Who Actually Earns $400,000 Per Year?

by Emily Guy Birken · 3,485 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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{ 3485 comments… read them below or add one }

Stevendad September 1, 2014 at 12:57 am

Steven H: By the way, one of your chief gripes, the high cost of higher education, is largely government created.
To wit: Money is loaned in huge amounts, increasing the number of students (demand) for a limited supply of schools. Thus, inevitably, cost rises. In addition, the “strings attached” of additional government oversight requires bloated administration to oversee regs that add NOTHING to the education of students.

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Steven H September 1, 2014 at 5:18 am

That’s an interesting theory, but do you have any data to back that up? Why do the costs per student go up as enrollment increases? Efficiencies of scale would suggest the opposite. [The articles below support the idea that federal aid is a contributor, but that actual costs are not going up, only profits.] What government regulations are so costly, and how have they changed since 1960? Is that something real or just part of your anti-government religion?

Here is what some study actually says. Here is info from one article:
http://www.npr.org/2014/03/18/290868013/how-the-cost-of-college-went-from-affordable-to-sky-high

[As family income fell, borrowing to pay for college took off, while public investment in higher education dropped. Sandy Baum of the Urban Institute says that drop has been the single biggest reason for the increase in college costs.]

Or are the increased costs also explained by profiteering and excessive salaries of the school management?
[While most institutions tried to keep costs down, Baum says, some took advantage of the public perception that a high tuition means a quality education.
"There's certainly evidence that people don't know how to measure the quality of a college education," she says. "They think that if it's expensive it must be better. I don't think colleges want to have high prices, but I do think they see strategic reasons why it may be in their interest to have high prices."]

This discussion on college costs between three economists covers most of the bases. They seem to be schooled in their subject, but also seem to be expressing opinions more than research.

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887324549004579068992834736138

Primary causes mentioned:
- decline in state support for higher education
- college bureaucracy and overpaid management – “metastasizing army of administrators with bloated salaries, and our university presidents who are now paid as though they were CEOs running a business”
- Inefficiency – “tenured faculty have acquired low teaching loads to pursue trivial research published in journals no one reads, forcing administrators to hire cheap adjuncts who often do a fine job teaching at much lower cost.”
- Profiteering – “federal aid programs enabled colleges to raise tuition fees, helping to fuel the academic arms race”
[Note the contribution of financial aid is strongly disputed, but does not negate the charge of profiteering: 'Prof. Vedder puts forth the "Bennett hypothesis" that it is rising financial aid that is driving tuition higher. Perhaps the most comprehensive review of the literature on this topic is a study ("Does Federal Financial Aid Drive Up College Prices?" by Donald Heller, dean of the College of Education at Michigan State University) which concluded: "While the Bennett Hypothesis may be intriguing, there is little compelling evidence that it holds true with respect to the price-setting behavior of colleges and universities in the United States."']

Nobody is really blaming federal regulations that I can tell. The most common theme I find in these and other articles is the DECLINE of regulatory price control by states and the availability of federal loans allowing colleges to PROFITEER by raising prices indiscriminately.

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Peter N September 1, 2014 at 8:14 am

An obvious one is the ADA. It must have added about $100K to my building. It wasn’t enough that 1 of our rest rooms were ADA, they all had to be ADA. On top of that the shower had to be ADA which has made it hard to use without getting water all over the floor because there is a very low lib on the floor that keeps the water in because supposedly one is suppose to be able to roll a wheel chair into it. We also had to add a fold down bench.

Here is another one. Conflict metals/minerals.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conflict_resource
Do you have any idea how hard it is to check the source of all the minerals that make up a small electronic device? By the time parts get to us the minerals that are used to make them have gone through many hands and the sources minerals have been mixed together.

All electronic companies? Give me a break. That just goes to show how clueless our gov is. Why not harass the importers only?

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Steven H September 1, 2014 at 8:43 pm

Thanks, Peter N. That info is informative. I agree that ADA should be more flexible. When two bathrooms are down the hall from each other, why not make just one of them handicap-accessible?

The information on Conflict Minerals is also troubling. I am for sensible regulation, but this does not seem sensible.

Thanks again for the info.

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Stevendad September 1, 2014 at 6:23 am

Steven H: No, your mind is closed. Here is a website that shows the manipulation of data since 1989: http://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/2014/06/23/noaanasa-dramatically-altered-us-temperatures-after-the-year-2000/. Is it true? I can’t proce it, but it is compelling that the adjusted temperature published prior to 1989 (to fit the model) has completely altered the high temp over the past 100 years. Make no mistake, there will be many government, academic and political heads to roll if this is debunked. So do not act like there is no stake in this for them. More to come…

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Steven H September 1, 2014 at 8:31 pm

Conservative press grabs at every scientific adjustment or uncertainty as proof of fraud. Conservativ press is owned and controlled by persons and industries who have a strong stake in discounting AWG. Science has no such stake. Most scientists would LOVE to say: “Sorry guys, nothing to worry about, we found an error!”

Yes I found your little article and accusations posted all over Fox and Breitbart and the anti-science sites. Go to the science sites and they have sensible explanations for the correction.

As a man of science yourself, I am rather shocked at how readily you are taken in by the corporate anti-AWG propaganda.

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Stevendad September 1, 2014 at 6:34 am

Steven H. Again view the charts on the EU data. http://www.eea.europa.eu/data-and-maps/daviz/atmospheric-concentration-of-carbon-dioxide#tab-chart_2. Now which curve far better correlates a leveling of temps over now 17 years? The asymptotically rising CO2? Or the methane that levelled off starting in 1982 or so. In my mind, the latter would much better explain a levelling with a lag of several years, as would be expected. Of course I don’t a computer model I have to defend for research grants and political points. I’m NOT saying I’m right, only that my mind is accepting of new ideas, yours is closed.

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Steven H September 1, 2014 at 8:38 pm

When I was at my previous company, a rather capable hardware engineer tried to convince me how climate scientists had no inkling of information and research that occurred before the invention of the internet because they could not look it up online. Complete nonsense of course, but he was convinced that he and the political blogs he read were more credible than the professionals.

It would be as if some amateur dissecting frogs claimed he knew more about human medical science than trained degreed doctors. Possible, maybe, but highly highly unlikely.

So yes, I have a worldview in which I trust the science community to get it right. In the above data correction, my understanding is that they took information and observations from a climate skeptic to initiate their data corrections. Just another example of how the system works, and errors get corrected.

I am open to new ideas, but no, I don’t believe that your observations trump the research of thousands of scientists doing this professionally. You may be smart, but you aren’t THAT smart.

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Stevendad September 1, 2014 at 6:52 am

Steven H: Thi is crude, but illustrative. I can’t seem to superimpose the CO2, CH4 and temp curves for the past 30 years and stick them in this blog. So here goes:

.
.
.
.
.
.
A. .

. . . . . .
..
B. ..

C. . . . . .
..
..
..

So, pretend this is the SAT. They ask you which data are more likely to be correlated with C, A or B? Your answer is A?!?

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Stevendad September 1, 2014 at 7:00 am

Steven H. OK total fail. The blog took out all the spaces. Trial two, going Old School:
…………………………..*
………………………….*.
…………………………*..
………………………..*…
……………………….*….
………………………*…..
…………………….*…….
A………………..*……….

………………………****
……………………**……
B……………….**………

………………………..***
……………………. **…..
C………………..**………

OK, which is more likely to be correlated with C, A or B. Answer is A?!?

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Stevendad September 1, 2014 at 7:06 am

Steven H. You are dead wrong. Wastewater is generated by nearly all types of sencondary and tertiary recovery. We have not had primary recovery in US for decades. Fracking is a specific tertiary recovery process involving injecting liquids to concentrate oil from formations, thus easing it’s removal. I learned this in college from oen of the top Petroleum E in the world. His job was to teach experienced engineers techniques pf petroleum extraction. The only way to stop wastewater production is to stop nearly ALL US drilling. That would tank the economy, but likely suit the Liberal agenda, expanding government reliance by the populus.

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Steven H September 1, 2014 at 9:00 pm

So you admit that fracking creates wastewater that must be disposed of and that said wastewater, a result of the fracking process, when disposed of in the ground can cause earthquakes. If you knew all this, why did you blast “liberals” for connecting fracking and earthquakes? They are clearly connected by the necessary intermediary process of wastewater injection. To claim no connection is disingenuous and is deceptive by means of a technical loophole.

Oh, no Mrs. Johnson, I’m not responsible for your missing bird. It was my cat, you see, who was hungry, and needed something to eat, so he saw your bird and I let him eat it. But that is just a result of a genetically bred affinity cats have for birds. So it’s really the genetics that is to blame.

Guns don’t kill people. Bullets blasting large holes in vital organs kills people.

A causes B causes C, so A Causes C. That is pretty straightforward isn’t it? Rather than deny the connection, perhaps we should accept it, and push for better methods of disposal. Wouldn’t that make more sense?

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Stevendad September 1, 2014 at 7:47 am

NJ: Again, my view is to pass the cost of government benefits paid to workers back to medium to large companies in fees. Dollar for dollar, plus penalties if agregious. This is only fair and logical.

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Peter N September 1, 2014 at 8:19 am

That would effectively be the same as having a higher minimum wage such that gov welfare programs wouldn’t be needed. It would be better to just have a high minimum wage and then let the companies deal with the unprofitable employees but otherwise keep the gov out of it. In either case the results would be the same and it doesn’t solve the problem of making the unemployed profitable.

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Steven H September 1, 2014 at 8:18 pm

Thank you Peter N. I have been trying to get that same point across. Glad to see we can agree on something. That’s actually two things, so far.

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Peter N September 1, 2014 at 9:43 pm

Wait a minute. I see both Stevendad’s solution and raising the minimum wage as unsatisfactory and I don’t know which solution I would prefer. I don’t like either one. I don’t like the idea of the gov deciding that a company is not paying enough either through a minimum wage or a fee on companies to cover the welfare programs. How much of a fee? Where does it end? Who decides how much welfare the employees get? Both solutions open a can of worms.

I do agree with Stevendad that I don’t like subsidizing Walmart given the current state of things. I don’t see a good answer now.

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Stevendad September 1, 2014 at 8:26 am

Peter N. no, it would affect only those eligible for benefits. It would not affect those who did not receive benefits, ie part time students or retirees for example. I feel it is patently unfair for me to enrich the Waltons with my taxes.

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Steven H September 1, 2014 at 8:19 pm

Again, That just compels WalMart (or whoever) to fire as many benefits receiving employees as possible. A totally unworkable and overly-complicated plan with devastating unintended consequences.

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Stevendad September 1, 2014 at 3:48 pm

ROM: Axioms. Love it!
Herevare the Axioms of liberalism:
-Business is bad, with their evil nature going up geometrically with size. Except Apple, Google, Mcrosoft and Berkshire Hathaway because they build green buildings and chum around with Liberals. Despite the fact the 3 tech companies are monopolies that would make Rockerfeller blush.
- White men who are not Liberal are evil, based on their sex and the color of their skin. Something to do with guilt of their grandparents and beyond. “I have a dream when a man is judged by his words and deeds, not by the color of his skin.”
- A large Federal govermment is good, because a group of intellectuals can better judge how people should live than they themselves can. Unabashedly egotistical.
- Global warming due to CO2 is a fact. The raw data must be wrong, not the model! My point with this, Steven H, is that you would not consider other possibilities. I gave a website that cited that NOAA, NASA et al falsified data. Therefore it must be true.
- “You didn’t build it” Everything earned by a person is completely a product of the government services they received. Thus, it was never theirs to begin with and Liberals can take it without guilt and with impunity. Thus every child that goes to a school must end up with the same level of success. Ludicrous. Do I need a web site to prove this? Or can you at least recognize it.
- The Federal governemnt truly represents all the people. Pull up the map of Obama voters by county. Striking. He represents two small, densely populated areas with a smattering of others. Thus LA and NY know what is best for Nebraska and Alaska. I would like to see much more decided by states and localities.

These are axioms of a religion because you will not consider any other points of view. I guarantee I can find websites to support whatever. That does not make it fact.

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Steven H September 1, 2014 at 8:21 pm

Not a single statement above reflects actual liberal thinking. They are just axioms in your anti-liberal religion about how liberals supposedly think.

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Stevendad September 1, 2014 at 8:47 pm

Steven H. No, I did not reject CO2, just pointed out how poorly it fits recent data and other possibilities. You refused to accept any other possibility than CO2.

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Stevendad September 1, 2014 at 8:49 pm

Steven H. I am correct. Your statement is wrong. You are blinded by religion. Prima fascia evidence. You are a fool to close your mind.

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Stevendad September 1, 2014 at 8:51 pm

Steven H. Further, your statement is nonsense. I just asked which seems to correlate better. I never proposed cause and effect.

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Steven H September 1, 2014 at 9:04 pm

You drew two curves that matched exactly. Of course they correlate better. Correlation is not causation. It takes research to prove something. My mind is not closed. I just don’t trust your observation of correlation over the research of professionals. Don’t you think your opinion is worth something in the field in which you are a professional? Why do you think other professionals deserve less respect?

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Stevendad September 1, 2014 at 8:52 pm

Steven H. So you think Wal mart can be completely staffed by part time students and retirees. Again, you are making a silly statement.

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Steven H September 1, 2014 at 9:10 pm

I said: as many as possible. And there are other people besides students and retirees who would not need benefits from government: Spouses of people with other jobs for instance. What would Wal-Mart have to do anyway, to support your rule? Make every employee report every dollar of government assistance they receive so that they could report it to govt and pay their fine. So in this case, to avoid the reasonable and simple method of raising minimum wage back to past levels, you would INCREASE government regulation, INCREASE paperwork, and INCREASE the probability that the very people who most need the jobs would get fired.

You are a smart guy, stevendad, but you are really being (excuse my French) stupid and obstinate on this particular issue. When Peter N and I both agree on something and you are on the other side of it, that should give you pause. Please reconsider.

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Peter N September 1, 2014 at 9:49 pm

“When Peter N and I both agree on something and you are on the other side of it, that should give you pause. Please reconsider.”
I didn’t say I agree. I think both the minimum wage and Stevendad’s suggestion leave a lot to be desired.

Perhaps it would be best if the gov didn’t subsidize at all and let the free market work.

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Stevendad September 1, 2014 at 8:56 pm

A little too close to home, huh? I can find statements by Liberals that support all these. I even included an Obama quote. I’m clearly agitating you, so must FINALLY be getting you out of your comfort zone. Fantastic! You are thinking and not regurgitating! Now accuse me of being sexistb nd racist. These Liberal tactics are often soon to follow any opposition to your truths.

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Steven H September 1, 2014 at 9:12 pm

Not close to home at all. Rather out in left field. You exaggerate the liberal positions into a satirical stereotype. Not very productive for the discussion, actually.

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Stevendad September 1, 2014 at 8:58 pm

Steven H. Again you missed the point. My pointbis slanted websites prove nothing. I guess you feel your slanted websites do. As long as you are being snarky, I guess this was a bit too sublime for you to get.

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Stevendad September 1, 2014 at 9:03 pm

Steven H. Again, explain how C more closely resembles A than B? You have such faith in scientists who stand to have their financial lives and reputations ruined if proven wrong. At least you can admit that they have a stake and possible bias? And there is documentation of blackballing against those who oppose them. Is this so inconceivable that you dismiss it outright? Did you look at the EU graphs and the temp curve? The latter is everywhere, but easily found in NOAA.

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Steven H September 1, 2014 at 9:34 pm

I have looked at AWG and anti-AWG sites. Some anti-AWG sites have actual science being discussed – no problem with those. Science is all about proving and verifying theories, and scientists disputing other results. There is always an active give and take and proof and question in the scientific community. That is why I trust it.

I think something turned you paranoid against scientists. I don’t understand it. But this is not an AWG blog, and this discussion wastes the time of other people. We had a nice discussion on the subject a few pages back, and perhaps we should leave it there.

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Stevendad September 1, 2014 at 9:18 pm

Steven H. You are intransigent. I am not stupid, just disagree. You are absolutely bunkered in on your Liberal solutions.

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Steven H September 1, 2014 at 9:26 pm

We disagree. That is the gist of it. I don’t think anybody on this site would agree with your Wal-Mart solution. The problem is not that it is too original. The problem is that it is too liberal, even for me, in the sense of the worst stereotype of a liberal solution. It promotes a complicated government-intrusive solution that increases regulation and paperwork on businesses for a marginal benefit at best, and at worst, a counter-productive impact for employees, and the inefficiency will very likely cost taxpayers more than it saves.. It hurts business, employees and taxpayers — a triple threat.

No you are not stupid, but in your enthusiastic quest to prove me intransigent and unreasonable, you have just made yourself king in both categories.

Let’s move on to some other subject. This one is dead.

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Steven H September 1, 2014 at 9:18 pm

Geez, stevendad, get some rest. You are sounding loopy. You really expect to prove your point with ascii graphics with no X/Y axes listed reproduced by hand from some unstated website? Just link to the friggin data. Find some scientist who supports your point of view. I have already linked to multiple science (not liberal) websites that have addressed the methane vs CO2 debate. Why do you persist in this fruitless exercise in amateur climatology? Do you really think you have some new and compelling discovery? What are you trying to accomplish here?

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Stevendad September 1, 2014 at 9:22 pm

Steven H. I do love this, though. You have finally coming to the point of calling people stupid for disagreeing with you. You are clearly a superior human and thus can tell us all how to live. A Liberal prophet! Arrogant know it all! Give me another Liberal website to refute this.

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Stevendad September 1, 2014 at 9:23 pm

Steven H. So you like making the Waltons rich?

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Steven H September 1, 2014 at 9:37 pm

I have no problem with the Waltons being rich. My gripe is with their employees being poor. Just raise minimum wage to past levels. It is a simple tried and true solution.

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Stevendad September 1, 2014 at 9:25 pm

Steven H. I clearly stated I tried to superimpose the graphs and print them. They do not transfer in. Look at the EU site! They illustrate, to those who are formal operational, my point. Clearly, you are stuck in the third grade.

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Stevendad September 1, 2014 at 9:30 pm

Steven H. You have stated all of the Liberal axioms along the way, except perhaps the attack on white males. You are in complete denial. I am simply rehashing your repetitive themes.

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Steven H September 1, 2014 at 9:44 pm

Stevendad, our conversation has denigrated into name-calling. I did not call you stupid, by the way. I said you are a smart guy who is acting/being stupid and obstinate on an issue. You however, have been insulting me constantly for two days. You used to have more reasonable posts. The more you accuse me of being obstinate and unthinking, the more obstinate and unthinking your posts seem to get. Ever heard of projection? You are accusing me of your own flaws. I think we need to end this exchange for now as it is going nowhere.

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Stevendad September 1, 2014 at 9:40 pm

Steven H. Here is what I said, minus my snide (or revealing) comments: you and/or MOR have stated all except the white men comments.
-Business is bad, with their evil nature going up geometrically with their size. OK, I may have exaggerated, but you have worn us out with how the 1% and business has profited while the middle class shrunk. Please deny this.
- White men who are not Liberal are evil, based on their sex and the color of their skin. Something to do with guilt of their grandparents and beyond. “I have a dream when a man is judged by his words and deeds, not by the color of his skin.” I honestly don’t recall you supporting this, but many Liberals do.
- A large Federal govermment is good, because a group of intellectuals can better judge how people should live than they themselves can. This is who does “thoughtful analysis of data”. Refute you have promoted this. I KNOW MOR has.
- Global warming due to CO2 is a fact. See all the rest of these posts.
- “You didn’t build it” Everything earned by a person is completely a product of the government services they received. Refute that you have said this.
- The Federal government truly represents all the people. I know MOR has said this, but I believe I can pull recitations where you have too.

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Stevendad September 1, 2014 at 9:42 pm

Steven H. Yes, fracking a subset of drilling methods, does produce wastewater because ALL drillng produces wastewater. Did they teach set theory where you went to school?

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Stevendad September 1, 2014 at 9:44 pm

Steven H. Again, I can be objective because I have no stake. They do and cannot be. I’m just saying it is possible. You are dealing in absolutes, not me.

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Stevendad September 1, 2014 at 9:46 pm

Steven H. The idea is to make it such a pain that they pay a “living wage”. Is that not a Liberal Holy Grail?

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Stevendad September 1, 2014 at 9:53 pm

Steven H. No, I have seen medical scientists manipulate data to prove their premise that was contrary to the data. The drive by delivery study in the 90′s from Seattle is a classic. They tried to prove that short hospital stays were bad for deliveries. They lumped two distinct groups together, HMO and Medicaid. However, HMO patients did BETTER with short stays and Medicaid did not. Tjis was due to home environments. They blended the two to say all did worse, then used it as an argument against short HMO stays. Again, this is the opposite of their data, but was the political point they tried to make.
Climate scientists have a stake as well and need to have their conclusins challenged. If some were not skeptical of scientific “facts” along the way, we would indeed all still be “flat Earthers”.

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Peter N September 1, 2014 at 9:58 pm

I have tried to stay out of the off topic fracking and CO2-Methane arguments.
You guys should know that the old companies are starting to recycle the fracking water.

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Stevendad September 1, 2014 at 10:25 pm

Steven H. You are backing out because you have been challeged? No, you do have religion. You are right because you think you are right. Then you hit us with links that are TRUTH because they support you. I admire your research skills and want you to use them to challenge everything you believe.
I may be dead wrong on the Walmart et al benefit pass through fee and methane may have nothing to do with the temperature at all. Waste water does not = fracking, however. Of that I am certain. My point is to open your mind. Accept you may be wrong and new possibilities may open up. I’ve thrown a ton of ideas out there. I just want to see something inventive and out of the box from you.
Taxes are NOT going up in any substantial way. Your side is receding, not advancing. I really don’t have a side, just want to hear some new ideas from the smart people on this blog. Raise taxes: No! Raise taxes: No! Is getting old. Are we going to find some novel, new ways out or should we all just buy gold, canned food and bullets? I’ve thrown a bunch out there that are not TRUTH, just ideas that make sense to me. You have given some too, but you must admit that they are by and large just Liberal bylines. I am neither obstinate or unthinking, just not frozen in belief as you are.

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Peter September 2, 2014 at 11:07 am

Taxes may actually go up. And they may need to. But as Bill Clinton says, it’s all about math. Any simple running of the numbers shows that unless we completely nail the 1% to the wall with taxes like they have in Scandinavia, we aren’t even making a small dent in our fiscal problems or improving the economy with this move. Raising taxes as we have done is largely a political move in my opinion. The only way this has a far reaching impact is if the higher taxes do improve the economy and encourage growth. So I agree with you that they won’t likely go up “dramatically” no matter what.

To me this is all just babble until both sides get really serious about cutting expenses and strengthening the dollar. That’s where the biggest impact can really be felt. Improvements can be made on both the revenue and expense side of the balance sheet, but they have to be done gradually and have everyone commit to a long-term, graduated phase-out or phase-in. (Medicare and SS reform is a great example of this) But how is anyone going to do this when everybody just wants instant gratification or immediate political gain?

It’s like arguing over why someone is 300 lbs. Is it because of lack of exercise? Is it because of their diet? Sure, both play a role – but until you eat less – and eat BETTER – you aren’t going to make any progress at all. Exercise all you want, you’ll still be overweight and unhealthy. The lazy way is to try and lose weight with the same diet that got us in this position. The lazy way is to assume that taxing a handful of people will be ‘less painful’ and that somehow this will help the bottom 20%.

Fact is, neither this strategy nor trickle-down economics works when you spend gazillions of dollars rebuilding other nations or on social programs where the “math doesn’t work”.

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Stevendad September 1, 2014 at 10:31 pm

Steven H. I do agree we are generating more heat than light lately and a cooling off (like the last 17 years) (sorry, couldn’t resist) might be a good thing. Best wishes to you!

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Peter September 2, 2014 at 10:45 am

If this last little stretch isn’t a perfect illustration of what is wrong with our political system, I don’t know what is. Everyone gets labeled as liberal or conservative as if they are two polar opposites. The reality is – they aren’t really that different. Watching the Presidential debates between Obama and Romney as an independent voter, I was struck by the fact that I couldn’t really differentiate their positions stated in the debates. Sure, there was nuance to their rhetoric, but largely their positions were similar. I think this has been proven by the similarities in both domestic and foreign policy during the last 14 years. Sure, there are some differences – but largely both parties believe in the same things in foreign aid and intervention (and war) and both parties continue to perpetuate many of the same programs.

Here’s the problem – if a President (or Congress) raises taxes 1% on the rich – they can say “we raised taxes on the rich” and the other side can vilify them for “attacking the wealthy”. If a President were to cut – for example – the Department of Education’s budget by 5%, then the other side will say “this President cut education funding and doesn’t care about schools”. And all of this is amplified x100 by the loudmouth media like Maddow, Limbaugh, Beck, O’Reilly, Olbermann, Matthews, etc., etc. and even comedians like Maher and Jon Stewart – all of which use this folly and polarization to improve their own ratings and create a “following”.

We do live in an era of armchair quarterbacks – a whole society who thinks they can sing (apparently), run sports teams and balance our nation’s budget. The problem is that very few of these people are thinking on their own. People have become enraptured by the misleading perspectives led by media entertainers and so-called “news people”. Even if we avoid that noise, we are still led astray by politicians and political parties who are trying to differentiate themselves from one another on the 5% of policy that they disagree on. Many simply do this by the way they say things. Furthermore, the internet is now awash of completely biased “fact-based” articles and theories. Pretty much whatever perspective you want to subscribe to is supported on the internet somewhere – you just have to find it.

So people find a mantra they want to believe (global warming is a problem or not a problem, the economy would improve with higher support at the bottom or trickle-down economics, etc.) and they can work backwards to find all sorts of support for this theory. This is not thinking – this is not rational. And two people who have arrived at their conclusions arguing from this perspective is certainly not going anywhere.

What this country needs more of is people who think for themselves and have open minds. I have tried hard to maintain mine throughout and have gained new perspectives from many on here, albeit some time ago. I hope others have done the same. There is no changing the minds of the indoctrinated, but hopefully the rest of us – and many lurkers who have taken the time to read through this thread – have heard a wide variety of opinions and can draw their own conclusions. If only politicians would do the same.

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