment in this. http://money.cnn.com/2016/06/21/news/economy/upper-middle-class/ The largest reason the middle class is shrinking is they are MOVING INTO UPPER MIDDLE CLASS. Kind of puts a massive hole in your arguments!


Peter June 21, 2016 at 10:48 am

Saw this data the other day myself and does back up what I have been saying all along. The problem that folks like Steven H really have – or at least should have – is in the “ultra rich”, which is about 0.01% of our population. This is about 50,000 people. And that group can be whittled down even more as I don’t think Michael Jordan or Oprah are really the target of the 1% haters’ wrath. They are angry with CEOs who pay themselves insane salaries and bonuses while their rank and file workers get very minimal pay increases. This is the talking point.

The people who rely on unskilled labor or work for a major corporation are then held prisoner by stagnant wages. This is an interesting discussion though – as it would include a discussion of regulations, mandated insurance coverages, a changing work force demographic, illegal immigration, etc.

But it doesn’t extrapolate to the wider market – to a world of small-business owners, innovators, technology workers and other skilled laborers. Their world is a different experience – one of mobility and opportunity.


Peter June 21, 2016 at 10:50 am

Of course with “narrative” arguing, anyone who doesn’t believe the country is fair to the middle class will ignore this article and just cite one that backs their theory up. Hopefully someone (other than Steven H) will come in here and articulate the other perspective open mindedly and we can all be enriched by it…..


Stevendad June 22, 2016 at 8:17 am

As a shareholder, I think ceo salaries are too high as they take money out of my pocket, not out of some fairness judgement. It is my responsibility to address this. Of course, I don’t as I’m too busy to mess with it. BUT I DONT WHINE ABOUT IT EITHER. Again, a $50 K inventory deduction, loosening lending rules, regulatory relief and some modest tax changes would be the fuel to have our economy take off. Small businesses can grow and double yearly. Large corporations are not and likely will not be that engine. They mostly are in a zero sum game where winners take money from losers. They also suffer from the rule of large numbers.


Peter N June 25, 2016 at 11:48 pm

I was just checking in to see what you guys thought about the Brexit. I think it will be good for England in the long run even if Scotland and Norther Ireland leave to join the EU. England subsidizes Scotland and Norther Ireland. The EU is doomed.

Yes, my investments have taken a beating but I bet that is only temporary.

About CEOs. I really think there should be a law where the CEOs must buy the stock of the company they are controlling. On top of that they should have to invest at least half their wealth in the stock they are controlling. I think I would extend that to board members and VPs too. This way they hurt financially if they screw up.

This is not a radical idea. Small business owner like me hurt severely if I screw up.


Peter June 27, 2016 at 7:44 am

I think like so many of these things it will be the panic and speculation that cause more problems than if the UK were to leave or remain. It’s amazing the dots people are connecting regarding the Brexit vote – and much remains to be seen.

The greatest impact will come from the pound taking a beating and all of the wealth (estimated over $5 trillion already) that dries up because of this initial panic.


Big Data June 26, 2016 at 8:43 pm

Regarding Stevendad’s article referencing the study by the Urban Institute.

This is a good topic for which to apply that “open thinking and dialogue” concept often advocated here. The article notes statistics which suggest that middle class is shrinking because they are mostly moving up. In fact, the article indicates that the poor are shrinking, the lower middle class is shrinking, the middle class is shrinking, and only upper middle and rich are growing. Surely this is good news!!

But then, critical thinking kicks in. Why does the utopian view indicated in the article vary from most people’s perceptions? Do these charts faithfully represent the actual experience of Americans? If so, why do so many people perceive their economic straits differently? Is this the only “true” study amid an ocean of deceptions? What’s going on?

Then also, critical reading kicks in. The article notes: “It’s not surprising that the report shows a nation that is moving up the economic ladder. That’s because the institute held fixed the income ranges needed to be in a class, adjusting only for inflation. Over time, wages have grown faster than inflation.”

So, while many studies define middle and other economic classes as ranges of percentiles of income, this study does not. By using constant (inflation adjusted) incomes this study is effectively redefining the percentile boundaries to different levels for the two time periods. Perhaps there is an argument that justifies this, but this difference explains the discrepancy with other studies.

So the critical thinker must be aware of a few other points:
1) CPI, as a measure to track inflation, is imperfect. There are different types of inflation, different rates of inflation for different costs, and different impacts of inflation on different classes and on different spenders; e.g. a family with college students is more affected by rising education costs than a childless couple.
2) The economy (as measured by GDP, or National Income or other macroeconomic measures) generally grows faster than inflation.
3) Other studies using different, but still arguably valid measures of economic class divisions show that overall national economic increases are falling much more favorably on the upper middle, and rich, classes, such that the classes are increasingly divided, economically, socially, and politically.
4) There are age as well as class divisions. Young people have suffered more than older generations from increases in college costs and debt, declines in employer provided healthcare, and issues with un- and under-employment

Fold all of the above into some analysis, and you may get different interpretations.
1) The economy is doing well, overall and for most individuals, as wages and quality of living are generally increasing, and poor and middle class are just getting richer and moving up the ladder.
2) The growing fortunes of the poor and middle class suggested in the study are illusory, as the statistics do not adequately account for the shortfalls of inflation measures, the impacts of national economic growth, or the growing economic divide between economic and age classes, or the relative (if not absolute) stagnation of wages of middle and lower incomes.

This is the sort of critical thinking analysis that can be done without reading a single opinion article and without falling prey to any sort of distortions of partisanship. No conclusions are yet drawn; only some critical questions are asked. The topics are complicated and probably require a lot more data and insight into the research to express complete understanding of the issues.

But I think it is fair to say, that before taking this article, or the underlying study, as any kind of conclusive proof that there is no problem with income disparity, one should take a serious look at the valid concerns expressed in other studies and articles, as well, and try to see how each might fit into a more complete picture of the economic disparity issues.


Big Data June 27, 2016 at 7:37 pm

It is difficult to discuss the full merits of a report without reading the full report, which I have not yet done. The article at stevendad’s link merely summarizes some interesting points. However, it is worth noting that the choice of statistics used in the report is mathematically biased toward its surprisingly deceptive result.

If you take an economic system in which the economy grows at a faster rate than inflation, and you then fix the boundaries of your definition of economic classes at points which grow at the slower inflation growth rate, then it is almost inevitable that people will appear to be moving up through the economic classes, AS LONG AS inflation adjusted wages are also generally increasing.

Now, it is possible to have wage growth disparities so gross that the inflation adjusted wages for middle or poor economic classes at the end point of this multi decade period actually declined relative to the start year. This would truly be worse than the current condition, and this study shows that has not been the long term trend.

However, in actuality, I recall that some studies have shown real wages for some economic classes HAVE declined since 2000 (but not overall since 1979). So choosing a different time extent, even with this statistical model, might yield a different, less optimistic result.

Here is the question (or questions) that I think this brings to the fore, and which may be worth some discussion:

1) Is it reasonable for an economy to reward workers in the middle class and sub-middle class at wage growth rates (for the class) at or just slightly above the average inflation measure, when that growth rate is significantly below the growth rate of the economy as a whole? This is the implication of the statistics choice of this study, that people are climbing the ladder sufficiently as long as there as any long term class wage growth exceeding inflation.

2) Since the above will necessarily create high wage disparities over time, will it create social and economic stress and distress?
Isn’t this, in fact, what we are witnessing with the populist protests that have given rise to Sanders, Trump, and Brexit?

3) Is it therefore better to create a more economically and socially stable system by structuring it to reward classes at more equal rates of income growth?


Big Data June 26, 2016 at 9:05 pm

Regarding narrative arguments, and political biases:

This relates to “confirmation bias”, which is not a new phenomenon, though perhaps one which has accelerated in proliferation, especially with data sources such as the internet which allow people to search out data and opinions to confirm what they already “know”. There is a good article in Wikipedia on Confirmation Bias, which is worth reading. (Google “confirmation bias wiki”).

The following quote is particularly interesting from a historical aspect, and applicable to the discussion:

=== from Wikipedia ===
Before psychological research on confirmation bias, the phenomenon had been observed anecdotally throughout history. Beginning with the Greek historian Thucydides (c. 460 BC – c. 395 BC), who wrote of misguided treason in The Peloponnesian War; “… for it is a habit of mankind to entrust to careless hope what they long for, and to use sovereign reason to thrust aside what they do not fancy.”

Italian poet Dante Alighieri (1265–1321), noted it in his famous work, the Divine Comedy, in which St. Thomas Aquinas cautions Dante upon meeting in Paradise, “opinion—hasty—often can incline to the wrong side, and then affection for one’s own opinion binds, confines the mind.”

English philosopher and scientist Francis Bacon (1561–1626), in the Novum Organum noted that biased assessment of evidence drove “all superstitions, whether in astrology, dreams, omens, divine judgments or the like”. He wrote:

The human understanding when it has once adopted an opinion … draws all things else to support and agree with it. And though there be a greater number and weight of instances to be found on the other side, yet these it either neglects or despises, or else by some distinction sets aside or rejects.

===END quote===


Big Data June 27, 2016 at 9:40 pm

Regarding hatred being more properly directed to the 0.01%, rather than the 1%.

1) Economic issues are not about hatred. To be suggesting who should be hated is just encouraging the sort of political divisiveness and narrative politicking I believe we should be avoiding.
2) There is no sharp line dividing the deserving or undeserving, or between the fairly paid and excessively paid. There is no step function at the 1% or 0.01% levels of income. The income distribution curve is remarkably smooth. What the curves indicate is an increase in income share over time, with a gradually increasing percentage benefit as you go further up the income curve within the upper ten percentile.

Therefore, I don’t think it is very useful to say how we should be directing hatred at this or that percentage, as if there is a sharp barrier defining an economic contagion. And even when discussing “the 1%”, it should be understood that this is just a proxy term for the very highly paid and not that all members of the 1% are a discrete club that is economically separate from everyone else. In fact, while it can be said statistically that the upper 1% have more than doubled their share of income since 1980, you have to move up to the bottom end of the upper 0.1% before you find individuals who have actually doubled their income share. Those below that point have had smaller increases, and those above have had larger increases.

Sorry to be pedantic for those who already understood the above, but I felt these things needed to be clarified.


Stevendad June 28, 2016 at 7:16 am

I was taught in school “believing is seeing”. It is not just interpretations that are changes but ACTUAL OBSERVATION AND RECOLLECTION. Pretty amazing. Brings to mind the Michael Brown incident and some of the discrepancy of witnesses (although it is clear that there was only one repeatable story, not “hands up don’t shoot”).

It is also clear that the money at the top is growing much faster. I have specific suggestions that are mostly an easing not an increasing of government intervention. $50 k inventory exclusion, Dodd Frank safe harbors, regulatory relief and tax reform. Encouraging small business is best for all of us there is no doubt. Millennials will LOVE this concept. And why do we give a $10k tax break for over 65? They are the wealthiest of all! I’ll be there soon BTW. We should give it to those under 35 IMO. Paying off student debt, starting families and households are much more productive for us all.

Most “excessive CEO compensation” is in options and warrants, seldom in actual salary. So they have plenty of skin in the game. Golden parachutes for failed CEOs are particularly aggregious IMO however.

A rising tide is raising all boats, just much more the really big boats! Of course, this is exacerbated by Dem policies of massive importation of cheap labor despite the hue and cry about income inequality. Dodd Frank also is hindering the opportunity for advancement. Of course greed rules all and politicians are by and large no exception.

Simple rules for and honest politician: ( if there is one )
Believe in something , say what you believe in, believe in what you say and do what you say.

Simple rules for politician as they are::
Believe only in self benefit, say whatever will get you elected, and do whatever gives you the highest position with the highest post career payout.

Further empowering them seems ludicrous to me. At least CEOs are honest about their greed!


Peter June 28, 2016 at 7:35 am

One interesting thing about the more populist movements of late that cloud the political arena…. In the past, we have had serious populist uprisings on the heels of deep financial trouble. (WW2 & the Depression the most obvious of examples) Yet, the recession of 2008 just simply wasn’t that difficult by comparison. The media coverage and narratives have been quite severe (see also: Brexit coverage), but the reality wasn’t anything to the level of prior crises.

Obviously unemployment was the primary problem – climbing to 10% at one point and even worse when you consider the labor participation rates. But abject strife and poverty was largely avoided due to the solid safety nets we have had for decades. In fact, during the recession the after-tax income of the middle quintile fell just over 1%. Median income as a whole fell less than 1%. We had no runs on banks, reliance on charity or community for income, or real mass uprisings supporting complete and utter desperation.

All we had was a media that was telling us what “might happen” if things get worse – and anecdotal scare stories to try and sell papers, ad time and clicks. Same thing with the Greek debt situation, Brexit, ISIS, and everything else going on in our modern world.

Nobody reads news reports looking for the headline “All planes landed safely today”. And so we feed into this paranoia…. Reality tells a different tale.


Big Data June 28, 2016 at 9:16 pm

Peter, I heartily agree that “abject strife and poverty [from the Great Recession] was largely avoided due to the solid safety nets we have had for decades.” This was indeed the proving ground and justification for Social Security, SNAP, and the rest of our social safety net system, and their existence was crucial to the safety and economic security of many Americans.

However, I would caution against claiming we just had “media that was telling us what ‘might happen’ if things get worse – and anecdotal scare stories to try and sell papers.” In fact , as I recall we had major portions of the media minimizing the need for action and claiming that we did not need the TARP or Stimulus efforts.

But in fact we had a frightening period of economic instability, which did indeed include a “run on banks”, although it was on the shadow banking system. The Economist reported in March 2010: “Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers were non-banks that were crippled by a silent run among panicky overnight “repo” lenders, many of them money market funds uncertain about the quality of securitized collateral they were holding. Mass redemptions from these funds after Lehman’s failure froze short-term funding for big firms.”

So it’s a good thing the government took action to avoid what might have otherwise happened. CBO studies have indicated that government efforts were critical in softening the blow of the crisis in the US, lowering peak unemployment by about 2%, raising the trough of the GDP curve to as much as 4% higher than it might have been, and lessening the crisis’ economic hardship for millions of Americans. Not to mention salvaging the banking system and the US auto industry.

But you still have to be careful not to minimize the lessened actual impact of the Great Recession (or as a friend from Australia reminded me of what the rest of the world calls it: The Global Financial Crisis”). While the technical definition of the duration of the Recession/Crisis in the US was only 18 months from Dec 2007 to June 2009, wage and employment shortfalls began earlier and lasted much longer.

While it is true that real US median wages declined less than 1% in 2009, they declined 3.6% in 2008, 2.6% in 2010, 1.5% in 2011 and another 0.2% in 2012. In fact there were 5 straight years of real median wage declines netting an 8.3% loss relative to 2007. In 2014 (latest numbers available), median income was still down 6.5% from 2007, and 7.2% from 1999, the statistical peak.

And of course there have been losses in wealth held in home values, extensive foreclosures, and extended periods of high un- and under-employment.

Stating that there was only a median 1% wage decline in the Recession is technically correct, but does not accurately portray the longer term economic impact of this crisis on most Americans.

I’m always frustrated by the attitudes of people who read about concerns of a flu pandemic or other health crisis, read about the frantic efforts of US and world health organizations to contain the crisis, and then once the crisis is contained, they claim that it was all overblown because “not much happened”. In those cases, as with the GFC, I believe it is less the case that concerns were overblown than it is that responsible organizations took appropriate actions and succeeded.

I am not simply trying to be contrary, and I hope I am not simply sounding argumentative. What I am suggesting is that it is too easy to forget or dismiss the severity of what happened, and if we do that, we may be in danger of allowing a similar cycle to happen again very soon.


Big Data June 28, 2016 at 9:39 pm

One last point, and I am guessing you just weren’t aware of this one: You claimed that there was no “reliance on charity or community for income” in the recession, but in fact there was a huge strain on food banks throughout the country to feed Americans due to their loss of jobs and income. I was acutely aware of this in Texas, as a large community choir we were singing in was involved in fund raising efforts for the depleted local food bank charities. But the impact was nationwide and the demand has not ended. For example:
Hunger in Rhode Island (2014): Five years after the end of the Great Recession, thousands of Rhode Islanders such as Iacona are struggling to put food on the table.
One in seven Rhode Island households can’t afford adequate food, says a report released Monday by the Rhode Island Community Food Bank. A fifth of those are caring for a sick family member.
According to the report, the number of people who received food from pantries and soup kitchens has nearly doubled, to 63,000 this year from 33,000 in 2007. Nearly 170 agencies get food from the food bank.
America’s New Hunger Crisis (2013): In the 22 years that Swami Durga Das has managed New York’s River Fund Food Pantry, he has never seen hunger like this. Each Saturday, hundreds of hungry people descend on the pantry’s headquarters, an unassuming house on a residential block. The first people arrive around 2 am, forming a line that will wrap around the block before Das even opens his doors.
“Each week there’s new people,” Das told MSNBC.com. “The numbers have just skyrocketed.”
The new clients are diverse—working people, seniors, single mothers—but many of them share something in common: they represent the millions of Americans who fell victim to food insecurity when the Great Recession hit in 2009, but didn’t benefit from the economic recovery.
Hunger Crisis: Charities Are Strained … (2014): It’s a quiet crisis. In a city of plenty, a staggering number of people are struggling to feed themselves and their families. Nearly one in five New Yorkers, 1.4 million people, now rely on a patchwork network of 1,000 emergency food programs across the city to eat. That represents an increase of 200,000 people in five years — straining the charities that are trying to help. The two biggest, City Harvest and the Food Bank for New York City, now provide nearly 110 million pounds of food annually throughout the five boroughs. Yet those working on the front lines of the hunger crisis say it’s still not enough.
… The hunger crisis erupted when the Great Recession set in.
Food Banks, Pantries, Straining to Meet Needs (2013) [San Antonio, TX]: “The number of calls for help we’re receiving is increasing, the number of people walking through our doors looking for emergency food is increasing, but we are not retreating from our mission,” said Eric Cooper, the food bank’s president and CEO, pointing to signage on the wall of its headquarters building reading “Fighting Hunger … Feeding Hope.”
And while much of that can be attributed to the hangover from the Great Recession, Cooper says the demand hasn’t slacked even as the economy has recovered — albeit anemically. And now comes the double-whammy of [Food Stamp] benefit cuts.
“We weren’t meeting the needs before these cuts,” said Cooper. “Now they’re just putting us further behind.”

Now you know.


Peter June 28, 2016 at 8:04 am

Great post Stevendad by the way….such hypocrisy in the policies that politicians champion vs. the rhetoric they spew.


Big Data June 28, 2016 at 9:55 pm

“I was taught in school “believing is seeing”. It is not just interpretations that are changes but ACTUAL OBSERVATION AND RECOLLECTION.”

Agreed. The incomplete observations on the economy available from limited perspective on the ground can be flawed, just as the flawed and limited observations in the Michael Brown incident. You need documented evidence compiled from multiple sources, as in the macro-economic studies utilizing solid statistics and proven data, in order to accurately understand the economy and its impacts on all classes.


Big Data June 28, 2016 at 10:13 pm

Stevendad, I suspect, in rereading, that you were trying to praise personal observation and recollection, not macro-economic studies, but your mention of the Michael Brown incident and reference to the the flaws of individual accounts that were actually observed and recollected in that case, simply exemplified the flaws of personal observation. I will agree that personal observations and anecdotes can increase in-depth understanding. However, we must also remember that individuals are selective about what they choose to observe and recollect and that personal recollections are often biased by ideology.


Peter June 28, 2016 at 7:28 am


For many people, the whole debate about helping the poor with taxing the wealthy even heavier than we already do largely comes down to one’s trust or distrust of government. You can read back the varying opinions in this thread to see this – some think that government policy can help the poor and middle class by either income or wealth distribution. Others doubt that the government a) truly can have an impact and b) whether the funds they seize from the rich will truly find their way to the poor.

It’s interesting when you examine the polls of who is actually on each side. Partisan party line thinkers aside, the demographics are interesting. Minorities – particularly African Americans are heavily on the side of government income/wealth redistribution. So are whites with advanced degrees. The heaviest opponents to government intervention are whites with 4 year college degrees or less. Asians and Hispanics also tend to vote more against government intervention.

So, interestingly it is a mixed bag. The biggest group of people against government involvement are then white, working class people – mostly in the lower and middle class tiers. I find this fascinating. These are people that could benefit from redistribution or government intervention. Yet, their distrust of government trumps their own personal need.

And what about those with advanced degrees being for government induced income/wealth redistribution? This also goes against their own personal situation as well. So it is promising that people are thinking.

At the end of the day, if we do believe there is an income inequality problem and it is something that the government can introduce policy to help, we need to refocus the argument away from “outcomes” and more unto “opportunities”. The overwhelming majority of Americans – Democrats and Republicans alike – are for better opportunities for everyone. The big error many of the politicians make is by positioning policy as producing a specific outcome (often for a specific group) rather than increasing opportunity for all. The clumsy ACA plan was a prime example. This was positioned politically as helping the uninsured, not increasing opportunity for everyone. This has invited vitriol against a well-meaning piece of policy


Big Data June 29, 2016 at 8:38 pm

You have an interesting point about needing ‘to refocus the argument away from “outcomes” and more unto “opportunities”.’

I agree. Messaging has been a big weakness, IMHO, for Democrats. One of Bill Clinton’s team’s strengths was good messaging and quick response to attack messages against him or his policies. Obama is a fine speaker but he and the Democrats sat in the background while damaging and completely unfounded messages, memes, and claims were made by partisans on the other side. Absurd claims would have been easy to address at their outset, but the messaging from the other side was instead left to fester, echo, and build. Communication is an essential tool to uniting the country, and Obama and all Democrats should have worked harder on their messaging. Including the marketing of Obamacare, as you mentioned.


Peter June 28, 2016 at 7:56 am

Another cool stat I saw regarding government spending….

The estimated Social Security shortfall today (i.e., a present value number) between the future taxes anticipated being collected and the future benefits expected to be paid out over the next 75 years is $11.4 trillion. The entire $11.4 trillion deficit could be eliminated by either an immediate 2.58 percentage point increase in the combined Social Security payroll tax rate (from 12.40% to 14.98%) or an immediate 16% reduction in benefits that are paid out to current and future beneficiaries (source: Social Security Trustees).

Per a 6/22/16 report, the trust fund supporting Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) is projected to be depleted by 2028. The long-term (75-year) present value shortfall in the trust fund could be corrected by an immediate 0.73 percentage point increase in combined Medicare payroll taxes (from its current 2.90% to 3.63%) or an immediate 16% reduction in Medicare expenditures (source: Medicare Trustees 2016 Report).

Of course it doesn’t have to be that immediate….just a shame that the problem came from politicians mismanaging the money that was there to cover this in the first place.


Peter June 30, 2016 at 10:03 am

Another perspective on anecdotal evidence and life experience occurred to me last night….

With the recent OJ Simpson documentary on ESPN they make one thing very clear about the case that is pertinent here. The majority of blacks (as we all know) lean towards OJ’s innocence while the majority of whites think he is guilty. There is a case both ways – evidence both ways – but two different groups draw different conclusions.

The documentary really highlights why these two groups feel so different about the case. It all comes down to one’s trust of the police. When I talk to my parents about this, they are convinced OJ is guilty because they think it is preposterous that the LAPD would plant evidence. They believe the blood evidence as proof OJ did it.

Ask someone who lives in an inner city environment, particularly in LA, or who is black and they don’t view that as preposterous. Of course, the LAPD would plant evidence to try and get a conviction. They do it all the time. They view the blood evidence as irrelevant because it was likely planted.

My parents will always believe in the police – because every police experience in their lives has been positive. The police are honorable citizens serving the public. This, they believe in spite of the Fuhrman tapes where he point-blank says that planting evidence was commonplace in the LAPD, particularly in the black community.

Of course black people will believe the opposite as they are hassled, followed, searched, etc. by police all the time. White people don’t want to believe this, but most any black person you talk to has at least one story about this. This is an experience a white person just cannot know or understand.

My point is this…. Experience and observation (however anecdotal) is extremely valid. Both perspectives on the police are correct. And in order for there to EVER be a real dialogue to improve the general state of our police force, both sides must acknowledge and respect the experiences of others. If 95 out of 100 black people tell you that the police hassle them and mistreat them – you should believe that this is the case regardless of what articles or polls you might be reading. Articles and polls are media BS spin control…..your own eyes and experiences are far more reliable.

This is my issue over the years with the disrespect, misunderstanding and general lack of open-mindedness by the “take more money from the rich” crowd. There is also certainly a lack of open-mindness at times from the rich as well to understand what the general populus is experiencing.

This comment thread has been a great read for the open-minded as we have had an avalanche of anecdotal experiences shared by not only me, but dozens of small-business owners and 1%’ers. Hopefully it has opened the eyes of some that just simply hating them and taking more of their money will never be the solution to get keep our economy growing for all. In fact, as many of us have stated it could very well have a negative effect. It might already be happening….


Peter N June 30, 2016 at 10:15 pm

“Of course black people will believe the opposite as they are hassled, followed, searched, etc. by police all the time. White people don’t want to believe this, but most any black person you talk to has at least one story about this. This is an experience a white person just cannot know or understand.”
I believe it but it isn’t just blacks that the cops abuse. They abuse the rights of everyone. Just do a search on YouTube and you will find that the many of the cops are simply “pigs”. There are only a few that understand the rights of private citizens provided by the Bill of Rights.
What really bothers me is that there are no consequences for the bad cops, nor to do the bad cops chastise the bad cops and in my mind makes the tolerate cops as bad as the bad cops.
NEVER, SAY ANYTHING TO A COP. KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT AT ALL TIMES. Don’t comply with any request unless you are suspected of a crime.
Always ask “Am I being detained?” If they say yes then ask for what crime? If not then you are illegally being detained. Sue them for every penny if they detain you without suspicion of a crime.


Peter N June 30, 2016 at 10:17 pm

“My parents will always believe in the police – because every police experience in their lives has been positive. ”
Mine has not.


Peter July 1, 2016 at 7:22 am

Thanks for the comments. Totally agree. And you are right that it isn’t always a white/black thing. It can be socioeconomic or frankly just bad cops. The point is that certain groups of people have had different experiences and I’m shocked how people like my parents (who have lived charmed lives when it comes to this) are so dismissive of the experiences of large groups of people. See a lot of that in regards to the income disparity debate as well.


Big Data July 1, 2016 at 7:55 pm

Personal experiences and anecdotes do help to provide a deeper understanding than statistics alone. From what I have seen, the biggest obstacle to comprehending a problem or issue comes when people take their limited personal observations and experience and extrapolate them to build an incorrect larger picture, such as you described of someone extrapolating a middle or upper class white person’s experience with police to represent everyone’s experience with police ( “Just be polite and say yes sir …”).


Big Data July 13, 2016 at 7:39 pm

By the way, I am encouraged that Peter AND Peter N see and acknowledge the institutional racism evident in police interactions with black folks. The first step to fixing a problem is to acknowledge it exists, so it is good to see the broader acceptance of the existence of this problem.


Peter N July 14, 2016 at 8:16 pm

“By the way, I am encouraged that Peter AND Peter N see and acknowledge the institutional racism ”
It isn’t a matter of institutional racism. The cops are not anybody’s friend. They abuse their power. The fact that other cops don’t polices their own is criminal. Never trust a cop. The cop may be a good one but because they don’t police their own there are too many bad ones and the good one won’t help.
Don’t say anything.
Don’t permit searches.
Don’t comply. Know your 4th and 5th amendment rights.
Get a lawyer.
The cops can ruin your life if not kill you for nothing.
If you have a gun you really are better off shooting the cop and then claiming the cop was violating your rights. At least you are still alive. If you don’t the cop can kill you for just have a gun which is your second amendment right. See youtube videos. Cops will violate your right at every opportunity. It doesn’t make any difference what color you are.
I would get 1 person on my jury that took an oath to protect the US Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. The cops are domestic enemies until they hold their own accountable.

The cops and their union protect their own. I can provide videos to prove my point.

Big Data July 1, 2016 at 8:23 pm

Still thinking about Stevendad’s article. It certainly seems that the study’s weak point (at least as summarized in the article) is holding the boundaries of middle and other classes at constant points adjusted only by inflation and then covering the period from 1979 to 2014, without mentioning the trends in between.


The linked article here shows one of the better charts (in the third chart down which shows better resolution of trends for all quintiles) I have seen showing real wage historical trends. Everyone was up somewhat from 1967 to 1985, and then from 1985 to 2000 the upper 5% pulled ahead, and all groups have stagnated since that point, with only the upper quintile gaining ground since 2000, and the lower quintiles rapidly losing ground.

Based on these statistics, I believe the Stevendad article with its constant endpoint statistics would show quite different conclusions if it focussed on the time period from 2000 to 2014, with the upper class shrinking and the lower classes growing.

In my own opinion, it matters less whether researchers say the middle class (arbitrarily defined in different terms in each study) is growing or shrinking, but whether wages are growing for most Americans (lower 8o or 90%), and whether they grow at comparable rates to the economy. If this chart is accurate, real wages have instead been on a downward trend since 1999 or 2000.


Stevendad July 2, 2016 at 3:34 pm

I wasn’t touting the article, just putting it out for comment. We seem to be 100% certain the middle class is shrinking and getting poorer and its just some counter evidence. Remember the 3 types of lies: white lies, damn lies and statistics.( Will Rogers ) Also, if you can find it, look up median family spending (not income). Has increased last I could find it. It accounts for a family’s governmental support partially (free cell phones and discounts are not included). It’s VERY difficult to find. As if someone were hiding it…


Big Data July 4, 2016 at 3:28 pm

Why would you suggest someone is hiding this info? It is as easily accessible as any other stat from the bureau of labor statistics (BLS) or bureau of economic analysis (BEA).
Do you consider it a meaningful statistic that supersedes other information? If average consumer spending is increasing, does that suggest or prove that everyone is really getting richer and that any poverty is due to ther own spending choices? Maybe or maybe not. That statistic is insufficient by itself to draw such a conclusion.

Without looking up any other info (yet), here are the questions I would ask.
– What is included in the consumer spending stat? Discretionary spending only or all spending (including necessities)?
– Is spending per capita or per family increasing for all quintiles? At what rates for each?
– How much spending is fueled by increased consumer debt?

Do you see how this additional information is necessary to interpret the stat? What if consumer spending is only increasing for rich folks? Or what if consumer spending for middle class increases mostly for necessities or big ticket items and maintenance costs like home, food, car, education, health care, auto repair, house maintenance? See how that matters?

I’m not saying anything about what the total statistics describe because I have not evaluated them yet. I’m just trying to deepen the discussion.


Big Data July 4, 2016 at 3:45 pm

I hope I am not reading the wrong things into your post, stevendad. I don’t really understand what point you are trying to make with it. Perhaps you could explain in more detail, so I don’t misinterpret.


Big Data July 4, 2016 at 8:58 pm

And just to give credit where it is due. The statistics quote is widely credited as being popularized by Mark Twain, though not directly attributed to him. Will Rogers doesn’t get the credit for this one, though he has lots of other memorable quotes. As Wikipedia notes:
“Lies, damned lies, and statistics” is a phrase describing the persuasive power of numbers, particularly the use of statistics to bolster weak arguments. It is also sometimes colloquially used to doubt statistics used to prove an opponent’s point.

The term was popularised in United States by Mark Twain (among others), who attributed it to the British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” However, the phrase is not found in any of Disraeli’s works and the earliest known appearances were years after his death. Several other people have been listed as originators of the quote, and it is often erroneously attributed to Twain himself.


Big Data July 4, 2016 at 9:03 pm

So, statistics, when properly used and understood are an extremely valuable tool for comprehension of complex problems. Unfortunately, you have to be careful in using them, or in reading the statistics compiled by others, for they can also be deceptive.


Henry July 5, 2016 at 7:47 am

Exactly what I said about 2 years ago about Piketty and Saez. Good point.


Big Data July 4, 2016 at 9:40 pm

From what I can tell, Stevendad, after looking up various statistical sites (BLS, BEA, FRED) is that average real household consumer spending is increasing even as average wage income is declining. I think the difference must be coming from consumer spending originating with capital, though I don’t have the data that fully confirms that view. Rather than data being hidden, I find that there is way too much of it, sliced in various forms, but requiring a minor research project to identify treds through meaningful analysis.

I’m still somewhat perplexed at what you might hope to deduce from consumer spending vs income. The spending data is complicated by more variables, whereas it seems to me the income story is fairly well understood: Real wages for most Americans have been stagnating since 1980’s and even declining since 2000. Income and prosperity is primarily increasing from capital investment, and that is dominated by the upper 1% of earners.

It would seem to me that focussing on consumer spending distracts from, and deflects from the understanding and solving of the real problems: How do we bring the country together to restore prosperity growth for most Americans, and not just for a few of the already prosperous?


Big Data July 4, 2016 at 1:17 pm

The free cell phones thing is kind of a tired meme, and meaningless with regard to government largesse, in my opinion. The “lifeline” program to provide subsidized or free phone service to low income families was started during Reagan, expanded under Clinton, and expanded to cell service under GWBush. The idea is that everyone needs access to phone service to get jobs and access to emergency services. It is paid for with the universal service fee on everyone’s phone bill, not with tax dollars. Just so you know.



Big Data July 4, 2016 at 1:24 pm

Stevendad, the article you posted was sort of interesting, in that it was surprising in some of its conclusions. The headline, that upper middle class is thriving, is still valid, but the implication that everybody’s economic situation is improving was deceptive at best, IMHO. I hope my assessment of its statistical flaws was clear and expressed fairly.

I am also a fan of Will Rogers’ quotes, by the way. Another amusing one, totally unrelated to any discussion here, is
“When I die, I want to die like my grandfather who died peacefully in his sleep. Not screaming like all the passengers in his car.”


Big Data July 4, 2016 at 9:21 pm

Peter was absolutely correct in his post up above where he indicated that much of the dispute, in how to correct income disparities that seem to exist, arises from varying trust or distrust of government. All I can note, as I write on this 4th of July, is that most Americans are proud of our country and its founders, and that those founders’ primary accomplishment was in establishing an original and enduring structure of governance. It would seem to me that a people who take pride in their government should similarly take pride in assuring that it is adequately funded. I know there are age-old disagreements over big vs. small government, original literalists vs. adaptable interpretation of the Constitution, as well as disputes over social policies, trade policies, gun policies, tax policies, welfare policies, health care policies and the rest. But for all of our disagreements, shouldn’t all of us in both parties who have most benefitted from the prosperity this nation provides be willing to pay for the governance we are presumably so proud of? Let’s continue the disputes in the halls of our legislators as to what laws should pass and what monies are to be spent. But at the end of the day when those expenses have been approved, and the monies are expended, can we not all agree that we should be willing to pay the bills and expenses of the institutions of governance which we proclaim to be the source of our pride?

Happy Independence Day, America.


Stevendad July 5, 2016 at 5:37 am

I’m specifically talking about median FAMILY spending, including government programs. It is a difficult data for me to find. AND it is increasing. The last line was meant as a bit of a joke. Please post a nice graph including this from BLS.
My point is not that these programs are bad, but the narrative is people are starving and don’t have enough. We all need to give MORE and MORE. Chronically homeless are nearly all mentally ill amongst a few Jack Kirojuac (sp?) types. Starvation deaths are rare and more related to neglect and poor choices (eg buying alcohol instead of food). I don’t argue with “free” stuff per se, just pointing out that it is not included. And a “universal fee” for what is essentially a necessity is a tax, just not labeled as such.
Let’s just be more efficient. This is lost completely by bureaucrats that gain power only by regulating more, spending more or hiring more. All can be good, but there is no balance or counters to these such as in the private world. Congress SHOULD do this but won’t due to inefficiency and squabbling as well as the President ordering a complete government shut down if they disagree with any parts of his agenda.
Congress no longer gets much done and power is concentrating in ten (temporarily nine) people .The Supreme Court changed a law last year. The President wrote a law last year. Even he said it was illegal to do so many, many times. The ONLY reason it was not held up was he has not gotten his appointee on SCOTUS.
I am extremely proud of my country!! I find it galling you question my patriotism by disagreeing with you. That is a CHILLING tactic in constant use by the left. Kirsten Powers, a noted liberal from USA Today, even wrote a book about it. To whit: you are a racist if you disagree with Obama, you are a misogynist if you don’t support Hillary, compliments are micro aggressions (Univ of NC policy), speakers are run off the podium or not allowed to speak on college campuses, reporters cameras are taken away and they are physically threatened for reporting (Univ of Missouri), history is revised constantly or at least viewed in a lens of attitudes scores if not hundreds of years later. Should I go on?
Now, personally, I will be ok. But the Progressive agenda of the Left, the militaristic agenda of the Right and the crony capitalism of both are destroying this country IMO. The $20,000,000,000,000 debt we are approaching is the snowball coming down the hill to crush the poor, immigrants and working class you are trying to elevate. Get your head out of the sand!! We are eroding the foundations of an economic system and government that has brought more prosperity and good than any before. The government just needs to get out of the way and we will prosper IMO. I grew up in the 60’s and saw really horrible pollution and institutional, codified racism. These are largely gone, but never will be completely gone.
The debt? There is plenty of fault on both sides. Even the 2008 collapse was shared all around to those who look into. “George Bush did it” is an infantile response we constantly hear. It was very complex and both political parties and several parts of the beaurocracy were at fault. Our government has taken YOUR credit card and had a spending party. So I am indeed MORE patriotic in trying to preserve this country IMO. We must decrease our deficit and hopefully debt. Plain and simple. It is clear constantly increasing taxes is counterproductive both in disincentivising work and causing flight of capital. We simply must slow down Federal spending and reduce regulatory burden. Or the US will be crushed and the world thrown into turmoil.
It is ridiculous to feel guilty about being an American as some try to press on us. We would still be under Nazi and militaristic Japanese rule if not for the US. Hitler was only months away from nuclear weapons and was a decade ahead of us in missile technology. Look into it, it is true. The concept that weakening the US and strengthening the “world government” is good is totally off base IMO. A strong US economy and political/military presence has let the world prosper as never before. Look up world per capita income over the past 75 + years of US dominance in the world. And, again, the biggest threat to us is not ISIS or China or Russia, but our own ruling class of political elites, the growing beaurocracy and, yes, some corporate types who enrich themselves at the expense of the greater good. The Brexit vote I s a sign of Western peoples’ mood and may be only the beginning.
Yes God bless America and let’s preserve the system that made her great!


Peter July 5, 2016 at 10:11 am

Awesome post. The system isn’t the problem as much it is the way that people have bastardized it. Find it appalling that we are involved in multiple military efforts (wars) that were not voted on in Congress……that the President can order the assassination of American citizens overseas…..that the Supreme Court can make laws…..that elections are largely rigged and politicians are owned by big money.

It is crystal clear that it is unsustainable to continue to spend the way we do, particularly when we choke the economy with constrictive fiscal policies and regulations – rather than just punishing/jailing those that abuse or break the laws we already have.

And I for one do NOT want an economy where everyone prospers equally. Maybe I’m an a-hole, but I think there should be winners and losers, with rules/policies/programs to constrict the winners from running the country and rules/policies/programs to keep our losers from starving. What I don’t want to do is be in a country where everyone wins. I prefer a meritocracy. The article shows that is indeed what is happening as many middle class people are finding themselves in the upper middle class and seeing wages increase. That’s what would matter to me if I was in the middle or lower classes. Particularly if I wasn’t starving.


Big Data July 5, 2016 at 10:31 pm

“And I for one do NOT want an economy where everyone prospers equally. … I think there should be winners and losers”

That is an appalling statement, on its surface. I am trying to understand what you mean, but it truly boggles my mind as to how to respond.

If you mean you don’t want communism of universally equal incomes, well sure, neither do I. Nor does any sane person.

But if you are taking the previously discussed idea of wages of all quintiles rising at the same or similar percentage rates, and labeling that as a system where “all prosper equally” with an absence of “winners and losers”, I would encourage you to rethink your assessment. A society in which there exists median incomes of about $50K, but wealthy incomes of millions or billions of dollars definitely has people prospering at different levels and has very distinct winners and losers. An economy in which they all get the same percentage raise does not make them “prosper equally”, nor does it eliminate losers. It might, however, allow the losers a leg up to climb the ladder to be winners.

I also want a meritocracy. I don’t believe we are there yet. I also want “rules/policies/programs to constrict the winners from running the country and rules/policies/programs to keep our losers from starving.” We haven’t accomplished that, either.

As for the article, I have already indicated how its biased and unconventional definitions of classes and its selective time scale invalidates the conclusion that middle class is primarily shrinking by getting richer and moving up. The other charts I provided show rather clearly that real wages have been declining for 15 years for the lowest 3 quintiles and the 4th quintile is barely holding steady. The middle class has been moving down, not up.


Big Data July 5, 2016 at 10:08 pm

WARNING: Do not read the following as a rant. That is not its intent, nor is it the tone I am attempting to express. Picture Mr. Cleaver in an easy chair, smoking a pipe (did he have a pipe?) quietly expounding on the economy. Or maybe even John Houseman from the Smith Barney commercials. Now continue.

1) Stevendad, I’m having a hard time understanding how you can get so worked up over a rather benign post suggesting that we pay for the government which we are always proclaiming is best in the world. Sure it has flaws. So does society. Both always have. We struggle on. But despondency over current reality not matching our ideals is still no reason not to pay the bills. It’s not a matter of patriotism, but of economic common sense.

2) Stevendad says: “I find it galling you question my patriotism by disagreeing with you.” I might find that galling too, if I had actually said or even implied that, which I did not. I find it not galling, but rather surprising, that you read such vitriol into my extremely benign, reserved, and polite post.

3) “It is ridiculous to feel guilty about being an American as some try to press on us.” Not sure who you are referring to. I never said that. And I don’t personally know any Americans who have.

4) Data: I think these BLS tables may have what you are looking for. I believe these are organized by consumer unit, aka household, aka family. Some of the tables have decile data … not exactly median, but you can average the middle 2 deciles to get pretty close to the same thing. Start with the “Deciles of income before taxes” links for whatever years you fancy. You can download the excel charts and plot whatever you like. There seems to be a limited amount of historical data, but it goes back a few years. I don’t yet see the point you hope to make with this data and so I am curious to hear your analysis.

5) “Our government has taken YOUR credit card and had a spending party.” Yes, and any impartial observer would note that is not a recent trend, but began in the 1980’s when the financial habits of post WW2 up to that point were trashed, and debt as a fraction of the economy stopped shrinking and was instead ballooned to grow at faster rates than it had previously been dropping. That is not a partisan or political statement. It is grounded in fact and economic reality. I hope by now we have learned from this failed experiment that cutting taxes is not a silver bullet and does not pay for itself in economic growth. We need to set such magical economic thinking aside and understand that actual economies cannot be built on ideological fantasies, but instead require difficult choices based on complicated analyses, and that our decisions have long-term consequences. We are still suffering from policies and decisions of the 1980’s and 2000’s.

6) “We simply must slow down Federal spending and reduce regulatory burden. Or the US will be crushed and the world thrown into turmoil.” Federal spending as a share of the economy is lower now than it was during most of Reagan’s presidency. And our Deficit as a share of the economy is smaller in 2015 than it was at ANY time under Reagan or GHW Bush, and part of Clinton, from 1980 to 1994. Neither spending, nor deficits, are as out of control as you seem to believe.

7) We need to be economically smart, and that includes recognition of where actual challenges lay and which economic goals are feasible, and not waste our time and effort tilting at economic or political windmills. Focussing on shrinking raw dollar amounts of debt or spending (ignoring growth of inflation, population and economy) and obsessing about lowering a $20 Trillion debt NUMBER is political malarkey, and not economic analysis. We need to shrink debt as a share of the economy, not as a raw dollar number. To do that we need to balance spending and revenue, looking at both halves of the equation, and to be willing to compromise on BOTH. Our spending and revenue is very close to the balance point where we can bring Debt/GDP down. Reasonable additional tax increases on capital income and high earners, along with spending constraints to get our economic house in order, are feasible goals, if we can just get past donor politicking and all of the partisan bickering, fear-mongering, and grandstanding in Washington.

8) “It is clear constantly increasing taxes is counterproductive both in disincentivising work and causing flight of capital.” That might be a good point if we had been constantly raising taxes over several decades, or if capital was in sort supply. But we have an abundance of capital and federal income taxes have been cut more than raised over the last 35 years. Obama FINALLY got some tax increases in place after years of wrangling and after an irresponsible and costly protest from opposition that actually shut down the government. And now, as a direct result of such prudent economic action, our real per capita federal deficit is 27% of what it was in 2009 when Obama took office. Irresponsible economic policy combining tax cuts with spending increases are the source of most of our current economic woes. Now we must pay the piper for the economic irresponsibility of past revenue cuts which were made with no attempt at corresponding spending cuts. We should have been paying the bills when the economy was strong, so we could have had a sound economy in tough times. That is sort of the definition of economic responsibility, and it what has been missing from several administrations since 1980.

9) Regulatory burden: I believe there may be too much regulatory hardship on small business. But not on big business. It should be easier to start and maintain small businesses and we need to increase economic incentives to do so. Cutting the business tax rates and regulation burden on small business, while forcing a mandatory minimum business tax rate on big business (which often pays nothing) might be a good start. Taking away the health care responsibilities from business and instigating a Canadian type system would also vastly simplify small business regulatory burden.

10) Financial Regulation has been mostly cast aside over the last decades and is now barely on the mend. This is an area where government does NOT need to step aside, but needs to come in full force, take charge, and restore sound policies, to prevent the bankers and investors from making wild gambles with our money, destabilizing our economy, and then getting the government to cover their losses.

Maybe someone will take the above to be divisive or partisan. It is intended to be neither. It is intended to be an expression of honest historical assessment and forthright economic common sense. Please accept it that way.


Stevendad July 6, 2016 at 6:31 am

Big data: You rhetorically stated I was not willing to pay my share for governance. Nonsense. That is why the “rant”. It’s not just you. “You don’t do enough for the country” is a continual Liberal rant. My point is government is wasteful, self serving and misdirected. By the way, I originally posted here to point out 2/3 of “greedy 1%” pay AMT and got ZERO benefit from Bush tax cuts.

I see lots of income and no spending in your BLS link. Please be more specific.

The economy prospered as well as ever after Reagan tax cuts. And a few years later we ran a surplus….

The “America sucks” tour by Obama speaks for itself. This is a common sentiment in the Left. I did not mean to ascribe that to you.

The reason debt is out of control is that we are so far in debt to begin. CBO says $30 T is tipping point. We will have to drastically change who we are then. Getting 5 yards on a running play in the beginning of a game is great. Doing so on 4th and long when you’re behind is a disaster. We are not foutth and long yet, but we’re getting there. 3rd and 8 or so…

10 is absurd. Perhaps we need more, but to say we have less is untrue. Dodd Frank has been a huge increase in regulation. Too big to fail as well increased regulation. These were well intended but have strangled the middle class more than anything.

Never forget that all legislation or policies always produce unintended consequences.


Peter July 6, 2016 at 8:01 am

The point of deficit spending is to support our nation in tough economic times. The economy slows, revenue drops, and we must borrow to sustain ourselves. Yet, we have had positive economic growth for 90% of the past 20 years and have run our deficit through the roof. Anyone who thinks this is healthy or OK is delusional.

Great point as well – most of the 1% (I would argue more than 2/3) have not benefited from the Bush tax cuts.


Big Data July 6, 2016 at 4:20 pm

Peter, you and I agree on something. Deficit spending is for emergencies. Which is really all I was saying in my independence day post: that we should pay the bills we acrue.


Big Data July 8, 2016 at 8:55 pm

And the folks who did benefit were the very richest who had least need and who fed the least back into the economy. A completely corrupt and wasteful tax cut.


Peter N July 10, 2016 at 11:00 am

Show me the data. gov spending mostly is a transfer system from the those that pay taxes to those that don’t.

Yes, rich people have appeared to benefit because of the stock market and other investments but that isn’t government spending.

The tax cuts have been erased and still the deficit is huge. Why? You can’t blame the tax cuts. It is the excessive spending. This can’t be refuted.

50 years of the war on poverty has only resulted in more poverty. Refute that.


Big Data July 10, 2016 at 10:43 pm

If govt spending is a means of transferring income from high to low, then lassez-faire capitalism is a means of transferring labor of the poor to profits for the rich. Our democracy is a means to tame the excesses of both systems and achieve a balance. Government intervention is required.

Spending as share of economy is lower than mid 1980’s. Deficits are much smaller than they were before the tax increase, and considerably less as share of economy than under Reagan or Bush1. Taxes are relatively still low on high incomes. Bush2 tax cuts have not been erased completely. Nor have Reagan’s.

There are plenty of articles arguing about the success vs failure of war and poverty. You may look them up at your leisure. I don’t feel up to researching them to argue their merits, as I don’t think you are really interested in a fair discussion of the subject.

Big Data July 6, 2016 at 4:28 pm

Stevendad, please go back and reread my Independence Day post. Your name was nowhere in it. I basically said that those of us who are proud of our country and our form of governance, and who have prospered most from it, should be willing to pay the bills legally accrued as part of that governance.

It is a mystery to me how you construed that to be an attack on your patriotism.


Big Data July 6, 2016 at 9:30 pm

Stevendad, my previous link was the wrong one, but even the right one is a bit dense. The expenditures were there in the tables labeled incomes … they were just categorized and divided by deciles of income. But that page was quarterly and you would want annual numbers or a survey.

BLS has some 50 or 100 year surveys that cover those historical periods well, but nothing ending in the last few years. I know the data is in BLS, but I am not well-versed in searching their site. It is harder to navigate than it should be, but there is LOTS of information if you are willing to search and research.

This BLS article may have some of the data you are looking for, but only for years 2011-2013. I’m not having luck finding one concise table or chart.



Stevendad July 13, 2016 at 9:50 pm

Spending went up the most in lowest quintile, interesting.


Big Data July 6, 2016 at 9:52 pm

A couple of quick comments on your post. It seems a bit ironic, and even amusing, that you spend a considerable complaining about all of the stuff wrong with America and then you lambast Obama for an “America Sucks” tour. Weren’t you just complaining about how America sucks? Come on, admit, the juxtaposition of your contradicting statements in your posts is pretty funny.

And yet you love your country. As does Obama. As do I. Please don’t be one of the small-minded people who ascribe terrible and untrue motivations to political opponents. Liberals are not out to control you. If anything they are tired of being controlled by others and are trying to improve the country. Same goal as you. Just different methods and perspectives. Open your mind and ears and you will find that to be true. I think you already know it to be true.

And Obama never had an “Apology Tour” or “America Sucks Tour”. Never. It is all hateful rhetoric from media outlets stirring up the public to make a buck. The worst Obama has done is admit that we are not perfect. Pretty much like you did in your posts. And while you never said it, others have ascribed worse motivations to him: that he wants to destroy the country, etc. Nonsense.

Obama took the office of President at the worst possible political and economic moment in the last 60 years for any President to step into that office. The banks and economic system were collapsing (yes they really were). We were in the middle of two unpopular wars. More jobs were being lost each month than had been lost the previous month, and that had been going on for about a year. The agenda of hope and change that Obama had campaigned on was replaced with a country reeling in panic and despair and a need for immediate action. And he did a pretty dam good job pulling us out of the mess. I know, some people say that he didn’t do anything, or he made it worse, it would have fixed itself. Such Monday morning quarterbacking is easy after the game has been played. But Obama and his administration were on the field dodging linebackers of doom, and against some pretty formidable odds, he won the game. Give the man a little credit. And respect.


Stevendad July 13, 2016 at 10:00 pm

I read many Obama speeches. Yes he did apologize for us intervention over and over. The US saved the world from fascism then communism. Of course we got more involved in the world. They were screwing it up horribly. Any mistakes are trivial compared to world domination of either of these groups of gangsters. I think the country is by and large ok as is. Perfect? No. You want to change it. You must hate it by your logic.

Obama does not want to destroy the country, he just believes in an economic system that will.

Or Obama screwed up what would have been a better recovery. No one knows. Most of the banking stabilization was during tail end of Bush admin by the way.


Stevendad July 6, 2016 at 9:00 am

Big Data: I’m with Peter. We need a meritocracy with a safety net. We have that. Again, if people would free themselves by realizing life’s not fair, get over it they and all of us would benefit. You win the lottery by being in this country. End of story on that.
The Left has changed the narrative not too subtly. Starvation is changed to “food risk” is a classic example. It is used because starvation (with previous caveats) is so rare. Hard to motivate people for more control without stirring things up. Do not delude yourself. The Progressive agenda is about control and feathering their nests. Fairness is the buzz word to take from us who drive the engine.

I agree with you in punishing those who break the rules and prosper. However, you wish to punish those who follow the rules and prosper.

The government CANNOT write legislation to anticipate every possibility. It is impossible. What they need to do is have flexibility and assets to put to bear when needed. We have wasted that on greedy politicians.


Big Data July 8, 2016 at 9:14 pm

So do you think food risk terminology is deceptive or misleading? Do you think hunger in America is a mythical meme made up by liberals? Do you think we should not worry about hunger until people are actually dying of starvation? I’m trying to see .your point, but I don’t.

Whether we call it food risk or hunger, lack of adequate food and nutrition due to poverty is a condition which should not exist in our country. Maybe you think it does not exist but it does, and not just among mentally ill or homeless people. You seem like a caring man. This is something worth caring about. And while there are a lot of good volunteers and food banks out there, there is an appropriate need and place for federal dollars and policy to help these folks as well. I know some people think food aid is just going to layabout surfers eating shrimp and prime rib. Surely you understand that is not the reality of hunger in America.


Stevendad July 10, 2016 at 6:43 pm

Big data: Please give DATA not generalities like “hunger is a problem”. Food risk being made up is my exact point. There IS adequate food available for the poor as there should be. You of course missed the point. In order to take control you must create a problem l. Changing to “food risk” from hunger makes it look a problem exists when it does not.
Please give EXACT proof of where hunger is a problem, not involving personal choice or family neglect. Not “food risk”. This is again a technique to TAKE CONTROL, the fundamental aim of the Progressive movement. There are numerous food banks in all major cities, and there are Federal programs you must be unaware of called SNAP and WIC, amongst others. Of course I think these are good and necessary. But you want more. People who fall through the cracks do NOT do so due to lack of spending by the government and charities. Kirsten Powers was challenged 6 months ago by Bill OReilly to bring in a chronically starving person. She has not because she cannot find any.
AGAIN, if you are listening, I said we should have a safety net. And we DO. Back down in questioning my humanity and I will not question your intelligence. The poor by and large get free food, free education, free housing, free phones, free medical care. This IS a safety net.

And please give the web site for the spending by family in the US. It is not what you have presented before. That was income which is not the same thing.

You did not comment on taking from those who followed the rules and several other points, just made a falsely leveled attack on my humanity.


Stevendad July 10, 2016 at 6:46 pm

Of course if we continue to recklessly careen towards Federal bankruptcy there WILL be hunger.


Big Data July 10, 2016 at 9:46 pm

There is enough money in America to pay the federal bills. We just need the political will and economic sense to do it.


Big Data July 10, 2016 at 9:02 pm

Please Stevendad, take questions and comments at face value and stop seeing insults where none are made or intended. I have not questioned your patriotism (from earlier) OR attacked your humanity. In the post above, I asked three questions beginning with DO YOU THINK …? I did not say YOU MUST THINK …

I then said “you seem like a caring man”. And I meant it. Any attack on your humanity is of your own invention, not mine.

A few points. And I’ m pretty sure you already know them, so I don’t see why I need to point them out. Hunger is not precisely equal to starvation. Starvation is an extreme instance of hunger. There are lesser levels of hunger that are important because they impact health at all ages and mental and physical development in children. And just because you cannot find many instances of starvation in America does NOT mean there is a lack of hunger. Bill OReilly’s challenge to find a chronically starving person is a meaningless partisan stunt with no relevance to issues of hunger in America.

Yes of course I know we have WIC and SNAP. These are some of the programs that for which liberals try to maintain adequate funding and which conservatives in Congress keep trying to defund or eliminate. I’m glad you see their importance and necessity. I hope you will let your Congressman know how important it is to keep these well-funded.

“The poor by and large get free food, free education, free housing, free phones, free medical care.” There are programs that provide limited amounts of each of these “free” items. To say that the poor get them “by and large” (meaning “on the whole”, or generally, or in most cases) implies that all poor people get all of these things, and in sufficient quantity to greatly alleviate or negate their poverty. That would be a gross overstatement. The safety nets are thinner and with more large and gaping holes than you may be aware of, or may be willing to admit.

“There IS adequate food available for the poor as there should be.”
There is adequate food in America, but it is not being made available to the poor. Much of it is thrown out of supermarkets as waste.
If it were true that there was enough food in government and charity programs for the poor and hungry, there would not be all of these stories in the papers about food banks being unable to keep up with the needs of hungry people.

As for the statement:
“Food risk being made up is my exact point. … You of course missed the point. In order to take control you must create a problem l. Changing to “food risk” from hunger makes it look a problem exists when it does not.
.. This is again a technique to TAKE CONTROL, the fundamental aim of the Progressive movement.”

That, my friend, IS an attack, which is blatantly partisan, completely unfounded, and nasty. You disappoint me.


Stevendad July 12, 2016 at 9:34 am

I’m a conservative Democrat by the way. I just don’t believe bigger government answers all. My brother, Dad and brother in law all career Fed employees and had dozens of stories of waste and fraud.

Your links still talk about income, not spending which includes government benefits. Hard to find. Just keep posting same link if you wish, but not what I’m saying.

Please give DATA, not opinions about hunger. You keep saying it is a big problem just in your opinion. No facts so far…


Big Data July 12, 2016 at 9:27 pm


Here is data on food insecurity. There are multiple levels. You can minimize the problem if you want, and argue that it does not exist. No doubt some well-meaning people inflate the stats, including low food insecurity as hunger, to get attention to the issue. But whether there are 1 in 5, 1 in 50, or 1 in 500 children that suffer from insufficient food and nutrition, it is still too many, in my opinion. To claim there is no problem is to deny that any action is required. I don’t accept that.

You can complain about government spending “more and more” but GOP consistently tries to eliminate and succeeds in cutting WIC and SNAP. Income inequality is also part of the problem. Low wages and part-time incomes, and misclassifying low wage jobs as “managers” to get 60 or 70 work hours out of a 40 hour salary contributes to low household incomes and hunger.

You may think there is no hunger in America. Go ahead and think it. It’s not true. I could spend all the time in the world throwing stats at you but I don’t have all the time in the world.

Excuse me, I have to go back to my Progressive job making up fake crises to control you now. 😉


Stevendad July 13, 2016 at 10:19 pm

I never said no hunger. Never possible. Unless we all live in barracks and are marched to mess halls. Price of freedom, I suppose. I read your stats. Food intake is uninterrupted in 98.9% for households with children per the data. I would like 100% but it is unclear if responsible parents sought out help in some or all of those. I suspect neglect accounts for much of 1.1% AS I SAID BEFORE. Are you willing to take all those kids from their parents?
Many adult households spend money on other things like alcohol or drugs and still have 95% uninterrupted food. Of course no way to know based in this data.

It is also fascinating there is a huge correlation in income inequality and Liberalism. Overlay map for highest income inequality and Obama 2012 counties. Do as I say, not as I do…

And I will continue to fight to take over the world in order to leave you alone! ????

Big Data July 17, 2016 at 7:41 pm

“It is also fascinating there is a huge correlation in income inequality and Liberalism.”
Perhaps you are confusing which is the cause and which is the effect? Certainly anyone recognizing high income inequality would never vote for someone like Romney.

Peter July 13, 2016 at 9:54 am

All the anecdotal evidence I have in the DC area from literally hundreds of Federal employees is an impression of waste….. almost NOBODY thinks the Fed government runs as efficiently as the private sector. At least nobody who is involved in it.


Big Data July 13, 2016 at 8:49 pm

Hunger stories.
People have to turn to SNAP and food banks, often despite careful financial planning.



Stevendad July 13, 2016 at 9:44 pm

And they are there for them. Isn’t that my point?

Big Data July 16, 2016 at 6:21 am

And food insecurity is not a made up political issue. Are you ready to reverse that claim?

Big Data July 13, 2016 at 8:55 pm
Big Data July 13, 2016 at 9:01 pm

Hunger stories

National Geographic often covers 3rd world country problems.
Here they cover hunger in US suburbs.


Big Data July 10, 2016 at 9:44 pm
Stevendad July 12, 2016 at 9:49 am

From your link: “during any given month, they will be out of money, out of food, and forced to miss meals or SEEK ASSISTANCE to feed themselves.” I appreciate making my point with this link. Seeking assistance is not being hungry. They of course just seek assistance, but if they do not it is their choice. Again this is an adequate safety net.


Stevendad July 12, 2016 at 9:56 am

Must not just


Big Data July 13, 2016 at 7:34 pm

Maybe it’s just me, but I think that charities and government safety nets are different things. If people are so challenged in their life through shortage of well paying jobs to support themselves, that they must seek out food from food banks, soup kitchens, and other charities, it tells me there is both a failure in our economy and in our safety nets. Not that everything is just fine as it is.


Stevendad July 13, 2016 at 9:46 pm

Of course there is no personal responsibilty for any of them?

Stevendad July 13, 2016 at 10:07 pm

And is your point to give out more or less food to the needy?

By the way, way back last Fall I made the point Walmart, etc should be charged for govt benefits their employees get. That would fix some of the wage issues. I see NO reason to subsidize billionaires in this way.

Big Data July 15, 2016 at 3:37 pm

My points are:
a) Hunger and food insecurity is not a made up issue by politicos.
b) We need to fund our food assistance programs sufficiently to meet the actual need of our citizens, and not overly strain charities.
c) There would be a lot less hunger and food insecurity if we addressed wage suppression, job exportation, and the high costs of education and medical care in this country. If people were allowed more opportunity to better support themselves, we would have less hunger and less need for government aid.

Big Data July 10, 2016 at 10:16 pm

“You did not comment on taking from those who followed the rules.”
Yes it is disgraceful that wealth and income has been taken from hard-working Americans who have followed the rules, struggled to educate their children, struggled to keep jobs, struggled to feed their families and maintain shelter. It is disgraceful that the prosperity of the nation has been diverted to profit the businessmen and investors who profit from globalization by exporting jobs and suppressing American wages. American families have been playing by the rules but the rule-makers keep distorting them for their own profit and benefit. I hope that we can soon return to conditions in which the vast majority of Americans who work hard and play by the rules will have fairer rules to play by.

I’m guessing that is not what you meant. But it’s what you need to understand.


Stevendad July 12, 2016 at 9:46 am

Your opinion of course. Again 2/3 of “1%” got zero Bush tax cut. Everyone else, including you did I’m sure. Taxes approach 70% in many locales. Not enough for you? If you tax ALL of 1% income it pays about 40% if debt per IRS and CBO. I’m fine with taxing carried interest, but it is a tiny fraction of what we need.
Many families are better off in Feseral programs than working. That is a dangerous situation.
The $15 minimum wage will ruin and close down small towns. Why do New York City and Gotebo, Oklahoma need the same wage when there is a 3 times difference in cost of living? Why do Alaska and Florida need the same laws across the board (clearly the Progressive direction) when being American and the English language are about the ONLY things that have in common.

Nothing is “free”. I just t
To summarize, the safety net is adequate IMO. You can argue it’s not, but that is just your opinion. Sanders style taxation will cut back work, productivity and cause flight of capital and cause the debt to balloon even faster. Unbridled Socialism doesn’t work.


Big Data July 12, 2016 at 8:04 pm

Ok if lower 2/3 of 1% got no benefit of bush tax cuts (debatable, but lets assume that is true) then the benefits mostly went to that upper .33%, who have maybe 80% of income of upper 1%, and paid closer to 20 to 25% effective federal under the cuts. Top 400 earners had effective tax rate of 20% in 1979. Not sure who your 70% payers are but they ain’t the richest ones.

Not sure where you get the incomes of 1% equalling 40% of deficit. That sounds like old stats and is not true in 2015. Incomes of 1% far exceed current deficits.


Big Data July 12, 2016 at 9:58 pm

Re Bush Tax Cuts:
Enacted in 2001 and 2003 and continued in 2010, after the original sunset date. Partially extended in 2012.

Who benefitted? Check history.

Effective federal income tax rates of upper 1%
– about 23% before Reagan
– about 20 to 21% during Reagan and GHW Bush (Reagan tax cuts)
– Rose to about 24% under Clinton
– 2003 to 2011 was close to 20% (Bush tax cuts)

So SOMEBODY in the upper 1% clearly got a big break from Bush.
Effective federal tax rates of the next richest 4% (96-99 percentile) also benefitted with a drop from 18% effective rate in 2000 to about 15% from 2003-2011.

Total federal tax rates (including SS, corporate, excise) show a similar 3% of income drop from 2000 to 2003 and extending to 2010 for the upper 5%. Other income groups had higher PERCENTAGE drops, but much less money and much less per capita was involved.

Google for link to below:
Ten Years of the Bush Tax Cuts Benefiting the Rich
$520,000: The average tax cut received by the top 0.1 percent of Americans, those making more than $3 million a year. That is over 450 times the tax cut received by an average middle-class family.
The middle 20 percent of wage earners (making between $40,000 and $70,000) received less than 11 percent of the total Bush -era tax cuts.
The bottom 20 percent (making less than $20,000) received only a 1 percent share of the Bush tax cuts; 75 percent of these low-income families saw no tax benefit at all.

I’m not denying that you, Stevendad, or other select wage earners in top 5% saw less of tax cuts than richest folks, investors and such. But the money still was heavily weighted on the rich end of the spectrum. And if the doctors and business owners weren’t getting it, then it was clearly wasted with government debt increasing as the treasury was being doled out to wealthy folk.

Bush said. “The surplus is not the government’s money. The surplus is the people’s money.” So back when we COULD have used the surplus to pay down debt and get in better economic position, Bush instead gave the money back to the people. But mostly to HIS people. HIS donors.

And we the people (all of us) are still financing the giveaway that went primarily to a few of us.


Stevendad July 13, 2016 at 9:37 pm

That was most current irs data, 2013. 44.8% exactly. Look it up: $1.7 T of income $3.8T budget approximately. Hard to find, but according to irs.gov 2/3 1% pay AMT, not changed in Bush tax cuts. it does not give break down of who did or didn’t to my recollection. Why don’t you donate your tax cut for past 12 years to the debt? Point is everyone has to pay. Of course bottom 20% got a tiny cut. The bottom 50% paid only 2.5% in total in 2013. 1% paid 38%. The bottom 20% paid almost nothing before or after cuts. Nothin from nothin leaves nothin!

Stevendad July 13, 2016 at 10:26 pm

And remember the rich got most of the cuts because they pay nearly all of the taxes.

Big Data July 14, 2016 at 10:27 pm

Stevendad, you originally claimed that income of 1% was 40% of debt (presuming you meant deficit). : “If you tax ALL of 1% income it pays about 40% of debt [deficit]”

Now you are giving me stats that income of 1% is 44.8% of the entire FEDERAL BUDGET. Now you see your mistake, don’t you? The federal budget is not the deficit. The deficit in 2013 was only $680B , so income of 1% was 250% of deficit, not 40%.

And deficit declined to $438B in 2015 making the income of the 1% equal to over 380% of the deficit.

Big Data July 14, 2016 at 10:51 pm

“And remember the rich got most of the cuts because they pay nearly all of the taxes.”

And they pay almost all of the taxes because they get a huge percentage share of all of the income.

There was NEVER any reason to give ANY individual family in the US a half million dollar tax break, especially not the individuals in the upper 0.1%. Their after tax-incomes were already sky-high. That was just CRAZY!

Consider the scenario: In 1999 we had surpluses but in 2000 we had an economic downturn, and in 2001 we had 9/11. So in 2003, the leaders get together and say, HEY, let’s give folks a tax break. We used to have a surplus. We don’t anymore, but let’s pretend we do. Let’s give it back to the people but let’s give MOST of the dollars back to the folks who need it least and where it will have the least impact on rebuilding the economy! Let’s give most of it back to the richest folks, because, you know, they would really really like to have it.


Big Data July 10, 2016 at 10:03 pm

Consumer spending data by quintile:
1) Look at data on page :
2) See that there are categories of data covering years 1989 – 2011
3) For each year look up the Expenditure Shares Tables listed as
“Quintiles of income before taxes “. These tables list income AND expenditures in detail. The totals are summarized on appropriate lines. You can download either the PDFD or Excel files.
4) Manually compile the data you desire (perhaps the middle quintile data for each year) into your own spreadsheet or table.
5) Plot as needed.
6) Years 2012-2014 are available on another page:


Big Data July 10, 2016 at 10:06 pm

Steven dad,

I am reposting this as my first post got blocked for too many links. I hope this is helpful.

Consumer spending data by quintile:
1) Look at data on page :
2) See that there are categories of data covering years 1989 – 2011
3) For each year look up the Expenditure Shares Tables listed as
“Quintiles of income before taxes “. These tables list income AND expenditures in detail. The totals are summarized on appropriate lines. You can download either the PDFD or Excel files.
4) Manually compile the data you desire (perhaps the middle quintile data for each year) into your own spreadsheet or table.
5) Plot as needed.
6) Years 2012-2014 are available on another page:
(2nd link listed below)


Big Data July 10, 2016 at 10:06 pm
Stevendad July 12, 2016 at 9:51 am

Again INCOME, not spending that accounts for government programs is what this says. Does not include free phones or charities that add more to their spending.


Big Data July 12, 2016 at 7:36 pm

Consumer spending is in the table. Look for it. Its there. Median family spending has nothing to do with government charity. Median families get none of that.

You said you wanted stats on median consumer spending right? That is what is in the tables.


Big Data July 12, 2016 at 9:04 pm

Really, stevendad, did you even LOOK at the tables?
I have spoon-fed you websites and tables.
You said you want charts or tables on consumer spending. You said: “I’m specifically talking about median FAMILY spending, …”
That’s what I have given you. Average of center quintile in these tables will be very close to the same as median. Please have the decency to actually look at the data when I have done your research for you.

I’m sorry no one has compiled the data into the chart you want to see and the way you want to see it. Sometimes you have to do it yourself.

Follow closely.
Look again at my link #1 above to csxshare.htm.
The page is labeled

— Expenditure Share Tables —
[Expenditures, stevendad, not income]

the 10th set of tables is labeled
“Quintiles of income before taxes”
But it is NOT an INCOME table.
It is an EXPENDITURE table, broken up by income by quintile.

I am looking at the PDF file. Open it.

The table has multiple columns of data, one for full group averages and one for averages within each quintile, and a few others, clearly labeled.
The table lists #of consumer units in each quintile.
Then it lists incomes. Don’t stop yet.
S-C-R-O-L-L down a half screen or so and there is a line that says:
“Average annual expenditures”
It shows household average CONSUMER SPENDING for each quintile and for the total group.
Below that it breaks up those expenditures by various categories.

There are sets of tables going back to 1989 there are some newer tables of the same kind on the 2nd link I provided to you.

If I was doing this research, I would put the data in a spreadsheet. I would look up inflation rates and adjust the data for inflation. I would match incomes to expenditures. I would ask some questions.

Why is it that the average incomes in the lower two quintiles are smaller than the family expenditures? Is that an indication of wasteful families spending more than they earn? Or is it an indication that incomes are insufficient to cover spending that is necessary? What covers the difference? Free stuff from the government? Unreported income of some kind? I don’t know. Good questions.

You are more likely (I think) to assume government is giving free stuff to these people or that they are spending wastefully. I am more likely to assume that the working people in these lower two quintiles are over-worked and way underpaid. Half-full, half-empty, the old familiar conundrum of different perspectives.

I really don’t understand what you expect to see in this data regarding spending that shows the “free stuff” vs incomes that don’t. Median family expenditures are certainly not what you want. People in the middle income don’t get much government free stuff.

And if median family expenditures or average family expenditures are going up, what does that mean to you? Please explain to me what you expect to see or want to prove and why it is important. Maybe I can either help you find it or help you see if it is there at all.


Stevendad July 13, 2016 at 10:33 pm

Ah, found it. Sorry, I was busy working to pay Obama et al, my $600 in daily taxes. Interesting that the median spending for lowest quintile is $13 k over median income. And each have 1/2 a worker. Also interesting that the US poor rank #27 in household world income. Above Italy!!! Wow!! Great table and thanks for proving my point in so well.


Stevendad July 13, 2016 at 10:36 pm

My point is few in US are really poor. Lowest 20% got $13k or so in govt help and unknown amount of charity. And rank above over 150 other countries in their income. One of my coworkers is from India. Now those folks are poor….

Peter July 14, 2016 at 8:05 am

Immigrants risk their lives to be considered “poor” in America. Any amount of world travel outside of the US or Western Europe will open one’s eyes to true poverty.

Big Data July 14, 2016 at 10:14 pm

Glad to help, but I think you are too willing to bend the numbers to your theories, and to stop your research as soon as you find something that you can inappropriately use to prop up your pre-conceived notions. You aren’t letting the data guide your thinking. You are just cherry-picking bits and pieces of information that SEEM to reinforce what you already believe.

Who says that the lowest 20% got 13K in government help. The tables didn’t say that. You assumed it. Most retired folks fall in the lowest 2 quintiles and their retirement income is not reportable. Did you consider that? No doubt people get government help, but you didn’t even attempt to research how much of that 13K is from government programs, or which ones.

And is SS income government largesse or payback from what people paid in? Maybe a little of each?

Don’t tell me you have proved your point when you have proved nothing. You haven’t even said what your point actually is.

As for poor income in US ranked higher than other countries, that is also a virtually meaningless statement. Comparing income without knowing the area living expenses is meaningless. I can’t help but think that such statements are just excuses to ignore US poor.

Big Data July 14, 2016 at 10:40 pm

Well you did say “My point is few in US are really poor.”

I think that is a really callous point to attempt to make, and none of the data you quoted proves it.

If you have to go scrounging around food banks and charities for food because the jobs you can get don’t pay enough to keep food on the table, YOU ARE POOR. Just because someone gives you aid to alleviate your poverty, it does not make you less poor.

Sure, the US poor are better off than being in the slums of India or other countries. But if they have no money left after paying the higher housing and basic living expenses in the US, which are many times the expenses in those 3rd world slums, and they have to struggle to choose how to cover health, medicine and nutrition needs with the meager remains, they are POOR.

Why would you, or anybody, ever want to spend time and effort “proving” that the poor are not really poor? What is the REAL point? What is the goal?

Frustrated July 15, 2016 at 7:05 am

You say a lot of wrong things Big Data. For instance, why would a retiree’s income not be reportable?

Big Data July 15, 2016 at 3:02 pm

Frustrated, I am trying really hard to be accurate and precise. I’m sorry you don’t seem to see that. My objection to Stevendad was his arbitrary subtraction of income and expenses in this survey, and his automatic (and incorrect) assumption that it must all represent government assistance.

I was offering other possibilities when I said that some retirement is not “reportable”. What I meant was that SS income is not (generally) reportable as taxable AGI. And that is a true statement. (It is included in MAGI, however, and some SS income can be taxable under some circumstances.) I also thought that private retirement income MIGHT not be “reportable” or used, in the expenditure table. However, after additional searching for definitions, I have found that private retirement income and SS benefits ARE part of the pre-tax income included in the survey. So my assumption there was wrong, but at least I asked the question and looked it up. Grant me that.

I have also found a partial explanation from the BLS folks for the discrepancy in income and expenditures. I include that in my response to Stevendad below.

I will be happy to respond to any other questions you have about my assertions here, or misunderstandings about my statements, and I will do my best to correct any errors. Just let me know.

Frustrated July 11, 2016 at 7:58 am

The ridiculous thing is working hard and sacrificing fun and time with my family to reach the point where 40 percent of my income is stolen from me. And even with all of that money taken from me, we have a crippling debt that will eventually crush our economy when interest rates rise. It’s a stupid plan and one destined to fail.


Stevendad July 12, 2016 at 9:53 am

Exactly. Be glad you only give up 40%. I’m closer to 50%.


Stevendad July 12, 2016 at 9:56 am

Of course this is direct taxation (Fed income / state income / sales and property taxes , fees etc) and not passed on taxes in the cost of goods and services. Hard to capture, but definitely something we all pay. Corporations adjust prices to pay for corporate taxes. Don’t kid ourselves.


Frustrated July 12, 2016 at 7:52 pm

It is completely brutal. All for political BS.


Stevendad July 13, 2016 at 10:38 pm

BD: I think I answered all your points, but this is getting really scattered…


Stevendad July 15, 2016 at 1:48 pm

BD: and the poor are taken care of. What is your beef?


Stevendad July 15, 2016 at 1:52 pm

My real point to all of this is the problems are not any where close to bad enough to tear down our entire economic system. It is supplying more prosperity and wealth on a scale unseen any where any time ever in human civilization. This is what the Bern is, to tear it all down. You can argue here and ther, but most problems of food security and housing are a result of people’s own choices. Those choices may include not seeking copious help programs. Again, meritocracy with safety net, which is what we have.


Big Data July 15, 2016 at 3:20 pm


I am not interested in tearing down our economic system. I just don’t understand why anyone wants to spend time attempting to prove that our poor people are not as poor as some other poor people somewhere else. When you say: “You can argue here and there, but most problems of food security and housing are a result of people’s own choices,” you seem to be saying it’s their own fault so it is of no concern to you. Or they’re not really poor because somebody somewhere else is a lot poorer. And then you also claim there is no hunger in the US and that food insecurity is a made up problem by political manipulators.

All of that is really offensive and highly partisan, but I am unlikely to persuade you with facts or statistics so I’m not sure what i can offer you, except a correction to your mistake on your interpretation of BLS data. The delta in income and expenditure seems to have nothing to do with government assistance, at least by the BLS’s own explanation (below). So if you want proof about the magnitude of all that free stuff supposedly going to the poor, you will have to keep searching.

=== from BLS site ===
“Why do average annual expenditures exceed income for some of the demographic groups? How can consumer units spend more than they earn?”



Stevendad July 17, 2016 at 7:38 am

I am not a Repub. We are not arguing the existenc of a safety net like you seem to think, just how high it should be. The Progessive wing has taken over and are driving more to be poor and dependent in order to stay in power. Wake up. And Bernie wants to make it worse.
I grew up poor, never used a bit of the programs except about $1800 in college need grant. I’ve repaid that a thousand fold in Fed taxes.
OK so they are earning money outside the taxable system, otherwise legally or illegally. Or the numbers are garbage.
My point is again very few are starving other than by their own poor decisions. Direct decisions like trading food for drugs, just not showing up for food programs, not just the longer term issues like having a baby at a young age or not training or not working, etc.


Big Data July 17, 2016 at 4:37 pm

Sounds like the income numbers are garbage. It’s an Expenditure survey, so I would hope those numbers are worth something. But the income numbers sound unreliable, by their own description.

“I grew up poor, never used a bit of the programs except about $1800 in college need grant. I’ve repaid that a thousand fold in Fed taxes.”
And you grew up in an age when state college costs were more highly subsidized and middle class families had higher economic standing than they do today. I don’t know the particulars of your growing up, but the economy was a lot more balanced and equitable before 1980. As a generality, you can’t fairly compare your childhood and better job availability and the economics in those past decades, to today’s high college costs and high family debt situations and poor job prospects that the last decade of college or high school graduates have faced.

High income inequality breaks EVERYTHING. Higher medical and college costs (based on the economies of the rich who can afford it). Worse education for the middle and lower class (because they cannot afford it). Fewer high tech candidates for modern jobs (because of fewer qualified graduates). Fewer jobs for Americans (because of fewer qualified graduates, poor trade policy, pandering to big biusiness). Higher costs of government programs (because of higher unemployment and poverty rate). It goes on and on.

The system used to work. You can remember when it did. It used to work for you. It still works for you because you are high up the ladder. It doesn’t work that way anymore. Not for today’s high school and college graduates. The bottom of the ladder is broken. We need to fix it.


Big Data July 15, 2016 at 3:46 pm

“It is supplying more prosperity and wealth on a scale unseen any where any time ever in human civilization.”

As the income charts I presented earlier indicated, wages of most Americans have declined for 15 years as only the upper 5% are improving their economic position. And other charts show that most of that money gain is going to the 1% or 0.1%.

Can you explain to me the ethical and moral justification as to why the most prosperous nation ever in human civilization continues to suppress and diminish the prosperity of most of its citizens in order to accelerate and expand the riches of only its very wealthiest members?


Frustrated July 18, 2016 at 8:04 am

Huh? It’s “the nation’s” fault if people don’t succeed? Yikes….


Stevendad July 15, 2016 at 1:53 pm

Your data also showed the poor in the US are better off than Italy.


Stevendad July 15, 2016 at 1:55 pm

$13 k was an approximation. Income was around $10k, spending around $23k. So 23-10. 13


Big Data July 15, 2016 at 4:12 pm

Re: American prosperity. Another perspective:

===The American Middle Class Is No Longer the World’s Richest===
APRIL 22, 2014

[Excepts below. See link for full article]

The American middle class, long the most affluent in the world, has lost that distinction.

While the wealthiest Americans are outpacing many of their global peers, a New York Times analysis shows that across the lower- and middle-income tiers, citizens of other advanced countries have received considerably larger raises over the last three decades.

After-tax middle-class incomes in Canada — substantially behind in 2000 — now appear to be higher than in the United States. The poor in much of Europe earn more than poor Americans.

The struggles of the poor in the United States are even starker than those of the middle class. A family at the 20th percentile of the income distribution in this country makes significantly less money than a similar family in Canada, Sweden, Norway, Finland or the Netherlands. Thirty-five years ago, the reverse was true.

LIS counts after-tax cash income from salaries, interest and stock dividends, among other sources, as well as direct government benefits such as tax credits.

“The idea that the median American has so much more income than the middle class in all other parts of the world is not true these days,” said Lawrence Katz, a Harvard economist who is not associated with LIS. “In 1960, we were massively richer than anyone else. In 1980, we were richer. In the 1990s, we were still richer.”

That is no longer the case, Professor Katz added.

Median per capita income was $18,700 in the United States in 2010 (which translates to about $75,000 for a family of four after taxes), up 20 percent since 1980 but virtually unchanged since 2000, after adjusting for inflation. The same measure, by comparison, rose about 20 percent in Britain between 2000 and 2010 and 14 percent in the Netherlands. Median income also rose 20 percent in Canada between 2000 and 2010, to the equivalent of $18,700.

Three broad factors appear to be driving much of the weak income performance in the United States. First, educational attainment in the United States has risen far more slowly than in much of the industrialized world over the last three decades, making it harder for the American economy to maintain its share of highly skilled, well-paying jobs.

Americans between the ages of 55 and 65 have literacy, numeracy and technology skills that are above average relative to 55- to 65-year-olds in rest of the industrialized world, according to a recent study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, an international group. Younger Americans, though, are not keeping pace: Those between 16 and 24 rank near the bottom among rich countries, well behind their counterparts in Canada, Australia, Japan and Scandinavia and close to those in Italy and Spain.

those in Italy and Spain.

A second factor is that companies in the United States economy distribute a smaller share of their bounty to the middle class and poor than similar companies elsewhere. Top executives make substantially more money in the United States than in other wealthy countries. The minimum wage is lower. Labor unions are weaker.

And because the total bounty produced by the American economy has not been growing substantially faster here in recent decades than in Canada or Western Europe, most American workers are left receiving meager raises.

Janet Gornick, the director of LIS, noted that inequality in so-called market incomes — which does not count taxes or government benefits — “is high but not off the charts in the United States.” Yet the American rich pay lower taxes than the rich in many other places, and the United States does not redistribute as much income to the poor as other countries do. As a result, inequality in disposable income is sharply higher in the United States than elsewhere.

Continue reading the main story
Whatever the causes, the stagnation of income has left many Americans dissatisfied with the state of the country. Only about 30 percent of people believe the country is headed in the right direction, polls show.

“Things are pretty flat,” said Kathy Washburn, 59, of Mount Vernon, Iowa, who earns $33,000 at an Ace Hardware store, where she has worked for 23 years. “You have mostly lower level and high and not a lot in between. People need to start in between to work their way up.”

Even with a large welfare state in Sweden, per capita G.D.P. there has grown more quickly than in the United States over almost any extended recent period — a decade, 20 years, 30 years. Sharp increases in the number of college graduates in Sweden, allowing for the growth of high-skill jobs, has played an important role.

Other countries’ middle class incomes have grown since 2000. The United States’ has not.

Britain ………… 19.7
Canada ……….. 19.7
Ireland ……….. 16.2
Netherlands … 13.9
Spain ……………. 4.1
Germany ………. 1.4
United States … 0.3

Elsewhere in Europe, economic growth has been slower in the last few years than in the United States, as the Continent has struggled to escape the financial crisis. But incomes for most families in Sweden and several other Northern European countries have still outpaced those in the United States, where much of the fruits of recent economic growth have flowed into corporate profits or top incomes.



Stevendad July 17, 2016 at 7:21 am

Again article about income, not spending. Regardless, Dem programs of importing unlimited cheap labor, not lending to MC because of Dodd Frank far outweigh effect of some limited tax cuts that have largely been repealed in 1% (at least who hit them in the first place). No repeal for everyone else.

I’m not opposed to taxes BTW. I would tax bonds/stocks/private equity with high wealth limits (maybe $10million) just like the rest of us saps pay property tax on our main asset.


Stevendad July 17, 2016 at 7:58 am

And if all would follow SWEAR as I’ve outlined before, we would need a lot less safety nets. All voluntary with rare exceptions and all easily doable.


Peter July 17, 2016 at 3:55 pm

Yes…the easiest solution of them all – at least on a personal level. More fun to rage against the machine….


Big Data July 17, 2016 at 4:42 pm

The economic system is robbing the new generation and you just want to blame their behavior.
Police are killing blacks and whites just want to blame the black’s behavior.
The rich are exporting jobs, making money off of it, and want to blame the unemployed for their behavior.

At some point, we have to put some responsibilty back onto the rich, the police, and the economic system. The victim is not always to blame.


Stevendad July 19, 2016 at 9:08 am

Please avoid the whole BLM issue, too emotional and controversial. So the “victim” is blameless? No shared responsibility? Again, regardless, not enough to scrap the whole system.

Stevendad July 19, 2016 at 9:09 am

Hillary wants TPP and Bill signed NAFTA which encourage expor of American jobs, BTW.

Stevendad July 17, 2016 at 7:25 am

Let’s see… Britain and Canada got money from massive nat resources booms, Ireland from CUTTING TAXES, Spain from printing money (in the edge of debt crisis). I have no clue about the Netherlands. Again. Dem programs are biggest cause IMO.


Big Data July 17, 2016 at 5:19 pm

Our country also got a lot money. We just DISTRIBUTED it differently.


Stevendad July 19, 2016 at 9:05 am

Right, due to undercutting lower end wages with massive immigration and not lending to MC due to Dodd Frank. AND of course some option related income and people who bet correctly on options too. Like almost everything, both sides are right at the same time. And also wrong because they think the opposing point of view is the sole cause of problems.


Peter July 16, 2016 at 4:06 pm

Yes Stevendad – in total agreement that a meritocracy with mobility, progressive taxation and a safety net (that the progressive taxes pay for) is a great system … and what we have. Ridiculous to think about blowing it up. And most of the other tweaks are just for political gain and/or warm fuzzy feelings rather than any reality.


Steven H July 16, 2016 at 7:07 pm

How can we have a meritocracy if everyone is working but only 1% are prospering?


Stevendad July 17, 2016 at 7:41 am

Hey! You’re back! At least we got you back in the (cess?)pool


Peter July 17, 2016 at 3:57 pm

Big Data is Steven H. Same person, can’t you tell? Would be nice to find an actual additional person to articulate his points that understands economics a bit better and isn’t so partisan!


Stevendad July 19, 2016 at 9:02 am


Stevendad July 17, 2016 at 7:40 am

By the way, BLS graph in another section lists “government assistance” as a huge part of the difference in in me and spending.


Big Data July 17, 2016 at 8:39 pm

I am interested in the link.
And congratulations for tracking down the data you wanted on BLS.


Stevendad July 17, 2016 at 7:48 am

You guys (BD and Steven H) are missing my point. The government is exacerbating in me inequality, not helping it. My solutions involve lessening government in most ways that are not spelled out in Constitution (decrease regs, especially Dodd Frank, decrease income tax in very targeted ways ($50 k inventory deduction for example)) and strengthen things they are supposed to do like establishing a border. I’m fine with taxing carried interest, cutting out pork on both sides, passing back social welfare costs to Walmart and McDonalds due to their low wages.


Stevendad July 17, 2016 at 7:49 am

Income not in me.*^%#** tiny keyboard.


Big Data July 17, 2016 at 5:05 pm

Dodd-Frank is an increase in regulation and it may not be the perfect solution, but neither should it be scrapped. Bank deregulation happened for decades starting in late 70’s and 80’s and is, from my understanding, a major cause of savings and loan and bank and economic system instabilities over last few decades.

We tried the deregulation approach. Even Greenspan confessed that was a failure. We need a smart regulation approach. I’m not convinced we have enough of the right regulations yet. I’m almost certain that the Congress cannot make the right decisions with bank lobbyists funding their campaigns.


Stevendad July 19, 2016 at 9:02 am

Not scrap Dodd Frank, but set up some safe harbors to lend to MC.Can we start back in the bottom? This is getting way too scattered.


Stevendad July 17, 2016 at 8:06 am

You guys seem to think we as a society owe everyone a meaningful job doing what fulfills them. I think they should have food, shelter and free education, even up to the state or community college level if that’s what we decide. (It is in Oklahoma BTW). Then let them earn prosperity with their planning, saving, modest temperance and hard work. It’s all there IMO for all but a few if they CHOOSE to take it.


Peter July 17, 2016 at 3:59 pm

And if you choose to take risks, work more hours than required of you, learn a business or trade, etc then you can be part of this elusive elite one day too.


Big Data July 17, 2016 at 4:56 pm

If there is an increasing divide between struggling middle class and fortunate elite, I am not content just with the possibility of joining the elite. Call me crazy, but I actually want increased opportunity and prosperity for my friends, family, and most Americans, not just for myself.

I’m not content to step over the unfortunate just to get a rung up on the ladder.


Stevendad July 19, 2016 at 9:12 am

Just curious, what quintile did you grow up in? I went from bottom 20% to “1%”( for a while).


Big Data July 17, 2016 at 5:00 pm

I don’t just want to outrun my friends so they will be eaten by the bear.
I want to kill the bear.

I don’t want to dump my friends out of the lifeboat so I get their rations. I want to reach land.

Almost everyone I know is responsible, hard-working and smart. The implication that only stupid, irresponsible people making bad decisions are getting left behind is offensive to me. I see otherwise.


Frustrated July 18, 2016 at 8:01 am

Wow. Everyone I know isn’t smart….. you must not work with laborers. And definitely everyone I know isn’t responsible! You need to get out more haha


Stevendad July 19, 2016 at 9:13 am

Whatever. Do the 5 things or at least teach your children to. Your chances of NOT succeeding are small.


Big Data July 17, 2016 at 8:36 pm

Oklahoma may be ahead of other states in providing free/low-cost college. If so, good for OK. We need more of that.

“It’s all there IMO for all but a few if they CHOOSE to take it.” I like your optimism, but it is NOT all there for most Americans in most states.


Stevendad July 17, 2016 at 8:12 am

A friend of mine moved here from France. Why? Because there you need to be ridiculously talented or know someone to get ahead. Otherwise you end up mired in mediocrity because Socialism has provided for everyone but also limited opportunity for all but a few. He owns a bakery here by the way, nearly impossible for a baker in France, or so he said.

We have meritocracy over mediocrity. A much better choice IMO.


Stevendad July 17, 2016 at 8:14 am

My Asian friends are stunned any one would complain about our system. In their world there is essentially NO way to prosper without being connected. Here they just SWEAR and prosper more than any other race.


Stevendad July 17, 2016 at 9:49 am

I do want to point out an error in calculation. The 1% made 1.9T in income in 2014 and paid .45T in income taxes. The 1.45t left now covers the total deficit with about $1T left. Their income has gone up and the deficit down since I last calculated it. Of course not including other taxes, but have at them. I have barely made that 1% level in the past a couple of times, but no longer do.


Big Data July 17, 2016 at 4:45 pm

Steven dad, Thank you, sincerely, for acknowledging that error. The conversation is always more agreeable when we can at least find common ground on points of fact.


Stevendad July 19, 2016 at 9:15 am

Can you reply to my anecdotes if people who immigrated here? Just curious. Since one left utopian Socialism in France…


Peter July 21, 2016 at 11:24 am

Irrelevant. Just anecdotes. 🙂

Stevendad July 17, 2016 at 9:56 am

Another economics thought: our government has perverted the financial system by running up this huge debt. Rather than putting money in the bank to lend or stocks and bonds to build things (and jobs), it is tied up in “safe” government issued debt. The quotes are not about the likelihood of default (though we recently almost did) but more likely inflation in the future some time. The government COMPETES with industry for money. They largely spend it and seldom invest it. Business does the opposite.


Peter July 17, 2016 at 4:01 pm

But for some reason for some any significant reduction in spending is off the table. Why? Because nobody wins elections promising less stuff or less programs or less money for health, education, military, etc.


Big Data July 17, 2016 at 4:22 pm

OK, Stevendad, let’s take a few minutes and talk some simple economic common sense.

We need to PAY our bills.
And to do that we need to RAISE taxes on millionaires.

It makes no sense to me to hear continuous complaints about high debt and deficits and yet hear the party of business continually trying to cut revenue by cutting taxes. Which will increase debt. What sense is there in approaching a problem by first making it worse?

I know. The myth they sell is that they will cut spending. So why do the tax cuts always exceed the spending cuts? Why do debts go higher and higher whenever the party of business is in control?

And what will we cut? Benefits to poor, old, and sick? As income inequality rises, elderly population increases, food banks are already struggling? Military cuts, as the world is getting more unstable? The party of business TALKS about cuts but the will never do it. It is too politically hard. And less necessary than they advertise. Our federal spending as a share of the economy is still low compared to other 1st world countries. Spending concerns are a false diversion. We have a REVENUE problem.

We need to PAY down the deficit.
To do that we need to RAISE taxes on millionaires.

The myth is that millionaires cannot afford more taxes. That’s NOT true. They already pay a high percentage of overall taxes. Fine. That’s true. But their EFFECTIVE TAX RATE, the rate that actually matters has been low for most years of last 3 decades, and has just barely inched up a bit closer to historical norms. You know, those rare years in the past when we actually PAID our bills and paid down the debt as a share of the economy? THOSE historical norms.

The calculation often offered is that millionaires, or even the 1% (~$400K and up) can’t afford the full cost of the deficit. Fine. You don’t have to pay down ALL of the deficit dollars. Leave 1% GDP on the table. Or even 1.5%. With growth at 2% GDP or more, you still pay down Debt as a % of the whole economy. Overtime the debt becomes more manageable. But we need to start NOW.

We can DO this.

We need to PAY down our debt.
To do that we need to RAISE taxes on millionaires.


Big Data July 17, 2016 at 4:52 pm

And upper 1% have a bigger share of our gigantic economy than ever before, even in after tax income. They CAN afford to put back some of the money that they received in past tax cuts, and in prosperity bought in part by the national debt.


Stevendad July 19, 2016 at 9:16 am

And already pay a huge percentage of income tax, 2.9 times there share of the income.


Stevendad July 19, 2016 at 6:59 pm

Wow. Can’t believe I misspelled their. I blame it on autocorrect.

Peter July 19, 2016 at 1:40 pm

Which I already do….I paid more in income taxes last year than my father paid over the entirety of his 40-year career.


Stevendad July 19, 2016 at 7:19 pm

So you believe in rainbows being farted out of unicorn’s
butts too? The government has ONLY spent extra revenue. EVER!!
I’d start directly with all departments to hold budget increases for 2 years, then limit to CPI instead of the customary 5%. Or better yet, limit to median income growth! Start doling out less Soc Sec and MC to the rich. Tax wealth at a rate similar to property taxes for the very wealthy, regardless of trusts that exist. Cut out or change the 10k age deduction for over 65, moving that break from the most wealthy to the least, say under 30.
Let companies that pay dirt pay all the costs of govt assistance for their employees. Let’s quit paying to defend the 3rd, 4th and 11th GDP ranked countries. Let’s let the countries that use Middle East oil pay to defend the Strait of Hormuz. Let’s be real about energy and use abundant and cleaner nat gas, 1/2 of which was flared off in the US (!), to bridge to solar, wind, geothermal, whatever. That’s even less greenhouse gases, if that’s your bag. Enough? Maybe not, but better. And what part is unfair? Liberals seen to have the sole opinion on that. Has it ever occurred it might be considered unfair to take from those who legally earned income by playing by the rules and giving it to those whose sole contribution is changing clean water to dirty and oxygen to CO2?


Big Data July 17, 2016 at 8:30 pm

Stevendad, I understand that you have said you are Democrat. OK, so maybe you are not one of the people lobbying for big tax cuts. You also said that your taxes are high and that you personally have not benefitted from the Bush Tax cuts. So maybe the part about paying back benefits from tax cuts does not apply to you. But there are certainly others in the investor and banking realm and half million earner and up realm that it does apply to.

My point here is not to attack you or any other specific poster with a little money, nor everyone who is in the 1%. Actually i am not ATTACKING anybody. I just want the deficit to be addressed in an economically smart way with taxes on those who can afford the extra bill and who have most prospered from the debt we have accrued due to tax cuts to the wealthy. If people want to fight for spending cuts, fine. But until those cuts are enacted, we should still pay the bills we have accrued, as best we can.

When the credit card bill comes, what would you think of the borrower who says “I won’t pay it because I want to cut spending on next month’s bill.” Shouldn’t those issues be separate? Pay last month’s bill, or at least the amount you spent last month plus interest plus a bit more to bring down the balance. Then try to address spending on next month’s bill.

Doesn’t that make sense?


Frustrated July 18, 2016 at 7:46 am

Nope. What makes sense is to question why you have a credit card bill in the first place. The borrower should say “I dramatically need to reduce spending” so that my next bill isn’t something I can’t pay… or I will never get ahead.

So yes, you pay this bill but you gotta look in the mirror and start cutting things.


Big Data July 18, 2016 at 10:32 pm

Right. You don’t undercut your income. If anything, you try to maximize it to get in better economic position.

Frustrated July 19, 2016 at 8:07 am

That’s stupid. If you increase revenue human nature is to just increase spending some more. Doesn’t solve anything. Plus it chokes economy. Much easier to cut spending if it weren’t for politics.

Stevendad July 19, 2016 at 7:38 pm

Ok, so let’s do the math. Richie Rich pays about 35% Fed, 12% state and local (NYC)=47%. Add 2% property tax (just a guess as not based on income) and 8.5% sales tax, assuming they spend 1/2 their income, 4.25%. Of course corporations pass through taxes and raise cost of goods
by that amount. So another 5%? Hard to estimate, but real. So we are now at 58% and change. I’ve heard that quoted quite often (actually 60%). So if we take the other income 42%, $1.9T, that’s $780B or so. Will pay the deficit with $320B to debt. Cool. Then they take their money and move to Belize because NOONE is stupid enough to work for nothing. To raise the taxes on th 1% to pay all of the deficit will require total (not marginal) tax rates above 75%!
How much is enough for you? Spell out your tax plan. Do you want to go to 95% like it was in WWII? At least they were saving the world and not just lining their pockets.


Stevendad July 19, 2016 at 7:45 pm

Oops left off 3% Medicare taxes and another 3% Obamacare tax above $400k or so. Of course there’s 7.8%to 15.6% Soc Sec tax that phase out, still not zero. So maybe another 5% altogether, of course depends on income. Still that’s 65% or so. Clearly not enough, 2/3rd to the government….


Peter July 20, 2016 at 5:49 am

Counting all forms of taxes that is about what I pay…. Comes out to about 50% once you are at 7 figures.

Peter N July 23, 2016 at 9:18 pm

“We need to PAY down our debt.
To do that we need to RAISE taxes on millionaires.”
You really are a skipping record.
We have already established that taxing all the income of the “millionaires” will not pay down the debt and what makes you think the millionaires wouldn’t take their ball and go home just like the white flight in Detroit and leave the country in ruin. The millionaires can live anywhere.
This is reality
The libtards have no plan that will work.
I would simply retire.


Stevendad July 25, 2016 at 12:18 pm

Agree with this. There is a point where they will just leave and take their billions with them. Almost all love their country, but there must be a point of ridiculous unfairness.


Stevendad July 17, 2016 at 9:59 am

Those “greedy corporations” are largely us by the way. Close to 80%. “Households directly own 38 percent of the US equity market,” he wrote. “However, the total effective household ownership is closer to 80 percent when combined with indirect ownership in the form of mutual funds (20 percent), pension funds (16 percent), and insurance policy holdings (7 percent).”Mar 13, 2013


Stevendad July 17, 2016 at 10:00 am

Owned by us


Stevendad July 17, 2016 at 10:13 am

Source is 2013 report by Goldman Sachs


Big Data July 17, 2016 at 4:48 pm

They may be owned by us, but the CEO incomes still seem out of our control.


Stevendad July 18, 2016 at 2:35 pm

Exactly! Demand your mutual fund intervene.


Big Data July 17, 2016 at 7:51 pm

The person who said
“The days of open dialogue and thought are gone.”
and ” the gridlock and utter stupidity of our discourse will keep us sitting in a low-growth economy”
also makes unproved accusations against the Democratic candidate and tries to shut down people on this forum with opposing opinions by making empty and unfounded claims that they don’t understand the economy.

It sounds to me like this unnamed person needs a lesson in open thought and dialogue, and should spend more time on expressing his ideas and countering the ideas he disagrees with, and should spend less time on attacking the people who are actually trying to exercise open dialogue and intelligent thought.

Just a friendly suggestion. I understand. We all get diverted by our emotions at times.


Peter July 18, 2016 at 6:48 am

I personally think this is an amazing country we live in and it amazes me the determination that many have to see doom and gloom. Personally, we have an abundance of what matters most (at least to me):

– Personal freedom to live your life how you wish
– Gender equality – vs somewhere like Pakistan or Saudi Arabia
– Freedom to travel to and from our country freely
– Freedom to speak out – in whatever fashion you like
– Tremendous income mobility – the ability to change the course of your family’s financial history dramatically
– Amazing health care services
– “Floors” like social security, medicare, unemployment, welfare, food stamps, etc. so that nobody starves regardless of their situation
– Incredible empathetic and charitable citizens who time and time again help one another when in need

Anyone who wakes up in America and feels like the system is f***ed just because a few CEO’s have loads of stock options – or because unskilled labor doesn’t pay what it used to – or because some pay 50% of their income in taxes while half of the nation pay none – etc. etc. etc. just isn’t paying attention to the beauty that is the American capitalist system.

No matter how both sides try and tear us down for political gain (Obama was the king of this during his campaigns…. although Trump is now giving him a run for his money)…. No matter how much gridlock we see in Washington….. regardless of all of this, America perseveres and those who are willing to work for it (SWEAR) have an opportunity here like nowhere else on earth.

It’s a shame everyone doesn’t embrace this and appreciate it. Sitting and feeling victimized has never worked in any endeavor.


Peter July 18, 2016 at 7:01 am

One other thing to share with whomever might still be reading…. Several studies on income mobility have been done in the last 5 years or so that produced quite interesting results.

First, the US has about the same income mobility as it did 20 years ago. This hasn’t changed at all. However, we are in the middle of the pack vs the developed world.

The interesting thing about this was how some areas had far more income mobility than others. The DC area, California, the Pacific Northwest were examples where mobility was the best in the world. It is rural America where the pockets of struggle lie.

A deeper dive showed that the biggest factors that affected income mobility were quality of education, degree of racial segregation, quality of home life, etc.

And here we are again….improve the education system (and training for today’s economy rather than teaching chemistry, art and wood shop) and improve your personal family life situation and mobility is there.

One anecdote on this…. I grew up in a very middle class neighborhood with a wide variety of racial backgrounds. There was a black woman two doors down from me who was in her late 60’s who worked two jobs – a maid during the day, waitress in the evening – while she raised her two teenage grandchildren. The men in their lives were nowhere to be found and the children’s mother struggled with addiction. I remember their house distinctly – their living room had just two chairs in it – no sofa, no TV. Her son’s bedrooms had a bed, a desk and a weight bench. They came to my house for the extravagances like snack food, video games and television. She sacrificed these things – and her own free time – so they could live in a more expensive neighborhood and go to better schools.

Those two boys now are in their 40’s and have built great lives. Both make 6 figures each and are putting their children through even better schools than they went to. The grandmother I speak of changed GENERATIONS of people with her hard work and sacrifice. She didn’t b***h and complain and whine about the system. (Her daughter did that) She was no victim. And she did this in spite of Reaganomics, the inflationary Carter years, etc. etc. etc. And in spite of being both black AND a woman.

Always makes me think of the line from the rap group Public Enemy – “small chance a smart brother’s gonna be a victim of his own circumstance”.


Frustrated July 25, 2016 at 8:50 am

Thanks for sharing Peter. I grew up in a similar environment and have seen success stories like this as well. It is rare you see hard work result in total failure. Success might be slow and frustrating but it will come…..


Peter July 18, 2016 at 8:09 am

Another great statistic. SS & Medicare accounted for 40% of Federal spending during the first 9 months of this fiscal year. They were 33% of spending in fiscal year 2006. It just keeps rising….reform MUST happen soon.

Some more
– 95% of all mortgage have no outstanding payments.
– The S&P 500 annualized +7.4%/year for last 10 years. Prior 10 years annualized +8.3%/year. In spite of 9/11, mortgage crisis, etc.
– Unemployment rate for the 19 nations that use the Euro is 10.1%. Unemployment rate in the US is 4.9% (all data as of 6/30).
– Median square footage of US homes is now 2500 square feet. This is +547 square feet over the last 20 years, a 25% increase.


Stevendad July 18, 2016 at 2:32 pm

I have tried to avoid name calling and apologize if I have. Agee with you Peter, a few tweaks would be helpful. However, the overall economy and opportunity for improvement are very good. Many of these weeks are just to undo the problems of government has caused by the way.


Stevendad July 19, 2016 at 10:10 am

Another on topic thought: at some point the safety net goes from help to codependency that benefits neither party. We’re almost there IMO. I have a relative throwing away their life because the government supports them. “Jobs are for little people” is a favorite quote they use.

Another anecdote (a reprise from several months ago): an employee recounted this story: she has 3 sisters, 2 of whom live totally off government assistance enabled by having a child. My employee stopped hanging out with them due to their drug use, however they were obtained. The third sister got pregnant and they met to discuss. The 2 sisters suggested keeping the child so she could start living off the government. My employee suggested adopting out the baby and not give up her near term if not long term future. (Father not in the picture BTW). Is this codependent? Does this reward bad behavior? The really scary thing is my employee (the responsible one!) quit to follow a band like a Deadhead. God help us all when we’re old…


Big Data July 23, 2016 at 5:36 pm

These are disturbing stories. I am not convinced these people are generally representative of the poor, and yet one wonders how such poor behavior could be discouraged. You could just assume all aid recipients were similarly irresponsible and cut all aid … but that would be mostly incorrect, and would harm many deserving families and hungry children.

As GW Bush (not my favorite person to quote) said recently: “We judge others by their worst examples, and ourselves by our best intentions.”

Many people truly need government aid. The solution is to improve its distribution and modify its incentives, and not necessarily to punish the many for the sins of the few.


Stevendad July 25, 2016 at 12:15 pm

I keep saying that where we are is probably a good balance. You just want MORE.


Peter July 26, 2016 at 6:56 am

Right, they always want more…..that’s politics.


Stevendad July 19, 2016 at 10:28 am

Average home in US about 2500 sq feet dwarfs Europtopia by the way, by about 3 times… Of course it all needs to be torn down.

BD: Please comment on how unfettered immigration does or does not drop the wages at the bottom and thus further up the wage scale. The whole thing is a total political game to elect Progressives at the expense of the MC and lower MC, who were a part of the core of the Dem party constituency when I grew up.

Again, Dems believe government answers all. This is paradoxically opposed when I was young.

BD: so if you get your wish and all money flows through the government, how do you select those wise enough to tell us all how to live and work? Will people be forced to do jobs based in aptitude regardless of their wishes? Or will it just be a different form of crony capitalism (Solendra, Gildman Sachs, etc)?

I tend to think extra money would go to “programs” that support political constituencies and cronies, not the debt. I base this in the fact that so far it has done so virtually 100% in the past. Other than when Bill C had a political gun to his head, has it ever happened?


Peter July 19, 2016 at 1:36 pm

I think the reality is that it isn’t just the Democrats that think government is the answer these days. Trump’s immigration plan for instance would initiate a huge increase in government spending. Of course, if you have read my posts you know there is nothing that tires me faster than the political rhetoric.

My opinion is that our election process isn’t that different from the ones they had for years in Iraq and Libya. The difference is we have two candidates instead of one. Unfortunately both candidates are privy to crony capitalism, irresponsible spending, and largely the same foreign policy approaches. Only the social issues truly separate the two parties these days (although I’m sure the super-fans of each party that lurk on here will disagree). Everything else is minutiae. Even when someone “raises taxes” or “gives tax breaks” it is usually very subtle – as to not really make a difference anywhere but in the ballot box and public perception. True reform doesn’t exist in the major parties.

The reason why I compare it to Libya is the complete squashing of any third party or dissenting candidate. When Perot crashed the party in 1992, the powers-that-be changed all the rules. Now you must have 15% in three different polls to even be included in a debate. Of course, most polls don’t even include a third party as a choice. The media is influenced by this as well – just look at YouTube for Gary Johnson appearances (who CNN now has at 12% of the vote). You can watch them all in one sitting. Trump and Clinton have the national stage – 24/7 on about 20 different channels.

How is this different than Iraq having a “general election” where Saddam wins the vote unopposed and all other candidates are squashed by the media and government? We just have two people – which gives the illusion of choice. But is it really a choice? Trump and Clinton? Seriously????

I would have loved a 5-way race for the Presidency with the two establishment candidates (say, Clinton and Kasich) along with the two upstarts (Trump and Sanders) and two third party candidates (Johnson and Stein). I think we would see some VERY interesting debates if this were the case. Instead we get two watered down BS versions of the same old crap that has been going on for years. As we careen towards financial insolvency as a nation.


Stevendad July 20, 2016 at 7:02 pm

If you really want to send 11000000 (and I don’t) home you just put 1 or 2 employees in jail in each state and seize their businesses. They all just leave on their own when no one will hire them.
I like your thoughts re: politics. I think I talked about a coalition of mod Dems, Tea party and Libertarians to work between the parties on social (more right than Liberal Dems) and economic ( more left than Repubs) in order to keep them in line…


Stevendad July 21, 2016 at 7:21 am

Employers, not employees. That really was autocorrect


Big Data July 23, 2016 at 5:24 pm

“a coalition of mod Dems, Tea party and Libertarians”

Wait. Why do you only want to include moderate Democrats with far out in right field “Tea Party” Republicans? Why not “Moderate Republicans and Socialists”? That would make as much sense. Or how about moderates from each party who can agree on compromise legislation. We used to have such a body. It was called “Congress”. Unfortunately, it has been made dysfunctional, largely by the efforts of those self-same “Tea-Party” Republicans.


Peter N July 23, 2016 at 9:02 pm

I don’t agree with the other Peter or any of the rest of you on immigration. Immigration laws need to be enforced. Kicking the people out will be much cheaper in the long run than providing them benefits and suffering the crime they bring.
We should allow immigration of those that can contribute, blend in and will protect the US Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. The rest we should kick out. Australia and I think New Zealand have a point system.

I agree with the other Peter on the party issue. I agree with Trump and Sanders. The system is rigged. So is big media that didn’t give Gary Johnson any air time. Part of the problem is the way the two parties have made the system winner takes all even when the winner doesn’t get 50%. There should be two possible elections. If candidate doesn’t win 50% then there is a run off of the two leading candidates. This way a 3rd party doesn’t “siphon” voters from one party and another and the winner must win 50% even if the candidate isn’t the first choice. This way the first vote is not a vote against a candidate like it is now.

Steven H is blaming the “Tea-Party” even though they haven’t been in power. Typical libtard.

Big Data July 24, 2016 at 6:16 am

Tea Party has wielded considerable destructive and obstructive power in House and Senate. Ask Boehner. Or Paul Ryan. Or recall the government shutdown they orchestrated. That is certainly a form of power.

Big Data July 24, 2016 at 7:49 am

Re: Immigration and Crime

Peter N, would you be appeased at all by the knowledge that immigration has very little impact on crime, except to statistically DECREASE it?

A new report from the Immigration Policy Center notes that while the illegal immigrant population in the U.S. more than tripled between 1990 and 2013 to more than 11.2 million, “FBI data indicate that the violent crime rate declined 48%—which included falling rates of aggravated assault, robbery, rape, and murder. Likewise, the property crime rate fell 41%, including declining rates of motor vehicle theft, larceny/robbery, and burglary.”

A separate IPC paper from 2007 explains that this is not a function of well-behaved high-skilled immigrants from India and China offsetting misdeeds of Latin American newcomers. The data show that “for every ethnic group without exception, incarceration rates among young men are lowest for immigrants,” according to the report. “This holds true especially for the Mexicans, Salvadorans, and Guatemalans who make up the bulk of the undocumented population.”

It also holds true in states with large populations of illegal residents. A 2008 report by the Public Policy Institute of California found that immigrants are underrepresented in the prison system. “The incarceration rate for foreign-born adults is 297 per 100,000 in the population, compared [with] 813 per 100,000 for U.S.-born adults,” the study concludes. “The foreign-born, who make up roughly 35% of California’s adult population, constitute 17% of the state prison population.”


Peter July 25, 2016 at 6:41 am

I didn’t remember saying anything about immigration. I think I agree more with you on this one. I think we should enforce our immigration laws.

Stevendad July 25, 2016 at 12:03 pm

They all believe in less government, not more like Socialists. Speak of political false speak, Tea Party ignores social issues. They are mostly Libertarian. We once had moderate Democrats, but the Progressives have run them out of the party.

Big Data July 23, 2016 at 4:37 pm


I’m not for unfettered immigration any more than I am more unfettered capitalism or unfettered government growth or unfettered tax cuts. A finite and felicitous fraction of fettering is fine. Everything in moderation. Including moderation.

I think a path to citizenship for the EXTREMELY hardworking immigrants who have been working and living in our country for years would be fair and reasonable. I think a a digital ID for American citizens, to improve on the E-verify system would be better than a physical wall to manage future immigration.

As for the impact on wages, there is a lot of conflicting information out there, and most articles indicate the issues are complicated, and so I think it might be wise to open your mind to possibilities of something outside of the conventional wisdom (of immigration necessarily being bad for wages and employment). Here is at least one contrary article from a Forbes contributor.



Stevendad July 25, 2016 at 12:13 pm

I’m actually with you on this. Monitor the border, control who comes in. Those who are here get legal resident or citizenship in some cases. Either way, the core Dem working has lost out. And they’re going to Trump. Wake up! The Dems have ONLY the Presidency. Not either house of congress, governors or state houses. Progressives are destroying the party!


Big Data July 23, 2016 at 5:00 pm

Re Stevendad’s comments:
=====BD: so if you get your wish and all money flows through the government, how do you select those wise enough to tell us all how to live and work? Will people be forced to do jobs based in aptitude regardless of their wishes? Or will it just be a different form of crony capitalism (Solendra, Gildman Sachs, etc)? … I tend to think extra money would go to “programs” that support political constituencies and cronies, not the debt. I base this in the fact that so far it has done so virtually 100% in the past. Other than when Bill C had a political gun to his head, has it ever happened?=====

Wow, what a cynic you are, Stevendad! First, you misjudge my dreams and wishes. Next you describe a dystopian society worthy of 1984, Animal Farm, or the Trumpian Dynasty, and nothing like any progressive blueprint I have ever heard of.

As for whether taxes are ever used to pay down the government debt burden, of course it happens. It happened under every President between WW2 and the Great Depression, save 3. And those 3 were not Democrats. Perhaps you should be ascribing your dystopian visions to a different philosophy than progressivism.

When it began to look like we might have multiple years of surplus, your presumption proved correct, that [extra money would go to “programs” that support political constituencies and cronies, not the debt], and the biggest program in question was tax cuts for the economic elite.

But the good news is that such poor economic judgment has been the exception and not the rule over the last 65 years.


Big Data July 23, 2016 at 5:46 pm

Great Recession, not Great Depression ….


Frustrated July 25, 2016 at 8:47 am

I must have missed Obama paying down the debt burden….considering it doubled under his administration. You are a little bit partisan, eh? LOL


Stevendad July 25, 2016 at 12:05 pm

That’s odd. Only time we had no deficit was Clinton in my life time. I’ll have to look further back…


Stevendad July 25, 2016 at 12:25 pm

And there is often a fine line between cynicism and reality….Progressivism is about the internal belief that they are wiser and thus can tell everybody what to do in its best light. But then you concentrate power and often get taken over, like Nazi Germany, Venezuela, Cuba, USSR, China. All those places had such happy outcomes!!


Big Data July 23, 2016 at 6:19 pm

Stevendad, that authoritarian future you described (may it never come to pass) really does make me think of recent Trumpian/Republican rumblings as well as current frightening policies that exist in our country. Consider how scary it is that:
– Police are allowed to take from you any sum of cash you are carrying that they deem suspicious, and you have to PROVE it is NOT from illegal activity. (Civil Forfeiture).
– Poor people are put in prison for being unable to pay small civil fines, and then are charged huge sums for their prison stays, trapping them in prison, costing them their jobs, homes and families. (Illegal debtor prisons passed as legal.)
– Government can prevent doctors from even DISCUSSING certain medical procedures with women (abortion procedures).
– Government officials IMPOSE their extreme religious philosophies on women and doctors, attempting to close medical clinics and shut down health agencies for poor women. (TRAP policies).
– State governments take over city governments from elected local officials, sometimes harming local citizens (Flint water crisis).
– State governments PREVENT local city governments from regulating harmful industrial processes within city limits (fracking).
– State governments ATTACK civil rights of LGBT within their state and PREVENT city governments from protecting those rights within the cities. (HB-2)
– At the whim of radical state government officials, assault weapon toting gangs are allowed to roam the cities and universities against objection of local governments, police departments and educational staff. (State-wide open carry)
– Some radicals PROPOSE interrogations and concentration camps for Muslims who practice their faith peacefully.
– Some radicals PROPOSE deporting 11 million illegal immigrants, most of whom are hard-working peaceful residents.

We are in danger of losing our hard-won freedoms if we allow these un-American and un-Constitutional behaviors to continue.


Stevendad July 25, 2016 at 12:09 pm

whay will happen is unclear. I’m not at all happy With either candidate.


Stevendad July 25, 2016 at 12:29 pm

I’m against all of this and in favor of anything that trims current government size and scope, especially Federal. You Proggressive Dems want Federal control of EVERYTHING including police, education, health. You’re just not paying attention if you don’t see that!


Peter July 26, 2016 at 2:20 pm

All of this is power gone awry….the same thing the Occupy people were protesting and what was behind the tea party, Trump, Sanders and most of the political movements of the last few years. Crony capitalism….. cant believe that the party with the progressive mindset has such a corporate shill with no real conviction of her own (a puppet for Wall St and big money donors) as their candidate. If there was ever a time for a 3rd party, this is it. But the media will do all they can to ensure nobody considers this….. As we saw from the DNCs own emails, they are in bed with the media as well. And before I get accused of being partisan, this is certainly true on the other side as well. Enough with these two corrupt BS parties…..can’t take much more.

Big Data July 28, 2016 at 10:13 am

” a corporate shill with no real conviction of her own (a puppet for Wall St and big money donors) ”

That’s the cartoonist portrait of Hillary painted by opponents. The truth is completely different. She has deep convictions and seeks office primarily to improve our country. Even a superficial look at her actual history reveals that much. If she can soak bankers for speaking fees and then enact sensible regulation they don’t like, to restrict their destructive tendencies, that’s fine with me.

She is smart and capable, and respected globally, except by political opponents who fear her strengths and ability to enact progressive policy… which is not tearing down the system, by the way, but restoring it to better functionality.

Frustrated July 28, 2016 at 2:52 pm

More partisan stuff. Guess it is which set of lies you believe.

Big Data August 1, 2016 at 10:47 pm

I understand different political opinions. But the two major party candidates are not symmetric, nor equally qualified, and they should not be presented that way. DT has no presidential qualifications or abilities, and many qualities that badically disqualify him from the office. Hillary has decades of experience and clear political ability. And to describe her as someone with no passion for what she does is just absurd. Disagree with her or dislike her, but at least use critique that makes some sense.

As for the list of scandals, how does a basement unclassified mail server even begin to compare with Trump University (for instance). Trump lied to initiate and perpetuate a scam that made him rich by cheating others out of large sums of money. Who, ultimately, was hurt by the mail server? No evidence indicates even a single secret compromised by it. What nefarious benefit did it give Hillary. Convenience and control. Whoop tee do.

Benghazi. Investigated 8 times, by both parties and independent commissions, and not a shred of evidence to substantiate accuser’s rash conspiracy theories.

She just is not the demon GOP leaders have advertised. She is disliked not for nefarious things she has done, but for Progressive policies that she may implement. She is not a criminal, but just a smart and strong Democrat. THAT is why GOP fears her.

Henry August 2, 2016 at 7:24 am

Agree with Frustrated. Depends on what lies you believe. Kim Jong Il once got 10 holes-in-one on an 18 hole golf course. And Hillary’s private email server was no big deal. The Dem party used to be the party of the people – now THEY are the ones who are bought by Wall Street and corrupted by power.

If the DNC emails could have been hacked, isn’t it reasonable to think that the classified emails on Hillary’s server could have been as well? Or do you not believe that because the government said it was so?

Our Secretary of State put classified emails on a private server! Don’t be blind to the propaganda….. Hillary may be hard-working, smart, etc. but she lacks integrity.

Big Data August 2, 2016 at 8:42 pm

Henry, it seems to me that the combination of multiple issues with the email makes it seem worse than it really was.
1) Hillary unclassified account had classified emails. Should she be punished? On the one hand, proper protection of classified material is a big deal in the government. But realise that leaders in government often skirt the rules to get their jobs done. Security has a lot of gray areas and the rules are less clear than many imagine. People talk around the secrets to get their jobs done. Secretaries of State on both parties have done the same thing, including Colin Powell. And 90 percent of the retroactively classified emails were sent to hillary, not by hillary. This was not criminal. It was Washington standard procedure.

2) Using personal email for got business was also common.

Consider if the above 2 items were all the benghazi witch hunt uncovered, we would never have heard about it. Because it was all so common.

3) The personal server was different and somehow able to be made suspicious. Ultimately it earned a rebuke from the FBI director. But it also ultimately caused no harm. The type of gray area secrets onboard were probably not deep secret plans, or identities of secret agents, but just diplomatic facts that were sensitive. And they were already being passed around on blackberries and iphones. Could the server have been hacked. Yes, but no evidence says it was. And meanwhile government servers are proven to have been hacked. So anything lost was subject to being lost regardless.

Maybe you really really believe Hillary knew information was absolutely secret and dangerous to national security and just was completely and blatantly irresponsible. I don’t. I really just think she was trying to get her job done.

But whatever you or I believe, the facts remain that there was no monetary or unethical benefit to Hillary in using that server. And nobody was hurt. It was a beareaucratic oversight but not a criminal act. Plainly.

Peter August 3, 2016 at 6:37 am

Regardless of what either of you believe, I can at least tell you firsthand that this having classified emails on private servers is not commonplace. At the least you risk losing your clearances or your job.


Big Data August 7, 2016 at 10:51 am

Finally read some more detail in less quoted news reports. Aside from the retroactively (and questionably) classified e-mails (90% of which were sent to her, and not from her), there seem to be only 3 e-mails that were marked as classified. These 3 had some paragraph markings of (C) which indicated “Confidential”, the lowest classification. The FBI director has conceded that these were incorrectly marked, as the conditions that temporarily made those paragraphs confidential had already been changed by the time the mails were sent, and the classifications should have been removed.

This is a completely minor, non-criminal, bureaucratic issue. It is completely irrelevant to Hillary’s extensive qualifications or abilities, or to DT’s complete and utter lack of the same.

Peter July 25, 2016 at 6:40 am

Hopefully at least now Steven H can see how rigged the political system is – even in his party. Read through some of these emails and you will see absolute proof as to how the two parties control the media and public perception. Sending fake protesters to Trump rallies….WOW. Is anything real? Libya in American clothing……

The whole round-and-round comes down to dueling anecdotes….. Steven H says that “Almost everyone I know is responsible, hard-working and smart”. And one person after another has been on here for years – many of which are job creators and hire/fire these people – sharing anecdotes that suggest otherwise.

Honestly, if you truly believe that the bottom 20% are across the board characterized as “responsible, hard-working and smart” then I can see why one would feel frustrated. I think I speak for all of us small business owners on here when I wish that Steven H would introduce us to his friends. We could use the help.


Stevendad July 25, 2016 at 12:39 pm

Well said. You’re right BD is Steven H. Subterfuge even in our humble thread.

Again, Progressive Dems are panicking because they are in danger of being COMPLETELY OUT OF being in charge of ANYTHING. The press has lost all credibility with real people. A “free press” should not include controls by government, but also political parties or left wing organizations.

Unfortunately, TRUTH is not what matters to the press or much of our legal system. Just advancing “the Cause”, or unrestrained Liberalism.

They should be satisfied they’ve almost 100% won the moral issue battle. (As a Libertarian, OK with me BTW). It was stunning to watch an openly gay man receive a standing ovation at the REPUBLICAN convention. Unthinkable in the past…


Peter N July 27, 2016 at 12:17 pm

“The press has lost all credibility with real people. A “free press” should not include controls by government, but also political parties or left wing organizations.”
There are plenty of alternative news sources on YouTube, but you must screen them carefully because they too will report only what advances their cause.

The “free press” didn’t give Gary Johnson much visibility. The “free press” effectively decided Hilary is going to be president. Sanders and Trump are interesting and therefore news worthy. All the rest are simply ignored.

Of topic a bit. I saw some videos on economics by Mark Blythe. For the most part I think the videos are good but they tend to lean a little to the left. He talks fast and with an accent. While I agree with his complaints with the big banks, Mark Blythe tends to talk about the economy as being a zero sum game like Steven H. I agree with Mark Blythe that austerity is rarely the answer and the EU/Euro is going to fail. However, Mark Blythe doesn’t seem to have a handle on the solution. Generate wealth. This is the only thing that keeps economics from being a zero sum game. Greece doesn’t export anything the rest of the world wants in a big way. It is doomed.

Back to here. People need to be more productive. There are too many that are leaches. The government must do what ever it takes to motivate these leaches and make them productive or we too will be like Greece. Then what?

The GDP numbers are a lie. GDP measure economic activity but it doesn’t necessarily measure productive economic activity. Just look at China.
Governments don’t seem to care too much in the short run because economic activity is taxed one way or another whether it is productive or not.
There needs to be a better way to measure productivity so politicians have better feedback.


Big Data July 27, 2016 at 11:23 pm

No subterfuge. Plainly stated in the open. See previous page, near the bottom.


Big Data July 28, 2016 at 6:10 am

I talk about people in the lower 99% or lower 90% as statistical measures and as personl examples. Many of the folks I know are in the 2nd and 3rd quintiles from top, although many high school and college grads i know would be in the lower 2 quintiles. My mother is retired and in the lowest quintile. I know a few folks in the upper quintile but not upper 1%.

Why does conversation always divert to the lower 20% and what lazy loafers they are. It’s a diversion
The problem is that pretty much everyone but the upper earners are getting screwed by our economic distribution system. It has little to do with hard work or the lower 20%.

Education is aegitimate issue discussed here. But if we want a better educated populace, we need low cost colleges as in the 1950s, not savings draining profit machines.

And we need to stop demonizing the non-1%


Frustrated July 29, 2016 at 10:02 am

Not sure why you are so overly sensitive. Do you not believe there are lazy uneducated people in our society? And what quintile do you think they are in? I hardly think anyone is demonizing 99% of our country on here. I don’t get your stubbornness to acknowledge that there are winners and losers in society – people that make poor decisions or flatly don’t work hard enough or take advantage of opportunities. Maybe you are from a white-collar or rich environment or something – because the world I live in has a lot of idiots and lazy people making poor decisions.


Big Data August 1, 2016 at 10:28 pm

Of course there are a percentage of lazy people in the country and in the world. And I don’t think that percentage is very large or changes very much over time. I don’t think it explains why median incomes have not gone up in 15 years but high earner incomes have.


Peter August 3, 2016 at 10:08 am

I have said many times….. lazy people or idiots (Frustrated’s words not mine), unskilled labor, non-winners, whatever you want to call them…. have been hurt the most by the new economy. Automation, shipping jobs overseas, etc. have crushed the manufacturing sector where most of these people work. Giant corporations play a role as well with tighter spending, monopolistic practices, etc. The government plays a role with their choking of industry with regulations and red tape as well. But the big reason is the transition of the new economy to a more technical one, which has left a large portion of our country behind.

Big Data August 7, 2016 at 10:30 am

Let’s assume, for argument’s sake, that your assessment is correct. Essentially it presumes that various factors have combined to allow a few people to benefit much more than most Americans. The questions then are:
1) Is this a reasonable result that can allowed to persist?
2) Will this condition rebalance by itself?
3) Is this an imbalanced result that will destabilize and slow the economy unless there is intervention by changes in government policy?
4) What can be done to change the result to something more stable?

You can guess my answers:
1) No.
2) No.
3) Yes.
4) Adjust policy to make education more affordable and to encourage more collaboration between industry and the education system. Adjust trade policy to stem the loss of American jobs. Adjust tax policy on multi-nationals to reward the creation and retention of American jobs. Adjust healthcare policy to prevent the economic reward to business of hiring part-time rather than full-time workers. Adjust tax policy to restore progressivity at incomes over 1 million dollars. Establish business policies that better reward and encourage small business vs big business.

Peter July 26, 2016 at 10:50 am

More stats for you guys….

1. There are 118 million households in the US. 82 million of these are family households, while 36 million are one person living alone or a group of unrelated people. 5 million households are multi-generational. This falls in line with what Ken was saying about marriage and family impacting income inequality.

2. The top 5% of US taxpayers pay 1.5 times as much federal income tax as the other 95%.

3. A dual working couple making $95k that turned 65 in 2015 is projected to receive $422k in Medicare benefits. This is 3 times what they paid in during their working years (adjusted for present value).

4. A dual working couple making $95k that turned 65 in 2015 is projected to receive $616k in Social Security benefits. This is only 13% more than the amount they paid in.


Big Data July 27, 2016 at 9:06 pm

I think you may have mistyped a number in either 3 or4 above. Please recheck.


Big Data July 28, 2016 at 6:15 am

Sorry misread the posts. I thought you were trying to give different income examples, but the differences in posts were Medicare vs social security.


Big Data July 27, 2016 at 10:23 pm

I don’t want have a battle of statistics but I would like to make a point or two about the stats Peter presented above, and about an earlier point on mobility.

First, picture our incomes as pools of water. This is easier to picture in our minds than piles of money. For simplicity picture 3 great big pools of water where the amount of waters in 2 of the pools represents the total incomes of all of the people who live in and around each pool. The 3rd pool is a reservoir of water drained from the other two pools and represents government funding from income taxes. The smaller pool initially has about 9% of all the water, before about 1/3, or 3% of all water is transferred to the government pool. The largest pool initially has about 91% of all water before 12% of all water, which is about 13% of the initial fill, is drained to the government pool, leaving 79% of all water in the big pool, and 15% in the government pool. And the remaining 6% is in the little pool.

Too complicated? Bear with me. Percentages are 79 and 6 in the income pools and 15 in the govt pool.

But how many folks are at the income pools? At the big pool are 99% of all the people, with 1% at the little pool. The small pool has more than 7 times the water per percentile of folks in the other pool, on average. We won’t complicate the discussion with depth disparities within the pools.

Through the year, everyone uses the water for cleaning, drinking, watering gardens, and economic exchange. Much of this water flows back to its originating pool. Government water is used to water the public lands and partially counter the lessened prosperity for people in the shallowest portions of the big pool. And the ecology is such that economic growth, visualized as rainfall, increases the total water supply by about 2% each year.

Time passes.

The collection of water from economic rainfall, and the flow of water among the lakes has changed. Eventually people notice that the big pool has gotten almost no net water growth for decades. They look to the government pool. It still gets about 14% of all water after the tax drains a little less in percentage than before. But their pool only has the same amount of water in gallons as 10 or 15 years ago. Where has all the rainfall growth gone? Then they look at the little pool. It still provides for 1 percent of population, but now contains about 19% of all water before the drain and 14% after. More than 2x the former percentage. And the big pool has only 81% of all water before the drain and about 62% of all water after.

Sorry for all the weird percentages. These numbers are based on agi income shares and effective tax rates from tax foundation in 1980 and 2013.

Continued next post.


Big Data July 27, 2016 at 11:17 pm

Miscalculation. 62% in above paragraph should be 72%.
After taxes, the pools are 72%, and 14% for incomes, and 14% for govt.
Sorry for the error.


Big Data July 27, 2016 at 11:11 pm

So the little pool more than doubled in share, the big pool got smaller, and the government pool stayed about the same. Before I get complaints on that, note that percent of all agi paid in income taxes was 15.3% in 1980 and 13.6% in 2013. I’m trying to use real stats.

That’s the setup, and here are my objections. In just a minute. Please don’t focus too much on particulars of what is or is not included in these numbers above. They are just one of many ways to express the economics over time. I woul really just like to communicate an idea or two as to why many people are unswayed by the certain arguments that minimize income disparity issues. I am really less interested in persuading anyone to my political perspective, than I am in increasing a level of understanding of why certain arguments ring hollow to myself and many others. Please read for understanding and not for objection.

Here goes.

1) Peter expressed how the upper 5% pays more than half of all income taxes. This is correct. It was 58.6% in 2013 according to tax foundation. Also the upper 1% paid over 1/3 of all taxes, or 37.8% share. Now picture this argument in United Pools of Rainlandia, described in my last post. The folks in the big pool are mad because their pool is not growing and has smaller percentage share, while the little pool, after taxes, more than doubled in size. Little pool people say “hey, we pay about 38% of all the water that’s in the government pool, and by the way, more of that gets spent on you than us.” Big pool people look at the opulence of the little pool where each person now averages more than 20x after tax water that big pool people have. They say “we don’t care what share of tax water comes from you. You are taking all of the rainwater for yourself. You used to get 9% of all water and pay 1/3 of it as tax. Now you get 19% and pay barely over 1/4 of it in tax. Your income is up and your tax rate is down and you can’t fool me with your numbers about tax shares. You pay a bigger share of taxes because you get a bigger share of income, but you still pay a smaller percent of the water you have routed to your pool than what you used to pay with less income. We are not happy about this. ”

That is why most people do not care about the tax share stats of the 1% in the little pool. The tax burden effective rate of the 1% is down even as their after tax share of income is up. No one cares what their tax share is. Do you understand?

2) Then one of the little pool representatives speaks up. “You know, mobility is the real issue here. There are just as many people moving around in the big pool from the shallow depths to the average depths to the deep depths as there ever were. And there is an exchange of people between the big and little pools as well. The real problem is you need to work harder to get in the deep end of your pool or if you really work hard and are prosperous, you can move to our pool.”

A big burly swimmer from big pool goes to little pool representative and stares him down. “Listen, my family and friends are working as hard as we ever have, and just as hard as our fathers and grand fathers. The problem is not how we move around in our own pool. The problem is that you are claiming all the new water for your pool. Our pool is getting no new water. Our pool is not getting fed but yours is. And I don’t buy the argument that you and your folk deserve all of the new rainfall while we get none of that growth. Mobility is not the issue. That pool of yours that doubled in size is the issue. I am not happy.”

Burly swimmer has a pretty good argument. Can you see his point of view?


Big Data July 27, 2016 at 11:20 pm

Little to big pool share per capita after taxes is 17.5x, not 20x. Sorry for the error.


Henry July 29, 2016 at 7:30 am

LOL. Welcome to “Condescending Kindergarten Economics 101”. This last post might be the dumbest thing I have read on here yet.


Big Data August 1, 2016 at 10:19 pm

If it is so trivial and obvious, then why do posters here seem oblivious to these two points?

1) Tax shares are up for the 1% because income shares are up. It makes no sense to declare tax shares of the wealthy as a burden when effective tax rates are still relatively low.

2) Mobility among the lower 4 depleted quintiles does not counteract lost income of 90% of Americans shifted to upper 1%.

Yes it is all quite simple, I agree. Yet people still don’t see it.


Henry August 2, 2016 at 7:17 am

It’s not trivial and obvious. It is dumb. Making analogies to try and make the economy work the way you think it does.

Big Data August 2, 2016 at 9:53 pm

I have expressed an analogy to express precisely how actual statistics demonstrate the economy IS working. Most new income has gone to the upper 1%.

If you still don’t understand how the analogy is tied to the actual statistics, Henry, I can go over it again for you. Or you could make an intelligent critique rather than just posting insults.

Henry August 3, 2016 at 10:04 am

No. Your analogy takes the statistics and forms them into a paradigm you think exists. Others have told you before that you lack a thorough understanding of the economy and how it all works (if I’m not mistaken). The analogy just makes the economy sound like a simple children’s book with only one or two moving parts. Of course this is to try and support your point of view. Notice the overwhelming reply you got from everyone whose eyes you opened, though! Good job!

Big Data August 7, 2016 at 10:14 am

Henry, Of course any analogy is a simplification to achieve clarity. So your critique of my analogy is that it does precisely what analogies do.

The points you seem to completely missing are: that mobility among quintiles is much less appealing and less relevant if you decrease the income within those quintiles; and that tax shares of the wealthy have risen primarily due to the rise of income shares, and thus that statistic is meaningless as a measure of burden on the rich.

Neither of those points are an invention due to a contrived paradigm. They are plain, factual, and rather indisputable. My story was simply a manner to illustrate those facts with realistic statistics.

Your objections are emotional and not factual. Perhaps you could clarify whether you object to the facts presented, or merely my presentation of them, and perhaps you could also present what your objection specifically consuists of, rather than just an emotional objection to analogy as a form of discussion.

Big Data August 7, 2016 at 10:38 am

Henry, I don’t really care what insults may be tossed at me per understanding of the economy. I am only interested in actual arguments and discussions of that economy. My arguments are generally factual and accurate, as is my understanding of the general principles. Of course my understanding of the economy is incomplete. So is yours, and so is everyone’s here. Everybody on this forum has made at least one statement that it is incorrect regarding the economy. My goal is not to accumulate the score or recall the insults. My goal is to increase understanding, present facts, counteract incorrect information, and find common ground.

It will be helpful fto all of us for you to participate in those goals and not simply creating new insults or recounting who previously insulted who.

Big Data July 27, 2016 at 11:38 pm

Watched parts of republican and democrat conventions. Trump is a disturbing man. No plans, just slogans. No understanding of politics, foreign policy, or diplomacy. Has alienated most of the leaders in his own party. Complete narcissist. Multiple bankruptcies which scroo his investors and workers while he gets rich. Sham of a trump university which cheats people out of life savings. Won’t reveal tax returns. Flip flops on every opinion to please an audience. Has never done anything for workers but can still peddle his snake oil slogans that he has all the answers. Which he can’t reveal or explain. Nobody of repute even attended the Trump party convention. Speaks of a dystopian midnight in America. Faked crime statistics. Fear-mongering and lies. A disgrace.

Meanwhile, Democrats trumpet the progress made since the depths of the Great Recession. A hopeful, bright future. They have successfully torn away the cartoonish caricature that GOP have painted on Hillary and revealed the talented, resourceful, skilled, and fully capable leader that she will be. Democrat leaders, entertainers, and a hopeful population flock to her progressive movement. The world has hope again. Thank God.


Stevendad July 28, 2016 at 5:07 am

It must be good to be able to believe in one of these horrible candidates. It would be difficult to believe in someone whose main aim is narcissistic self aggrandizement, personal greed, dishonesty and corruption. The problem is BOTH exhibit that behavior. One used private (& usually legal) methods and the other public (& possibly illegal ( FBI still investigating) methods). If only I could blind myself to the facts!

BD: don’t forget 12 to 15% of Personal income, almost $2.5T per the Fed, is earned by the bottom 50% in some murky underground aquifer. That has a significant leveling effect to the stats, of course ignored by your model. Also the small pool has cisterns and aqueducts, constructed to hold on to “water”. The large pool won’t (poor saving and investment, borrowing for junk, etc) or can’t (Dodd Frank lending strangulation) invest in “equipment”. Some of this is voluntary and some due to Dem programs of unfettered immigration and wee intentioned but destructive regulation. Of course there are tweaks that need to be made, but Progressives want a compete tear down. So they can reconstruct pools they can control. And profit from them if history is a lesson…

Did anyone notice Obama almost completely ignored crushing debt, wage stagnation, shrinking of labor force, increases in families in poverty, ISIS, worsening race relations, slow growth when talking last night? My God we’d all be SO good looking if we could somehow make our flaws invisible. Must have some kind of carnival mirror in his house that does that! Any one remember the Emperor has no Clothes fable?


Big Data July 28, 2016 at 10:44 am

I do not know where your 2.5 trillion in mystery income to lower quintile comes from or who says it exists. Sum of all welfare, social security, and health care spending in 2015 federal budget is $3.1 trillion and that does not go mostly to lower quintile. What data backs up your 2.5T number of mystery income to lower 20%?


Big Data July 28, 2016 at 10:46 am

Or you actually said bottom 50%, not 20%. But still, where is that data?


Stevendad July 28, 2016 at 1:18 pm

From the USA today / New Yorker magazine.http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2013/05/12/2-trillion-dollar-underground-economy-recovery-savior/2144279/ Not exactly conservative bastions. The Fed uses statistical studies of several things and they tend to be in this range. I’ll admit I rounded up due the improved economy and inflation. It is reasonable to assume a huge chunk goes to bottom 50%. Even 1/2 of it would DOUBLE their income. http://taxfoundation.org/article/summary-latest-federal-income-tax-data-2015-update. Of course with no taxes paid in. That’s a great argument for VAT taxing.
I’m curious, have you ever worked in a regular basis with poor people? We saw it all the time. Government program assistance and underground incomes that dwarfed ours as residents.


Big Data August 1, 2016 at 7:58 pm

Really. Your income was “dwarfed” by poor people?

Stevendad July 28, 2016 at 1:06 pm

Let’s see… How about the conservative bastion New Yorker Magazine. http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2013/04/29/the-underground-recovery They said $2T, the Fed estimated 12 to 15% of total income. I assume that most goes to bottom 50% since the rest of us by our legal nature and the fact we have to file returns that could get audited do not hide as much income. IRS rarely comprehensively audits those in the bottom 50%. Willie Sutton rule. Even if it’s half, $1T DOUBLES (http://taxfoundation.org/article/summary-latest-federal-income-tax-data-2015-update) total income of bottom 50%. Without paying taxes BTW…


Big Data July 31, 2016 at 7:46 am

Interesting data. By the way, I was not trying to imply you made up the data or that it was suspicious. I just wanted to see the source for details.

So I agree there is an underground economy, estimated at around $2T (but could be more). If we knew exactly how much it was and who benefitted from it, we could better assess its impact. For lack of additional knowledge, your guess of 50% of that hidden economy benefitting the lower 50% seems like a reasonable number. It could be more or less, though. When a wealthy family hires a nanny and pays cash, are they really paying her more because it is non-reported income? Or are they paying quite a bit less because they are hiding payments to an undocumented immigrant and they can get away with sub-standard pay, saving labor costs, taxes and paperwork? Or are they splitting the tax benefit with the worker, and just cheating Uncle Sam? You can see all sorts of possibilities and, by its very nature, the economics of a hidden economy are difficult to evaluate. Maybe the lower 50% are getting 50% of value of the hidden economy. Or maybe the upper 10% are getting most of that value by saving a lot of that money on taxes and labor expenses for nannies, yard workers, and house repair and construction, and the like.

Bottom line is it that it may flatten the income curve of the lower 50% a bit, and it decreases tax revenues to federal government, but it is unlikely to impact the overall statistics of changing income disparity by any appreciable amount.


Peter July 31, 2016 at 8:12 am

I don’t housekeepers in my area would say they is getting substandard pay. They get $180 for about 3 hours work.

Peter July 31, 2016 at 8:12 am

Boy, spell check butchered that one…. You get the idea

Big Data August 1, 2016 at 7:49 pm

I presume that is a published rate for over the table work. The hidden economy likely pays less, right? That would make sense.

Big Data August 1, 2016 at 7:53 pm

My point is just that it is unclear who benefits most from the hidden economy. I admit it is reasonable to assume that it is many of the lower 50% who receive a chunk of this unrecorded income, but other folks also benefit.

Peter August 2, 2016 at 7:12 am

We pay them in cash….not sure if that is what you mean by ‘published’ or ‘over the table’.

Peter July 28, 2016 at 2:57 pm

Agreed. How anyone could defend or support these two awful candidates is beyond me. I suppose if you assume everything negative you hear is “planted by the other side or a caricature or lie” then that would be a good start…..


Peter July 28, 2016 at 9:53 pm

Of course it does make sense at a convention of one of these two parties to not mention all their screw-ups. They are selling to their base here. Stay away from your weaker issues and focus on strength.

I do wonder what percentage of people are voting for one of these two just to keep the other from winning. Not really the way people should vote, but unfortunately it is our reality.


Stevendad July 28, 2016 at 1:19 pm

I’m not sure if this is posting…


Peter July 28, 2016 at 3:00 pm

And meanwhile…..the Federal Government just jacked up long term care insurance premiums to their own employees….making them 2.5x as expensive. This has NEVER happened in the private sector. Now Fed employees are stuck paying higher premiums or dropping or reducing the coverage they already paid for. More of our inept government at work. Bet this won’t be n the convention floor.


Peter August 2, 2016 at 12:13 pm

A few interesting stats I saw from a recent study regarding mobility…..(all numbers inflation adjusted)

– 63% of all children have a higher income in their 30’s than their parents did when they were that age.

Broken down by quintile it looks like this:
Top 20% – 43%
Second 20% – 55%
Middle 20% – 60%
Fourth 20% – 74%
Bottom 20% – 81%

– 40% of the kids raised in the top quintile stayed there. 60% fell.

– 26% of all white kids raised in the bottom quintile stayed there. 64% of all black kids raised in the bottom quintile stayed there.

Don’t let politicians, politically motivated people or other negative, victimized folks convince you of the dire state of our nation. Income mobility still exists generationally – without a shadow of a doubt.

Misinformation (or at least the twisting or emphasizing of it) is the key to controlling the electorate. Both conventions illustrated this. And both sides personal slanders of the two candidates illustrate it as well.

I honestly feel sorry for the blind, die-hard supporters I see for Trump and Clinton. How someone could be so gung-ho for either of these to be so blind to the obvious SERIOUS shortcomings of both candidates is beyond me. And scary. And just being all-in for Trump or Clinton because you hate or are scared by the other is the SAME THING.

Every day I see things around me that inspire me to the greatness of this nation and it’s people. Innovation, hard work, mobility and freedom….. What depresses me is the state of politics, cronyism and the corrupt and controlled media – and I fear that it might ruin our nation if something doesn’t change soon. The leaks from the DNC emails just exposed the reality of how we are all being taken for a ride by the major parties. Don’t kid yourself in thinking that the RNC doesn’t have similar emails with Rush Limbaugh and Fox News under their thumb as well. Just watch the way Hannity and friends now GUSH over Trump…..after attacking him relentlessly before he won the nomination. All BS – all controlled…..

Sorry, just had to rant. For anyone out there listening who is falling prey to this depressing narrative – just keep your head up, become as educated as you can, and work your butt off. Talk to those who have been where you want to be and find out “what it takes”. Focus on tomorrow and ignore the immature nonsense that is our political arena and news media. And vote for a third party if you ever want this nonsense to stop. We have that right as Americans…..we can change but the only way to do it is to keep a balance of power. For decades the Republicans had it and now the Democrats have it. Under both scenarios we have seen rising debt, underfunded and poorly run programs, waste, and kickbacks and favors to the richest of the rich. The people need to speak up against the establishment to regain a true balance of power.


Big Data August 2, 2016 at 9:25 pm

That’s a nice positive message, and good advice as well. However, I have to ask: in a country where gdp and inflation adjusted average per capita incomes rise about 2% per year, why do one third or more of children NOT earn more than their parents did at the same age.

And I guess the study does not distinguish between making just a few dollars more and making a big percentage more.

To go back to my two income pools: just because the water in the big pool rose a little, allowing most folks to swim just a little deeper, does not mean that it is good for the country to have most new rain fill only the little pool.


Peter August 3, 2016 at 1:14 pm

I think 2/3 of all people earning more than their parents is a tremendously positive statistic. (Remember, these numbers are adjusted for inflation)

As anyone who has raised children can attest to, there are a million reasons why your kids might not earn more than you. For instance, my kids almost definitely will not outearn me – mainly because my income is so high. That’s why only 43% of the top 20% out-earn their parents. The hurdle is higher.

Secondly, many kids may choose different career paths. If a daughter of a lawyer decides to teach second grade, she will make less. Maybe she will be happier, more fulfilled, etc. – but have a lower income.

Thirdly, people fail. Not everyone is successful. People make bad decisions or choices and fail all the time. It’s naive to think that everyone simply makes the same choices their parents did and makes less money.

So 2/3 is a really good number, particularly when you consider that 81% of the bottom 20% rises above.


Big Data August 7, 2016 at 9:52 am

Finally, when relating high income disparity and mobility, perhaps the question should not be “Which is more important?”, but rather, “How do they interact?”

I think it is pretty plain to see, and straightforward to expect, that if high income disparity could be lessened, relative mobility among the quintiles, and absolute upward mobility across generations would naturally increase and improve. Conversely, the high levels of income disparity are suppressing mobility, and preventing and suppressing the prosperity that more Americans might otherwise achieve.

There is the other view: that lessened prosperity (in the form of declining or stagnating incomes) of the lower 4 quintiles is somehow the fault of poor decisions or failed work ethics of those Americans, and that the increased prosperity (rising incomes and increased wealth at rates far beyond other Americans) of the upper incomes (“the 1%”) is wholly earned by their accelerated and increased ambition and intellect. I reject this, and I think most readers here would also reject the premise, at least when stated that way.

And if the incomes of a small group increase at rates far beyond that attributable to their merits, while most Americans’ incomes stagnate or decline despite their merits, and if the primary benefit of the economy as espoused by the most well off is that it benefits themselves above others, it put to serious question whether we truly have a meritocracy, or simply a hypocrisy.


Big Data August 7, 2016 at 10:01 am

I should state, that in my attempt to turn a clever phrase, Peter or others might infer that I am calling them hypocrites, personally. That is NOT my intent. I am simply noting that high income disparity, by its very nature raises a few far above the many. It therefore seems to me to be hypocritical to ascribe special importance and merit to those who have most benefited, simply by virtue of having benefited. Again, the question is not whether people rise relatively higher in benefits due to their merits, but whether they should rise so much higher that they can accumulate benefits far beyond what their merits would normally dictate, and at far more expense to others.


Peter August 7, 2016 at 2:24 pm

Don’t worry about offending me. You are saying the same things you have been saying and I have already refuted most of it – and am beyond taking any offense at this point. So please feel free to speak your mind.


Peter August 7, 2016 at 2:27 pm

That sounded bad….what I mean is that people can read my statements and understand (or not) what I meant. And same for you. I used to try and pick apart your replies, which just like this last one, infer things I didn’t say. But I’ll let my words stand on their own. Yours should do the same. I’m not going to tell you what you are trying to say and hopefully people don’t attribute your rewording of my posts to me.

Big Data August 7, 2016 at 5:45 pm

I just wanted to be clear that no personal insult was intended, and that I was in fact expanding your statement to a more general argument that has been expressed by others but that was not literally yours.

The initial point addressed to you, Peter, was that a return of some percentage of shifted income back to the middle class would certainly improve economic mobility and even the productivity of the nation.

Peter August 7, 2016 at 6:14 pm

“Expand” my statements all you want….but then they are no longer my statements, they are yours.

Big Data August 7, 2016 at 9:01 am

This may or may not be the same study you referenced, but it seems to have similar stats. The article here describes a lot of complexity in the topic of economic mobility, and a lot of points that that can be cherry-picked to make it look either as if we are in very good shape or very bad.


I have to ask (of Peter) what was your point in quoting
“– 26% of all white kids raised in the bottom quintile stayed there. 64% of all black kids raised in the bottom quintile stayed there.”
It’s an interesting statistic, but do you have any notion of why that occurs, or what it means? Why emphasize it?

The reason I ask is not that I believe you have any racist intent, but that the statement, presented with no context or interpretation, does have a rather obvious racist overtone (Whites more successful/ambitious/capable than blacks). I would be interested to hear your interpretation.

I will offer one possible explanatory note from this article, and you are welcome to embrace or reject it:
“Finally, remaining in the bottom is much more common among black families than white families.[23] While much remains to be learned about why this is so, another EMP report starkly shows that black and white children grow up in entirely different economic worlds. Simply put, two-thirds of black children experience a level of neighborhood poverty growing up that just 6 percent of white children will ever see.[24] That is a national tragedy. It’s certainly hard to see how the kids are to blame.”

Another point that stands out to me is that:
“What is clear is that in at least one regard American mobility is exceptional: not in terms of downward mobility from the middle or from the top, and not in terms of upward mobility from the middle — rather, where we stand out is in our limited upward mobility from the bottom. And in particular, it’s American men who fare worse than their counterparts in other countries.[16] One study compared the United States with Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and the United Kingdom. It found that in each country, whether looking at sons or at daughters, 23 to 30 percent of children whose fathers were in the bottom fifth of earnings remained in the bottom fifth themselves as adults — except in the United States, where 42 percent of sons remained there.[17]”


Peter August 7, 2016 at 2:44 pm

It’s ridiculous (and inflammatory) to say that the mere statement of facts that mention white and black people “has racist overtones”. I just found this an interesting part of the study.

I’m sure it may have to do with the over-incarceration of black males and like Ken said months/years ago the lack of dual income households that result. It is not because their skin color makes them more likely to be a failure. Ugh…..


Peter August 7, 2016 at 2:51 pm

Not to mention that most black families are only a few generations removed from slavery. They are in their infancy in the generational education, money management and general decision making that results in success. Often, they aren’t fortunate to have generations of people before them that engrained in each subsequent generation what it takes to succeed. And many haven’t broken off the mindset of expecting society or the government to help them or give them what they need. This is true across all races too….but maybe the black community might see a little more of this due to their awful (and embarrassing) history in the US.

I speak often at black churches and community groups in my area (for free by the way) and see first hand some of the things their parents have told them about money, success and what it takes to “move up”. The cool thing is you can see they are hungry for the message (Stevendad called it “SWIM” or something….) and hopefully each generation makes it better for the next. Unfortunately, many have bought into to your more defeatist message that there is nothing they can do – that they are reliant on others. That’s never been a path to success.


Big Data August 7, 2016 at 5:24 pm

I just didn’t understand why you quoted the black/white statistic if there was no point to be made from it. Thanks for clarifying.


Peter August 7, 2016 at 6:10 pm

Exactly! I very often over the years have just posted raw facts and stats on here that I find interesting. There doesn’t always have to be an agenda or a point I was making. Honestly, I hadn’t really thought about the reason for this until you asked me. Didn’t think I was making a point more than I was just showing the facts. My opinions on the study were below….

Big Data August 7, 2016 at 5:33 pm

“Unfortunately, many have bought into to your more defeatist message that there is nothing they can do”

That’s not my message at all. My message is this: We are all interdependent on each other, as well as our own actions. That is what a community is about. We all have personal responsibility to improve ourselves as well as ethical responsibility to give back to our community and nation. You obviously understand this if you are sharing your expertise in free speaking engagements. Good for you. [Applause].

My message is that this country is not at its full potential when incomes have been shifted in substantial percentages from those need it and will spend it to those who don’t need it and have more than they even know how to invest wisely.


Peter August 7, 2016 at 6:11 pm

Right – we just disagree in the government’s role in this. We have a personal and ethical responsibility to give back. But we shouldn’t have a legal one.

Peter August 7, 2016 at 6:13 pm

Oh and by the way my reply was to your first paragraph. I admittedly didn’t read the second one until after. No comment on that one. You know I don’t believe in “incomes being shifted”.

Big Data August 2, 2016 at 9:27 pm

This article has a pretty good discussion of issues of income disparity and income mobility.



Stevendad August 3, 2016 at 10:28 am

Again, income disparity is largely CAUSED by Dem programs, unfettered immigration and Dodd Frank lending restrictions, etc. Not that there isn’t plenty of “wealthfare”. I’m opposed to both. Also, it tends to be much worse in Dem precincts, see maps, especially large cities. http://www-personal.umich.edu/~mejn/election/2012/countymaprb1024.png

Is this a matter of guilt? Or just lip service by those who benefit the most? Or other explanation?


Big Data August 7, 2016 at 5:43 am

Stevendad, I don’t really think it is a fair assessment to attribute high income disparity to Dem policy. That argument has several weaknesses. First, the great divergence in incomes appears to have begun under Reagan, and so a careful look at his non-Dem policies is in order. These include tax policies favoring the rich, suppression of labor unions, and non-enforcement of monopoly rules. Second, the trade deals that have taken jobs away from the US, and thus have accelerated and sustained high income disparity have been favored by and /or implemented by both parties and are therefore best described as a bi-partisan policy up to this point. Such policies as the TPP are now in the peculiar position of being favored by GOP tradiditional consevatives and the sitting Dem president but held in deep suspicion by both Presidental nominees and many of their supporters.

Dodd-Frank did not even exist when the rise of high income disparity occurred, so it cannot fairly be deemed a cause of the phenomenon.

As for correlating Dem districts and high income disparity, I think that is a false logical path. One major distinguishing characteristic of Dem vs Rep districts is that Dem districts are more often in the cities while Rep dominate the less urban areas. You can make all sorts of interesting yet inappropriate statements based on that fact, regarding not only income disparity, but the number of successful businesses, the misuse of guns, the number of fires, and the height of buildings. Correlation is not causation. Just because Dems dominate cities or even particular cities, that does not in itself demonstrate that Dem policy is responsible for the high income disparity that such cities typically represent.


Stevendad August 7, 2016 at 10:19 am

I didn’t state, I just asked. Of course, you didn’t say their concern is out of guilt. And the correlation means they CAN DO THE MOST AT A LOCAL LEVEL and leave the rest of us alone.

You never did answer, have you lived in or worked in areas of poverty?


Big Data August 7, 2016 at 12:33 pm

High income disparity is a national problem, requiring a set of national solutions along with some local implementations. Lost progressivity of federal taxes also cannot be solved locally.


Big Data August 7, 2016 at 12:38 pm

I live in a diverse area in a neighborhood lodged between a very wealthy neighborhood and a very poor neighborhood. When we moved in, their was a crack house two blocks over. Fortunately the neighborhood has improved in twenty years. My children went to schools that were about equally divided between black, hispanic and white, and some of my children’s friends were very poor. So, yes, I have had some exposure to poverty, though my family has never been poor.


Big Data August 7, 2016 at 1:38 pm

No, I didn’t say concern was out of guilt, because I don’t know of any Progressives who feel guilty or primarily responsible for high income disparity. I do know Progressives who ARE concerned about it. I don’t know of any traditional Republicans, personally, who are even concerned about it, and that is a definite obstacle to fixing the problem. I have met a few Trumpublicans who are concerned about it, as it has affected them personally. I just lament their misplaced faith in a psychotic egoist to solve their problems.


Stevendad August 7, 2016 at 10:20 am

Raise NYC / Chicago and LA city income tax to 40% for all I care!


Stevendad August 7, 2016 at 10:36 am

Gini coefficient rising since Kennedy admin, let’s see, 28 years of Dem presidents, most of those with Dem Congress. Not their fault at all in your mind I guess. They were in charge exactly half the time.
Again, we need much more local attention to this and many other problems. Why do you find that so objectionable? Again, NYC and Gotebo, OK (a real town) have almost NOTHING in common. Why do they need the same rules? And if $15/hr wage is a panacea, why not all move to Seattle? Also, please name what Alaska and Florida have in common except most speak English and are American?

Why are Progressives against local rule? Because they want to take over! Please give a cogent argument against primarily localities / states ruling themselves. Of course the Democratic Party administered institutional racism of the South is an example, but why give that party the same power.

My point, again, is we have enough if not too much Federal rule. The people’s voice, Congress, is now powerless. So the President writes laws and whoever he/she appoints to the Supreme Court will clearly uphold them regardless of their legality in the framework of the Constitution. They can rely n Senate rules and general bickering to keep Congress from doing anything.

That system worked out for Nazi Germany…read the Rise and Fall
of the Third Reich. Lots of similarities to where we are going.


Big Data August 7, 2016 at 1:10 pm

Stevendad, that was kind of a scrambled post, so I’m not sure if i can respond effectively to all points.

As to start of high income disparity:
An income disparity chart using GINI shows the number bouncing down and up and down several times within the range 41.5 (higher disparity) and 38.5 (lower disparity) between 1950 and 1980, but staying within that range. It is not until early 1980’s that GINI surpassed 41.5, and then surpassed 42 in late 1980s (never to return), and it is now well above 46. Yes you can draw a trend line backward to a trough at about 1970, but the number did not reach troubling levels until the 1980’s.


If you look at other charts (Figures 1, 3, in link above), you see a divergence in incomes beginning around 1979 (yes, pre-Reagan) but continuing with a strong upward trend since then. If Reagan did not start the trend, his policies certainly kept it going. As did the internet boom that coincided with Clinton, and his capital gains tax cut (poor idea).

Rather than assigning blame points on parties, I would think it is more productive to identify the specific failed policies that produce this destructive trend: tax cuts primarily benefitting the rich, trade policies that export jobs, weakened unions that depress salaries, hyper inflated medical and education costs that impoverish the middle class, education programs that do not correspond to sensible career goals and national needs, non-enforcement of monopoly policies, and so on.

Both parties had national administrations that enacted sensible policy allowing shared prosperity from the 1950’s to 1970’s, with declining national debt burden, and low cost higher education. We can’t return to those decades. But we can use those decades as inspiration to show that more sensible policy is possible.


Peter August 7, 2016 at 2:33 pm

Lol @ you saying it is not productive to place blame on a particular party. Really??????


Big Data August 7, 2016 at 3:36 pm

There are certain policies associated with parties or movements that make it easy to blame “GOP” or “economic conservatives” or “Democrats” or “Progressives” as sort of a shorthand for the policies they typically represent. But what I am saying (and I have evolved on this) is that it may be better to identify the specific policies rather than just adding up blame points for parties. Identifying errant policies enables us to figure out improved replacement policies. Blaming parties or movements just gets everyone mad.


Peter August 7, 2016 at 6:08 pm

Great. Then please stop.

Stevendad August 9, 2016 at 6:58 am

EITHER side of this election could move towards dictatorship because the Supreme Court has become a political and not legal body. The Gini interpretation is just wrong, again.
Hyper-inflated medical and school costs correlate closely to government intervention. Look at the cost of school since the student loan system was taken over by them. And regulations tens of billions in these industries. Federal government largely at fault IMO.
Last I saw Obama was in charge of antitrust for the past 7 1/2 years. Are you blaming him?


Stevendad August 9, 2016 at 7:00 am

Note I said “he/she appoints”.


Peter August 7, 2016 at 2:31 pm

Stevendad – excellent post. Too much Federal rule and power. Period.


Stevendad August 7, 2016 at 11:15 am

I looked closer, Gini started rising in 1965 or so. Interesting that it it started just after enacting the Great Society by Johnson. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/0/01/Gini_since_WWII.svg/2000px-Gini_since_WWII.svg.png
It seems to correlate mostly with the growth of the stock market, https://www.tradingfloor.com/images/article/max608w/80815fdf-2617-428f-89e5-d6d71d074835.png
where a huge amount of income inequality comes from as much as anything. It rose steadily before AND after Reagan tax cuts you bemoan as the cause of all this.
Individual decisions, as outlined in SWEAR, all will drive down income inequality. It leads to money making money as well as money from toil. It leads away from income sapping (and expense increasing) decisions to live for the moment including teenage pregnancy, foregoing education, money spent or jobs lost from drugs and alcohol and constantly paying rather than collecting interest. It includes saving and hopefully investing at least some in the stock market, a great generator of wealth over time. In your mind, what is wrong with people making their own decisions and living with the consequences? Is that the “systems” fault? And we do have an adequate safety net for those who fail IMO. But that is purely a an opinion despite all th le NY Times articles. Raise a city tax on them at 50%, if that want to bitch so much!


Big Data August 8, 2016 at 7:47 pm

So you think cutting taxes to rich has nothing to do with them accumulating more money. Then why do all the economists who evaluate tax plans of politicians anticipate more income disparity from those plans that cut taxes on rich?

As Will Rogers once said, when you are in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging. Nobody but nobody thinks the government has too much money for the bills that need to be paid, nor do they think the rich are short of income or capital, nor do they think that the poor and middle class are overly prosperous and without need.

So why is it that certain politicians always come up with plans to cut help and funding for those who most need it and for the government that needs to pay our collective bills, while those same plans are shifting even more cash to those who need it least. Can’t you you see how senseless that is?

Low taxes to the rich and cutting social programs absolutely is a contributor to high income disparity. We need to stop digging.


Stevendad August 9, 2016 at 6:41 am

Of course “income inequality” completely negates government gifts and underground income by it’s definition. No, I don’t argue tax cuts for the wealthy don’t raise their incomes, only that the rise started in about 1965, WAY before Reagan tax cuts 21 years later. A huge chunk of it comes in the way of stock and bond gains, so should we punish investment in that way? Can your “Big Data” abilities find the changes in inequality in family spendings? Again income is not all that matters in what a person gets to eat, wear and where they live.


Big Data August 8, 2016 at 9:01 pm

As I said, Gini rose and fell several times in 1950 to 1980. It was not until the early 80s that it exceeded the peaks of those earlier decades.Without Reagans policies already listed, Gini likely would have come back down.


Stevendad August 9, 2016 at 6:43 am

This is just wrong, with a couple of brief exceptions, rise is steady since mid 60’s. Here’s a thought, maybe the Great Society made it easier for people to contemplate not investing in financial assets and themselves. Is that possible?


Big Data August 8, 2016 at 9:03 pm

Growth of stock market definitely has a lot to do with income inequality. When you cut capital gains taxes and simultaneously suppress wages of workers, you tilt the scales so that only the rich can feed the machine that makes them richer.


Stevendad August 9, 2016 at 6:46 am

So those who invest should be rewarded. Of course, you leave out that stock market gains are double taxed alreaday, so effective rate is 35% + 15%, 50% in it’s highest and rarely less than 25% for long term cap gains. I agree Corp taxes are horribly complex and we should shut down ALL loopholes and lower rates, by the way.


Peter August 11, 2016 at 11:04 am

And nobody is bailing me out when I lose in the stock market. I should petition the government to get my Enron investment back….


Big Data August 7, 2016 at 1:22 pm

“Why are Progressives against local rule? Because they want to take over! Please give a cogent argument against primarily localities / states ruling themselves. Of course the Democratic Party administered institutional racism of the South is an example, but why give that party the same power.”

Why are Republican governors removing power from localities, regarding local governance in issues as diverse as voting rights, LGBT rights, and fracking? Why does GOP want to control women’s bodies? Why are GOP governors continually trying to cut taxes for their rich constituents even at the expense of cutting already impoverished school funding? Are they the ones wanting ultimate control? Have they been bought off? Or are they maybe just ignorant jerks? I’m not stating, just asking. 😉

Progressives are not against local rule, as a rule. And by the way, all of those southern racists moved to the GOP after LBJ signed Civil Rights legislation and they are solidly behind Trump now. So there is that argument against complete local rule. Some localities have issues.

I do rather wish that most of the national required testing at schools would be dropped. There is certainly a place for a balance of local and federal regulation in that and many areas.


Big Data August 7, 2016 at 5:15 pm

Stevendad, I am serious about the concern over governors trying to become dictators over their localities, usurping city governance. And as far as I can tell, it is almost exclusively Republican governors and legislators abusing their office in this way. Are you aware of these stories?

Gov. Doug Ducey signs bill to punish cities, counties; mayors question the ‘hubris’:
Gov. Doug Ducey has signed into law a bill that allows state leaders to withhold state-shared revenue from cities if the attorney general determines a city or county has passed a regulation that conflicts with state law. Under Senate Bill 1487, any state lawmaker can ask the attorney general to investigate a regulation. The city or county will be given a period of time to resolve the issue and then, if it does not, will be fined. The bill, sponsored by Senate President Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert, stems from clashes between cities and states over minimum wage, paid sick time, gun regulations, plastic grocery bags and even dog breeders.
=== Texas
Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law restrictions to how municipalities can regulate oil and gas drilling operations within their city limits. The law comes as a response to a hydraulic fracturing ban passed by Denton voters last November. But the law would go farther than barring fracking bans and preempt cities from enacting a variety of other ordinances, including regulations on wastewater disposal wells, which numerous studies have tied to earthquakes.
A bill to block Alabama cities from setting their own minimum wages is now law. Gov. Robert Bentley has signed the bill, his office said.
The Alabama Senate passed the bill today by a vote of 23-11.
The Birmingham City Council voted Tuesday to raise the minimum to $10.10 an hour moving the effective date up from an ordinance passed earlier.
The bill’s passage voids the ordinance passed in Birmingham, according to the city’s legal department.

Seriously, stevendad, isn’t this the sort of usurping of local control you are railing against? Shouldn’t cities and localities be able to set their own rules on minimum wage, paid sick time, gun regulations, fracking, etc? Why is the GOP being so dictatorial and controlling?


Big Data August 7, 2016 at 5:20 pm

I already realize that the above post may be criticized as being critical of a party rather than just policy. But this is a case wherein it really does seem to be one party taking these state actions to limit city liberties. I have to mention the party because there seems to be no other common characteristic, and I really don’t understand why they are doing this, except to enact a national policy, state by state, whether the populations want it or not.


Stevendad August 9, 2016 at 7:06 am

The Federal government is getting involved in bathroom regulations and eating broccoli, please….
I’m against bigger Federal government by either party.


Stevendad August 9, 2016 at 7:03 am

Yes, stop as much as possible control from the top. However, state constitutions by and large are not written to limit their powers like the US Constitution IS. At least they are largely following their rules.


Stevendad August 9, 2016 at 6:50 am

I don’t want to argue too much about social issues, but some people have strongly held beliefs on BOTH sides that are not provable. Local control is much better for economic interests however.
You do realize that a $15/hrs wage would destroy most small town businesses?


Peter August 9, 2016 at 12:50 pm

There is absolutely NO doubt about that.


Big Data August 13, 2016 at 8:21 pm

I’d be OK with a modified minimum wage with different levels for different businesses or areas. Big cities might have universal $15 minimum wage. Big corporate and franchise businesses (Wal-Mart, McDonalds) would have $15 dollar minimum wage country-wide, but truly local small businesses could have smaller minimum wage.


Peter August 11, 2016 at 11:04 am

Agree on dropping standardized testing. Education system needs to be updated – and one of the big things that would help is letting people choose their schools.


Big Data August 7, 2016 at 1:25 pm

“That system worked out for Nazi Germany…read the Rise and Fall
of the Third Reich. Lots of similarities to where we are going.”

Trump has been compared to the strongman dictators in Germany, Italy, Africa, and South America. That is certainly the wrong way to go.

I don’t think low cost schooling and adding a few percentage points to taxes on millionaires puts us anywhere near the philosophies of the Third Reich, however.


Peter August 7, 2016 at 2:34 pm

We already added a few percentage points to the taxes of millionaires – just 18 months ago. Done and done….


Big Data August 7, 2016 at 3:31 pm

I believe the last tax bracket is at ~400 K. If we add brackets at about 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 125, 250, 500, and 1000 mill, we will have a decently progressive tax system.


Peter August 7, 2016 at 6:06 pm

We have discussed this before though and run the math (please don’t post again though)….. too few people to make a difference unless you bury them with huge increases. “A couple percentage points” won’t cut it.


Peter August 8, 2016 at 8:39 am

And by the way, I think the last thing we need is 11 more tax brackets. Our tax system is so unnecessarily complicated as it is.

Big Data August 8, 2016 at 7:58 pm

Tax brackets are not complicated. You look up a number in a table or let your tax program look it up for you.

And you could get to paying down debt/GDP reasonably and more fairly with the added brackets.i won’t bore you with the math, but it would work.

Peter August 8, 2016 at 10:07 pm

Our system is insanely complex with things like passive income, depreciation, AMT and all the various deductions and surtaxes.

Stevendad August 9, 2016 at 7:44 am

Tax hikes are going to HAVE to go below the 1%. No other practical way to balance budget UNLESS we cut spending.
My ideas: pass back social welfare costs given to employees back to the companies.
Tax non real estate ( which is already taxed) wealth at 1 to 2% per year with a $5 million or so starting point.
Freeze Federal spending on administration for 2 years and then slow growth by incentivizing efficiency over bloat.
Cut corporate taxes to 10% for repatriated money and 15% for the rest and eliminate almost all loopholes and giveaways for larger corporations.
Give some targeted, time limited tax credits to encourage the adoption of natural gas (cleaner / greener BTW ) as our central energy source. We now flare off half of our nat gas! This can help us reduce defense expenses, expand the economy (more tax revenue) and help our balance of trade. Solar/wind is decades off from an economically sound basis.
Limit Medicare and Soc Sec to those who don’t need it, because we have no choice, not because I like the idea. Eliminate the thieving by Congress from the trust funds as well.
Gradually add a VAT tax to capture underground income, up to 7% or so. Increase EIC and a bit to make up difference on the working poor. Rebate taxes to those without children and don’t qualify for EIC.
Highly target tax cuts aimed at small businesses in inventory and expensing equipment for businesses with less than $100,000 (or so) in income.
Pass a guest worker program for those already here, close the border to illegal immigration and then enforce our present laws on hiring illegals.
Expand the AMT to all with its very limited deductions and simple brackets, let’s say 10%, 20% and 30%, with a $15k exemption per working individual and $5k per dependent. The trick is in setting the brackets, but something like $30k / $120k and $400k.
Pass Dodd Frank safe harbors to encourage lending to smaller businesses.
Cut defense spending by drastically curtailing US troops in Germany, Japan and S Korea (3rd,4th and 11th in GDP).

May not be enough by themselves, but will help!

Stevendad August 9, 2016 at 7:09 am

Seems like we’ve heard “ask those who can afford it to give a little more” a lot,huh?


Peter August 9, 2016 at 12:53 pm

Don’t find that to be a good reason myself. Maybe we need to look into the system these funds are pumping into as being flawed rather than assuming that “we just need more money”. There are three parts to this – money going in, money going out and the processing in between. One particular poster on here only wants to focus on the money going in part. The other two are HUGE problems that need addressing immediately.


Big Data August 13, 2016 at 8:23 pm

One particular poster is open to all ideas. He just objects to one particular idea being pushed off the table.

Peter August 14, 2016 at 7:26 am

I assume this is some passive way to say that I am against raising taxes. Which if you really listen, you will see that I (and much of the 1 percent community) is not against it. In fact, it has already happened. That’s my point. Much like many Americans handle their personal budgets, it will never be enough.

Big Data August 27, 2016 at 9:54 pm

Yes taxes have been reluctantly raised but less than enough to pay the bills. And the complaint that it “is never enough” is a false complaint.

You may not be one of the ones who always complains that taxes must go down for themselves. But simply noting that they were raised and so now we must be done raising them, is also insufficient. Taxes were dropped, primarily at benefit of the rich for most of the last 35 years, at great cost to debts and deficits. Rather than noting now whether taxes have simply gone up or down, we must set them at the right level. And it is pretty easy to determine when it is “enough”. It is when revenue is high enough that debt/GDP declines.

Henry September 9, 2016 at 11:22 am

Its absolutely a fair complaint that is never enough. Do you honestly think that if tax revenue doubled that politicians wouldn’t immediately propose new spending to get themselves re-elected? Are you blind? None of the powers in Washington truly give a crap about the future – so spending will keep rising and rising no matter what you do with taxes.

Stevendad August 9, 2016 at 7:11 am

The Nazi Germany comment applied to both parties. Again, note the words “he/she”


Big Data August 13, 2016 at 8:08 pm

Stevendad, you have some very good ideas in your list. I disagree with a few, but all are at least worth consideration and discussion as part of the solution. I think the one I would most object to on gut feel is the expansion of AMT. It strikes me as one of the biggest drivers of tax complexity, and makes the tax system feel like a hybrid of two incompatible systems. I would throw out the AMT and restructure the tax brackets and exemptions to have one system that makes more sense.

One of the biggest points I would agree on is to set tax brackets to bring in money as needed based on recent budgets. (Exceptions can be applied in economic downturns.) I agree that would force more responsibility. Politicians can’t just cut taxes to their buddies with impunity in such a system. And when spending increases are also passed along as tax increases, there is a political cost to irresponsible spending.


Stevendad August 14, 2016 at 7:17 am

BD: To clarify: scrap the present tax system altogether and go to AMT alone. You get home mortgage, charitable deductions and that’s it. No other deductions. Simple as can be. Not sure government should subsidize real estate, but I know that won’t go away…


Big Data August 26, 2016 at 9:38 pm

Flat tax? Bad idea. Really bad. Just more redistribution from poor to rich. Same with VAT taxes. Best idea is a simple progressive multi rate system that climbs to high rates when income is extraordinary, like 50 times median income. And no AMT. keep some breaks for families , and incentives for investment. And separate business and personal tax laws.

Peter August 8, 2016 at 11:59 am

Crazy stat I saw today…. just thought I’d share.

Americans spent $3.6 billion less on gas in June 2016 when compared to June 2015. However, they spent $2.6 billion MORE at restaurants and bars in June 2016 vs. June 2015. People will spend the money – just a matter of where!


Stevendad August 9, 2016 at 7:46 am

Perhaps if they invested a bit of it, there would be less income inequality!


Peter August 11, 2016 at 7:05 am

This is the part that baffles me about the debate. I have been in the bottom 20% – for several years – and there were a lot of thoughts that go through your head when you are there.

What can you do to change your circumstances? I suppose the options like hard work, finding a job with upside, trying to get my own business and control, educating myself, etc. all ranked ahead of trying to change bureaucracy, crony capitalism and tax laws.

One thing I remember I did was sign up for a temp agency. (Literally anyone can do this) They let you use their computers for free to take training on Excel, Word and other commonly used computer applications. After about 2 months I had a long list of computer skills listed on my resume.

The opportunities are out there. It’s just like losing weight – people don’t want to exercise and eat healthy. That why things like the Atkins diet where you can eata triple-meat. double cheese pizza and everything but the crust are so popular. Honestly, I wish I was as good at the discipline for eating/exercise as I am for work and money. It is difficult!


Stevendad August 9, 2016 at 8:04 am

Re: tax brackets. How about this: move brackets based on 2 year earlier budget balance goals. If government doesn’t meet them, then taxes go up. If they do they go down (seems unlikely). Then we might actually see people demand accountability out of the government!


Peter August 11, 2016 at 11:03 am

Come on now – who wants accountability? The public doesn’t. The government doesn’t. Corporate america doesn’t. CEO’s don’t. Let’s just take from people who “have too much” or “don’t need it” and use that!


Stevendad August 12, 2016 at 9:27 am

Sometimes it seems like we are a country of 8 year olds. We want simple explanations (like Bush caused the bad economy when he might have been less to blame than Bill Clinton) and simple answers. People need to become more sophisticated. They are being used by both ends of the political spectrum. It’s not too late…yet.


Big Data August 13, 2016 at 8:17 pm

Or do like certain politicians, and argue that cutting taxes will pay for itself. No accountability there either.

I’m all for accountability. Tax those who have it. Help those who need it. Pay the bills. Pretty simple.


Henry August 15, 2016 at 12:04 pm

In my house when you can’t pay the bills, you start cutting them. You don’t go steal from people to cover your extravagant lifestyle.


Big Data August 26, 2016 at 9:17 pm

When you can’t pay the bills because the richest members of the family are siphoning off the bank account, you have to do more than cut spending. You have to cut off the freeloaders. Last time we came close to start paying down much of the debt, the caretakers of the rich simply cut income and gave it to the rich.

National economies are not like household economies. It is a subscription model. Those who receive the most should pay the most, and at progressively higher tax rates to keep the system balanced. Just about every economist backs that approach. Only the rich think it is a good idea to give more tax money back to the rich.

Big Data August 26, 2016 at 9:29 pm

In other words, Henry, Americans are really tired of the rich stealing from everyone else to support their extravagant lifestyle.

Peter N August 19, 2016 at 9:03 am

Steven H sounds like Karl Marx.
“From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”
It hasn’t worked yet you Marxist libtard.
Does libtard broken record ever stop repeating himself and start looking for some real answers?
For starters we need to make people more productive. Motivate or even force people to learn and work if they are now wards of the state.


Big Data August 27, 2016 at 9:56 pm

No one here supports Karl Marx. Only you ever bring him up.

Big Data August 13, 2016 at 8:12 pm

As I referenced further up, Stevendad, this is one of the best ideas you have posted.


Peter August 16, 2016 at 10:33 am

Another stat for the week…

44% of households in the US headed by a CURRENTLY employed individual do not have ANY money invested in a 401k or similar retirement plan.


Stevendad August 17, 2016 at 6:40 am

Re: The S and E in SWEAR:
People need to figure out a way to invest at least a little bit in financial instruments and maybe then homes and a lot in themselves. The government cannot do it. The last time they tried to caused the 2008 meltdown ( by encouraging home ownership for anyone with a pulse) Social security is another program from Uncle Sam that is heading towards disaster. I don’t have an answer, but here are some ideas:

Require a personal finance class in school curricula
Require formal job counseling in schools (at least an hour or two a year) starting about 8th grade
Start a national student investors club that is nonprofit and can be donated to and encourage small businesses, individuals and maybe even modest government seed money (give a man a fish / teach a man to fish) and let the kids KEEP some of the earnings. Maybe there is one already…
Encourage entrepreneurship classes as an elective
Strengthen and invest in Vo Tech programs
Get out of the way of remote learning as much as possible to expand knowledge and encourage competition amongst colleges (should help reduce costs over time)

Ok. Agree / disagree / change, but at least it’s a starting point.


Peter N August 19, 2016 at 8:56 am

I agree.
Making people more productive is necessary.
Schools need to adapt to the new reality. Teaching the same old crap the same old way is not the way.
STEM courses are a must but too many schools teach how to use the tools but tools become obsolete. What is necessary is to learn the “forever” knowledge which is topics like math and physics. Then one has the knowledge to adapt to ever changing technology.


Big Data August 26, 2016 at 9:25 pm

Simplest analogy. The playing field in US has been tilted up with rich getting richer and most incomes stagnating. No one denies this. No amount of mobility or personal initiative or education, by themselves, will untilt that playing field.

Mobility is just trading places with someone else. Personal initiative moves you ahead of the next guy, but does not lift the nation. When everyone is educated in the new career field, it becomes a commodity and less valuable.

The playing field was tilted by tax policy, economic policy, labor policy, and political influence. And only by changing and reversing the 35 year trends in those policies will most Americans begin to prosper as they should.


Peter N August 27, 2016 at 11:14 am

“Simplest analogy. The playing field in US has been tilted up with rich getting richer and most incomes stagnating. ”
Yes, it is like chess or any game where skill is involved. One must find a relative advantage and exploit it. Those that don’t lose.

There is plenty of educational material on the internet. There is YouTube and Kahn Academy and others. What excuse do people have for not improving themselves?

“Mobility is just trading places with someone else. Personal initiative moves you ahead of the next guy, but does not lift the nation.”
You are thinking in terms of a zero sum game. It is obvious that not everyone can be in the top 20%.
Your lifting a nation comment is so wrong. My company sells 40% of its products abroad. If there where more companies like mine and fewer people sitting in front of their foreign made boob tubes we would be better of. About 1/4 to 1/3 of the people in my company don’t even have a TV. It is considered a waste of time although I know there is educational stuff on TV if you look for it.

“The playing field was tilted by tax policy, economic policy, labor policy, and political influence. ”
So? The libtard in chief has been in the office for almost 8 years now. He has had control if not the veto. What has he done except to make matters worse.

The part about economic policy is true. Those that are savvy enough to invest wisely have done well. The Fed has rigged the game such that those with excess money to put into the stock market are winners or so it appears. You need to realize that the stock market is hanging on a thread and Fed lies. It could all come crashing down. The net worth of the rich will drop. Does that make things more even? Does that make you happier?

I pinned you down about this before and you didn’t answer. What if the rich lost huge amounts of their wealth? Who would have capital or desire to start or expand business? The libtards won’t start business. They are only interest in “sharing” other people’s wealth, not creating it.

I want to see the libtards create businesses that pay $15/hr to the lower 20%. I dare all of them. I would like to see the look on their faces when they realize they must pay extra social security tax, worker compensation, etc taxes on that $15/hr.

Well? The ball is in the libtards court. Can you run with it or make a shot?
I doubt it.


Peter August 30, 2016 at 7:34 am

I think the “mobility is just trading places with someone else” sums up in one simple sentence why so many people have accused Steven H (or Big Data) of not understanding the economy implicitly.

I suppose that the same logic would apply that since every stock sale has a buyer and a seller that someone wins and loses. Yet, the stock market rises year after year. This is his disconnect and sort of explains why he sees things the way he does.


Big Data August 31, 2016 at 10:36 pm

The economy grows a certain amount each year. Over decades we average real GDP growth of around 2% annually, with positive and negative swings about that average. It is not zero sum. Technology advances, businesses build, innovators innovate, efficiency improves, people work and improve themselves, their businesses and their nation. And real per capita GDP and national income grows. A little each year, most years. But in any year, the growth is finite, and not all that large at the national level. And how that sum total gets distributed among the population is a function, not only of capitalism and competition, but of government policies on economics, business, trade, labor and taxation. I understand that much about the economy, as does any economist with a degree. I never said that the economy was zero sum and I understand how wealth can be created. I also understand how it can be reapportioned and redistributed and reallocated by the people with power and influence. And if you don’t think that happens in capitalism in a political society, then you have no business telling other people what they don’t understand about the economy.


Stevendad August 27, 2016 at 7:42 am

Bad: Your view sounds like the bear joke analogy: I just hope I’m faster than you!
Your negativity is sometimes overwhelming…

I pay six figure taxes and I’m sure Peter does too. It’s not the paying that is the biggest issue to me, it is that massive amounts that are wasted in cronyism, stupid projects, beaurocratic empire building, nation building and attempts to control the political system. I’m sure there are more. We MUST control Fed government growth. It has become the Blob, its sole function increasing its own size and consuming all that comes before it. So let’s control the Blob before we start worrying about raising more food for it.

A complete tear down of the best economic system EVER is the Bernie solution. NEVER IN HISTORY has there been an economy where the poor can rise to the highest levels with creativity and hard work. The rich get richer FASTER when the economy grows faster. They are not opposed a burgeoning middle class. There are certainly ideas that make sense.
I agree carried interest is just a loophole that needs to be closed, we should directly tax presently untaxed wealth and end nearly all corporate giveaways.

Counterpoints: ANYONE can save and invest, alongside the very wealthy in most cases. Few do. It may take more than one generation, but wealth WILL build.
I strongly encourage outside the box small business with my ideas. These flow like water into the cracks the big guys can’t even see.
We are sorely lacking in STEM grads from the US. Besides an overabundance of engineers/ technicians will create WAY more than one of lawyers and humanities majors. Unemployed engineers forced into using their skills and creativity might be the best thing ever for the economy. Imagine garages full of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerburg across the country. So once we have an oversupply you can bring this up as a point.

Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Warren Buffet all came from middle class / upper middle class backgrounds, not the elite. They argue strongly against your point that ONLY the rich get richer.
Besides, outside of direct confiscation of companies and government takeover of same (and their subsequent destruction) there is no way to break up the cabal you cite. Hillary is way more in bed with these people than any other candidate BTW.
Again, Gini index began rising in 1965 with onset of Great Society. Not that that proves causal effect. You constantly cite Reagan administration as the start over the past 35 years. You also can’t prove causal effect. Again I see a huge amount of disparity as being from stock and bond gains more so than anything else. Those who don’t participate missed it completely. And thus, although they are richer, much less so than the wealthy.
Save! Invest! Educate! Work! Plan! Don’t do stupid stuff!


Peter August 27, 2016 at 8:51 pm

Amen again….. And if you follow these things you will succeed in SPITE of all the waste and BS politics in Washington and in local and state governments. If you sit blaming the system or waiting for handouts you have a 100 percent chance of being stagnant or left behind.


Stevendad August 27, 2016 at 7:43 am

Oops: BD, not bad. Autocorrect.


Peter N August 27, 2016 at 11:28 am

Thumbs up!
“We are sorely lacking in STEM grads from the US.”
Yes, we need more that understand math and physics and can apply it. This is what I call “forever knowledge”
But the education system is flawed. Besides costing too much the instructors teach the same thing the same way and don’t adapt to what can be done with new technology. It isn’t efficient. It doesn’t teach what people really need to know.
It doesn’t say why what they teach is applicable and in some cases it really is a waste of time.

I would be the student from hell now. I would remind the professors and school that I am the customer. I would want to know why what is being taught is important and not merely garbage that must be repeated later to get a grade.


Peter August 29, 2016 at 7:47 am

Love these last few posts….getting away from the negativity and getting downright inspirational in here. My 13 year old son is full of “I can’t”s and blaming others for when he doesn’t have success or screws something up. It is immaturity and I am working to help him grow out of it like my older children did.

Love what Gary Johnson said the other day regarding minimum wage…..basically saying so few people earn minimum wage that it isn’t even worth talking about other than for political reasons. (1.3 million people to be exact) His line was that “showing up on time and wearing clean clothes gets you way above the minimum wage”. Kind of the point we have been making on here all along. Reality – not BS political spin.


Peter August 30, 2016 at 7:37 am

Another stat….

According to the CBO, interest payments on our national debt are projected to triple over the next 10 years, rising from $248 billion to $712 billion.


Big Data August 31, 2016 at 6:54 pm

A well-written piece by Martin Wolf, a Financial Times contributor and noted economist, about globalization and trade pacts and their impacts on people and nations.



Big Data August 31, 2016 at 9:47 pm

We in the US are in a good position to advance our country’s fortunes over the next decades, if we take full advantage of it. Our economy is in better shape than many other advanced countries, our deficits are very near the point where we could start to pay down debt/gdp and we have some of the best colleges in the world and a well-educated workforce. While there is much concern about national debts and pending interest rates rising on that debt, and much unrest in the country regarding stagnating incomes, there are solutions available for those problems as well. Fortunately, the problem is not a lack of national income growth, nor a lack of economic resources to pay our national bills. The problem is that a small economic elite has temporarily rerouted about 15% of national income and decades of tax breaks into their own accounts, and that mostly explains the shortfalls in government funding and wage stagnation. This 15% of all income is a reserve that can be tapped via better economic and labor policy to rebalance both our government debt and our wage disparities.

The rise of Trumpism has been a disturbing shock to politics-watchers in the US, but even that has an up-side. The GOP has made a valiant bid to throw off the influence of the economic elite who only want to suppress opportunities and wages for working class Americans and reward the already rich and powerful with more tax breaks and political control. Trump is a poor and deceptive champion of that cause, but the Trumpites will not go away, nor will they likely submit to a resurgence of preachings of trickle-down. Both parties are now fighting to reward the middle and working class, who have long been given short shrift. The pendulum has swung way farther right than it should have been possible to go, and it is finally heading back to a more balanced middle.


Big Data September 6, 2016 at 2:05 pm

[I think the “mobility is just trading places with someone else” sums up in one simple sentence why so many people have accused Steven H (or Big Data) of not understanding the economy implicitly. — Peter]

The above highlights the difference between understanding our economic world from the standpoint of Peter and Stevendad, who see everything from a personal finance perspective, versus the perspective of those who study systematic forces at play, such as economists. It is very much like the difference in perspective between meteorologists (who study local weather) and physicist/climatologists (who study long term climate changes). To a meteorologist, weather is wild and fluctuating and unpredictable out more than a week or two, but the climatologist sees the whole system, wherein a set amount of energy from the sun is either captured or reflected by the earth and that energy will have effects that can be projected over decades.

Similarly, a personal finance expert can view the economy as an infinite reserve of possibility for any individuals to tap into. If individual salaries grow exponentially for a few wealthy people, those few individuals still have a small proportion of the whole, and it seems inconceivable that such income growth for a few would have meaningful impact on the larger economy.

But an economist or system analyst looks at the whole of the problem, and the dollars in the economy that seem infinite from a personal finance standpoint are very much finite from a system standpoint. Measures of GDP or national income are finite measurable quantities that grow at slow and fairly consistent rates over decades. Flows of income and wealth between economic classes can be measured and recorded. Where the personal perspective attributes these flows and changes to personal ethics, morality or effort, the system perspective identifies systematic policy triggers that more accurately describe, explain, and predict the flows.

The personal finance perspective is very useful for motivating individuals to improve their lives. But you have to use the systematic big data perspective to explain and improve the economy.


Peter September 8, 2016 at 3:06 pm

The paragraph that started “Similarly….” hardly represents my point of view, nor have I ever implied that. And even a reasonable, longview economic scholar would never classify the dollars in the economy as “finite”.

Interesting approach in this post – and there is some merit here – but like most of your posts it derails when you get in the details and in your semantics (which either intentionally or unintentionally) make little sense. You want something specific to happen on the solution side and all your writing is directed at defending, justifying, etc. that particular course of action. And the beat goes on…..

Until we change the education system, reform our government spending and change our embarrassing, damaged and rigged political process – nothing will change or improve. And all the polarized, bullheaded, nonsensical opinions will be reinforced by an increasingly powerful and terrifying media. There is legitimate frustration behind these sorts of debates – frustration that should never be diminished or dismissed – but unfortunately (as you and others have shown) it manifests itself in a completely unproductive way. You have “debated” on here for three years and not ONE person has come around to your point of view. We can probably count on our fingers how many times anyone has even agreed with any of your larger points. You are wasting your time. If anything, I hope that your posts on here have at the very least allowed you to let out some frustration. I know my posts have done that for me. I’m afraid that might be all we are accomplishing on here.


Big Data September 9, 2016 at 8:43 pm

Peter, the “similarly” paragraph is derived from the statements of multiple poster here, but also from your statements that the problem is really only the “0.01%”, that rich people should increase wealth and income at faster RATES than median earners, and that successful people should increase incomes “exponentially”. To me this implies tapping into some infinite or near infinite prosperity. And again, I see how this makes sense from individual standpoint. There are many recent examples of entrepreneurs whose incomes have gone from almost nothing to millions or billions.

But from a systematic standpoint, national income growth really is quite finite and the bounds are predictable year on year, and yes economists would agree with that statement.

My analogies often get too complex, so let me toss out a simple one. We are all on a playing field. Higher is better. The playing field has a tilt which is OK, and we all strive to move toward the upper end. Individual effort, education, ingenuity, enterprise, and ambition move people up the field AND can even help to raise the ENTIRE field. This is how it is NOT a zero sum game. However, tax, business, labor, and trade policy, can change the tilt of the field without raising the field overall. So I support people working to improve their position and helping to raise the field. What I object to is the idea that the improved height of those at the top, due to tilting the field, is either just or economically useful to society at large. To the degree that some have advanced from resisting the field, others have lost out, and not necessarily from failure to compete. Some people moved up the field but there end of the field still fell.

The field has tilted. That is what the increase in high income disparity is. And individual effort is good for society at large. My frustration with this forum has been the either or type of arguments that deny the systemic principles (the tilting) in favor of individual principles (personal advancement and mobility) without recognizing that both factors occur at the same time.


Big Data September 9, 2016 at 8:50 pm

Autocorrect helped me again.
The statement “To the degree that some have advanced from resisting the field, others have lost out,” should say
“To the degree that some have advanced from the increased tilt of the field, others have lost out,”


Peter September 9, 2016 at 9:48 pm

The analogies don’t help. We can all make up analogies to explain ourselves. But it doesn’t mean anything. I understand what you are saying. I just don’t agree with the dots you connect.

Big Data September 9, 2016 at 9:58 pm

Understanding is a start.

can you explain further what your objections are in how I connect the dots? Would you say that you disagree that the field has tilted significantly? Or would you say that the field has tilted, but in ways that can be countered by sustained individual effort (education, motivation, hard work) and that no major government policy modifications are necessary (taxes, labor policy, etc)? Or would you say that the current tilt is fine, even if it has changed, and that income disparity is irrelevant because the current state of the system is adequate and sustainable?

Big Data September 10, 2016 at 7:42 am

I am sorry you believe analogies don’t help. For me, analogies encapsulate the approach to thinking about a problem, and the best constructed analogies can be used to discuss and critique ideas in a generalized way. Real problems are complicated, and an analogy won’t capture all nuance, but they still seem to me to be a useful tool to advance the conversation.

Big Data September 9, 2016 at 9:51 pm

“it derails when you get in the details and in your semantics (which either intentionally or unintentionally) make little sense.”

I hardly brought up any details and spoke in broad terms. Can you point to any specific part of the post that did not make sense to you? I’m serious.


Henry September 15, 2016 at 8:42 am

You and your analogies, worldview and bullheadedness is like talking to a 3rd grader. I will say you have helped me though – like StevenDad I have read some of the links you posted and you have opened my eyes to what is wrong with our government and the country in general. There are too many people who think, talk and debate like you do. With closed-minded, partisan talk as you research and twist articles and stats that nicely back up your own point. You will never agree with me, but YOU are the problem – not rich 1%’ers, not supposed lazy do-nothings, but YOU – uninformed, uneducated, closed-minded BS artists who can’t budge off of their opinion for fear that their “tribe” might not be 100% right on every issue.


Big Data September 21, 2016 at 9:11 pm

If I ever talk like a third grader, it is to simplify the complex ideas we discuss into conversations that can be covered in this limited space. Your reversion to juvenile insult and accusation is the real problem with economic debate in this country. If you are unable to comprehend and intelligently discuss the articles by economists, financiers, and analysts that I link to, that is not my problem. I can’t simplify it for you anymore than I already have.


Stevendad September 9, 2016 at 6:18 am

BD: you say our economy is so rigged and such a zero sum game that the individual is screwed without significant changes in tax structure. Fair enough? I disagree in that if everyone practiced “SWEAR” (and they never all will) the pie would get MUCH larger and the “rigging” would benefit the non 1% as they invested alongside the wealthy. REITS / stocks / corporate bonds and hedge funds all allow you to invest alongside the well connected.


Peter September 9, 2016 at 6:31 am

Very true. And if everyone practiced SWEAR things would get even more competitive and productivity would rise as well.


Henry September 9, 2016 at 11:23 am

Can’t believe you guys are still arguing with this guy. He is misinformed, partisan and is never going to change his mind about anything. Move along…..


Stevendad September 9, 2016 at 3:18 pm

He motivates me to research and find truth, if there is such a thing…

Big Data September 9, 2016 at 9:46 pm

The reason some of us continue to post, Henry is that we are searching for answers and appropriate arguments to express opinions in a way that connects. The entire country has grown partisan and disconnected and it is dangerous. Most Trump supporters don’t even know anybody who isn’t one. Same for Hillary supporters. We have devolved into a society where most of us only talk with people who share our own opinions and perspectives. We watch and read news outlets which cater to OUR viewpoints, and OUR economic class and OUR ethnic heritage. We have become unaccustomed to respecting other people’s viewpoints or opinions. We have too many leaders and followers who think that the way to improve the country is to dig into an extreme ideological bunker and refuse to budge until the other side gives up … which they don’t and won’t.

I am no more misinformed nor partisan than any other poster on this forum. Even the folks who proclaim themselves as independent non-partisans express ideas that align with a particular partisan perspective.

What is truth? What is fact? And more importantly, what is the best path forward economically and politically and individually and for society at large? How do we promote individual prosperity for the brightest and most innovative members of society while simultaneously providing opportunities and productive healthy lives for all of our citizens? These are difficult questions and they will never be answered, and our problems will never be solved by retreating to the safe havens of our ideological retreats. We should, we must, engage with those of opposing opinions and philosophies, with intelligent conversation, with factual presentation, and a healthy dose of respect and constraint in order to advance society.

That’s why I continue to post, despite the fact that the dozens of former posters who share my ideological inclination have moved on to other conversations elsewhere. I would prefer to believe the other posters here may have similar high-minded motivations.

Peter September 9, 2016 at 9:50 pm

Again, which partisan philosophy do I subscribe to? And I don’t think everyone is partisan. The two main candidates have sky high unfavorable ratings.

Peter September 9, 2016 at 9:51 pm

I really wish you would take your own advice laid out in that last post. Great post – reads like something I would say to you not the other way around.

Big Data September 9, 2016 at 10:44 pm

Peter, I’m glad you liked the post. I think we could all do better at following that advice. If I might suggest how you could do slightly better at achieving the ideal, it would be to refrain from blanket accusations (which you have made on multiple occasions) that I don’t know what I am talking about or that I don’t make any sense. If there is an argument that you dispute, call out the objections in specific terms that can be discussed, and please refrain from impugning my intelligence or character or taking the cheap shot (as Henry did) that I am just an immovable misinformed partisan, as if I am unworthy of participation in the discussion. I may be stubborn, but I have some pretty good reasons, based in a lot of reading, study, observation and contemplation, for thinking the way I do. I expect that you have similar reasons for the way you think and I have tried to respect you. We have railed at each other on numerous occasions, but I really try to address your arguments and not attack your intelligence or character. I’m not perfect but this is my goal. I would be grateful if you would continue to improve your aim for the same goal (which, by the way, I would say you achieve better than most here).

Big Data September 9, 2016 at 11:22 pm

And by the way, Stevendad, thanks for your response. Nicely said, and I really appreciate the courtesy it expressed.

Big Data September 9, 2016 at 11:09 pm

Peter: “Again, which partisan philosophy do I subscribe to? And I don’t think everyone is partisan. The two main candidates have sky high unfavorable ratings.”

Partisan is a very general adjective, actually meaning “prejudiced in favor of a particular cause”. In this sense, I suppose we are all partisans. , as we all have prejudices.

But even in the political sense (which I suppose is closer to your meaning), there are more partisan positions than just those of the 2 leading Presidential candidates. There is the William F Buckley/National Review perspective (traditional GOP), the Tea Party perspective, the Trumpist perspective (a somewhat incoherent philosophy but one that seems to garner surprising support), the barely left of center Clintonian perspective, the more progressive Elizabeth Warren perspective, and the Social Democrat Bernie perspective. These all have partisans who are highly prejudiced for a particular position on different economic, tax, military, and business topics.

The topic of high income disparity may draw some broad spectrum of perspectives, but at the far ends are those who (a) think it is a big problem that requires immediate resolution through drastic policy change, usually involving taxes as well as other policy, or (b) think it is of little or no consequence and certainly requires no tax increase on the rich. To the extent that any of us may hold very close to one of these end perspectives and resist consideration of arguments that might adjust our perspectives, we become partisans. To the extent that we are willing to at least discuss and seriously consider arguments that shift our initial position, we become better informed.

It may be that none of us here ever moves across the center to the opposing view. But that does not make the conversation a pointless one. To the extent that we can each bend and shift even a little, and better understand the opposing opinions and better express our own, we have made a little progress.


Peter September 11, 2016 at 6:51 am

Fair enough. So I ask again- which one am I?

Big Data September 12, 2016 at 8:49 pm

Peter, you are a complex individual, and I don’t presume to pigeonhole you into a single stereo type. If you are asking me to characterize you, based on your posts, i do so reluctantly, but here is a shot at it.

I do think it is fair to say that you hold views strongly supporting smaller government, favoring generally lower spending across all govt programs. You would support raised taxes to lower debt if you believed federal spending was smart nd tax distribution was fair to you. You are probably not a complete isolationist but neither are you a hawk. You have strong faith in individual ability to lift one’s self up and you have enough empathy to help people and groups in your community with your expertise. You are likely to believe that government programs to fight poverty do more harm than good, by coddling the lazy and preventing people from fighting for their own economic survival. You dont think government policy changes for stronger unions, or more progressive taxes would be effective or desirable. You think that the current economic rules are OK, and are sufficient to let anyone succeed. If you were to select changes, likely candidates would be to reduce business regulation, eliminate estate taxes, and cut or eliminate minimum wage.

If the above assessment is anything close to correct, I’d say it puts you somewhere between the traditional GOP conservative and the tea party on economic issues, but more centrist on social issues. Of course, I’m sure to have some of it wrong without going back and rereading all your posts.

Peter September 13, 2016 at 1:19 pm

That’s pretty close…..only a few major disagreements.

– I’m not really worried about whether tax distribution is “fair to me”. Fair isn’t a good word to use when talking about taxes, and I’m more concerned with the overall good than my own situation. If I was worried about “fair” or “me” I would be much more ticked off at our current tax structure. Also, if I was worried mainly about my own situation the LAST thing I would want would be to cut government spending.

– I also don’t believe government programs do more harm than good – I just don’t think they are efficient. I also think unions have a role in our society, albeit a dying one due to the changes in our economy.

– I also would never suggest or consider cutting or eliminating minimum wage. Not sure where that one came from.

But overall pretty close. Although I’d be surprised if anyone called me centrist when it comes to social issues. I’m for full legalization (over time) of most drugs, all forms of gambling, and prostitution. All of these things could be taxed and regulated. I believe churches should NOT be tax-exempt and would support the removal of references to “God” from our national anthem, schools and money. I am firmly pro-choice and don’t care who marries who. Those are pretty far left stances.

My point is not that I am anything special, but that many people fall all across the caricatured versions of politics. I didn’t get these diverse opinions – some very far left and some very far right – by being a subscriber to a party. What is your most far-right belief?

Big Data September 9, 2016 at 8:52 pm

See above response to Peter. It’s not a matter of rigged or zero sum. It’s a matter of tilted economy beyond what is efficient for the economy at large.


Peter N September 9, 2016 at 7:40 pm

” The problem is that a small economic elite has temporarily rerouted about 15% of national income and decades of tax breaks into their own accounts, and that mostly explains the shortfalls in government funding and wage stagnation. This 15% of all income is a reserve that can be tapped via better economic and labor policy to rebalance both our government debt and our wage disparities.”
Here we go again.

Explain how the economic elite “re-rout” this money? No one is giving them this money. They aren’t stealing it. They still pay more than their fair share of taxes so explain.

Your only solution is to redistribute wealth, not create it. If you listen to all the libtards on YouTube they NEVER talk about creating wealth. There is always some excuse.

There is no solution because the politicians won’t cut spending. Therefore government debt will NEVER be repaid. Everything is held together now with smoke and mirrors. We have established that you can’t tax enough. We must learn to live with the consequences. Guess who will adapt? I bet it will be the same people Steven H is complaining about.


Peter September 9, 2016 at 9:54 pm

Slanted language…..the large majority of the 1% did not steal this money from anyone, nor were they even in a position where they could reroute money. If there is any stealing or rerouting going on it is in the income taxes that eat up half of my paycheck and go to liberate Iraq or to ill conceived wasteful government programs.


Big Data September 9, 2016 at 10:13 pm

Yes, Peter N’s language is very slanted. I am trying to use language without moral or ethical implication. But of course money has been rerouted. What else would you call a system where upper 1% used to receive about 10% of all income and now receive between 20% and 25% (including capital gains)? And while your taxes seem high, they are likely taxed at lower rates than comparable incomes of 1960’s or 70’s? This has all been discussed.

How can you say the upper 1% are in no position to reroute that income? Who votes for policies that restrict labor unions, limit or block minimum wage increases, cut taxes on the wealthy, reduce banking and business regulations, and promote international trade over domestic hiring? All of these policies contribute a share toward that rerouting from low earner to high earner and it is the high earner who most enthusiastically supports these policies, and it is the politicians who receive the monetary support of the high earners who advance the legislation.

High earners are in fact in quite exquisite position to reroute money and tilt the playing field in their favor. Power and money always seek more power and money. That may sound crude, but I actually don’t mean it in an ethically accusatory way. It is just the way the world works, and it seems to me to be both obvious and undeniable. Im not impugning your motivations, Peter, as you have self-described actions and motivations which are often admirable. Yet, like most of us, even you are likely to have your opinions and philosophies swayed by how it affects your own life and pocketbook. How could it not be so?


Big Data September 10, 2016 at 8:55 am

The comment about high taxes was directed at Peter N. Just to be clear.


Peter September 14, 2016 at 6:45 am

Big Data – “In other words, Henry, Americans are really tired of the rich stealing from everyone else to support their extravagant lifestyle”

Big Data September 21, 2016 at 9:24 pm

Those were Henry’s words, from Henry’s post, Peter. I was just quoting Henry back at Henry, with a small word change. Just a little sarcasm, geez.

Peter September 13, 2016 at 7:37 am

I meant your language was slanted, Big Data. “Stealing money” “Rerouting money”. I was thinking the other day that the reason I found this article originally was because at the time, I too made about $400k a year. This year I’ll make 7 figures. Over the course of this discussion, my income has tripled. Where did this money come from? Did I steal it from someone? Did I take food out of another’s mouth? Did I “reroute” money? NO.

The people that pay me generally have saved and have means. Over 95% of them work for our Federal government and are public employees, paid for by our Federal budget. I am a direct beneficiary of the Federal government’s budget and policies. And now you want to tax me much heavier and give more back to the same government? If they turn around and spend it, I’ll make even more money and the income disparity between me and a janitor will widen even further.

However, I am desperately looking for a “junior partner” to come in and pay their dues, work long hours at a modest salary and work their way up for me. Over a 15-20 year period, they could make what I make. But again, they aren’t lining up for this. Can’t fill the position. Figuring out how to solve THAT is how we narrow the income disparity gap.

Just taking more of my money and giving it to someone isn’t going to work in the long run. That’s what we did over the last 3 years and somehow my income tripled and you are still complaining.


Big Data September 13, 2016 at 1:50 pm

I didn’t say stealing. You and Peter not are using that vocabulary.

You make large incomes both because you are good at what you do and because you serve the interests of those benefitting from rerouted income from an economy that favors the rich.

You can’t find a junior partner because, by definition, you are not offering a market wage. Supply and demand.

Big Data September 13, 2016 at 1:52 pm

You and Peter N.
Peter Not is autocorrects affectionate nickname for him.

Peter September 14, 2016 at 6:46 am

In other words, Henry, Americans are really tired of the rich stealing from everyone else to support their extravagant lifestyle

Peter September 14, 2016 at 6:50 am

“You can’t find a junior partner because, by definition, you are not offering a market wage. Supply and demand”

Absolute, 100% BS.

The appeal of being my junior partner is future upside. Someone could make a little bit more early on by becoming an advisor in the bank – but not have the growth potential. We can’t find qualified people, or patient hard-working people who are willing to work at a lower wage for the promise of enormous upside. This is why not everyone makes what I make. Most will choose the higher salary up front vs. the upside down the road. Which is fine. But it doesn’t help me hire.

Big Data September 18, 2016 at 6:19 pm

“We can’t find qualified people, or patient hard-working people who are willing to work at a lower wage for the promise of enormous upside. ”

What do you think a market wage is, Peter? You may think, in your managerial expertise and wisdom, that you know what the position you are offering is worth. But if you cannot find people to take the job you are offering at the wage you are offering, it is not due to some failure of the potential applicants. I am pretty sure there are people clever enough and suitable for the qualifications of the job. If you can’t get these qualified candidates to take the job (or even be interested enough to apply), that is because they see more favorable opportunities elsewhere. Admit it, you would say exactly the same thing about any other business in the same conundrum. If you doubled the salary of whatever you are offering you would likely get a hoard of qualified eager candidates. Maybe you don’t need to raise the stakes that high.

But saying that it is not a market wage issue, but is instead just that people won’t work for the salary you offer is an almost laughable self-contradiction. You are just too close to the problem to see it clearly.

Peter September 20, 2016 at 11:56 am

Nope. The difference is that it is a job with upside. It’s like saying, maybe more people would start businesses if they were guaranteed higher salaries at the outset.

In my industry, what I’m seeing is that people would rather take the job that pays $40-$50k in a bank where the clients are given to them rather than take the same job in a brokerage where they might start out at $30k-$40k but be able to make 6 and even 7 figures down the road. The bank job is low risk – and 40 hours a week. The brokerage job is higher risk – and early on much more than 40 hours a week. And it is not guaranteed.

People will always be rewarded by taking risks (and succeeding). Again you seem to think the economy is like the 1950’s where it is all about wages. My job position I am looking for isn’t for someone to push widgets through an assembly line and make an hourly wage – it’s for someone to learn, partner with, and ultimately take over my small business. Very different than your archaic view of the business world. And I’m not an anomaly. Small businesses like mine exist everywhere.

Peter September 20, 2016 at 11:58 am

And frankly….in 10 years of “looking” to fill this position – only rarely have we even gotten to the “pay” discussion. Most of the time the people aren’t qualified or they don’t have the right long-term mindset. (Willingness to do whatever it takes without punching a clock) And surprisingly to me at least, most don’t want the risk or the pressure of doing what I do for a living even if it means making $1m a year.

Big Data September 21, 2016 at 9:19 pm

Again, if you were offering $60K for that position, about 6% of your own income, you would find a throng of talented eager people who would likely learn faster, do the job better, and better meet your expectations than any poor soul desperate for a $30K job.

Every job should have some upside. I’m betting the people you are seeking passed you up and found jobs that start at $50K that also have upside and career growth.

Big Data September 9, 2016 at 10:25 pm

Peter N, changes in tax policy redistribute money. When huge national deficits were created in the 2000s (at a point where we were paying down debt/gdp) by creating huge tax cuts that were mostly given to the wealthy, doid the wealthy “create” that money? Of course not. You might argue that it was theirs to begin with, but that is just implying that government deserves no share whatsoever. A system existed which was working, and then new after tax income was redistributed from government coffers via tax cuts, putting strains on budgets and driving up debts. There is no argument that says this windfall was created by anything that the wealthy did, except for their self-serving support of a government POLICY which rerouted more money to their own interests.

Tax cuts to the wealthy did NOT create wealth. It redistributed it from the coffers of the nation to the vaults of the wealthy. You don’t like redistribution from wealthy to poor, but you seem to support redistribution from poor to wealthy. You speak in complete contradiction with yourself. Do you understand how I find this so puzzling and frustrating?


Peter September 14, 2016 at 8:31 am

I don’t want the government “redistributing” anything. Not sure where Peter N has advocated taking from the poor to give to the rich.


Big Data September 10, 2016 at 9:01 am

Peter N: “we have established that you can’t tax enough.”

Well, no we haven’t. In fact we have established quite the opposite. People use this argument to object to any tax increase and there is also always a faction which will project doom and disaster if taxes rise. As previously noted, debt/gdp declined in the 50s, 60s and you and again briefly in the 90s, all due to establishing suitable tax rates higher than the debt ridden 80s and 2000s. We can tax responsibly and we should.


Peter September 14, 2016 at 6:46 am

Peter N is right. We did this about 2 years ago.


Big Data September 14, 2016 at 7:49 pm

Be honest. The majority of post ww2 administrations paid down debt burden with appropriate taxation. What use is there in making false claims that it is not possible?


Big Data September 10, 2016 at 9:02 am

50, 60s and 70s … not and you. Dam autocorrect on this phone.


Big Data September 12, 2016 at 9:36 pm

While I support the principles encompassed in your SWEAR philosophy (…save 10%, work 40 to 50 hrs a week, education, abstain from drugs and excessive alcohol, reproduce responsibly ie not till 20s), I have to point out some flaws.
– not everyone can save 10%. Sure most people waste some money, and the oddball janitor who does nothing in life but sweep and eat rice donates a million dollars in his will. But there are a lot of people with real budget strains and choices between medicine, rent, utility and food. You have to recognize these folks exist and that high income disparity increases their number.
– many people who are employed are underemployed because employers do not want to cross the 30 hrs threshold. It’s very presumptuous to assume everyone can work 40 to 50 hrs.
– higher education is outrageously expensive, and too often today for too many students fails to recoup the investment.
– high income disparity produces more people in dire economic straits which becomes a PREDICTOR of higher teen pregnancy, drug use, alcoholism, and even suicide. Bad choices have bad economic effects for individuals. But bad economies and suppressed wages also increase stress and the likelihood of bad decisions. We need an economy in which recovery from bad decisions is possible, not one in which one or two missteps or mishaps doom your entire life.


Peter September 13, 2016 at 7:31 am

Did you know that 77% of the world’s citizens have access to clean water? And that 75% of the world’s citizens have a phone? I totally acknowledge that saving is very difficult for some at lower income levels. (I even remember what that was like myself – any little thing and we couldn’t save that month) But I reject that it isn’t possible for the majority of folks and believe that EVERYONE has the ability to save if they make the right life choices – regardless of all these other factors we are talking about.

If someone can only get 30 hours at one job, they can get another. I know several people that do this – work 30 hours for a company and then wait tables at night or do office cleaning / housekeeping work in the evening. Those jobs are abundant. It’s a hard life, but it is possible with SWEAR.

Totally agree about higher education if you are talking about state or private schools. Community colleges are fast becoming more the way to go though. These remain affordable and if you do well in your studies there you may even be able to transfer to a traditional college and get the same degree that someone who paid for all 4-5 years did.

I also reject that because WalMart pays a lower wage that people will then be more likely to use drugs or get pregnant. That’s a total cop out.

Our economy doesn’t doom someone who makes one or two bad decisions. That’s that gloomy outlook you have talking again. It might be hard, it might take hours of hard work, it might take not having a cell phone or kids or all sorts of other things afforded to the wealthy, but it can be done. By everyone. I believe that EVERY American citizen has the potential.

Again (for at least the 100th time) I think the biggest thing we can do as a society is improve the education and job training system to prepare the “unskilled” worker for the 21st century economy. Just stealing more money from the rich and giving to the poor doesn’t help the problem in the long run.


Big Data September 13, 2016 at 7:07 pm

23% of world does NOT have access to clean water? That’s terrible!

Majority can save. Agreed. That still leaves up to 49% who may struggle.

Agree about community colleges. Many are a bargain. But full degrees can still be pricey.

Yes Walmart coming in and driving entrepreneurs out of business in small towns across the country and providing poorly paid jobs in exchange affects the whole country. And is one factor that increases poverty. And increased poverty increases drinking, drugs, and suicides.



Peter September 14, 2016 at 6:52 am

You are such a smart a** – when I say majority I don’t mean 51%. I mean almost everyone in America. I’m not counting the 23% (most of which are NOT in America) who don’t have running water. And the fact the number of the world’s citizens who don’t have water is the same as the number that don’t have phones should tell you something.

What is your goal on here? Just to be a d***? Again, I anxiously await someone to pop on here who supports you.


Peter September 14, 2016 at 7:01 am

It is a misconception that poorer people drink and use drugs significantly more than rich people. Makes for a good story but just not true.

Big Data September 14, 2016 at 8:03 pm

Awfully testy today, Peter?

My point is that it is not true that almost everyone in America can save. My point is that neglecting 5 or 10 or 25 or 49 percent of Americans or whatever the number is, is still disregarding a problem for millions of people. Saying everyone can save 10% and find jobs to work 50 hours a week is Pollyannish and untrue. And whatever the percentage is of people who struggle, high income disparity makes it worse. And to what purpose? It doesn’t improve the economy. It doesn’t strengthen our infrastructure. It doesn’t raise median income. It just gives a bunch of self important jerks bragging rights about how their income rises faster than everybody else’s and that that somehow proves they are godly creators of something other than bs.

We need to return money to pockets of average Americans. Period.

Big Data September 14, 2016 at 8:22 pm

By the way poverty increases drinking and drugs and suicide among people who would not otherwise partake or engage or despair. That is unquestionably a fact.

It is also a fact that people do all of those things at other income levels, but that 2nd fact does not negate the first fact.

Big Data September 13, 2016 at 7:12 pm

Just heard a story about a young woman whose mother had a stroke, lost her job, and they ended up homeless. The young woman retreated from society in shame. She is doing better, but one can only imagine the despair. Too many people are one accident or mistake away from the edge.


Big Data September 13, 2016 at 7:22 pm

Really tragic story about hungry teens.



Peter September 14, 2016 at 7:05 am

Can’t believe you would quote this story.

Some low-income U.S. teens who are desperate for food are engaging in transactional sex with older, wealthy adults in order to get something to eat, according to a report released Monday by Feeding America

“We don’t know how prevalent this is,” Emily Engelhard, managing director of research and evaluation at Feeding America, told The Huffington Post of these cases.

This is what’s wrong with our media. What a fluffy, stupid article. There is no news here. I already knew that there might be “some” teens having sex for money. We all did. This isn’t a) new, b) necessarily a trend or c) a statement about our society.

You have diminished stories about an entire demographic, a geographic area, or even anecdotes that many of us have experienced. Why should anyone bring credence to this stupid article?

Big Data September 13, 2016 at 7:49 pm

We already have over educated underemployed people in the US. We need to either pay the overworked employees for their 60 hr weeks and/or allow the underemployed and unemployed to work those hours. American business won’t collapse if American workers get a fair wage for the jobs and work that already exist.


Big Data September 13, 2016 at 7:57 pm

I should elaborate. Education is good. We should educate our workforce better and for less out of pocket expense for families.

But getting everyone an education also commoditizes the benefits of education. Lots of programmers means higher supply lower demand and lower wage for programmers. Education alone does not solve high income disparity. Only policies that promote higher wages for workers and less benefit to high wages for management will fix it. And it is not stealing from the rich to put money back into the pockets of those who actually create it.


Peter September 14, 2016 at 6:54 am

Let’s worry about that once we have an abundance of programmers. And thanks, I would love to have more money put in my pocket as someone who creates both jobs and money in our economy. (I’m sure that’s not what you mean and you are just being sarcastic again)

Big Data September 14, 2016 at 7:42 pm

Not really being sarcastic. The average workers are the real wealth creators. They do the work. Managers and overseers have their place and function but they usually overestimate their worth.

And while I actually have a lot of respect for you Peter, and I’m sure that you and your company and employees are successful, I think the financial industry that you are a part of has done more to destroy and mismanage total wealth than to create it. And most of the income growth of even the trained professionals such as yourself has ultimately come at the expense of economic decline of most Americans.

Sorry, but that’s the way I see it.

Peter September 14, 2016 at 9:00 pm

Calling out the financial industry is like calling out a race of people. There are many parts to the financial industry and I’m not sure a mortgage broker, a bank teller, a hedge fund manager, a stock analyst, an accountant, and a financial planner are all in the same category. So no offense taken here. I know my work has helped tens of thousands of people enrich their lives and I know I have personally created enormous wealth for people as well as many jobs. And I built it.

Peter September 14, 2016 at 9:04 pm

And I have taken zero of my income from others. My clients pay a service and my fees become larger dollars as their wealth accumulates. (They are percentage based and 1% of a larger number is a higher fee). I have absolutely nothing to do with someone else’s struggle. Nothing. If anything I have enabled many of these people by giving them advice and the skills they need to actually retain some of their income. If anything I have given them jobs as I want more and more to farm out things like yard work, paperwork, cleaning, travel conveniences….. I am what you want in society. I am no drain on anyone. So take the money from someone else. 🙂

Big Data September 18, 2016 at 6:54 pm

You benefit from the increased tilt of the playing field. You just don’t see, or dont want to admit, the systemic interactions that cause that to occur.

The accountant who works for the company making epi-pens is doing his job and can claim he is part of a successful enterprise making a needed product. But when that product price has increased 500% at great cost to insurance programs and parents whose childrens’ lives are at risk, has that company created new wealth or just appropriated it from other sources in a manner very similar to demanding ransom on human life?

Local wealth creation and net wealth creation are very different.

Peter September 19, 2016 at 7:00 am

Not sure how my career parallels to an Epi-Pen maker. Where is the collateral damage in my success?

The only thing I can think of is that my income has risen exponentially thanks to foolish deficit spending by our government. Which of course I have been saying all along.

There is ZERO other collateral damage from what I do for a living and the income I make. In fact, just the opposite. I create jobs and have a significant impact on my local community. I pay more taxes myself than many will pay in a lifetime. I donate more to charity than in a year than most do in a lifetime. I employ many people professionally and personally and help their lives.

The only collateral damage in my career is the crash and burn fiscal policy of our Federal government – and I’m the one on here who is most vocal about stopping this, even if it hurts me in the process.

Peter September 19, 2016 at 8:48 pm

Not surprised by silence. You are not only insulting here but 100% dead wrong.

Peter September 13, 2016 at 11:15 am

Another crazy stat I just saw. In 7 1/2 years, Obama has only vetoed 10 bills. (None of these were overridden) This is the fewest vetoes by any president since Harding (1921-1923) who didn’t even serve a single full term.


Big Data September 13, 2016 at 1:40 pm
Big Data September 13, 2016 at 8:38 pm

Not only that but last 8 years have been least productive Congress in decades. Only about 1200 laws passed in 8 years vs 2600 under Reagan and about 1200 in just 4 years of Bush 1 and 1800 in 8 years of Clinton.


Peter September 14, 2016 at 6:43 am

I’m aware of that too. Our government is so dysfunctional. Last 16 years have been awful.


Peter September 14, 2016 at 6:56 am

Even though you are a card-carrying Democrat, there is no need to immediately counter a dig on Obama with one on Congress AND one on GWB. Was more a comment of how our government isn’t working not a political statement.


Big Data September 14, 2016 at 12:05 pm

1) I don’t understand how the number of vetoes is a dig on the president, no matter who it is. The stat has no meaning in assessing Obama except to reflect the small number of bills hitting his desk.
2) I was correcting your error that Obama had fewest vetoes since Harding. It was only fewest since the previous president. You’re welcome.

Big Data September 14, 2016 at 7:33 pm

My statement wasn’t political either. I agree with you that Congress is dysfunctional. I just failed to see the point of quoting any stats about vetoes, much less inaccurate ones.

Big Data September 14, 2016 at 8:32 pm

After all Peter, this is representative of how you mistake my intentions. You quote a questionable Stat you find interesting, I correct it, and also quote a related Stat I find interesting, but rather than address the discrepancy I have identified, you claim I am being partisan and political. There was NOTHING partisan or political about what I posted, and did not take your “dig” at Obama to even be a dig. It was only interesting to me to the degree that my source indicates it to be incorrect.

So you are always the one pointing the finger at me for being partisan and political but you are seemingly in this case just making it up to avoid an honest discussion. And the topic was so minor to begin with. Geez.

Peter September 14, 2016 at 9:05 pm

My stat was right. Fewest since Harding means he was the last president to have fewer. Jeez …. Do I have to explain everything?

Peter September 14, 2016 at 9:06 pm

And I didn’t mean it as a dig to Obama. I don’t care about him really…..he is no different than his predecessor in my mind.

Big Data September 14, 2016 at 9:27 pm

Obama had 10 Vetoes so far, according to you. Gwb had 8, by my linked source. So the last president before Obama with fewer vetoes was GW Bush, not Harding. Geez, do I have to explain everything?

Big Data September 14, 2016 at 9:33 pm

Or to put it back to your original statement, but correctly:
The fewest Vetoes by any President since Harding is held by GW Bush who had 8. Obama has had slightly more thus far, with ten vetoes.

Big Data September 14, 2016 at 9:54 pm

I keep rereading to try to make your statement correct but it just isn’t.

Fewest since Harding’s six vetoes is eight for Bush. There is no way to accurately state that Obama’s 10 vetoes is fewest since Harding when GW Bush had fewer, with 8.

None of this matters except in the ability to express an idea accurately and to admit when an error is made. If we can’t get this simple argument resolved, we should all go home.

If you dispute my source tell me. If you find error in my logic, point it out clearly. If you made a mistake, say so.

Peter September 15, 2016 at 5:34 am

Obama 10. Bush 12. That’s why.

Peter September 15, 2016 at 8:36 am
Big Data September 18, 2016 at 6:26 pm

Yaya, you finally addressed the core issue. It was a difference of definition by which we were both correct. My stats reference only counted sustained vetoes. Gwb had 12 vetoes but 4 were overrides, leaving 8 sustained. You were counting vetoes sustained plus overridden. By your definition your statement was correct. If only you had provided the link or read mine, this would have been resolved sooner.

Big Data September 13, 2016 at 7:35 pm


Underemployment is a big problem for many Americans. Not being able to get enough hours or not being able to get a job using the skills or degree people have. At the same time, fully employed people are pressured to work 50 or 60 hrs with unpaid overtime to keep their jobs. Companies want to hire employees at bargain rates but pay their management like kings. It needs to change.


Peter September 14, 2016 at 6:59 am

Yeah its a shame that dog groomers are underemployed. Again, people have to choose the right career. You can’t choose to be a dog groomer and then complain when you don’t have enough business. There is so much demand in medical professions and technology – those people aren’t underemployed. I imagine the guy that works at the Fotomat probably isn’t getting enough hours now either – nor are the manufacturing jobs.


Big Data September 14, 2016 at 7:30 pm

Be serious. Not talking about dog groomers. At least you read the article, but you are only echoing the least relevant parts.


Big Data September 13, 2016 at 7:37 pm

A breath of fresh news. A step in the right direction. We need to make sure it continues.



Big Data September 14, 2016 at 8:50 pm

OK if we’re going to quote random interesting stats, I was fact checking an earlier Stat and these facts came up.

75% of households worldwide have access to a cellphone.

Pew research will call 75% of American cellphones for surveys.

75% of people admit to using cellphones in the bathroom.

75% of women confess that their cellphones are ruining their relationships.

Remember this when your girlfriend from Quebecistan breaks up with you when you interrupt the Pew survey she is answering while on the loo.


I now return you to the dysfunctional discussions about dysfunctional economies.


Stevendad September 15, 2016 at 4:53 pm

I’ve been UBER busy. Just catching up. I wonder if polls are skewed by the fact that so many “polls” are scams and people (like me) just hang up. Could be the most inaccurate polling since Dewey/Truman.


Peter September 16, 2016 at 7:01 am

I live in a swing county in a swing state and I’m still waiting to be polled. Of course, I never answer my home phone so maybe that is why…..


Stevendad September 19, 2016 at 6:30 pm

Who the hell has a home phone any more?


Peter September 19, 2016 at 7:36 pm

Ask my wife…..Can’t figure that out either. Don’t think we have answered it in 5 years.

Big Data September 19, 2016 at 8:09 pm

That probably is why. Poll takers have a tough time polling folks with caller id, or when folks just don’t answer.


Stevendad September 19, 2016 at 10:25 pm

My point was just we may have worst polls in forever.

Big Data September 14, 2016 at 8:59 pm

Seriously, what are we supposed to learn from Peter’s two quoted facts that 75% of world had access to cellphones and just a slightly larger 77% have access to clean water?

To me it just says that the same 23% have neither and are in really desperate conditions.

That’s interesting, I suppose, that the percentages are similar, but so what?


Big Data September 14, 2016 at 9:22 pm

I am also shocked and puzzled that Peter finds it interesting and relevant to quote random stats about vetoes, phone access, and clean water access, but gets absolutely livid that I would quote an article about desperate American teens selling themselves to feed themselves and their families. He claims that is not news, despite it being from a new study discussed and reprinted in USA Today and many other news outlets. He claims that it is just a fluff article. I disagree.

Maybe some people want to turn a blind eye and think that everyone can lift themselves up by their own bootstraps, if they’ll just go out and apply a little elbow grease, keep their nose to the grindstone, work multiple jobs while going to medical school, and just say no to the drug dealers, sex, 3 meals a day and any personal indulgences.

Some of the rest of us worry about the real problems people face and what happens when wages are suppressed, good jobs are exported, and the richest people in God’s creation just sit and worry about how someone might be stealing taxes from their pockets to build a better road or a better education system or a better life for someone in need.

Yah I’m pisd. Vetoes are more important than starving teens? Get your priorities straight.


Peter September 15, 2016 at 5:32 am

Lol – hardly what I was saying.


Stevendad September 15, 2016 at 5:56 pm

OK, do I need to separate you two?!? This is a microencapsulation of the world of politics. The waves crash against the rocks for years and little changes. Neither of you are irresistible force or immovable object. But neither has moved much in 3&1/2 years and 6k+ postings. I have been trying to see if there are things we could all agree on. A few times we have. Some day I may write a book with these ideas just to show that if we quit arguing/hating/prejudicing that a commonality of solutions can be found. AND that those who disagree can still stay (mostly) cordial.

BD: I am often accused of being cynical, but you live in a jaded world of berating the glass only 88%* full. You ALWAYS come up with the exception of people not being able to make it. (ie The small number of teenage prostitutes) This is a tragedy no doubt, but uncommon and not at all new. I suspect it was worse in the 70’s when I was growing up.
*Thats the percent of Americans whole are upper or upper middle class in the world as a whole.

Again, I assure you if all did the SWEAR program, all but a few would do well and the country would do better as well. It’s difficult to separate the problems (drugs, early preg, etc ) as a cause or effect of poverty. Kids born into poverty as a consequence of their parents actions, inactions, dumb luck or malice are supported by us via the government in many ways. Short of the horrendously difficult task of removing kids from the home, life will never be “fair”.

Drugs and alcohol and teenage pregnancy are almost always a personal choice. Just how I was raised. You make the bed you lie in, be it a gutter or the $2000 mattress with 4 inch memory foam topper. Not to say that’s what I’m reclined on…????

All but a few can save if they are determined. I disagree completely. Then they can avoid usurial (sp?) interest rates in buying almost everything and don’t have to make desperate decisions because they have no fall back. But we all want “it” now and don’t want to wait. And you still haven’t refuted the securities markets make up much of the gap in income…

Community colleges and Votechs are great, as are public colleges for all but a few degrees. And if you’re hot snot in college and prove it, the high brow colleges will pay your way for graduate school. My nephew went to state school then Harvard for PhD in this way. Personally, I turned down the Univ of Chicago for my state school to avoid (what now seems laughable) debt of $5k / year. But I did end up with what I wanted… Again, a country full of unemployed engineers might be good for the economy. But alas, we mostly have unemployed humanities majors (at least from an economic point of view).

You’ve never (that I’ve seen) answered if you worked with or knew poor people. I grew up working “menial” jobs with poor folks (because I was one) and still work with poor folks as clients and fellow workers ($8-9/hr is common). Just curious…

I think cobbling jobs together is the way of the world for those without tech degrees. It’s doable and passes all the responsibility to the individual for health/savings. This appeals to me as a Libertarian, but the pitfalls are obvious. I seriously doubt that people can’t find work. Maybe not what they want to do, but no work at all seems unlikely. If so, we would ‘t have to import 11M or so aliens / undocumented to do them.

Peter: It feels like I’m taking sides, but it’s just because I mostly see the world as you do. Congrats on 7 figures income. I’m sure you earned it and should not have to give more of it away to be wasted. I do not resent your success or feel I am diminished by it. Now that I’ve buttered you up, about that job…LOL. You see I have a son…


Big Data September 18, 2016 at 6:43 pm

I answered your poverty question back on Aug 7, the same day you asked it. Look up the page a ways.

The swear program of personal improvement is fine. But it is also undeniable that increased income disparity makes the struggles harder for those on the edge and puts more people at risk. Every single tax proposal built on cutting social programs and cutting taxes for high earners (which describes all of them from the political right) is basically a program to make the poorest and most vulnerable worse off and increased in number, while channeling more money to those who least require it.

You do not invest in a long term economy by allowing most of the increase in national income to go to the 1% richest. It is unwise and damaging to do so. And claims that people can just always achieve success through SWEAR denies the structural economic problems that ALSO need fixing.

Looking at the trees teaches you a lot about some trees but it still can blind you to the decline of the forest.


Stevendad September 19, 2016 at 6:29 pm

I looked and don’t see it. The postings were spread all over then. Please reprise.


Stevendad September 19, 2016 at 10:24 pm

See we fundamentally disagree here. You see some top down economy ruling all. I see a summation of 10a of millions of small economies being the most inportant. And almost all make better choices and thrive, we all thrive even more, rich and poor.


Peter September 20, 2016 at 10:50 am

Agreed. Very true.


Peter September 16, 2016 at 1:38 pm

Just to respond in a little more detail to the recent wave of fluff pieces posted by BD that try and prove his points….. Let’s take the Forbes article that said reportedly half of all workers are “underemployed”.

Read deeper into this actual study on Payscale.com and you will see that in the survey, they defined underemployed as “having part-time work but wanting to work full-time, or holding a job that doesn’t require or utilize your education, experience or training” Frankly, I would define my job that way. My job doesn’t require my education. Wouldn’t EVERYONE who works in retail say this? Wouldn’t EVERY philosophy or art history major say this who isn’t a teacher or professor?

The implication is that half of the work force wants more hours and can’t get them. That would be unfortunate, and there are certainly some in that boat. But don’t rope in people that either have jobs that they think they are overqualified for or people that want higher ranking jobs but can’t get them. That includes quite a lot of us.

This illuminates another problem – the education path people are taking is misguided. 90% of people in the survey with MBAs say they aren’t using their education in their job. Then WHY did they get an MBA? Sounds like a poor career choice to me – to go into debt and spend tons of money to do a job where you didn’t need the MBA. Of course the glass-half-full cynical pessimist could say that we need to create more jobs for people with MBAs. What does that even look like?

Just because you get a college degree or an MBA doesn’t guarantee you jack squat. In fact – it isn’t even that necessary to be successful in today’s society.


Big Data September 19, 2016 at 8:14 pm

We provide poor guidance to our younger generation in how to prepare for the world of work. Sure there is personal responsibility, but one would think that we are sending our kids to school for q2 to 14 years including preK and K to get out of high school with some idea of how to get a job. My high school had some woodworking and automotive repair classes at least. Now we just foist more math on non mathematically inclined students.


Peter September 19, 2016 at 7:55 am

Stats for the week:
6 million people filed a tax return in 2014 with AGI over $200k.
This represented 4.2% of all returns filed.
This represented 34.2% of all AGI nationwide.
This represented 58.2% of all federal income tax paid.

If the top earners have what Steven H deems as an “unfair proportion of income”, then why should they pay 70% more than their share of taxes?


Big Data September 19, 2016 at 10:41 am

Again …
1) Increased share of taxes is due to increased share of income.
2) In a progressive tax system, rich people pay a higher tax rate than the average worker. That does not mean they are paying “more than their share”.
3) Effective federal tax rates on the 1% and smaller income group percentages have been relatively low, compared to pre 1o80 norms, for decades and are still low for million earners plus, even after tax increases. When the 1% are earning twice the income share and paying smaller tax rates on that high income than historical norms (when we paid our bills), it is hard to argue they are overtaxed or treated unfairly.
4) Though you didn’t talk about this in your post, it is worth mentioning that most of the founders of this country wrote in favor of rich folks paying higher rates than poor folks. This is not a new idea and is wholly consistent with American-ism and capitalism.


Big Data September 19, 2016 at 10:42 am

1980 not 1o80


Stevendad September 19, 2016 at 6:31 pm

We got it! Not just after Magna Carta LOL!


Big Data September 19, 2016 at 3:17 pm

Peter, you often say you are willing for taxes to increase to pay down debt, but then you revert back to this political mantra of high earners being taxed more than their share. This has been discussed ad nauseum.

We don’t have a flat tax system. We have a progressive tax system. And high earners have much higher shares of AFTER TAX INCOME than past generations so why should they care what tax they pay.

As I have said before, if you double a man’s income from 1 million to 2 million, for the same work, and then increase his taxes from 250k to 750k (example not reflective of actual historical rates), should the man consider himself fortunate that his after tax income went up 66% or should he complain that taxes went up faster than income?

If he sees that lower paid workers incomes did not increase but their tax rates went down, should he complain that they don’t pay proper tax share?

After tax income determines prosperity. Not rates of income increase. Not share of taxes paid. Why are the most prosperous people always complaining about their tax rate and not rejoicing in their historically unrivaled prosperity?


Peter September 19, 2016 at 4:18 pm

And I’m not complaining about tax rates. YOU are. I’m just defending myself. I never brought tax rates to this discussion. I’m focused on the other side of the ledger – the egregious spending spree we have been on for decades that will eventually catch up with us. That’s always been my focus.


Peter September 19, 2016 at 4:21 pm

And honestly, I could care less about how my personal prosperity is positioned historically. That means nothing to me. Don’t know a single wealthy person who says “I’m doing really well – particularly when you compare to historic norms!”

My father’s health is insanely good relative to historic norms. He is almost 80 and according to historic norms he should be dead by now. Who cares about his arthritis or diabetes or the fact that he can’t hear anything? He’s doing great by historical standards! He should be thrilled! I’m going to call him right now….. 🙂

Big Data September 19, 2016 at 8:16 pm

So you didn’t ask why upper incomes pay more than their share of TAXES? I could’ve sworn you said that.

Big Data September 19, 2016 at 8:28 pm

Problem is you are pointing out something that is incorrect. And I don’t think I have said fair share in a long while so don’t push the wording on me. You had just posted taxes on high earners were 70% more than their share. I am more interested in sustainable revenue and a balanced economy with increased opportunity for the middle and working class.

Stevendad is right. The conversation is getting too repetitive. I’ll try to kick start a slightly different conversation below.

Peter September 19, 2016 at 8:46 pm

They are….70% more than their share.
34% of income.
58% of taxes.

Nothing non-factual in my statements. Not political rhetoric either – just the stats.

Big Data September 19, 2016 at 9:28 pm

So by that logic, a millionaire receives about 20x median income, which is 20x more than his share, right?

There is no rule that says a person’s share of taxes should equal his share of income. Not anymore than there is a rule that says everyone should have equal incomes.

Peter September 20, 2016 at 6:11 am

No. I don’t apply any “logic” to judge whether what someone makes is “fair” or “their share”. Even when I was in the bottom 20%, it just wasn’t the way I thought.

And I sure don’t want our government making that call.

Peter September 19, 2016 at 3:28 pm

34% of all income
58% of all tax paid

No political mantra here – just numbers. And not suggesting a reduction. Just pointing out that this is more than a fair share (your words – I don’t think “fair” and “taxes” are particularly congruous)


Stevendad September 19, 2016 at 6:36 pm

Tax cuts are equally insane. Debt snowball is coming. Critical mass at $30T. Have to cut down spending and add a few highly targeted taxes with a reduction in crony giveaways and general waste. Both parties think we are all too stupid to make good decisions. Watching Watter’s World, Jaywalking etc makes you wonder if they are right. Larry Kudlow has it right however. The economic problems are not due to under taxation.


Stevendad September 19, 2016 at 7:01 pm

I look at it as having a friend that squanders his money, runs up almost insurmountable debt and comes to you for help.
Best solutions?:
1. Enable by giving more.
2. Tough love (sorry dude but…)
3. Let me bridge the now to a more tenable future.

1 is out IMO

I like 3, but understand 2.


Big Data September 19, 2016 at 8:35 pm

See Stevendad, you and agree on the philosophy but disagree on who the squanderers are. I see a banking and investment and corporate infrastructure, fed by deregulation and wasted capital derived from tax cuts to upper incomes, that disrupted the economy and depleted the economic resources of most of the nation. I think we need to stop enabling the capital wasters by taxing high incomes at levels that can sustain government, restore spending on needed infrastructure improvements and give the middle class a break on educational costs.

Tough love against the money wasters. I’m with ya there.


Stevendad September 19, 2016 at 8:54 pm

What debt have the rich run up?


Big Data September 19, 2016 at 9:08 pm

Tax cuts to the rich ran up the national debt.

Income reallocation to the rich deprives 90% of Americans from a rising wage.

Financial mismanagement by the investment and banking industry which is controlled by the rich, crashed our economy.

What debts are the rich NOT responsible for?


Stevendad September 19, 2016 at 10:20 pm

You SO oversimplify the 2008 crash. I’ve explained it before in great detail. Corporate greed played a part no doubt, I agree with that. So did pandering for votes or meting out justice (however you want to look at it) by Barney Frank and Bill Clinton.

Stevendad September 19, 2016 at 8:56 pm

I also have to wrap my mind around how anyone can think the government is an efficient allocator of capital. Wow.


Big Data September 19, 2016 at 9:09 pm

Redistribution of tax cuts from the National treasury to the rich folks was reallocation of capital. And no it was not terribly efficient.


Stevendad September 19, 2016 at 10:17 pm

It’s so strange to me that you believe taking less
Money people have earned is taking from the Treasury. For the bagillionth time 2/3rds of high earners got Zed in Bush tax cuts. Most has been repealed and an Obamacare surcharge added last I looked.

Peter September 20, 2016 at 6:13 am

That’s the fundamental disagreement we (and everyone else) has with BD. He has tremendous confidence in the government and thinks their power extends much further than it does when it comes to economic matters.


Big Data September 19, 2016 at 9:04 pm

Suppose for a moment that govt spending and debt is not the primary issue. Pretend for a moment that we solved that issue with an unexpectedly strong couple of years of gdp growth and maybe a small tax increase across all incomes.

Then we can isolate the issue of income disparity. Is it a problem or not?

First let’s imagine if it could EVER be a problem. We can all agree it is possible to discourage businesses by over taxing and over regulating, right? If businessmen see no strong upside to investing and building a business why take the risk?

What would that look like?

Stock market would be stagnant. Capital for investment would be depleted. Large businesses and banks would struggle.

So doesn’t it make sense that the reverse must also be true? It should be possible to undertax and overreward businesses snd the financial industry by underregulating and granting overly favorable incentives.

What would that look like? Stock markets would be strong and out perform the general economy. Corporate ceo and bank manager salaries multiply. And if business and finance are over rewarded, then somebody is under rewarded. The likely victims would be employees. If we allow businesses to suppress wages and destroy unions and export jobs for cheaper labor, then employees and small businesses suffer while large businesses and big financial interest thrive. That is what imbalance in that direction looks like.

Which condition is more like our economy?


Stevendad September 19, 2016 at 9:16 pm

Meanwhile the Dems support wage deflation by encouraging unfettered immigration. I’ve said before Occupy Wall Street and Tea Party are both right to a large degree. The middle is getting squeezed by both ends, who are entrenched and have time to squeeze.


Stevendad September 19, 2016 at 9:17 pm

Still don’t see how you are in contact with poor now or in past. Not trying to be smart, just couldn’t find it.


Big Data September 19, 2016 at 9:51 pm
Stevendad September 19, 2016 at 11:10 pm

OK, found it. You lived near a bad neighborhood. So I presume you talked with these folks on a regular basis. Did you ever work with them? I was one and remember most of the issues my fellow cohort of poor had were self created by drugs / alcohol / poor spending habits / laziness / poor reproductive choices and general lack of direction. Of course, just anecdotal, but you’ve submitted many anecdotes along the way.
And did you feel good your taxes supported the crack dealers and users nearby? Did you think the crack dealers making copious tax free income was OK? And when they went to the hospital I’m sure you were happy your tax dollars supported and enabled their behaviors?Of course, they were ALL victims of unfettered greed by the 1%, forced into the circumstances with no alternatives. Being a little smart a**ed here, but I think you get my point.
I’ve lived at least moderate poverty and worked around the worst poverty and found the number of faultless victims of a greedy wicked society to be very small in my world. Of course there were innocent children, but that goes back to taking kids from parents, a horribly difficult thing.


Big Data September 19, 2016 at 9:45 pm

Unfettered immigration? Obama has deported more immigrants than any president and illegal immigration is at historic lows.


Stevendad September 19, 2016 at 10:14 pm

By opposing a border you support unfettered immigration.


Stevendad September 19, 2016 at 10:56 pm

That stat is so clouded in doubt I can’t even respond to it. Regardless, open borders are part of Dem platform. At least you agree on that?


Big Data September 20, 2016 at 8:05 pm

No, I don’t agree that Dems favor open borders. Where did you get that cockamamie idea?

In my opinion, a pretty good assessment of Democratic (and my) views on immigration is found (strangely) on a Republican views website, along with comparison to Republican views.


Big Data September 20, 2016 at 8:20 pm

Lesson time.

What most of us call “deportation” is a forced removal of an illegal immigrant by an order of removal. This is also just called a “removal”. Removals are significant because there are significant penalties when those removed are caught returning to the country. More removals/deportations have occurred under Obama than under any previous President.

There are also “voluntary departures” which can be imposed by the government without a formal order of removal. These are also called “returns”. There are fewer sanctions imposable against “returns” who come back to the US. More returns occurred under previous Presidents than Obama.

In addition there is the voluntary departure of immigrants across the border with no government imposition. This has been significant since 2009, largely due to poor economic conditions since the crash. In fact there have been more illegal immigrants leaving for Mexico than coming in, according to that great bastion of liberal propaganda, The Economist, writing in 2014:
“in the past couple of years, for the first time since people started to talk about illegal migration, the outflow has been greater than the inflow.”


Peter September 20, 2016 at 6:29 am

True – technically BD’s statement is wrong. If you just count deportation of illegals, that’s not true. Obama’s stats include people who simply returned to their countries (visas expired, etc.). But this really isn’t the point….. just another example of how his facts come from left-leaning literature rather than neutral sources.

The other perspective to the poor – other than living with them or being poor yourself – is hiring them. You ask almost any business owner who has been in business for the last 30-40 years and they will tell you – the quality of work from lower-paying jobs has diminished considerably. Of course BD will tell us that is because we don’t pay them a working wage – that minimum wage should be higher, etc.

I remember when I was struggling. I can’t imagine taking the best job I could get – even if it is making minimum wage – and decreasing the quality of my work, or not showing up, or not looking to advance to a higher promoted job. Simple psychology would tell you that lower wages should actually MOTIVATE the work force to advance. But maybe BD is right, maybe instead it de-motivates people and they just give up. If that is the case, then why should the government save them?

I’m all for helping the people that are practicing SWEAR and making good decisions who just can’t get ahead. You do this with education and training not with reallocation of capital.


Peter September 20, 2016 at 6:30 am

I should add. I’m not totally against the reallocation of capital for people practicing SWEAR. Said that wrong….love small business owner tax cuts and even lower tax rates and breaks for lower earners. Just not for saving those that “give up” with reallocation.

Stevendad September 20, 2016 at 5:16 pm

It took only a few minutes of scrubbing vomit and urine off bathroom floors to convince me to study!!

Big Data September 20, 2016 at 8:27 pm

“just another example of how his facts come from left-leaning literature rather than neutral sources.”

Very offensive Peter.

My stats are true when you define “deportation” in its usual sense of a forced expulsion of an illegal immigrant by order of removal, aka a “removal” in official stats. If you include the less formal “returns” then previous Presidents have expelled more immigrants, though it is questionable whether this is really defined as a deportation.

My “liberal” sources included The Economist, though other sources say the same thing.

Big Data September 20, 2016 at 8:38 pm

Your denigration of the working class is staggering.

“You ask almost any business owner who has been in business for the last 30-40 years and they will tell you – the quality of work from lower-paying jobs has diminished considerably. … I remember when I was struggling. I can’t imagine taking the best job I could get – even if it is making minimum wage – and decreasing the quality of my work, or not showing up, or not looking to advance to a higher promoted job. Simple psychology would tell you that lower wages should actually MOTIVATE the work force to advance. But maybe BD is right, maybe instead it de-motivates people and they just give up. If that is the case, then why should the government save them?”

I don’t know what simple psychology you are subscribing to that motivates people using lower wages. What motivates people is the a decent wage and the prospect of improving their position with hard work. When people are working at WalMart for wages so low they must get food stamps to eat, and there is little prospect for job improvement or better pay, despair sets in. That should be obvious. The reason you will get better service at a Costco is that employees are better paid with better benefits. Higher wages attract better and more loyal employees and encourages higher quality work. This has been well-known since Henry Ford boosted the wages of his assembly line workers above the wages paid by his competitors.

But you act like the despair of the employees receiving sub-living wage pay is their fault and that therefore no one should help them? Break out the whips and cut the wages, Peter. I’m sure that simple psychology of desperation will motivate them.

Peter September 20, 2016 at 9:43 pm

More evidence of how pointless it is debating with you. Missed the entire point of my post. I’m not nearly as heartless and you want me to be. You are thinking of other posters….. Or a straw man.

Big Data September 22, 2016 at 11:08 am

No Peter, I am just holding you to your comments as stated. No straw man involved.

Higher wages and the prospect of improved conditions motivates people. I understand the principle that you were aiming for … that a struggle at the beginning of a career is motivational. I even keep a story handy that illustrates this. Maybe you’ve heard the butterfly struggle anecdote. A woman found a butterfly struggling to escape its chrysalis. Attempting to help, she expanded the opening of the chrysalis to help the creature. Curiously the butterfly died soon after exiting the chrysalis without the wings ever forming properly. It turns out that the struggle through the opening pushes fluid from the body into the wings and thus the struggle is an essential part of the life cycle.

So struggle can be good and necessary. However, an economy that fails to advance the income shares of most of the citizens for decades is akin to making that hole so small that most butterflies never escape.

That’s what I find absurd about your low wage motivational story. We have been making the escape hole allergies and smaller and you wonder why the butterflies don’t emerge like they used to.

Big Data September 23, 2016 at 10:19 pm

I don’t know how the word allergies got in that last paragraph. Just skip over it.

Stevendad September 19, 2016 at 9:22 pm

OK. Let’s imagine the government is a perfect allocator of capital. Debt falls, real unemployment is low and the economy grows rapidly. Since the opposite is true, does that prove they are inherently poor allocators?


Stevendad September 19, 2016 at 9:25 pm

Current U-6 Unemployment Rate is 9.7% (BLS) or 13.1% (Gallup)


Big Data September 19, 2016 at 9:39 pm



Big Data September 19, 2016 at 9:42 pm

OK Googled it. Got it.


Big Data September 19, 2016 at 9:38 pm

I don’t believe I ever said that government is a perfect allocator of capital. What I have said is that government sets policies that heavily influence capital allocation. When you put the holders of capital in control of those policies, the distribution gets screwed up.


Peter September 20, 2016 at 10:50 am

Easy fix….
1) campaign finance reform
2) more than 2 parties

Simple solution. But as the recent debate ruling showed, the two parties don’t want anyone ruining their power hold.


Big Data September 20, 2016 at 7:30 pm

Third party candidates do not yet represent anywhere near a majority view. With the GOP devolving into Trumpism and a likely decline into minority party status, perhaps a 3rd party of actual economic conservatives (without the racist and anti-gay and religious right baggage) will emerge.


Peter September 20, 2016 at 7:56 pm

I totally disagree. I think if people heard the libertarian ticket and considered it they would be much higher than 10 percent. And Clinton (Dems) and Trump (Reps) hardly represent the majority view either.

Stevendad September 19, 2016 at 10:08 pm

What you have said is give more to government. Over and over and over again. You really believe “they” know what is best for all of us? So “they” know what is fair, just and most efficient.. Just who the hell are they and of what background are they that they can tell 310M people how to live? Again we regulate Oreos and not embryos in the Progressive world. I find that strange, amongst a thousand other things. But I guess they have climbed some Progressive Mount Sinai and bring back truth and guidelines for all to live by. Arrogance to the extreme, but just one mans opinion…


Peter September 20, 2016 at 6:35 am

Well said. And it is all motivated by self-promotion and re-election. Nobody ever wants to ACTUALLY cut spending – because it is unpopular, particularly to the group of people affected by it. Let the next politician deal with my mess.

Every president does this with their tax bills. Bush was the best example – where his tax cut program got better and better until 2010 when many of the taxes we are used to vanished. Of course, he knew he would be out of office by then and force the next president to “fix” it. Straight politics. Nothing real. Nothing substantive to help the people of our nation. Just kicking the can down the road for the next guy.

Any “cut” is nominal. Small enough so you can say “I cut spending on XXX by X%” but not large enough to where those people lose jobs or complain or vote for someone else. And we continue to watch our debt rise – to a level we can barely sustain at 0% interest rates. Rates will have to rise at some point (unless we want to bury the dollar) – and when they do we won’t be able to pay our bills – even if we subscribe to BD’s strategy of taxing our way out of it – it won’t be possible.


Stevendad September 20, 2016 at 8:18 am

That’s why we should push up taxes ACROSS THE BOARD when the government exceeds spending targets (that should aim for gradually smaller then eliminated deficits). Yes, reduce EIC, increase taxes on the poor, middle class and the rich, in a way that is NOT progressive. Thus ALL are in the boat and all suffer, not just those who can “afford to give a little more (more)”. Again, make no mistake, when the debt snowball hits, the poor will be affected disproportionately. They clearly have a huge stake in this. Short of outright seizure of assets by the “wise” and distribution in a “fair” manner they will lose the most. Similar situations in Venezuela,Russia,China,Cuba and Argentina have led to the slaughter of tens of millions. I assume no one wants to see this…


Peter September 20, 2016 at 10:45 am

I don’t even care if there is a small deficit going forward – that can happen from time to time. I’m worried about the giant DEBT that we have accumulated running up consistently high deficits in times where it isn’t warranted. Then you have a crisis and the deficit balloons. Simple budgeting.

If you continually try and pay for everything by taxing a few people, then the majority will continue to vote for more spending (since they aren’t paying for it). And eventually the money will run out.

And you are totally right – when the debt snowball hits it is going to be TERRIBLE for the poorest Americans. We must do something now to avoid this catastrophe. Notice how the major parties (Obama/Romney and Clinton/Trump) don’t even make this a primary issue. We’d rather talk about Hillary’s cough, Trump’s wall, who uses what bathroom, climate change, Syria, etc. than address this – because the solution either party would come up with would make them wildly unpopular. (Although it is hard to imagine these two candidates being more unpopular)


Peter September 20, 2016 at 10:48 am

One question though for you Stevendad….

How do you sell this to people? (Across the board tax hikes to avoid disaster) Why would someone who is struggling vote for someone who may raise their taxes when they could vote for someone who could either cut them or outright give them money?

My experience is that many people in the bottom 20% do understand the big picture and would vote for tax increases if it meant a better future. (I don’t agree with Steven H that everyone votes just for their own self-interests)

The question is – do they really understand the situation at hand? And do they have confidence in the government to execute a solution?


Stevendad September 20, 2016 at 5:25 pm

It’s uncommon for anyone to voice one way or the other about this because:
1) no one talks about it (as you said)
2) it’s other (the rich usually) people’s money
3) they’re just too busy making all the money for taxes
4) they don’t give a damn and want it all to tear down and start over (more out there than you might think)
5) we can just print more money (WRONG)
6) Trump / free school / preK / whatever will make the economy explode and eliminate the debt
7) it seems a long way off

Big Data September 20, 2016 at 7:56 pm

Since when is government “them”? Government is “us” if we will vote responsibly and hold legislators accountable, and get the politicians out of the billionaires’ pockets.

I am not talking about giving “them” money to control us. I am talking about financing the government that WE elected and which passes OUR laws. If we don’t like the laws, elect new Congresspeople or write letters or protest or get politically active. But this BS of passing laws we refuse to pay for is just dumb. It doesn’t make sense to say we set revenue first and limit legislation to fit what we want to be taxed. We should pass laws with an eye to the cost and pay the bills. Its the only way to actually prioritize.

What I keep hearing from you folks is that it is impossible to tax enough so we have to cut spending, cut spending, cut spending. Thats a BS copout. We can tax responsibly, we have before, and we should again. Addressing only the spending side is unlikely to succeed. And anybody who says we just need to buckle down and make hard choices almost always want the unpleasant impacts of those hard choices to fall on somebody else.


Stevendad September 20, 2016 at 8:04 pm

Wrong again.


Big Data September 20, 2016 at 8:43 pm

Be specific, please.


Stevendad September 21, 2016 at 11:49 am

Oh gosh, same stuff I’ve said 50 times or more. You just don’t listen at all. I’ve mentioned some substantial taxes, some which disproportionately affect the rich. But we must also balance costs.
By the way we are NOT the government. It has become a self serving morass more interested in enriching its friends, growing larger and more powerful and telling people what they must do. Right down to eating broccoli, which bathrooms to use, what to drive, etc etc. I again like the metaphor of the Blob from the 50’s movies. Eats everything in front of it and its sole aim is to enlarge itself!

Big Data September 21, 2016 at 8:07 pm

Yes I heard you about AMT taxes. Not to seem rude to you Stevendad, but it is irrelevant to me that some high earners did not benefit from the huge tax cuts to the 1%. That just means that the members of that elite group that DID benefit received even more from the tax cuts.

And Corporations and the Financial “Vampire Squid” empire (as financial columnist Matt Taibbi describes it) are much more of dangerous and self-serving morass (wonderful word) interested in enriching their friends and controlling the country, than government ever could be.

As I have said before, I have some say-so over government. And yes, I also heard you about buying stock and showing up to stockholders meetings. But they really don’t listen to anybody anyway. Corporate America is much more corrupt than government. They ARE the corrupting force ON government. Why should I put one iota of faith in corporate greed, except to know that it is against most people’s interests?

Big Data September 21, 2016 at 8:39 pm

And as for the bathroom controversy: You may not remember the actual sequence of events that precipitated the Great North Carolina RepubliBathroom Temper Tantrum. Let’s review the timeline.

On Feb 22, 2016, the city of Charlotte passed a bill that extended anti-discrimination protections to LGBT people, including officially allowing transgender people to use the bathroom of the gender they associate themselves with. This was not particularly unusual and matched laws in other cities.

On March 23, the North carolina General Assembly called a special session to pass a bill that:
1) Negated Charlotte’s anti-discrimination bill,
2) Prevented any North Carolina local governments from enacting a similar bill to Charlotte’s,
3) Mandated that people use bathrooms matching the gender on their birth certificate,
4) Prevented any local governments from enacting minimum wage laws higher than the state’s minimum wage,
5) Limits how people can sue for discrimination in court.

In other words, North Carolina had a massive hissy fit about letting people who identify as women, dress like women, act like women, and look like women, actually use the women’s restroom. North Carolina GOP wants transgender women, who appear to the public as women, to use the men’s room, and they want transgender men who appear to the public as men, to use the women’s room. Great idea, huh? See any problems with that?

And remember how we discussed that cities should possibly have different minimum wage laws than rural areas? NC was having none of that. And remember how you worried about politicians controlling people’s lives? If the state legislators had only let localities legislate what is best for their locality, this controversy would not have blown up. But GOP wants to get in everybody’s business and control sex, surgery, wages and even bathrooms. To hell with local government, they say.

THAT is when the federal government stepped in and indicated that federal sex discrimination laws apply for LGBT people as well as traditional genders, and that states cannot apply such targeted discriminatory laws against vulnerable minorities.

Unfortunately the NC minimum wage BS is still law.

So it is not the Progressives trying to control people’s lives. It is the GOP trying to enforce 1950’s Leave it Beaver sensibilities on the nation. Those were nice times (except for the fear of being atomized by USSR of course). But 50’s sitcoms were not reality, and the GOP needs to face up to the modern world. And they should let EVERYbody have a taste of the liberty and freedom they like to tout, not just the people the GOP deem worthy.

Peter September 22, 2016 at 6:26 am

I think what we are saying is the whole bathroom thing that affects some tiny percentage of the population is a diversion – kind of a minor issue relative to the looming debt service that awaits our nation if we don’t change the way our government operates.

Stevendad September 20, 2016 at 5:40 pm

I think #3 is the main one.

I have said my personal metaphor is a patient who is bleeding out (debt) with a gun to his head (ISIS et al) and the doctors and nurses standing around arguing what color his shirt is (bathrooms et al). Triage people!!

I think government accountability would go way up if we directly took more money when they are inefficient. But, alas, again, they rely on “the stupidity of the American people” per the Obamacare architect. That’s why we’re on the verge of a political revolution (Trump / Sanders) and who knows after that. The two party system with its capital cronyism will be a tough takedown and will put up a huge fight. Like you said there is no debating any new parties… Had to do it!????


Big Data September 21, 2016 at 8:53 pm

What do y’all think about the Wells Fargo Fraudulent Customer Account Scandal? WF President John Stumpf blamed the low level employees that were eventually fired and claims that employees should have reported such behavior to the company ethics hotline. Of course some employees DID report that they were being told by their managers to commit fraud. Those employees (not the managers) were promptly fired. Meanwhile, the company held meetings by phone with individual branches multiple times PER DAY tracking progress on how employees were doing on the cross-selling goals. Employees were compelled to beg friends and families to open accounts to lesses the relentless corporate pressure. Some employees, of course, relented to the pressure and the managerial commands, and committed fraud for their company.

Not only should Stumpf be jailed, but his bank should be the first to be separated into little bitty banks.


Peter September 22, 2016 at 6:44 am

Obviously this is a violation of fair practices and people should be punished, including those that authorized it. We all know that both in government and in corporate America though that the head man never gets punished. It would be like impeaching the President for Abu Ghraib.

The interesting thing about the WF situation is that they had already been changing the culture internally. Once they got wind these sorts of activities were going on, people started getting fired – both the culpable employees and the managers of the local branches that were either encouraging it or looking the other way in order to meet sales quotas. At no time did upper management endorse or even ignore this behavior. At the end of the day, very little money was actually charged to clients (they would open empty accounts and then immediately close them – just to get credit for the account)- but it was still fraud and should obviously be punished.

While I’m not a fan of giant corporations – particularly banks – I don’t think the size of the company is an issue here. The “too big to fail” status scares me as I’m sure it does you – but I don’t know that I would go as far as breaking up the company into “bitty banks”. They should have never allowed the mergers that led to this anyway (Wachovia, First Union, etc.)

It’s also important to stay at the heart of this story – which is bad enough – and not believe every tabloid-type story you read. The story on CNN money about the guy who called the ethics line and was fired is not true. They imply that they would fire them not for calling the ethics line but for being 2 minutes late. I can tell you first hand that this is not possible. It is darn near impossible to fire someone in our industry. I won’t bore you with the details (and you wouldn’t care or believe me anyway) but every time there is a “transgression” there is a complicated process of writing someone up, having a meeting to discuss, etc. Then if there is no transgression for 30 days it is erased from their record. Even if they somehow commit 3 transgressions in 3o days there are about 6 layers of management that get involved. Honestly, if what these employees say are true then they have a lucrative settlement from a lawsuit awaiting them.

I had an employee that was flat out awful – did bad work, made huge errors, had a bad attitude – was even an alcoholic. It took almost a year to finally fire them. All thanks to the insane regulations put in place to protect people.


Stevendad September 22, 2016 at 11:59 am

I think these rise to the level of fraud and racketeering at first glance. If so, nailem and jailem


Peter September 22, 2016 at 2:21 pm

I don’t. But if they do, absolutely nail em and jail em. But there needs to be an investigation and a hearing, not just a made-for-TV scolding.


Big Data September 23, 2016 at 10:11 pm

I believe your story about the difficulty in firing a bad employee. But I also believe the CNN story and object to your label of their story as tabloid journalism and your assessment of their story about WF firing the employees (not just one) who called the ethics hotline or otherwise reported fraud. Bill Bado and Heather Brock were 2 of 4 fired employees CNN spoke 2 and 6 additional WF employees spoke of witnessing the same behaviour. There is no reason to believe that a company that so flagrantly violates legal and ethical banking practices would stick to the rules when firing people who might uncover those practices.

We would all like to believe that big banks protect our money, big companies hire fire and promote people fairly, cops protect citizens and only shoot when threatened, and that rich people are all rich because they are successful and hard working. Sometimes those things are true. Too often they are not.


Stevendad September 23, 2016 at 11:09 pm

The reality is MOST of the time all of those things are true. If not, nailem to the wall. They all do tremendous good, but those who abuse their public trust need to suffer significant punishment.


Peter September 24, 2016 at 10:40 am

True. Unless you know people in upper management.


Peter September 22, 2016 at 8:08 am

An interesting comment I want to revisit…

“When people are working at WalMart for wages so low they must get food stamps to eat, and there is little prospect for job improvement or better pay, despair sets in”

A few things here. First question is – how many of the bottom 20% does this represent? Neither Steven H nor I know the true answer to that. But it is fair to say that this is not necessarily the case for every single person in the bottom 20%. Just as it is not true that every 1%’er has made their money by stealing, reallocating or taking from someone else. But let’s focus on this anecdotal situation…..

The first part could totally be true. Wal-Mart may very well not pay wages that allow someone to live in any sort of comfort. But I take objection with these two remarks:

1. “Little prospects for improvement”. WHY? Become a manager at Wal-Mart. Work a second job. Take classes in the evening to develop skills that qualify you for better jobs. Temp agencies will hire you and let you train your computer skills for free. Talk to peers and find out how to get into a “career” path rather than just a “job” with Wal-Mart. I COMPLETELY reject that there are little prospects for improvement – no matter how limited the skills are.

2. “Despair sets in” That is entirely on the individual. Even with what happened to Dr. Petit in Connecticut (his whole family was raped and burned alive in front of him), he has moved on and forged forward with his life. If “despair” sets in, that is on YOU. Life is hard. Bad crap happens to people all the time – particularly in other less developed nations. If you can’t persevere, then there is nobody to blame but yourself.

Don’t get me wrong – I have tremendous sympathy for Dr. Petit as I do any individual or family who is struggling financially. But the great thing about America is there is always a way. We are too quick to feel sorry for or victimize people who have had a bad hand dealt to them – or made poor choices. As they say, it’s whether you get back up that truly defines your character.


Peter September 22, 2016 at 11:11 am

And by the way – if you view “prospects for improvement” as trying to get Wal-Mart to give you a raise, or the government to make them do so – then yeah….there are little prospects for improvement. But there is always a way to improve your INDIVIDUAL situation. In no part of my life do I wait for someone else to fix something I want changed. Particularly our gridlocked partisan-obsessed dysfunctional government or profit-oriented mega-corporations.


Stevendad September 22, 2016 at 12:12 pm

But don’t you know the Federal government knows the best way to help you? And what your goals should be? I remember a guy I worked with in high school whose only goal (he was in his late 30’s) was to smoke pot every evening. He was one of the happiest, most settled people I’ve ever known. Who am I to judge??


Peter September 22, 2016 at 2:19 pm

Well even I do that (maybe 3-4 times a week) but that isn’t my only goal. 🙂


Stevendad September 22, 2016 at 12:08 pm

The bathroom thing may be very important to a tiny group of people. It is the colored shirt in my metaphor. Meanwhile we are all at huge risk for economic depression at some risk for death.
My 50 times comment was not about AMT, but about thinking of more targeted, fairer taxes: modest wealth tax, EIC and other benefit repayment by Walmart, etc, eliminating many many corporate tax loopholes, eliminate carried interest and a VAT tax to capture underground economy. That’s what I meant.


Peter September 22, 2016 at 2:20 pm

Totally agree on the bathroom thing. And look at the 6 paragraph diatribe reply that you got. So easy for the debate to derail to things of minor importance compares to other things.


Stevendad September 22, 2016 at 12:08 pm

And at some risk..


Big Data September 23, 2016 at 10:22 pm

I only brought up the bathroom thing because Stevendad kept mentioning it as if It was a power play by federal Democrats, when it was actually an obsession of NC state GOP.


Big Data September 23, 2016 at 10:23 pm

It was a complete distraction to pander to the LGBT haters.


Stevendad September 23, 2016 at 11:12 pm

And then followed by the Dems distraction from the real issues to bring it up. Even you know the debt is a dangerous ticking time bomb.


Peter September 24, 2016 at 10:39 am

Yawn…. Agree with you both. A pointless argument used to play politics by both sides more than actually help our nation.


Peter N September 25, 2016 at 4:05 pm

Just checking in. I can see the other Peter is keeping Steven H in check.

I just got back from China. I just made a comment about a Steven H post that is about 2 weeks old.

Steven H still hasn’t figure out how to generate wealth. The libtards only want to redistribute it. Steven H, until you address my challenge you have no credibility. You can’t redistributed wealth. That that require a tax on wealth and not income. You can’t taxes income severely because the income will either disappear or go over seas. I can retire any time now. I have more than enough money. However, wouldn’t it be better if I was productive for 7 more years?

In China I spent 3.5 hrs talking to a university professor. I gave him a brief example of what I know. I told him the Germans aren’t stupid, they just like their long vacations and aren’t as competitive individually although they have huge corporations that are dwarf my company.

In short the Chinese students don’t know enough to compete with the Germans or the US but the US students do not know enough to replace the experienced people.

In both countries, US and China, the students are not held to a higher standard that is what is required to compete.

In the US their is some focus on STEM but the limitation is our professors. The situation in China is even worse where they have no practical experience.

If you look on YouTube there are all sort of videos predicting China’s doom do to borrowing to much for projects that have no real value but from what I can see the companies that actually generate wealth by automating will do just fine there. The same goes for those companies that generate wealth in the US.


Leave a Comment