Who Actually Earns $400,000 Per Year?

by Emily Guy Birken · 7,092 comments

Surgeons

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? 

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • Stevendad says:

    Just a brief comment: I learned in med school that believing is seeing (the opposite of the saying) based on several animal models. At that time I was skeptical, now it seems more reasonable than ever.
    It would seem so amateurish and SO boring to discard all you disagree with. Who learns from that?
    I appreciate we’ve all tried to focus on source data so much in our arguments on this humble thread.
    Let’s ask David to start a new website, maybe Middle Voice or something like that that tries to take in, analyze and balance both sides of arguments. BD point / myself and Peter counterpoint. We at least seem to keep things civil MOST of the time. If people learned nothing else at least they may learn a bit of civility, even if you disagree. People I talk to every day would value that and it seems incredibly absent in journalism. Ok, maybe not…
    The far Right and far Left have unprovable positions based on faith, be it religious arguments or “social norms” to quote Schumer. I think the fundamental absence of provable facts for so much of it on either side is what leads to the insults / riots and shouting down. Maybe if we could work on some of the common goals and drop some of the naked politicization of EVERYTHING….
    But I guess my hopeless optimism is showing up again.

    • Steven H says:

      Stevendad, Please explain what you mean by:
      I learned in med school that believing is seeing (the opposite of the saying) based on several animal models.

      It sounds interesting but I dont get how animal models relate to the saying.

      • Stevendad says:

        Animals actually interpreted their perceptive inputs to what they had previously learned. Sort of like we changed a square peg to round because it fit our preconceived round holes. Does that help any? That was almost 40 years ago so I would have to research more….

  • Peter .... says:

    I had long post that didn’t show….trying to split it up and repost….

    Steven H can never see through the liberal blinders. So maybe I’ll try a similar story that is more critical of the right wing, which I know he will appreciate:

    Yesterday, I saw Fox News had a headline about a rape in a local high school in my area yesterday. I hadn’t heard about this, and it is local – so I went to WTOP (my source for unbiased local news) to find the story rather than read about it on Fox. Weirdly, it wasn’t there. I then went to Google news and searched for the story. The only national media to cover it were Fox News and USA Today – and CNN had a small story linked to it. When I clicked on the CNN story, I couldn’t find any way to get to this story from their front pages – even the “US Crime” page didn’t have a link.

    How can something local be national front-page news on right-wing media and invisible to the left-wing media? When I finally read the facts of the story, I got it…..the HS girl was raped by an illegal immigrant. This story fits the right wing narrative but not the left wing. The left wing was busy with multiple sympathetic stories about Middle Easterners having to check their laptops and IPads, while Fox was covering the local press conference surrounding the rape nationally. This is a problem.

    • Peter .... says:

      An even bigger problem was when I found out that Spicer had actually discussed this rape case in his press briefing earlier yesterday. Like it or not, he is the spokesman for the White House. When he talks about something like this – the media should cover it. Yet, they don’t because they have their own counter-agenda.

      At the end of the day, this rape was an anecdotal story – and I always have a problem when ANY of these stories become national news. But to feed these stories through the minds of one group of people and hide them from another just furthers the differing worldview and divide we have as a nation. Lay the cards out on the table in all their glory and LET PEOPLE MAKE UP THEIR OWN MINDS!

      This correlates to all the crap you posted about Hillary and Trump/Russia. You have been fed a steady diet of narrative for your worldview, and others have been fed another. And neither of us (including you) have any real FACTUAL idea about any of this stuff. NONE of our information is firsthand – and all of it comes from increasingly unreliable BS sources. The simple analysis of the coverage of this local rape case illustrates my point even further. And to talk down to someone else for disagreeing with you just makes our country worse for it.

    • Peter .... says:

      Spicer’s comments were lengthy as well. I can post a transcript if you like. And still as of this hour, MSNBC has NOTHING on their website even referencing this. I don’t believe this should be “breaking national news”, but when one side has it as such and the other buries it completely, we have an enormous problem.

    • Peter .... says:

      Update….CNN now has a link to the story on the front page. Right below “Girl Meets Pope. Girl steals his hat”. Fox has it in 10 different places on their front page and was the lead story until the UK Parliament attack took its place.

    • Steven H says:

      Clearly, different news outlets have different audiences a d they cater to those,audoences with stories they choose to publish. As you noted, Fox and similar conservative sources trumpet the local rape story because it advances their anti immigrant agenda. But your implication that CNN or MSNBC are “hiding” this story by not also publishing it suggests that you think everybody is obliged to cover the same stories as the fringe media, just because they covered them. Is that what you are saying? Irrelevant news is not necessarily news just because a set of partisan outlets cover it. And thats true for both sides roght? The story was not hidden by other news outlets, but it was not consideted newsworthy.
      ===
      The same was true of the Comey news conference. Comey basically said 3 things. Trump and Russia are being investigated. There is no evidence of a wiretap on Trump. There is no proof that Russia changed the election or altered voting machine results. You were upset that the third item was not headlined. You thought it was being hidden through media bias. But as I showed by quoting the CNN December headline, the third item was old news. It was no longer new and not newsworthy.

    • Steven H says:

      And even if Spicer says something, that does not NECESSARILY make it newsworthy, even if he is the President’s mouthpiece. Trump, Conway, and Spicer have all shown themselves to be unabashed liars. Hats off to the media when they edit out Trump’s tweets, Conways blathering, or Spicer’s propaganda from the actual news feed. The only things newsworthy about most of their mouthing is how outrageously dishonest they are.

      • Peter says:

        That is a terrifying point of view indeed.

        • 8Steven H says:

          More than a bit cynical yes. I dont like thinking about our President that way, but our President is a historically remarkable liar.

          • Stevendad says:

            They are all liars….contemptible sure. “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor” was a preconceived bald faced lie. “I never had sexual relations with that woman” was a bald faced lie. Weapons of mass destruction was a lie that fit Bush’s agenda, Reagan built highway to nowhere to enrich himself…..and so on and so on, both parties, both sides of the political spectrum. SMH….

  • Peter says:

    Steven H can never see through the liberal blinders. So maybe I’ll try a similar story that is more critical of the right wing, which I know he will appreciate:

    Yesterday, I saw Fox News had a headline about a rape in a local high school in my area yesterday. I hadn’t heard about this, and it is local – so I went to WTOP (my source for unbiased local news) to find the story rather than read about it on Fox. Weirdly, it wasn’t there. I then went to Google news and searched for the story. The only national media to cover it were Fox News and USA Today – and CNN had a small story linked to it. When I clicked on the CNN story, I couldn’t find any way to get to this story from their front pages – even the “US Crime” page didn’t have a link.

    How can something local be national front-page news on right-wing media and invisible to the left-wing media? When I finally read the facts of the story, I got it…..the HS girl was raped by an illegal immigrant. This story fits the right wing narrative but not the left wing. The left wing was busy with multiple sympathetic stories about Middle Easterners having to check their laptops and IPads, while Fox was covering the local press conference surrounding the rape nationally. This is a problem.

    An even bigger problem was when I found out that Spicer had actually discussed this rape case in his press briefing earlier yesterday. Like it or not, he is the spokesman for the White House. When he talks about something like this – the media should cover it. Yet, they don’t because they have their own counter-agenda.

    At the end of the day, this rape was an anecdotal story – and I always have a problem when ANY of these stories become national news. But to feed these stories through the minds of one group of people and hide them from another just furthers the differing worldview and divide we have as a nation. Lay the cards out on the table in all their glory and LET PEOPLE MAKE UP THEIR OWN MINDS!

    This correlates to all the crap you posted about Hillary and Trump/Russia. You have been fed a steady diet of narrative for your worldview, and others have been fed another. And neither of us (including you) have any real FACTUAL idea about any of this stuff. NONE of our information is firsthand – and all of it comes from increasingly unreliable BS sources. The simple analysis of the coverage of this local rape case illustrates my point even further. And to talk down to someone else for disagreeing with you just makes our country worse for it.

    • Steven H says:

      I am not fed anything. I go out and investigate facts through multiple outlets. I had facts about Hillary and the emails and you only echoed that people you talk to thought it was serious. I have worked with classified data. I know how it works. Factcheckers back up my perspective. I dont know who feeds you your info but you need a new trough.

  • Peter says:

    Our media at work again… At the Comey/NSA chief hearing today, they repeatedly said they have no evidence at this time that Obama was wiretapping Trump or that Russia was able to influence the election. CNN headline reads (in huge font):

    Trump-Russia inquiry: Yes.
    Trump wiretap claim: No proof.

    • Steven H says:

      There you go again.
      ===
      The difference:
      The intelligence community says there IS evidence that Russia hacked computer systems, communicated with Trump campaign operatives, and ATTEMPTED to influence the election. And there are open questions about why Trump campaign folks lied about talking to the Russian ambassador and why Trump is so affectionate toward Putin AND why he wont release tax returns. So there are mountains of cause for suspicion about Trump and Russia.
      ===
      Meanwhile there is not one shred of evidence for even a hint of an implication of an iota of a notion that Obama wiretapped Trump. It’s a complete and total fabrication.
      ===
      The media’s characterization is fair. Your equating of mountains of evidence to less than a molehill is inappropriate and disappointing.

      • Peter says:

        Not entirely true. There are two ‘macro’ questions….. was Trump under surveillance in any way by the US government and was Russia involved in any way in tampering with our election. Both of these are still up in the air and the investigation ongoing.

        The ‘micro’ questions….. did Obama place wiretaps in Trump tower (no evidence to indicate this was the case) or was anyone in the Trump organization working WITH Russia (also no evidence to indicate this was the case).

        Two different things. Regardless – when they repeatedly said that there was NO evidence that the Russians “changed votes” or tampered with the actual election, this wasn’t reported.

        No point arguing this though. If you can’t see the narrative bias on CNN and the major news networks, I’m not sure what to tell you.

        • Steven H says:

          “was Trump under surveillance in any way by the US government ?” That is a completely different question than Trump’s allegation. But even for that vague and suspicious allegation, there has NO evidence actually proffered.
          “was Russia involved in any way in tampering with our election?”
          The Office of the Director of National Intelligence does not say that question is up in the air. It says “Yes”. Two months ago it said “Yes”. It has not been up in the air for some time now.
          https://www.wired.com/2017/01/feds-damning-report-russian-election-hack-wont-convince-skeptics/

          The ODNI’s 25-page report from US intelligence agencies lays out a vast Russian intelligence operation that extends from hacking both Democratic and Republican targets to propaganda campaigns to troll-fueled social media disinformation. It re-asserts the intelligence community’s findings that the Kremlin is behind breaches of the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Hillary Clinton’s campaign, and even state election board websites. And the express intention of those operations, the report states, was to not only disrupt the American electoral process, but to elect Donald Trump.

          “Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency,” the report reads. “We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump. We have high confidence in these judgments.”

        • Steven H says:

          ==Regardless – when they repeatedly said that there was NO evidence that the Russians “changed votes” or tampered with the actual election, this wasn’t reported.
          ==
          Here was CNN’s headline in big bold letters:
          ===============
          Russia’s role is shocking but there’s no evidence the vote was hacked
          ===============
          Of course this was on December 12, 2016. It’s old news. Why would CNN need to rerun an old headline? Did you miss it? No one needs to see it again.

          • Peter says:

            Certainly doesn’t stop CNN to “rerun” old headlines when it helps their narrative.

          • Steven H says:

            CNN omitted from the news today that there is still no evidence that Obama was born in Kenya. Come on Peter. Omitting old or irrelevant news is not a bias.

          • Steven H says:

            CNN from Tuesday morning. Article about 9 things learned from Comey hearing.

            “Rogers and Comey both testified that despite the intense Russian hacking and propaganda effort aimed at public opinion, no actual votes in the election were compromised.”

            Doesn’t that make your complaint pretty much moot, Peter?

          • Steven H says:

            And that was under a big topic banner that said
            NO VOTES WERE CHANGED.

            Happy now?

      • Peter says:

        Also – a lot of your “evidence” to the Russia thing is conjecture. Trump being “so affectionate” to Putin is a media exaggeration for instance.

        Love how you easily connect the dots for Trump/Russia but not for Hillary/Benghazi or Hillary/email scandal or Hillary/Clinton Foundation or Hillary/Wall Street or Hillary/Whitewater.

        • Peter says:

          Even this:
          http://www.cnn.com/interactive/2017/03/politics/trump-putin-russia-timeline/

          CNN headline is 80 times Trump talked about Putin. And we know it is trying to slam Trump, so it likely includes every single comment they could find. When you read these comments, what do you find? 95% of the comments are two things – 1) praising him for his treatment when he had the Miss Universe pageant in Russia and 2) saying he is “eating Obama’s lunch” in foreign relations.

          He also makes many comments about making economic sanctions against Russia, standing up to them more and stopping their aggression in Ukraine. This doesn’t strike me as someone who is “affectionate” or working in cahoots with Putin. His comments were mostly in an anti-Obama vein.

          • Peter says:

            Just continues to exhaust me the increasingly narrow range of opinions one can have in the wake of this “safe space” society. Can we not compliment Trump or Putin without being flamed or viewed as a supporter? Just about everyone has positive and negative traits. People need to relax and get their heads out of the political party/mass media a**h***s and TRY to be somewhat objective. What does Trump say about Putin that you disagree with?

          • Steven H says:

            I don’t care about the 80 times Trump talked about Russia and how many times they were innocent irrelevant statements. I do care about this:
            ===
            President-elect Donald Trump on Friday lauded Russian President Vladimir Putin as “very smart” for not retaliating against the U.S. for new sanctions …

            “Great move on delay (by V. Putin) — I always knew he was very smart!” Trump tweeted Friday.
            ===
            “Putin has big plans for Russia. He wants to edge out its neighbors so that Russia can dominate oil supplies to all of Europe,” Trump said. “I respect Putin and Russians but cannot believe our leader (Obama) allows them to get away with so much…Hats off to the Russians.”
            ===
            “I think I’d get along very well with Vladimir Putin. I just think so.”
            ===
            Dec. 18, 2015: Trump defends against allegations Putin has ordered the killings of journalists
            “He’s running his country and at least he’s a leader, unlike what we have in this country,” Trump said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “I think our country does plenty of killing also.”
            ===
            “I think he’s done really a great job of outsmarting our country,” Trump told Larry King after Putin successfully dissuaded the US from striking Syria by arranging with the US for the removal of Syria’s chemical weapons.

        • Steven H says:

          Peter, Again:
          Conjecture is not Evidence, but there IS Evidence and much CAUSE for Conjecture.
          Evidence of the following (according to the intelligence community, not CNN):
          — Russia hacked computer systems,
          — Russia communicated with Trump campaign operatives,
          — Russia ATTEMPTED to influence the election
          ===
          Open questions in the public domain, not just CNN reporting, that reasonably lead to suspicion:
          — Why did someone on Trump’s campaign, according to multiple people present in the room, have the GOP platform changed to be less aggressive toward Russia over the Ukraine conflict? And why did they lie about it?
          — Why have so many Trump campaign folks lied about talking to the Russian ambassador (especially Flynn and Sessions, not casual conversations of others)?
          — Why is there mounting evidence that Paul Manafort, Trump’s foreign campaign manager, accepted money from Russia?
          — Why are so many of Trump’s associates linked to Russia?
          — Why does Trump speak so favorably of Putin?
          — Why does Trump claim to have no financial ties to Russia when his own son has said (in 2008) Trump’s businesses “see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”
          ===
          And according to Trump:
          — Obama had Trump Tower wiretapped.
          According to the intelligence community:
          — There is no evidence that Obama ordered wiretaps at Trump Tower or against the Trump campaign.
          ===
          Now Trump backtracks and says that by “wiretap” he meant some sort of surveilllance, and by “Trump Tower” he meant his campaign or his associates. This is classic Trump-talk. He can’t admit he is wrong, so he redefines and rewrites his own statements until they say something else more ambiguous. Trump provides his own fake news even about what he himself says.
          ===
          So CNN reports correctly that Comey stated
          — There is an ongoing investigation about Trump campaign and associates ties to Russia
          — There is no evidence of Trump’s claims that Obama ordered wiretaps against Trump
          ===
          And you want to claim bias because the headline was NOT: No evidence or proof that Russia changed the election?
          Why ever would that be a headline? That is not the question on people’s minds. At best that would be the conclusion of a long inquiry just now beginning, and would be very difficult to prove. The questions people care about are:
          — Is there a link between Russia and Trump and what is the link? The answer we learned is that an investigation is ongoing.
          — Is there any evidence to back up Trump’s repeated claim that Obama ordered wiretapping against Trump? The answer is no.
          ===
          CNN may have biases. There may be evidence to illustrate it. But not here. The fact that you could take such absolutely straightforward news reporting of the facts and twist it into something devious says much more about YOUR biases than about CNN.

        • Steven H says:

          Hillary/Benghazi — So many lies and fake stories and false allegations. Sop many dots were fake. Remove the fake ones and there is nothing left to connect.
          Hillary/email — More fake allegations and implications that never panned out. She sent out classified data that was marked classified. No. She ordered classified data to be transferred onto unclassified servers. No. Her missing emails were hiding the real Benghazi story. No. She personally deleted or ordered deletion of emails after a subpoena. No. There were no dots. Just GOP smoke.
          Hillary/ Clinton Foundation — Appearance of pay for play. Trump: More wide open and egregious ACTUAL Pay for Play than any other President in history.
          Hillary/Wall Street: Speeches and Connections
          Trump has Wall Street on his Cabinet.

  • Steven H says:

    == Peter
    Again, how I wish people would talk solutions rather than nonsense politics like “so-and-so doesn’t care if people die”.
    == Stevendad
    “Let poor people go away and die” is such a stereotypical cheap shot. Conservatives actually believe this should be taken care of more locally or on a state level.
    ======
    My comment was not just a caustic cheap shot. It is what I hear, and people like me hear, from conservative leaders and some of the electorate. When Paul Ryan admits he is giddy and excited about the prospect of taking money away from Medicaid (which will kill people), but he is unconcerned that the money which might have saved lives in Medicaid is given to further enrich the wealthy with tax cuts, when Jason Chaffetz has a “let them eat cake” moment by suggesting that the poorest people (most of whom do not have smartphones) should give up their iPhones for healthcare (and anyway an iPhone costs a lot less annually than healthcare), when Tea Party voters cheer the idea of letting an uninsured man in a coma die rather than give him care, when conservatives give idealistically caustic announcements that poor people are simply exercising their freedom in choosing to feed their families rather than buy the healthcare that might save Tiny Tim, then yes it really sounds like Conservatives are saying: Let ’em die. In theory, people can be uplifted by freedom of choices, hard work, and apple pie. In the real world, Conservative idealism kills people.

    • Steven H says:

      So I really appreciate Stevendad offering interesting solutions. I do not appreciate Ryan, Chaffetz, Trump, McConnell, offering BS solutions like block grants to states, buying insurance across state lines, cutting Medicaid to enrich the wealthy, undercutting and demonizing rather than fixing the ACA, cutting Meals On Wheels and Diplomacy in the State Department so that we can boost the military (plowshares to swords policy), etc, etc, etc. The Trump budget and the Trump/RyanCare are the most unpopular government proposals to come out of an administration in decades. That’s the good news. The bad news is that GOP leaders will try to push them through to law anyway. So much for doing what the people want. Apparently they only listen to the right people: the ones who will get the tax cuts and the military contracts.

      • Peter says:

        Same story, different party. Pushing through their agenda without compromise. Whole thing makes me sick.

        But get the story right…. Ryan has been giddy about sending Medicaid back to the states. Not about taking insurance from poor people. This is like saying that our military leaders are “giddy about getting American soldiers killed” when they talk about military action. Another case of inappropriate eye-grabbing headlines keeping us from the real debate.

        • Steven H says:

          But before Ryan sends money to states, tax cuts reduce the funding. And everybody knows states will not make up that funding. Medicaid will wither. Everyone knows this. Ryan knows this. And Ryan is unconcerned about how it sounds to the nation that he is excited about cutting federal funding for Medicaid. If a general said he is realy excited about the opportunity, it would be similarly offensive. Generals are smart enough and diplomatic enough to say they are fully prepared to fight for the nation. Ryan would be less offensive if he was excited at the prospect of improving health care and saving lives. But that is not what AHCA would do. It will, if passed, kill people. Lets hope it fails.

          • Steven H says:

            If ageneral said he was really excited about going to war …
            Part of sentence above got lost.

          • Peter .... says:

            Again, dots you are connecting. Not fair at all to say Ryan is giddy about taking money away from Medicaid and killing people. Stupid….

  • Middle Ground says:

    Why are legislators so determined to remove the ACA rather than just fixing it?

  • Stevendad says:

    So I dictated most of that so sorry for the errors. The website went a little weird right at the end too.
    So… pay complex primary care more…
    9) Set up “charter” health care systems or hospitals like “charter ” schools. The idea is outcomes, not micromanaging from afar like we have now. The Accountable Care Organization is a step in that direction.
    10) Oh yeah insurance reform… whatever, it’s not going to decrease costs.

    I have contacted Tom Price BTW and no word so far. Peter, if you know anyone…

    • Stevendad says:

      Also, regarding the complexity of medicine. I would challenge any IT person to work on 20 different computers with 20 different operating systems and try to solve 100 different problems with them. I was an engineer and built databases in college by the way. The bank may have 45 elements in it every day. For example, a few additions and subtractions, then multiplied by some interest payment in or out. A patient in the ICU has several hundreds if not thousands of individual data The bank may have 45 elements in it every day. For example, a few additions and subtractions, then multiplied by some interest payment. A patient in the ICU has several hundreds if not thousands of individual database points including vital signs, nurses observations, diet, medications, activity, room, laboratory and imaging. Telemetry records every beat which runs in the tens of thousands. Imaging runs into the tens of millions. So much for being as simple as banking.

      • Stevendad says:

        Errata: 4 to 5 not 45.
        For mysterious reasons it also duplicates sections?

      • Peter says:

        This is all very interesting….I really wish more info was out there about the complete logjam and confusing structure of our healthcare system….and the realities of the ineffectiveness or inefficiencies of the ACA.

        Again, how I wish people would talk solutions rather than nonsense politics like “so-and-so doesn’t care if people die”.

    • Steven H says:

      Some good ideas in there, stevendad. I’ll reply in detail when I get my computer working a little better.

    • Steven H says:

      OK, I wrote 3 long replies as Big Data last night, but nothing posted, and I can’t get the site to post anything from my Big Data account. Honestly, I was not being obnoxious. Occasionally I accidentally use characters that get interpreted as HTML code, and that might have screwed things up. (??)

      Moneyning, Big Data apologizes for whatever. Please unblock his posts …

      As for your ideas, stevendad, many are good. i don’t feel like recounting EVERYTHING I typed, but in general:
      1) Yes, but … you have to be careful. One person’s stupid regulation is another person’s lifesaver. You have to understand why the regulation is there and assess and balance the benefits/costs to all parties. Too often, the guy with the most money wins the arguments.
      2) Yes.
      3) Coke is already reacting to market and producing smaller containers and less sugar options. But don’t mess with original formula Coke. It’s a dessert, not a daily drink, and it should stay available in it’s PURE form, with all the sugar and caffeine it’s supposed to have. But there was a reason it originally came in 6.5 oz bottles, not 20 oz or half liter.
      3B) Yes
      4) Burn every fax machine but first get Apple to design a simple universal interface and GUI to replace the truly awful proprietary incompatible software systems in the medical field today. Every medical record should be in a universal interface, able to be saved to a USB stick, or an online dropbox. And nobody should have to fill out the same repetitive 10 pages of info with paper and pen every time they go to a new doctor or hospital. Just give them the USB stick or encrypted link. And get PGP or comparable experts to universally fix the encryption privacy. Use computers smartly, but use them. Don’t stay stuck in the past. Fix the future. It’s possible. And just kidding about burning the fax machines. They are an OK backup system.
      6) Bidding System. OK.
      7) Tort Reform. I’m sure this can be improved. And yes there is a whole lot of unnecessary CYA tests. On the other hand, 98.6 % sounds great, but what consequence do those 14 out of a thousand people suffer for wrong diagnosis? You have to take that into account. It’s like #1. You have to be careful. Recall the poster child of tort reform: the McDonalds coffee spill. When you hear it told in popular culture, McDonald’s was a hapless victim. When you learn all of the facts, McDonald’s seems egregiously at fault. You have to make sure tort law is reformed and not just purchased by the highest bidder.
      8) Pay gap. Yes.
      9) Charter Systems. Yes.
      10) Insurance Reform. By itself, it won’t lower costs, but it is still required. We also need to reform Big Pharma pricing, but good luck at battling that pile of money.

      • Stevendad says:

        BD: Steven H: Just a bit about #7. Remember 14 / 1000 might be delayed on dx. Odds are highly against it making any difference. If you have a brain tumor or large aneurysm you’ve got a bad problem likely leading to death. I asked a local oncologist how many times an earlier head CT or MRI would have mattered. Her answer: 3 in 25 years. Likely 10 s of thousands of tests to get 3. And likely all that imaging CAUSED (!) at least 3 brain tumors or serious dementia, etc. and > $20 million dollars. So is it worth it? Are we willing to spend over 1/5th of our money on health care? Are we willing to cause disease to try to find disease? Not if I were in charge. This discussion, by the way has more agreement between us than 4+ years altogether, I think.

  • Big Data says:

    So Ryancare propsal is out. It will likely cut about 10 million poor people out of healthcare, slash subsidies to poor and old, give tax breaks to rich, cuts the medicaod expansion, plan to eventually cut medicaid into block grants, and yet some conservatives think it is still not enough of a repeal. Chaffetz says a few poor people still have iPhones so I guess they need to be taken away so yhe poor are whipped a little further down the ladder. Good lord, how draconian a system are the conservatives trying to implement? What do they want? All the poor people to just go away and die? Seriously, is there any plan that provides any care to the poor that the conservatives will accept?

    • Stevendad says:

      Oh crap. My iPad died and wiped out 45 minutes of typing! ????????????????????
      “Let poor people go away and die” is such a stereotypical cheap shot. Conservatives actually believe this should be taken care of more locally or on a state level. Will liberals ever learn that this sort of caustic and accusatory tone will never lead to any sort of discourse and solutions?
      I’m actually realistic about this. We already have universal care, so we might as well try to make it more efficient . This was established by the Hill Burton Act in 1946. It was superseded by the EMTALA Act more recently. So we are already there, the access point is the highly inefficient emergency room however. Cost start easily 10 times more there than in the office, more like 100 times, frequently. For example, I had a patient that went to the ER for a sore throat and a headache. In the office this visit will cost about $75 and would probably be treated with a $10 antibiotic. No tests, just my judgment. This patient went to the ER. They had a headache so they got a CAT scan of the head, had a cough so they got a chest x-ray, had a complete lab work including your analysis. For some reason, they got an EKG too. Bill was over $4500. Same result: $10 antibiotic. I had a patient that went to the ER for sore throat and a headache. The biggest problem with Obamacare was that it gave us the illusion that there is an insurance solution to high cost of medicine. This is a complete error in my opinion. Medicine is a complex millieu of actual medical science, law, emotions, ethics and finance that is extremely difficult to solve with some paper and pencil numbers and simple legal solution.
      Here is my take: ( if I were king, and sometimes my narcissism makes me think that I am )
      1) reduce some stupid regulations. That sounds very Libertarian of me doesn’t it. For example, they were huge amounts of costs added in almost everything that we do. Simple superglue that is 14 was for a dollar at the dollar store cost over $15. This is used to close wounds instead of sutures. My hospital wanted to add lifts for lifting very heavy patients, sometimes over 600 pounds. You can imagine how many 125 pound nurses it takes to lift someone that size and how many injuries occur. So we checked it out, $45,000 a room. Brought me back to my engine rebuilding days when I was a kid. So off to Harbor Freight… A 1 ton capacity center point lift with moving gantry track and 2000 pounds hoist was $1200. Paint it white and it’ll do the same job. Of course JACHO or FDA or someone would fine us for that.
      2) Just give away care that save us all money in the long run. After all, we’re on the hook for everybody’s healthcare, like it or not. For example, treatment of diabetes, smoking cessation, statins all have negative cost to a health system.
      3) Do some population-based things, such as asking Coca-Cola to reduce their corn syrup or sugar in their products by 20%, 2% per year. Taste buds can only be so saturated by sugar . I’m not sure anybody would ever even notice. And of course they save on the cost of sugar. Of course, I think this would be voluntary and not required given my view of the world.
      3) Spend some federal money, yes I said that, to encourage the formation of adult sports leagues, walking tracks, gymnasiums, physical education in schools, you get the idea.
      4) drastically reduce the amount of computerization that has occurred. Once again, I was an engineer and data base builder in college. I’m not afraid of or opposed to computers. I’m just a opposed to bad software and poor systems. Computers are excellent for dealing with lab work results and x-ray reports. They are decent for pharmacy systems. They are nearly worthless for everything else. Still the quickest way to get information from another hospital is the fax paper records. Seems ridiculous that we use pre-Civil War technology still, but trust me it’s far and away better. Getting all the different systems to talk in a cyberspace Tower of Babel is almost impossible. Furthermore, the ridiculous computer charting that nurses do in the hospital take them away from their most important role, that is being by the bedside. And most importantly, 50% of their work is doing something that NO ONE ever reads! The only exception may be a three-piece suit that comes around six months later when all is done for better or worse. A recent study showed that 71% of physician time is spent on the computer in the office. It seems that the computer is he was getting a visit not the patient anymore. Computer people try to tell me that medicine is simple, like banking. Much more to come. Got to go for now.

      • Stevendad says:

        Errata: superglue that is four for a dollar

        • Stevendad says:

          And of course I said three twice.

          • Stevendad says:

            Now the big stuff:
            6) set up a bidding system. This could apply for pharmaceuticals nationally, or even internationally and four surgeries, visit locally and perhaps regionally. Some pharmacist in Michigan already has a patent for this by the way. This will inevitablyactually drive costs down over a period of time.
            7) Tort reform. Not payout limiting caps, but giving Doctors “safe harbors” for certain high-risk issues. For example, breast masses, lung nodules, chest pain, etc. So, if all the evidence-based steps are taken, they cannot be sued. It is estimated that between 10 and 20% of all cost is “CYA ” medicine. This leads to you when I like to call “test zombies”. These are test that the demand work up to keep from getting sued. So far in my nearly 30 year career, the yield of this is less than .1%. I want her to be a good neurologist give a talk about headaches. He stated he could be correct 98.6% of the time based on the history and physical exam. However, he still orders an imaging test because he doesn’t want to be sued. I haven’t done the math, but imagine if I was right 98.6% a time on Wall Street I would own the world in about five years . Furthermore, it leads to multiple extra tests, extra hospitalizations, etc. etc.
            8) remove the massive pay gap between primary care and specialty, procedure based care. For example, I frequently see a patient with 7 to 12 problem. It’s generally cost $85 plus a few follow-up tasks maybe $100. If the same patient went to five or six different specialists it would cost thousands. They should encourage people to take care of sick people. Like Willy Sutton said “that’s where the money is”. They’ve already got a system to identify the high-risk, high expense patients. They should pay those who take care of them from a primary care standpoint (mostly internal medicine Ie groupwas in once paid 50% more for this type of care.

  • Peter says:

    Not sure how legalizing and taxing marijuana and gambling and taxing churches is targeting the lower class…..

    By taxing and legalizing marijuana we save so much money – and frankly, help the lower class tremendously as they are the ones repeatedly being arrested and jailed for marijuana-related offenses. Drug dealing is killing their communities, not the upper class ones. Frankly the MAIN reason I think we should legalize marijuana (and consider other drugs as well) is to save our inner city communities from the ridiculous drug-dealing/police state cycle they are under now.

    As far as gambling goes…. nothing in the gambling world targets the poor like lotteries, bingo, slot machines and horse racing. All of these are legal in many places already. What I’m proposing is a legalization of all gambling – things like poker, sports betting, table games, etc. These do NOT target the poor at the rates that the already legal gambling does. These actually target the middle class and wealthy people even more and the tax revenue would be tremendous.

    I never suggested taxing offerings that citizens make to churchgoers. I’m talking about taxing the property and revenue of the churches themselves. Many churches are businesses, not charitable organizations. Scientology is the most extreme example, as is Joel Osteen’s ministry and other mega-churches. This doesn’t hurt the “little guy”.

    Also, I’m not sure what you mean by “micro taxes” on stock transactions. Plus we already have extra taxes on investment income above certain thresholds.

    • Big Data says:

      Peter,
      Re marijuana: I see your points and I certainly think decriminalizing marijuana, as Houston has just done, should be nationwide; certainly it should be off the federal DEA Schedule 1 list. I think medical marijuana has definite benefits and should be made available to those who need it. I have mixed feelings about legalizing pot. It does little harm to adults (probably less than alcohol) but I worry about the easier access for teens that legalization brings, even though it is not legal for them. Legalization does keep (as much) money from going to criminals, so that’s good, but encouraging and profiting on a vice is morally questionable. Mixed bag.
      ===
      I have similar aversion to wider legalization of gambling, especially casinos. It’s possibly worse than alcohol or pot regarding addiction and draining money from those who cannot afford it. In general, I think it is better for society that we have a a few states where gambling is legal, and more where it is not.
      ===
      Re religions: Scientology is a sham and it should not have tax exempt status. Unfortunately, it is difficult for IRS to define what is and is not a church. I agree that mega-church property holdings and million dollar incomes should be taxed, but probably not the property and parsonages and incomes of your average neighborhood church. The problem, again, is achieving a simple enforceable definition and set of rules. If you tax the property of your average neighborhood church, you ARE effectively taxing the churchgoers, because they have to donate more in offerings to keep the church in the black. That’s what I mean by objecting to taxing the churchgoers. And yes, taxes could hurt the little guy at the little church. Most churches ARE charitable organizations and ought not to be taxed. If you figure out how to separate the scammers from the saints, let the IRS know!
      ===
      The “micro tax” I referenced is more commonly called an FTT: Financial Transaction Tax. It is a small tax on stock trades to accomplish 2 goals: discourage the volatility that comes from high frequency trading, and make a little money for the government. Here is one pretty good article: https://www.forbes.com/sites/leesheppard/2012/10/16/a-tax-to-kill-high-frequency-trading/#1620a6ed6404
      ===
      So your suggestions are worth considering. I just have some aversion to government investing in vice as an income source (encouraging vice, effectively) or suppressing the many GOOD churches by oppressing them with taxes.

      • Peter says:

        I don’t think legalization or prohibition greatly affect keeping these drugs out of the hands of teens. Some would argue getting pot is easier than liquor due to the fact that liquor is controlled by the state.

        Regarding religious tax exemptions…. I don’t think you can pick and choose which religious organizations get treated differently based on your opinion of them. To call Scientology a sham but not Christianity or Mormonism or Islam is passing judgment that I wouldn’t do, but certainly don’t want our government doing. That said, there are simple mathematical formulas and laws that determine if an entity is a true charitable organization. If a church wants exemptions, act like a charity.

      • Peter says:

        Hadn’t heard about the idea of this micro tax before. But after reading up on it I must say I think it is a terrible idea. I’m not sure I see a lot of traction for it anywhere anyway.

        • Peter says:

          Profiting on a vice or something negative is bad? We already do this with cigarette and alcohol taxes….. Lotteries, taxing gas-guzzling cars, etc. …. the list goes on. Taxing vices is actually an older tax than taxing income. And I could argue that it is more ethical to tax vices than to steal directly from someone’s paycheck.

          • Stevendad says:

            So: yes pot and gambling legalization. I’m a Libertarian after all. And this sounds paradoxical, but when you go from a spottily enforced law to a taxed system you actually GAIN control by funding the absolute eradication of cheaters. So you can punish those who supply kids and illegally grow / import. Honestly, I know there is much less teenage drinking than when I was a kid and illicit alcohol production than in Prohibition since it is legal. Seen ANY moonshine in your life?

            Re: churches. So I have this fantasy about starting the Church of the NFL:
            Meet on Sundays.
            Have Hooters girl types (and hot guys for the ladies)as ushers.
            Listen to NFL today.
            Review a teaching from the erstwhile bible (NFL rule book).
            Watch football from noon until midnight while imbibing in the sacraments (beer / brats / ribs / pretzels).
            Retire to your home.
            I’m not sure it would pass muster with the IRS, but I bet there would be great attendance and active enthusiasm.

            The point of all of it is: who is the government to decide what or Who should be worshipped?

            Neologism I came up with to describe Dem political strategy:
            Gerrypandering: the modification of the political map whereby you pander to special interests in order to build a coalition to win elections.

            Thanks guys! Always interesting. I told someone tooday I think this ridiculously long thread is a modern example of the coffee shop or barbershop of the past.

          • Peter says:

            Very true. They deleted all the old stuff too when we used to have more people in here….. think it has been a good 5 years. And Big Data / Steven H starting to come around! 🙂

      • Stevendad says:

        I actually like this tax because it discourages the wild trading for tiny margins that increases volatility and gets away from what the stock market should be, IMHO, a way people can invest in the growth of companies. This is the answer to much of the problem of income inequality.

        • Peter says:

          And I will backtrack a little on this…..after researching a little bit more I see how the FTT could work.

  • Stevendad says:

    1. Of course there are many jobs that can’t be automated. But millions will.
    2. I agree on immigration reform by the way, but I am just being real on what will happen.
    3. So the towns die slowly rather than quickly.
    4. I’ve advocated better training in the past, rather than arbitrary wage increases. I’m just saying just increasing wages does not achieve this and in fact reduces the motivation to get training.

    Again, a more fair way to address is to make large corporations that get taxpayer subsidies to return the same to the treasury. Then they pay one way or the other. The small business is then allowed to compete on a more level field and Walmart et al will increase wages for families.

    • Peter says:

      It’s already happening. With just 5% wage inflation last year, it put the crunch on businesses – and motivated them to move to more automation where possible. Wendy’s is a good example….they just added self-serve kiosks in about 15% of their restaurants due to the rising cost of labor.

    • Peter says:

      As a real economist, Milton Friedman, famously said: “A minimum wage law a law that makes it illegal for an employer to hire a person with limited skills.”

    • Big Data says:

      It does no good to provide jobs for heads of household that pay sub living wage. No good whatsoever. If automation is cheaper than sub living wage labor, then automation is a better choice. Then, as a nation, as a society, we must provide training and different jobs for our citizens at a living wage.

      • Stevendad says:

        Just saw my first order kiosk in a McDonalds on Sunday. Ominous sign for the unskilled…. So, again, free community college , university and trade schools for the poor and the talented (like Oklahoma); all day kindergarten to try to level off the entry to first grade of children as far as language and counting ( like Oklahoma) and free pre K (like Oklahoma). Strange that it is considered such a conservative, backward state.

        Also, to me, we should substitute personal finance for plane geometry in math curriculum and grammar / writing over literature in language curriculum. And computer languages should be taught alongside English from the beginning of school. It is not so much money as new thinking that is needed, BD.

        • Peter says:

          Brilliant!!! Couldn’t agree more…. the greater question is – why isn’t such a reasonable solution like you detailed above even on the table? Too often politics block us from even discussing and exploring things that could help us all.

        • Big Data says:

          I generally agree. A few points:
          – The Oklahoma education programs you list are admirable and I would love to see more states enact them. Those programs do cost money, and other states will have to increase school funding and raise taxes to enact them. (TANSTAAFL).
          – I’m all for adding personal finance instruction, increasing emphasis on writing, and requiring early instruction in programming. You don’t need to cut literature or plane geometry to do that. You COULD cut things like the required 4th year of HS math (Texas rule). Not everyone needs calculus. You should NOT cut music or art. There is more to life than a business career.
          – Adding curriculum, changing teacher expertise, continual improvement and experimentation associated with new thinking, all costs money. TANSTAAFL. Oklahoma may be investing in education but many states have cut funding and will need new funds to get back on track. I’m pretty sure we need new thinking AND money.
          – Still, those are some good ideas and observations, stevendad.

          • Stevendad says:

            Thanx. As a band member through college, I agree completely about maintaining the arts. BAnd as a fellow engineer (undergrad), I hope at least you can support increases in efficiency in government.

  • Stevendad says:

    Gentleman: just throwing something out there: I read that the Obama yeas had had record years of job growth, albeit, as we know, stagnant wages. The growth over 2008 baseline of $14.54 T was just under $9T in 8 years. Debt went up just over $9T. Was there any real growth? Please comment, as usual, love to hear your thoughts.

    • 8Big Data says:

      Not ignoring you stevendad, but this question needs some research and historical context to reply thoroughly and adequately. Short answer is that there is real growth even when debt increases.
      ==
      Longer answer is that you have to address the debt when the economy is strong enough. There is currently $1.9 T in hoarded capital in us corporations, historically outsized incomes and wealth in wealthiest citizens. Meanwhile there is neglected infrastructure, and a population of middle and working class who are angry about getting cheated out of their fair share. By the way, this income disparity is also shown to slow the economy. So we have two choices. 1. Cut safety nets, trim spending, which generally has no impact on rich but hurts the already suffering middle and working class. It also increases income and wealth disparity and further slows the economy. 2. Raise taxes slightly on big corp and most wealthy to pay down debt, while you apply tax revenue to current needs and new necessary infrastructure spending. This will put idle capital to use and make a dent in the income disparity problem. And grow the economy faster than debt.
      ==
      As to your original question as to whether debt effectively cancels gdp growth, ill have to get back to you.

      • 8Big Data says:

        Clarification. The 1.9 trillion is just in hoarded capital of corporations. The wealth and income of wealthiest individuals is in addition to that amount.

        • Big Data says:

          2nd Clarification: Sometimes I am listed as 8BigData. That is not intentional. That 8 sometimes slips in when I fat-finger type on my phone and a character slips into the wrong field.

  • Stevendad says:

    BD: Re: income inequality in largely Dem voting districts: so they create most of the problem, harp on it the most and propose to solve it by taxing everyone else to pay for it? Sounds fair? Wow.

    • Big Data says:

      Your whole theory is sideways. Big business, bankers, and investors create income disparity by leveraging globalism and automation and government tax cuts to make and keep extraordinary profits, controlling government to weaken unions and get favorable trade laws and bank regulations to their advantage and they vote Republican because that is the party of business that enables the whole process. People who are victims of this scheme vote Democrat to oppose the Republicans but Democrats try to move to the middle to be inclusive. This pisses the most disadvantaged Democrats off, so they desperately vote for an outsider running as a Republican who swears he is an economic and negotiating genius who can help them. He then issues unconstitutional maxims, insults our trading partners, puts millionaires, billionaires and inexperienced incompetents in his cabinet, asks his national security advisor whether strong or weak dollars are good for the economy, and generally tears through government like bullsh*t through a perfume shop. Meanwhile Republicans are still out there trying to tear apart the safety nets and figure out how not to pay for a wall so they can get another big tax cut, and push income disparity to new heights.

      So, to be brief, Democrats did not cause and do not control high income disparity. Your theory is no more credible than Sarah Palin’s Death Panels.

      • Stevendad says:

        You’re just wrong IMO and neither can prove it. BUT they can tax and redistribute locally. Or better yet, just quit whining about it. The reality is most Libs don’t think anything exists more than 100 miles from the coasts (counting the Great Lakes). This and arrogance have destroyed their brand.

        • Big Data says:

          Traditional GOP leaders don’t think anybody matters outside of the upper quintile. (If kids don’t have money for college, they should borrow from their parents. Replace Obamacare with medical savings accounts. Because absolutely everybody has extra money or rich parents.) Traditional GOP brand (e.g. all of the non-Trump candidates) was destroyed by their own self-destructive self-interest and ego, and Trump is destroying the new GOP before it gets started.

          • Stevendad says:

            Perhaps, but a huge amount of Trump voters were clearly the disaffected middle / working class in Middle America. The Dems are trying to move more rather than less “coastal “. Will be a disaster if they don’t turn back to middle. Again, moderate Dems like myself will then get our chance to right the ship with ideas rather than pandering to build coalitions of “others”.

          • Big Data says:

            The progressive movement is still strong in the Dem party and it is less, not more, coastal. It is the working class.

    • Big Data says:

      OK, maybe I am being a overly-dismissive. Granted, I think the idea that “Liberals” have control over income disparity as a bit absurd. What have we been discussing all this time? From my last two long posts, which pretty much summarize my views and also express agreement with quite a few of yours, high income disparity comes from a combination of (1) changing economic conditions and (2) failure of government and society to adapt to those new conditions. These 2 broadly described concepts have allowed a small segment of society (the 1% generally, but it is a sliding scale without a sharp boundary at 1%) to take disproportionate advantage of change, all to the very significant disadvantage of everyone else. As we have repeatedly concluded, automation and globalism are the two driving motivators of economic change. Failure to match citizen skills and education to the new world, along with setting (or failing to change and update) trade and tax and labor incentives that provide outsize reward to those with investment capital, has all shifted money up from the low and middle to the already high earners.
      ==
      So with the above infrastructure, what can individuals or local governments do to reverse high income disparity? You can’t reverse the trend of automation. Globalism can be slowed down, but only by national trade policy, not local. Tax and labor policy can be changed (and in many places it has), but large disparities in policy between cities or states just drives companies off to the most favorable business locales with low taxes, low wages, and little labor protection. It is not generally a local problem.
      ===
      That said, local policy is important, and it needs to be detached from fantastical and fanatical idealism. We can’t raise minimum wages to $20/hr, nor lower taxes to zero. Conversely, you’d be foolish to eliminate the minimum wage or double the tax rates. Under any of those conditions, budgets don’t balance and economies collapse. You have to have sane policy. (Witness the economic disaster that is Kansas and you see what happens when too much faith is put in tax cuts. Businesses are flocking to the state for their favorable tax rates, but sales taxes have soared, and school and highway budgets are slashed for lack of funds. So they are destroying their own economy AND those of neighboring states from whom they siphon their new businesses.)
      ==
      Can Chicago, NYC, or California do more with local policy to alleviate high income disparity. Probably. Can they “control” and solve this problem on their own? No. They did not create it and they cannot solve it. Localities can help. Individuals may help. But high income disparity is a national problem which requires national solutions. You can even say it is a world-wide problem. But then it is even more important that the nation of the world’s largest economy works even harder to solve it.

      • Peter says:

        But again as things become more and more automated, we lose unskilled labor jobs (factories, retail, cab drivers, etc.). This has nothing to do with the 1% earning more than their perceived “fair share”, nor is the solution to pay the remaining retail workers we have more money.

        The solution must come from the ground up – a complete revamping of the education system to change how we prepare our youth for the job market of the new millennium. If we don’t do this – income disparity is going to become far scarier than it is now .

        • Big Data says:

          [nor is the solution to pay the remaining retail workers we have more money]
          Why not? Why is that not at least part of the solution?

          • Peter says:

            Why should we? If demand goes down, wages don’t rise.

          • Stevendad says:

            Wage price controls under Nixon were a disaster in the long run. I suspect a doubling of min wage would be too. Raising wages artificially are a problem due to:
            1) Replacement with machines
            2) Hiring more illegals that work off the books
            3) Killing almost all local businesses in small town America and likely the towns. You live in Texas I believe, go ask around in the local small towns how long they will survive with a $15 min wage. I suspect many of the owners don’t make that
            4) Ignoring the real issue, job / skill mismatch

          • Big Data says:

            But artificially suppressing wages are also a disaster. Real minimum wage is effectively smaller now than 40 years ago. Poverty wages supplemented by food stamps is unsustainable and a market distoetion … but the solution is mot just to cut off food stamps. It is in restoring and maintaining a living monimum wage.

          • Big Data says:

            1. Many retail and minimum wage jobs are still not easily replacsble by machines.
            2. Reform immigration rules, legalize current longtime resident immigrants, use citizen id, not a big climbable tunnelable wall, to enforce hiring rules and wages.
            3. You dont quantum jump wages to $15. You elevate it to 10 or 11 now and then tie to some formula like inflation plus .5 real gdp increase.
            4. Addressing the job skill mismatch must involve education/industry partnerships, tax and other economic incentives for local hiring, and investments in public education. This is impossible without strong societal and government involvement, investment, and tax increases. Sorry but industry wont fix it by itself.
            5. Trade policy and labor protections must also be fixed to protect and elevate American labor.

          • Peter says:

            BD – #1 means very little….the point is unskilled jobs are being lost rapidly. Nobody denying that there are some left that can’t be replaced by automation. Just less than before.

            #2, 5 make sense. What I’ve been saying all along.

            #3 would increase the pay of a few, but just speed up the move to automation and hurt the economy. Why pay people more when demand outstrips supply for these jobs? Makes no sense.

            #4 was on the right track until you snuck in raising taxes again. How about we just use some of the money we are spending on other things to accomplish this? I don’t think raising taxes on everyone makes sense here – and certainly don’t see any justification (or need) for going even deeper into the pockets of the rich for this. Plus when we involve government…..(you know the rest…)

            How about this? Legalize marijuana Federally, legalize online gambling and casino/poker rooms. Tax religious organizations on their income. This would generate about $100b annually in revenue. Plus we could change our education system without any additional funds.

          • Big Data says:

            Peter, you and I just disagree on how change in education can be financed. A high school government teacher taught me the TANSTAAFL principle. There Aint No Such Thing As A Free Lunch. You talk about making government and education more efficient as if it a new idea that has not been tried. The low hanging fruit has been picked. Change costs money. Education programs, like our infrastructure funding, has been cut for years. Yes I know costs per student are high compared to other countries. Everything in US is expensive. But you cant keep cutting and cutting from education, infrastructure, and domestic spending priorities, and the expect to get a free boost to those programs out of some hidden bundle of cash in yhe government coffers. You may have noticed that the government is out of money and the middle class is out of money and the working class is out of money and the corporations have a 1.9 trillion pile of cash and the richest 1% of citizens have 10% more of the nations income that used to belong to everybody else. Change costs money. And you have to get that money from where it exists. Not from where it does not. TANSTAAFL.

          • Big Data says:

            Legalizing marijuana and gambling and taxing the offerings of churchgoers are just additional ways to tax the lower classes. How about micro taxes on stock transactions, taxing investment income above certain levels like regular income and creating two more tax brackets at 45 and 50% for 500k and million earners? Why are all of your tax ideas for the lower classes? Why not tax the money where it exists … with the upper classes? We are both making somebody pay. I am just suggesting you get money from those who can afford the loss.

        • Stevendad says:

          Agree. Income inequality is the symptom: a poor training system and a lack of motivation/ discipline is the disease. As I have learned in my field, treating the former and ignoring the latter only delays and intensifies the long term consequences.

  • Steven says:

    I make over 400k a year and in my early 30s.
    I am in medical sales and bring very valuable, life saving services to remote areas.

    Confidently, I can say my services have saved lives and assured quality of life to people who will never know I existed.

  • Peter says:

    After my computer problems cluttered the board, I wanted to bump this for Big Data to see. This was from Stevendad:

    “I don’t so much disagree with your premise not as many make as much, but on I do on the CAUSES. You still haven’t proven the cause, only reported the results. You absolutely discount that this may be due to unwillingness to do “dirty jobs” or take difficult education (STEM vs ethnic studies/sociology/art appreciation, etc,etc) or sacrifice the now for the future. I see this all the time, even in my profession: punch a clock vs own the problem, do the bare minimum vs go the extra mile, live to work vs work to live. PROVE that those who do these difficult things fail and that those who are poor are there because of external forces and not repetitive mistakes, unwillingness to work hard and not sacrifice. I suspect both are at play, but it is clear I lean much more to the unwillingness to exploit vs absence of opportunities.”

    BD – The reason why I call you a close-minded liberal is because of your complete denial that these other causes COULD possibly be the case and that there is ANY possible solution other than government mandating higher pay for rank-and-file workers OR taking more taxes from the wealthy to “even” the playing field.

    Stevendad and I disagree with you on the causes for the income disparity, and also disagree with you on the solutions. And while we have learned a little perspective from you – it doesn’t seem like you have learned from us and are very dismissive of our years of real-world experience (including Ken and others in this from years ago).

    • Big Data says:

      Peter and Stevendad, Regarding:
      “I don’t so much disagree with your premise not as many make as much, but on I do on the CAUSES. You still haven’t proven the cause, only reported the results.” — Stevendad
      “The reason why I call you a close-minded liberal is because of your complete denial that these other causes COULD possibly be the case and that there is ANY possible solution other than government mandating higher pay for rank-and-file workers OR taking more taxes from the wealthy to “even” the playing field. … while we have learned a little perspective from you – it doesn’t seem like you have learned from us and are very dismissive of our years of real-world experience …” –Peter
      =========
      Acknowledging the premise is a start to some agreement. Let me similarly acknowledge your points that I agree with, and also specify where I differ.
      ===
      I agree that people can be, and often are lazy, lacking in persistence, and easily distracted by various fascinations and appetites. This has always been and always will be true.
      But that is not to say each generation is precisely constant. The world and its events have fashioned different characteristics into the WW2 generation (also known as Silent or Greatest Generation), or the Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, Centennials … For instance, as Peter noted and the articles I posted reinforced, the Millennials (like many of the WW2 generation) are risk-averse and cautious. And sometimes events actively provoke a new focus: e.g. After Sputnik, the nation focussed more attention on math and science. But within each generation, you will always find a range of attitudes from low-effort to high-octane, a range of intelligences, a range of abilities, and across the span of our population these innate potentials are unlikely to change a lot over a lifetime or across generations. They will change a little but not a lot. The overall mood and tenor of the population may change, composite human knowledge and technical skills increase, but the *average* and overall range of potentials (attitudes, intelligences, abilities) don’t rapidly rise or decline.
      ===
      The degree to which that change is possible and what impact it may have may be part of where we disagree. Certainly, I understand individuals can dramatically change their lives and attitudes. I have seen it as well as you have: e.g. the C-student slacker who suddenly realizes that he doesn’t want to dig ditches for a living and transforms himself into a math statistics whiz (I knew this guy). And if anybody can, then everybody can, right? That is where I am less convinced (and I consider myself an optimist). From what I have seen of large populations, humans just don’t change, on average, very dramatically across time.
      ===
      Back to CAUSES. We have agreed on some of the causes of increased income disparity. Globalization, which has encouraged US companies to outsource work to countries with lower labor or manufacturing costs. Automation, which has reduced the need for various low and medium skill jobs. Skill mismatches, wherein the US education system has not promoted skill development to match changing industry and technology needs. Much of the above is beyond the control of the average worker, and to the degree that workers are subjected to change beyond their control, the challenges imparted by those forces cannot be blamed as their own failings. There is some responsibility for adapting to change, of course: choosing a worthy degree or skill to learn, adapting to new needs and learning new skills over time, and also applying prudent personal decisions, ethical conduct, and economic planning. I think you both will find plenty to agree with in this paragraph.
      ===
      Here is where my emphasis shifts, and I don’t know that you would disagree in substance so much as in proportion that the following is important. Societies and governments are also responsible for adapting to change. When threatened by war, we must learn quickly how to fight and build weapons of war. When soldiers return, we must figure out how to retrain and reabsorb the military population into society (GI Bill). When threatened by technology (Sputnik) we must learn how to quickly advance our own technology (science and math in schools, NASA, moonshot). None of the previous was left to individuals to struggle with on their own. All took societal and governmental group effort to react to national challenges. Similarly when SOMETHING (globalization and automation, mismatched skills, other) redistributes our wealth and incomes causing economic and job market instability, it seems logical to me that, just as with all of our other national challenges, there should be a societal and governmental response.
      ===
      So, in the framework I just described, when I say that government policy has caused high income disparity, I mean that government has neither planned for nor adapted to the changes that have been presented by the changing world economy. Globalization and automation are causes, yes. But if we sit back and throw up our hands rather than DOING something, that is also a cause. Adapt or die. We should never have let trade policy become SO imbalanced that it would damage our own employment rates. We should recognize the economic warning signs in a too-rapid rise in real estate prices and consumer debt. We should not allow the moral hazards unleashed by massive deregulation or under-regulation of savings and loans or financial institutions (Glass-Steagall repeal, shadow banking, credit default swaps, etc). When we have a loss of the types of jobs that large swaths of the population depended upon, we need to invest, as a society, in educational opportunities and guidance for the population, not just make it easier for families to go deep in debt with expensive college loans expended on unproductive paths. I see this as a problem that goes way beyond personal morals and ethics. Those are always important. But I just do not see how the wealth and income shift from low to high, which we all recognize and acknowledge exists, can be blamed SOLELY on personal actions. Nor do I see how it can be solved by personal actions alone. From my perspective, it is a big national statistic, and it requires a big national response.
      ===
      It’s late. I could ramble on longer, but I won’t tonight. I hope the above has clarified my perspective somewhat.

      • Peter says:

        That’s all fair….. However, I don’t see this as a Democrat/Republican issue. Nor do I see that raising taxes on the wealthy even further and giving the government more money is the solution either.

        In theory, the government having more funds to throw at the problem and more regulations on industries that can submarine the economy seems like a logical step to take. However, the devil is in the details – and in the execution of these programs. The government has proven time and time again that it cannot manage these things efficiently – and effectively solve the problem without waste, inefficiencies and political favoritism.

        There are a couple of ways out of this…. My hope is that we have more effective leadership in government than we have had the past few decades. Through campaign finance reform and greater restrictions on lobbyists, we may actually be able to pass policy that helps the people rather than big business or donors. I do think the election of Trump is a start … having an outsider who can shake up the traditional system may end up being a good thing. (Optimistic I know…)

        We can also incentivize private industry to do what we want them to do – to reinvest their available cash into jobs and bring job opportunities back to America. We can also incentivize training and apprenticeships.

        But these are mountains to move….to change the culture of Washington or corporate America requires such a sea change that at best will take generations to occur. Therefore, each individual in our nation must look in the mirror and start taking steps in their own lives to improve their situation. I continue to maintain that the pathways to success still exist. Anyone who is waiting for our government or big business to clear the path for them – or even improve it – will be quite disappointed. The largest immediate impact someone can have to improve “their own income disparity” is by working harder, smarter, practicing SWEAR, etc. – all the while continuing to speak out against lobbyists, politicians doing what big donors want rather than what is good for the people, inefficient policy and regulations, etc. That will help, but it will be a slow grind. And just giving the same organization that got us in this situation even more money seems very foolish.

      • Peter says:

        Excellent post by the way….very non-partisan way to state your concerns and perspective.

        • Big Data says:

          Thanks.

          • Stevendad says:

            BD: Wow, the first nonblaming post you’ve made in ages. Re: education: Again, when talking about pouring money down a rabbit hole for an art major and expecting economic reward is a personal choice and personal risk, reduce controlling regulation that raise student debt by increasing college costs, discouraging use of Federal funds for non research infrastructure and increasing benefits to students (again I received what are now Pell grants), free community college and state colleges for the poor (as it is in OK, income limit $50k for family w/ 2 dependents), limit nontaxable status on college endowments to something like $1 billion, encouraging money to go towards students. Sounds like Bernie! Re: government: I have over and over argued for efficient use of taxes rather than more income taxes: reward rather than punish efficiency in the bureaucracy, make agencies justify ALL their budgets rather than just increases, strengthen anti lobbying efforts, etc. Re: taxes. I’ve proposed several other taxes more fair (IMHO) such as: taxing those who pay NOTHING by working outside the system (and often get therefore undeserved benefits), ending Walmart/Starbucks/etc subsidies making up for govt benefits due to their low wages, taxing non-real estate business assets and financial instruments like us saps pay real estate taxes. Remove some impediments to small business: Dodd Frank safe harbors, reducing regulation in general on small business, expensing equipment at purchase, allowing inventory exclusions to build inventories without paying taxes until sold, etc. Re: debt. Reduce the govt deficit / then debt as possible to quit being the MAJOR competitor for capital against business, quit supporting in an outsized way all the militaries, world government, etc. Figure out some kind of immigration system and not the mass chaos we have now.

            And of course, for individuals, SWEAR and other forms of personal responsibility, participate in stockholder meetings and hold mutual funds, endowments and retirement administrators to,reduce excessive CEO compensation. I don’t see how the Snidley Whiplash characterization fits ANY of this.

    • Big Data says:

      P&S,
      Again, to start with things we agree on: Peter you mentioned incentives to business again, and I agree that is very important. I think we have been incentivizing businesses to harm the economy in various ways, and we need to change that. And of course we are on the same page about reforming lobbyists and campaign money, and getting big business and billionaire money away from buying influence. Stevendad, you mentioned a whole list of things, most of which I won’t comment on because I don’t have a strong opinion on or don’t have background to critique. I have a few nit-pick critiques I may address later… But for now, I will just say Oklahoma does seem to have a progressive community college program that other states could learn from. And it’s good that you are thinking about adding and restructuring ladders because it seems to me we have a shortage.
      ===
      Peter, you tried to hold back, but your anti-government rhetoric still slips through. […just giving the same organization that got us in this situation even more money seems very foolish.] That’s OK, but let me comment on that a bit.
      ===
      In addressing the future, and avoiding the pitfalls of the past, there are a couple of recurring and dominant perspectives to consider. One perspective is that government is the great Satan: incompetent, inefficient, wasting money and passing laws that make everything worse. If that is the case, then the solution is a smaller, constrained, weaker government that leaves everybody alone, allowing society and business and the markets to function in a less regulated environment. Another view is that big Business is the great Satan, and that they have infested and taken over government, buying the loyalties of legislators, passing laws which are for the benefit of business owners and investors but which put average workers and citizens at financial disadvantage. If that is the case, then we need a stronger, better funded, and more independent government which does not depend on business control and donations, and which will pass laws that constrain the worst impulses of business and finance, and incentivize practices more favorable to US workers and society.
      ===
      There are problems with both views. The problem with Government as Satan is that it demonizes a necessary institution that we claim to be proud of. How can you love our country and its historical origins without revering the unique and enduring institution which our founders built? Government may be messy, inefficient, and expensive, but it is necessary. How big or little it should be has always been a point of contention, but size alone is not a measure of its usefulness or effectiveness. The primary goal should not be to make it bigger or smaller, but better. And better means that it should serve the people, all of the people. It should look after the interests of business and workers, because we need both. It should concern itself with transportation and banking and infrastructure and clean air and water because infrastructure and basic resources tie the country together. It should concern itself with the health and education of the nation because the country is more than just a big resource for businesses to make money; it is the home of its citizens and thus the quality of life here should be protected and enriched. We can debate and disagree how those responsibilities are divided between national and state and city governments, but these broad areas of concern should be covered, regardless.
      ===
      If very small and weak government were the best answer, then we would find that unregulated, or lightly regulated, businesses and banks would tend to produce a universally prosperous society. Sadly, that has not proved to be the case. History has shown us that businesses, as a general rule, will seek to extract as much work for as little pay as possible from as many workers as possible. This is truer as businesses get bigger and the owners are more removed from customers and common workers. This should not surprise us. We should remember that 40 hour work weeks, overtime pay, restrictions on child labor, mandatory lunch breaks and paid 15 minute breaks (for “non-exempt” employees), minimum wage, and equal employment rules to avoid discrimination by gender, religion, or race, were NOT granted by generosity of the business community, but were each hard-fought victories that business opposed and that government enforces. Government that is too small and weak would not be able to enact and enforce such beneficial laws.
      ===
      But Business is not Satan either. The problem with portraying Business as Satan is that we need that institution also, and it is beneficial. Capitalism has been the economic partner of our Democratic Republic since its founding. At its best, it harnesses the negative impulses of humanity (greed, self-interest, envy) and transforms them into products, prosperity and satisfaction. If Business is attacked and minimized and over regulated and treated as an evil force, its profits and productivity suffer and we all suffer. Conversely, if Business is let loose to be virtually unregulated it seeks to fulfill its goal which is to maximize the bottom line and the profits going to investors, and it has no concerns for society. But we must always recognize that concern for society is not the function of Business and there is nothing wrong with that. Sometimes big businesses consciously give back to the community or individual business owners are also great community leaders. But, as a conservative friend of mine told me, Capitalism is not immoral, but it is amoral. Its goal is to maximize income within whatever laws and rules it is given and on the whole, it will always try to bend those rules to its advantage. We just need to recognize that in our expectations.
      ===
      So it is not very useful to be overly harsh in our views of Government or Business. We require both. However, in order to keep our country prosperous, we need to recognize the potential for harm in each.
      ===
      Government can become TOO bureaucratic, expansive, expensive, and intrusive. Inefficiency and corruption and outside influence are perpetual concerns. The solution is to elect the best people we can, demand accountability and honesty from our government, and alternate leadership between opposing parties so that the worst instincts of each do not dominate.
      ===
      Business, by its very nature is simultaneously constructive and destructive. The business produces a product or service which society presumably wants or needs, but it simultaneously seeks to destroy opposing businesses providing the same services. Our hope is that the competition yields the best and most efficient and desirable businesses as winners, though that is not always the case. Business’ biggest weakness is that it very often becomes a battleground between workers and management; a battle in which management has the natural advantage. And no matter how generous the business owner or manager believes himself to be, businesses are in competition to make money, and so businesses naturally and necessarily suppress employee pay to keep costs down and the bottom line strong. Self-interest of the owners and investors allows management pay and investor returns to rise however, as that expense is a smaller percentage of corporate income, no matter (almost) how high the pay or return. As such, it is the natural order of successful business, barring interfering forces like unions or imposed economic incentives, that income disparity in companies will increase as the profits rise and/or the overall size of the business grows. The solutions to counter this gravitational business force that pushes money to the top are many, but none of them easy, and no single solution is a silver bullet. Some involve new competition from fresh businesses (though this becomes more difficult as old businesses merge and grow). Most solutions involve government regulation or taxation or other intrusion. And Business will fight them all.
      ===
      So, after all of the above, let’s come back to the thought: “Just giving the same organization that got us in this situation even more money seems very foolish.” I guess that all depends on which organization you believe that to be. Did Business (and Finance) get us on into hot water by taking over government and bending rules to its advantage, ultimately driving up risk, depriving the majority of citizens of incoming profits and capital, and destabilizing the economy? If so, perhaps we should deprive Big Business and Finance (and their managers/investors) of such high percentages of our nation’s income and capital. Or did Government get us into hot water by spending tax revenues on unnecessary and inefficient projects? If so, perhaps we should cut those projects that are unnecessary or improve those that are inefficient.
      ===
      Perhaps the answer is all of the above. Then the disagreements arise from how much to cut and from what, how much to tax and of whom. I don’t think I want to jump into those details here. We all know each other’s views. I would only like to summarize my perspective in saying that IF our nation has suffered longterm economic upset and imbalance from which we need to recover, then we will need to make changes in our economy beyond individual improvements, and those national changes will be temporarily favorable to some and unfavorable to others, with the goal that they should be favorable and prosperous to us all in the long term. It does seem to me, that if there are some who must be temporarily inconvenienced with an increased economic burden in the short term, it should not be those classes and individuals who have already been the most economically disadvantaged and deprived over the last 35 years.

      • Peter says:

        I don’t think either are Satan. Just like you said earlier – nothing is all bad or all good. In fact like I have said many times – the reason I make so much money is largely due to our government. So it is good in that respect. :). But there are strengths and weaknesses to both, as I have pointed out. Government has gone further than its strengths in recent years in my opinion.

      • Peter says:

        And I think we are all going to be temporarily inconvenienced. The promises made to our poorest citizens are promises we just can’t keep. We owe it to them to replace, revise and reform these programs so they don’t go away completely.

        • Stevendad says:

          Well said BD. I agree on what you say that both have “Satanic ” (to use your metaphor) elements that need to be reined in. At this point I think government is further out of its reins is all. We must remember the duality of our world. The Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street are BOTH right in many ways. This feels like a real breakthrough BD. You have clearly seen both sides. I try to see both as well and often seem aligned to the right more than I am to counter your leanings. Regardless of all this, if we don’t turn back the debt curve we’re all screwed. So, I’m opposed to rolling back individual taxes and pro bringing corporate taxes in line with the rest of the world. We must remain competitive. And of course have my own pet taxes and cuts.

  • Henry says:

    Not sure why I posted as Henry.

  • Henry says:

    Just had to pop in here again to see if this whole thing was still going and not surprised to see big data here still clinging to his liberal views! And peter still here too. How many years have you all been trying to break through big data’s fort knox level closed mind? I had been thinking of this dialogue as I watch the news lately. More and more people like big Data digging in their heels everywhere you look. Not a good thing.

  • Stevendad says:

    BD each post you make becomes more separated from reality. So let’s see: here is the person who’s never been poor, has minimal ongoing or previous contact with the poor, has never owned his own business telling businessmen (via legislation) how to open up and bend their business plans to benefit the poor. Your thoughts are the height of arrogance. You need to quit reading all the liberal crap that you have put into your head and start thinking with your mind. My point, once again, which you don’t seem to get, is that there are plenty of paths for people to get wealth or at least to the middle-class. However they have to take them. I do not have a superior wisdom that you have to tell people how to live. Once again, many people choose either purposely because they don’t value money or through very poor decisions over and over and over again not to have these pathways. It is only through your superior wisdom that you have the ability to tell them how to live. You are so arrogant you don’t even know that you’re arrogant. I gave a very minimalistic example of how someone could achieve relative wealth working a minimum wage job and an extra job eight hours a week. Maybe that’s difficult, but it is doable. Hopefully, someone will actually advance at some point along the way so they do better than minimum wage. However, I don’t think it’s the responsibility of society to enable people who don’t plan, save or give effort to achieve middle class. You need to wrap your mind around the $70 grand a year assembly job is by and large a thing of the past. This is almost all due to the Globalism you Lefties Love so much. Lefties also have hurt through Dodd Frank, Obamacare and other anti small buy programs. Of course, you’re to blind to see this.

    Certainly we can forgive mistakes and you must admit this society is very generous and allowing this to happen. And of course again I have to defer to your superior wisdom as a liberal that this is not enough. I recently told my son the keys to having the good work career. It is three simple rules: 1. show up on time. 2. do what you’re told. 3. don’jt gripe. That’s really all it takes. Add that to SWEAR and you’ll do well. In my experience as an employer, I find these uncommon and extremely valuable and lead to advancementin position and power. But again I defer to your superior knowledge via Liberal tenets and slanted research.

    • Peter says:

      Like Gary Johnson (a fellow business owner) said during his fledgling presidential campaign….. “Having had my own business, having had a thousand employees at one point, we had to have people that showed up, wore clean clothes, and you know, on top of that, a few of them could add and subtract and a few of them could say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. Those were people that had my job” It’s not nearly the horror show that the liberal propaganda has made you think it is. And you deny every ounce of evidence that disagrees with you.

      • Stevendad says:

        As I’ve said before, as an employer, when they met those 3 things (of course they had to have required training) I paid them 125 to 150% of market wages because it was GOOD FOR ME AND THEM.

        • Peter says:

          Right – and in my argument with BD about hiring apprentices, what he doesn’t realize is that when we do find the qualified candidate, we DO pay more than the entry level wage. My assistant that fits that mold has already seen a 50% pay raise in 18 months. It’s just that there aren’t enough willing, qualified candidates who see the big picture and are willing to work and be paid based on performance.

          • Stevendad says:

            My formula was hire at market wage, after about 6 weeks give a 20 % raise and make it hurt to quit if they do the “3 things” and fit in. If not, come to a mutual decision to move on. We ended up with a smaller, overall cheaper ( fewer employees at a higher wage), more efficient and team oriented work force that kicked a** in productivity.

          • Peter says:

            Sounds like a completely solid real world way to do things. And truly gives EVERYONE an opportunity while mitigating employer risk. In our business it is hard to fire someone after they have been employees for a while. TONS of regulations and such.

    • 8Big Data says:

      It amazes me that you work so hard to ignore simple facts. You blame me for trying to open your eyes. Im not telling anybody to do anything but I am encouraging you to think logically. You are saying people can improve themselves and reach the next platform of income and success. Fine. Thats true. I am saying that all of the platforms except the vey top have been lowered. That is also true. And THEREFORE we have made it harder THROUGH POLICY for MOST people to reach the same levels of success as past generations. Data supports this. All of your polls, personal observations, conversations, and speculations do not counter the data. Just face reality. High income didparity is bad for the country and there are things we can do about it that are more expedient and effective than preaching morality acronyms, even though those are good advice for individuals.
      ===
      And when did globalism stop being a right wing policy? And how have the extraordinary successes of Obamacare insuring more poor people hurt the poor? You are making things up out of thin air.

      • Peter says:

        There is ZERO proof that government policy has made it harder for people to reach the same levels of success as in the past. You have made that connection. Plus, I think you connect it with the wrong policies. I think the Common Core standards of care in our education system for instance have had a greater impact than taxation of the rich. The millions of experiences Stevendad and I and others have had do not counteract data – they counteract the cause-and-effect lines your liberal agenda has drawn.

        • Big Data says:

          I’m concerned about excessive standards testing and the resulting loss of freedom for teachers subjects more creatively and broadly. But I am also a little confused about the demonization of Common Core. I am neither strongly for or against it, but my understanding is that it began as a shared project between governors of several states to assure some commonality in curriculums. I can see how this would be helpful as students so frequently move across districts or across state lines as their parents move. It is not “ObamaCore” as some have branded it. It is not a national standard at all. So what do you find in it that is so offensive?

          • Big Data says:

            Typo correction:
            I’m concerned about excessive standards testing and the resulting loss of freedom for teachers TO TEACH subjects more creatively and broadly.

      • Stevendad says:

        Obamacare was specifically damaging to almost all small businesses. No question to any reasonable person. Not made up out of “thin air”. Still say most income inequality in Dem counties (Hillary voters). I’m not a statistician, but eye balling it at least a 75 % correlation. Check a few Gini maps side by side with Hillary county maps. Again, raise local / state taxes to 50% foes all I care. Leave the rest of us alone.

        • Stevendad says:

          Globalism is part of the rejection of the working class by Dem party that cost them this election. Trump embraced them and won. I still feel my party was sucked in by the charisma and consummate politics of BO, believing their policies won and not him. Now that he is gone they are left with only one choice: move Right or die. Unfortunately, they will move Left. That is when the Moderates like me try to pick up the ashes and reconstruct the Truman / JFK / Clinton (Bill not Hill) party.

          • Big Data says:

            Globalism was the Democrats attempt (left over from the 90’s) to shift to the RIGHT, and be more centrist. In this election, the traditional Democratic voters rejected that approach. The TPP was negotiated by Obama but the policy was the darling of the Congressional Right. It is one of the issues that kept Hillary out of office even after she renounced it. That does not make it a Democrat issue. It is a right wing issue that has now been rejected by Democrat and RepubliTrump voters.

        • Big Data says:

          Your implication that voting democratic, or providing democratic leadership, somehow causes high income disparity is false logic. Where is high income disparity most likely to occur? In regions of big business; i.e. cities. Where are the most workers who are harmed by high income disparity? In cities. Who will these voters generally vote for? Democrats. (Neglect the anomalous 2016 election for the moment.) Why don’t cities enact policies that heavily tax and regulate their businesses to bring down high income disparity? Because they are in competition with every other city for the tax revenue derived from that business and they don’t want the businesses to leave.
          ===
          Voting Democrat does not produce high income disparity any more than voting Democrat creates tall buildings. There is a correlation, but it is almost meaningless.

          • Stevendad says:

            Perhaps, but you must admit they have complete direct control over it. Of course, some will vote with their feet. More fair than making the rest of us pay for it.

          • Big Data says:

            I must NOT admit what is not so, because cities do NOT have direct control over local income disparity. Such illusion of control is a mirage. If they try to control it by being harsher on businesses than the next town, the business moves to the next town. Cities depend upon businesses over which they have very little control, because the businesses are mobile, and more so today than in the past.

      • Stevendad says:

        BD: I can agree that platforms are higher for those NOT WILLING to sacrifice, but hey, I would have worked 80 hours a week for $10/hr tying rebar as a kid (was making $2.35/ hr then, about $7.50 per hour in today’s money. Remember, we couldn’t find Millenials to do this job AT ALL 6 years ago. The jobs are there for those willing to sacrifice and pay dues IMO. So I don’t so much disagree with your premise not as many make as much, but on I do on the CAUSES. You still haven’t proven the cause, only reported the results. You absolutely discount that this may be due to unwillingness to do “dirty jobs” or take difficult education (STEM vs ethnic studies/sociology/art appreciation, etc,etc) or sacrifice the now for the future. I see this all the time, even in my profession: punch a clock vs own the problem, do the bare minimum vs go the extra mile, live to work vs work to live. PROVE that those who do these difficult things fail and that those who are poor are there because of external forces and not repetitive mistakes, unwillingness to work hard and not sacrifice. I suspect both are at play, but it is clear I lean much more to the unwillingness to exploit vs absence of opportunities. Not sure there is any data to “prove” that.

  • Stevendad says:

    A reprise because I DO respect and appreciate both your opinions:
    This is our legislative process: take a problem, spin it to suit your needs, get money from lobbyists and fund raise about it, pass laws that sound like they may help but often overlap or can even worsen a problem and ALWAYS have unintended consequences.
    A bit cynical or totally accurate (or both). Hard for me to tell any more….

    • Big Data says:

      Stevendad, I would say it’s a little too cynical, and that is not just a partisan response. Here is the test. If you take just about anything and say it is all good or all bad, you are probably wrong. [I’m trying to think of exceptions, but there are not very many.] You just made a statement that says nothing good about the legislative process. So I have to say it must be wrong.

      It is true that laws sometimes do less good than they intend, and it is true that unintended consequences almost always come into play. But it is also true that the BEST legislation, designed carefully and thoughtfully, can do more good than harm, and can improve society.

      After all, our Constitution is not mush more than a really remarkable and positive piece of legislation.

  • Big Data says:

    moneyning spam alert.
    Above is french language ad for poker software. Please delete.

  • Big Data says:

    Moving discussion of risk-averse millennial to top. This was not exactly the data I was looking for, but it is helpful, and I think Peter, for one, will like it (analysis with uplifting counseling advice for millennial and millennial employers), so here it is.
    https://www.td.org/Publications/Blogs/Management-Blog/2015/06/Millennials-the-Risk-Averse-Generation

    • Big Data says:

      Peter, This might also help explain why you can’t get millennial interested in your job. They are averse to investing, so it makes sense they would be averse to advising others in investments or learning about the business of financial services. I have also read thatt millennial, more than previous generations, want jobs that they believe in, that make a difference to the world. The financial industry is widely believed by this generation to be responsible for the great recession, and so it has little appeal as a positive social force and may even be considered villainous.
      ==== From article ===
      “This generation is extremely risk-averse when it comes to investing, the survey finds, with only 12% of Millennials saying they would invest money in the market, with 28% saying long-term investing is a pathway to success.

      “They have a Depression Era mindset largely because they experienced market volatility and job security issues very early in their careers, or watched their parents experience them, and it has had a significant impact on their attitudes and behaviors,” UBS said in a release.
      ===
      http://www.foxbusiness.com/features/2014/01/29/millennials-most-risk-averse-generation-since-depression-era.html

      • Peter says:

        I agree. They are very risk averse. Children of today are maturing much later, far less rebellious and independent than before. Some of it has to do with our parenting culture – and some of it is good and some is bad. Kids are less likely to have sex as teenagers or use drugs or drink….but they are also more likely to remain at home into their 20’s. This all contributes to why we have a much lower entrepreneurial spirit in this generation as well.

        • Stevendad says:

          Living at home is the best opportunity to SWEAR by the way.

        • Big Data says:

          Parenting culture is a contributor, but the economic downturn, including costs of college loans, seems a more likely major cause. The economic squeeze on the middle class has lessened the ability of this generation to become independent, and has increased their own debt, and that all contributes to them staying at home and being more cautious.

          • Peter says:

            Yeah it certainly isn’t THEIR fault.

          • 8Big Data says:

            Typical right wing response. Explain to me how the economic meltdown and collapse of the job market just as they graduated high school or college was the millennials’ fault.

          • Peter says:

            LOL – I enjoy getting called right-wing every time I disagree with you. A rare thing to be called for an pro-choice atheist who wants legalized drugs and gambling. Or from someone who is very anti-war and wants us to reduce the size of the military and move out of the majority of conflicts we are involved in. I’m so right-wing it’s crazy! Maybe if you quit putting people in boxes – or got out of the ridiculously limiting box you yourself reside in – you might learn something.

            If you think what we have gone through in the last 10 years was an “economic meltdown” or a “job market collapse” then you are even more ignorant of economics and economic history than I thought.

          • Peter says:

            And before you correct me…. YES I know we went through a deep recession in 2008. And yes I know unemployment rates rose to over 10% at a point. But the superlatives you used are a bit much….and to blame an entire generation’s malaise on unemployment going from 4% to 10% or on something like college loan costs while ignoring cultural changes, our education system and a whole host of other factors is naive and politically convenient. I do however agree with the last part of your prior post – more millennials, particularly in metropolitan areas are living at home after college for affordability reasons. This is a good thing as Stevendad says, makes it easier to practice SWEAR.

          • 8Big Data says:

            Peter, you are a social liberal but clearly an economic and anti goverment right winger, whether you want to call yourself that or not.

          • Henry says:

            I suppose my economic philosophy more often lines up with the “right wing” but I definitely don’t agree with all of the spending that the right keeps doing – particularly on defense/military. I also would stop short of saying I am anti-government since I have been so intricately involved with government in my career and that it has been such a large part of my success. There are parts of government I have great respect and use for – and others that are largely useless or beyond the bounds of what I think government should do. I really don’t think this is right or left wing at all.

  • Peter says:

    Just to bring this to the top…. Media bias isn’t as transparent or banal as not giving fair time to “the earth is flat” people. It is refusing to cover Trump’s rallies with the cameras showing the crowds, then showing a rally from the other side with camera angles that exaggerate crowd size. It is mentioning Trump in a story about tennis players flaming each other online. It is the disrespect they show to dissenting opinions – and things like building the wall, repealing Obamacare, enforcing immigration, tax policies, etc. are not the equivalent of saying the earth is flat. The media has a strong power to create a narrative – and to say CNN/Anderson Cooper isn’t doing so is to have on blinders.

    I watched Cooper and Cuomo interview Hillary Clinton and Trump several times during the election and just the general demeanor of the interviewer and the way questions were framed made it completely obvious where they leaned. And this conclusion is coming from someone who is not part of either party.

    • Peter says:

      ANOTHER great example. CNN has a headline today that says “Most Americans Don’t Benefit From Dow 20,000”. The article then uses a gas station worker as an example to show how they aren’t participating in the stock market gains.

      I follow this closely, so I know – stock market gains have been covered over the last 8 years with a much different tone. Just look at this article: http://money.cnn.com/2014/12/23/investing/stocks-markets-dow-18000/

      This was when the Dow cracked 18,000 under Obama’s watch. There is even a picture of champagne glasses. Guess they didn’t feel the need to paint this as only for a select few then…..

      • Stevendad says:

        This headline is completely different from: “most people don’t save enough to invest and profit from our growing (could be better) economy”. I fully believe young people should be taught how to save, budget, invest, write a check, etc. Instead of personal finance my state requires plane geometry in high schools which I suspect <10% will use. This makes me wonder if there is a conspiracy by lenders to keep the people poor, but in starting to sound like BD!

        • Peter says:

          It could be….. do the politicians from either party really want to improve the lot of the poor? Or just keep them poor so they will rely on the government and be more likely to vote. Easier to control the masses. But yeah – we sounding a bit like conspiracy theorists here. Eventually people do realize that the government isn’t going to help you – that you have to do it yourself.

          • Stevendad says:

            Globalism is part of the rejection of the working class by Dem party that cost them this election. Trump embraced them and won. I still feel my party was sucked in by the charisma and consummate politics of BO, believing their policies won and not him. Now that he is gone they are left with only one choice: move Right or die. Unfortunately, they will move Left. That is when the Moderates like me try to pick up the ashes and reconstruct the Truman / JFK / Clinton (Bill not Hill) party.

    • Big Data says:

      There is some truth to your assertion that news organizations and individual newscasters exert a bias. In many cases the bias is “honest”, meaning the reporters think they are reporting fairly but their personal bias shows through. Some news organizations have shown flagrant bias, such as when Roger Ailes used to send down memos about precisely how certain news must be reported on Fox (e.g. “Any news story on global warming must include the statement that the conclusions of climate science are in dispute.”) I don’t know about the crowd size filming at Trump rallies since I never watched them, but reporters are people too, and Trump’s active disrespect of the media surely helped invoke disrespect and lack of cooperation from the other side. Reporters are just people after all. Did Fox show the crowd size?
      I think the biggest biases are city vs rural, which play into a left/right bias as politics seems to separate that way. Perhaps news organizations should attempt to understand the rural populations better?
      I have to note that the AP did no favors to Hillary regarding their dishonest and sensationalist-slanted tweet and story about Clinton Foundation donors she met with. By limiting the statistics of the 2500+ meetings she had while secretary of state (and often with multiple people per meeting) to a discussion of 85 of the 154 private citizens she met with who were donors, they inflated a minor statistic into something dramatic. And the reporting on this story typically failed to explain that Foundation donations never went to the Clintons themselves. The supposedly liberal media similarly allowed Al Gore and Bill Clinton to be pummeled in the news during their campaigns and time in office. If the media has a liberal agenda, they are pretty incompetent at carrying it out.

      • Peter says:

        A typical “through the eyes of a liberal” point of view. The same thing with conservatives who will tell you that Fox is the only channel reporting the “truth”. When reporting on candidates during an election cycle it is a little more overt….the Dow example I gave is an example of the more subliminal bias.

        • Big Data says:

          Or …
          When the economy was struggling, the rising stock market was a sign of recovery. Now that unemployment is low and the overall economy is stronger, but high income and wealth disparity are still present, the rising stock market is just a reminder that the wealthy are prospering while the rest are just getting by or in slow recovery, or even in decline. A conservative will see that change in reporting as subliminal bias. Others will see it as a fair shift of perspective played against the changing economic landscape.
          ===
          The problem is that I will see biases against liberal viewpoints that you will never even notice, and you will see biases against conservative viewpoints that I will never notice. So we both see biases against our own side and we are both correct.
          ===
          I have been having arguments and discussions about media bias with a conservative buddy of mine for years. We finally met in the middle. I conceded that there is a lot more unintentional liberal bias in major media than I had noticed before, and he conceded that there was a lot less intentional liberal bias overall than he had initially claimed. We both agree Fox is mostly crap.
          ===
          I am a lot less concerned as to whether there exists some honest bias or not. Everyone can search out there own favorite new analysts. I am a lot more concerned as to whether I am getting misinformation based on intentional bias, or even out and out lies. I can deal with bias. I am more interested in getting facts, accurate data, and insightful analysis. For instance: There are commentators on MSNBC I don’t like very much because they apply too much spin, but Rachel Maddow is great because she always is ACCURATE. She does research which provides deeper perspective. She has a clear bias and opinion. But she can interview people with differing perspectives and treat them respectfully, and she always asks the experts if she has gotten the facts right. There are also conservative writers who similarly have a clear right-wing perspective but provide facts and insightful analysis within that viewpoint.
          ===
          We can argue all day about media bias but it is really hard to analyze from within our own personal biases. I would rather focus on the facts that are out there and which are being reported by earnestly biased reporters on both political sides, and to winnow away the lies that the less honest or more lazy news sources coat their stories in.

          • Peter says:

            A rising stock market is a rising stock market. It means the same regardless. Any other additional “context” is 100% political spin.

            I’m not saying by the way that the media is lying. I’m just saying they report things in a way that is convenient for their political narrative. It is true that some Mexicans are sneaking under fences to get here illegally. That is a fact. But it is rampant? Is it a problem? That’s an opinion or judgment call. They also shape the narrative by the omission of stories entirely or by the way they frame the question. Asking Hillary Clinton “so, do you think this email issue is FINALLY going to be put to rest?” is a slanted question that confirms with the viewer at home that there is “nothing to see here” with her emails and we should all move on. Technically not a lie – but a way to ask the question to pass judgment on a situation. If then a Fox reporter says “Hillary Clinton, who has been bathed in scandal over the past few years…..” they are doing the same thing. Not technically a lie – but framing the discussion.

  • Big Data says:

    It keeps coming up, so let’s talk about the problem of the baker and the gay wedding. Yes of course I can see the possibility of conflicting rights. I can also see the parallels to civil rights of blacks. There used to be claims about people having religious beliefs regarding separation of races or inferiority of blacks. Should we permit bakers or taxicabs or hotels or restaurants to deny services to blacks because of such ‘religious’ beliefs? People used to think so. Some still do. Most in USA do not, anymore.
    How is that different than serving gay or LGBT people? It is hard to justify such discrimination against them if you also believe they are born gay, just as people are born with their skin color. But, to go beyond the usual discussion, even if you believe being gay is a moral choice and not genetic or psychological characteristic, do we generally approve of blocking societal services to people based on legal choices due to differences in faith or morality? Should we allow restaurants to block serviceto Catholics, or abortionists, or people who voted a way we dont like, or who look like they might be foreign? No, not generally. Again, stepping beyond the typical discussion, my personal belief is that people should not be expected to provide service in which they must participate directly and for an extended period of time in ceremonies or social situations which conflict with their religion. By my own standard, a baker still has to bake a cake for anyone who comes in his shop. A photographer or cab drivel or hotelier has to provide service to anyone. A caterer or wedding photographer, or wedding planner, however, should be able to decline providing their services to gay wedding because they become intimately involved in a ceremony to which they object. Doctors, nurses, pharmacists, do not have the right to deny service to people seeking legal medicines such as birth control or legal medical treatment such as blood transfusions, or abortion solely on religious ground. This goes beyond social ceremony and moves to health care which is an essential service.
    I have not seen this specific balance of views expressed elsewhere and it may not be completely fleshed out, but it seems to me a reasonable compromise and accommodation.

    • Peter says:

      This is a gray area….doctors and bakers are two different things. Discriminating against religious beliefs starts to get very slippery. Even though I think ALL religion is nonsense, freedom of religion is a key part of our society. I generally agree with how you have separated this, but it is very, very difficult to enforce.

      For instance, let’s hypothetically say in my practice dealing with Indian people has constantly proven to be a waste of time. They are stereotypically and culturally high-maintenance clients who demand a lot from you and pay the least. As a small business owner, I am concerned about the capacity of my business so I only add about 10-15 new clients a year. If I have an Indian prospect, I may be less likely to pursue that relationship due to my prejudices. And I may be wrong – this particularly Indian couple might be fabulous and the exception.

      Where am I going with this? How can we ask the government to legislate this? If I just don’t return calls of any Indian looking for my services, should the Feds come lock me up? Practically speaking, how does this work? I don’t think you are going to arrest the baker, or hold a gun to his head making him make a gay wedding cake.

      • Peter says:

        And the larger point Stevendad was saying is that we must respect everyone’s rights. And the right to observe religious beliefs is part of the constitution even if we think their religion is discriminatory and stupid. This is a common theme in my posts – we can just dismiss and ignore people’s opinions because we don’t agree or think they are stupid (including Donald Trump). That’s what cost your team the election, by the way….

      • Big Data says:

        I’ve been thinking some more about this …
        I agree there is often difficulty in proving discrimination, but that, since freedom of religion is a bedrock principle of this country, we have to make an earnest effort to respect and accommodate all religious beliefs. It seems to me that this requires a certain amount of flexibility and compromise from everybody. If you are a baker, or accountant, or realtor, or cab driver, or run almost any kind of business, you should not be able to DECLARE discrimination based on religion, race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation. It may be hard to prove such discrimination if it is done silently, but the baker (for instance) should be willing, and required, to bake or sell a cake to anyone walking in the shop, and not be making ethical and moral judgements against customer behavior. It is no great burden for a baker to take a gay couple’s business, even if it involves putting two groom (or two bride) figurines on the cake and delivering the cake to the venue, and it seems to me a little ridiculous to claim a religious objection to refuse such business. Do they ask every couple if they had sex before marriage, and what type of sex, and would the baker refuse to bake a cake based on the answers and their alignment with the baker’s own religious mores?
        ===
        The one exception that seems valid is refusing to participate intimately (way beyond baking a cake or renting a tux) in planning or performing a ceremony such as a gay marriage which the business owner objects to for legitimate religious reasons. Even this is a slippery slope. Can a Christian wedding planner refuse to serve Muslims or Jews or Blacks? That doesn’t seem right.
        ===
        Also, while individuals MIGHT be able to have some limited religious objections, large companies and organizations generally should have no such right. Hobby Lobby should not be allowed to impose the religious mores of its owners on their employees. Pharmacy companies should have to guarantee that women can receive all their prescriptions promptly, even if the lone pharmacist on duty religiously objects to birth control pills. And while religious organizations (e.g. churches) should be free to practice their religious beliefs, I think that the community charities and organizations (like hospitals) they may establish that grow to a certain size, may need to compromise in serving the whole community over practicing religious purity. That means that even the religious hospitals may be required to have fully non-discriminatory hiring practices, perform medically necessary abortions, and allow their employees access to birth control via health plans. There are just some compromises we have to all make to live in the same community.

        • Stevendad says:

          I think we finally made some progress, at least you admit there’s more than one side to these issues. That’s all I’ve really been saying all along. I don’t pretend to be wise enough to decide whose rights are more important than others. By the way, religious-based hospitals are not required to do abortions.

          • Big Data says:

            I know that religious-based hospitals are not required to do abortions, even to the point that they endanger women’s lives when the miscarry begins naturally. This is wrong. Medical decisions should be medical and not religious. See example article:
            ===
            –Abortion ban linked to dangerous miscarriages at Catholic hospital, report claims–
            Five women suffered prolonged miscarriages, severe infections and emotional trauma at Mercy Health Partners when staff neglected patients’ health to uphold religious directives against inducing delivery, report reveals.

            The report squarely links these events to Mercy Health Partners’ Catholic sponsorship. In the US, hospitals that advertise themselves as Catholic must follow a set of medical directives written by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. All doctors working at the hospital must follow church teachings, regardless of their personal beliefs, and the hospital is responsible for instructing its staff on the directives.
            ===
            https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/feb/18/michigan-catholic-hospital-women-miscarriage-abortion-mercy-health-partners
            ===
            I think this is gross miscarriage (sorry) of justice to have Catholic hospitals, which may be the ONLY medical facility locally available, enacting their religious constraints on an entire community. This is not freedom of religion. It is imposition of religion on others, and therefore is the OPPOSITE of freedom of religion.

  • Stevendad says:

    Sorry about the typos. Dictated this just before work and was a bit short on time…

  • Stevendad says:

    BD: I’ve thought it through and can say this more succinctly: I need to prove nothing to you because I don’t support taking anything more from you. You on the other hand have to prove everything because you (the Left) want to take things from me at gunpoint (ultimately).

    • Big Data says:

      That is the most nonsensical post you have made. Think again.

      • Stevendad says:

        You are completely full of “nonsense”. I am not telling you to do anything . Therefore you need to prove your point. You (the Left) were trying to take money out of my pocket and limit my freedom. I need a good reason for doing so. I am affecting you in no way whatsoever.
        These are facts:
        So if I refuse to pay taxes then eventually it leads to some with a gun showing up at my door. This is irrefutable. You are a a blind fool of you think otherwise. FACT
        Leaving the status quo costs you nothing more than now. FACT
        Paying for your foolishness costs me more. FACT
        That’s why the onus is on you to prove its worth. You’re still not there after almost 5 years.
        The more facts you hear that don’t fit your narratives the more you dig in your heels. Typical Lefty, bring out insults or false accusations when you can’t stand up to the truth.

        Your answer in the CA, NY and Chicago taxes question was really lameand not thought out by the way.

      • Big Data says:

        If you are in a discussion and make an assertion, you should defend it. The possibility that you have benefitted from past policy and may suffer slightly from proposed policy has nothing to do with whether assertions should be defended and truth should be sought.
        ===
        My taxes are unlikely to change very much one way or the other. I’m getting nothing from you. I’m sort of at the tax and income fulcrum where my taxes are unlikely to increase or decrease much. I’m just trying to advocate for a better economic balance and an improved society.
        ===
        If you refuse to pay taxes, you are breaking the law. You are unlikely to get a gun at your door, but you will have to pay fines. OK maybe a gun, and jail, if you were to continue to be a criminal and not pay the fines.
        ===
        Lately, you are sounding pretty haughty and unreasonable, possibly because something in my recent posts offended you. I imagine you didn’t like that I think your attacks on the poor were attacks on the poor especially after you asserted you were not attacking the poor. I actually don’t think you are a bad guy. I’m guessing that, in those interviews with 70,000 people, you were doing your best to help them in their difficult situations. And I bet you were witness to a lot of poor decisions. What I am saying is that it was not a controlled and statistical research study, and your opinions derived from all of these conversations, while I’m sure they were very interesting and insightful, are not a statistical proof or indication about the economy or how the nature of poverty has evolved over the last 35 years, or its causes, or whether individuals or economic policies are more responsible. I have no doubt that some of the people you met were content in their “poverty of money and wealth in free time” while others were in desperate straits from their own poor decisions. I’m pretty sure you will have encountered some tragic situations as well, where people tried their best but became victims of external circumstance. Unless you are extraordinarily meticulous and entered all this data in a spreadsheet, I doubt you could give an accurate statistical summary of those and other categories. And if your primary assertions from your interviews are that poor people make bad decisions and many don’t want to climb the ladders, which are all plentiful and available for the climbing, then yes, I see that as attacking the poor, no matter how much you simultaneously are generous to them with your help. So, I respect your opinion, and I accept the existence of these people, but it ultimately does not refute my assertion that the economic benefits of our society have moved primarily from the middle class and poor to the rich and that it is generally inappropriate to assign blame and responsibility (as you certainly seemed to be doing in your posts) for that shift to the poor.
        ===
        I am often blunt and in a hurry to post, so please excuse my occasionally ungracious prose. My intent is not to provoke, but I do sometimes succumb to hasty language when you start assigning views and perspectives to me which I do not have. And you’ve been doing that a lot in your last few posts.

        • Peter says:

          It’s more important than even in the information age that we don’t let our eyes deceive us. Real life experiences carry far more weight to me than polls or what the news media tells me.

          A good example…. during the Iraq/Afghanistan war I would meet with many clients who had spent extensive time over there and they would tell me that – without a doubt – the Iraqi people were happy that we were there and that Afghanistan was a giant unwinnable mess. The media told a different story, but not one person I spoke to who had actually been there corroborated the media’s point of view. It’s one thing if I heard varying stories of the Afghan/Iraqi experience from people – but when they all say the same thing….that they witnessed from their own eyes…..I’m more inclined to believe them than some entertainer like Anderson Cooper, Sean Hannity or Rachel Maddow who only reports what fits the narrative of their channel.

          The fact that you would dismiss 70,000 interviews Stevendad has had speaks volumes to the Orwellian groupthink that has hijacked your brain.

          • Big Data says:

            I did not dismiss Stevendad’s conversations or his singular examples. I dismissed the conclusion that the poor are primarily (a) content to be poor (b) too incompetent (c) or too lazy to climb ladders which are as plentiful as they ever were. And yes, in slightly milder language, that was basically all he said about the poor.
            ===
            I am not relying on polls or opinions, but on data and analysis by experienced researchers. Big difference. I don’t need a poll to to tell me that the real per capita GDP has doubled while the real minimum wage is down 25% since my first high school job. Or that college costs have skyrocketed. Or that high income disparity has moved 10 to 15% of the economy from the average Americans to the extraordinarily wealthy. I don’t need conversations with 70,000 people to know that the poor, and the middle, and the upper middle classes are getting a raw economic deal while the prosperous are taking home all the new winnings. And this conversation about how today’s poor are content to be poor and how the millennials are not entrepreneurial enough for the economy is just not convincing. For one thing, it does not explain the 30, 40 and 50 somethings who are struggling from years or decades with little economic gain, rising bills, and debts from the economic collapse. These are not the poor or the millennials. How do we blame them?
            ===
            About millennials and entrepreneurs: I was never an entrepreneur, but my millennial daughter is one. I don’t know where she got it. She is a photographer, and quite good and gets pretty good pay for her gigs, but not enough for a living. She also has a day job, but the photo work keeps her happy. And for the millennials I have met, that is typical. They want to work and be productive, but they want to enjoy it. Not slave unhappily for 3 or 20 years to be rich later, maybe.

          • Big Data says:

            “Orwellian groupthink”. Pretty funny. So what is it that has hijacked your brain? “Ayn-Randian pigheadedness”?

          • Big Data says:

            Sorry, that last comment was uncalled for. But frankly, so was yours.

          • Big Data says:

            As for Iraq, maybe you just have hopelessly biased memory of what you read in the media. I remember reading how Iraqis initially welcomed us there and were happy we were there. Even now, I just read a 2013 article in the Atlantic about how many Iraqis were glad Saddam is gone and are mostly disappointed in the failures of their own leaders. And I remember stories of US soldiers giving out candy to happy children when we first arrived.
            ===
            Yet I also read about the big change in attitude toward America due to Abu Ghraib, and the arguably disastrous decision by Bush and Rumsfeld to dismantle the Iraq military and apply de-Baathification broadly. This left a lot of unemployed folks with military experience … a bad policy.
            ===
            Maybe most all of the stories, especially the superficial ones, did portray the Iraqis as unhappy we were there from the outset. Maybe I am the one remembering it wrong. Or maybe I self select better and more accurate news stories, and I just naturally disregard the crap. Hard to say. You and I seem to get different information from the media.

          • Peter says:

            http://www.huffingtonpost.com/phillip-martin/why-so-many-iraqis-hate-u_b_96330.html

            Just one example from a site I’m sure you’re familiar with.

          • Big Data says:

            OK, so in this 2008 article, one of the statements is: “A new BBC poll finds that the presence of US troops is still roundly opposed by 72% of Iraqis, but that is down by seven points from six months ago.” But you say that all of the people you knew who had spent time in Iraq/Afghanistan (presumably in this time period) said the people “over there” all wanted us there. So there is a discrepancy And you attribute the fact that a BBC poll disagrees with your third hand sampling of the population as a biased media? Really? You think your pseudo-random unscientific polling of people who happen to know people whom you happen to know is superior information to a actual real-live poll? Could there be ANY other explanation? I’m just guessing, but maybe your clients were talking primarily to upper class or businessmen or a geographic area with a different opinion than the norm. Or maybe the Afghans/Iraquis were being very polite to their American acquaintances. Or maybe any number of things. But maybe, just maybe, probably even, the BBC poll is correct, and then the whole article also makes sense in context. Far from proving how personal experience is superior to polls and data, I think you just proved that it is not.

        • Stevendad says:

          Fair enough, give me a table or poll or whatever about how much people’s misery is due to the unfair external business / Right wing / religious persecution and how much due to their own choices. I don’t think such data exists in any real way. That’s why I rely on pretty extensive experience.

          And as an experiment, stop paying all your taxes and see what happens in a couple of years. Don’t kid yourself, all government is ultimately by force.

          Again, NOT attacking the poor, just respecting their freedom to make choices, good or bad. You do not respect their freedom. You (the Left) wish to impose your vision of the world on them whether they want it or not.

          • Big Data says:

            Really stevendad, just recognize that economic conditions for poor and middle class are a little worse than when you started your career. Minimum wage is lower, unions are weaker, well-paying low and middle class career jobs are fewer, millions lost money and homes in the economic crash, and the rich and powerful have more of an advantage, which they have parlayed into a big shift of money from poor to rich. Sure there are lazy and unmotivated and stupid people and there always have been and always will be. And you met some of them. And they are all the poorer and worse off for their faults today because now they also have less money than ever, as do all of their better off cousins except for the really rich uncle who won’t share squat.
            ===
            I’m not discounting your conversations. I’m just saying that even if every single memory of every single lazy or stupid or unmotivated person you met is correct, it still has absolutely nothing to do with how the economy has changed to make the poor poorer and the rich richer. You can preach SWEAR and what a heavenly nation it would be if everybody improved themselves, and its a nice fantasy, but in reality, some people will take good advice and some won’t and the proportions of those populations has probably not changed much over time. If we want to fix the economy, we have to reverse the conditions that broke it in the first place. And that has a lot more to do undoing some damaging government policy than it does with hoping for some miraculous improvement in human nature.

          • Big Data says:

            “Again, NOT attacking the poor, just respecting their freedom to make choices, good or bad.”
            This is the caption for a cartoon showing Snidely Whiplash throwing the widow out of her hovel. As such, it would be some wickedly amusing satire. As a serious statement in a serious discussion, it is possibly one of the most disgusting and self-serving sentences I have heard. Do not presume to tell me that I am disrespecting people’s freedom by wanting people to get paid a fair wage or to have affordable college and not fear medical bankruptcy. Do not lecture me about allowing people “freedom” to be poor. You have said some smart things and some dumb things, but that is the dumbest.

          • Peter says:

            There is nothing offensive or wrong in that statement. Not everyone wants to be rich – or wants to put in the work it takes to be middle class or above. Not everyone wants to be fit with chiseled abs either. Not everyone wants to learn as much math, science, literature as possible. People have choices which is what makes our country great.

          • Big Data says:

            There is nothing offensive in pointing out that a few people are happy living on the cheap. There is great offense in pretending there is no need to reduce poverty or improve economy for middle class because “those other people” all probably prefer to be poor and in debt and it would be interfering with their “freedom” to give them an economic break. That’s what I meant.

  • Stevendad says:

    BD: you missed my whole point about the negative things the Left says. I’m typically replying to you,so it seems that I’m espousing only the views on the Right to you. However, it’s absolutely absolutely clear thar negative and ridiculous things are said on both sides. I feel much of the left and you seem to fall into that group ignore the things that they don’t want to see your hear. I’m still a centrist in most ways, and see both sides. All of the things you said about Trump have at least kernels of truth. Let’s just change the spelling of the word to dicoarse as all discourse is so blinded and angry. We have really reached the “kingdom of the blind awhere the one eyed man is king”because a fairly small number of people in the middle actually swing all the National elections. The other two groups can’t see any rational truth anymore.

  • Peter says:

    By the way …. it appears Trump is going to delay the rollout of the stupid DOL fiduciary rule I was railing about a few months ago. This is great news for the industry and love the idea that they are looking at some of these foolish regulations and how they might improve them.

    This will likely be spun that he is cutting regulations on Wall Street fat cats and hurting the small investor, but this couldn’t be more untrue. The DOL regulations are unique in that the DOL doesn’t have any ability to enforce them. They can only be litigated. Secondly, they simply double up on the already-existing investment advisor and CFP regulations – which many advisors are legally obligated to adhere to. The problem with these laws is they were drawn up ambiguously and by political people that don’t understand how our industry runs on a day-to-day basis. They were implemented to win votes – to make the people who are protesting in the streets feel like their government is attacking Wall Street. And as I said before, the irony was that the end result industry-wide was that the rules were so cumbersome and expensive that they were dumping clients …. and it wasn’t the millionaire clients that were getting dumped. Another rule that looks like it helps the common man while screwing them.

    Ego aside, I do hope that Trump’s outsider and business approach will continue to look at these regulations with a skeptical eye and eliminate ones from many industries that do nothing but create more red tape and overhead, slow down our economic growth, and slow down hiring and job growth as well. This will have to be done in the face of the media and the public who will cry in protest any time something is unwound, cancelled or reworked (ACA, TPP, NATO, Dodd-Frank, Social Security, etc…..the list goes on….).

    I have said for years that I wanted a President who would come in and cut the fat from Washington, regardless of the reaction from the uninformed public or the media. We all know Trump has many giant flaws both as a person and as a leader, but hopefully we at least get more of this from him. Killing this stupid fiduciary rule is a good start.

    • Stevendad says:

      This is our legislative process: take a problem, spin it to suit your needs, get money from lobbyists and fund raise about it, pass laws that sound like they may help but often overlap or can even worsen a problem and ALWAYS have unintended consequences.

    • Stevendad says:

      There are SO many vested interests now that the only way to unwind this madness is to p*ss off everybody. So far, I think he’s succeeding!

  • Stevendad says:

    As far as your comment about limited observations, I’ve held over 70,000 interviews of at least 15 minutes and often up to an hour. This is at least 10,000 different people. This is about many aspects of your life not just their health, although the two are most often intertwined.So I don’t consider my experience all that limited. How many of have interviewed? It’s fascinating see the evolution of tree hugging social workers coming to the hospital and working as a discharge planner and come out and some of the most cynical people you’ve ever seen. It is astounding how many people game and take advantage of the system. You seem to completely disregard this as an issue.

    Some of this, I must’ve admit is my own opinion based on observation of human nature, but your I frankly haven’t seen you disprove anything that I’ve said. I’m not sure how you can tell if people want to work more or less than in the past. Again I agree that there should be safety nets and ladders to success. I just feel their adequate now. I do not feel they should be eroded but also do not feel they should be increased. Then you’ll come out with some stupid statement like doctors keep patient safe keep treating them. That is so ludicrous I can’t even begin to address it. People are plenty capable of making their own mistakes for us to try to fix. Of course in your view of the world, they would only have very limited choices of food allowed by or given by the government that would give them your goal to better health. Perhaps that’s not their goal. Of course it’s frustrating when people don’t do what they need to do for their own health. However, I steadfastly believe it is their right to do what they want and my duty to do the best I can to dig them out of their situations when the time comes.

    My beliefs are simple: freedom, accountability, self responsibility in a framework of government that protects us, allows for transport and trade and gives modest guarantees of health, shelter and nutrition. You feel we should sacrifice freedom for increases in what the government provides. I do not attempt to prove or disprove the unprovable, simply point out my research and observations as to why I feel as I do.

    • Peter says:

      Well said. This is similar to what I have seen in my industry for 25 years (the financial industry)….

      First, in ridiculous over-regulation to protect the little guy from getting screwed over or taken advantage of. The result – increased fees, less hiring, and higher barriers to entry for “the little guy”. More specifically, because some people chose the most idiotic mortgage option that they couldn’t afford, it is now much harder for a normal family to get a traditional mortgage. Secondly, due to insane layers of “feel-good” red tape to protect the little guy, now firms can’t operate at full capacity and are forced to fire the “little guy” client.

      The second way I have seen it is on the interview front, like you have Stevendad. I make 7 figures, but started here in a “mentoring” position that paid $20k/year. We could barely survive in this expensive area – but I did it for 4 1/2 years before my income rose at all. I didn’t get paid hourly either – I worked 40-80 hours a week (it varied) for a very meager salary with the promise of opportunity and potential to make much more on my own. It’s an even rosier path now – the entry pay is higher and the road to success is more guaranteed (MANY older advisors looking to retire and pass along their businesses). Yet, it is practically impossible to fill these positions. Those that I have seen take these jobs are all making 6 figures at least 7-8 years later – but many still sit unfilled.

      Listen, we all want to believe in the beautiful nature of human beings. But we can’t be idealistic about this. The left loves to talk about the bubble that the right is in (denying climate change for instance). The left’s version of the bubble is that the majority of the people are making the right choices and have the right attitude, but the “man” is keeping them down. That somehow government can boost these people. All the government does is get in the way, or create more avenues/programs/loopholes for people to take advantage of. Teach a man to fish…..

      • Big Data says:

        So all the societal protections like preventing banks from gambling with other peoples money or banking capital requirements or rules against predatory lending are just feel good red tape. And the problem with bad mortgages was stupid people making poor choices and not predatory practices wherein customers were lied to, coersced, and where crappy mortgages were presented and marketed as the best or only option available. I experienced a light version of predatory lending in 1984, before it really got deep, and I almost got trapped by the bait and switchexcept that I knew and understood the terms. A more desperate buyer would have been easily caught. Freedom for the powerful to oppress the weak is not freedom.

      • Big Data says:

        Market solutions, peter. If you cant fill the job, raise the salary offer. The problem is not with the applicants.

        • Peter says:

          It’s not a “job” like working on an assembly line. It is an apprenticeship. I’ve tried to explain this many times. Trust me when I say the problem is with the applicants! Nobody wants a low paying, long hour job with huge upside at the end. This generation won’t take the risk. I’m not going to speculate any further as to why but you will find this across the board if you talk to other business owners.

          • Peter says:

            I don’t want to live in a society where we overpay people for the opportunity to learn from a successful entrepreneur and eventually be handed their business that took decades to build. What would you rather have –

            Job A – pays $50k/year with COLA increases every year and a set 40-hour work week

            Job B – pays $20k/year, rising $5k/year for first 3 years. No set hours. Ability to earn bonuses. Starting after year 3, begin earning a percentage of team revenue. Starts at 5% (of current $2 million in revenue), increasing incrementally over 10-20 years, eventually resulting in 50% partnership.

          • Big Data says:

            You are offering mcdonalds pay for a smart fast learning worker with financial and people skills? If you are willing to take a higb school graduate and sell it as an opportunity to get training and avoid paying for college, you might find someone. Otherwise it seems like a tough sell. You dont want someone who is not college capable, but most anyone with college debt wont take $20K per year. Just my opinion.

          • Peter says:

            It was what was offered to me 22 years ago. I chose job B.

          • Peter says:

            My career ended up not following that exact path but did find myself making 7 figures at 40. That would have never happened had i chosen job A.

          • Big Data says:

            The economy per capita has about doubled in 22 years and the financial sector has done even better. So i imagine that 20k job 22 years ago should be about equivalent to a 40 to 50k job now.

          • Peter says:

            Right – which is what it would pay today…..around $35-40k to be exact.

          • Big Data says:

            Anything less than 40k is a pay cut from your start pay, based on economic and industry growth. 45k is probably closer to parity since the financial industry has ballooned and is unlikely to grow as fast in next 22 yrs compared to last 22 yrs. Just my opinion.

          • Peter says:

            LOL. Just don’t get it

          • Big Data says:

            Besides you should not be pre-setting the income. The market should set it. Raise start pay until you get the qualified applicants you want. You’ll be happier with who you get.

          • Big Data says:

            And yes, i do get it. You think people are stupid for not jumping at a path that you took and profited well from. Could it possibly be, however, that you are undersetting the initial reward and overstating the upside that is likely starting in todays dollars and economy? Why are you so adamant to control the financial gauntlet of this potential new employee that you “dont want to live in a world” where you perceive them to suffer less than you did? Why do you avoid the huge upside to your own business of simply offering a start salary that is 10k higher to get a superior candidate? That is still offering less than 5% of your own income and a difference of less than 1% between an offer that attracts no one and an offer that will likely attract a great candidate. I get it. Do you?

          • Peter says:

            Not true at all. My larger point is that I have seen a sea change in attitudes of the younger generation of workers. Whether my industry or another, they are anecdotally less likely to take a high-risk, high-reward career path than prior generations. There is an impatience in this generation – (I refuse to call it entitlement) and when I am gathered with business people this is a common thread in the discussion. Next time I am in this conversation I’ll let them know that a super-liberal poster on an internet thread told me that this isn’t the case.

          • Peter says:

            This illuminates our core difference. I have ZERO political agenda. I don’t care who is President or which party is right or in power. I am just sharing experiences, trying to enlighten your limited world view. Dismiss this if you like, but much like the example (which you accept) of discrimination against black people, the overwhelming anecdotal evidence bears consideration.

          • Big Data says:

            Your recent post is more explanatory and helpful:
            [My larger point is that I have seen a sea change in attitudes of the younger generation of workers. Whether my industry or another, they are anecdotally less likely to take a high-risk, high-reward career path than prior generations. There is an impatience in this generation – (I refuse to call it entitlement) and when I am gathered with business people this is a common thread in the discussion.]
            OK, I accept that this is at least a common perception. And maybe there does exist a higher reluctance to take such high-risk opportunities. I will speculate, in a second post, about why this MIGHT be, and I would be interested to hear your thoughts on such speculation. (I don’t know how to support, with data, either your anecdotal assertion or my speculations, so I’ll have do diverge from data temporarily.)
            ===
            But first, I want to clarify that I am NOT attempting to claim superior knowledge about your business, but that I AM attempting to apply common principles about business and markets to the situation as you described it. From the necessarily simplified version of your hiring conundrum discussed here, it seems to me to be equivalent to a businessman selling a product. If the customers are not buying the product, it seems to me that the businessman has fairly limited but straightforward options: (a) change the price (b) change the product (c) change the marketing (d) all of the above (e) none of the above and blame the customer for not buying such a great product.
            ===
            From my perspective, it seems like you have chosen (e), which looks like like the worst and least profitable choice. Even if the market truly has changed over time (generation less likely to take high-risk jobs), shouldn’t the businessman adapt to the market and pick (a) through (d), and not insist the market bend to the demands and whims of the businessman?

          • Peter says:

            Again you relate everything to a manufacturing labor economy or to selling products or commodities…..that is where your lack of understanding hurts your argument. That’s not how much of our economy works in 2017.

          • Big Data says:

            You completely miss the analogy. It has nothing to do with manufacturing and everything to do with basic business and salesmanship which is perpetually relevant. When the market, in this case the generational attitudes and psychology, as well as the economic landscape, has changed from 22 years ago, and you are trying to sell a product, which in this case is a job and career opportunity at your company, it certainly seems like a good idea to adapt the offerred career path and starting income to the current market and not an obsolete one from your personal history. That is my point, and even though you are an obstinate old cuss, I know you are smart enough to at least recognize the validity of the argument. You may have a valid counter argument but manufacturing analogies would not be it.

          • Big Data says:

            Everytime you hear an argument you disagree with you get on this kick that I have a basic lack of understanding, rather than actually listening and addressing the argument at hand. It is a tiresome, insulting, and lazy response. I can be quoting a nobel prize winning economist and you will tell me I have a basic lack of understanding. You and I have different expertise, to be sure, and I attempt to respect yours. In this particular exchange, I am quoting elementary principles and I acknowledge that reality is often much more complex. But your denial of elementary principle is still inappropriate. From my experience, the expert sometimes gets too wrapped up in analytical minutiae and can forget the big picture. That is what I am trying to address. You are selling something. The customers are not buying. Is it better to change the offer or just blame the customers and lament that new customers are not like customers from the good old days? Pretty simple question really and yes it does apply and it is relevant. The exceptional condition I see is that you need just a few exceptional applicants, customers, and not a horde of product buyers. Ok but the question still applies. Wouldn’t it be better to fashion your job opportunity to millennials rather than complain they are not like you?

          • Peter says:

            Because you don’t understand. Nor do I expect you to. There is no way I’m going to just hand over the multi-million dollar business I spent long hours building to somebody for free. Sure, I could find someone to come in and split our revenue 50/50 with me right away if I wanted to….but how would that make sense?

            I don’t think I should “adapt” to a marketplace that wants something for nothing. You forgot option (f) which is to just not take on an apprentice and keep all the revenues for myself. Not a good thing for the job market – and a microcosm of the income disparity argument that started this whole discussion. So right now, I make 7 figures and have two assistants making around $90k and $50k with increases each year. If I could find a young apprentice to start transitioning the business, 5 years from now they would likely be making $100k-150k and I would be making less. 15 years from now we would both be making the same. Instead, I’ll keep pressing on as is and watch my income skyrocket with nobody to share it with.

          • Big Data says:

            There is a huge gap between forcing someone to run the precise economic gauntlet you ran 22 years ago and giving them something for free. For instance, you could hire a savvy degreed economics whiz for 50 to 60k, maybe even less, whom you could train in half the time of a 35k novice and who would be likely to be able to take a higher percentage of your workload sooner. Nothing in the assessments I saw of millennials indicated they were inferior workers, just less risk averse. And maybe impatient, as you said. So instead of looking for someone who is content to get on a poverty rung of the ladder and stay there for 3 years, you could instead get someone who is impatient and ready for a higher rung. Im just saying you could be more flexible. But you are unlikely to listen to any advice from me, so this is moot. It is highly likely that your competitors will start snapping up the savvy millennials though, so watch out.

          • Peter says:

            I am not alone in looking for these “savvy, patient, hard-working millenials” you speak of. There are many people in my industry in my situation and when we get together we all lament the inability to find these sorts of people. And we all go at it from different approaches. The success stories exist, but the point I’m making is that is like find a needle in a haystack to find someone who is both qualified and willing to take on the task of doing what we do for a living.

            One of these hard-working savvy millennials is one of my assistants – so they do exist. What I’m saying is that they are VERY, VERY rare.

    • Big Data says:

      If I had interviewed 70,000 people, I would probably form opinions based upon categorizing and grouping those interviews as well. I cant dispute your conclusions, nor can I vouch for them. People have biases and the well known principles of selective observation and selective memory are hard to overcome. Would a different interviewer with different biases asking different questions and recalling different details yield a different portrait of those same people. I dont know. And neither do you. Your observations are valuable but they are not proof.
      Poor people game the system. Con men and prople of low ethics of all incomes game the system Rich people game the system most profusely – not all rich people but the percentage that do have higher monetary impact than
      poor individuals.
      Two more points here:
      1) You tell me you don’t disparage the poor, and then you immediately tell me that poor people largely make bad decisions, many dont want to improve their lot, and all the ladders necessary for advancement are already in place. The implication is that poor people are in their position due to their own refusal or inability to advance. And you know all this from personal interviews. Good lord, if that isn’t disparaging the poor, I don’t know what is. Have you ever once claimed that conditions have gotten harder, that economic and societal rules may have changed to make their situation worse? Nope. All the tools are there. All the ladders exist. Nothing more to do. Oh, except impose a regressive excise tax on the poor to capture all that income they are not reporting. Can’t let them keep that.
      2) i dont feel we should sacrifice freedom. I feel that society is obliged to keep the most powerful from taking freedom away from everbody else.
      3) the doctor story was a one-off true story and not a generality. Let it go.

      • Stevendad says:

        No you are disparaging the choices of the poor who find other things than money of value. “Pot man” is a perfect example of this. The point of the unreported income thing is if their incomes are in fact perhaps as much as double. They really aren’t all that poor. If you double the median income of the lowest quintile in this country it’s over $40,000.you absolutely want to curtail freedom. Remember government is choices made by others and forced ultimately at the point of a gun.

        • Stevendad says:

          Enforced not forced. Of course start government does good things, but even you could admit there are things that go to far. For example, at one point the government imprisoned people for being gay. Do you think that was too far? The point is not that all government is good or all government is bad the point is that we have enough where we are. Adding “free” subsidies for college and “free “” childcare etc. etc. are all going need to be cut when the debt balloon explodes. Just like we have with Obamacare, you suddenly create millions of victims when you create an expectation that should be continued in the future. Again, I think we have enough expectations from the Government, more likely way too many. You do not recognize the fundamental difference between you and me you believe the government should take away freedom enforce things on people. I think the government should maintain as a substrata on which pond to build your own success. It will never be equal for all, but there are very few that have no opportunity. If they do have no opportunity, still get a very reliable safety net of free, albeit inefficient health care, free food and obtainable shelter.

          • Peter says:

            Agree as well. Well stated. Once we put some new program in place, we had better be able to support it long term or we will have serious unrest…. Think that is some of what the vitriol towards Trump is (or at least should be) – it is going to be painful and unpopular to unwind some of these foolish regulations and impossible-to-fund government programs.

          • Big Data says:

            The inconvenient truth most conservatives omit about Obamacare is that it was effective at extending the economic viability of Medicare and Medicaid by slowing growth of medical costs and getting more people on insurance. Sure, some people pay more. Guess what? There ain’t no free lunch. As a nation, we either spend less on medical care, and pay less, or we get everybody the care they need and pay more. And it would help to cut profits of big pharma. Trump is looking for the magic health policy and it isn’t there. Obamacare, if it were to be repaired rather than gutted, is our best hope.

          • Peter says:

            The larger problem is that the policy (ACA) was never meant to stay as it is anyway. It just became so overwhelmingly expensive, forcing the next administration to revise or replace. This type of politic has been going on for years (Bush tax cuts for example) where they set policy that cannot last, forcing the other “side” to be the “bad guy”. If we would actually write good policy that could last through administrations we wouldn’t have this nonsense.

          • Big Data says:

            Regarding your statement that the ACA “just became so overwhelmingly expensive, forcing the next administration to revise or replace.”
            That is the partisan position of the GOP, but should not be taken as necessarily true. Healthcare has become more expensive for some and less for others. Medicare viability has been extended. Healthcare costs have slowed. The tax increases have been manageable. The larger premium increases this year were not seen as a trend by analysts. If anything, the GOP is currently enacting and likely to enact policies that will degrade the viability of Obamacare and then claim that it was falling apart on its own. Not unlike damaging the rails, derailing the train, and then blaming the train. It remains to be seen whether they will improve anything, or instead revoke a good but imperfect solution and replace it with an expensive catastrophe.

          • Big Data says:

            One article:
            https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2016/04/21/obamacare-unheralded-success/montTA45UvggSgwA0Myd8K/story.html
            === From the article ===
            Six years after the ACA took effect, it has, perhaps more than any law passed in the previous five decades, narrowed income inequality, saved lives, and reduced financial anxiety. Imagine if the help it provides could be reproduced with paid sick leave and family leave policies, a higher minimum wage, or affordable child care.

            It’s a reminder that the tools are within our grasp to narrow the gap between rich and poor. All that’s lacking is more than one major political party that shares that goal.
            ===

          • Big Data says:

            Another:
            http://www.cbpp.org/research/health/medicare-is-not-bankrupt
            ===
            Medicare’s financing challenges would be much greater without the health reform law (the Affordable Care Act, or ACA), which substantially improved the program’s financial outlook. Repealing the ACA, a course of action promoted by some who simultaneously claim that the program is approaching “bankruptcy,” would worsen Medicare’s financial situation.

        • Big Data says:

          I do not believe pot man represents all poor people. I do not believe that the working poor are content to be poor. I do not believe that working poor are content to work at jobs that still leave them dependent on food stamps because of low pay. I do not believe that most poor folks have the money to invest in superior education, nor the ability to start their own business. I do not believe that the majority of working age adults in the lowest quintile have the same levels of opportunity or paths to succeed as their counterparts 20 or 30 years ago. I believe that the costs and challenges of being poor have increased. I believe the poor suffer from declines in economic protections that leave them targeted by high bank fees, predatory lenders and real estate brokers, and easy access to unmanageable and unforgiving debt. I do not believe human nature has significantly changed in 30 years, and so I to not believe today’s poor are any lazier or less capable than those of decades past. Therefore the problem must be with policy and the economic landscape. It is insufficient to throw the poor under the bus of globalization and spiraling profits to the wealthy, and pretend that it is all their fault, which is all you have been saying.

  • Stevendad says:

    BD: I admit I was generalizing to all Liberals about the $15 an hour and many of the other programs. Surely you’ve heard these over and over and over again. I think you missed the point completely. Some of the “pointless sarcasm” that you say you hear is in fact pointed truth. If you don’t think the liberal view is telling other people how to live economically and personally, you’re just not listening. The poignant example is that you cannot see the fact that the bakers that were fined and ultimately shut down because they wouldn’t bake a cake for the gay marriage is having a violation of the religious rights just as much as the personal rights as a gay couple being violated. You can’t even recognize it as a version of two people with competing rights. Open your eyes and open your mind.

    I still haven’t heard and answer why localities such as New York, California and Chicago won’t fix her own income inequality without having it to go across the entire country. I constantly hear the United States should be an example in global warming even though they had a relatively small and decreasing contribution of the same. Perhaps these localities should be shining examples of how to eliminate income inequality, dramatically raising local and state income taxes and distributing to the poor and working poor, giving free college education, childcare, early childhood education, free healthcare and all the other things that are cornerstones to the liberal agenda. There are no political bodies standing in their way. You have completely avoided answering this because you have no answer I suppose. Perhaps they’re just being incredibly hypocritical.

    • Peter says:

      The common denominator from both sides (Republicans after Obama won and Democrats after Trump won) is that they both think they are right. Why listen to opposing views? If you don’t agree with them, then you are wrong. Your character is questioned. Heard Joe Biden say this in an interview recently….you can have debates when you disagree with someone’s views or solutions to a problem. But you can’t have a debate when you disagree with their character.

      The baker making wedding cakes for gay weddings is a fabulous example. Many on the right view homosexuality as a loathsome, dirty sin and completely wrong. There is no open mind there for many. Many on the left view the refusal to bake the cake as discrimination, which is inherently wrong. There is no open mind there for many.

      My question remains….why is government involved in who people sleep with and who a local baker decides to bake a cake for?

      • Stevendad says:

        Agree. As I said I mentioned both have rights that are being curtailed in some way in the same sentence. Despite what you think BD, I am not some Right winger. I just want to point out how you have blinded yourself to the baker’s conflicting rights. We don’t have a consistent true right winger in this thread.

        • Peter says:

          I know I kind of wish we had a right wing point of view in here. Would be good for balance.

          • Big Data says:

            I think you and Stevendad defend the rightwing perspective very well. You claim to be centrist but you agree with almost every traditional Republican position. Anything more rightwing and we’ll have Limbaugh in here.

          • Peter says:

            If I am right wing I must keep screwing up at the ballot box. Been a long time since I voted republican.

    • ?Big Data says:

      First, let me address the issue about NY, California, and Chicago. The individual situations in each state are complicated. California’s economy with high tech salaries, high real estate values is particularly unique. Yet they do already have a very progressive tax system. Maybe that hasnt lessened income inequality much, but neither has it driven out all the millionaires. NY has high incomes and a regressive tax system. Chicago has a small wealthy population, lots of poverty, and a diminished middle class. For Chicago especially, but in NY and other cities as well, you know as well as I do that an excessive rise in tax rates on higb incomes will chase the high earners to lower tax cities. Is that true nationally as well? Less so, and California is a great example. If you have an exceptional environment for business, that overrides concerns about a higher tax rate. That is why so many businesses stay in California and why companies will not readily leave the US en masse (except for some false and virtual transfers of company headquarters for tax purposes only).

      The point is, you can’t make policy locally that just moves the mobile target population out of a local boundary. This is true for tax policy, gun laws, and insurance policies, and it explains the fallacy of your tax proposal, of complaints about high crime in high gun control areas (they just go out of state to get guns), and proposals to buy insurance across state lines (companies move to the state that legislates for least controls and most profits, raising costs for consumers instead of lowering them).

      • Peter says:

        How are you so expert on so many things? You just broke down the complicated economies of our three biggest population centers….

        And by the way the main reason I don’t move to California (we almost did) was because of the high tax rates. The bumbling state government didn’t excite me either. High tax rates do keep millionaires out if possible.

        • Big Data says:

          Im sure taxes keep some people away and cause some companies to move. Im amazed California’economy has not collapsed but there it is. The high real estate prices keep me away.

          Im not an expert. I just summarized some info from quick google searches to emphasize the obvious complexities and weakness in stevendads tax proposition, as well as the related gun and insurance fallacies that always bother me when put forth by some folks. I cant name the number of times some presumably smart person or political leader has claimed gun laws dont work and offered proof by associating high gun violence with cities that have strong gun laws. As if it isnt obvious that people just go out of town to buy guns to circumvent local laws. Same principle. You cant control a mobile problem with geographically localized laws. But you cant blame towns for trying.

          • Stevendad says:

            So they screwed up their local environment, and the rest of the country should pay for it? Just create a property tax on all those to multi million dollar houses of 10 or 20% and build low to medium income housing for all the people that make their beds, mow their lawns,serve them at restaurants, deliver their goods, etc., etc. What’s most fascinating and galling is that they’re the ones that are griping the most about The income inequality they havecreated. This is all ultimate hypocrisy!

          • Big Data says:

            California taxes are already quite high and progressive. So you have no problem with adding even more state taxes to California millionaires, but you object to increasing federal taxes on other millionaires? Interesting. California did not create income inequality on their own by the way. It truly is a national policy issue, and maybe even a global policy issue.

  • Peter says:

    Great example of our dangerous and completely ridiculous, biased media….. We all know about Fox and MSNBC and other places that paint all stories into a narrative, but the subtle reporting things are what bother me more.
    —-
    I was reading an article (linked below) about gambling in tennis causing the players to get death threats or flamed on social media. Multiple players report this abuse. It was this passage that struck me:

    “Three days after the election of Donald Trump in November, 128th-ranked American player Grace Min posted a screen shot of hateful comments aimed at her race, gender and body posted on her Instagram account while she played an ITF event in Waco, Texas.”

    Even if you hate Trump and are among the wildest conspiracy theorists alive, I think you would likely have a hard time connecting Trump’s election with the 128th ranked tennis player getting flamed on Twitter. This is the only mention of Trump and just a way to slowly and subversively associate him with all things negative – particularly hate related. We can certainly hold Trump accountable for his actions and statements, but connecting dots like this where they don’t need to be connected is something that happens all the time – right under our noses – and forms our opinions of people and issues in ways we don’t even truly appreciate.

    http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/18/tennis/australian-open-tennis-trolls-social-media-hate-epidemic/index.html

    • Stevendad says:

      It is clear no one ever demeaned, slandered, made racist comments or had hateful thoughts “BT” before Trump. Yeah, that’s it. Still seeing more hate, intolerance, sexism and bigotry in the every day discourse on TV from the Left than the right. Of course there are and were and always will be idiot trolls on the net from both sides. At least they try to be anonymous and hide and aren’t so calloused as to lay out their hateful rhetoric on national TV.

      • Peter says:

        Yeah they weren’t trying to blame this on Trump to be fair….but it’s a very subliminal way to make an association.

        Maybe they should have said “Just two weeks after the Chicago Cubs won their first world series in 100 years…..”

      • Big Data says:

        [Still seeing more hate, intolerance, sexism and bigotry in the every day discourse on TV from the Left than the right.] — stevendad
        I think you are seeing what you look for. What intolerance and hate do see on the left, other than intolerance of intolerance, and hatred of those who hate?

        • Stevendad says:

          Let’s see “Trump’s speech was Hitlerian”, Chris Matthews; a white person can’t be the next Dem party chairman and beating up a white kid (in Chicago) is not a hate crime because it was about Trump, Symone Sanders (national spokesman for St. Bernie Sanders); prolife groups cannot be sponsors of women’s march; “I’ve thought a lot about bombing the White House”, Madonna. Just in the past few days. Hate, violence, sexism, racism. That was too easy. Open your EYES.

          • Stevendad says:

            Oh, and where was all the window smashing, beating up people in the streets and car burning by Trump supporters. I say, again, Trump is not my favorite in many ways but you have completely blinded yourself with ideology if you deny this.

          • Big Data says:

            Racial riots protesting police violence are not a left/ right liberal/ conservative issue. Individual celebrities trash talking Trump pale in comparison to the systemic and unearned attack and gross misrepresentation of fact waged by Republican leadership, think tanks, political organizations, news/propaganda sites, radio hosts, etc against Obama and then later against Hillary.
            Also, liberals never claimed Bush ran a child prostitution ring from a pizza parlor. Liberals would never believe such crap, nor take a gun into the pizza parlor to self-investigate. Nor would they fabricate or believe the rest of fake news stories invented by GOP and passed among the supporters. Death panels? Fake birth certificates? Clintons killing all their associates and friends? Who believes that crap?
            Russians helping Trump? Backed by our highest minds in intelligence agencies. Trump attacking women? A dozen women braved public criticism to share their stories and Trump admits it on tape. The critique of Trump is honest and well deserved.

          • Peter says:

            Draw the line however you want to make your side feel noble but it is the same sour grapes. You just think it is warranted with Trump and not with Obama. I don’t think either are warranted. Others may think different. I don’t see the protests as any different, and I liked Obama MUCH more than Trump. In fact, the only difference I see that bothers me is the fact that the media is on board with the whining and propaganda this time, where they weren’t when the Republicans were complaining and making up stuff about Obama.

          • Big Data says:

            Trump is not just another president among lines of presidents. Surely you see the historical significance. I am never for riots and violence. I thought the womens marches were great, however. The yuuge difference here is that rightwing propagandists, including Trump, made up crap about Obama,who was and is an honorable, honest man, and now it is the media reporting facts about Trump while he and his administration make up crap about crowd sizes and illegal voters to soothe his fragile ego. You are completely off base in trying to express these situations as just two sides of one coin.

        • Peter says:

          And intolerance of intolerance isn’t a justification. We have to be tolerant and lend an open ear to anyone – including (and maybe even especially) those whom we disagree with the most.

          • Big Data says:

            Of course we need to listen. But we also have to act against intolerant actions, protecting the vulnerable, and stopping injustices.

    • Big Data says:

      I am more troubled by the hundreds of reports from teachers across the country of increased bullying and racially hateful comments among school children that seem strongly related to Trump’s rhetoric. The rise of the alt right and the impact on society is real.

      • Stevendad says:

        Many were false but, regardless, stoking racial, religious and economic division is owned by both sides and helps fuel all of this…

      • Peter says:

        I was right there criticizing the right when they were the ones leading the way in obstructionist rhetoric, disruptive protests and disrespect of the Oval Office. The left is doing the same thing (actually “trumping” them with disrespect of the office) and just because you think they are right doesn’t make this any different empirically. Again, there are those that don’t agree – not that anyone wants to hear what they have to say.

        • Big Data says:

          Critiques of Trump are not a matter of disrepecting the Oval Office. Nor is it a matter of left vs right. I work in an office that is over half Republican and nobody I have talked to supports Trump. Trump waged a scorched earth campaign and he is reaping the fruit of the seeds he planted. It can be argued that the largest doses of disrepect to the oval office are being waged by the man now inhabiting it.
          You complain about dishonest media. The majority of mainstream media and reporters are after truth and they report it to the best of their ability and intention. During the campaign, one of Trumps surrogates claimed facts no longer exist. After the election, Trumps press secretary opened his first press conference with blatant, easily disproved lies, and his adviser Conway used the Orwellian term “alternate facts” as a pseudonym for the administration’s lies. The President was described by a fellow Republican as being unable to distinguish truth vs lie.
          You cared about Hillary’s appearance of conflict of interest and lack of transparency. Trump now breaks his promise of releasing tax returns because he says the people dont care, even though 75 % want them released. His DC hotel is in violation of law because its contract says it cannot be owned by an elected official. His businesses violate the emolument clause of the Constitution.
          The environment, the health care system, women’s rights, LGBT rights, immigrant families, are all under imminent attack by this administration and yhe people affected by these issues do not have time to kick bCk and wait to see what this volatle and dangerously unpredictable President will do. They are mobilized to defend themselves and their rights. That is not disrespect for the Oval Office. That is defending America and American ideals.

          • Peter says:

            You have never made a more incorrect statement than this: “The majority of mainstream media and reporters are after truth and they report it to the best of their ability and intention”

            I don’t even think media members would agree with you on this. The media’s goal is to be FIRST, not to spread the truth. There are a zillion examples of this not only with politics but with reporting on sports, national events, celebrity, etc. “A source told ESPN today that….” No story should start with this. This isn’t news. If they were in search of the truth they would never report these sorts of speculative “stories”. And that doesn’t even include the narrative-creating that all of the major news channels perpetrate. What if Trump went out tomorrow and donated $10 million of his own money to save an orphanage that was going to have to close its doors? Where would this story rank on CNN? Would it be reported? NO – because it doesn’t fit the narrative. People are complicated. The media dumbs it all down for human entertainment.

            The left criticizes the right all the time by manufacturing and exaggerating the “threat” that ISIS and North Korea, etc. pose to us. They do this to mobilize and control their base. I believe the same is true (I know you don’t, so don’t even bother responding as such) from the left. They are blowing out of proportion the threats to all the issues you listed – LGBT, immigrants, health care, the environment to mobilize and control their base. It’s a shame you can’t see this.

            Not saying these aren’t concerns (ISIS, gay rights, etc.) but the media is feeding us a heaping bowl of bull****.

          • Big Data says:

            Pretty cynical, Peter. Of course I agree that news outlets are constrained by deadlines and their market. I also recognize that individuals acquire biases based on their own upbringing, experience and environment. That said, I still contend that neslwspeople like Anderson Cooper, Fareed Z., Christian Amanpour, as well as most of NPR, work hard to present news that is accurate and truthful and newsworthy. The constant attacks against supposedly dishonest biased media are exaggerated and unfounded. Sure there are profound examples of yellow or propagandist journalism on both political sides, but attacks against major network or cnn or npr news are mostly from the propagandists themselves.

          • Peter says:

            Anderson Cooper and CNN are unbiased?????? Wow!!!!! I could not agree with you less.

          • Big Data says:

            I said accurate. Bias is in the eye of the beholder. The center looks leftist to those on the right, and rightwing from those on the left. It is truly hard to be unbiased and harder to prove it.

          • Peter says:

            I think it is VERY easy to prove. Just watching their debate/election coverage was a great example. 98% of the commentary was supportive of Clinton – they outright mocked Trump throughout the race. I have shown you in that tennis article….it is subtle. But during the election it wasn’t subtle at all. Jeffrey Lord was about the only person on CNN who was biased for the right. You see it as “reporting the facts” that Trump is a fool. Even if we all agree on that statement it still isn’t a fact. That is a key point – and if we let our media make our judgment calls then we truly aren’t thinking for ourselves.

          • Big Data says:

            You cannot use the medias criticism of Trump as being proof of bias. Not all issues are centrist. You can’t argue that scientists are biased for stating the world is round, the earth is old, or the globe is warming. All of those statements are backed by overwhelming evidence. It is not unbiased to claim that equal time and consideration should be given in science discussions to flat-earthers, biblical based earth age theories, or political climate conspiracists. Sometimes lack of bias means lack of stupidity and therefore demands one to state the truth plainly based on intelligent observation and analysis. Most college educated Americans, discriminating analysts, knowledgable newspaper and magazine editors, of all political stripes, disparaged and criticized Trump and considered him unfit for office.
            Criticism of Trump was biased, but not to the left or right because it was both by the left and right. Criticism of Trump was biased toward intelligence and against idiocy.

  • Big Data says:

    The thing that I find so frustrating about these discussions is that every single argument and point that Peter, stevendad, and others make with regard to the economy makes sense in isolation. Hard workin entrepreneurs do create wealth. They do deserve an expanded piece of the economic pie for their contributions. Economic conditions have changed in ways that hurt the poor and favor the rich, and which are largely not due to greed of the rich but as a consequence of globalization, automation, and a failure at many levels to keep the skills of the workforce matched to the needs of industry. The rich pay a higher share of taxes than in the past and rich wage earners pay more than rich investors. There exist unmotivated and lazy people who take unfair advantage of social programs and government handouts. Government programs are often inefficient and laden with cortuption and waste. Solutions include better education and more efficient government programs. All true. I don’t deny any of it.

    But all of these arguments and facts distract from, and fail to refute the eleohant in the room: 10 to 15% of income share has been shifted from the lower 90% to the upper 1%, and that shift is bad for the economy. It doesnt matter why it happened. It doesnt matter who deserves or does not deserve it. It doesnt matter if there is mobility between quintiles or in or out of the upper 1%. Ehat matters is that an economic shift has happened and it is bad for the economy, and the economy would be better if the shift was reversed. By any means necessary.

    • Big Data says:

      All that matters … not ehat matters …

      And yes, Peter, this is my usual rant, stated one more time in a slightly different set of sentences. I know you will be unconvinced, but it makes me feel better to shout my vision of truth occasionally … feel free to ignore it as always.

      • Peter says:

        No …. I found the last post to be refreshing and an accurate representation of both of our motivations and thoughts. And while you concede that you agree with all of the first paragraph (which I do also agree with)….I should also concede that I absolutely regret that the income situation is what it is for many people. I agree we should not fix it (we cant) but do what we can to reverse the trend and improve the lot of life for millions of people who deserve better. I do however think it important to understand how we got this way to better know how to help change things. Nonetheless I feel and respect your frustration – the emotional side of your posts.

        • Peter says:

          “10 to 15% of income share has been shifted from the lower 90% to the upper 1%, and that shift is bad for the economy. It doesnt matter why it happened. It doesnt matter who deserves or does not deserve it. It doesnt matter if there is mobility between quintiles or in or out of the upper 1%. Ehat matters is that an economic shift has happened and it is bad for the economy, and the economy would be better if the shift was reversed. ”

          This statement is the best thing you have posted so far. It expresses the genuine frustration and emotion that I actually agree with you on. (With the exception of the mobility comment – I think that matters A TON) But much like when post-9/11 emotions were running high and led us to poor solutions and emotional decision making (the Iraq War in particular), we can’t let this happen here either. We have to be careful not to attack the 1% and make them the enemy, because the overwhelming majority are not. We have to be careful to not attack the poor that don’t deserve it as well. I don’t think we disagree much about the core of this topic, which is why I’m still hanging around. What I disagree with is your approach (attacking the rich, making excuses for the poor) and your very partisan angle (defending Dems at every turn, blaming GOP repeatedly). Attacking individual groups or blaming political parties – when both have had an enormous hand in all of our problems – shuts down the conversation and keeps us further away from a solution. But the sentiment is still the same and I completely see your point of view and feel your frustration.

          • Big Data says:

            Wow. Never expected that would be the post that would break through to mutual understanding. Thanks for the feedback and reading my post with some empathy.

  • Big Data says:

    Peter, this is a minor issue so i dont want to spend a lot of time on it, but i feel compelled to point out that you are way too sensitive to criticism, to the point that you see attack and insult where none exists. You say I keep accusing you of blaming and shaming the poor. It is not true. I checked. On this page, which is more than 2 months of extensive conversation, the words shame or shaming were spoken 9 times, none by me. The words blame otr blaming were spoken 24 times, about 8 times by me, twice in my response saying i wasnt blaming you, other times referencing blaming politicians, parties or Trump, or quoting Franklin, and only twice referencing blaming the poor or blaming societal classes. Blaming the poor was mentioned in a response to stevendad, not you, and was a generalized “we”, and not a personal accusation in any case. The “blaming societal classes is insufficient” was a poke at myself, not you.

    Quit taking things so personally. I’m not trying to be rude, but it is really not all about you. Dont assume that it is.

    • Big Data says:

      I will point out that there is a fine almost indistinguishable line between claiming that people can always lift themselves up and blaming them if they don’t.

    • Big Data says:

      Obvious my 24 count of blame or blaming was before these last 3 posts.

      • Peter says:

        Well fair enough but there are only 3-4 of us in here. So yeah I do assume it is about me in the context you put it in.

      • Big Data says:

        Ok, but i do try to avoid prrsonal attack, at least since my moniker change. When I say WE should not kick down ladders or blame the poor, I am making that asserion as general philosophy and in no way implying that YOU personally are the guilty party. As always, if the shoe fits, wear it, but if not, let it slide. Ok?

        • Stevendad says:

          BD: I am not blaming the poor if you feel I am. You bemoan their poorness, I think they often make rational choices that lead to poorness. Remember my “yea dope” coworker? He was poor and chose to be because he wanted just enough money to eat, have shelter and smoke dope. And yet he was one of the most fulfilled and happy people I’ve ever met. I feel YOU are judging his decision to not try to climb up the income scale. I do not feel I am wise enough to do so.I agree there should be opportunies and paths to self improvement. In my opinion they exist. I think you massively discount that many of the poor choose not to pursue the path with some investment, work, temperance and planning. We had a hospital expansion and needed people would be paid $10 an hour to tie wire on the rebar (0 skill requirements). That pay of $10 an hour is equivalent to $20+ an hour in New York. No American born people were willing to do it. I hear over and over again for the roofers, remodelers, yardwork services, etc. that they can’t find anybody that was born in the United States to do these kind of work even when offering more than the equivalent of your “magic” $15 an hour wage. So, in your perfect scenario, should they be forced to take these jobs? Or would it be OK with you if they choose rationally or by behaviors to remain poor, live in their mother’s basement, play video games, smoke pot and do whatever other drugs, just hang out, sleep a lot, etc. I believe this is called freedom. It is a two edged sword that rewards those who pursue wealth and economically punish those who do not. Perhaps you will recall my friend from France who could not become a baker there because the government would not allow him to do so. I know that’s a perfect example of a socialist Nirvana to you. However this also removesthe other side of the “sword” allowing for personal choice and success. Like “dope man”, many of the poor may be perfectly happy where they are. A close relative of mine says “jobs are for little people” and lives off the state and family in monetary poverty and free time wealth. I choose to live in the opposite situation. I know to you these are victims of an economy that is designed to cheat them. A few are, but most make choices and sometimes mistakes. Seldom one, or a few, but many that are compounded over and over again. I feel nearly all “these horses have been led to water, but some choose not to drink”. YOU judge them, not me. The “ladders” exist for all but a very few. They are not AND NEVER WILL BE EQUAL in height and steepness. (Unless you feel that the state should remove all children from their families and put them in the domiciliaries where each gets the same education, feeding, nurturing etc.) I cannot think of another way to reach ultimate “fairness”.
          BTW, just crickets from you on NY, DC, CA and other Dem paradises on increasing their local taxes to level out earning. They CAN fix this in their own communities, why don’t they? Is they believe in politics over real core beliefs? I believe that’s the case in my opinion. Do you have the courage to answer this question?
          Once again, you completely ignore the fact that it is quite possible that these folks have doubled their income without paying a shred of taxes and at the same time getting benefits they would otherwise not deserve based on what they earn in the underground economy.do you think this is “fair” to the rest of us?. As a Liberal, I know that you have a keen eye for and a great judgment of “fairness”.
          I must say once again, I grew up with many of these people and still are around them frequently. How many of these have you met and talked to lately? And just out of curiosity, did you grow up poor? You seem to be able to pass off a lot of judgment on my comments without knowing any of these people for hours and hours a day like I did . Typical of a Liberal, you seem to know a lot about everything based on some deduction from global truisms in your mind. Examples of such truisms would be “white people are racist, rich people hate and want to abusethe poor or poor only because society has suppressed them.” You present a good deal of data about the situation of people, but also infer a huge amount of motivation where they may or may not exist amongst the poor, the rich, everyone. I guess is because you have the superior wisdom of Liberalism.

          • Peter says:

            Nice – and well said. Think about this….we certainly accept the fact that black people are treated with racism in their lives, regardless of status. Whether it be police or shopkeepers, they feel it all the time. We know this because practically any black person you know personally will tell you this has indeed been the case. The same thing goes for women – most any woman can report a story of being objectified or having some man say something offensive or stare at their chest.

            Where am I going with this? Almost any small business owner who is in need of unskilled labor (you mentioned a few of them in your post) will tell you that they can’t find Americans to take these jobs. And these jobs are already at pay scales above minimum wage. Why is it that when we hear these stories OVER and OVER again, people who think like BD can’t accept that the problem might at least in part lie with the workers and not with an unfair system?

            Stevendad also makes a great point that I hit on too a while back – not everyone cares to move up the income scale. And they should not be shamed. If you want to lay around, smoke weed and play Call of Duty all day – you won’t move up the ladder. But you might end up happy! To each their own and the beautiful thing about this country is that you have a choice. Nobody is making you mow grass or become a baker. You can do whatever you want – but you live with the consequences.

            It’s kind of like I say about someone who is 400 lbs. – at least they can eat cheesecake whenever they want. I know I sure can’t. Life is about choices and people shouldn’t be judged on the ones they make. But they have to accept the consequences.

          • Big Data says:

            Stevendad, most of the time you are a polite enough poster with some intelligent insights … and then you go off the rails repeatedly in this last post with catty insults. And Peter, you respond with “Well said”? After all the grief you give me for not being polite? Do you two think conversational insults are OK if they are only applied to attack the liberals? Or do the two of you not even recognize when such insults occur?

            Examples:
            [your “magic” $15 an hour wage] – False attribution. I never said that was a magic or even an appropriate national minimum wage.
            [As a Liberal, I know that you have a keen eye for and a great judgment of “fairness”.] – Pointless sarcasm.
            [Typical of a Liberal, you seem to know a lot about everything based on some deduction from global truisms in your mind.] – I might counter that that seems to be your approach: relying on mental extrapolations based on your own suppositions and extremely limited and biased personal observation instead of data. But I don’t generally say it so bluntly or attribute it so callously as a typical characteristic of your social or political group.
            [I guess is because you have the superior wisdom of Liberalism.] – Pointless sarcasm

            Were any of those statements really useful in advancing this conversation? I know you get frustrated and emotional, stevendad. We all do at some points in the conversation. But I hope you don’t mind me pointing out that the above statements are counterproductive and certainly misrepresent me in a rather insulting way.

          • Big Data says:

            Peter,
            I really appreciate the first paragraph in your response to stevendad. It’s good and helpful to clarify where we agree. Regarding your second paragraph:
            ===
            [Almost any small business owner who is in need of unskilled labor … will tell you that they can’t find Americans to take these jobs. And these jobs are already at pay scales above minimum wage. ]
            ===
            1) I can’t refute the conversations you have with people I don’t communicate with, indicating that able Americans were turning down low skill jobs paying over minimum wage. I can speculate that when unemployment was at 10%, the statement was probably less true, or not very true. I can also speculate that as unemployment has fallen, that it seems only logical that the issue is not people choosing “no work” over “moderately paid low skill job”, but that people are choosing better or higher paid jobs instead. This is how the market works, right? If you can’t get people to take your job, you offer more money until they do. The “magic” wage is not minimum wage or $15/hr, but whatever the market bears. But then again, this is where some research and statistics can benefit the conversation more than speculation. I am not denying that your assertion is true, but simply pointing out that your observations alone are not wholly convincing as proof that people are turning down jobs for no reason.
            2) Regarding [Why is it that when we hear these stories OVER and OVER again, people who think like BD can’t accept that the problem might at least in part lie with the workers and not with an unfair system?] If you are asking me whether I believe there exist lazy people who turn down job opportunities, I answer: Of course there are. I don’t happen to think that population has grown significantly, however, so i don’t see how it impacts the CHANGE in economic conditions we have witnessed. Sure it’s part of our economic problem, but not, IMHO, a very big part, and not even really a part of the problem I have been emphasizing. People turning down jobs, even if it was a growing phenomenon, might explain a large unemployment problem or a lack of national productivity, neither of which we are having right now. In my opinion, the Problem is that we have national productivity growth, but the vast majority of the people who ARE actually working are seeing little growth in their own incomes and fortunes. And that, I believe, has little relation to businesses not being able to find minimum skill workers at an offered wage. It may have a lot more to do with employers being stubbornly unwilling to apply the market solution: which is to raise the offered wage until they find a line of employees willing to take the job.

          • Peter says:

            Its a shame you didn’t follow the analogy from paragraph one to paragraph two. They are saying the same thing. Problem is paragraph 1 is from the liberal playbook and paragraph 2 is from the conservative playbook. Not surprised in the least by your reply.

          • Big Data says:

            Well peter, the difference in paragraph 1 and 2 is that 1 represents truths that were denied by conservatuves for years and are now well understood, based on overwhelming universal observation over time, by almost everyone to be true. Number 2 is an assertion conservatives apparently believe but for which I have seen no evidence. So the diffwrence is not liberal vs conservative. The difference is proven vs unproven.

          • Peter says:

            That is idiocy. Neither are truly proven. Both are anecdotal. And neither should be political.

  • Peter says:

    Another example of the disastrous political climate re: Obama/Obamacare. Just today he held a meeting with Democrats telling them not to help Republicans pass replacement measures for the ACA. Meanwhile, Pence met with Republicans to plot their strategy to repeal it and then replace it with something else. This is HORRIBLE. It will cost us a fortune (seen estimates of $300b) to repeal and replace. Even BD and I agree that revising, improving and fixing the flaws of the ACA is a great idea. Why can’t our politicians do this?

    Forget about all the other crap that we are arguing about – this partisan circus is going to ruin our nation. No wonder our debt is so out of control. It’s like two divorced parents who overspend and try and impress their kids with lavish gifts neither can afford. So mom gives the kids a bunch of fancy new clothes and the dad says “we can’t afford this and you don’t need it – get rid of it” and they sell it for 50 cents on the dollar. Then dad buys them something ridiculous and mom says the same thing. And round and round we go….. The kids don’t get to keep anything and the parents just keep wasting money.

    • Big Data says:

      Agreed. This is a consequence of fake news and propaganda. Repubs and their news sources have propagandized for years that Obamacare was unpopular (including those who wanted single payer as opponents of OC), and portrayed it as expensive and a disaster. It turns out that repealing OC is actually more unpopular, more expensive, and potentially more disastrous than keeping it. Do the GOP actually believe their own propaganda? Apparently. The closed news echo chamber of fear and disinformation from conservatives has no real counterpart on the liberal side (though liberals have different flaws) and if they act on these false needs and unpopular actions to dismantle OC, privatize Medicare and SS, remove reproductive rights, and raise debt by cutting taxes on rich, they will find the country will be most unhappy with them.

      • Peter says:

        LOL – don’t quite view in the partisan pro-Dem way you spun it. Honestly I don’t think it is propaganda that Obamacare is unpopular. Even the president himself has said that the system has major flaws and needs revision. Regardless of media, propaganda or the public – the system has some merit but is largely a poorly thought-out behemoth that needs major revisions. Most importantly we need a health care plan that doesn’t cater to big $$$ insurers the way this one does. That will bring the cost down.

        Check out obamacarefacts.com for all sorts of poll information. 37% want it repealed. Another 18% ‘dislike the plan’. 40% like it.

        You and I definitely share a different level of confidence in our government (blue or red) to run things efficiently. And it is even more likely to be a mess with no dialogue across the aisle from either side.

        • Big Data says:

          The site you linked is independent and has a lot of good info. Thanks.
          ===
          I could not find the poll info, but its a big site; I must have just missed it. The poll I did find elsewhere was the Nov 2016 Kaiser poll:

          Americans are divided on what they want to see lawmakers do to the ACA with one-fourth of Americans (26 percent) wanting to see President-elect Donald Trump and the next Congress repeal the entire law while an additional 17 percent want them to scale back what the law does. This is compared to 30 percent of the public who want to see the law expanded and 19 percent who want to see lawmakers move forward with implementing the law as it is. Among Trump voters, 50 percent want to see the law repealed and 29 percent want to see it scaled back.

          • Big Data says:

            Thanks. Both sets of stats are similar. From your link, just under 48% want it repealed, scaled back and/or replaced with private insurance system. Just over 48% approve or want it replaced with public insurance system.
            ===
            From Kaiser, 43% want OC repealed or scaled back, while 49% want it retained or expanded. In either case, it is not true that there is strong support for full repeal, especially when replacement is not ready. And in both cases there is slightly more support to keep or expand the law than repeal it, so it is hard to fairly describe it as very unpopular.

          • Big Data says:

            For anyone else searching Peter’s link, the data in question is at poll question number 8.

        • Stevendad says:

          One of my overwhelming gripes and consistent threads in all of my posts is that politics usurps all common sense and rationality in everything we’ve talked about. Obamacare is ultimate political football. It’s repeal will be a reward for those who supported not just Trump but the vast majority of Republicans in office now. It’s repeal will punish the liberals and Democrats who you forced it through. Trying to give arguments about whether this is a good idea or not is moot. In reality it all relates to politics just like everything else. It is fascinating to see the 180° turn around on “obstructionism” by both parties. This is just one of many, many examples of believing in political ideology not “truth” or principles.

          • Stevendad says:

            By the way, the coverage issues are far and away not the biggest problem with the ACA and the Obama administration’s dealing with healthcare my perspective where the rubber hits the road. There have been dozens of mandates from on high that are pointless and add huge amounts of cost and misery for those of us in the industry. Ironically, they worsen healthcare by lessening the physician patient interaction and removing nurses from the bedside in hospitals. This has been shown over and over and over again and studies. This only cheapens and worsens the product and leads to poor satisfaction. Of course, those few people in a room of 15 or so are so wise in their decision-making that they can tell us all what to do in the millions of interactions between patients and physicians and nurses every day. Of course, BD I’m sure you’re an expert on this like you arein everything else from your Liberal wisdom. For this reason alone, I would find it wonderful if whole thing was repealed. I am getting a little catty here, but I occasionally have to ask myself just who the heck do you think you are to judge everyone?

          • Peter says:

            Same thing with the politicians that try to do “what’s best” in the financial industries. They don’t know what they are talking about – and more importantly, don’t care. It’s too much about public perception, not actually helping people. Just like you are saying…. people find out what the political ideology is and then search out supporting truth – rather than thinking about prudent solutions to problems.

  • Big Data says:

    So we talk about the unskilled lower quintile. Lets set them aside and discuss the next two quintiles. Who are they, what do they earn, and how have they fared for the last 30 years? And why have they not fared better? And what should be done by them or by society to improve their lot (besides just having them strive to move to upper quintiles)?

    • Peter says:

      The last sentence is what happens though….you do realize that? Mobility. But some in the 2nd to last quintile probably still could benefit from the system changes I have proposed.

      • Henry says:

        I personally came from a very depressed economic area and saw people rise up over and over again. Like Steven Dad said – if you practice SWEAR….. most in those areas don’t – partially because of poor family situations and horrible role models.

    • Big Data says:

      Again mobility is not possible for all. Its great to escape the shallow pool. Its even nicer if everybody’s pool gets a little deeper, rather than all the fresh new water going to only the deepest pool.

  • Peter says:

    BD – not sure why I keep getting accused of blaming or “shaming” the poor. It is not offensive or wrong to say that the bottom quintile of any population will likely be made up of a lot of “losers” – people that make poor decisions in life and fail. Why is that unkind or wrong? Put 100 people in a room to do a timed puzzle and I bet you that at a certain number of them wouldn’t even try it – or half-a** it – or not have the mental capacity to do it. This is not blaming or shaming. It’s the truth. There will also be a handful that blow through the puzzle in record time – the more talented, motivated, aggressively competitive types. They shouldn’t be shamed either.

    Not sure why you can’t accept that a great deal of people lack motivation, competitive drive, talents or skills. And this is OK! I don’t mean in any way to imply that these people should be shamed, deported or put in cages to rot. But you also can’t just hand these people money either.

    We have been over multiple, productive reasons (with possible solutions) as to why the bottom 20% has seen their income rise slower. I can relist them all if you want. But the conversation won’t end there with you. You must see Democrats in power and the GOP stopped from “ruining everything” – and you must see taxes go up and money move from the wealthy to the poor. WHY? If we solve the problem with any number of the 15-20 odd solutions we have addressed, isn’t that OK?

    But please quit with the rhetoric that I am blaming or shaming the poor. Even though you have made some offensive comments about people in the 1% – I don’t truly believe you are blaming or shaming them either.

    • Big Data says:

      I’m not blaming you personally Peter. What I am saying is that it is inappropriate for society to take advantage of (or allow the unscrupulous to take advantage of) the mentally, or physically, or economically disadvantaged and just blame any resulting added hardship imposed, on personal responsibility of the victims.
      ===
      Of course there are less capable people in society. I am just saying that we do not need to keep pushing them lower and lower in lifestyle even as society and Gdp per capita advance overall.
      ===
      We all make stupid decisions at points in our lives and it is appropriate to suffer a consequence. But the consequence should be recoverable, and that is the critical difference. A pregnancy too early in life, a lack of attention to education in grade school, a teenage drug habit, are all poor decisions which will impact a persons life but should not doom an individual to a poverty forever. (I think that removing possibilities of scholarships from former drug offenders is a bad idea, for example. Where is the path to redemption?)
      ===
      I believe the overriding difference in your perspective and mine is that you see the misfortunes and situations of the poor as fully recoverable by their own efforts alone under current systems and policy, whereas I believe they need more help. An exception to the above may be that you and I agree that society should provide better education for current technical jobs and possibly more abundant domestic jobs. I think we also differ in how we believe pay for current jobs should be applied; I believe that higher minimum wage should be applied and that better wage and labor protections should be enacted while you might favor market competition alone and object to such govt ‘interference’ in the market. I think tax policy should be used to influence and reduce income disparity while you would object to such an approach on both principle and feasibility.
      ===
      The biggest difference between you and I is that I see our economy on a macro scale as an income distribution system. The economy will only grow a small amount each year and the total income of that year is distributed among the population by a curve which has changed over time. You keep calling this idea a zero sum game, a title I reject as it is technically inaccurate. But let me employ its use here in a limited sense. Given the predictably small range of expected variation of Gdp for 2017, the distribution of income for this year is so.ething akin to a zero sum game. Every business is like a small monarchy run either by a kingly ceo, a board of directors or a ruling voice of investors. These monarchies control the distribution of incomes within their kingdoms by setting pay policies and wage increase percentages. Markets and competition apply, but since all companies are wanting to keep wages low and since labor is generally plentiful, wage increases for low wage and unskilled labor stay low. Thus: the prime characteristic of a zero sum game is present – that the wage constraints and losses at the low end of the scale benefit the incomes of the management and investors at the high end of the scale.
      ===
      The nation is an income distribution system, and not just a wealth creation system, because it is best described as an amalgamation of little wealth creation systems (companies) that are also income distribution systems which each restrict low wage growth and accelerate high wage growth.
      ===
      You believe individuals at the low end can circumvent and overcome the inequities of this system. At least for the current economy, I disagree.

      • Big Data says:

        To clarify. Of course I believe a few individuals can climb out of the lower quintile. But the quintile as a group is stagnating or declining, even as the country advances.

        • Peter says:

          I think more than a few can climb out. The mobility stats show this to be the case. And the bottom quintile is stagnating/declining for all the reasons I stated several times in the last few posts. Not because of greedy billionaires or an unattentive government.

          • Big Data says:

            I imagine that if world economic conditions shifted while unions were strong and labor pay was high and companies were struggling to grow in the changing economy for those high labor costs, then business managers would demand that income curve should be shifted to restore a balanced economic system. But when worker pay is diminished and resulting shift slows the economy by reducing middle class purchasing power, but it benefits the wealthy managers and business leaders, businessmen such as yourself recommend prescriptions for the workers (SWEAR), and more education, and throw up your hands saying there is no point in changing worker pay. Its just economic conditions and nothing can be done but work people harder smarter and longer. It completely baffles me how you can ignore the way that income shifting from middle to rich is damaging the economy and harming workers. You incessantly complain if i duggezt taxes go up 5% or 10% of income for millionaires. But you are content that we underpay median icomes by 25%. Its crazy.

          • Big Data says:

            Typos … suggest not dugggezt … incomes not icomes …

      • Peter says:

        We are now back in the abyss of your incorrect perspective that the economy works as an “income distribution system”. Unfortunately I think all our debates will die here. A few other things from the last post….

        You are indeed accusing me of “blaming and shaming” the poor. Or at least that is in most replies to my posts.

        I fail to see how we are actively pushing the poor lower as a government. We increased the number of people on food stamps at a historic pace for instance – and have record numbers on unemployment, welfare and other government benefits. The changing economy, technology, immigration, etc. are pushing the unskilled non-SWEAR practicing people lower – not policy.

        And yes, I do see all the problems you mentioned as “recoverable”. Just about anything that happens in your teenage years is correctable – we even have laws to protect people against that. Beyond that, I just fail to EVER think that a problem or mistake someone makes should be supported, solved, or absolved by the government. I just don’t think like that and I don’t think it is healthy for a society to rely on government for these sorts of things. Just about any minor mistake you make in our society is recoverable though.

        • Big Data says:

          Of course, your company, the us economy, and the world economy is an income distribution system. Its as plain as the clear blue sky on a sunny summer day.

        • Big Data says:

          Perhaps i misunderstand what you perceive an income distrintion system to be. Explain how your company and the economy are NOT income distribution systems as you would define that term.

          • Big Data says:

            Sorry abou typos. I’m sure you’ll figure it out.

          • Peter says:

            Let me try a simple example. In the traditional sense of manufacturing, you are correct. There is a set amount of profit and the company divides it up. Unions are important here.

            But that is not all there is to an economy. Some business create things where there was previously nothing. Technology is a great example of this. Someone develops some software with limited manufacturing requirements and sells it on a mass scale for instance. The creator of that software and the developers of future versions are going to make far more than anyone else. There is no union for the mail room or tech support, which makes far, far less. As they should.

            There is not a finite amount of income in an economy, distributed by a few. That is much like the “dividend” on a stock. You also make money on appreciation and creation. I might make a million dollars a year and my employee $100k, but my company is appreciating in value – creating wealth SOLELY for me. And it might manifest itself as income with stock options. Your view of economics does not account for wealth creation or appreciation – which VERY often doesn’t get distributed evenly. Nor should it.

            In a manufacturing economy your point of view does hold some merit.

  • Big Data says:

    For the occasional reader of this forum, if there are any, perhaps stevendad could remind us what SWEAR acronym stands for. Honestly, Ive forgotten the full expansion.

    • Stevendad says:

      Save 10% always.
      Work 40 to 50 hours a week.
      Educate to your maximum ability (includes trades).
      Avoid excessive alcohol and drugs.
      Reproduce responsibly. Have kids when your financial and work life are in order (seldom <25)

      All doable, all voluntary.

      • Peter says:

        I do know a few people that have done these things and just had bad luck, health or other misfortune slow them down. I must say that I don’t know ANY that can say yes to all of these components who haven’t eventually persevered. I completely reject that 40% of our population does these things and still can’t survive. Wish something like this would go viral – great advice.

        When I was making $20k/year for my first 4-5 years of work I must admit I made mistakes. I didn’t do #1 at all. Couldn’t afford to. But I worked 60-70 hours a week, went nuts with education – taking advantage of any free training I could get. (One cool thing is to work for a temp agency – they will hire ANYONE and give you free access to computer training like Excel, Word, etc. I did about 10-12 of these modules and put them on my resume). I also did not drink but occasionally and did no drugs for that period of time, including marijuana. We lived in a one-bedroom apartment and took no vacations for those years. Once my income started to rise, I had children.

        I do remember at times it would be difficult. A car repair or something unforseen would set us back big time. It was disheartening and frustrating. But we didn’t go get drunk to “seek more pleasure from our meager incomes”. We kept at it – knowing that hard work and training would pay off. I never felt “punished” for making no money. Just don’t understand that…. But with that said….. (continued next)

      • Peter says:

        …. I am an intelligent person with a good lower-middle-class upbringing. I have an advantage on that front in that I knew through training, education, hard work and sheer time I would be a success. I have talents and skills. The problem isn’t with most of society who shares in having some skills and talents – they are all fine regardless of this perceived rigged system. The problem is also not with the unmotivated non-SWEAR practicing group. They will always struggle and complain and be left behind. Even BD probably isn’t even talking about those people. We are talking about a group of people who try and do the right things (practice SWEAR) but have no skills, talents, or intellectual assets to capitalize on. The size of this portion of our population is debatable, but it isn’t 1% and it isn’t 40%. These are the people BD perceives getting screwed by the system, while I move that they are simply the victims of changing times, an antiquated education system, poorly designed social welfare programs, neglect of our poor neighborhoods and schools, technology, immigration, corrupt big-money politics and a whole host of other things. This is where the debate lies. In this part of our population that for the last century worked in factories or in agriculture/labor jobs. Many of these jobs have been replaced by robots or immigrants (or simply by more productive work) – and as supply outweighs demand – the wages have been depressed. Simple economics really.

        • Big Data says:

          A pretty good assessment, Peter, with some balance. Nicely done.
          ===
          But along with the unfortunates you identify in the lower quintile who have motivation but are short on abilities or skills, I am also concerned with people in the next 2 quintiles who have motivation, and moderate skills and education, but who are also getting left behind as the country advances. Many are making living wage, but are still struggling. I am talking about these people also. The shift of incomes, for whatever economic causes, also deprive these people of the quality of life and the advancement they expect from their hard work. If they already practice SWEAR and are just getting by, what are they supposed to do?
          Accept that they have to live cheaper than their parents while working as hard or harder, even as their bosses incomes have doubled, and wealthier people complain that it is THEY who should pay more taxes? Or should they demand that schools be improved, and labor policy be modified, and trade policy be balanced, and government programs should be more fully funded by those wealthier bosses? Isnt that a reasonable approach? Isnt that the protest that just happened in 2016?

          • Peter says:

            This is hard enough …don’t make it worse by arguing with someone other than me. I have never in a million years said that the poor should pay more taxes. And I would leave the judgment calls out of it as well such as “working hard or harder”. That may not be the case.

            This all comes back to the way you and I see the business world. Who is the people in the middle quintiles – making $50k or so let’s say- that can’t survive and meet their needs, has not seen their income increase in 20 years, where their bosses have seen giant increases, keeping all the money for themselves. Give me a few examples here.

          • Stevendad says:

            BD: A rehash from the Summer:One thing I keep pointing out and you ignore is that the 1% makes less from income 50% at $500k to $1M (compared with > 75% in upper half) and more from investment more so as you progress up and the upper 0.1% makes only 10% in salary. The bull market in stocks and bonds accounts for a huge proportion of “income inequality”. It also includes stock options as pay, a relatively new phenomenon that benefits the executives only if the company performs well. This effect is also the largest in Liberal enclaves like Chicago, CA and NY NY. So these places are trying to assuage their guilt by taxing the rest of America. My solution: double or triple local and state taxes to redistribute to their local populations if they wish, leave the rest of us alone.
            Furthermore, there is significant leveling with almost $1250 per month per PERSON in government benefits in lowest quintile, some means based (about $600) and some not. This significantly increase spending by household and does not include charitable giving or government mandates to private companies like cell phones and free internet. And of course ignores all underground income that is around $2.25 T overall and likely concentrated more in this quintile of “official” income. For perspective, “official” income in bottom 40% is $1.89T, approximately DOUBLING the income in these two quintiles. So to focus on income vs spending ignores the true measurement of poverty, the inability to buy what you need.

          • Stevendad says:

            Don’t forget the top 20% of earners already pay 84% of Fed income tax. How much is enough?

          • Stevendad says:

            I would also submit that those who consistently SWEAR are unlikely over time to NOT succeed. The data is overwhelming for education, work hours, drug use, alcohol use and reproductive responsibility as well as saving for emergencies which, I’m sure you would agree, helps avoid interest, overdraft fees, etc. The ONLY irreversible SWEAR choice is having a child, but this is often significantly offset by increased govt benefits that you will get.
            I would say don’t increase anyone’s income taxes on the Federal level. See above re: state and local. Try to slow the growth of bureaucracy and become more efficient and accountable by incentivizing the same in the way managers in Fed government are bonus. Try to capture lower long term bond rates to avoid spikes in interest payments in the future. Avoid stupid wars and entanglements and quit supporting wealthy nations militarily. And, again, add some highly targeted taxes that eliminate inherent unfairness like taxing financial instruments and business values yearly rather than just at sale, recouping govt benefits that indirectly profit employers, eliminate carried interest, etc as I have mentioned before.

          • Peter says:

            Agree on all fronts. Seems reasonable to me – and it would surprise me if BD didn’t agree with you on all of this, even in spite of the way he views the economy. Stock options, interest, deferred comp bonuses, etc. are a major part of income at the higher levels. The greeter at WalMart doesn’t have this as part of his/her income – nor should they.

  • Big Data says:

    There is,a troublesome medical insurance practice you should know about. Its called balance billing. You go to an in network hospital and then get bills from out of network physicians and anesthesiologists you never interviewed or hired.

    Read here, http://www.beckershospitalreview.com/finance/20-things-to-know-about-balance-billing.html

    Far from wanting to prevent this egregious and bankrupting billing practice, Trumps nominee for HHS, Tom Price, is an advocate FOR
    balance billing, as well as for replacing Medicare with vouchers. That seems like a poor start as,far as helping the middle class and reducing medical costs.

    • Big Data says:

      I would be very interested in stevendads medical opinion on this issue.

      • Stevendad says:

        It comes up when there are page of the teams of doctors out of network. Even a fairly simple hospitalization may have 2 dozen doctors involved with consultants, coverage doctors, pathology, ER, radiology, anesthesia. It is neither immoral or illegal. No one should expect call coverages be constructed around insurance networks. Complexity would be off the charts. Accountable care organization’s and bundled payments will probably solve this as much is anything. If the insurance companies were reasonable in reimbursement and hassle free, everybody would be in network for everything, but they are not.

        • Stevendad says:

          Part not page

        • Big Data says:

          I think doctors shoul be paid fairly, but also that patients should not be shaken down for charges they have no ability to control or negotiate. If I go to a hospital that is in my insurance network, every doctor and professional providing my care should be charging as if in network. Period. Anything else is fraud.

          • Big Data says:

            My anger is not directed at you, stevendad. Thanks for your informational post.

          • Peter says:

            It would be nice if a politician would ignore the insurance lobby and come up with reasonable solutions to this, instead of the giant confusing maze that it is. Medicare is a great example. Easily one of the most confusing pieces of legislation ever created. Good luck figuring that out. I’ll let Stevendad reply to the giant logistical problems with your reply.

  • Big Data says:

    Regarding Peters linked CNN article on “9 last-minute Obama moves to stymie Trump’s agenda”.

    I want to distinguish between the moves listed in the article and North Carolina’s attempts to actually limit the next Governor’s power.

    The items listed in the article are:
    Russia sanctions.
    Arctic drilling ban.
    Middle East policy.
    Obamacare enrollment push.
    New national monuments.
    Closing national registry.
    Gitmo transfers.
    Pardons and commutations.
    Farewell address.

    Despite the article title, most of the items, while in conflict with Trump’s anticipated policy approach, are not really targeted to stymie Trump. 5 of the above items are simply typical actions at end of an administration (pardons, monuments), or continuations and extensions of current administration policy (drilling ban, Obamacare enrollment, Gitmo transfers).

    And the farewell address has not happened yet and its content is speculative.

    The Russia sanctions are a natural and necessary bipartisan response to Russian hacking. Even one of Trumps advisors thinks we should have done even more.

    All of the above might have occurred irrespective of the election results.

    The Middle East peace policy UN vote abstention on condemning settlements was unusual but not unprecedented. Kerry’s announcements are unusual and highlight the differences between the two administrations. But they hardly impact or stymie anything Trump wants to do.

    So only one item in the article is actually targeted to impact and slow down Trump policy, and that is shutting down and dismantling the inactive NSEERS program that might have been (and still could be) used as a basis for Trump’s Muslim Registry. This shutdown is a principled action that defends
    Constitutional principle and is not fairly characterized as juvenile, spiteful, or as an illegal limitation on the next President.

    None of Obama’s actions compare to the  violation of separation of powers attempted by the NC government which is trying to alter powers of the next governor simply based on party. You may disagree with Obama’s approach but his actions fall within norms of Presidential behavior. NC house/senate are operating way outside of norms and possibly outside of law.

    • Stevendad says:

      I disagree. It’s a lot like tearing up the house you are being evicted from for at least some of this.

      • Big Data says:

        To me, it seems more like strengthening the foundation before the hurricane hits. That is a matter of perspective. NC behavior is unprecedented by any perspective.

        • Stevendad says:

          It’s Obama refusing to recognize “elections have consequences” IMO

        • Big Data says:

          Elections have consequences. But Presidential powers also extend to last day of the term. Pardons, monuments, and policy continuations are pretty standard for all Presidents so I just dont see the issue.

          • Peter says:

            My problem is that it is such blatant disrespect for Trump. Remember when Trump wouldn’t say that he would accept the election results? The media went crazy (rightfully so) as the “peaceful transfer of power” is fundamental to our freedom and liberty as a nation. Now, we have a whole army of people – including the media and our President – who are openly being disrespectful to the new leader – acting like we are about to be led by either a crazed lunatic or an evil dictator. Just a quick scan of the media will give you that flavor….look out everyone! We don’t know what this crazy guy will do! Be afraid!!!! This is a slippery slope and I have never seen anything like it. And I don’t care if Kanye West or Jesse Ventura was elected president – we HAVE to respect the office!

  • Big Data says:

    Stevendad, I should add that I agree with the thrust of one of your recent posts. The country is very divided and part of it does arise from the lack of shared experiences, shared trusted figures and newscasters (We miss you Walter Cronkite), and shared heroes. The hyper-partisan rhetoric in Washington only helps increase that divide, and can list more quantity and extremity of examples on the GOP side, I do see offenses on the Dem side as well.

    I should mention that income inequality is also divisive, as are some of the authoritarian policies of policing and justice (or injustice) that oppress poorer communities (civil forfeiture, debtor prison, stop and frisk) and the corporate oppression of struggling workers (wage theft, high pressure sales policies bordering on illegal [Wells fargo, but they aren’t the only ones], excessive “free” overtime for underpaid “managers”) .

    I want to point out that one major turning point in society revolves around police actions. Until the prevalence of cameras revealed to all of us the extreme abuses within police departments, most of us (yours truly included) would not have believed the stories. When the suspect was roughed up, we would tend to believe the police report that the officer was first assaulted or was in fear for his life. And certainly those cases exist and far outnumber the cases of police misconduct. But camera evidence has revealed that police abuse, misconduct, and overzealous use of deadly force is more common and more egregious than we would have otherwise believed. When we did not see, we did not know. Lacking knowledge, we believed our imaginations. When we see, we understand.

    Other situations are less easily described in a few moments on film. I have tried to advocate for poor and working class here and have been ridiculed for my suggestions that it is not always possible for a family to work an extra 8 or 10 hours a week, take classes, or seek a better job. There are situations where people work really hard to support themselves and their families but circumstance intervenes and their finances and situations spiral out of control. And this is not a one in a million rarity but an all too common occurrence for many people in the lower 2 quintiles. I have no camera footage to capture the hardship of years, the difficulties of circumstance, the disappointments of unrealized dreams. But I have read and seen and empathized enough to realize that those of us in more fortunate circumstance do not fully know and cannot fully comprehend the extent of very real hardship and difficulty experienced by the workers left behind by globalization, wealth redistribution to the top, and high income disparity. many are working those extra hours, or attempting to. Many are facing heart-rending choices of food vs medicine, work vs sleep. Others make a few bad choices or stumbles, and circumstance and consequence slides them to depths from which they cannot recover, whereas a more well-placed citizen would hardly break his stride from such a stumble, because he has resource to bounce back.

    I want to suggest to you that the answer to tough times is not always work harder and longer and smarter and better. Those are good actions but they are not always enough. Sometimes, many times, people need help to rise up and be productive. Your glimpses into the worst examples of laziness and sloth do not describe all of the working poor. Yet all of the working poor have been abandoned and left behind. For many, many, many of these, we do not need to fill their heads and waste their time with lectures on personal responsibility and work ethic. They already know it. They already have it. They need ladders, not chutes. They need a raise, not an extra 10 hours of work. They don’t need talk and derision. They need help, and a fighting chance.

    • Stevendad says:

      Once again, I was one of those poor. I sacrificed a lot of sleep for work and save for the future. Again if people would SWEAR the rest would fall into place for all but a very few.

      • Stevendad says:

        And those are all things that one can control. You cannot control the government or the economy by yourself .So perhaps you should start with things you can control.

      • Big Data says:

        Only if you consider 40% of the population a very few. With all due respect, it seems that the answer you offer regarding your own personal experience is irrelevant to the statistical conundrum of most of the population. Make no mistake; your story and any story of struggle of rising from poverty to success is inspirational. But it proves nothing on larger statistical scales. As I have said before, many people CAN rise to upper incomes, but not everyone can. And anyone can improve their situation with hard work. But the limits of that improvement, for those whose innate abilities keep them in lower 2 quintiles, are set by the policies that structure how capitalism rewards upper vs lower income. Your suceess does not alter that economic reality.

        • Peter says:

          Completely ludicrous that 40% of the population is practicing SWEAR – doing everything right – and unable to make a living wage. Please….

        • Big Data says:

          Don’t straw man me Peter. Its ludicrous to expect people to do everything right only to get a barely living wage in return. The point is that many many in the lower 2 or 3 quintiles are doing as much as they can and still getting left behind. They achieve nominal living wage but are challenged by medical, child care, and education costs. They cant fully achieve SWEAR because they don’t have sufficient time or money to do so. And they dont have resources to pull in, so every financial hardship makes them more prone to financial potholes like credit card debt and payday lenders.

          My point above is that in your imagination, SWEAR is a magic bullet to success that everyone can achieve. The reality is that, despite the talks and workshops you may hold, and the successes you may help people with (all very worthy), you have no idea of the level of hardships that many many people encounter that prevent their success. And you will apparently never admit to the limits on success that our current unbalanced income distribution system places on 90% of Americans.

          • Peter says:

            No I have said a million times that there is a problem with unskilled untalented laborers in our society. There aren’t enough jobs for them for the reasons I stated over and over. But it isn’t 40% of the population. Most people can practice SWEAR and be just fine.

          • Big Data says:

            And i have said many many times that lack of suitable jobs and lack of education for available jobs are not the only problems. We also squeeze the medium skilled workers and prevent them from advancing at rates of the upper incomes. And just to forestall the usual criticisms, i am not saying plumbers and bank presidents should make the same salary or take home the same dollar raise. But 90% of Americans should not go 30 years with almost no raise IN THEIR INCOME CLASS, while financial elites absorb all of the nations annual profits.

          • Peter says:

            They aren’t the only problems but the are the primary ones. And the ones we can do something about.

          • Stevendad says:

            I have to point out, once again, that I was one of and grew up with these poor folks. Very few of them were just victims of bad luck. They nearly always made bad decisions (and usually many of them )involving spending money they didn’t have, having children they we’re not ready for, drug abuse, poor work ethic, blowing off education etc, etc.

            At what point, when are people responsible for their own actions? I have said over and over again that there should be a safety net. However, at some point you have to draw a line. Once again, I think where we are is reasonable. I do not think it should be expanded further. Once again many of the people I knew were working”off the books” and made lots of money that never was taxed.

            Since you’re so interested in fairness, BD, is that fair to those who do pay taxes? I feel like the only answer that you have is to just tax the rich more and redistribute it to those who make less money or don’t work at all. In your mind, everything would fall in line. Everyone would behave correctly. Everyone would have lots of money and no needs for anything.

            Nirvana does not exist. Most of the people I knew would take the extra money and blow it in the same ways they have had in the past. The effect of this might be to amplify their non-productive behaviors rather than improve their lot in life. For example, they may buy more things they can’t afford with even more leverage, drink more alcohol, do more drugs, party more, etc etc. Of course this is only for my personal experience.

            I should point out, that I’m a libertarian and if this is a choice they want to make I have no problem with it. However, don’t whine and expect me to pay for their bad behaviors.

            To me, NOTHING is more cruel than dependency.

          • Peter says:

            Fair doesn’t apply to high income earners. In his mind we all make too much money anyway (evidenced by the increases in income over past several decades) that nothing you do to us can be deemed unfair. Like reparations…..

            In all seriousness though, great last post.

          • Big Data says:

            Thanks for your post, stevendad. Helpful. Not so much for yours peter. Very petty and spiteful.

          • Big Data says:

            Stevendad, you hypothesize that more money might ampify bad behaviors. But what does less money and loss of hope offer? What happens when people are assaulted and punished, yes punished, for poverty? We as a society do not offer ladders, good educational opportunities, decent jobs with living wage, positive feedback to reward good behavior and discourage bad. Instead we populate poor neighborhood schools with police who jail children and give them criminal recotds for minor behavior issues. We exploit them with payday lenders and easy access to liquor. We rease them with promise of career opporunities at scam trade schools with high tuitions and expensive loans. The jobs that are available are dead end, underpaid, and offer few hours to bypass medical benefits. And then we lambast the poor for their bad choices. No wonder they drink and seek what pleasure they can from their neager incomes. We have removed their hope and motivation.

          • Big Data says:

            Also, when you and i were teenagers, stevendad, real minimum wage was higher than now, state school tuitions were affordable, more decent jobs were available, and cities invested more in local schools. Not to mention that income distributions were more balanced. My whole point is that we cannot expect the country to thrive if we keep kicking down the ladders for the lower quintiles and blame the people at the bottom.

          • Peter says:

            The country is so different than it was then both demographically and economically. Supply and demand…….

    • Big Data says:

      You are clearly in the upper half of the IQ curve, healthy, and presumably white. As such you have advantages that allow you to pull ahead of the pack.

      You clarified the argument well when you said, in an earlier post, that the real point is to get out of the working class. The point I make is that there will always be a working class, and they too deserve a decent life. The answer to societies ills is not just to have everyone struggle for the upper half or 10% or 1% and then pity the foolsw at the bottom the ladder. We need to recognize that there is always a bottom half and they do not need to be punished for their disadvantages in genetics, health, innate capabilities, or race.

      • Peter says:

        The biggest problem the working class has is automation and technology, immigration and an education system that doesn’t prepare them for modern employment. I don’t think the goal for everyone should be to “escape the working class”, nor is anyone on here suggesting “punishing” them. We are always going to have unskilled labor. We just need to find education/training/jobs for these people. To blame it on the government, the 1%, CEO pay, etc. is missing the point and avoiding any sort of permanent change to help those who need it most.

        • Big Data says:

          Agreed we need to establish a better education system to prepare our citizens for jobs, and better trade policy to keep jobs here four our own. Recognizing that automation and globalization are causes is not enough. Establishing blame on societal classes is also insufficient. Along with personal responsibility there also must be societal responsibility in establishing policirs, programs, training, and jobs. And we must also balance our income distribution policies. For government policy ultimately controls how capitalism distributes income, though I know you disagree on this point.

          • Peter says:

            Not blaming any class for this situation. It is neither the fault of the wealthy for hurting the working class nor the fault of the poorer people for being lazy. Those things may be anecdotally true on an individual basis. And I like that our country has the freedom to do both – and live with the results.

      • Stevendad says:

        Since when is being a white male in and of itself an advantage? When I graduated from college, the only engineers that got jobs were female. The rest were all unable to get jobs. This was solely because they were female not because of their abilities. When I was in medical school, nearly all of those who flunked out were white males. Meanwhile, there was a Native American female who took five years to finish the first two years of medical school because she flunked so many courses. Your white scan and make sex only gave you no opportunity at all to make any mistakes.

        My sons, a few years ago, went to college at the local university here, there were 78 non-need-based scholarship programs. The only ones for white males were two PFLAG scholarships for gays. I’m not sure where this idea of advantage totally based on race comes from.

        You should look more into your own data. Asians do much better than any race in nearly every educational and income measure. Is this all because they go to the country club and network to get their jobs and admission to college? In fact, there is high-level discrimination across the Ivy League against Asians They have to score over 500 points higher on the SAT in order to qualify! Look at recent data about this. Perhaps more it’s that they SWEAR better than anyone else does. The “data” that you love so much backs this up 100%. Give me an honest answer to that question. Please use data!

        • Stevendad says:

          Since when is being a white male in and of itself an advantage? When I graduated from college, the only engineers that got jobs were female. The rest were all unable to get jobs. This was solely because they were female not because of their abilities. When I was in medical school, nearly all of those who flunked out were white males. Meanwhile, there was a Native American female who took five years to finish the first two years of medical school because she flunked so many courses. Your white skin and male sex only gave you no opportunity at all to make any mistakes.

          My sons, a few years ago, went to college at the local university here, there were 78 non-need-based scholarship programs. The only ones for white males were two PFLAG scholarships for gays. I’m not sure where this idea of advantage totally based on race comes from.

          You should look more into your own data. Asians do much better than any race in nearly every educational and income measure. Is this all because they go to the country club and network to get their jobs and admission to college? In fact, there is high-level discrimination across the Ivy League against Asians They have to score over 500 points higher on the SAT in order to qualify! Look at recent data about this. Perhaps more it’s that they SWEAR better than anyone else does. The “data” that you love so much backs this up 100%. Give me an honest answer to that question. Please use data!

          • Peter says:

            Agreed. Being white isn’t the huge advantage you are making it out to be. My daughter just applied early decision to a prestigious school and got rejected. They accepted 500 people and 225 of them were minorities. A black kid from a neighboring school got in with a severely worse track record. I’m not saying we should change all of this – just like I’m not saying you should lower my taxes – but you want to tilt the scales even further. Enough.

        • Big Data says:

          I am white. I dont get pulled over by police because of my race. I dont get stopped and frisked or have extra security watch me in stores because of my race. I will never have uber drivers or Air BnB or mortgage companies deny me service for my race. I have never had to worry about companies not hiring me because of my ethnic name or appearance. All of these biases still happen today and happen a lot. If you are white you have advantages. If you dont recognize those advantages, you are blind.

          • Peter says:

            All of that is very true.

          • Big Data says:

            Glad we agree on that. To be clear, i am not pushing for more and ways to tilt scholarships etc to positively bias minorities. I do want to do whatever possible to remove systemic negative biases, and providing a few diversity helpers like scholarships, as is being done today, is okay too.

          • Peter says:

            On a side note, have you ever taken the Implicit Association Test this article references? Try it…. not exactly the most insightful tool to use for racial bias.

  • Big Data says:

    Stevendad, your last two posts were a bit garbled and posted out of order, so i will reply here.

    Your top 3 concerns are
    1. $20T debt
    2. Radical Islam.
    3. N Korean nukes

    Dors Trump have solutions for any of these?

    On the first, he is likely to cut taxes, and increase spending on military and infrastructure, all of which increases debt. On the next two, he has zero sense on diplomacy and will likely nake things worse. On one of your lower priorities, probabilities are high that dismantling Obamacare will drive more Americans off of insurance and increase costs for sick and working poor.

    Here are my predictions for Trump administration. Rich will do Ok, and most Americans will suffer, war will be more likely, crony capitalism and income disparity will increase, and the economy will ultimately slow or decline for 75% of Americans. Almost nothing on your list will improve.

    • Big Data says:

      Another possibility. Trump pushes through tax cuts and big spending, a la Reagan, and economy seems to improve for all at cost to driving up debt/gdp. This is a false success, just as it was for Reagan, and will be paid for by future generations, just as we are still paying dearly for Reagan/Bush tax cuts.

    • Big Data says:

      And regarding bathroom issues. NC Bathroom Bill was the ill-advised conceit of GOP. And it was more than bathrooms. It was about centralized control, attempting to prevent local government control of issues from minimum wage to workplace discrimination to policing bathrooms. All quite arrogant and unnecessary. And now NC GOP has the gall to pass restrictions on the next governor just because he is an opposing party. This is unprecedented and the height of authoritarian arrogance and conceit. No surprise that NC government has recently been rated no higher than Cuba regarding functionality as a democracy. People are worried about Sharia law. They should be worried about authoritarian law a la NC.

    • Big Data says:

      Also, I have to mention that a concern about ~$2oT debt is possibly misplaced. The concern IMHO should be that Debt/GDP ought to be reduced. Dollar Debt will no doubt continue to increase as it has almost infallibly with inflation, economy growth and population growth since WW2. But if we can avoid irresponsible tax cuts where they are not needed, and thus replicate the decline in Debt/GDP that occurred from 1950 to 1982, we will do fine, irrespective of growth in Dollar Debt.

      • Stevendad says:

        To reprise, here’s my list: Here’s my PROBLEM rating most to least, which I expect BD won’t agree at all on: $20T debt, radical Islam, N Korean nukes, bloated and inefficient government, anemic growth at ZERO interest rates, uncontrolled immigration and its economic & security issues, healthcare finance mess , ascendency of Iran, income inequality and rise of “two Americas”……..skip many,many things……..bath. Peter and BD can you do a top ten, just curious…

        • Peter says:

          1. Changing political fundraising/campaigning rules. While the rest of the list isn’t ranked – this would be my #1 for sure. Nothing else matters in government until we do this.

          2. Reduction of government spending.
          3. Allowing artificial low rates to rise without burying our economy. Then possibly either auditing or eliminating/restructuring the Fed.
          4. Adapting our education system to a modern age to better train unskilled workers.
          5. Analyzing “vice” prohibition and taxing and regulating properly. Audit and tax religious organizations as charities.
          6. Reducing the suffocating, politically motivated over-regulation of industry. (Financial and medical above all)
          7. Completely revamping our inefficient and underfunded social welfare programs – SS, Medicare and ACA.
          8. Take a more isolationist approach to the Middle East. Expect Israel to defend itself. Stop getting involved in regime change overseas.

          Just off the top of my head…. these are my primary concerns.

        • Big Data says:

          Top eleven, imperfectly ranked. Might have missed something …

          1) Campaign Finance Reform/ Legislative or Judicial reversal of Peoples United Decision
          2) Education Reform (Three parts: improved grade school teaching policies with less emphasis on standards testing; availability of lower tuition higher education at state schools and community colleges; incorporate planning and cooperation with business to allow better career planning and training for students and to better support existing and future industries.)
          3) Infrastructure/ Jobs program to rebuild roads, schools, plumbing, and to boost employment.
          4) Tax policy reform to (a) bring in more revenue to bring down deficits and pay down debt/gdp, (b) shift tax burden more heavily to large investment incomes
          5) Business tax reform to shift tax burden to big corporations and less on small businesses
          6) Financial regulation reform to reinstate Glass-Steagall, enforce sufficient capital requirements on banks, remove most identifiable forms of moral hazard, retain independent consumer financial protection agency, and apply financial tax on high volume short term stock and investment transactions, to make stock market less volatile and risk-prone.
          7) Improve healthcare system. In short term, remove the stupid 30 hour/wk step function for benefits and make it a sliding scale. Move toward universal care but without the relentless downward pressure on primary care physician incomes. Restrict/regulate balance billing. The rise of efficient clinics (Prima-Care, CareNow), and physician assistants is a good thing. I always go to these in evenings and on weekends and it saves a lot of time otherwise pulled from work. Our medical school training for doctors seems overly expensive and drawn-out over too many years. Not sure how to fix that. We need to discourage the relentless repackaging of drugs and drug delivery systems just to make them more expensive and profitable. Big pharma needs to be regulated. Life-saving drugs that are inexpensive to produce should not be priced high for outrageous profit and ransomed out to the fortunate few who can afford it. Accept that cutting medical costs means a slower pace of research and some restrictions on surgery-on-demand. TAANSTAFL
          8) Improve VA system and fully fund it. We need to stop short-changing our veterans. This also means we need to reinstate medical and psych care benefits for those who have been kicked out due to mental traumas caused by battle. That’s the social cost of war. Soldiers pay too heavily with lives and health. We need to pony up the money for their care.
          9) Improve/Reform/Fund Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Don’t privatize. Profiteering on people’s health and retirement sets up too many moral conflicts.
          10) Fix policing and justice policies to eliminate civil forfeiture, eliminate policies that are effectively debtor’s prison, stop-and-frisk based on economic and racial profiling, prevent community budgets funded by excessive and punitive fees, fines, and tickets that encourage policing for profit rather than for justice.
          11) Figure out how to streamline business start-ups, including simplifying regulations for small business (under 50, 100, or 200 employees, with some complexity and burden added with growth). Franchises are not the same as a small business unless wage and price and employee policy control is truly independent from the larger organization. Make startups competitive with large companies by allowing the small companies to be more flexible adaptive and nimble.

      • Stevendad says:

        Sorry, you are just wrong about this IMHO. The debt is a ticking time bomb.

        • Big Data says:

          Debt/GDP is a ticking time bomb. Rising dollar debt is meaningless if Debt/GDP is falling. Trying too hard to reduce dollar debt will actually damage the economy, because money for investment will be overly restricted.

          • Peter says:

            Rising dollar debt is hardly meaningless even as it relates to GDP. Unless printing money and devaluing the dollar even further is on the table.

    • Stevendad says:

      I’m not sure we have any idea what Trump will do. Hopefully as I’ve said before we will not Cut taxes at the expense of the debt. My hope is Paul Ryan who is a debt realist will not let this go through.

  • Stevendad says:

    BD: just wondered if you saw this: Again, as a former Democrat,The party is likely heading into the abyss if they don’t realized that the plans and strategies they have created are not winners. The party is in complete disarray due to the Left and they are wanting to go more Left yet! I think it needs to be pointed out that once the immigration mess is figured out, Latinos are more likely to be conservative as their background is both capitalistic and Catholic by and large. Counting on them to vote Democratic forever is a pipe dream. I think even the African-American community is starting to wake up to how they have been taken for granted by Democrats.

    • Big Data says:

      It looks like you intended to include a link?

    • Big Data says:

      Oh, i see. You were just reposting entry from further down. I did miss it. Here is a reply.

      How long will it be before blacks and white working class figure out Trump will break his campaign promises to them? If Trump is as tough as he promised on immigration, Latinos will be severely impacted and will be very unhappy with him. If he breaks that promise, his new white working class voters will be unhappy with him. If he supports blacks with infrastructure spending, he will offend the small gov GOP, but if he doesnt, his credibility with everyone suffers.

      • Stevendad says:

        We ALL must compromise to move forward in the best way, as an adult knows. If only our politicians were adults…

        • Big Data says:

          They are adults, but power-hungry and obstinate. I don’t know the solution to return our government to a culture of compromise and to legislation for national rather than party interests. The Hastert rule is a particularly nasty philosophy and I wish the GOP would abandon it. On the Dem side, i disagree with the idea that they should take up the mantle as the party of NO. They should support positive ideas like infrastructure spending while rejecting harmful policies like tax cuts that make it impossible to pay for that needed spending. They should support any idea that will advance the country and be willing to make honest compromises to balance the interests of the two parties. Unfortunately, the GOP has been most unwilling to participate in such compromise as the minority, and will be even less likely as the majority. That is not partisan rhetoric, but a stark and honest statement of fact. The GOP has been the party of NO and are now moving to “My way or the highway”. The only good news is that the fragmentation within the GOP makes it harder for them to figure out which way they actually want to go. And again, I know that SOUNDS like team-cheering, but it is not. Consider: If the GOP are fragmented, it makes compromises between the parties, and progress for the country, more likely. And that’s a GOOD thing. For all of us.

          • Stevendad says:

            My children, at least when they were young just wanted what they wanted despite anybody else’s wishes or needs. They either had a temper tantrum or whined if they didn’t get it. (Of note, this didn’t last very long.) But this sounds familiar doesn’t it? In this way, I feel like politicians do not act as adults. Adults see both sides of issues and make a measured decision between the two options. This group just seems to start whining and complaining when they don’t get their way. I don’t consider that adult behavior.

          • Peter says:

            Agreed. The political climate has become toxic in the last 16 years – more than ever. Nothing will improve or have any lasting impact until this changes. Everything else we talk about is fodder.

          • Big Data says:

            I am in agreement on this. And a big BIG part of the problem is the Hastert Rule, both as it applies in Congress, and how the principle is applied in elections. A party wins an election and therefore push all of their most radical ideas as if they have a mandate.

            Witness: About 26% of Americans want to completely dismantle Obamacare. The poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation finds that 26 percent of the country wants to repeal the entire law. Meanwhile, 30 percent want to expand the law, 19 percent want to keep it as is and 17 percent want to scale it back.

            So what are Republicans scrambling to do in first 100 days? Repeal Obamacare with no replacement in sight.

          • Peter says:

            Give us an example of Democrats doing this.

  • Big Data says:

    Peter:
    “No policy will ever be any good (or last) if one party crams it through in spite of the other.”

    I agree on this one. Many forget now, but Obama campaigned on US unity over party loyalism, but was then greeted with a vow of obstructionism by GOP leaders on his inauguration day. As Obama sought to fulfill his campaign promise of more universal healthcare, he went out of his way to reach out across the isle to make it bipartisan, even basing the structure of Obamacare on plans from a right-wing think tank, and a plan already implemented by governor Romney. Furthermore, it had many items advocated on Boehner’s own website. Still, GOP was more interested in the idea that government does not work than helping the President with healthcare for all Americans, and so they stood together against any plans that Dems might put forward. They put out a lot of lies like “death panels” and “government takeover of healthcare” (despite it being based on private insurance with some subsidies). When Kennedy died, and Scott Brown (R) took his place, Dems unexpectedly lost their 60% hold in the Senate, and barely got healthcare done at all. Many on right like to proclaim that Obamacare was rammed down the country’s throat, but it is instead better describes as a popular idea that GOP blocked and diminished at every opportunity. For years, GOP proclaimed that most people were against Obamacare without noting that about half of those “against” it wanted something even more liberal, like a single-payer system. A relative few wanted it dismantled. Of course, with continued battle to remove adequate funding and reluctance to fix its flaws (because they did’t want Dems to get any credit), the GOP succeeded in making the program flounder and lose favor.

    So I find some flaw in the idea stated by Henry that Obama was 50% of the cause of government dysfunction. And really, this is not just a case of team-cheering. Even those on the right will acknowledge that the right believes in less government and thus has a vested interest in assuring that government programs fail. The last thing that the small gov wing on the right wants is a successful government-subsidied healthcare program. As Ryan and his supporters keep proposing, they want to repeal and replace Obamacare, Medicare and Medicaid with vouchers, private enterprise, and block grants to the states. I don’t believe they want to harm the American people, but I do believe they aren’t terribly interested in helping the people will will inevitably suffer and/or die under their programs. It’s not their responsibility and is out of their hands. It’s a matter of personal responsibility and survival of the fittest. Anyway, it’s not the GOP voters who are most likely to die, and many of the GOP voters clearly do not care. It was the GOP voters at a debate in 2012 cheered the idea to “Let ’em die,” regarding their dislike of government subsidied healthcare.
    http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2011/09/tea-party-debate-audience-cheered-idea-of-letting-uninsured-patients-die/

    My frustration with the left and the right, is that the left is too timid to act, even when they have the mandate of the majority, and the right is anxious to overpower when they have the opportunity to advance their own interests of the monied and powerful, and the passions of the radical minority, even with whole and complete disregard to the true will of the majority on individual issues.

    • Peter says:

      Neither of us know, but my opinion is that they are equally culpable. Like a bad marriage. Obama wouldn’t even entertain the Republicans’ contributions to the stimulus package, which set the tone. Then when he moved the goalposts on the debt ceiling vote – by listening to another proposal after one was agreed to – he further damaged the relationship. He tried to be a firm leader early on (a sound strategy to some degree) and it backfired. He was not a negotiator. And Congress of course played a giant role in all this as well – but I’m sure you know that is the case.

      • Peter says:

        And by the way – what happens behind the scenes isn’t really the point….. the point is that if any policy passes with no support from the opposing party then it is doomed to be repealed/rescinded/revised at a later date. There isn’t much evidence that disagrees with this. EITHER PARTY

        • Stevendad says:

          A camera was on Obama during the Repub input hearing for Obamacare. As Tom Coburn spoke he shook his head and rolled his eyes. So much for seeking input. It was a pure political ploy to appear he was listening. Obamacare just shifted the lack of access away from the very poor to the working poor who could not begin to afford $6000 deductibles.

          • Stevendad says:

            Sorry, last comment sort of autofiled. Look at TV viewership or record sales in past. Much, much higher. The only thing nearly everyone is interested in is the NFL. Here’s my PROBLEM rating most to least, which I expect BD won’t agree at all on: $20T debt, radical Islam, N Korean nukes, bloated and inefficient government, anemic growth at ZERO interest rates, uncontrolled immigration and its economic & security issues, healthcare finance mess , ascendency of Iran, income inequality and rise of “two Americas”……..skip many,many things……..bathrooms. So if we can’t even agree on which problems matter, how can we ever arrive at solutions?

          • Big Data says:

            I don’t know about eye-rolling on camera. I do know that Obama and Democrats attempted to engage the Republicans on both the stimulus and Obamacare, but it wads a strategic decision of McConnell and the GOP to stonewall and be hyper-partisan. GOP was never really interested in participating in either process.

            http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/07/the-real-story-of-obamacares-birth/397742/

          • Peter says:

            Stevendad – True. And he didn’t put in any of the suggestions that were brought to the table. I think he viewed it as “setting the tone” – showing he was going to be strong and principled. Not a bad strategy, but it started a chain of events that set the tone for his presidency.

          • Peter says:

            Oh and BD – what Stevendad and I were talking about was the stimulus – which was put in the first few weeks of his presidency. By the time Obamacare rolled around the marriage was already broken.

          • Big Data says:

            Obama put over a third of stimulus into tax cuts … to appease the GOP. GOP wanted a cost-free approach or one based solely on tax cuts. It’s not true that Dems did not appease the GOP. The stimulus was smaller and had more tax cuts solely to appease GOP. But when GOP doesn’t get their complete way, they take their ball and go home.

          • Peter says:

            You have your facts wrong on this one.

          • Big Data says:

            My facts are correct. If you have contradicting information, please provide it.

          • Big Data says:

            http://articles.latimes.com/2009/jan/06/nation/na-obama-economy6

            WASHINGTON — Despite Barack Obama’s decision to include as much as $100 billion in business tax breaks to his economic stimulus package to woo reluctant Republicans, obstacles to speedy, bipartisan passage remain.

            The president-elect began working Monday in pursuit of twin goals — reviving the economy and transforming the political climate in Washington — by including GOP leaders in his first round of Capitol Hill meetings since the election. He pitched the need to act fast and with a broad consensus.

        • Stevendad says:

          We as a society are fragmented in so many ways compared to the past. No one listens to the same music, watches the same TV shows, believes in the same solutions or even sees problems with the same weight (i.e. relatively huge emphasis on bathrooms…) This may be leading to a so much more heterogenous America. Look at show viewership comparAdd this to partisanship as an end and not a means and we get the nondirectional back and forth

        • Big Data says:

          Peter, my point is that a party can credibly pass policy that the other party dislikes IF the first party has majority backing from population. GOP seems unwisely willing to push policy that majority object to just because their most passionate “majority of the majority” (ie 30 to 35% of voters) supports it.

          • Peter says:

            I don’t agree with that. Obamacare and the Iraq War are two of the most obvious recent examples. The backlash is just too great when the execution isn’t perceived as effective.

            And of course, I don’t see the GOP as the big bad wolf in this the way you do. I see very little difference between the two parties – both fragmented, both dogmatic, neither willing to compromise, both with extremist arms wagging the dog, etc. But no point debating that part of this. Can we take “GOP” and “Democrats” out of the discussion and just call them politicians?

          • Big Data says:

            Peter, you see both parties as equivalent because neither actually work toward your preferred goals: smaller government with less spending, less policing on world stage, etc. I mention the parties with respect to their clear differences.
            For instance, if you would be more objective and less determined to arbitrarily assign everybody equal blame for everything, you would see that GOP has been the more obstructive and less-compromising party. They have self-proclaimed that as their policy and intention while the Dems have not. It is documented in the Congressional records and their voting policy. It is disingenuous of you to deny simple observable facts for the sake of false equivalence.

            And Obamacare is indeed a prime example. Demi attempted to compromise and bring in GOP ideas but GOP’s only goal was to oppose the whole of the legislation. They blatantly misrepresented parts of the legislation to slander it, and overplayed public objection to it as well as its every inevitable flaw. Even now, when it has brought uninsured rate to historic low, and has had some success over last 2 years in slowing overall medical cost increases, GOP portrays the hiccup in some of this years rate increases as a disaster requiring complete dismantling of the program.

            So when only 26% of the country wants to actually distantle Obamacare and 49% want to retain or expand it, GOP blindly wants to destroy a program that is largely effective, for partisan political ends, despite many dangers inherent in destroying it.

            The parties are different, and we need to examine those differentces. Dems also have flaws. We need to examine flaws of both parties and not just portray all politicians as equivalent and bad. For that matter capitalism and business also have flaws, but I seldom se you address them. We must examine all flaws in society and in our economy in order to fix what is broken and keep what is not, not just oversimplify the arguments as “Government Bad, Capitalists Good.”

          • Big Data says:

            dismantle … not distantle …

          • Peter says:

            Missing the point again…..I don’t CARE which party is more to blame. Who cares? I just sound like I’m deflecting you because you blame everything on Republicans. With my far right closed minded friends they call me “Obama lover” incidentally……because I refuse to accept that with two corrupt largely identical political behemoths, paid for by big money and lobbyists, that ONE of them is more to blame than the other. And if it is 70/30 or 60/40 who gives a crap? They both have the blood on their hands and neither has done squat to MEANINGFULLY improve the plight of the poor or the income disparity you rail against in a lasting long term fashion. It just doesn’t interest me to waste time playing home team partisan political crap – we never get to the heart of the issues when we do that. That, sir, is what is different about you and those that came before you on this forum. And why you drive me and everyone else so insane.

            But don’t get me wrong. I have just as much disgust for Republicans as I do Democrats.

  • Big Data says:

    Peter:
    “I’m still not interested in going head to head with your unflappably immune-to-criticism Democratic platform, …”

    There you again. Please stay away from the conversation killing partisan speak, and attack the message, not the messenger. I made some points to be addressed, and your dismissal of everything you disagree with as a partisan platform is tiresome.

    I did not mischaracterize you. I ascribed the vote for change by the working class as a vote for government help. Yes i drew that line of connection, not you. But it seems to me an obvious and credible line. No need to get snarky about it.

  • Big Data says:

    It’s interesting how even Peter and Stevendad disagree as to the message of this election. Peter says it was a change election with the economically disadvantaged looking for a new approach. Stevendad says that “a reduction in the size and scope of government … was the overriding mandate of the electorate”. There is no doubt that both types of voters voted for Trump, but these are conflicting electorates. The former wants more government spending and the latter wants less. The former wants the rich to get less and the latter want the rich to get tax cuts. No mandate for either. Pretty sure who will get the bounty though, and it won’t be the middle and working class. Hillary won’t get locked up (not that she ever should have been), the big wall won’t get built, whatever smaller wall might happen will not be paid for by Mexico, coal jobs are not coming back, and the ghettos are not getting a makeover. I’m pretty sure the rich will get a tax cut though.

    • Peter says:

      I’m still not interested in going head to head with your unflappably immune-to-criticism Democratic platform, but must (as usual) contradict the way I am characterized.

      I don’t think that saying this was a “change election for the economically disadvantaged looking for a new approach” means more spending, or the rich getting less. You drew that line, not me.

      • Big Data says:

        Ok, Peter, but the working class folks who flocked to Trump pretty clearly were drawn to the promises of infrastructure spending, spending on the Mexican Great Wall, spending to reduce immigration, spending to establish a better health care system, and cutting taxes for middle class while cutting out tax breaks for hedge fund managers. You can’t credibly recognize this as a change election for the middle and working class without also recognizing that change was supposed to come from spending by the govt to help the middle classes. None of those rural Trump voters want to lose their promised perks to tax cuts for the rich. That is not what Trump promised.

        The fact that he promised balanced budgets, tax cuts AND big spending is a comundrum he will never be able to solve. It will be interesting to see which promises he will keep and how he will spin blame for his own failure to act on his impossible and conflicting agendas.

        • Peter says:

          I don’t know that it isn’t just as simple as a rejection of the last 8 years. The same way Obama was a sea change rejection of the prior 8 years. Yet, the world keeps spinning, the wars keep happening and the debt keeps rising….. and people that wait for the government to help them or solve their problems remain frustrated.

          • Big Data says:

            The problem is that people are projecting their own interests on the blank slate that is Trump. Just seeing reporting that many people who like Obamacare voted for Trump for other reasons and hope he was just kidding about Obamacare.

            This is how GOP is building their party. They get people who are passionate about single issues and get them all riled up. A few abortion haters, small gov enthusiasts, racists, business elites, and now some working class voters are promised that their interests will be promoted. That doesnt mean that a majority support any one of those ideas, but a coalition of disparate interests have had their passions inflamed and are promised the moon. So no, all Trump voters are not racists. Neither are they all small gov enthusiasts or all anti abortionists or tax cut fans or all rejecting the last 8 years. They are a mix of disparate desires and still only make up 46% of the voting electorate all told.

          • Big Data says:

            And by the way, obama i currently more popular than either Trump or Hillary were in the whole election cycle. That does not jibe with the idea that voters were voting to reject the last eight years.

          • Henry says:

            Most people are dissatisfied with our government and its ineffectiveness. That’s why only about 40-50 percent vote. Not a rejection of Obama as a person. Just a rejection of the partisan gridlock he was 50% of. Same reason incumbents getting voted out of congress the last few times around. (Both from your team and the bad guys team as well)

      • Big Data says:

        And what was Democrat about my post? I am merely pointing out the obvious contradictions in Trumps platform and promises.

        • Henry says:

          Obvious to you….with your facts and perspective. It’s obvious to some that Hillary is dishonest. It’s obvious to some that Obamacare is a disaster. But I bet those things aren’t obvious to you. You been bamboozled too….

          • Big Data says:

            We could attempt an honest discussion of Obamacare here, but it is difficult to get past the propaganda. Facts remain that more people are insured (good), premiums for some folks are high (bad) and that it has a lot of good and bad points. Portraying it as a disaster is simplistic, and for that reason alone, is an inadequate and false description. The disaster and tragedy will come if Trump dismantles this program before a credible replacement is ready. Obamacare has saved lives and enabled entrepreneurs to start businesses of their own because they could finally get insurance without being a hired hand at a corporation. The GOP would be wise to fix, rebrand, and adjust Obamacare, rather than applying false labels for political reasons.

          • Peter says:

            Hopefully the Federal Government will repeal, revise and improve. Could care less what the “GOP” does. If we had more bipartisan joint efforts in our government in the first place, Obamacare possibly wouldn’t be the mess that it is. No policy will ever be any good (or last) if one party crams it through in spite of the other.

  • Big Data says:

    PETER:”…The tough thing for people that identify as liberals or democrats is the reconciliation that their party is the party of Wall Street, war and crony capitalism now. ”

    How do you figure that? Trump and his cabinet ARE Wall Street. Hillary just talked to them. Obama attempted to end the wars that GOP started and Trump wants to bomb the L out of ISIS and proliferate and use nuclear weapons. I think that Trumps GOP still has WallStreet, crony capitalism and war mongering pretty firmly in their platform and practice.

  • Big Data says:

    Regarding Trump being who he says he is.

    I think Trump is how he acts and what he says. He is an egomaniacal, self-serving, thin-skinned, flip-flopping businessman. I don’t need media to interpret him, and it is not the media’s fault if people think badly of him. There is really no comparing him to Obama. Obama was lambasted at the beginning of his Presidency for having no experience (despite 10 years as state or US senator), and was accused of being a secret Muslim, a non-citizen, someone who hated white people and wanted to destroy America, a food stamp president, an advocate of death panels for old people, etc, etc. There was so much fake news and smoke being blown by the right that had no basis in fact. Meanwhile, after Hillary was persecuted for the mere appearance of conflicts of interest and for talking to Wall Street, we are supposed to ignore the unprecedented mountain of conflicts of interest represented by a president-elect who IS Wall Street, and who puts mostly billionaires on his cabinet.

    As for Trump being racist, I just think he is racially insensitive to the point if being ignorant. And while he is possibly more empathetic to LGBT than some in GOP, the LGBT community is rightfully concerned by the gay haters he puts in his cabinet and team of advisors. And lastly, there is an undisputed national rise in racist and anti-gay sentiment and actions in schools and public places that is attributable to Trump voters. Not all Trump supporters are racist, but i would venture that most racists are Trump supporters.

    Is there a silver lining to Trump? Not much, but there are 2 things. If he can push GOP to pass a half trillion or more package in infrastructure and construction, it will help working people and the economy. If he tries out some things on trade policy that dont work, it will be on GOP head and not Dems, and if he finds something that works to help the country, then good for him. The GOP will at least be forced to ATTEMPT governance and not just obstruction, and maybe something good will come of that. If not, Dems are back in 4 years and maybe GOP will be ready to be more conciliatory. Doubtful, but it could happen.

    • Henry says:

      Lol GO TEAM Democrats!!!!

      • Big Data says:

        Last 4 sentences were stated in terms of me being a Democrat. The rest were spoken in terms of being a neutral intelligent observer.

        • Henry says:

          Even funnier. And more subtext in there that implies that we should not trust or like billionaires – but be sympathetic to the LGBT community. I’m just shocked at what a home team fan you are. Part of the problem with Democrats – they can’t even see the image they project or self-critique their VERY flawed candidate.

          • Big Data says:

            The irony, Henry, is that for every flaw criticized in Hillary, Trump has the same flaw magnified by 10, PLUS a horde of new ones all his own. But he’s a by god spellbinder and has bamboozled the masses.

          • Stevendad says:

            Again, as a former Democrat,The party is likely heading into the abyss if they don’t realized that the plans and strategies they have created are not winners. The party is in complete disarray due to the Left and they are wanting to go more Left yet! I think it needs to be pointed out that once the immigration mess is figured out, Latinos are more likely to be conservative as their background is both capitalistic and Catholic by and large. Counting on them to vote Democratic forever is a pipe dream. I think even an African-American community is starting to wake up to how they have been taken for granted by Democrats.

          • Big Data says:

            Then GOP should drop their partisan cries of amnesty and grant a path to citizenship for hardworking undocumented immigrants who have been here for years. This is policy that 2/3 of Americans and a majority of Republicans favor in recent polls. Why do GOP leadership oppose it?

        • Big Data says:

          And no subtext about disliking billionaires is there. You are extrapolating beyond what i am saying. Trump lied, thats my point. He riled up the working class about Hillary talking, just TALKING to Wall Street, promised to drain the swamp of lifetime politicians and big money, promised to take away tax benefits of hedge fund managers, says he’s going to hire and appoint the best people, but then his actions disavow almost all of his promises. He is filling his swamp with more alligators who have wealth and/or party loyalty as their only resume bullet, are largely inexperienced in the realm in which they are expected to work, and are the opposite of what was promised.

          • Peter says:

            Just because someone is a billionaire doesn’t discredit their abilities. In fact, in many ways I think it is more likely to be that they are quite qualified than not. Appointing successful people doesn’t disavow taking away tax benefits of hedge fund managers. Of course you and I won’t agree on what “qualified” means. I think in the totally partisan dysfunctional government we have now, having political experience could actually be a bad thing.

            But honestly, with all due respect what is the point of this debate with you? You applaud just about everything Obama has done – and blame the GOP for everything he didn’t do. You have a completely glass half-full view of Hillary Clinton even beyond what I’ve seen from MSNBC and the New York Times. And so far you have not said one good thing about Donald Trump – trashing almost every move that he has made. This is why you are accused of being partisan. There is no depth to your thinking – and no open-mindedness that the Democrats vs Republicans debate might be more nuanced. Like I’ve said before, part of the reason I stick around is that you remind me of the very thing that is terribly wrong with our political climate. Don’t you see that we can’t go forward with one “team” forcing policy on the other? Then, the following elections will be mini-revolutions where everyone who didn’t want the policies vote out the incumbents (i.e. the Tea Party). Now we are doing it all over again with liberals raging against the Trump machine. In 2,4,6 or 8 years there will be an uprising against this and Dems will take over the Capitol and White House and erase what Trump did. This is horrible, horrible government and people like you feed into this. If you really want to help the country, take off your Democrat jersey and open your mind.

          • Peter says:

            And BS that there is no subtext about billionaires. If there wasn’t, then why even mention that there are billionaires in his cabinet. (Especially when most of them aren’t) DeVos, McMahon and Ross are actually the only billionaires he has appointed. Tillerson, Zinke, Perry, Puzder, Pruitt, Kelly, Mattis, Mnuchin, Chao, Price, Ross, Haley, Carson, Pompeo, Sessions, Bannon, Priebus, Flynn and McGahn are not.

          • Big Data says:

            Ome good thing about Trump: He, like Obama, recognizes the need and the benefit of a half trillion to trillion dollar infrastructure program. Todays hyperpartisan GOP Congress would never let a Democrat President get credit for such a needed effort however. Perhaps they will get it done with Republicans running the show. Perhaps authoritarian Trump will make them.

    • Stevendad says:

      That most racists are Trump supporters means Trump is a racist is a complete fallacy. That’s like saying most cop killers are Obama supporters. Does that mean Obama likes and agrees with cop killers?

      • Big Data says:

        And i did not promote that fallacy. I am not saying Trump is racist. But it is concerning that Trump falsely denied knowing who David Duke was, and willingly accepts the support of racists. Trump may not be actively racist, but he does not seem to give a hoot about understanding what racism is, how it is important, or how to fight it. He seems to diminish the idea as inconsequential political correctness, and that is alarming.

  • Big Data says:

    Regarding conversation -killing partisan speak:

    Stevendad and Peter, you realize that your posts are full of conversation-killing partisan speak, right? You may only recognize it in others (me, mostly), but you are as guilty, or perhaps more so. I got to thinking about this, and it seems to me that the difference between such “partisan-speak” that should rightfully be avoided, and having an intellectual position that is backed by logical argument, is precisely the logical argument. Partisan-speak is almost any (and the “almost” is an important word here) statement that expresses divisive ideas in terms of “always” or “never”, or that are merely repetitions of popular mantras that are echoed, or are opinions based on extrapolations of limited personal observation. Intellectual positions are conclusions derived from data, logic and calculation, backed by both observation and research. An intellectual position/opinion might be “I believe government programs are often inefficient and would benefit from competition.” Partisan-speak is an unbending absolute like “The government makes everything less efficacious and more expensive.” An intellectual position or opinion might be “I believe that we can balance the budget effectively without raising taxes.” Partisan-speak is saying “you are simply determined to raise the taxes on the rich. I still don’t think that you really are doing much problem solving in your thinking. You have one outcome you want to happen and we can’t talk about anything else without you bringing it back to this. And the problem with your solution is – it is never enough.” or using terms like “huge ill-conceived programs like [Medicare]”.

    As for that 2nd quote back, it was particularly offensive as it once again turned the discussion to personal insult and disrespect. That is really uncalled for.

    What I actually said, in brief in my post, was that it appears disingenuous and as bad marketing for GOP to begin their cost-saving push by (once again) arguing for cutting costs in social programs while SIMULTANEOUSLY planning a big tax cut for big corporations and the most wealthy. How is that statement partisan? And how is it that such a plain and forthright statement merits another personal attack against me rather than addressing my intellectual position?

    By the way, I did not “miss” Stevendad’s points, and my “one outcome” of raising taxes is not the only outcome I argue for, but is the point most likely to get a knee-jerk partisan reaction from this audience. To the degree that I believe that it is intellectually logical and most likely necessary to raise taxes on the most wealthy in order to address budget deficits, it is not a partisan issue, any more than you, Peter and Stevendad, believe that your positions on reducing the size of government and avoiding tax increases are blindly partisan. You believe you have good arguments backing those positions, and to the degree that you back up those positions, you have an intellectual position. If you simply assume that the necessity of shrinking government and never increasing taxes is self-evident, you are being partisan.

    How would you feel if I said “you are simply determined to cut size of government despite any negative impacts to the poor. I still don’t think that you really are doing much problem solving in your thinking. You have one outcome you want to happen and we can’t talk about anything else without you bringing it back to this. And the problem with your solution is – it is never enough.”?

    • Stevendad says:

      Good to see you back and in fighting form. I am NOT partisan. I am a moderate Dem whose party Left him behind. I am an American and I argue only for what in the long run is best for all Americans IMHO. I’m sorry, but “The government makes everything less efficacious and more expensive” is true based on 3 family career Feds and at least a hundred discussions with Fed employees. You just choose to ignore the disincentives for efficiency, near total lack of accountability and reward for bloat system we have wrought is a disastrous way to run any large enterprise.

      • Peter says:

        I’ll second this. I live in the Washington DC area and work closely with hundreds if not thousands of Federal employees. Much of my opinions of government inefficiencies come from them – not from the papers or political angles. Anyone who thinks we need more government bureaucracy is likely not on the “inside”.

        For full disclosure I have voted in all presidential elections and voted for Republicans, Democrats, Independents and Libertarians.

  • Peter says:

    Another example of our jacked-up media (as if the election coverage wasn’t bad enough) is the stories reporting on Trump. I am not a fan of Trump’s in any capacity, by the way – I think he is an egomaniac and a questionable business man. The left-leaning media is creating this narrative that the President-Elect wasn’t who he says he is – that he is a racist and that KKK rallies and hate crimes are on the rise now and that the election was a vote for “hate”. Eight years ago, the right was creating a narrative that we had elected a president who wasn’t who he said he was – that he was possibly even a Muslim, not born in the US and secretly plotting to ruin our nation from within. Both angles create nice home-team furor and passion but unfortunately have two awful side-effects.

    1) They miss the point of why the election went as it did. In both cases, people were voting for change. This falls in line of the income disparity argument we have had on here for years – if you feel like you are getting a raw deal, you don’t vote for the party that has been in power for the last 8 years of your misery. You don’t vote for the party that is giving speeches at Goldman Sachs and in bed with Wall Street (in 2008 this was Republicans, in 2016 it is Democrats). You vote for someone to shake up the system. Right or wrong, Obama and Trump ran on the same message – shaking up the system and dramatic change.

    2) They kill all productive dialogue. Just like I pointed out in the Medicare chat below, when someone starts to believe the partisan rhetoric, they get emotional, illogical and quit listening to rational thought or opposing views. You can’t even have a conversation anymore – as evidenced by the awful marriage of Obama and Congress.

    Turns out, 8 years later – Obama was neither a catalyst for impactful change nor an America-hating Muslim. Sure we had some small changes and certainly adopted a more globalist foreign policy approach. But all in all the reality of the Obama administration was well in the middle of the ridiculous extreme narratives. Keep that in mind as we try and watch the Trump administration objectively – it will continue to be increasingly difficult to filter through the partisan spin on everything – in both directions. The more we can avoid the mind control groupthink, the more we can solve complicated problems like Medicare, the budget, taxes, foreign policy, poverty, health care and income disparity.

    • Stevendad says:

      There is a great deal more credit or blame given to the President than he (so far he) deserves. The whole multi trillion dollar enterprise of Federal government has a momentum that can only be shifted modestly by one person. However, when the planets align, and all are of one party, then “progress” can be made. Thus Obamacare was born and a trillion dollar “stimulus” passed. Hopefully the present alignment will lead to a reduction in all of this “progress” and a reduction in the size and scope of government, as was the overriding mandate of the electorate. Despite the media’s insistence it was all about misogyny, racism, xenophobia, etc, this was the real message. Obama blew it for his party by doubling down on “same” rather than real “change”. Think about it: Dems went from both houses of Congress and the Presidency to none of them. The Democratic Party is at an historic low, perhaps a nadir or perhaps portent of things to come. Unfortunately, we are careening towards the abyss and need real leadership and real solutions. The Dems offered neither, just a lot of “not him “. I have to hope Trump can produce some solutions. If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.”

      • Stevendad says:

        Ok Peter, BD must FINALLY realize there is no countering our superior logic. Just crickets the past few days…????

        • Peter says:

          I doubt that is the case. Hopefully though….the tough thing for people that identify as liberals or democrats is the reconciliation that their party is the party of Wall Street, war and crony capitalism now. And their party is the one that is not accepting election results (or at least complaining). If I was a liberal, I would have hoped that we would have taken the high ground during the last 8 years. They have to be disappointed or at least concerned with these facts. Even Obamacare wasn’t really what the liberals wanted – it still greases the palms of insurance companies, making it too expensive for many (and rising).

  • Stevendad says:

    BD: I have to ask if: “The true will of the people supports addressing climate change, keeping the iran deal, fixing not destroying obamacare, keeping medicare and medicaid, funding Planned Parenthood, providing reasonable access to abortion, and Dems should fight hard against GOP attempts to overrun the will of the people.” is true, then why are House / Senate / state houses and governors some if not overwhelmingly Republican, who clearly oppose these things?
    And the “get rid of Medicare/aid” is just Liberal nonsense. Surely you don’t believe their political BS? I think that’s a huge problem with the Dems, seeing only what they believe, not believing what they see: i.e. their party in the worst shape since Reconstruction, 150 years ago. If only we can import enough voters, we will win! How about importing some good ideas and good candidates?

    • Big Data says:

      What do you mean by “get rid of Medicare/aid is just Liberal nonsense.” Are yousaying that it is false propaganda from liberals that conservatives want to scrap these programs?

      Conservatives repeatedly push privatization of these very popular programs, including conversion to a voucher system. That is not propaganda and it would essentially scrap the financial security that these programs provide to elderly and needy. Voucher programs for private insurance are just like govt loans for education. They drive prices skyward and ultimately enrich companies or colleges while bankrupting citizens and draining the treasury. And pure competition in healthcare and insurance just incentivizes the deaths of sick people thru lack of coverage. Ultimately we should move to universal health care and abandon these schemes where companies seek to get rich off of the misery and desperation of the sick.

      • Peter says:

        This is the problem with this sort of partisan-speak. There is a faction of Republicans that want to privatize a portion of Medicare. Few want to “scrap” Medicare/aid like you suggest. Almost all (and many Democrats) want to reform it. Nobody wants to ‘scrap the security to the elderly and needy’. These politicians are not evil … stupid, maybe – but not evil. I seriously doubt that any politician on either side wants to ruin the lives of millions of people. And Medicare/aid needs reforming. How can anyone have a conversation about reforming huge ill-conceived programs like this if every time someone suggests an alternative they are accused of trying to “getting rich off the misery and desperation of the sick”? You realize how frustrating that is? This is what I mean by partisan-speak. It kills the conversation before it even starts.

        • Stevendad says:

          Yes, false propaganda are the perfect words. Vouchers wouldn’t fly. It’s all just jabber…no one is scrapping those programs. They have to be reformed. There is no choice. Not enough money in the MC / Soc Sec Ponzi schemes. The government makes everything less efficacious and more expensive. The VA / Indian HS are shining examples of government efficiency in health care…ahem.

          • Stevendad says:

            BD. It’s interesting that you admit now that government loans have been a factor in inflating college costs.
            It’s cheaper to supply the same care in VA (a proxy for single payer) vs private care (per 2004 study) but delays of months rather than days lead to deaths. May be hard to compare… Similar reports from Canada and U.K.

      • Big Data says:

        Paul Ryan’s Medicare proposals, also pushed by Romney in his 2012 campaign, are described as a “premium support” plan which is a type of voucher plan. The devil is in the details, and some claim the premium support approach is different than a simple voucher approach. The attempt is to use competition to drive down government costs, but it is unclear what the impact would be on the costs to the elderly. It seems to me that, unless medical costs themselves are controlled or driven down by allowing govt to negotiate lower drug prices and hospital costs, any savings to govt will be costs to seniors. Again, the devil is in the details, but seniors (or future seniors) have reason to worry when rich folks are so intent on cutting their own taxes and cutting safety nets to pay for it, which is what the GOP always SEEMS to be proposing. It would be a lot more credible if taxes were held steady or increased somewhat on the overwhelmingly prosperous citizens and THEN proposals were made to contain costs that also fell lightly on everyone else.

        Nobody likes to see their own rather meager incomes even further depleted while the richest are simultaneously getting a big raise. That is really poor marketing, and that is certainly how the GOP appears to be heading (again).

        • Peter says:

          I don’t think I’m getting a big raise with this administration….. could be wrong….. This last post again shows that not only did you miss the point of what Stevendad was saying, but that you are simply determined to raise the taxes on the rich. I still don’t think that you really are doing much problem solving in your thinking. You have one outcome you want to happen and we can’t talk about anything else without you bringing it back to this. And the problem with your solution is – it is never enough.

          • Stevendad says:

            It’s funny, BD, and you sometimes point out exactly the problem with massive government intervention. Once you let the genie out of the bottle you begin picking winners and losers when you have to modify the plan. Always remember the unintended consequences of good deeds and legislation choose some over others.

          • Peter says:

            Exactly! This was my point earlier about the DOL regulations on financial advice. Unintended consequences of good deeds. Try to keep the unaware consumer from being screwed – instead have the consequence that smaller investors can’t even get professional advice any more. Try to reform the mortgage industry with more regulations and government intervention – instead have the consequence that it is now more difficult for middle class Americans to get a mortgage.

            Plus – I’m not sure why BD doesn’t realize that his own favorite political party is doing the very thing he rails against. Picking “winners” based on lobbying, super PACs, donations, etc. That undermined the well-meaning Obamacare for instance. It has also kept the government from truly punishing the Wall Street actors that caused/exacerbated the meltdown in 2008.

  • Peter says:

    Regarding the popular vote…. There are 318 million people in the USA. Clinton got 64.2 million votes and Trump got 62.2 million. 20.1% vs. 19.5%. It is arrogant and idiotic to say that “we are ignoring the will of the majority”. The majority doesn’t give enough of a crap – or like either candidate enough – to vote for either of these people. Plus, the way our system is written involves the Electoral College. It is predictable and banal that whomever loses the Electoral College while winning the popular vote would be whining about how unfair it is. Trump supporters would have done it too. But that’s the law. Ironically, it was Trump who was against the Electoral College during the campaign. That said, I think it would be foolish to change this process – people that live in the heartland would essentially lose their voice. Nonetheless, my main beef is with the ridiculous partisan crap – and the sour grapes and inability for people to move on and support the new President. That’s way scarier for our future than any other dynamic in our electorate.

    • Big Data says:

      Really, Peter, you are being uncharacteristically silly and unreasonable. Percent vote margins are expressed in terms of people who care enough to vote, not total population including infants. That is just absurd logic. My point is that, among citizens who have taken enough political interest to vote, Hillary’s vote margin advantage relative to Trump was about 1.6% of voters. No one has lost the Presidency in the last 140 years with that level of popular advantage. I am not sour graping the election. I am merely pointing out that there is NO mandate for Trump and his administration to start drastic dismantlings of programs like Medicare or Medicaid, nor even to destroy Obamacare. The roughly 100,000 people who pushed Trump over the top of the electoral votes in 3 swing states voted for jobs and economy, not small gov, not tax cuts to wealthy. GOP needs to recognize that they were elected on a populist wave, but also that luck of state populations and rare political circumstance let them win with lesser votes. If GOP starts advertising their usual crap that they have the will of the people behind them to give favors to the rich and corporations, while dismantling the safety nets to pay for the tax cuts, I think they will find that the swing Trump Voters will join with Dems to trounce GOP in next election.

      • Stevendad says:

        Of course, the campaign would’ve been run completely differently if it were a popular vote. It’s real hard to tell what would’ve happened had that been the circumstance. Every other office made it clear that the public is behind the Republicans agenda as they control everything at this point!
        Time to put up or shut up
        for the Republicans!

        • Big Data says:

          Last sentence is a good point. Its easy to be the back corner curmudgeon claiming to have the better solution. It is quite another to get good law passed and implemented.

          • Stevendad says:

            Now we’ll see the Dems “not willing to compromise “. This is code
            for both parties to do it my way or the highway. Schumer better find some serious read aloud material for all the filibustering.

          • Big Data says:

            Of course he will, and he should. The true will of the people supports addressing climate change, keeping the iran deal, fixing not destroying obamacare, keeping medicare and medicaid, funding Planned Parenthood, providing reasonable access to abortion, and Dems should fight hard against GOP attempts to overrun the will of the people. POT (Party Of Trump) was elected to restore economy to middle class. Dems should work with POT on those efforts but oppose usual GOP foolishness.

          • Peter says:

            One day hopefully we won’t have such foolish partisan nonsense in our government.

          • Big Data says:

            Hmmm … please clarify. I’m curious if we agree on which parts are partisan foolishness.

          • Peter says:

            Well, I certainly don’t think the only partisan talk is “from the right”. You wouldn’t know it if I told you anyhow.

      • Peter says:

        That’s all entirely true that it was really just a few counties that swung the election. But regardless of the 1.6% (or whatever way you want to calculate it) difference in margin, the election was won fair and square via the electoral college system and it is time to move on.

        • Big Data says:

          This has been such a wacky year, I am half expecting the recounts to find Russian hacking, resulting in faithless electors to disregard vote totals and throw a wrench in the results when they vote. Not really likely. But it would not be the strangest event of the election. Just one more crazy thing.

          But the popular vote comments were not meant to be about who legitimately won. I was merely pointing out that legislators would be wise to actually follow the will of all Americans by learning to compromise, and not just use a hairline victory as excuse to wreak partisan havoc.

          • Peter says:

            I certainly wish that had been the case for the last 16 years as well. Hopefully having a wild card who is a non-Republican/Democrat in the White House will help that!

          • Peter says:

            And you realize when you talk about Russian hackers you sound just like Trump talking about rigged elections? Or like the right when they said Obama was secretly a Muslim? Just saying….. I know you don’t think it comes off that way, but ….

          • Big Data says:

            Our intelligence agencies have verified that Russians are very likely the culprits who hacked Democrat leadership and provided info ultomately leaked to hurt Dems and thus actually did help to rig an election. I dont believe our intelligence agencies had any evidence for obama being a seccret Muslim. Thats the difference between substantiated and unsubstantiated speculation.

          • Peter says:

            The same intelligence agencies that told us that Benghazi was about a video? Or that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? Either believe it all or believe none of it.

          • Big Data says:

            I dont really think the accuracy of the FBI or other intelligence agencies is binary … all correct or all wrong. I prefer to understand t

          • Big Data says:

            … the underlying arguments.

          • Peter says:

            Which is literally impossible with the information you have at hand.

  • Big Data says:

    Interesting piece here from a conservative regarding the new alt-reality media, aka post-truth era, aka truthiness. This is how slander against Hillary cost her the election. Not from hidden conspiracies against her, but from open crowdsourcing of perceptions masquerading as reality, propaganda masquerading as research, anger masquerading as fact. No one seems to care about truth anymore, at least not truth based on facts research and analysis. They only care about what they feel to be true based on their limited experience, and what their circle of friends feel and express, along with what they selectively read and ingest that matches their predispoitions. All hail the death of truth and the rise of alt-truth. Except that i will still be fighting for the true true.
    Choice article quotes:
    In the new alt-reality bubble, negative information simply no longer penetrates; gaffes and scandals can be snuffed out, ignored, or spun; counternarratives can be launched. Trump has proven that a candidate could be immune to the narratives, criticism and fact-checking of the mainstream media. This was, after all, a campaign in which a presidential candidate trafficked in “scoops” from the National Enquirer. And got away with it.

    No wonder “fake news” could flourish in this environment.

    “Honestly,” Paul Horner, one of the creators of fake news, told the Washington Post last week, “people are definitely dumber. They just keep passing stuff around. Nobody fact-checks anything anymore—I mean, that’s how Trump got elected. He just said whatever he wanted, and people believed everything, and when the things he said turned out not to be true, people didn’t care because they’d already accepted it. It’s real scary. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

    So when, three days before the election, a fake news site posted: “FBI Agent Suspected in Hillary Email Leaks Found Dead,” the story could go viral, getting 560,000 shares on Facebook alone. Similar bogus stories were shared millions of times during the campaign. But this didn’t happen in a vacuum: Such stories fit easily into a media ecosystem that embraced an Alex Jones.

      • Peter says:

        LOL Don’t respond to an accusation of fake or biased news with a story that is EXACTLY that! In the first half alone I counted about 15 “speculations” at best – lies at worst. The biggest lie the media passed to all of us was that Trump couldn’t win. And just like Karl Rove a few elections back, the media held onto this belief even as the numbers were coming out. To try and paint “false or misleading media” as only a right wing problem is laughable.

        • Big Data says:

          The inability to accurately predict the future is much different than misrepresenting the present. No analysts thought Trump could win. That was not a lying media but an astonished media. The problem with fake or ‘truthy’ news is that it is poorly researched or flat out deceptive. And it happens in liberal and conservative media, but more with the latter, IMHO.

          Also, a news analysis story such as the linked one is allowed to have speculation. That is honest as long as speculation is not presented as fact. I don’t really see why you found the article offensive. It is interesting and certainly not fake.

          • Stevendad says:

            There’s all sorts of distortions and lies from the liberal media and the conservative press. There is no question that there is a feeling amongst the LGBTQ community that Trump is against them. However, I’ve watched this election very closely and have found no evidence of this. Again, Peter Thiel addressed the Republican convention and, in an absolutely jaw-dropping reaction , He was given a standing ovation! Yet on and on and on you hear that Trump is against this community. Clearly, Pence had said some of this. But all of this is been artributed to Trump as well. Interestingly, he is very good friends with Bruce/Caitlyn (sp?) Jenner and has said nothing negative about that situation.
            One of the tenants of the process to speak “truth to power”. It seems like they just have forgotten about the truth part…
            Instead we have false narrative that fit with the worldview of the writer rather than what actually happened, what was said, etc.

          • Stevendad says:

            Press not process

        • Big Data says:

          Wow. Look at todays news. Trump reads FAKE news and goes off on a tweet storm about how he won the popular vote except for illegal votes from immigrants … for which there is absolute zero evidence of that occurring. Fake news riles Trump. Welcome to the next 4 years.

  • Big Data says:

    Peter,

    My initial inclination was to shy away from responding to further discussion about divisiveness and arrogance, primarily because the discussion itself is one that seemingly invites division.

    For instance, it is difficult to defend myself against accusations of being divisive without simultaneously tossing out accusations which are also inherently insulting and divisive. I will say this, however, as politely as possible. Divisiveness is related to, or actually is in opposition to, diplomacy. And it seems to me that the opposite of diplomacy is to engage in personal attack and also to allow, without comment, personal attack by like minded individuals, while only critiquing personal attack by those you oppose. If you look over whatever most recent posts are currently available (I am seemingly unable to access most of recent pages on this forum), especially those under my current moniker, you will find no personal attacks by me against anyone, except for rebukes placed as a defensive post against critique by those posters who have directly and very personally attacked my intelligence and knowledge rather than discuss perspectives. Even then I was much milder in my response than the attack I received. And if you attack me for being divisive while staying silent about divisive attacks from others, that certainly seems divisive in and of itself. At least that is from my perspective, which I am posting for your consideration, and not as an attack on you.

    I also must point out that there is a big difference between seeing and understanding the other side of an argument, vs. agreement. You and I each have vastly different perspectives and considerable passion in defending our own beliefs. I believe I have taken extraordinary effort to see and understand your perspective. I have concluded and stated rather objectively that most of our differences can be explained by my inclination to look at data, systems, and trends, and your differing inclination to look almost exclusively at personal responsibility, morality, and initiative while ignoring systemic explanations. Just because I still disagree with you, does not mean that I fail to listen or understand. You very likely feel similarly. I should suggest that what you describe as divisiveness is simply disagreement, along with a persistent struggle to express a perspective in a manner that connects. And I further suggest that persisting in difficult conversations in quest of points of agreement is the very opposite of division.

    Setting that aside, it may actually be instructive to discuss your perspective vs my perspective on arrogance of Republican vs Democrat over the past 15 years and currently, post-election. We clearly have different views. What specifically do we each find arrogant in the public discussion?

    To be continued in next post…

    • Peter says:

      Please…no more discourse about the discourse…..LOL

      • Stevendad says:

        My point about arrogance is that Republicans have I’ve lost most of their arrogance because the things they were arrogant about are all gone. Telling people who they can marry and love, being totally against abortion, being against marijuana if not other drugs, and a variety of other social issues have all basically been won by the Democrats. There’s very little left to be arrogant about as far as the Republicans. I’m not one but the best I can tell they have lost all of these battles. I am not judging one way or the other on this just pointing out that it’s over for the most part on social issues for the Republicans.

        • Big Data says:

          Abortion is still very much in play, and the GOP arrogance I see there is in attacking Planned Parenthood with false accusations based on highly edited and manipulated videos, and attempting to kill the organization when clear majorities of the population support its existence.
          But arrogance exists in economic realm as well. Despite all evidence to the contrary, GOP pushes economic solutions that primarily involve more tax cuts to rich and cutting social programs. The former just creates more debt, and the latter is too unpopular to pass. But arrogance marches on, ignoring the lessons of the past …

        • Big Data says:

          The most glaring arrogance i see on the GOP side, whether traditional wing, tea party, or trumpist, is this overwhelming confidence in their own moral or policy superiority despite representing a distinctly minority view. The majority of Americans are against tax cuts for the rich, against completely eliminating obamacare, against making abortion completely illegal, against making voting harder with tighter id and registration laws, against defunding planned parenthood, against loosening regulations on banks. Yet elitists in the three gop factions will each very likely use their narrow gop victory to push their own agendas as if they have “the will of the people” behind them. This fits the very definition of arrogance which is a belief in ones own superiority, despite all evidence to the contrary.

      • Big Data says:

        Ok. Postponed anyway. I was judt offerring to listen. 😉

  • Big Data says:

    In the interest of friendly cometaderie, I should note that I agree with many points put forth by Peter and Stevendad below. There was a lot of arrogance uncovered in the election, and everyone SHOULD have a voice and everyone should be included in the conversation. It has been a mistake that has been repeated over and over for decades that liberals and conservatives have been rallying their respective bases to just overrun the other side with turnout rather than to persuade the Americans at large as to the validity of their arguments and to serve everyones interests. You can mock the liberals for ignoring the working class, but the conservatives gave them an even colder shoulder. Here on this forum, they have been dismissed as not having the right education, not marrying correctly, or not seeking the proper career, all while conservative policies were arguably primarily responsible for driving them to lower incomes and greater despair. So be careful with your schadenfreude. There have been plenty of deaf ears all around. A few heard the rumbles. Bernie, for one, but also a real estate marketer who just happened to side with the GOP for personal convenience. Perhaps he saw how weak the GOP ideas had become with their empty mantras of exorbitant increasing riches to the already wealthy as a cure to a slow economy, and their false promises of trickle down. He knocked all of the priests and priestesses of small gov off the stage and sold himself as a populist savior of the working class. That he could do so as a blatantly rich self serving magnate is truly a triumph of marketing over reason.
    I am disappointed, that after recognizing arrogance on one political side, the posters here chose to claim that:
    “The liberal agenda – beautifully illustrated by Steven H in this thread for years – is to marginalize, attack, mock, ignore, etc”. First of all, this strategy has been at the heart of the conservative agenda for years and they execute it with near perfection. Liberals attempt it, but are amateurs by comparison. And indeed this was also clearly the campaign Trump strategy. To assign such strategies as uniquely liberal is a failure to learn the lessons of this election. And to make this claim while calling out a single poster and mocking, marginalizing and ignoring his arguments is even worse. Arrogance is a funny thing. Those who see and call it out most readily in others are often the most deeply infected.

    • Peter says:

      I’m not saying that conservatives have never been arrogant. Just that the arrogance over the past 15 years or so has been largely liberal. Certainly conservatives have been arrogant in the past as well. I would completely disagree that liberals are amateurs at this arrogance. In many ways they are better at it since they have the mainstream media helping them with it. Liberals post-election want to label all Trump supporters as racists, suckers, idiots – but they aren’t listening to these people and understanding their perspectives. Sound familiar? 🙂

      • Peter says:

        Being blinded by an ideology and not being able to see others’ perspectives and at least understand others’ experiences is what bothers me the most. Of course I’ve said it many times before – the divisive discourse is what disturbs me the most. And I view that as arrogant and over the course of 3-4 years of this I have tried to shy away from this. In fact, it is the ONLY thing I’m critical of you of …. My closest friends and family members are what you would describe as “liberal” and we can have conversations about this. I do have one family member who is like you though…lots of eye rolling and judgment of contradictory opinions. Some on the left are making a huge error in the way they are characterizing Trump, Bannon, Pence, etc. in such close-minded one dimensional ways. For instance, I think Hillary has a great deal of corruption and criminal activity in her past. If she had won, that would not be what I would talking about. I would be talking about the good things – how she knows how the government works as well as anyone and will be much more capable of working across the aisle than Obama or Bush. I wouldn’t be standing in the street flipping out about her conflicts of interest. I would be supporting our elected president – the same way I did George W and Obama when they won. That’s not arrogance at all.

      • Big Data says:

        “Liberals post-election want to label all Trump supporters as racists, suckers, idiots – but they aren’t listening to these people and understanding their perspectives.”
        Not what I’m reading and certainly not what I’m saying.

        • Peter says:

          “People are definitely dumber…..that’s how Trump won the election”. Case in point.

          • Big Data says:

            You can read that as saying all trump voters are dumb, which the sentence does not say, or you can read it in context, which is to say that fake news and false perceptions, too willingly accepted by a less educated portion of the populace, swayed a close election. Thus, the population, being easily swayed by bad information is effectively acting dumber as a group.

          • Peter says:

            I read it the right way. And your reply confirmed what I thought you meant.

          • Big Data says:

            What i said was way different than all liberals laneling “all Trump supporters as racists, suckers, idiots – “. For one thing its about a quote from one guy making a generalization that more people are believing crap without fact-checking, which is true. Your statement is an indictment of the “liberal” media making statements about all Trump supporters being suckers, which is not true. There have been plenty of articles analyzing the legitimate working class gripes of Trump voters. Hell, ive been trumpeting the evils of income disparity for years and that is what this election rotated around on. The working class is rebelling against all these arguments of work harder, pick a different career, get more outlandishly expensive education, and saying they need better jobs and more money. But yes, fake news passed around wildly and poorly researched articles overstating Hillary’s flaws while ignoring policy differences did also swing the election.

        • Peter says:

          I don’t view being a supporter and benefactor of crony capitalism – or being loose with classified information – as “flaws”. Being a pig who hits on women every chance one gets is a flaw. Hillary’s problems were typical of everything that is wrong with our government – and if she was a Republican you would be saying all the same things.

          In a lot of ways, Clinton vs. Bush was a similar argument. While Bush wasn’t as immoral or criminal as Hillary, he was purportedly in bed with Wall Street, Saudi Arabia, big oil, etc. And Bill was way worse than Trump when it came to personal behavior (I view having sex with your employee as far worse than talking trash about grabbing women).

          Your partisan lens isn’t letting you accept that Hillary was a terrible candidate and not just one with ignorable “flaws”.

    • Stevendad says:

      You continue to build in that the economic collapse was due to trickle down. I have refuted this false narrative several times, showing how there was plenty of blame to go around in both parties. And again, unfettered illegal immigration and Dodd Frank (both Dem supported) have made income inequality worse and that the Gini coefficient is highest in predominantly Dem cities. Of course we need to help people to have mechanisms to succeed, but no one is wise enough to give across the board solutions that work for all. ALWAYS will be winners and losers. But if they would SWEAR they could help themselves. Just start today!! Get a minor side gig and put aside half what you earn in a mix of stocks/ bonds and gold (scottburns.com gives good advice about this) once you have $500. Very doable. Then you invest alongside the 1%. Nearly all will benefit if they JUST DO IT (with deference to Nike). Again, a huge amount of income inequality is from investment and not income side of earning. Jump in the water and get wet. Or just quit whining….

      • Big Data says:

        “You continue to build in that the economic collapse was due to trickle down. I have refuted this false narrative several times, …”
        The false promise of trickle down has been failing the country for 35 years, not just since 2008. The economic collapse of 2008 had many causes which we have discussed, but clearly the big debt accumulated during 20 years of GOP tax-cut and spend policy made the 2008 collapse more difficult to manage. I have heard of no evidence that Dodd Frank has contributed one pip toward income disparity. What evidence or article do you have that supports this? And immigration impact is 5% or less.
        http://www.csmonitor.com/Business/On-the-Economy/2011/0623/Is-immigration-behind-wage-income-inequality-Not-so-much

        • Stevendad says:

          Please find the data about changes recently in small business and home lending. It has slowed to a crawl. Bankers I know tell me Dodd Frank has terrified community bankers. I’ve seen this in many, many articles as well. Have you talk to any local bankers about this?

          Obama doubled all that debt. So he is also to blame. I am opposed to both parties screwing future Americans. Not me and probably not my kids, but hundreds of millions of my fellow citizens.

          That article is BS IMHO. The premise is that any work that’s done by immigrants would not be done by natives at any price. That seems very unlikely to me. Eventually $30 to 40 an hour would get natives up on to roofs or whatever. Obviously, the price of everything would go up but that may be part of our problem with growth in the sense that we have zero to negative inflation. Now we are in effective deflation. Ask Japan how difficult it can be to get out of deflation. Their markets and economy has grown very little since the 1980s. In this situation, people buy less now because it’s just going to be cheaper in a month or year. Deflation makes the whole merry-go-round stop. Modest inflation is what makes the whole thing go. Excessive inflation makes it bubble and pop. That’s one of the problems of the fed, they can make things worse by trying to control markets.

          • Big Data says:

            Dodd-Frank has many parts. What aspect hurts or frightens community bankers? After the collapse of 2008, i am rather unsympathetic to banks resuming freewheeling in unlimited risk with the nations money to make a quick buck for investors. We need Dodd-Frank or something like it.

          • Peter says:

            Dodd Frank is just like the DOL rule I talked about earlier. Had decent intentions but is poorly designed and executed and hasn’t had the intended results. The connection among all of this is that with the new regulations and the doubled national debt, we may not have the ability to save ourselves in a financial crisis if we have one again soon. You’d think after 2008, we would have broken up the banks rather than made them larger and more powerful. Seems like that would have made sense. But just like Obama didn’t have the b***s to get the insurance companies out of Obamacare, they don’t have the b***s (or the power) to take on the large banks – particularly when they finance their campaigns. So we end up with this weird hybrid policy that tries to help the people, solve the problem, but all the while keep greasing the palms of big business. Which is why they ultimately become failures.

        • Peter says:

          The 2008 decline didn’t have anything to do with trickle down economics. False connection.

          • Big Data says:

            I did not say that it did. Stevendad falsely put that statement in my credit. I just said trickle down was a false promise, which is what it has been for 35 years.

    • Stevendad says:

      See above. It is absolute BS that we have “dismissed” people because of marriage, career choices, etc. They can work 8 extra hours a week, even at min wage and save half (say $30), invest and at a realistic 5% return over inflation accumulate $200k in current dollars over a work lifetime as well as increasing your Soc Sec income. Also avoid high credit card or payday loan interest in an emergency. So you’re going to say no one can do that? Again, BS.

      • Stevendad says:

        i’ll restate this to put it closer to where the comment belongs: Actually, lest I forget, Moneyning is a great source of Information about where to invest money!

      • Big Data says:

        If the answer to the working class is always to work harder and harder for less and less, and the gift to the wealthy is always to receive more and more for doing the same or less, then where does personal responsibility and reward fit in? Americans already work harder and longer than any other advanced country, and yet vacations and health care and other benefits are less, college costs more, and income disparity is worse. When do we quit telling people to work harder for less and just provide a decent lifestyle and benefits for every working American?

        • Stevendad says:

          I think you completely missed the point. I went down to the most bare example: a minimum wage job, eight hours a week, and showed that it would give you $200,000 in spending power plus better social security benefits. Obviously, something more involved would be more helpful. The key thing is to invest alongside the 1%. From what I’ve seen, much of the income inequality is based on the stock market gains over the past 30 years. Most of the very high in the 1% make most of their income from investments. Only a very few make this from actual earned income. A great deal of the “excessive CEO compensation” is based on stock futures and similar investments that they are given for bringing up this price of the stock.

          There is a plurality of opinion that the increases in college tuition or largely based on the interference of the government. Regardless, I expect this will all come down significantly as universities move further and further away from classrooms and more and more towards online learning. Why would anyone spend huge amounts of money to physically go to university when they can get the same degree largely online at a much lower price?
          By the way, it worked for this working class American.

        • Big Data says:

          No, you missed my point, and again this harks back to analysis of individuals vs systems. You can always advance individuals in a system, but if the sytem is more constrained on the low earners, income disparity increases, slowing overall growth even as the richest prosper wildly. This is a bad system, not a failure of individuals.

        • Peter says:

          I sure wish I had received more for doing less….. I worked my butt off for minimal pay for years to get to this point. And took lots of risk and missed time away from my family. Now I make 7 figures and am a “bad guy”. Again, I take exception to this constant vilification of the successful. We NEVER tell people to quit working harder for less. We inspire and motivate them to work smarter – to learn trades, skills, etc. that help them build a career that helps both them and society. We don’t take even MORE of my money and hand it to them.

  • Big Data says:

    Lots to discuss and many points to answer, and not enough time in an evening. So lets get a little fact checking out of the way. Trump voters were not, by and large, voting for small government. You deceive yourself if you think so. As National Review wrote:
    “The era of small government is over. As Donald Trump’s convention speech made clear, the election of 2016 is a race between an old-school Democrat and a new-school progressive — between a post-war Teamsters’ boss and a university professor. Actual conservatism is nowhere in sight.”
    Trump promised government, if not personal, intervention to guarantee an expensive southern border wall, international trade wars to protect US jobs, renewal of the coal industry, rebuilding of the inner cities, rebuilding the nations crumbling infrastructure, a better less expensive health care plan, a bigger military, AND big tax cuts for everybody. Oh. Yes, and he would eliminate the national debt at the same time, which is total fantasy, but set that aside.
    Yes his agenda is pro business. But nothing he said ever hinted at small government and it is certainly not what his new working class friends voted for. They voted for big beautiful help the working class government spending. They will be sorele mad when the GOP fails to deliver on the Trump wishlist.

    So kindly dispense with any notion that the Trump victory is a victory for traditional small government conservatism. It was a vote for unleash the national debt big spending and big tax cuts policy. Like Reagan but now the middle class wants trickle up, not trickle down.

    • Big Data says:

      BTW, this was in response to Stevendads comment that “[Trump’s] general idea of smaller government is of course in line with my Libertarian world view.”

      • Peter says:

        Yes, agreed – I haven’t seen a Republican or Democratic candidate in a long time who was for smaller government.

      • Stevendad says:

        National Reivew has been wrong all along about Trump and I hope are wrong again. Right, the idea is less regulation and less taxing. My hope is Paul Ryan will rein in too rapid a growth in debt. Guarding the border and national defense are clearly enumerated Constitutional powers. SNAP, Medicaid, Medicare , free phones, Obamacare etc etc are not, even if they are laudable and good. The regulatory arm of the government has gotten flat out abusive. They have changed with regulations by orders of magnitude the original laws. They have embraced the CO2 theory of global warming. By the way, BD flat out lied about my position on this. I stated it is not settled science that CH4 may be the main issue, not CO2. This is NOT calling it a “hoax” as you said I did.

        Again, reining in regulation costs nothing in direct government spending (only saves money) and costs trillions. I am aware of countervailing cost arguments, but the self created CA water crisis is a classic example. They have copious water in northern CA and diverted it to save a fish, which incidentally had NO EFFECT. This was based on shabby science and has costs tens of billions. It is not just spending that needs control, but regulation! Don’t be too eager to secede, the rest of the country may just let you!

        And explain to me how letting people keep money they earned is more government? I have no problem in fair tax increases: a VAT with corresponding EIC increases for the working poor and income taxes reductions for everyone else; reducing loopholes but also reducing corporate taxes; making large employers reimburse governments for benefits they pay out; taxing the wealthy yearly for untaxed accumulated securities and private business wealth (1-2% or so), elimination of carried interest etc etc, just not across the board increases in income tax on those who already pay a massively disproportionate share of income taxes. These all eliminate unfair loopholes to avoid taxation or outright “wealthfare”.

        So smaller government means shrinking many parts of the government and increasing actual Constitutionally enumerated powers. This is PRECISELY what Trump has said. Very, very Libertarian ideas.

        • Stevendad says:

          Actually, lest I forget,Moneyning has some great ideas about how to invest!

        • Big Data says:

          Well stevendad, I have never intended to mis-represent your position. So regarding “By the way, BD flat out lied about my position on this. I stated it is not settled science that CH4 may be the main issue, not CO2. This is NOT calling it a “hoax” as you said I did.” I apologize of mis-stating, but it was not a lie in the primary use of that word, which is “to make an untrue statement with intent to deceive”. There was no intent to deceive.

          Regarding settled science, scientists fairly well understand that methane is a more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2, but also resides in the atmosphere in smaller quantities, and new emissions stay in the atmosphere for a shorter time than CO2. That said, it is not likely to be an either/or problem, but instead that both gases are an issue in varying proportion. The degree to which one gas is proportionally a problem depends on the time span you are studying and the Reduction of methane can produce better short term impact (because the remaining methane can also more quickly decline) but increases in C)2 are troubling because they impact the atmosphere for many more years in decades. See the following, but read it carefully. If you selectively read only what you want to see, you can simultaneously prove that CO2 or Methane are “the problem”, when the article really indicates it is both.

          http://www.onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/methane-vs-carbon-dioxide-a-greenhouse-gas-showdown/

          • Stevendad says:

            I accept your apology, and myself apologize for misinterpreting your intention and welcome your at least considering CH4 as a major component.

        • Big Data says:

          Regarding the 3 inch “delta smelt” fish in California:
          That’s an apparent reference to the 1.4 trillion gallons of water (paywall) that have been pumped into the San Francisco Bay since 2008, largely to save the delta smelt’s dwindling population. … Based on the number of almond acres in the state, Slate calculated that California uses 1.1 trillion gallons of water each year to farm almonds alone.
          That means the trillion gallons of water diverted toward the delta smelt over eight years could maybe have sustained one segment of California’s farming community for one year. Maybe.
          It would appear then that there’s a larger problem facing California’s water supply than the luminous three-inch fish, like, perhaps a drought. The water pumped to the delta smelt is a drop in the bucket compared to the estimated 63 trillion gallons of ground water the Western US lost to the drought from 2013 to mid-2014, according to water scientists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego.
          Trump’s solution for the water crisis then starts to feels a little like mending a leaky faucet with duct tape. It may help temporarily, but doesn’t address the larger, more pervasive problem at hand.
          http://qz.com/694841/this-is-the-3-inch-fish-trump-says-california-is-protecting-at-the-expense-of-its-farmers/

          • Stevendad says:

            It would have helped substantially. The overarching problem for all of this is population growth outstripping resources and nature’s ability to cope. Of course, the Earth will go on, the question is whether humans will…

          • Big Data says:

            Agreed. The issue is never saving the earth. Earth is fine. The issue is always preserving our habitat so we survive. But know that here is a real drought in California, way beyond what different river management can correct.

        • Big Data says:

          “And explain to me how letting people keep money they earned is more government? ”
          I don’t believe I ever said anything like that, so I certainly cannot defend it. “Letting people keep their money” aka tax cuts to the rich is a problem because, without corresponding spending cuts, it produces more debt.

          Also, this brings up an issue I have wanted to address. I have used a Ben Franklin quote multiple times on this forum and that quote addressed how money belongs to the government, and since govt makes the rules which enable people to get rich, govt also may change rules to tax that money to support the good of the nation at large. I never really payed much attention to the preamble that precedes that quote. Here it is:
          ===
          “The Remissness of our People in Paying Taxes is highly blameable; the Unwillingness to pay them is still more so. I see, in some Resolutions of Town Meetings, a Remonstrance against giving Congress a Power to take, as they call it, the People’s Money out of their Pockets, tho’ only to pay the Interest and Principal of Debts duly contracted. They seem to mistake the Point.
          *****Money, justly due from the People, is their Creditors’ Money, and no longer the Money of the People, who, if they withold it, should be compell’d to pay by some Law.*****”

          So, when there is a national debt, and tax money due, tacx cuts to the rich are not just letting people keep THEIR money. It is letting people keep the NATION’s money. So says Ben Franklin.

        • Big Data says:

          Regarding: “the idea is less regulation and less taxing. My hope is Paul Ryan will rein in too rapid a growth in debt. ”

          Consider Trump’s advisor Steve Bannon. His embrace of alt-right is troubling to me, even if it is just an embrace of convenience to boost his own and Trump’s interests. But Bannon should be troubling to you, Stevendad, as his philsophy, closely aligned to, and voiced through Trump, is nothing like you hope for.
          ====
          Bannon informed his staffers at Breitbart that a core part of their editorial mission was to “destroy Paul Ryan’s political career.” In December, he told one of his reporters that his “long game” was to have Ryan ousted from his Speakership by spring 2016. Both of these directives came after Trump had launched his campaign — and before Ryan had expressed any approval of the GOP front-runner. But the roots of Bannon’s antipathy for the Speaker and his ilk predates this election cycle — in 2014, Trump’s chief strategist told his fellow religious conservatives that “the tea party’s biggest fight is not with the left,” but rather with “the Republican establishment, which is really a collection of crony capitalists.”

          Perhaps, the most critical disparity between the two men’s worldviews is the way they conceptualize the relationship between working people and America’s economic elites. While Paul Ryan champions our nation’s corporate titans as “job creators” — whose prosperity is inextricably linked with that of the middle class — Bannon paints them as rootless, godless elites whose wealth is harvested from the exploitation of ordinary people.

          Bannon:The second form of capitalism that I feel is almost as disturbing, is what I call the Ayn Rand or the Objectivist School of libertarian capitalism…that form of capitalism is quite different when you really look at it to what I call the “enlightened capitalism” of the Judeo-Christian West. It is a capitalism that really looks to make people commodities, and to objectify people, and to use them almost — as many of the precepts of Marx …

          Bannon: So I think the discussion of, should we put a cap on wealth creation and distribution? It’s something that should be at the heart of every Christian that is a capitalist — “What is the purpose of whatever I’m doing with this wealth? What is the purpose of what I’m doing with the ability that God has given us, that divine providence has given us to actually be a creator of jobs and a creator of wealth?”
          He further decries the greed and faithlessness of today’s economic elites, explaining that “when capitalism was I believe at its highest flower and spreading its benefits to most of mankind, almost all of those capitalists were strong believers in the Judeo-Christian West.”
          His opposition to those elites becomes concrete, in policy terms when he reflects on his own experience as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs. Bannon not only voices disdain for the bailouts, but complains that “not one criminal charge has ever been brought to any bank executive associated with 2008 crisis. And in fact, it gets worse. No bonuses and none of their equity was taken.” What’s more, he appears to endorse some version of Glass-Steagall and the Volcker rule in Dodd–Frank…

          Bannon:I think you really need to go back and make banks do what they do: Commercial banks lend money, and investment banks invest in entrepreneurs and to get away from this trading — you know, the hedge fund securitization, which they’ve all become basically trading operations and securitizations and not put capital back and really grow businesses and to grow the economy.

          http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2016/11/why-steve-bannon-hates-paul-ryan.html
          ====

          So a big piece of Bannon’s philosophy is economic populism. Almost none of it is small government or tax cuts to rich or cutting bank and financial regulations. It will be interesting to see how this plays out with the GOP. Prepare for a bumpy ride.

          • Stevendad says:

            I have a feeling Bannon will be more transitional than long term. I’m not a huge fan of his and of hard core conservatives. I could be wrong, but I think Paul Ryan is pretty safe in his job.

  • Peter says:

    Was just thinking- the Trump victory echoes one of the very things that our struggles with Steven H (Big Data) showed. Steven H continually pointed to resources and research that supported his worldview. He also denied that Trump was universally panned and that Benghazi, the private email server, or other Clinton scandals carried any weight. I think this is a microcosm of what our mass media did.

    For years now, the media and liberals have been ignoring the opinions, politics and thoughts of a large group of people. They marginalize them as “gun-loving, bible thumping white trash” or with other such unflattering labels. And look, I’m not a fan of this demographic (I used to live in a community dominated by them) but they are people. And they are voters. And their opinion matters whether someone agrees with them or not. Even KKK members have a voice in this country. As do transgendered people, Syrian refugees and disabled veterans. We all have a voice and we can’t squelch the voices we don’t like or don’t agree with. We must listen to them and (gulp) learn from them.

    The liberal agenda – beautifully illustrated by Steven H in this thread for years – is to marginalize, attack, mock, ignore, etc….. What happened on Election Day is this group got tired of this and used the vote to speak up. The funny thing is – they weren’t in the shadows…they were there all along. Michael Moore himself was screaming for the last two months about the vibe in the Rust belt. He knows this group of people and could feel what was happening there. Trump rallies would be packed with thousands of people time and time again, yet the media never covered it – ignoring them completely. The democrats ignored this as well, instead focusing on stupid strategies like sending fake protestors so the media would cover THAT rather than the fact that 40k people came to see Trump.

    It’s not really about Donald J Trump – it is about a movement – a rejection of the crony capitalist, corrupt, dishonest politics that we have endured for some time now. And it is the liberals own fault for doing the very thing they hated Republicans for doing when they were in power – ignoring the feelings of a giant part of the population. Like it or not, we are all Americans and we can’t ignore any part of our people.

    • Stevendad says:

      Well said. The Liberal / Progressive response is based on incredible, irrefutable ARROGANCE: “Our ideas are SO good that one must be a __ist to disagree with us!” So they attack the people who don’t believe governments answer all. As has been shown in polling, the SAME people who put Obama over the top were the same people who put Trump over the top. They did not suddenly become racists.
      To paraphrase: all we are saying, is give Trump a chance. Again, based on my optimism, I hope he can be a LOT more Presidential and pick good people to help him. His general idea of smaller government is of course in line with my Libertarian world view. If Paul Ryan can keep Trump from adding to the debt in an increased manner we just might pull something good off.
      Here’s a non sequitur: Our hospital now gets fined 3% unless 80% of patients are satisfied. Can we apply the same to the VA, IRS and TSA? Cut 3% of their budget if they don’t? For that matter CMS should have to meet the same levels.. Fair is fair after all…

      • Stevendad says:

        Also unrepentant arrogance!

      • Peter says:

        That’s really true. That is the same arrogance I felt talking to Big Data/Steven H that I didn’t feel 3 years ago talking to other more liberal posters. Condescending arrogance and total shock that others might disagree or that people might have completely valid arguments or points of view that contradict his worldview.

        Also if this doesn’t flat out EXPOSE the media for what it is, I don’t know what will. The media joined right in with the arrogance. Check out this article….

        http://www.cbsnews.com/news/commentary-the-unbearable-smugness-of-the-press-presidential-election-2016/

        I was also enjoying watching Bill Maher’s show this week. It really illustrated the arrogance and Animal Farm – style thickheadedness of some Democrats. He offered up suggestions on what Dems could do better to win future elections and the audience went silent. The panel disagreed with him when he said they missed an entire demographic (white, non-college educated working class men). The crowd only cheered when he offered flimsy Trump insults.

        To be honest, the reaction of the left to this election has been very disturbing to me. The media has created such a disconnect from reality for people. None of us really truly know how the “other half” lives (as they say).

        • Stevendad says:

          Any thoughts on the 80% satisfaction proposal?

          • Peter says:

            I’m not familiar with that….will have to look into.

          • Peter says:

            I see what you are asking…..frankly, I don’t know that health care should be treated the same way as say, the IRS or TSA…. I’m also not sure that cutting the budget for failing to meet it is reasonable either. I have heard of this in hospitals and such now that you mention it – frankly, I think the way the government has approached both your industry and mine have done more to damage it than help people. They just don’t know what they are doing.

    • Big Data says:

      A little more fact checking. Not quite true that I “denied that Trump was universally panned and that Benghazi, the private email server, or other Clinton scandals carried any weight.” I actually PROCLAIMED, not denied, that Trump was universally panned by educated editors and analysts of all political stripes. And I also did not deny that Hillary’s burden of unfounded accusations against her carried weight in public opinion. What I argued is that none of these accusations and investigations ever bore fruit of substance, and that the email server isdue was especially overblown, even by the so called liberal media. This illustrates the lverwhelming success of GOP strategies to mock, marginalize, and attack. They discovered that they dont have to prove anything, but just have to throw enough mud over and over to destroy their opponents. And look what it got them. Trump.

      • Peter says:

        I meant you denied that Trump was not universally panned. And saying that Hillary’s scandals carry weight in public opinion isn’t the point – saying that when there is smoke, there is likely fire is my point.

        Sorry, but you will never convince me the email server thing is overblown. I just know too much inside information on this to let that one go. Almost nobody inside that community thinks it was overblown.

        And Trump didn’t win because of those things. Again marginalizing a group of US citizens.

        • Big Data says:

          I saw rallies. Of course he had followers and so was not universally panned. He was however almost universally rejected by both liberal and conservative mainstream press. As to smoke and fire, there was a heck of a lot of smoke blown around Obama in his first term, but most (not all) agree there was no fire. Where there is smoke there is smoke. Where there is fire, there is fire, and probably smoke. There is always smoke in politics, and it is usually a smoke-screen coming from the opposition.

          Trump won electoral college by skin of his teeth and by tremendous luck of circumstance. Remove any one of the following: the free media publicity, Comey’s last minute memo to GOP re inconsequential e-mails, pollster’s mistakes that misled the electorate, press misquotes of Hillary regarding coal, press failures to explain the e-mail issue adequately; and Trump would have lost. He lost the popular vote, probably by 2 million plus votes, and so has no mandate, but he and GOP leaders will surely act as if there is one, arrogantly disregarding most Americans while they follower their inner voices that most people disagree with, and actively disregarding the working class who put Trump over the top.

          • Peter says:

            There was no smoke around Obama. In 8 years. And I’m sure the right tried…..

            And the mainstream press endorsing or panning means nothing at all to me. They were almost entirely on the Hillary side all along with their reporting. And she still lost.

            Popular vote argument also means little. Very small margin…and she won by 2x that margin in California, meaning she lost the rest of the nation by 2 million votes. Irrelevant anyway as we have an electoral college.

          • Big Data says:

            Popular vote indicates a mandate, or lack of one. Woe be to the President or Congress or Party who chooses to oppose the will of the majority, regardless what result the Elector system produces.
            We have talked about ignoring the interests of the white working class and how it was a mistake. Surely it is a much bigger mistake to ignore the majority voters, especially as they represent the majority populations in almost every urban center in the country. It would truly be arrogant to pursue such a path.

      • Stevendad says:

        The process got us all Trump… Just like the last 2 got us Barack Obama. I seldom agreed with him, but never doubted the legitimacy of his Presidency. The Left owes Trump the same deference.
        As I said months ago, pay for play is much more serious charge. Do you want the justice department and Congress to aggressively pursue this to prove your point. May be no “there there” but that is far from proven. And again Hillary’s email scandal did not have “unfounded accusations” but just did not meet prosecutorial level despite being “extremely careless”. This is not the same as the “nothing to see there” point of view you seem to have.

        Regardless, let’s give Trump a chance. Interestingly, the press is already criticizing Trump for cabinet mayhem. Obama had no appointments at this point when he was elected in 2008.

        • Big Data says:

          Stevendad, while you may have accepted Obama’s legitimacy, a huge faction of the GOP never did. There are still birthers, even yet.

          APPEARANCE of pay for play is specious for Hillary. The 25 citizens she spoke with as SOS, who also gave to the Clinton charity (from which the Clintons receive no money) is hardly a worthy scandal. How can it be pay for play if there is no pay? Trump’s charity, by comparison, has confessed to violations of law and use of charity money to directly benefit Trump and his business interests, and he has absolutely mind-bogglingly massive conflicts of interest between his business and political interests that dwarf the minuscule accusations against Hillary. His new Trump Hotel near the White House is on land rented from the GSA with which Trump has a dispute about rental rates, and for which organization he will be appointing a new head. Talk about Pay for Play! “Give me lower rent or you don’t get a job!”

          Hillary’s email scandal did not meet levels to merit prosecution. Correct. Furthermore, there was no intention to reveal classified info, incidental classified info on the server was either low-level, retroactively classified or in dispute as to level by differing organizations, and none was released to public or hackers as far as any investigation discovered. That should be the end of it.

          As for Obama appointments, by Nov 21 2008, Obama had offerred Hillary the Secretary of State position and she had accepted. Bill Geithner was appointed in late November but I don’t have the date. Most of his other appointments were in early December. Like Trump, Congressional approval comes much later.

          • Peter says:

            Wow you are some Hillary fan…..

          • Stevendad says:

            It is alleged Bill did speeches for hundreds of thousands, then Hill intervened for said entities. Thus she received half as NY is a community property state. Quid pro quo. If it’s true… I don’t know, but smells bad. Has nothing to do with Clinton foundation.

  • Stevendad says:

    Watching MSNBC this morning they had a large round table with Michael Moore as the featured guest. Of course, the whole thing was about how The Democratic Party needed to double down on progressivism. They also of course named all the other “isms in “that were the blame for the way people voted. It’s interesting to see Joe Scarborough cut off one of the guest when he suggested that the voters voted due to racism. He pointed out that the same group of voters it put up Barack Obama over-the-top were the same group that put Donald Trump over the top.

    Regardless, it is clear that they don’t understand at all that the Trump voters voted because they do not believe that larger and larger federal government is the answer to all ills. Many openly admitted they did not vote for Trump the man. If they continue to ignore this, they will not be relevant for a long time, if ever. Wake up Democrats!

    • Peter says:

      I agree – I think in North Carolina in particular, they rushed to far to progressivism and the people fought back. There are a lot of very progressive college towns and societies in NC (Chapel Hill, Charlotte, etc.) – but the majority of the state are old-school southerners who aren’t quite ready to have gender-neutral bathrooms or openly accept – or celebrate – gays, transgenders, Muslims, or frankly anyone different than them. I remember – I lived there for a while and have lots of family there. It is an interesting place.

      Not saying that one group is “right” or “wrong” – I’m just saying that if you try and force your way of thinking onto a people, they will resist. That’s why I think the people spoke up in this election in NC and went back to being a red state. People have to realize, there is a BIG step between general tolerance or acceptance of LBGT people and embracing or celebrating them. These things take time. Just look at the gradual acceptance of marijuana as an example. If 20 years ago the government tried to make it completely legal recreationally nationwide, people would have flipped out. Society has to change gradually, naturally, organically….not with the government forcing it on the people with executive orders or Supreme Court rulings. And I do believe our society is moving in the progressive direction – even with Trump as President. We just run the risk of alienating a large portion of voters if we ignore their views and start forcing them to swallow difficult pills.

  • Big Data says:

    I’d like to bring together some recent disparate and conflicting comments, and discuss them.

    1) Peter and Stevendad object to the “laziness” of people not searching for truth, and the lack of objective sources:

    Peter: … there is no media source that I know of that just reports the news. Everywhere is so editorialized and biased.

    Steven dad: The “truth” or as close as we can define it, requires work and research. Unfortunately, most are too disinterested or lazy to do any.

    2) Then Peter objects to my statements as divisive, that I should draw a conclusion from the fact that Benghazi has been investigated multiple times by both parties, with no conclusion of criminality or gross incompetence.

    Peter: …not everyone agrees with you that Benghazi is what it seems (and that the investigations were legitimate) or that Hillary no less an awful person than Trump is. These are not open-and-shut cases where you or I know the definitive answers. You treat them like they are though – and all of your opinions fall as part of a predictable ethos. That’s what is off-putting and divisive.

    3) Then finally, Peter states his own conclusions about Hillary,

    Peter: The biggest complaints people have about government and politics are things like inefficiency, lies and half-truths, politicians talking out of both sides of their mouths, saying one thing and doing another, crony capitalism and pay-to-play politics, self-interests above the people….. Hillary checks the “YES” box to all of these things.

    ====

    So first question: What is the purpose of either a trial or an investigation, if the people interested in, or even involved in the process, only accept the results when it fits their preconceptions?

    Benghazi has been investigated 9 times. NINE!
    1) Clinton convened an Accountability Review Board to investigate the incident
    2) The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (House Republican-led)
    3) The Senate Committee On Homeland Security And Governmental Affairs (Senate Bipartisan Committee)
    4) The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (Senate Bipartisan Committee)
    5) The House Committee on Foreign Affairs (House Republican-led)
    6) The House Committee on the Judiciary (House Republican-led)
    7) The House Committee on Armed Services (House Republican-led)
    8) The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (House Republican-led)
    9) The House Select Committee on Benghazi (House Republican-led)
    ===
    Granted, some of these committees investigated different aspects of the response. But while deficiencies were found in State Department, CIA and the military, there was nothing in any of the reports that defends the ridiculous conspiracy theories hyped for years on Fox and other Republican news sources or that merits the kind of defamatory attacks against Hillary that have persisted.

    Peter says “not everyone agrees with you that Benghazi is what it seems (and that the investigations were legitimate)”. What does that mean? That I am not justified in stating the conclusions of 9 separate investigations, most of them by Clinton’s enemies? Why? Because “not everyone agrees” in their conclusions? Isn’t it a little ridiculous to hold our conception of truth and facts hostage to a few nutcases (or a bunch of nut-cases) who have been bamboozled by the repeatedly discredited conspiracy theories of the very same partisan news sources you object to?
    Why am I being divisive by stating the facts that are repeatedly rediscovered by investigation after investigation? Isn’t it the partisan conspiracy theorists who are the divisive ones?

    Then Peter states his own partisan divisive opinions about Hillary. Most of his comments are the stereotypes of politicians (say one thing, do another) which are non-specific and which arguably apply to every politician, CEO, and leader who ever led anything or made any decision. But specific accusations of “pay to play” and “self interests above the people” are simply divisive slander and not are not well supported by fact or by Hillary’s years of service to advance honorable ideology she has held since a college student. The pay to play accusation is particularly absurd since it originates with an opponent who runs a Foundation which is arguably a sham vs the Clinton Foundation which has been rated as one of the most efficient charity organizations in existence, with estimates (by organizations that evaluate charities) of the percentage of funds going to charitable services ranging from 80 to 88%. And since the Clinton Foundation pays no salary to any member of the Clinton family, it behooves me how anyone claims that donations to that Foundation can be twisted into a pay-to-play scenario.

    Finally, the willingness to equate Trump and Clinton as equally undesirable, or as similar in their ethical grounding (or lack thereof), or presidential ability shows an astounding lack of willingness to do research or seek truths. Forget this idea that we can’t know things because somebody somewhere believes something different. It should carry some weight that every almost every endorsement of publications and newspapers across the country, including notable conservative papers and magazines endorse Hillary, or at least endorse not-Trump. I think about 6 small-town papers nationwide have endorsed Trump. Only 9% of Europeans think Trump would do the right thing regarding world affairs, vs 56% for Hillary. Trump’s primary support among US citizens is with the non-college educated. Trump is widely recognized by people who actually study this stuff as one of the least capable, least prepared individuals to vie for the presidency as a major party nominee.

    Meanwhile, Hillary has been one of the most over-investigated, politically slandered, individuals in US history. If she is so goo-darn terrible, why can no one take her down? Because she is so sly and slick? Listen to her. She is no car salesman. She is a policy wonk. She is piss-poor at deflecting criticism and that has been her problem … not that she is too slick, but that she is not slick enough.

    Take the whole e-mail server thing. People like to claim she was being so slick setting up a sophisticated system to hide her criminal activities. The FBI report found that she is a technical neophyte who insisted on using an antiquated model Blackberry because that was what she understood. She really did just set up a system for convenience. And as the unfriendly and reluctant FBI has now stated TWICE, she did NOTHING that was malicious or prosecutable.

    Yet there will be those nut-cases who still want to “lock her up”, even though the politicians they favor are highly unlikely to be able to weather the kind of scrutiny Hillary has received without having a real crime uncovered. And who started that “Lock her up” nonsense? Mr Bridgegate Christie himself. He is looking a lot more criminal than she is, these days.

    So I am all for research. And despite all the partisan sources available online, there is a lot of good research by good reporters. You just have to look for the real data and block out the unsubstantiated rumors and the conspiracy theories.

    • Peter says:

      Never been interested in relative comparisons of integrity between Trump and Clinton and wasn’t what my point was. My main point is that between Benghazi, the private email server, the Clinton Foundation, Whitewater, and all the other evidence and accusations of her dealings that would qualify as conflicts of interest (at the minimum) or pay to play…..it is a conspiracy theory to think that there is no fire behind any of this smoke. I’m sure you like Obama, so let me use him as a comparison. He has been president for 8 years and is very unpopular outside of his party. What are his “scandals”? All I know of are the preposterous right-wing nut ones – like that he wasn’t born here or is secretly a muslim and trying to ruin the nation from within. That’s it…..emails have been leaked from DNC and all sorts of other places and there is nothing in there that makes Obama stink…. You can’t blame every attack on the vitriol of your opponent. And you can’t believe that someone like Clinton doesn’t have the power to quiet the noise around these things. Maybe she is innocent of all of the long list of things she has done – but we have countless examples of both her and Bill lying to the face of the American public, Congress and even grand juries.

    • Peter says:

      And in the interest of equal time – I think there is much evidence that Trump may not even be a good business man- which is one of the primary reasons many people support him. I have often thought that having someone with more of a mind for how the actual business world works would be great for our government – but does Trump even know that? Where are the people he has mentored over his career? Most great business people have this. Where are the testimonies of his employees who he has helped make great lives for themselves? Even Kenneth Lay and Bernie Ebbers likely had these at times. The bottom line is Trump is a self-marketer – more in line with Paris Hilton and the Kardashians than Bezos or Buffett. He is a brand – and his running for president is simply a furthering of that. Even with all the left-wing media like CNN and MSNBC trashing him constantly, I think this is the part they miss the most. Is he really even a good business person who knows how to lift others up – to give people the means to succeed and someday become millionaires and billionaires themselves? I don’t see the evidence.

      • Stevendad says:

        I think there is not just some smoke around Hillary, but a room full of smoke obscuring everything. Remember that Comey did not find her devoid of any fault or wrongdoing. In fact he found her “extremely careless”, just not quite to the level of criminal behavior. She lied directly to the public about the Benghazi cause and her own emails backed up the fact that a video had nothing to do with it. This was done totally for political purposes to help elected Barack Obama. Please support this, if you can. This may not be criminal, but is clearly distasteful and unethical behavior.

        Time will tell about the “Peifer play”. My guess is Hillary win the election and the press will then turn on her. We’ll see how this turns out. Great theater! Not sure it’s good for the country though…

        Don’t get me wrong I don’t support trump either. He has some good ideas that fit in my general political mindset, but he has a lot of bad ideas and certainly can’t help saying and perhaps doing stupid things

        • Peter says:

          It’s a shame for people like Big Data (Steven H) that the corrupt DNC and our media did everything in their power to promote such a shady candidate with so much “smoke” around her over a true progressive like Bernie Sanders. Bernie would not have lost Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan and would like be President right now. And he was the true supporter of Steven H’s ideology – income inequality was his top issue in his platform. Kind of ironic in a way.

          • Stevendad says:

            Pretty clear Bernie never had a chance. Even if he had won the vote he would have been defeated by the superdelegates.
            I am, by the way, a registered Democrat. My party has been hijacked by the Progressive wing and this DISASTER is the result: Repubs have a vast majority of governorships and state legislatures , the House of Representatives, the Senate, the Presidency and soon will have the Supreme Court. The Democrats control NOTHING. Hopefully some of my party will realize this disastrous Progressivism coupled with a “my way or the highway” dogma is not where our country is.
            And by the way, don’t buy into your own BS about everything that you call Trump. He clearly is in many ways flawed, but he had many things attributed to him that he did not say. For example, he said “some of them are rapists” and did not call all Mexicans rapists. And yet I hear that quoted over and over and over again.
            Distortions and occasionally out right lies by the media have essentially shut out any voice that they may have had with many Americans. They lost all credibility in their fawning and pandering over Hillary Clinton and the progressive agenda.
            Hopefully, we will all give Trump a chance and see how he does and hopefully, he will learn to act more “Presidential” His victory speech seemed to be a terrific start. I think much of what he said earlier was likely just electioneering, but time will tell. Hopefully his business sense will set us on a better path. Lots of “hopefully” in that paragraph , but I am an invertrate optimist after all.
            I think a start for all of us would be honest and to look at what is really true and not what is politically expedient for us. There is no question we have real problems that need real solutions. Stephen H/big data I’d be interested to hear what you have to say after an appropriate mourning period…

          • Peter says:

            Totally agree Stevendad. Think nobody looks dumber here than the media. They shilled for Hillary for the past few months and were scrambling all night on Tuesday trying to report ‘objective’ news with their Hillary spin. Obviously, MSNBC didn’t hide their disgust and Fox didn’t hide their glee – but CNN was like a malfunctioning robot trying to make sense of it all. The best was when Wolf Blitzer tried to spin the announcement of Hillary winning California (to take the lead temporarily) as exciting news while Jake Tapper looked at him befuddled. Brit Hume called out the media well I thought – I forget what channel he was one – by saying that those that actually REPORT the news made a huge error by marginalizing Trump and treating him differently than any other candidate. That was my favorite part of the whole evening. Not only did we blow up and reject the whole Washington establishment and crony capitalism but we also embarrassed the media. People are going to be much more cynical about these polls next time around. And no, I did not vote for Trump.

          • Peter says:

            Big Data may be in the process of moving to Sweden….. 🙂

          • Big Data says:

            “Brit Hume called out the media well I thought – I forget what channel he was one – by saying that those that actually REPORT the news made a huge error by marginalizing Trump and treating him differently than any other candidate. ”

            I think the biggest mistake the media made was giving Trump so much free publicity for months, while simultaneously slamming Hillary every time somebody said the words e-mail.

        • Stevendad says:

          Oops “Pay for play”

          By the way, the whole “doctors keep patients ill just to keep them coming back” thing is just absurd. I’ve been doing this 30 years and I’ve never seen that. Some people don’t keep up with technology, but I’ve never seen such a sinister element. People are plenty good at making bad decisions to keep us plenty busy!!

        • Big Data says:

          “She lied directly to the public about the Benghazi cause and her own emails backed up the fact that a video had nothing to do with it.”

          This is your opinion. Most facts, and the opinions of knowledgable insiders do not defend this point of view, however.

          http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/Benghazi-Hillary-Clinton-Morell/2016/08/07/id/742478/

          Hillary Clinton’s assertion to the grieving mother of a Benghazi, Libya, victim that the deadly 2012 assault was caused by an anti-Islam video was as “true” as the fact it was a terror strike, according to ex-CIA acting director Michael Morell.

          In an interview Sunday with ABC News’ “This Week,” Morell said “the video did play a role in that attack, and Republicans don’t want people to believe that.”

          Morell said in 2014, the Federal Bureau of Investigation testified to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence that it believed “the video was a motivation in this attack. Abu Khattala, who is the only person arrested, said that the video was a motivation.”

          • Peter says:

            LOL @ article from NewsMax to support this. Right after you railed about fake news sites. While not essentially fake – this is hardly a respected source for news. (like Brietbart or Mother Jones)

          • Big Data says:

            The three quotes are verifiable from multiple sources. Even a biased news outlet can report quotes and facts correctly. It does not become fake just because newsmax or msnbc or fox or hannity reports it. reports it.

  • Peter says:

    Thought this was a great quote about the state of US politics… “A normal country doesn’t have a half-trillion-dollar trade deficit. A normal country doesn’t fight five simultaneous undeclared wars. In a normal country, the government actually does its job.” It really is disgusting that it has come to this point that we may even elect a misogynist egomaniac for President just to try and change the tide. I mean, what are the other options? The biggest complaints people have about government and politics are things like inefficiency, lies and half-truths, politicians talking out of both sides of their mouths, saying one thing and doing another, crony capitalism and pay-to-play politics, self-interests above the people….. Hillary checks the “YES” box to all of these things. And our other option is an unproven, loose cannon who we can only imagine what impact he may have in the White House. And both want to spend more money that we don’t have. And the media plays too big of a role. Scary times we live in – and the government stupidity and bureaucracy is keeping us in economic stagnation and hurting the little guy more than ever before. Companies have cash they are hoarding rather than putting back into the infrastructure. Health care and education plans don’t work efficiently to be sustainable or actually help our sick and our children. Politics has become entertainment news (O’Reilly, Maddow, Hannity, Matthews, etc.) rather than an important part of our society. We bury our industries in regulations that do nothing but slow growth and create red tape. All in the name of “helping” the average American citizen. The reality is all that most government policy does is further along the reputation of the politician – greasing their pockets for multi-million dollar post-service careers. Hillary and Bill Clinton are case in point for this. And there is little doubt Trump would do the same – it could even be argued that this campaign is about that win or lose. One of these days, people need to stand up and ignore the totally biased media filling their heads with nonsense and imaginary vitriol. Start voting for the people you think appear to be the most likely PUBLIC servants. Quit voting for celebrities, egomaniacs, criminals or career politicians who care WAY too much about what people think of them. Vote for people who aren’t wrapped around their “party’s” axle – instead vote for open-minded, negotiators who will look at all the options and do what is best for the nation. A great example of this is what Jesse Ventura did in Minnesota. He ran for one term only – and objectively (without party influence) looked at their government and listened to people who knew more than him and made sound decisions. Is this bad? If a pro wrestler (who is a little kooky I admit) can do it, we should be able to find another 535 or so congressmen/women, 50 governors and one president who can do the same. It is the only hope we have.

  • Big Data says:

    Well, I don’t really expect any traction with this crowd, off of that last thread on monetary theory. So let’s move on.

    I’m curious to learn more about the Fiduciary Rule. Peter helpfully added some info earlier, from which I will requote part of the conversation here for convenience, with no editing:

    =====
    Big Data:
    I haven’t researched the fiduciary rule. On the surface it seems like a good idea. It seems deceptive to hire a financial adviser whose perfectly legal motivation may be to give you bad advice so he can make more money.
    What is wrong with the new rule and how could it be fixed or made better?
    =====
    Peter:
    I’ll add my two cents to this one. The regulations are so cumbersome – when combined with the regulations already in place they make it hard to meet them all. Just from a personal standpoint, I have had to fire all of my clients under a certain dollar amount. I would love to help them, but the new regulations make it not an economical option. Don’t get me started…..another attempt to “protect” someone that ends up hurting the little guy.
    =====

    OK, maybe the regulations are too burdensome as implemented. But do you agree that there is some need to curb abuses by some bad players in the Financial industry?

    Take doctors as an example. If a doctor purposely patterns prescriptions to help patients get a little better but not completely well, to keep his patients sick so that they remain more frequent patients, that is a clear ethical violation, and sets the doctor up to be sued for malpractice.

    I’m not claiming this is common, but it is less absurd than it seems. My wife has suffered from asthma and allergies all of her life. Before I met her she was going to a pulmonary doctor and never really getting better. Another doctor in the practice, but not a pulmonary doctor, pulled her aside one day and told her in strict confidence that my wife’s doctor had a history of not prescribing the latest and most effective treatments. Several of his patients had recently gotten worse and gone to the hospital. The most recent had just died in the hospital. This doctor recommended a new pulmonary specialist and possibly saved my wife’s life. Was the bad doctor just incompetent, or pulling a scam. We may never know, but at least we know it was illegal.

    So if a financial adviser is hired and recommends bad or mediocre advice that is designed more toward adding fees and charges to the adviser’s income than toward improving the finances of the client, is it illegal? Should it be? What is the remedy? Change advisers? What if the behavior is difficult to analyze? After all, if the client really understood what the financial adviser was doing, he would not need the adviser?

    My assertion is that there should be some way of authenticating that the adviser you hire will be giving good advice for the client. That is certainly the intention of the Fiduciary Rule. Another method might be to require a certification to be a financial adviser (my understanding is that no certification is required), and that there should also exist a society of certified financial advisers that requires something like the Fiduciary Rule, but without the burden of instruction coming from government. Would that be better?

    So briefly,
    Is there a need to protect the consumer from bad actor financial advisers?
    How best to accomplish that goal?

    • Peter says:

      Like most things the government tries to do, the effort and intent is noble – but the execution is terrible. You have people making these laws and regulations that have no idea what it is actually like to be a financial advisor, doctor, or whatever. They are just politicians – it’s hard to expect something efficient.

      The interesting thing is – there is nothing in place to protect the consumer from all sorts of things, yet we hammer certain industries that are politically popular to attack. For instance, if you pay for a gym membership for 10 years and never go – you don’t have regulators coming down on the gym for continuing to charge you. And how many of us think we are getting totally honest treatment from auto mechanics? Don’t you think sometimes they recommend things that aren’t needed or charge more labor hours than are actually the case?

      Sure, we need to have regulations against bad actors. And we have for years in medicine and finance – and many have been caught, sued, punished, etc. This regulation – along with so much of what has been pushed through in the last 20 years – is just cumbersome nonsense that makes it harder for people to do business.

      Also – there is ABSOLUTELY a certification to be a financial advisor. There are multiple exams you must take to be licensed. Additionally, if you want to be a CFP (Certified Financial Planner) you are already held to the fiduciary standard and additional testing and ongoing continuing education. Not sure why you would think no certification or licensing would be required.

      The CFP board is THAT organization that you reference – the society of certified planners that requires the fiduciary rule. I have been one for 20+ years. Yet, even with that I now have to document and justify every action I take to such a painstakingly detailed level (for regulators) that I can no longer afford (time wise) to take on smaller clients. This same thing happened in medicine – the rule backfired because the lawmakers are know-nothings when it comes to the specific industries they are making laws around.

      • Peter says:

        This is precisely the problem with government solving our problems by the way.

        • Henry says:

          No argument about that from me. What makes someone think that politicians can make the best decisions for all sorts of industries they don’t understand. Best left to the free markets with the government as a ‘watchdog’. They have WAY overstepped their bounds in the past 10-12 years.

      • Big Data says:

        Thanks for the information.

  • Peter N says:

    “Your tired talking point that tax cuts to the rich are “just letting people keep their money” is dumb. The after tax incomes of the rich were increased at the expense to the national debt. That is funneling money to the rich. ”
    Wow, the money must be yours in the first place to funnel it somewhere.
    You assume the government owns all money we earn and is just nice enough to let us keep some of the money we earn. How Marxist… I mean libtard of you.

    • Big Data says:

      Pull out a dollar bill. The owner of that money is printed at the top.

    • Big Data says:

      I recall the quote of a great Marxist scholar:

      “All Property indeed, except the Savage’s temporary Cabin, his Bow, his Matchcoat, and other little Acquisitions absolutely necessary for his Subsistence, seems to me to be the Creature of publick Convention. Hence the Public has the Right of Regulating Descents & all other Conveyances of Property, and even of limiting the Quantity & the Uses of it. All the Property that is necessary to a Man for the Conservation of the Individual & the Propagation of the Species, is his natural Right which none can justly deprive him of: But all Property of the Publick, who by their Laws have created it, and who may therefore by other Laws dispose of it, whenever the Welfare of the Publick shall demand such Disposition. He that does not like civil Society on these Terms, let him retire & live among Savages. — He can have no right to the Benefits of Society who will not pay his Club towards the Support of it.”
      – Benjamin Franklin –

    • Big Data says:

      Before anyone thinks I am just being snide and divisive, just think a minute about what the whole concept of money in a society is for. Money is just a standard part of an economic system that has one overall purpose: to advance the prosperity of the citizens of that country. Money, by itself, is worthless. It really is owned and controlled by the country which issues it, and is intended to be used as an abstract representation of debt (or so some theories have described it), and it has value because we all agree to certain rules and conventions in how it will be used for trade against items which actually have value.

      But again, money is a part of an economic system set up and controlled by the country for the good of the citizens of that country.

      This is what Benjamin Franklin meant when he said: “All Property [excepting basic life necessities] … seems to me to be the Creature of publick Convention.” Property and Money are inventions and abstractions. And then Ben puts forth the idea that the rules of the economy, including those of property, money, and taxation are subject to change by government (representing the Publick) as needed: “But all Property superfluous to such purposes [life necessities] is the Property of the Publick, who, by their Laws, have created it, and who may therefore by other Laws dispose of it, whenever the Welfare of the Publick shall demand such Disposition.”

      [Note that this last sentence of Ben’s quote got truncated in my earlier post, and I found the complete sentence elsewhere.]

  • Peter says:

    One of the real problems we have today that the Presidential election always illuminates is that there is no media source that I know of that just reports the news. Everywhere is so editorialized and biased. The radio is covered with right-wing conservatives and the TV is dominated by left-wing liberals. It’s like having nothing but “homer” sports coverage, but much more dangerous as it shapes people’s thinking. The major 24 hour news networks are shameless in their biased reporting.

    • Stevendad says:

      Agree. The “truth” or as close as we can define it, requires work and research. Unfortunately, most are too disinterested or lazy to do any. The press used to do this but editorial boards have gotten worse and worse about dominating content in order to shape public thought. Even Bob Woodward has pointed this out in several interviews.

  • Henry says:

    Marxism: a theory and practice of socialism including the labor theory of value, dialectical materialism, the class struggle, and dictatorship of the proletariat until the establishment of a classless society

    Marxism: the system of economic and political thought developed by Karl Marx, along with Friedrich Engels, especially the doctrine that the state throughout history has been a device for the exploitation of the masses by a dominant class, that class struggle has been the main agency of historical change, and that the capitalist system, containing from the first the seeds of its own decay, will inevitably, after the period of the dictatorship of the proletariat, be superseded by a socialist order and a classless society.

    You are telling me you don’t agree with this philosophy????

    • 9Big Data says:

      Of course i dont. I have always argued for a democracy, with a well regulated capitalist economy exercising reasonable restrictions on banks and monopolies. Like we used to do in more prosperous times before the aristocratic economic elite bent the playing field way too far to their advantage. What I advocate is nothing close to marxism or socialism.

      • Henry says:

        Capitalism- “an economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state”

        Capitalism is an economic system based on private ownership of themeans of production and their operation for profit. Characteristics central to capitalism include private property, capital accumulation, wage labor, voluntary exchange, a price system, and competitive markets. In a capitalist market economy, decision-making and investment is determined by the owners of the factors of production in financial and capital markets, and prices and the distribution of goods are mainly determined by competition in the market.

        I’m sorry dude but you agree with the Marxism definition far more than the Capitalism one.

        • Big Data says:

          Sorry dude, but you have twisted my posts and you dont get to declare what i believe.

          Analysis of classes and factions and income inequality is not sufficient to define socialism or marxism, or every economist would be a marxist.

          I dont believe in inevitability of socialism so by the very definitions you posted, i am not marxist.

          Dont you believe that unfettered laissez faire capitalism has some instability that must be countered by sane govt policy?

          If not, why not?

          • Henry says:

            Of course. But we hardly have “laissez faire capitalism”. Our capitalism is so highly regulated it is almost choked to death. But I do agree that the part of it that needs to be changed is crony capitalism. The giveaways to insurance companies in the ACA for example. However I would hardly call the American capitalism system “laissez faire” or “unfettered” or having “instability”. If that was the case I would agree we need some sane govt policy. The reality is I think we need the same thing you do – SANE govt policy. Not ridiculous overregulation like this new DOL Fiduciary rule. What a nightmarish misguided mess that is.

          • Big Data says:

            Ok, a decent conversation. Thanks. I knew you could.

            So it seems our differences are nuanced after all.
            We agree on a capitalist system and the need for regulation and govt policy but just disagree on how much, and whether what we have is too little or too much.

            I haven’t researched the fiduciary rule. On the surface it seems like a good idea. It seems deceptive to hire a financial adviser whose perfectly legal motivation may be to give you bad advice so he can make more money.

            What is wrong with the new rule and how could it be fixed or made better?

          • Peter says:

            I’ll add my two cents to this one. The regulations are so cumbersome – when combined with the regulations already in place they make it hard to meet them all. Just from a personal standpoint, I have had to fire all of my clients under a certain dollar amount. I would love to help them, but the new regulations make it not an economical option. Don’t get me started…..another attempt to “protect” someone that ends up hurting the little guy.

          • Stevendad says:

            Replying to Peter below. Exactly, such as Dodd Frank suppressing small businesses and home ownership.

        • Stevendad says:

          Should be above. These comments nest so much sometimes it’s hard to tell where you are!

  • Big Data says:

    One of the most troubling difficulties in our increasingly partisan politics is this lack of common trust and vision, leading to a breakdown of our treasured political traditions and conventions. Trump openly questions validity of upcoming elections. Not only does Congress block Obama’s highly qualified and respected Supreme Court appointee without even a vote, McCain threatens to block any of Hillary’s Supreme Court appointees, before she even has opportunity to nominate them or even take office. Multiple investigations (eight?) on Benghazi clear Hillary of wrongdoing, yet still there are political leaders who refuse to accept the findings of their own Congress. Clear scientific concensus warns that we should act on climate change, but political hacks block the process at the behest (and monetary influence and reward) of wealthy multinationals. You read the headlines of FoxNews vs. HuffPost and you clearly see two opposing teams rooting for their own side rather than reporting a neutral perspective. Balanced discussions are discarded in favor of name-calling and personal attack.

    And I am reading frightening accounts of “Patriots” (misguided traitors, actually) threatening to act as terrorists in order to fight for their party’s candidate if he should lose (as it appears he most assuredly will). What will happen Nov 9? Who will die because our leaders (and one particularly irresponsible descendant of the Drumpf family) would rather fan the flame of discontent and arrogance, rather than accept the voted will of the people?

    Scary times.

    • Henry says:

      Yet for years now, you have been the most divisive, partisan, bullheaded person on here. Why don’t you take your own advice?

      Even in your tirade above you tell a story clearly from the left, even mocking Trump (calling them Drumpf). So hypocritical to post something like this then ask why others would rather “fan the flame of discontent and arrogance”.

      Of course if it wasn’t for your idiocy and hypocrisy, we likely wouldn’t still be posting new messages to this thread. Your easily arguable points and completely hard-headed ill-informed points of view are what keeps us going and entertained…. 🙂

      • Big Data says:

        The same arguments were used against Obama. Gop leaders convened on first day of his presidency and vowed to obstruct anything the new president did, encouraged racist rants and lies, and then blamed him for being divisive. Its complete BS.

        You in particular, Henry, only seem to show up to hurl epithets and insults. You are being divisive and hateful. I am trying to have an intelligent conversation. It is difficult when folks like you insist on dragging the conversation into the mud. Please stop.

      • Big Data says:

        If my points are easily arguable, then please argue instead of sniping. You have offered nothing.

        • Henry says:

          Your post above is the very thing you are arguing against. I may be sniping and “fanning the flame of discontent” but at least I will admit to it.

        • Big Data says:

          Wow. Are we descending to the pee wee herman defense? (“Thats what you are but what am i?…”)

          I pointed out 2 facts in my post.
          1) it was duplicitous and disingenuous for gop to knock Obama as divisive when they first provoked the divide.
          2) it is also disingenuous for you to critique me as bullheaded and divisive when almost all of your posts are divisive.

          I have not called you an idiot, a hypocrite, or ill informed, as you have done me. I am just pointing out that you are behaving badly.

          Your ability to admit that you are behaving badly is not a virtue. It would be much better if you would find something intelligent to say.

          Can you do that? Sure you can.

          • Henry says:

            I was talking about the first post with the slanted view on Benghazi and the Drumpf reference. Just idiocy meant to inflame.

          • Big Data says:

            Slanted view on benghazi? When an issue has been investigated 7 or 8 times by partisans on both sides, and the egregious charges have been found groundless, its time to let it go, no matter what the issue and what side you are on. Right?

          • Peter says:

            I think his point is that not everyone agrees with you that Benghazi is what it seems (and that the investigations were legitimate) or that Hillary no less an awful person than Trump is. These are not open-and-shut cases where you or I know the definitive answers. You treat them like they are though – and all of your opinions fall as part of a predictable ethos. That’s what is off-putting and divisive. (Said this a few times before)

      • Big Data says:

        Mocking trump is no longer partisan. Educated observers across the political spectrum recognize he is a narcissistic buffoon and compulsive liar and an existential risk to our country.

        There are other opinions of course. Is he your guy? It might be entertaining to hear you defend him.

        • Henry says:

          No defense of Trump here – and I’m not a supporter. But believe it or not – everyone doesn’t agree with what you said about Trump. Just like everyone doesn’t agree that Hillary is a lying, self-serving shill for Wall Street and repeat criminal who will talk out of both sides of her mouth to get elected. Both are partisan characterizations, but clearly both have supporters since they make up 90% of the vote.

        • Big Data says:

          I can make pretty strong arguments that those opposing views are not equally valid.

        • Peter says:

          Evidently 59 million people don’t think this way.

  • Big Data says:

    … But we are getting back into personal sniping, which really gets us nowhere. So, a new topic:

    I was recently reading an article which discussed how one of the few facts that GOP/Conservatives, Dem/Liberals, and Independents agree on is that the different political and ideological groups today disagree, not just on ideologies, but on basic points of fact. There is no widely based trust today in the media, scientific institutions, or non-partisan research centers. We can even see it here on this forum, where the posters are, as far as I can tell, a higher intellectual caliber than your average internet forum.

    But even here, conversations devolve away from concepts and ideas to sniping about who is a Marxist or who is uninformed or whose arguments should be ignored because they vary from a given poster’s argument.

    A good discussion can weather, and even be improved by, a bit of poking and MILD antagonistic banter. But I hope we can all remember that this discussion is best served by discussing the ideas and not just engaging in labelling and name-calling for it’s own sake.

    This has been a public service announcement. 🙂

    • Stevendad says:

      I hope you don’t feel I was sniping. I just go back over and over that we need to restrict spending and government control both for issues of personal freedom and general incompetence of large bureaucracies. US government is largest now, and second largest ever. USSR was larger. That didn’t end well, did it?The idea of a small # of committee members running hundreds of millions of lives over whatever issue is antithetical to my upbringing about what it is to be an American.The commerce clause has been stretched FAR beyond its intended meaning. Will government expansion “pop” and shrink or continue to enlarge and consume all? The question of the next decade…. I still haven’t heard you comment on the experience of myself and other poor people I knew. Self determination is a two edged sword. Do you oppose self determination?

      • Big Data says:

        No stevendad, the people who toss around terms such as Marxist as an epithet were sniping. The people who claim, with no basis in the post or intellectual explanation, that arguments they don’t like are illogical, were sniping.

        As to your points, I will try to answer them fairly.

        Size and Efficiency of Government: Among the 29 OECD nations, cost of government as % GDP varies from 33.7% (Sweden) to 58.1% (Finland). The US is the 25th from the top (5th from the bottom or 5th most efficient) at 38%.

        Government bureaucracy: Beauracracy can be inefficient, but sometimes it is a necessary evil and is even better than the alternative. Canada managed to create a cost-saving and efficient health-care system that surpasses ours in many metrics, covers all citizens, avoids the regulatory burdens we place on our businesses as intermediaries in our healthcare, and is very popular in their country. We should be able to do as well. Obamacare needs to be improved, but going back to our old broken system is not an option. Competition in healthcare was simply an excuse and motivation to leave neediest people uninsured and without care.

        Commerce clause: This clause has been interpreted over time by the Supreme Court as is allowed to happen by its mandate. There is no going back to the past, and even the different founders had different interpretations, so there is no single original meaning to go back to. Even Jefferson allowed that Constitution should adjust over time to the needs of society. There are some rules and regulations and agencies that just make more sense as national items in a modern world. If it does NOT make sense to be national and it should be state-based, I think it would be more practical to argue on basis of current need, not antiquated and original interpretations that did not anticipate our world. Jefferson would agree.

        As for experience of poor people you knew … There are always a portion of society who are lazy or unmotivated. I cannot judge the needs and merits of all of the working and middle class, nor even the poverty class, based on a few ne’er-do-wells as observed by even such an astute individual as I am sure you must be. Such people are a very small minority and I should not hold the whole of our economy hostage to the idea that these few must either be punished or redeemed. Let them have their small sustenance, earned or not. I am much more concerned with the new workers, the advancing workers, the workers whose trade has vanished and who must learn a new skill, the struggling families, the aspiring entrepreneur. These are the Americans who are being left behind as the moneyed interests multiply their holdings at the economy’s expense.

        Self-Determination: Yes, I think that people should work to advance their own career and interests. I don’t believe however, that we should be increasing the slope and multiplying the hurdles for the many so that the investments of the successful few can be forever protected. I believe in meritocracy with many ladders and a safety net. We have been moving to an aristocracy with ever fewer ladders and ever larger holes in the net.

  • Big Data says:

    Moving this conversation to a fresh post since it was too many levels down for replies.

    Peter said:
    ” … capitalism and competition is telling us that the people that invented the technology that is behind the phone that 2 billion people now have in their hands should be rewarded exponentially.”

    I said that would be a good idea because currently the ceos, cfos and bankers get all the money and the inventors and technologists doing the actual work and responsible for the advances get very little. Peter thought that was a meaningless restatement of his position.

    This is one of the big gropes i have with the attitudes within the 1%. They think that their incomes validate how imprtant and essential they are. And it’s a circular argument. They feel important because they have big incomes and they deserve even more income because they are so important.

    The inventors and workers actually creating wealth and efficiency in this country seldom get the big rewards. The people who prosper are the bankers and managers and ceos who focus on money and who are most skilled at appropriating it and accumulating it from everybody else.

    Peter’s false equating of big tech management with “the inventors” of the technology is perfectly representative of the arrogance of the 1%. His objection to my more accurate restatement of his post is also reflective of the obscene depth to which the 1% believe they are the most important people on the planet and nobody else matters.

  • Cindy says:

    $40k seems like a lot. But only if you’re stuck in an employee mindset. It’s a relatively small amount for business owners, product owners, etc. Service providers too.

    • Peter says:

      Do you mean $400k?

    • Big Data says:

      Cindy,

      $400K is still 8 times median income. Not to be sneezed at.

      I agree that when that money is being reinvested in a business enterprise, it falls in a slightly different category than just personal income.

      But if 400K does not seem like much to you, how do you think half of the households feel, who make less than 12.5% of that amount?

  • Peter says:

    Once again – the economy self-corrects without overly simplistic “take more from the rich” strategies.

    http://wealthmanagement.com/high-net-worth/second-gilded-age-may-be-losing-its-luster

  • Stevendad says:

    BD. I think you miss the biggest point of the whole thing. What I believe you are saying: If we just tax the rich enough, then it will make up for overspending by government, irresponsibility of people at all income levels and a general political malaise. People are only poor because this was cast upon them by the rich. The rich are only rich by paying money to bribe politicians to pervert the system. Mistakes and poor planning and actions should have no consequences, etc etc

    • Big Data says:

      Good try, stevendad, but you are seeing my points through a distortion filter. None of your sentences accurately portray my position.

      Reworded: If we increase taxes on the rich reasonably, and manage spending and government investment in infrastructure and education, we can reduce the debt burden while still strengthening the economy and reducing the political malaise. The impacts of temporary financial irresponsibility can be changed from a life sentence of poverty to a learning opportunity in how to prosper. The perversion of our economic system, driven by unfetteted monetary bribes from moneyed interests into the political rwslm, has tilted the playing field and reduced incomes and opportunities for most Americans, while shifting almost all economic growth into the hands of the economic elite.

      There will always be poor and rich, and the traits that separate them include discipline, hard work, and intelligence that can lift people up, and oppression and calamity, along with lack of the former uplifting characteristics, that can drop people down. There is no goal to reward sloth or lack of ambition and discipline, but instead to assure that hard work can be adequstely rewarded with a decent life. The goal is to reduce the oppression of a tilted economic system that distorts incentives, making the ladders almost unclimbable from the bottom and the rewards exsessive at the top.

      Your message seems to be that no matter how distorted and tilted and oppressive a system has become, it is irrelevant and pointless to attemp to improve the system because individuals can always work harder than before to climb up and improve.

      Again, you and Peter, and some others here, always focus on individual ethics to the exclusion of the impacts of the system within which we apply those ethics. You either deny the extraordinary tilting of the playing field, or you say it does not matter, or that the slope can be corrected by individual, non-governmental means. I have never and will never reject the importance of individual ethics and ambition in lifting up the individual and the country. But i also assert that we MUST understand and adjust the systemic policies of our political and economic system in order to optimize the rewards of those individual ethics and ambitions for individuals at ALL economic levels, and not just the top.

      Surely we can agree that a system that rewards all efforts with equal income is unsustainable and corrupt. Similarly, we should also agree that a system that gives all profits from the labors of the nation to just a few people is qlso unsustainable and cotrupt. Surely we can all see that there is a balance between the extremes that can best motivate the lowly laborer to improve while providing life’s necessities, and also reward the very successful with a superior but not extravagant lifestyle. Surely we can also see that there will always be a battle for the rich to increase their rewatd. and the poor to increase theirs.

      The rewards have clearly shofted to the rich in the last 35 years. All of the economic data and research shows it. The desire of the rich to retain this system that opptesses the poor and middle at greater profit to the rich, is understandable. My point is that it is inefficient and unsustainable and will never be set right by individual or market forces alone.

      • Big Data says:

        Multiple typos in that last post, (sorry ’bout that) but I think it is still readable.

        • Stevendad says:

          I think you missed a major point. Clearly people at top (including Dem programs as mentioned before) have tilted earnings. I just don’t trust government to collect and redistribute income. You must be infinitely wise to know what is “fair” for each American. I am not.
          You miss the point of SWEAR as well. Of course, it would help the whole economy if all practiced this, but regardless it is something each of us can do to help ourselves. I told you I grew up with and worked with the poor as well as some good friends of mine doing the same. Self destructive behavior and poor choices abounded and were far and away the biggest determinate of long term wealth (or being alive for that matter). I’m not wise enough to legislate good choices. However, even you must agree we have to balance rewarding bad behavior. I have a coworker who works 60 hours a week at $9 an hour and can’t get any educational aid because she makes too much money. If she was in AFDC she’d get it for free. Does this make sense? At what point does rescuing become enabling?
          I defer to your superior wisdom in this…

          • Big Data says:

            Your quest to improve personal ethics is noble. It improves the country but does not fix the broken economic system. I am not trusting the government to be all wise. What you are missing is that goverment ALWAYS is in loose control of money distribution through policy. I am only clever enough to agree with the experts in recognizing that policy needs to change to stop coddling the rich and start moving resources back to middle and working class.

          • Big Data says:

            It is indeed a challenge to balance “rescuing and enabling”, as you stated. The replacement of AFDC with TANF was an attempt by bill clinton to strike a better balance and limit benefits to encourage people to get off welfare. In the case of your co-worker, it is unclear what you think is the best option. You seem to be criticizing govt aid, yet are you saying that you think she is being sahortchanged by not receiving any?

            Of course, i am of the belief that full time workers should be getting $12/hr with time and a half after 40 hrs, which would probably be a better option than govt making up for subpar wages.

    • Big Data says:

      Sorry for the Blitz, guys. But you don’t have to look very far to see that Americans are far from lazy. We are possibly the hardest workers in the world, yet most Americans are profiting less from their efforts than other nations, and less than past generations. There is no good reason for that to be the case.

      Our economic policies have not kept pace with changing times. You say that income redistribution to the rich is due to automation and outsourcing? You are absolutely correct, those are two of the causes. Why should richest 1% profit from that change and nobody else? It’s not because richest are so clever and everyone else is lazy. It’s because broken policy with distorted incentives allows that to happen.

      • Henry says:

        Because you can’t outsource or automate ingenuity, inventiveness and leadership. You CAN outsource or automate unskilled labor.

        • Henry says:

          I guess this was just ‘sniping’ and not a point worth replying to. Big Data / Steven H only replies to the more juvenile posts I guess.

        • Big Data says:

          Not much to say except that businesses outsourcing our jobs is expected as long as policies make it a profitable deal. Policy should change to protect american jobs.

    • Henry says:

      Still no comment on this from our Marxist friend.

      • Henry says:

        …Nor this……too substantive.

      • Big Data says:

        Its an interesting article, but since there was no comment or question posted with it, i felt no need to comment. Neither did you apparently. I am honored however that you seem so anxious to hear my opinions. Was there something about this article you wanted to ask?

      • Big Data says:

        Also, i refrained from answering because i was waiting to see who your Marxist friend was. ???? Then I realized you falsely think I am Marxist. But that is debunked elsewhere …

        • Peter says:

          There is nothing you can say to this. This article isn’t partisan or politically motivated. It is just the reality.

        • Big Data says:

          Again, i read it and it is interesting. Thanks for posting it, peter. It touches on themes we have discussed but does not prove or disprove anything. Perhaps Henry has some comment he wanted to add …

  • Steven H says:

    OK, I’ll expand on a comment from memory, since 3.5 years of comments are temporarily missing.

    I was thinking about a thread in which I had been commenting about the EpiPen company (the company is actually Mylan) and how they increased profits, but that it was not the same as creating wealth in a macroeconomic sense. Sure, by increasing prices, they would manage to transfer more money to the company balance sheet from Medicare, insurance companies, schools, and desperate patients and parents of patients who need this product. But is that wealth creation? Their EpiPen product saves lives, and they invested in improvements in that product, and their price increases created wealth for the company, but is that really what we mean when we talk about “creating wealth”?

    Does a bank robber create wealth when he takes money from the bank? Of course not. He is TRANSFERRING wealth. Does a company create wealth when they hold their customer’s lives for ransom with massive price increases on a life-essential product? Of course not. They are TRANSFERRING wealth, although by legal (if ethically corrupt) means.

    Some posters here object to my characterization of income and wealth having been transferred or shifted or (pick any other synonym for moved) from the lower and middle class to the wealthy over the last 36 years. They prefer to say that such wealth was either “created” by the wealthy or at least “earned” by them as long as it was acquired by legal means.

    What I would like the EpiPen example to demonstrate is that there are cases where companies (or individuals) increase their own income and wealth that have nothing to do with wealth creation, and nothing to do with “earning” in the moralistic sense [to come to be duly worthy of or entitled or suited to].

    Earn also means “to receive in return for effort” which can be applied to any exchange of money or goods, independent of legality or morality. By such terminology, EpiPen “earned” their profits in equal measure as to how the bank robber “earned” his booty. Effort was made and money was received. That is the amoral (not immoral, BTW) definition of earn.

    But back to wealth creation. What is it? When I use the term, I usually mean it in the macro-economic sense. Is the community or country better off for the efforts applied? It is not enough to say a company is profitable and legal. Payday loan lenders are profitable and legal, and some will claim they serve a useful purpose. But do they create wealth? It’s a matter of judgement, but I would say that, under the terms they are legally allowed to operate today, they are a drain on their customers and that they leech wealth from the unfortunate to enrich the unprincipled.

    And now back to wealth and income “shifts” and “transfers”. It is absolutely undeniable, based on economic research, that national US income shares of the upper 1% have increased as income shares of the lower 90% have decreased. This is a movement, a transfer, a shift, a relocation, a relegation, a transposition of money from one group to another. It happened.

    And it is not explainable by saying that wealthy people create it all or are more worthy.

    • Stevendad says:

      Of course Epipen is morally bankrupt. There are alternatives, but they were pulled by an aggressive FDA. (Anakit) So again, government intervention perturbed the natural course. Perhaps they were perfectly justified, I don’t know. I appreciate you making the Libertarian case in this instance.
      As far as payday lenders, this example supports the S in SWEAR. No need for them if you had some savings to get through a crunch. Or you could borrow against savings at MUCH lower rates. Either way, you avoid usurial trap. Very few can not save at all, they just choose not to prioritize. Live small a while and catch up if you must. Never borrow for depreciating assets. Drive a beater or take the bus, eat in, watch Netflix, get a cheap no data phone plan, no cable, work close to home, avoid drugs and too much alcohol, exercise, don’t drink $6 coffee. Not all work, but some will…

      • Big Data says:

        Please stop painting all desperately or temporarily poor as irresponsible. Of course many many people could do better financially. But a small percentage, which may still be millions of Americans, live and plan and spend responsibly but still get caught in a crunch. The only people I know personally who had to use a payday lender were retired grandparents attempting to raise their grandchildren, with the grandfather still doing back breaking manual labor at the age of 70 to bring in more money. They lived frugally and had a modest home, but still got caught with medical bills beyond what they could pay. Its easy to sit back and say you could have saved more, spent less, lived cheaper. But in the real world of high medical costs, unforeseen emergencies, and paychecks that are 30% lower for 90% of Americans vs what they SHOULD be, it is OBNOXIOUS for people in the richest 1 or 2 % to tell poor people to live cheaper. You might as well be saying “Let them eat cake.”

        I understand your message of financial responsibility. I’m not sure you understand my message that financially responsible people are getting crushed by effects of high income disparity.

        • Peter says:

          Such a tired defense. If you follow SWEAR and make good choices, eventually you will find yourself in fine shape. Not much more complicated than that.

          • Peter says:

            “But a small percentage, which may still be millions of Americans, live and plan and spend responsibly but still get caught in a crunch”

            If it is just a small percentage (even if it is millions of people) then we don’t need to change everything. The system is working. Plus, I don’t believe that those that fall in this tiny percentage stay there either.

          • Big Data says:

            We don’t need to change everything. We just need to pay people what they are worth, not just what the manipulated market reluctantly ekes out to workers, and we need to share and distribute the prosperity of the country to include the have-nots and not only the have-too-much’s.

            It won’t kill the upper 1% to forego pay raises for 30 years while the rest of the country catches up. After all 90% of Americans have lagged behind for 35 years. It’s time for millionaires to live cheaper for a while.

          • Big Data says:

            No, for millions of people that is not true.

          • Peter says:

            “What they are worth” … Meaningless idealistic phrasing…..

        • Stevendad says:

          I agree there will be a few that can’t EVER save, but that is rare. The idea is to have savings for the future. I could have done better myself BTW. I guarantee there is SOMETHING people can do to come up with $50 a month. I made a few suggestions, but I’m sure there are dozens more.

          • Big Data says:

            Again you cannot save ANYTHING when your reasonable expenses exceed your meager income. The idea that absolutely everyone can make more than they spend if they try hard enough and follow simplistic strategies is just flat out wrong. And high income disparity makes the problem worse for more people. And fixing high income disparity will help millions and improve the economy.

          • Peter says:

            Incorrect…. Flatly incorrect

        • Stevendad says:

          I didn’t paint all, I clearly said all but a few can make choices to save. Smart phones are not necessities is a gods example . The people who come in on Medicaid almost always have them.

          • Peter says:

            Absolutely true. That’s why I posted that quote earlier that just as many people have running water as have cell phones. Cell phones are NOT a necessity.

          • Big Data says:

            I have seen these resentments about poor people with flat screen tvs or computers or smart phones. 1) these are the technologies of the present. They are no longer expensive extravagances but normal affordable and efficient parts of modern American life. Everyone should have them imho. 2) smartphones in particular are one of the most efficient and essential devices created. Not only do you get mobile communication, but you can keep track of appointments, get email, find your way through traffic, navigate to where you need to go. It can even serve as a computer and tv or many people, eliminating the need for the separate devices.

            You might as well favor that poor people should live in a modern world without indoor plumbing or air conditioning. Maybe instead we should just pay people decent wages for their labor so they do not need food stamps, medicaid, or welfare to live a normal American life.

          • Big Data says:

            I lnow you will scoff at that last post. But if you have a child in school you know that a computer at home is necessary. And if you have a work and child schedule, a smart phones features are necessary.

          • Peter says:

            Lol….. Ok then maybe they should take one of those farm jobs in my other post to cover such “necessities”.

            It’s like “needing” a car. Someone can get a “car” for a few hundred dollars. Someone can get a computer for even less. Doesn’t warrant smart phones or even a television. Those are not necessities. Food, water, shelter…..those are necessities. The government should not pay for everyone to have flat screen TVs and iPhones. But they should help everyone eat and have somewhere to sleep every night.

          • Peter says:

            Uh…and yeah, air conditioning is a luxury as well, Steven H. Sorry. Maybe in your mind it makes me heartless, but I don’t want my government providing cell phones, tvs, air conditioning and computers to all citizens. Particularly when it means taking more money from the people and putting it in the hands of the buffoons/misogynists/criminals/liars we watched on television last night.

          • Big Data says:

            Who said anything about govt providing cell phones or A/C? I just think anybody working ANY full time job in America should be able to afford a place to live, food, medical, last years model smart phone and small tv, and a beater car.

            And if you’re in my state you better have A/C because people literally die in summers without it. It is alife necessity. And each summer is getting a little hotter.

          • Big Data says:

            And i do think its a good thing govt provides BushPhones to the poor to enable them to find jobs. Its cost effective and good for everybody.

          • Peter says:

            Maybe if someone is struggling they should take one of the farm jobs in the article posted above. Don’t need any experience for these jobs and they pay well. Don’t need a suit or even to be clean. Don’t need a cell phone to “manage your schedule”. Or take a job where you are admittedly grossly overworked and underpaid – but have an opportunity to advance. Then maybe take public transportation or car pool to the job. Cook at home instead of going out to eat – beans and rice, rice and beans, etc.. Don’t drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes or take drugs. Have your spouse work as well. Don’t have kids. Save money. Once a little is saved, invest some of it. Try to work your way up to a supervisor or foreman position. Use the extra money for training for a better job. But most importantly work hard and don’t expect anything.

            Or another strategy…. get involved politically. Campaign for someone who will increase entitlement programs. Hope for health care costs to be reduced. Find a politician you believe has your best interests at heart and support them as they push to help your situation. Wait for Washington to change laws to improve “your” economy so you don’t have to take that farm job and can do something easier. Hope for change. Vote for change. It’s not your fault after all – it’s the system.

            I chose the first one. Now I’m in the 1%. Not everyone can make that leap, but time and time again it has a better success rate than hoping corporate America or Washington politicians (aren’t they one in the same anyway) extend a hand to you and save you. That has almost a 0.00% chance of getting you in the 1%.

          • Big Data says:

            Peter, how about both approaches. As i said before, your stories and principles of personal ethica and motivation are completely valid for individual advancement, but they do not fix a broken system. But the approaches are not mutually exclusive. You can improve yourself and advance your own situation and also fight and vote to make our country more productive and sustainable by improving and rebalancing the economic incentives.

            Thats what I do. Both.

        • Henry says:

          Then stop painting all poor people as “desperate” and unable to fix their situations. Or trying to tell us all what paychecks “should be”. Or what taxes are “fair”. You don’t have a clue what someone’s paycheck “should be” -and comparing it to the 1950’s or to someone else’s paycheck is meaningless. Your arrogance is astounding.

          • Big Data says:

            The picture i am illustrating is one where people at the top and bottom are working equally as hard as their counterparts in past generations, but the rich are receiving more as everyone else receives less.

            It is as if you have a successful company where all of the new profits go to upper management while workloads just increase and pay stagnates for the workers. The answer is not mobility or work more hours. The answer is to give the workers a bigger say in how the pie is sliced. And that is why democracy is so brilliant. You can only let the rich oppress everybody else for so long before the majority invokes the power of government to rebalance the system. That is why our system works and has survived for 240 years. Without the power of the vote, we would have devolved into a deep plutocracy decades ago. As it is, we get to a precipice and democracy pulls us back as it did in the the 1930s after the crash.

            Our country and our ethics and our people have not declined. But our economics, while getting better, is only at partial efficiency, and still leaves too many people behind. Even in the 30s when unemployment soared, working people denigrated those out of work as lazy. That was not the problem then, nor is it now. We face a crisis of economic system imbalance, not personal ethics.

          • Henry says:

            The picture i am illustrating is one where people at the top and bottom are working equally as hard as their counterparts in past generations

            Not true at all. Just look at the article about farm workers. People busted their butts in agricultural labor jobs back in your good ol’ days….. Maybe people are lazier now. Maybe people are more entitled. It could be possible you know.

          • Big Data says:

            Henry,
            You really think richest folks have 10x the income share of 35 years ago because they are 10x smarter or harder working than previous generations of wealthy, or isn’t it more likely that they have manipulated the economic and political system to their advantage?

            You really think that all of middle and working class is 25% lazier or dumber than past generations or do they have 25% less income share because their income has been redistributed to the rich by political means.

            I think a redistribution of income has occurred, not some sort of redistribution of ambition or IQ. Because the latter is crazy talk.

          • Henry says:

            Actually yes. I think inventing the internet and other technological advances parallels more to the Rockefeller/Carnegie era where income disparity of the top 1% was FAR WORSE more than it compares to 35 years ago.

            And I do think our new generation of workers are a bit lazier. Can’t put a percentage on that – just going off what I’ve seen. But also think the lower end is affected by what Peter said – the loss of the manufacturing and unskilled labor market.

            Certainly don’t agree with you that it is because of dirty rotten Republicans.

          • Big Data says:

            Henry: So you agree that today’s economy is like the Gilded Age of Carnegie/Rockefeller when the rich leeched off of average workers.

            And yes both the Gilded Age of the late 19th century and the Lesser Gilded Age of today are much worse than the more balanced and progressive and prosperous economy which existed 35 to 65 years ago.

            You are correct on both points.

            However, you are wrong about workers being generally lazier. In the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, more middle class families got by on 1 income, and retirement plans were more generous, and college was more affordable. Today incomes have stagnated, two income families are the norm, the poulation is more highly educated (college graduation rates are higher) and people are working more hours, yet the middle class falls behind in prosperity because they have lost leverage and income to the economic elite.

          • Henry says:

            Not all what I’m saying. Why do you restate people’s points and agree with them? What’s the point of that? Whatever….

          • Big Data says:

            Your argument was silly and begged for twisting a bit. I know what you intended to say (but mangled in the post) … that todays economy was like that of the Gilded Age, but not as bad. What you actually said was closer to my restatement, which is why had a little fun with my reply.

            Seriously, todays economy does indeed have parallels to the Gilded Age, when the very wealthy used the advances in technology as leverage to get rich on the backs of common workers. You may find that parallel harmless but I don’t. The invention of the internet came out of government research, and while entrepreneurs can be commended for findng profitable use of this public utility, its existence does not make them 10x smarter or 10x more worthy.

          • Henry says:

            OK – so 7x more worthy? 3x more worthy? Should Hillary or Trump make that call? Like said above, I’ll defer to your wisdom on that one – dont think i can put a valuation on that one.

          • Big Data says:

            1x more worthy than all the rich people of the 50s thru 70s.

            I cannot assess where people should be on the salary playing field. Capitalism and competition does that. I can recognize what a fair playing field looks like. History tells us that. Whenever the richest 1% have more than 12% of all income we are out of balance. When they have more than 20% of all income, we are near a cliff and the economy will be corrected through government action or economic calamity.

            Last i checked, with capital gains, it is well over 20%.

          • Peter says:

            Exactly. And capitalism and competition is telling us that the people that invented the technology that is behind the phone that 2 billion people now have in their hands should be rewarded exponentially.

            Maybe U2 should give some of the money they have made to the Spin Doctors. They are a band too – they don’t work any less hard. Why should U2 get to keep so much money when they are working no harder than the next guy?

            Like Henry said (and to which you did not reply) – you can’t automate or outsource ingenuity, inventiveness and (I will add) talent. And that pays whatever the market is willing to pay.

          • Big Data says:

            Fine, give the rewards for cell phone tech to the people who invented. I can guaran-dang-tee you it aint going to the inventors. And i can also assure you that the ceos, cfos and accountants didnt invent any of it. Even steve jobs didnt know crap about the tech. He had a vision for the interface. Most ceos of Big tech only know how to play with money and manage people. Good skills, but they dont know the tech. In little companies, sure, the tech genius may run things. But not in big tech.

            So go ahead reward the real workers and inventors. That is precisely what i am arguing for.

          • Big Data says:

            Edison and Tesla famously fought to win the battle over the electrical technology that would run this country. They both made essential contributions. You know who got the money. JP Morgan who muscled them both out and formed GE with the inventor’s tech.

            So sure, take all the stolen profits from the bankers and money guys and give it to the inventors. Good idea.

          • Peter says:

            Another sarcastic nonsensical restating of my point. Useless.

          • Peter says:

            Then maybe the people that actually record the U2 albums should get paid more than the band itself. Since indeed, they were the ones doing the work.

    • Big Data says:

      Most people are working more for a smaller share of the pie. That is the opposite of lazy. Only the richest could be described as lazy, as they are working the same or less while claiming a much larger share of the pie.

      http://money.cnn.com/2015/08/18/news/economy/bernie-sanders-americans-work-more/

      ====
      “It turns out, Americans are logging more weeks of work a year now that they did in the past, according to research from the Labor Department. In 1979, people were working for 1,687 hours a year. By 2013, that figure had jumped to an average of 1,836 hours a year …”

      1) Women in workforce:
      “Overall, men are working just 2% longer hours than they did in 1979. But women’s annual hours have gone up almost 20%, according to the Economic Policy Institute analysis.”

      2) Poor are working more:
      “In 1979, people in the bottom 20% of earners worked about 1,250 hours a year. Today they are putting in 1,500 hours a year.”

      3) Despite more hours and economic growth exceeding inflation, real weekly wages are almost the same as 1979, meaning hourly wages have declined. “If you adjust for inflation, weekly earnings in 1979 averaged $332 a week. Weekly earnings in 2014 were $334.”

    • Big Data says:

      “Everybody knows Americans are overworked. A recent Gallup poll found that salaried Americans now report working an average of 47 hours a week?—?not the supposedly standard 40?—?while 18 percent of Americans report working more than 60 hours a week. Indeed, overtime pay has become such a rarity that many Americans don’t even realize that the majority of salaried workers were once eligible.”

      However, the new increase in salary level to qualify workers as exempt from overtime will help a little, and despite “the fearful squawks coming from the business lobby” that the sky is falling, “middle-class Americans never did better than when the overtime threshold?—?the annual salary below which workers are automatically entitled to time-and-a-half overtime pay?—?was at its peak. A half-century ago, more than 60 percent of salaried workers qualified for overtime pay. But after 40 years in which the threshold has been allowed to steadily erode, only about 8 percent do.”

      “And ironically, the longer and harder we work, the more we weaken the labor market, weakening our own bargaining power in the process. That helps explain why over the last 30 years, corporate profits have doubled from about 6% of GDP to about 12%, while wages have fallen by almost exactly the same amount. The erosion of overtime and other labor protections is one of the main factors leading to this worsening inequality. But a higher threshold would help reverse this trend.”

      https://medium.com/the-wtf-economy/overtime-pay-is-the-minimum-wage-for-the-middle-class-3c7220f7a781#.i90z0cwb0

    • Big Data says:

      So how come overall the U.S. economy is doing well, but the middle class is not?

      http://www.marketplace.org/2016/06/08/world/middle-class-less-money-and-bigger-bills-what-gives
      ==== From the article ===
      “If wealth isn’t being shared among people outside of the top bracket, then it doesn’t feel like we’re wealthy unless you’re in the top,” Pate said. “Wealth is being generated, it’s just not being distributed.”

      Marketplace calculated that the typical middle class life has gotten 30 percent more expensive in the past twenty years, and Pate says overall wages have been flat since the 1970s.

      On why we don’t need to go back the way it used to be to succeed:

      We don’t need manufacturing jobs to save the middle class. Our unemployment rate is incredibly low. We have people in jobs. We just need employees to be supported in the jobs that they’re in. We have very low minimum wages, we have seen the demise of most unions, so people don’t have the collective bargaining power that they used to have. We basically rely on companies to be the ones that determine how much income people make in this country, and then that becomes a question of well, every dollar I pay to my employee’s a dollar I don’t make in profit. That trade-off I think makes it very hard for companies to sit down and say this is the right thing, so that’s why we should pay people more as opposed to saying oh they’re fine, they’re making ends meet.
      On why has it taken so long for us to notice that making ends meet is getting harder and harder:

      Not everybody is looking at inflation figures and saying, ‘well, am I better or worse off?’ In nominal wages, people feel like their salaries are increasing, and they do. I get a little raise every year, I feel good about it, but I’m not thinking well what else has gone up in terms of expenses and prices in the meanwhile that means that I’m actually earning less than I was last year. My salary looks higher, but I’m actually worse off than I was the last year because things are now more expensive. In the beginning people didn’t really notice it so much and now it’s becoming so much of a bigger gap, the difference in the inequality is growing at such a rapid rate that I think people are finally saying “I’m done with it, this seems unfair.”

      On how she was surprised it took so long for candidates like Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump rise in the wake of widespread middle class discontent:

      This has been nice dry kindling just waiting for a good spark.

    • Big Data says:

      The U.S. is the Most Overworked Developed Nation in the World – When do we Draw the Line?

      http://20somethingfinance.com/american-hours-worked-productivity-vacation/

      According to the Center for American Progress on the topic of work and family life balance, “in 1960, only 20 percent of mothers worked. Today, 70 percent of American children live in households where all adults are employed.”

      The U.S. is the ONLY country in the Americas without a national paid parental leave benefit. The average is over 12 weeks of paid leave anywhere other than Europe and over 20 weeks in Europe.

      Zero industrialized nations are without a mandatory option for new parents to take parental leave. That is, except for the United States.

      At least 134 countries have laws setting the maximum length of the work week; the U.S. does not.
      In the U.S., 85.8 percent of males and 66.5 percent of females work more than 40 hours per week.
      According to the ILO, “Americans work 137 more hours per year than Japanese workers, 260 more hours per year than British workers, and 499 more hours per year than French workers.”
      Using data by the U.S. BLS, the average productivity per American worker has increased 400% since 1950. One way to look at that is that it should only take one-quarter the work hours, or 11 hours per week, to afford the same standard of living as a worker in 1950 (or our standard of living should be 4 times higher). Is that the case? Obviously not. Someone is profiting, it’s just not the average American worker.

      Americans are the Outliers
      And if all of this data tells anything, it’s that we are the outliers, not the norm. Why are we the outliers?

      – Our companies fairly ruthlessly let people go. We want to keep our jobs and not be a ‘low performer’ compared to others.
      – The decline of the union has led to less paid time off and other leave benefits.
      – Cultural value of money over everything else. We love money, we want more of it, and we think money can buy happiness. And the more we work, the more we get paid.
      – It’s been drilled in our heads that we are lazy compared to emerging market counterpart workers in India, Mexico, China, and other parts of Asia. Who isn’t? And what is our mental image of the work environments in those locales? To validate those fears, our jobs are being outsourced to the cheap labor in those countries. In reality, the U.S. is still the world leader in productivity per person.
      – Our legislative branch of the government (on both sides of the aisle) has been bought and as a result has shied away from passing laws that protect workers that every other industrialized nation has passed.
      – We generally don’t fight for our working rights. We take what is given to us.

    • Big Data says:

      Reposting in proper place:

      Sorry for the Blitz, guys. But you don’t have to look very far to see that Americans are far from lazy. We are possibly the hardest workers in the world, yet most Americans are profiting less from their efforts than other nations, and less than past generations. There is no good reason for that to be the case.

      Our economic policies have not kept pace with changing times. You say that income redistribution to the rich is due to automation and outsourcing? You are absolutely correct, those are two of the causes. Why should richest 1% profit from that change and nobody else? It’s not because richest are so clever and everyone else is lazy. It’s because broken policy with distorted incentives allows that to happen.

      • Peter N says:

        “Why should richest 1% profit from that change and nobody else?”
        Why should anybody that isn’t taking the risk profit? There is no reason..
        The fact is that machines are making people more profitable. It isn’t the people themselves. So I can buy the same machine here or in China and make the same product but it will cost less to run the machine in China.

        When you take the risk of buying the machine you want a return on your investment. The workers have no loyalty. They will go to whomever pays the most. Why should the employer have loyalty to the workers then? Every one is free to do what they want unlike Steven H’s Marxist/communist world.

        How simple can it get?

        • Big Data says:

          Capitalism will fall apart if you suppress worker wages for so long that the economy slows down. Employees are consumers and consumers drive the economy. Henry Ford understood this. Why don’t you?

          Stop with the Marx obsession. You are the only one who ever brings him up. No one else here gives a hoot about Marx.

          • Henry says:

            Wait….you don’t think you are Marxist?

          • Big Data says:

            I’m equally as Marxist as Thomas Jefferson, A Hamilton, and Benjamin Franklin. You are badly deceived and delusional if you think that fighting plutocracy and economic aristocracy is Marxist. The original Tea Party was not just about taxes. It was fighting the excesses of global monopolies that took away the rights of small companies and individuals. And it was about setting up the US Government to be a check against the excesses of those big businesses for the lifetime of this nation. You may think you are fighting the good fight of patriots, when you are just being King George and the East India Company.

          • Peter N says:

            “Capitalism will fall apart if you suppress worker wages for so long that the economy slows down. Employees are consumers and consumers drive the economy.”
            So do the machines. They need upgrades and replacement parts. When we sell automation we get requests for about 10% a year of what we originally sold in replacements, training,maintenance, etc.

      • Peter says:

        Strangely he doesn’t. Of course he also thinks his economic perspective is both informed and logical.

        Think we have established that basically Steven H / Big Data just wants to see the income brackets on the rich move again and money funneled to others. The rest is just noise to him.

        • Big Data says:

          “just wants to see the income brackets on the rich move again and money funneled to others. ” … Which is exactly what You and Peter N and Henry and others have been arguing for. We simply disagree on which direction it should move.

          • Peter says:

            Another lie. I have never argued for reduction in taxes. Not once.

          • Peter N says:

            More libtard speak. Libtards distort the discussion by the language they use.

            A reduction in taxes in not funneling money. It is letting those that earn it keep it.

          • Big Data says:

            Peter, you have argued to eliminate estate tax. That is, in fact, a tax cut to the rich that you have advocated.

            Peter n, … wow, talk about distorted partisan, terminology. Your tired talking point that tax cuts to the rich are “just letting people keep their money” is dumb. The after tax incomes of the rich were increased at the expense to the national debt. That is funneling money to the rich. Any policy change that economically favors the rich over the general population is funneling money to the rich. All of the repub policies of the last 35 years have favored the rich and funnel money to them. The proof is in the increased incomes and wealth of the rich.

          • Peter says:

            I was accused of “wanting to see the INCOME brackets on the rich move again and money funneled to others”. This was factually incorrect. Please stop “quoting” me.

          • Peter says:

            And literally LOL @ the tax cuts to the rich went right to the debt. Does spending play NO role with you? You realize we could have had tax cuts for everyone AND reduced the deficit had we not gone to war in Afghanistan and Iraq?

          • Big Data says:

            Peter.
            Of course spending and revenue both impact debt. What bush tax cuts did was to cut taxes without corresponding cuts to spending, so yes the tax cuts went straight to debt, and the majority of stimulus of those cuts went to the wealthy where it was least useful to the economy. Imho, that was a big contributor to the combination of excess capital going into risky investments, and depleted fortunes of middle class, that fueled the financial collapse of 2008.

          • Peter says:

            I don’t disagree with you regarding the Bush tax cuts not being accompanied with spending cuts and going straight to the deficit. Especially when a chunk of that spending went to a pointless military conflict. However, I completely disagree with your connecting of the dots to the financial crisis of 2008 though. That had other reasons behind it – that don’t connect to Federal spending or tax cuts.

        • Big Data says:

          “Of course he also thinks his economic perspective is both informed and logical.”
          Yes, because it conforms to published mainline macro-economic research and facts instead of political bias based on narrow personal experience.

        • Big Data says:

          You complain that I ignore all of your stories of personal economic struggle of climbing the ladder, your observations about the laziness of the poor and your philosophies of SWEAR and the like. i don’t ignore them. They give personal insight to the conversation, and can be inspirational in how to improve individual plight. But ultimately they DO NOT MATTER with regard to the impact of government tax, labor, education and trade policy and how it shapes the playing field. You are talking about the person climbing the ladder, and I am talking about the system of ladders, their number, height, and rung separation. I know you just want to talk about the individual struggle because it is what you understand.

          Broaden your understanding.

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