Who Actually Earns $400,000 Per Year?

by Emily Guy Birken · 3,688 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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{ 3688 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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Normal Joe September 3, 2014 at 12:41 pm

The air temperature is a very inaccurate and unreliable way to measure long term temperatures, or consistently measure temperatures at all. It is the least dense object to store heat at all.

True science measures ocean temperatures because that is where the heat is being stored. It covers 70% of the surface area and is exposed to the sunlight almost every day somewhere.

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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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Steven H September 2, 2014 at 3:15 pm

It’s OK, Peter N., I wasn’t trying to paint you as favoring minimum wage. But we do agree (I think) that, between the two options, penalty vs. straight up minimum wage, the minimum wage is less intrusive.

I do also agree with Stevendad that a Walmart subsidy is unpalatable and uncompetitive.

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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JTM September 3, 2014 at 9:16 am

Yes, this is why I have backed out of this discussion. It has devolved into labeling each other as liberal or conservative and ascribing the most divisive and extreme ideas to each. This is simply not true for most on here. But, there has been a lot of stating personal beliefs as facts, some without any sort of actual scientific, statistical or other backing even from biased sources. We have come to the state of our government “leaders” and no longer trying to provide solutions, just arguments to tear down the “oppositions” position even if that is by going after the person instead of the argument.

There are differences but there are also many points of agreement. If we could focus on the areas of agreement and work outward, we could get beyond the my group’s ideas are better than yours and the name calling.

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Steven H September 2, 2014 at 3:33 pm

Peter, I really appreciate your last two posts. The conversation was getting rather crazy. I agree with almost everything you say, except that I don’t think the two parties are quite as synchronized as you describe. They are very close on foreign policy, significantly divergent on economic and tax and energy policy, and world’s apart on social policy.

Nevertheless, you have struck a nice chord of reason into the recent discord.

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Peter September 2, 2014 at 5:03 pm

I understand why you say they are worlds apart socially and different economically …. But that is largely because of the media’s focus on the more extreme portions of the party. Not all liberals are anti-rich, pro-handout or even pro-life. And not all conservatives are bible-toting, anti-gay, pro-gun types either. In fact in both cases, I don’t think most are. But again we have to polarize ourselves so we focus on these extreme people – and in the case of the Republican Party, they are letting the loudest most extreme members wag the dog way too often. Plus the politicians themselves spin things so it looks like they are different from everyone else and get credit for different things.

But if you look closely at ACTUAL policy I think you will see they are very, very similar.

Again I have very traditional old-South conservative friends (I went to college in the South) as well as very liberal friends as well (my brother sat at Occupy Wall Street and is an artist in Brooklyn) and they both give me a hard time on different sections of my beliefs. I love that….. It makes me know that I have drawn my own conclusions. Right or wrong, they are my own.

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Peter September 2, 2014 at 5:04 pm

I meant not all liberals are pro choice of course…..

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Steven H September 2, 2014 at 8:10 pm

Perhaps much of policy between the parties end up being the same because ultimately they have to answer to the American people. But, that said, I fear this is less true than in the past. With the Supreme Court’s baffling (to my view) decision in the Citizens United case that money is not a corrupting influence in politics, the monetary speech of a small segment of society controls much of the conversation.

Media attention certainly induces political discord, but I also think the vast differences in rural vs city attitudes are a big contributor, independent of media hype. While policies may seem to be similar overall between parties, I think the legislative results on a few key issues will be vastly different depending on who is in power. Abortion Choice/Illegalization, Increased/Decreased tax, Strong/Weak safety nets, Gun-Restrictions/Un-Restrictions, are all issues that stir the passions of certain groups of Americans, often splitting on the Rural/City boundaries, and so those folks that care about these issues don’t see the parties as similar at all.

I agree we need more people who think for themselves and have open minds. But right now, those don’t seem to be the people who decide elections. They have the capacity to see both sides of an issue and so they don’t necessarily have their passions sufficiently stirred to sway the hearts and minds of others. We need a way to get control of the country back to the center. I honestly don’t know how that can be accomplished.

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Steven H September 3, 2014 at 6:39 am

Peter, I ran across this article on polls

and while most of it is about ObamaCare, look at Figure 5 down the page. It lists the policy issues that people most care about. Other than Veterans Benefits (which I think everyone favors, and only some funding issues divide the parties), each of these issues are items where Democrats and Republicans are likely to take drastically separate approaches and actions.

If that is true, and the parties are so different in approach and action on the matters most important to Americans, how is it useful to describe the two parties as almost the same?

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Steven H September 3, 2014 at 6:40 am
Steven H September 3, 2014 at 9:31 pm

OK you don’t click on poll links. (I was just trying to reference a list without retyping.) The point is that many of the issues Americans care most deeply about have completely different policy approaches from Dems and GOP.

e.g. economy, jobs, SS, immigration, taxes, deficit, education, climate change

So how is it useful or true to say that the two parties are are virtually the same if the approaches to these hot button issues would result in vastly different policy and legislation? Or do you believe policy would be the same on these items?

Just a curiosity question. I have no deep interest in describing the parties as same or different, but they do seem mostly different to me.

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Peter September 3, 2014 at 9:57 pm

I don’t see vastly different policy and legislation. I see politics. When it came down to it at election time both sides were saying the exact same thing just in a different wrapper and language.

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Steven H September 2, 2014 at 9:16 pm

A few thoughts on world views, disagreements and religion.

Everyone has a world view, formed by their own experiences and personal philosophies. This is natural.

Many aspects of a world view change over time, as more experience and information is added. Other aspects become stationary and set in place, as a person’s philosophy firms up to a set pattern of thinking. All of this is also natural.

When two people with opposing world views meet, they may easily resolve some issues around the edges of their views, especially if they are issues where the opinion is still forming. But if the “stationary” aspects are incompatible, it will be difficult if impossible to come to agreement.

What happens in such a case? Each side is frustrated by the other side’s seeming intransigence and resistance to “reason”. The words and arguments of one side do not sway the stationary worldview of the other side, because that view is supported by years of conscious and unconscious reinforcement, in addition to conscious logic and reason. It seems to each side, that the other is informed only by faith and “religion”, because the logic and example that is so potent to assure one’s self is seemingly impotent to convince the other.

One problem with calling the other’s view a “religion” is that it implies that the other view is inherently inferior, not based on logic and reason and fact, but instead on unfounded presumption and mindless adherence to some external teaching. [I am not trying to critique actual religion here, but just expand on what is meant by the term as applied to an intellectual position in an argument.] Such accusations make it unlikely to come to agreement with the opponent.

How can we prove the opposing side’s stationary view is incorrect? More importantly, how do we assure our own stationary views are correct?

It seems to me that three elements (at least) are necessary for any hope of swaying a stationary worldview: Persuasion, respect, and honesty. Of course, the argument to sway the view must be persuasive, and it helps if both sides have some agreed basis of logic and argument. A persuasive argument must generally explain the persuaders worldview in a convincing way, but also acknowledge some truth evident in the opposing view. The persuader must generally give some respect to the opponent, and must elicit some respect from the opponent as well. No one wants to go through the traumatic process of altering one’s stationary world views for someone who is offensive. And finally, the persuader must be honest in their argument to have a lasting impact. Arguments based on deception or non-credible data will ruin any chance to sway the opposing position.

As for verifying our own stationary views, that is a matter of constant questioning, research, and introspection.

It helps I think, both for persuasion of others and for verifying one’s own beliefs, to know the potential sources of error. Here is one article I found useful, and I have summarized a few of what I think are the most useful points:

http://io9.com/5974468/the-most-common-cognitive-biases-that-prevent-you-from-being-rational

Confirmation Bias – “the often unconscious act of referencing only those perspectives that fuel our pre-existing views, while at the same time ignoring or dismissing opinions — no matter how valid — that threaten our world view”.
In other words, a stationary view MAY be reinforced by layers of cherry-picked examples and opinions that match the view, but do not necessarily prove it true.

Ingroup Bias – “causes us to overestimate the abilities and value of our immediate group at the expense of people we don’t really know”. Thus people in a common economic class, or in any racial or ethnic group, or in a shared career path, tend to trust and value those who are most like them, and to distrust and devalue those who are most unlike them.

Observational Selection Bias – “effect of suddenly noticing things we didn’t notice that much before — but we wrongly assume that the frequency has increased”.

Staus Quo Bias – “We humans tend to be apprehensive of change, which often leads us to make choices that guarantee that things remain the same, or change as little as possible.”

Negativity Bias – “given the choice, we perceive negative news as being more important or profound”

Bandwagon Effect – “The bandwagon effect is what often causes behaviors, social norms, and memes to propagate among groups of individuals — regardless of the evidence or motives in support.” I think this explains how news commentators can influence people so strongly.

Projection Bias – “We tend to assume that most people think just like us — though there may be no justification for it. … Moreover, it can also create the effect where the members of a radical or fringe group assume that more people on the outside agree with them than is the case.”

I’ll add one more not in this article:

Psychological Projection (different than Projection Bias) – [from Wikipedia] “a theory in psychology in which humans defend themselves against unpleasant impulses by denying their existence in themselves, while attributing them to others. For example, a person who is rude may constantly accuse other people of being rude.”

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Stevendad September 3, 2014 at 6:16 am

Steven H. AGAIN the whole reason I chose the global warming article was to PRODY your “proof” of your points that you bring up using many biased sites. I nearly always use government source data.

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Peter September 3, 2014 at 7:57 am

Source data is the ONLY way to go. I won’t click on any other links – particularly those that are “polls”.

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Steven H September 3, 2014 at 6:40 am
Steven H September 2, 2014 at 10:39 pm

The point in all of the theoretical musing above is to give some basis and terminology for my own defense. I don’t think I have been intransigent, nor unreasonable. I certainly don’t think I have been expressing a liberal “religion” because that term implies an argument based only on faith with no logical or factual basis.

I would like to briefly and as fairly as possible recount my dispute with Stevendad, not to reopen the shouting match, but to assess and close out the issues.

AGW/CO2 vs Methane Theory – Stevendad and I have fatally incompatible world views on this issue. For my own sake, I have a trust in expertise, and while I acknowledge that individuals can have motivation to alter data, I do not and cannot believe that entire disciplines of science are either so deceptive or deluded as to purposefully alter data or allow grossly inaccurate and unchecked data to propagate. In addition to my inherent trust of science, I have read and researched and argued extensively outside of this forum regarding AGW issues. In general, I have seen deceptions and blatant lies propagated in the conservative media that I can only believe are motivated and financed by the big money in the energy industry. I have attempted to give credence in the past to accusations against the AGW consensus, but reading and research has discredited, to my satisfaction, every “proof” of supposed AGW scientific scam or fraud. So I have little patience now for new accusations of science misconduct, or new theories from amateurs that contradict established science, even from those as learned as Stevendad. I file such alternate theories in the same mental category as claims that Obama is not a citizen, that the US government planned the 9/11 attacks, and that the moon landings were faked. Stevendad sees my view as a closed mind, or as unreasoned and unthinking intransigence on my part. I disagree. Stevendad has not known how much I have already investigated this. But, for me, life is just too short to keep researching the same nonsense.

Fracking and Earthquakes – I’m still puzzled by Stevendad’s stubbornness and hostility on this, but perhaps it is a problem of definitions. To Stevendad’s credit, I find no proof or strong evidence in the literature that the fracking process itself causes earthquakes. But the most common fracking end-to-end OPERATIONS include wastewater injection wells that DO cause earthquakes. That was my only point. In the current environment, increased fracking produces increased wastewater injection and increased earthquakes. I am told that some companies are beginning to recycle their wastewater. Great. When that is more common, then perhaps fracking OPERATIONS (which include fracking process and all related processes) will no longer cause earthquakes. But as long as fracking OPERATIONS include wastewater injection wells in proportion to the drilling, then fracking OPERATIONS cause earthquakes.

Jobs vs Job-seekers – Stevendad posted a job stat of teacher vacancies that I discredited out of hand. For my defense, he offered no link for me to investigate, nor statement explaining his argument. But since then I have been reading about labor shortages in select cities, so I will grant that Stevendad’s rogue statistic apparently has merit. … Yet my argument and my previous stats still stand. Until very recently, job-seekers in each major industry exceeded job openings by an average of 2 or 3 to one. Under such conditions, unemployment benefits do not keep people from getting jobs. The lack of jobs was the primary issue.

And by the way, just because a stat appears on a site that has political leanings, you cannot automatically assess the stats as wrong. I don’t. I do tend to verify them elsewhere as well, though. Commentary on political sites can be assumed to be slanted, but any good site, even politically slanted ones will usually refrain from corrupting actual stats.

So I have a worldview. It is informed and logical. It is based on a lot of reading and not based primarily on faith or something I have just been told. I have faith in certain institutions such as science but also practice the credo: Trust but Verify.

The fact that my worldview conflicts with Peter’s or Peter N.’s or Stevendad’s or anyone else’s does not make me a liberal religious zealot, nor does it make them conservative religious zealots.. Nor does it make me wrong. Only contradiction with truth makes me, or anyone else, wrong. To the degree that we can assess and describe the past and present, we have hope of describing some truth. But much of what we discuss on this forum is opinion for the best path forward. That is only opinion. And every opinion here is valid, as long as it is backed by some modicum of logic and reason. So let’s stop with the nonsense about labeling opinions of those we disagree with a “religion”.

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Peter September 3, 2014 at 9:24 am

One other point that this post really illustrates. You seem to know quite a bit about a lot of things – you feel qualified to talk about the economy, have a deep understanding of fracking, drilling, methane, war and foreign policy strategy, and on multiple occasions have commented with some authority on the various industries that other work in (everything from financial planning and teaching to welding and professional sports).

Have you seen me in the fracking debate? Of course not. Why? Because this is something I know little about. If anything, I have read what you all have posted to learn what the debate is all about.

I don’t know how old you are, what your background and experiences are or what you do for a living, but it is really off-putting when you come off as all-knowing in areas where others have more experience and expertise. This is why I have been so discouraged with our discussions. At times you have even tried to tell me that I may not have a full understanding of the job market in the field I have worked in for 20+ years.

One last bit of advice… and advice that I didn’t truly learn until I was in my 40′s….. Listen – particularly to those with more expertise than you and those with different perspectives. Not saying you have to change your mind on anything – just listen.

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Steven H September 3, 2014 at 9:05 pm

That’s not fair. I don’t think I’ve ever spoken with authority on war or foreign policy. ;-)

I’m a data analyst. I like to look up and analyze information. My intention is not to come off as a know-it-all and I apologize if that is how I sound. If I am referencing a link or article, I may attempt to summarize the data in the article AND I do attempt to find authoritative articles. If I am not referencing a link or article, everything I say can be considered opinion. If I quote stats, I read them somewhere and can provide sources if asked. I will say that I attempt to build my opinions carefully from multiple sources, and I presume that most others here do as well.

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Steven H September 3, 2014 at 9:20 pm

“At times you have even tried to tell me that I may not have a full understanding of the job market in the field I have worked in for 20+ years.”

Not sure when I did that. Was it this post?
====
Steven H July 26, 2014 at 3:47 pm
Your hiring dilemma is rather astounding. The likely young candidates for your company are probably seeking jobs on Wall Street or even at law offices (I imagine lawyers would also be qualified to learn financial planning skills) and those careers also typically have lower pay and long hours at the career start. Your company sounds like it has more career opportunity and quicker capacity for income growth. I am only speculating, but could it be that your starting offer is just a little lower than the levels at these other opportunities?

I have heard complaints from job-seekers that the relatively new internet-resume trend encouragers hirers to collect and review a larger set of resumes in order to find the perfectly-qualified (on paper) candidate, but then the hirer wants to pay an average or bargain basement starting salary to that candidate. I am in no position to know your actual situation, but this is just something to consider.
===== end of previous post.
That didn’t sound all know-it-allish to me. I certainly tried to be polite. Maybe you meant a different post.

I did suggest somewhere around that time period (but cannot seem to locate the post) that you or your industry may be offering too low a salary to attract workers. It seemed like the market solution. I don’t recall you answering that post either in agreement or opposition. But if you cannot find a worker, it certainly seems like raising the offered wage would work. Isn’t that what market wage is all about? This is not a snarky comment by the way, but an honest question.

I have read an article since then (sorry, link isn’t handy right now) that Wall Street is in sort of a wage bidding war with engineering firms for top students. So maybe I was right that financial firms need to up their wage. I don’t know if your firm falls in the same grouping as those in the article.

Anyway, I have usually tried really hard in my posts to be polite. I can work a little harder. When I get slapped down, I do often kick back. That’s not a particularly good habit, but blame should at least be applied symmetrically in those cases.

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Peter N September 3, 2014 at 10:52 am

“And by the way, just because a stat appears on a site that has political leanings, you cannot automatically assess the stats as wrong. ”
It isn’t that the sites are wrong. Most of the facts I see are correct. It is their conclusions that are wrong. The cause and effect are often wrong.

“So I have a worldview. It is informed and logical.”
No, it is only because you have your blinders on. You dodge my questions.

“The fact that my worldview conflicts with Peter’s or Peter N.’s or Stevendad’s or anyone else’s does not make me a liberal religious zealot,”
No, it is your instance on “tax the rich feed the poor until there are no rich no more” attitude. After about 50 years of great society programs nothing has got better only worse. If you keep doing the same thing you can expect to get the same results. The social programs have not worked PERIOD. They only prolong the misery and spread it to the next generation.

” nor does it make them conservative religious zealots.. ”
I have said before that I am more of a libertarian/tea party type. I think people should have the right to be stupid, lazy and irresponsible as long as it doesn’t affect me but YOU AND YOUR LIBTARD friends keep forcing me to play for others failings. I am not trying to force anything on you.

I am definitely opposed to this
https://autos.yahoo.com/blogs/motoramic/georgia-dealers-want-tesla-store-shuttered-for-selling-too-many-teslas-192235038.html
I think Tesla should be able to sell their products the way they want.. The car dealers don’t like it and that is understandable. What is think is awful and un American is to get the politicians to unfairly impose taxes on Tesla sales. I see liberals as being no different that the car dealers in the way they get politicians to do their dirty work and enforce their religion on others. They, liberals, car dealers and politicians, should be exiled to a small island in the Aleutians. Read the comments below the article. I don’t think anybody is supporting the politicians or the car dealers.

“So let’s stop with the nonsense about labeling opinions of those we disagree with a “religion”.”
I can point to Darwin to back up my views. There will always be winners and losers. Those that adapt and those that don’t. Their is nothing religious about that. You keep saying tax the rich and feed the poor and it hasn’t worked but some how you have a strong faith or belief that it will. If it isn’t a religion then it is insanity.

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Steven H September 3, 2014 at 8:42 pm

Briefly:
Paragraph 1: I agree.

Paragraph 2: Not trying to dodge your questions but I miss some posts are get busy replying to others. What questions would you most like me to answer?

Paragraph 3 & 6: These charts show pretty clear progress against poverty, but they rely (in my opinion) too much on the safety nets. There are counterproductive impacts (like the Wal-Mart subsidy we have discussed) that require government to subsidize low income workers in a way that a few large companies profit from. I know you disagree with raising minimum wage, but doing so would likely raise many up out of poverty and off the safety nets. Past studies have shown little impact on employment rates from moderate increases in minimum wage, and since it is currently about 20% below its real peak 40 or so years ago, we have some margin to play with.

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Steven H September 3, 2014 at 8:49 pm

Paragraph 4: I don’t see that you and i are likely to agree on social safety nets, but I do have a curiosity question (and you may have answered this previously). Do you object to earned benefits like SS, and Medicare (retirement insurance), and limited unemployment insurance, or just the programs for poor like SNAP and Medicaid?

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Steven H September 3, 2014 at 9:25 pm

Forgot the poverty link:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/02/19/the-best-case-that-the-war-on-poverty-has-failed/
See first chart. Safety nets drop poverty from 26 percent in 1967 to 16 percent in 2012.

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Stevendad September 3, 2014 at 6:13 am

Steven H. Very nice tone, but you still refuse to come off your axioms of faith in Liberalism. This is weakening the country I LOVE to no CERTAIN benefit. Personally, I am good to go. I make a good salary and have a rare skill that is impossible to replace with a machine. I see excessive Liberalism as being as DESTRUCTIVE as excessive Conservatism (pollution, racism and more) was in my youth. Your faith in the axioms I mentioned (you still haven’t refuted you said them, in so many words) IS DESTROYING MY COUNTRY far more than a few becoming ridiculously wealthy. Yet you are so busy beating on this you refuse to CONSIDER other possibilities. I am a conservative Democrat that thought Bill Clinton’s presidency was the best in my lifetime, all things considered. I am not a Conservative as I could care less and the government should not care who people go to bed with at night and other such Conservative views. The Progressives of the Democratic party have hijacked the party more than the Tea Party has begun to take over!!! They believe in their infinite wisdom that they can tell us all how to live. Kids are LITERALLY being told what to eat because of their wisdom. This is an erosion of one of our most fundamental rights, what we can eat being one of them. You are in complete cuckoo land if you think broccoli is in the Constitution. It is a bit more control taken from a program satrted under the commerce clause. This was intended to control interstate commerce, not diet. I believe local and state control are superior to one size fits all. The ONLY argument you and MOR gave this wasn’t superior was “they gave that up in the 60′s”.

Consider methane. This is due to your mind being made up, accepting CO2 only as a fact. It is listed on the “Conservative” Univ of Edinburough site as a possible cause. Again, you refuse to accept that it is even possible. Despite the 17 year cool. How can you refute we’re both wrong and that this is just a sinusoidal apogee? This “fact” is weakening our country by destroying the coal industry. By the way, the data I presented was RAW data from the EU, hardly some opinion on a conservative web site. Yet you say they are all “wacko” conservative sites. Comparing the EU to birthers is ridiculous and nauseating. AND you totally missed the point that most websites inject bias. That is why, you will notice if you look thoroughly, nearly all my refernces are to source data. Mostly, they are from the government. My pointing out the website you railed about was a PARODY of all the liberal sites you spout out.

Fracking is a type of drilling. All drilling produces wastewater, so does fracking, AS WELL AS ALL DRILLING TYPES produce wastewater. This is in fact weakening our country because new drilling is being significantly limited.

There WERE 800 teacher openings on that date. Or so the Oklahoma News Network reported all day. I’m sure I can find you a website. We have constant openings at our hospital for housekeepers to RNs. These start at $8 / hr with full benefits up to $40 / hr with shift differentials. They require no training up to 3 years of training at most. My point was that people may have to retrain or move to find work. The government is weakening our country by keeping people in failed settings, robbing of time to rebuild in a more productive one.

Obama and the Progressives hate war. We all do. Yet when you have to fight, you have to fight. George Bush destablizied a stable, evil government by killing Saddam. It was stupid and just created a bigger mess. Yet we have to avoid all conflict and sitting down to talk will be productive. These peolpe’s goal is OUR annihilation. The most conservative people in our country PALE in comparison to the Fundamentalism of radical Islam. They kill homosexuals and treat women very poorly. They behead those who will not worship their twisted bramd of religion. Yet his lack of a plan for ISIS (in his words) is weakening my country.

Obama flat out said “you didn’t build it”. He refuses to allow that hard work, good planning, investment of time and money and hving reasonably clean living are worth any thing in getting ahead. Clearly this is false.

Yes, you have, in a nice tone, continued to show you intransigence. You and your ilk are using momentum gained in the 60′s to weaken our country. But the pendulum is finally swinging back. Perhaps we have a chance!

This is a nicer tone of saying you are stuck in your beliefs as per definition four in Merriam Webster of RELIGION. Now I have to go to work and make the US government $416 in Federal taxes. Not enough for you…..

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Steven H September 3, 2014 at 6:32 am

Stevendad, thanks, for the more reasoned but still passionate response. Nothing wrong with passion. The only reason any of us come back to this blog to get continuously pummeled by the other side (even after several of us have repeatedly said we are quitting the conversation) is because we care passionately about these issues.

You say you believe liberal ideas are destroying the country. I believe just as passionately that conservative ideas have been destroying the country. The fact that you and I have core stationary views that are in opposition does not mean, however, that we cannot come to greater understanding of our positions. I intend to go through your list of “axioms” and correct them to what I actually believe rather than the caricature of liberalism that you have created. I also intend to create another list that I believe represents your view, and not a caricature of your views, but something as close to accurate as I can muster. Because I have learned that you do not understand an opposing position until you can actually describe their position in a manner that they would agree with. I can say your description of my beliefs is so far off base, you apparently have no conception of what I believe. We’ll work on this later. I too have other matters to attend to.

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Stevendad September 3, 2014 at 6:48 am

Steven H. You have it backwards. All my responses were reasonable, just more passionate. I never made any definitive declaration of TRUTH as you have. If you believe you are a centrist you are delusional. Your ideology blinded you to set theory. To wit: if all drilling produces waste water and Fracking is a type of drilling, Fracking produces waste water. Exactly what I said. I will keep things sime and less sublime for you. I will also avoid parody without stating. Again you in my opinion, you have a bright mind frozen and brainwashed by Liberalism. As far as contributing to Liberal causes, I paid a month’s worth of food stamps for a family yesterday. What did you do?

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Peter September 3, 2014 at 7:55 am

Steven H – I didn’t mean I was done with this conversation. I’m done debating with you. There really is no point. More than anyone else on here you are so entrenched in your way of thinking that any of us are wasting our time trying to talk to you. These last couple of posts cement that for me. While you are being more diplomatic, you are still not listening to anyone. Go back about 2-3 pages and you’ll see that we were having a much more informative open-minded civilized discussion some time ago.

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Stevendad September 3, 2014 at 9:48 am

Peter. I am a physician and was an engineer in college. I wrote a water flooding (Fracking) program for my boss who was a preeminent PhD in petroleum in the world. This I KNOW about. Only thing I’ve ever said with authority that was not medical. I read a lot and have studied economics and investing thoroughly for 35 years. I’ve never said anything with definitive authority about these, just posted opinions.

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Peter September 3, 2014 at 11:16 am

Stevendad – My post was for Steven H. Have no issue with your posting. In fact, you’re helping me prove my point to Steven H. You clearly have a background in what you are talking about but are arguing with someone who is not listening to your side. He might find if he listens to someone with experience in a field that the conclusions he is drawing aren’t necessarily correct.

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Steven H September 5, 2014 at 7:17 am

Peter. Re: Experts and Arguments
I have great faith in experts, but as even stevendad noted, they need to be checked occasionally. Stevendad left out critical information (that as an expert he should have known and made clear, that fracking and earthquakes can be connected via the extraordinary and fracking-specific amount of wastewater created) in his argument that Fracking and earthquakes were totally unconnected, and thus he had a glaring logical flaw in his argument. We were arguing past each other, effectively on different subjects. This happens a lot, and I completely sympathize with both sides when it happens. The point where I failed was being too stubborn in trying to get him to see the situation my way. Sometimes you just have to set a dispute aside and move on.

Nevertheless, I would like to suggest that in this particular case, the problem was not my refusal to listen to the expert, but rather a certain amount of arrogance on the expert’s part and a large amount of obstinacy on both sides.

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Stevendad September 3, 2014 at 12:24 pm

Peter. Thank you. It is interesting. When I was in college and a Liberal, our creed was to “question everything’, especially the government. It now seems the liberal creed is to ‘question nothing’, especially the government.

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allisonfaye September 4, 2014 at 11:49 am

Just want to say I agree with you on everything you are saying.

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Stevendad September 3, 2014 at 12:56 pm

So air temps work for your theories (the famous hockey stick graph) until they don’t, then move to the next thing that helps your cause. But you can’t measure or infer ocean temps as far back in time to prove your point. I will research further, but climate science has definitely moved the goal posts on this one.

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Stevendad September 3, 2014 at 1:26 pm

Normal Joe. So measuring the air temp is not the best way to measure the air temp? Is a computer model a better way to measure the temp? You quote:
“The air temperature is a very inaccurate and unreliable way to measure long term temperatures, or consistently measure temperatures at all.”

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Steven H September 3, 2014 at 8:25 pm

I believe what Normal Joe said is that GLOBAL temperature is measured by both air and water temp. Heat is clearly still building up on earth as the carbon cycle science rules have not changed. It is just “sinking” to the ocean. This is pretty well documented in the science, though probably not easily modeled. The problem (as I understand it) is that heat can come back out of the ocean later.

Anyway. Enough AWG. Back to economics.

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Normal Joe September 5, 2014 at 5:22 pm

Just to reinforce my post and address any misunderstanding, I said that air temperature is not the best way to measure temperatures, plural. Plural meaning over time and in the aggregate, gaseous, liquid, and solid. Sorry for any confusion created.

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Stevendad September 3, 2014 at 2:43 pm

I have yet to meet a person who invested in themselves and their education, avoided excessive drugs and alcohol, having children in their teens and worked very hard who has failed to be at least in the upper half of earners. I suppose it’s possible, but not common. Is there anyone who is somehow not allowed to do these things? The government gives money in Pell grants (and should) to people who are poor but have worked hard enough to better themselves by making good grades. Please see Charles Payne’s website. He grew up in the ghetto and worked his way out. It is possible for the vast majority of the poor if they choose to do it. Again, I personally went from the lowest 10% to the 1% that is so hated by doing the above. It IS possible and the opportunities are there. Have some discipline, get off your butt and invest in yourself. Be a winner, not a whiner!

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Steven H September 3, 2014 at 8:13 pm

Stevendad, Your statements make an interesting assertion:

“I have yet to meet a person who invested in themselves and their education, avoided excessive drugs and alcohol, having children in their teens and worked very hard who has failed to be at least in the upper half of earners. I suppose it’s possible, but not common.”

This rings an alarm bell with me because it can be rearranged to say something that many would find offensive. I am not trying to put words in your mouth but would you or would you not agree with this restatement of the above that to me seems grammatically equivalent:

Based on my experience, half of all Americans are flawed in at least one of the following ways:
- they have not invested in themselves or their education
- they use excessive drugs or alcohol
- they had children in their teens, putting them at lifelong disadvantage
- they have not worked as hard as they are capable

Personally I thing the 50% number is probably too high, but I don’t know a good way to look it up. Do you really think it is 50%?

A cognitive check from my bias list suggests maybe you are falling prey to
Ingroup Bias [“causes us to overestimate the abilities and value of our immediate group at the expense of people we don’t really know”]. What do you think?

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Peter N September 3, 2014 at 8:48 pm

What I find interesting is that you think it is offensive regardless whether it is true or not. 1/3 of the people are on some form of government assistance. Even more pay no federal income tax. The actual percentage isn’t that important, the reasons why are.

“- they have not invested in themselves or their education”
I can guarantee that most people fit in this category. Even some that have done well.
I am an engineer too. I see too many engineers that forgot most of what they have learned.

” they have not worked as hard as they are capable”
I would have added working smart too.

I could add other reasons if you think Stevendad’s reasons are enough.

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Steven H September 4, 2014 at 7:08 pm

Peter N. (if you are still here), I find it offensive because it is clear to me and many that it is NOT true that half of Americans are flawed. Many careers that are in the sub median income range are perfectly respectable and necessary in society, and not just for teens or training.

Re: Welfare. Government assistance would decrease if minimum wage was increased which would cut the walmart subsidy. I have also not yet found how many in your stat are retired or veterans. These should be removed from the stat to get an accurate picture. I do concede that the number on welfare may be too high, but I’m not sure the 1/3 number paints an accurate picture.

The number of people who pay no income tax is irrelevant, in my opinion. Some people make this out to mean they are irresponsible. But when income tax was first established, only the top 2% paid it. Did that make 98% of Americans irresponsible? No. People don’t pay income tax because they are too poor to have enough income to be taxed.

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Steven H September 3, 2014 at 8:22 pm

I agree that people can advance in society. One of the principal points I have been trying to get some agreement on is that it is harder today than it was when you and I started out. I was born in 1959, and I think from previous posts that we may be roughly the same age. We grew up ion the Progressive Era built by Democrats and it had a lot of advantages. We are now in the post-Reagan Era, and for whatever causes (as much debated on this blog), life is harder now. Income disparity has stressed parental incomes. Medical and education costs have gone way up since 1980 relative to average inflation. And while grants and loans are available to top students, there are a lot of hurdles in poverty or even lower middle class that cause kids to stumble. I agree that there are ways out. I just believe we have added more hurdles at the low end and that seems unjust.

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Peter September 3, 2014 at 10:03 pm

“I’m not here to talk about the past …”

- Mark McGwire

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Steven H September 6, 2014 at 5:06 pm

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
- Santayana

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Steven H September 3, 2014 at 2:58 pm

Peter and Stevendad -

You two are smart guys. I have said this multiple times. But you are projecting your own deafness on me. My information on the AGW ‘manipulation’ , methane and fracking is accurate and most of Stevendad’s posts on this issue are either dead wrong, irrelevant, or so deceptive as to be meaningless.

I will listen to any sound argument and am even be prepared to change my core beliefs if there is solid evidence in data, or a solid convincing argument. But I do not tolerate crap well. So please excuse my attitude in this post.

Listen. Carefully.

1) Dead Wrong – The Steven Goddard “NASA Fudged the data article” – Yet another instance of anti-AGW ostriches crying wolf. First, US temperature is not world temperature. Second, the author, Steven Goddard has such a poor reputation that even reputable Climate Skeptics (e.g Anthony Watts) state he is wrong most of the time. Third, while Goddard (actually name Tony Heller) actually found an interesting anomaly in data collection, all of the experts say it makes no meaningful difference in the data, and that the manipulation Heller applied to the data in his analysis was completely bogus. Bottom line: This is one more instance of anti-science nuts grabbing headlines with alarming cries of those wacky data manipulating scientists. This is why I didn’t want to bother wasting my time researching this crap. Fortunately someone else did it for me. One day after the Goddard article, by the way, for anyone actually interested in truth and science.
http://www.politifact.com/punditfact/statements/2014/jun/25/steve-doocy/foxs-doocy-nasa-fudged-data-make-case-global-warmi/

2) Irrelevant – Methane. I have not ignored it. Scientists have discounted it. I addressed it before. You must have ignored my post. I see no point in doing research that is already covered, and I already spoke about this before but you forgot it. Here is my post from around June 24:

=====
Last climate post: It appears worldwide methane is increasing, though it’s impact is believed to be less than CO2, if I read the link correctly.

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2013/11/arctic-and-american-methane-in-context/#sthash.MnSCB2dH.dpuf

“… the one real hard fact that we know about atmospheric methane is that it’s concentration isn’t rising very quickly. Methane is a short-lived gas in the atmosphere, so to make it rise, the emission flux has to continually increase. This is in contrast to CO2, which accumulates in the atmosphere / ocean system, meaning that steady (non-rising) emissions still lead to a rising atmospheric concentration. There is enough uncertainty in the methane budget that tweaks of a few percent here and there don’t upset the apple cart. Since the methane concentration wasn’t rising all that much, its sources, uncertain as they are, have been mostly balanced by sinks, also uncertain. If anything, the paper is good news for people concerned about global warming, because it gives us something to fix.”
===== end of previous post

I am not the one tone deaf on methane. Stevendad refuses to listen to science.

3) Deceptive – Fracking – Stevendad implied that it was crazy liberal stupidity to connect fracking and earthquakes. If you, Stevendad, are such a fracking expert, why did you not point out upfront that wastewater injection is the fracking culprit? Why did you hold back? And even worse, why do you persist in acting like fracking is just like any drilling operation and that the fracking wastewater disposal is no different? Fracking creates as much as 200 times more wastewater than standard drilling per gallon of product, so fracking Operations, end-to-end create one frack of a lot more wastewater. The relevant question is not whether the isolated fracking process technically causes earthquakes. The question is: If fracking is done in my part of my state, are more earthquakes likely? And the answer is yes, fracking absolutely. Because fracking is associated with huge wastewater generation, much more so than standard drilling, and when this fracking wastewater is disposed of in the most common way, in deep storage wells, more earthquakes tend to occur. This is why earthquakes in Oklahoma have increased so dramatically. Because fracking has increased dramatically. There – is – a – connection.

So tell me Stevendad, fracking expert, did you not actually know any of the above, or did you just refrain from telling us all the whole truth?

Yes I’m pissed. I have the right.

Relevant articles on fracking are in the next post.

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Steven H September 3, 2014 at 3:02 pm
Peter September 3, 2014 at 10:05 pm

Don’t get me in this! I assume you mean Peter N. I’m not in this argument because I don’t have much knowledge or experience with this topic.

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Stevendad September 4, 2014 at 11:41 am

Steven H. I do listen to science but maintain skepticism.

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Stevendad September 4, 2014 at 11:43 am

Steven H this rant contains outright falsehoods.

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Stevendad September 3, 2014 at 3:00 pm

NJ, Steven H, MOR. A fundamental flaw in Liberal logic. Please explain how the “ground” is so fertile that an individual cannot take credit for their accomplishments (“you didn’t build it”) yet is not fertile enough and needs more money to enhance it (“those that can afford it need to give a little bit more”). I know you didn’t say these, but as smart men, you can perhaps explain this apparent paradox.

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Steven H September 3, 2014 at 4:30 pm

Really, stevendad, nobody ever said that individuals cannot take credit for their own accomplishments. But wouldn’t you agree that businesses operate in an infrastryucture built by society? Roads, laws, courts, employees, distribution channels, internet, etc?

As for the wealthiest being able to give more, your reference is indistinct, but perhaps you are talking about my posts explaining how the wealthiest (million plus incomes) in today’s society receive 2 to 5 times more compensation in real terms compared to comparable jobs 30 to 60 years ago. You are probably not actually in that category (as I certainly am not), but if you WERE receiving 2 to 5 times the historical norm in compensation, wouldn’t it be fair to say you could afford to also pay more in taxes?

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Normal Joe September 5, 2014 at 6:05 pm

I’ll let Elizabeth Warren and the POTUS do the explaining since they are the mouths these concepts became commonplace.

In August 2011, while contemplating a run for the U.S. Senate, former White House financial reform adviser Elizabeth Warren gave a fiery defense of progressive economic theory at an event in Andover, Massachusetts. On September 21, a video of Warren making the case for progressive economics received attention on the Internet and became a viral video. In the video, Warren aggressively rebuts the argument that asking the rich to pay more taxes is “class warfare”, by pointing out that no one grew rich in America without depending on government services paid for by the rest of society.

Warren said:
I hear all this, you know, ‘Well, this is class warfare, this is whatever.’ No. There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own — nobody. You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police-forces and fire-forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory — and hire someone to protect against this — because of the work the rest of us did. Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea. God bless — keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is, you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.

Obama later echoed Warren’s thoughts when he spoke in Roanoke about how private businesses rely on government investments in infrastructure.

In her victory speech on November 6, 2012, Elizabeth Warren made a callback, stating it had been “an amazing campaign, and let me be clear, I didn’t build that, you built that.”

On a campaign swing through Virginia, Obama stopped in Roanoke to speak to supporters. In his remarks Obama noted that while he was willing to cut government waste, he would not gut investments that grow the economy or give tax breaks to millionaires like himself or Mitt Romney. Obama went on to say that rich people did not get rich solely due to their own talent and hard work, but that, to varying degrees, they owe some of their success to good fortune and the contributions of government.

Obama said in this context:
There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me – because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t – look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something – there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business – you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.

Obama then cited the funding of the G.I. Bill, the creation of the middle class, the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge and Hoover Dam, creation of the Internet, and landing on the moon as examples of what he was talking about.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/You_didn%27t_build_that

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Steven H September 5, 2014 at 8:07 pm

Normal Joe, I’m so glad you are here. That is an excellent compendium of quotes and information on the subject.

What amazes me is how the conservative press, and some of the posters here seized on that one sentence containing the “You didn’t build that” phrase and distort everything else that was said. I have to say that Warren’s wording was ultimately more respectful and inspiring … but Obama’s was only offensive due to the media preaching that amplified that one phrase. Here I have to agree with Peter that” [People have become enraptured by the misleading perspectives led by media entertainers and so-called “news people"] and [people find a mantra they want to believe ... and they can work backwards to find all sorts of support for this theory. This is not thinking – this is not rational.]

The “You didn’t build that” was not a slam against business but a defense of government.

What Obama has never quite fully realized (it seems to me anyway), and what I am slowly learning here, is the extent to which diplomacy is essential in addition to presenting facts. I have always thought Obama is a pretty good speechwriter and speaker, when he is at his best. But Warren’s speech was much better at being persuasive and honest and [especially] respectful. Someone should have reviewed Obama’s speech and recognized that the phrase “you didn’t build that” was toxic and in danger of being distorted. The content of his speech was fine but the style was perceived as disrespectful. In the era of bumper sticker politics, you really have to watch your phraseology.

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Steven H September 3, 2014 at 4:09 pm

Stevendad and Peter, my previous post has gone to moderation, either because of being too long, too many links, or too vitriolic. I will repeat the same information here in kinder tones, but you may end up seeing both versions. You may ignore the previous one if it shows up, or read it for your amusement.

Stevendad, regarding the Goddard article, you may find the following article, published the day after the Goddard article, informing.

http://www.politifact.com/punditfact/statements/2014/jun/25/steve-doocy/foxs-doocy-nasa-fudged-data-make-case-global-warmi/

Basically it points out that US temperature is not US temperature, Goddard has a poor reputation for accuracy even among skeptics (such as Mr. Watts, mentioned in the article), and that even though Mr Goddard (actual name Tony Heller) found an actual data anomaly, experts have conclusively shown that his finding makes little difference to US or world temperature records. Furthermore, his processing of raw data to create a seeming large difference is blatantly incorrect.

I predicted this. This is one more episode in the never-ending drama of AGW deniers. If you want to read some intelligent AGW skepticism, go to Mr Watts site “Watts up with that”. If you want some intelligent discussion of AGW science, go to realclimate.org. But stay away from Mr. Goddard, or anyone else referenced on Fox News.

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Steven H September 3, 2014 at 4:23 pm

Correction, “US temperature is not GLOBAL temperature” ….

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Steven H September 3, 2014 at 4:16 pm

Stevendad, regarding fracking, you may find that the following article echoes our discussion about fracking.

http://science.time.com/2013/07/12/deep-disposal-wells-from-oil-and-gas-drilling-linked-to-earthquakes/

Fracking is not linked directly to earthquakes. But wouldn’t it be fair to ask the question:

If fracking operations occur in my part of my state, will earthquakes increase?

I think the best answer would be: Yes, because fracking produces up to 200 times more wastewater per gallon of product compared to standard drilling, so if that wastewater is injected into deep storage wells, it is likely to increase probabilities of earthquakes far more than a standard drilling operation. So while fracking itself does not cause earthquakes, any associated wastewater injection wells may increase earthquakes. Experts believe this is why earthquakes have increased dramatically in regions where fracking operations have increased.

Would you agree this is a fair statement?

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Steven H September 3, 2014 at 4:22 pm

Stevendad, regarding methane. You may forget that in our previous discussions in June, I acknowledged that methane is an important gas associated with global warming, but that science has discounted its impact due to the amounts and longevity of the gas relative to CO2. I do not mean to denigrate your theory or observations in this area, but I am really not an expert in the science, and you have not claimed to be either. So I recommend that we refer to professional research on the subject. From what I have looked up online, CO2 is still considered the primary cause of the global warming that is evidenced in the continuous climb in combined global air and water temperatures measured on earth to this day.

I am open to any relevant science research you may have that contradicts my views above..

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Stevendad September 3, 2014 at 4:34 pm

Steven H. For the third time, I do not support the Goddard article. I referenced it to parody the liberal sites you bring up repititively. As much as possible, I have used government source data. Obviously, I could not reference Bill Gates tax returns in the wealth discussion. So not all source data is available.

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Steven H September 3, 2014 at 6:08 pm

Good. Sorry I missed the parody. I sometimes read responses out of sequence and miss the flow.

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Stevendad September 3, 2014 at 4:46 pm

Steven H. There are many things Fox has been right about as well as wrong. Same can be said for MSNBC. I watch both.

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Stevendad September 3, 2014 at 4:49 pm

Steven H. I can agree with that! You are at least hearing me now. I have no issue with charging a fee to oil companies to reimburse for earthquake damage. I may call my state legislator about it. Lead with this before DC gets involved.

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Steven H September 3, 2014 at 5:58 pm

And you are now hearing me. I said the same thing before, but with a different attitude. I know I should always be polite, but it becomes difficult when people attack my character just because I disagree with them.

Anyway I’m glad we agree on this and can set it aside.

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Stevendad September 3, 2014 at 4:54 pm

Steven H. Again, I am coming through! Methane may be involved. Please read the links listed in June. The short term effect of CO2 is much lower than Methane. The 18 times CH4 to CO2 effect you see is related to the long term effect, it is much higher short term. This may explain my theses. Using the climate society’s own data. Of course, I open to being proven definitively wrong.

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Steven H September 3, 2014 at 6:01 pm

Again, I’m glad we are in better sync. Of course, I thought we had come to this same agreement in June! And I do apologize for being unwilling to spend much time on amateur climatology. I would much rather look up existing research. It’s kind of like your affinity for raw data from official government sites. I prefer to go to the experts.

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Stevendad September 3, 2014 at 4:59 pm

Steven H. “You didn’t build it” does not equivocate. There is no credit to the individual in this statement, only the government. Of course, all that helps me, but I have never said the infrastructure was if no help. I’ve paid about $1.7 million in Federal income tax to pay it back. Too bad, using another Obama quote, it is not my “fair share”. My premise is that opportunities abound to those who have the qualities I mentioned.

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Steven H September 3, 2014 at 6:07 pm

I don’t think the “You didn’t build it” phrase was anything but a conservative compression and misconstruction of Obama’s speech. Look back at the full context and he was basically saying that businesses did not build the infrastructure that allows them to operate. “You didn’t build it” was just a bumper sticker philosophy and political catch phrase to use against Democrats.

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Peter September 3, 2014 at 10:43 pm

Go watch the speech again. I just did. Seemed like a pretty clear message to me.

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Peter N September 3, 2014 at 11:58 pm

“I don’t think the “You didn’t build it” phrase was anything but a conservative compression and misconstruction of Obama’s speech.”
The libtard and chief said I didn’t build the business I have been building for 30 years! What have I been doing all that time? I must have been on permanent holiday while the chief libtard was creating my company for me.

My company is located in a new business park. The developer put in all the roads, utilities and drainage pond but we had to pay the developer and then start to build our building. Obama, state government and local government did nothing but mandate that WE PUT in the nice side walks and street lights.

After 5 years the business park is still mostly undeveloped. There are not sidewalks and street lights in the undeveloped areas.

I too find the chief libtard’s statements most offensive.

Look back at the full context and he was basically saying that businesses did not build the infrastructure that allows them to operate.

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Peter September 4, 2014 at 5:45 am

He said point blank that there are “lots of smart people” and “lots of hard working people” and then lauded the infrastructure. And really for true context you just have to watch more of his speeches.

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Stevendad September 3, 2014 at 6:14 pm

Steven H Done.

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Stevendad September 3, 2014 at 6:16 pm

Steven H.

“I am your father. ” Darth Vader

The irony just occurred to me.

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Steven H September 4, 2014 at 7:55 am

??

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Steven H September 4, 2014 at 7:56 am

Oh …

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Stevendad September 3, 2014 at 6:23 pm

Steven H. As long as you treat experts with skeptcism. They have agendas. In my field, coronary angioplasty in STABLE angina has been performed for 30+ years. Tens of billions of dollars have been spent and made by the industry, including cardiologists. The last iteration, just recently out, MAY be better than medicine treatment (which is far cheaper). I have railed against this waste of money in the face of “experts”. ALWAYS remain skeptical.

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Steven H September 4, 2014 at 7:55 am

Agreed.

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Stevendad September 3, 2014 at 6:27 pm

Steven H. “you didn’t build it” is a direct quote. I believe it is a glimpse into Obama’s true beliefs. I read it all, by the way. To me, it is the most offensive thing he has said. He did not say “you didn’t do this by yourself” or “we helped you build it”. He said “you DIDN’T build it”. No equivocation.

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Steven H September 4, 2014 at 7:44 am

You read too much into one phrase. If I have one overarching critique of your arguments, stevendad, it is that you too often seize on the style of an argument and ignore the material content.

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Peter September 5, 2014 at 6:00 pm

Watch more speeches. It is a theme for sure.

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Steven H September 6, 2014 at 5:33 pm

Conservatives reinterpreted into the speech what they want their followers to believe Obama said. As Normal Joe pointed out further up, Obama spoke after Warren’s viral speech and was seemingly echoing her. I just think he misspoke. It NEVER (even the first time I heard it) sounded to me like Obama was wanting to tell businesses they didm’t build their business. But he spoke with words that could become twisted and that was a mistake.

Obama said in this context:
======
There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me – because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t – look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something – there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business – you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.
===== end of Obama speech

Stevendad claimed Obama ‘did not say “you didn’t do this by yourself” or “we helped you build it”’

Obama: ‘ look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own.’
Obama: ‘If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. ‘

So the two things Stevendad claimed Obama did NOT say, were actually almost direct Obama quotes from the speech. He not only said those but made it clear that that was the whole point of the speech.

Obama: ‘The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together.’

When I heard the offending phrase, here is how I interpreted it:
‘Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business – you didn’t build that [infrastructure]. Somebody else made that happen. ‘

The missing word infrastructure is what caused the anger. And it is really the only way to interpret the speech in context. With the implied word infrastructure in place, all of the other sentences fit together. Without it, he has this glaring insult in the middle of the speech for no good reason.

Stevendad said Obama’s offending phrase was Freudian, but I would attribute it more to someone just making a simple mistake, and that the interpretation on the part of conservatives was the Freudian part.

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Peter September 7, 2014 at 2:41 pm

I don’t really care what Stevendad said. I saw the speech – which you have transcribed. And without whatever spin so-and-so put on it I took it the way I took it. If you want to insert missing words to make it all mean something easier that is your prerogative. Like others have done with Romney’s 47% comments.

Stevendad September 3, 2014 at 6:29 pm

Steven H. Good. It was a parody, but illustrates my point nicely. All websites contain distortions and agendae. Hopefully, source data the least.

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Stevendad September 3, 2014 at 9:17 pm

Steven H. I said exactly what I said. If you do all four of those things you likely will end up in the top 50%. I have met few, if any who haven’t. This includes about 10,000 in depth, unique interactions over the years. This includes a man who cannot use his legs since birth, got a JD and is a millionaire. His parents locked him in a closet as a child because they were ashamed of him. He overcame. Opportunity abounds for those who seek it.

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Steven H September 4, 2014 at 7:40 am

I don’t doubt your interactions. But I do doubt your statistics as such informal observations are subject to many of the biases I listed in the Cognitive Bias list. Did you really ask and record the salaries of all of those 10,000 people you met? Do you understand the depth of their personal situations? Of course not.

And your statement indicates that anyone making below median wage is a failure or has one of these flaws. Here are a few jobs that receive below the 2013 median wage of $46,440:

Construction Equipment Operators
Heating, AC, and Refrigeration Equipment Installers
Child, Family and School Social Workers
Dredge Operators
Bailiffs, Correctional Operators, and Jailers
Reporters and Correspondents
Bus and Truck Mechanics and Diesel Engine Specialists
Automotive Body and Related Repairers
Payroll and Timekeeping Clerks
Jewelers and Precious Stone Metalworkers
Police Fire and Ambulance Dispatchers
Welding, Soldering and Brazing Workers
Preschool and Kindergarten Teachers
Rehabilitation Couselors
Floor Sanders and Finishers
Farm Equipment Mechanics and Service Technicians
Medical Transcriptionists
Construction Laborers
Ambulance Drivers and Attendants
Restaurant Cooks
Bartenders

and many many more
http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nat.htm

So all of these people who are in the bottom 50% of wage earners are, in your opinion, social failures who have one or more of your listed flaws, and need to work harder to get a real job? Who then, will fill THEIR jobs?

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Peter N September 4, 2014 at 11:04 am

Read your link carefully. There is a difference between median and mean.
There is a difference between median and mean income.
%50 of the people will not be above the mean income ($46,440) because because the distribution is skewed by the top wage earners. However, by definition 50% of the workers will be above and another 50% below the median ($33,7400) assuming 2000 hrs/year.

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Steven H September 4, 2014 at 7:21 pm

You are correct, I misread the title on the list. It had median and mean hourly income but only the man annual which i misread as mean. Thanks for the correction.

The difference affects some of the jobs I listed. However, the general point remains that many below median wage jobs are respectable and essential to society. People working them should not be considered failures.

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Steven H September 4, 2014 at 7:22 pm

Correction: …but only the mean annual which i misread as median.

Steven H September 4, 2014 at 8:10 am

So the problem I have with your comment is the same as that I had with Romney’s 47% comment. There are a lot of hardworking, successful people below median income and even at poverty wages. You may think it is a contradiction to call someone successful when they are in poverty, but if they are hardworking and diligent and working at their capacity at a job that well suits them and that society requires filling, who is to say that is not a success? Not everyone has the ability to rise above low level wages. Poverty is a condition of what people are paid, and is not ALWAYS an indication of their quality of character or ambition. Are there lazy poor people? Of course. Is a receptionist and single mother a failure? I think it would be unfair to assume so.

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Peter N September 4, 2014 at 11:10 am

“So the problem I have with your comment is the same as that I had with Romney’s 47% comment.”
At at the time Romney’s state was true. That number has dropped down to about 40-41% now not paying any federal taxes. The democrats bought the votes of the 47% with taxes paid by non democrats.

You seem to be more concerned about the “political correctness” than the facts.
If you won’t face the facts you won’t be able to solve the problem.

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Steven H September 4, 2014 at 7:25 pm

Romney’s comments was not just about taxes but calling people irresponsible. It is hardly irresponsible to be out of work due to an economic crash or to be too poor to even be charged for income tax. Also, lowest quintile of earners still pays 20% of their income in some kind of tax.

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JTM September 5, 2014 at 9:36 am

Peter N – “The democrats bought the votes of the 47% with taxes paid by non democrats.”

Seriously?!?!?!?!!? How dense are you to not understand that there are plenty of REPUBLICANS who voted for Romney, that are part of that 47% who don’t pay income taxes!!!!!!!!! There are also plenty of Republicans who are lazy and stupid! That’s what was wrong with Romney’s original statement and all those who continued to push it afterward, they try to deny the a large portion of this 47% are Republican. The 47% are not all Democrats, they are not all lazy fools, some are entrepreneurs trying to keep their business alive, many are retired and worked hard their whole lives, many are working hard now at jobs that pay little, many are students working part time to get through college, many are disabled who would love to be able to work and earn a living that caused them to pay taxes, many are Republicans and conservatives. There are plenty of Democrats who pay a lot of taxes. To deny any of this is just plain silly.

Rich doesn’t equal good. Poor doesn’t equal lazy or stupid. They are independent of each other.

Not everyone wants to be rich. Not everyone can be rich. Only 1% can be in the 1%. We need people willing to work the low level jobs that so many look down on. Many of these jobs are hard work. Many of these people don’t complain about not being wealthy, they don’t envy you and what you have. Yet these people are still denigrated by people like you for not trying harder to be “better”. You look down on them, yet expect them to try to match your definition of “better”.

“If you won’t face the facts you won’t be able to solve the problem.” – exactly!

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Stevendad September 3, 2014 at 9:27 pm

Steven H. Again, there are a huge number of scholarships available for those of color or females. In 2006, the Univ of Ok had 200 non-need / non-academic scholarships. Only one was available for white males. It was from PFLAG and available to gays . I agree the poor, white kid (me as akid) is the most discriminated against by the institutions. I have not seen personal discrimination in my life and work, but I am sure it exists. I went to school and worked 2 to 5 jobs (30 hours a week or so) then. I made a 3.83 and graduated with Honors. My family gave me a thirst for learning and beat education over my head. Perhaps not all families do this. What is your solution? Group homes? Foster care? How do you change what family a person is born in? Should the government raise our kids? Over and over it has been proven the Great Society and transfer payments do not help alleviate poverty. We are near the fiftieth year and trillions in transfers. No change in poverty.

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Steven H September 4, 2014 at 7:19 am

Stevendad says: Over and over it has been proven the Great Society and transfer payments do not help alleviate poverty. We are near the fiftieth year and trillions in transfers. No change in poverty.

1) Over 10% additional Americans would be in poverty without those anti-poverty programs. So the Great Society is less of a success than I would like, but also less of a failure than you suggest.

2) You grew up in the Great Society. You are a product of economics of the Great Society, and no I don’t mean you received food stamps. Your education was cheaper, your parents’ lives were likely better because of New Deal and Great Society programs. Your success is a testament to the very economy you grew up in and now criticize.

3) Of course you also worked hard. I never said you didn’t.

4) My solution? For starters, how about making college as cheap as it was (in real terms) as it was back when you and I went to college, so that it is affordable for more than the small percentage of students qualifying for minority and poverty grants?

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Normal Joe September 5, 2014 at 5:41 pm

Stevendad September 3, 2014
“Over and over it has been proven the Great Society and transfer payments do not help alleviate poverty.”

You are correct, but it is not the Great Society that is to blame.

There was this little backwater nuisance called Viet Nam that hijacked the focus and funds from what was supposed to be a concerted effort to address joblessness among those in poverty. It was like this foundation was built, but the funds dried up and the building that was supposed to be the next steps never happened.

We can’t go back and change that. And, much to their credit, there have been individuals that found a way to rise above their lot in life and become responsible contributors to society at large and comfortable in home and family. There just hasn’t been enough success stories.

The real irony, from my perspective, is the states that are not pulling their weight when it comes to supporting the government. And, interestingly, those who rely more on government handouts than other.

http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_reckoning/2012/10/25/blue_state_red_face_guess_who_benefits_more_from_your_taxes.html

http://www.thestreet.com/story/12783796/1/the-10-most-socialist-states-in-america.html

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Stevendad September 3, 2014 at 9:40 pm

Steven H. You still miss a major point. Unless we try to completely isolate our economy, unskilled labor will not be well paid in America. If we go back to paying auto workers $70k a year in the numbers we had, their employers will not compete with other countries workers who will work for less. A bailout was necessary for GM and Chrysler survival as it was. Globalization is a huge factor in the loss of middle class AND the increase in the very wealthy, now making higher margins on the work of others (OPT) in other coutries who will work for less. Agree or disagree?

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Steven H September 4, 2014 at 7:00 am

It was more like $60K a year average for autoworkers in 2007, which was not really all that much. US median income is about $50K and auto work is a pretty demanding job.

Pretty good discussion here, from 2008 article:
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/autoworkers-making-70-an-hour-not-really/

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Steven H September 4, 2014 at 7:08 am

I agree that globalization is a big issue. But one of the purposes of a nation’s government is to protect its own economy and population from outside attack, both military and economic. Every manufacturing job exported to China boosts their economy and employment at the expense of our own. America cannot afford to drain all of our prosperity until our workers salaries are the same as all the third-world nations.

Trade policy is complicated and I am no expert. But it certainly seems like we could do SOMEthing in that realm to slow the drain on our economy and jobs due to completely unhindered and unhinged trade policy.

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Stevendad September 3, 2014 at 9:48 pm

Steven H. You have yet to give specific evidence that the increase in the wealthiest people’s incomes has CAUSED the loss of jobs in the middle class. Please give source data evidence and clearcut mechanisms.
I have a friend that does make seven figures. He worked hard and got an engineering degree, risked all to start a business and now works 80 hours a week to keep it going. I do not envy or resent him. His $300k + contribution to Fed taxes is enough for me. He employs 200+ workers, many of whom are in the upper 10% of earners. He makes millions saving other companies billions. Why does Obama villify him?

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Peter N September 3, 2014 at 11:42 pm

Stevendad, it would be nice for to quote at least part of the post you are referring to.
There have been so many posts I am having trouble keeping up.

I have only made one post about fracking and that is that the oil companies are starting to recycle the waste water. I have made no comments on global warming yet. Both topics are off topic and distractions from Steven H and MOR raising out taxes because they have no respect for our efforts and freedom.

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Steven H September 4, 2014 at 6:41 am

Peter N.,
I do not want to even talk about fracking and global warming here. It is not intended as a purposeful distraction. But it is a distraction to the primary topic, and I intend (again) for this to be the last post on the subject.

I posted what I had hoped was my last post on that subject in June. Stevendad took an amicably resolved topic from June and then two and a half months later accused me of being unreasonable about it. After a lot of hair-pulling, I politely said exactly the same thing I had previously politely said in June and Stevendad was appeased. Same with fracking, except that I made the mistake of bringing up how he had not responded regarding HIS earlier mis-statement that fracking and earthquakes were not reasonably connected. I presented the same argument about 4 times to Stevendad that discussions of Fracking Operations fairly include the injection wells that are known to cause earthquakes when discussing causes of earthquakes, but until I worded my post just so, with exactly the right subservient phrasing, he would not listen.

If you are listening Stevendad, you are probably mad about this post, and my intent is not to make you mad. We can continue to have polite conversations and debates. But your deceptive and incomplete earlier statements which denied that fracking could even be indirectly associated with earthquakes were offensive, and frankly, disappointing. Especially since you declared yourself an expert on the subject. Think carefully about this, and you may see my perspective. If not, we’ll just have to agree to disagree on the subject, so let’s just finally put this subject aside.

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Steven H September 4, 2014 at 6:50 am

Stevendad, I don’t actually think I have actually said that increased income slopes have caused loss of jobs in the middle class. Most of that was caused by the 2008 Crash.

What I HAVE said is that income shares have shifted from poor and middle class to most wealthy. I think we are in general agreement about that. This has resulted in suppressed incomes for most workers and boosted incomes for high-earners. If you feel left out of that boosted income, that is probably because the boost is most dramatic for people in the financial industry and large company management making million plus incomes.

No one is vilifying successful entrepreneurs. That concept is the result of a combination of bumper-sticker politics and brittle egos.

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Stevendad September 4, 2014 at 5:15 am

Peter N. Re:fracking. My point was he was so locked in, he would not admit his definition was wrong. He’s come off that now. A tiny sign of the ice breaking.

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Steven H September 4, 2014 at 6:20 am

Stevendad: Re: replies

Thank you VERY MUCH for posting who you are replying to and on what subject. I agree with Peter N. on this. It is confusing when you don’t. This is why I missed that post way back where you sort of indirectly said an earlier post was parody. You didn’t actually reference which post or subject and it was then unclear what you were saying or what topic you were saying it about.

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Stevendad September 4, 2014 at 6:04 am

Peter: It was a slip of the tongue. Freud taught that these show true intent. Even accomplished liars subconsciously tell the truth on occasion. This justifies confiscatory taxation. It was never yours to begin with.

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Stevendad September 4, 2014 at 6:27 am

Steven H. Re:replies. It is often difficult to impossible to find the root post in my phone. I will try to Re: things as possible.

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Stevendad September 4, 2014 at 6:49 am

Steven H. Re: Fracking. You stated waste water injection and Fracking were the same thing and Refused to back down. They are not and I know that. It was my illustration if how recalcitrant you are to back down from any Liberal dogma.

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Steven H September 4, 2014 at 7:50 am

I disagree as to the flow of the argument. You stated fracking and earthquakes had no connection. I disagreed. It was an example of how you refuse to back down or compromise on your core stationary views. But we have wasted enough time on this topic.

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Stevendad September 4, 2014 at 8:29 am

Steven H. Re:Great Society I was young, but was there when the Great Society was started. It’s aims were not a continuation and lessening if poverty, but an end to poverty. It has been a success as a band aid, but has failed as a cure for the wound. There are many programs for the poor with free education. Again, in OK free for all with household income < $50k. Many Federal as well.

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Stevendad September 4, 2014 at 9:09 am

Steven H. The single mother is well cared for by society. She can get food (SNAP), money (AFDC), medical care (Medicaid), housing assistance and free tuition. Assuming no child support as well. This should be a temporary condition and an appropriate use. By the way, was she raped or did she have some choice in getting pregnant?

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Stevendad September 4, 2014 at 9:14 am

Steven H Re: Trade. I agree we should not let China manipulate currency and ignore intellectual rights. On this we agree. Has it occurred to you the flood of illegals also compete for jobs? Again, larger supply if labor with fixed demand (relatively) leads to lower costs for hiring (wages).

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Stevendad September 4, 2014 at 9:28 am

Steven H. Re: 50%. So two people cannot make $43k? I was talking about households. I suspect that is uncommon, two 60 hour workers at min wage = $45,240(at two jobs, so no time and a half) That’s how much I work. That is the upper 50%. I would not suggest it, perhaps more training would be easier. Again, obtainable for a household even at the minimum.

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Steven H September 4, 2014 at 10:35 am

1) You are moving the goalposts. You talked about individual achievement and income, not household. Are you restating to only cover couples each with half of median income plus all non-working spouses plus people with sub-median income married to non-working or part-time spouses are failures?

2) Median household income in 2013 ($52,100, June 2013) was only a little higher than 2013 median single wage income ($46,440) , suggesting a lot of single earner households.

3) You are assuming too much and neglecting too many legitimate households. There are a lot of single people, men and women, working at sub-median income. Also many single earner married households, or single earner career with spousal part-time, still under median household.

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Peter N September 4, 2014 at 11:19 am

“2) Median household income in 2013 ($52,100, June 2013) was only a little higher than 2013 median single wage income ($46,440) , suggesting a lot of single earner households.”
You obviously don’t know the difference between mean and median. The two terms are not interchangeable.

Two median incomes would be $67,480 assuming 2000 hrs per year per person.

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Peter September 4, 2014 at 12:07 pm

Guys…just give up.

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Steven H September 4, 2014 at 7:27 pm

Correction acknowledged above. Misread a column header. Thanks.

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Stevendad September 4, 2014 at 9:33 am

Steven H. Re. Fracking. No, I said the Oklahoma Geological Survey has not connected Fracking with earthquakes. Clearly you know more than they. Strange how reliant you are on experts when they support your dogma and dismiss them when they do not.

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Steven H September 4, 2014 at 11:27 am

Really, this is getting to be like my children squabbling.

Last, last, last post on this tired topic:

“I said the Oklahoma Geological Survey has not connected Fracking with earthquakes.” Yes, that is exactly what you said. The critical word is “connected”. So we are not talking about the fracking process itself and exclusively directly producing earthquakes. We were talking about whether Fracking was CONNECTED to earthquakes. And as I quoted, USGS connected wastewater injection wells to earthquakes. And as even I knew, wastewater injection wells are almost always connected to fracking because it is the most common method of getting rid of the wastewater. Subtle difference but significant. And the critical point that I did not know until I read the Time article is that Fracking produces (according to the article) as much as 200 times the amount of water per gallon of product as normal drilling. This is a clear and significant connection between a very fracking specific condition and earthquakes. Standard drilling does not produce as much wastewater. This is why standard drilling in OK has not produced the earthquakes in abundance like the fracking operations have.

You can score a point that fracking does not directly cause earthquakes. But I never said that they did. You claimed there was no connection between fracking and earthquakes but there clearly is, whenever wastewater injection wells are used.

We were arguing past each other. There was a misunderstanding. It was a definition issue. All of the above. Can we be done with this now, and get back to other issues?

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Stevendad September 4, 2014 at 11:37 am

Steven. No, you are arguing. I am saying exactly what experts said.

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Steven H September 4, 2014 at 12:51 pm

Fine. And your head is not connected to your feet because there is something is inbetween. I’m done here.

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Steven H September 4, 2014 at 12:23 pm

PS. I was never being intentionally pedantic. I always thought we were discussing a connection, not a term definition.

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Stevendad September 4, 2014 at 9:51 am

Steven H. Re: auto workers. $60k with very rich benefits. Most of my retired autoworkers are double dipping because they retired in their early 50′s. Regardless, even you would agree $60k is middle class. As long as we are talking about debating flaws, you attack a 15% difference and gloss over the point.
And to you’re other point. Yes, extensive lifestyle questions over 10,000 plus people. My job involves professional interviewing among other things. Pleas supply a list with initials of those you have met who have done all four and make less than $43k as a household (counting child support). I’ll have to rely on your honesty. This assumes the norm, the working spouse. A nonworking spouse is a luxury, not a necessity. Not that that is a good thing. It is really how things are though.

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Steven H September 4, 2014 at 11:09 am

1- $60K is middle class. Agreed.
2- 20% of working age households are 1 person with no spouse and no children. Another 13% or so (reading from a chart, not a table), are single earner, no spouse, one or more children. So before even getting to non-working or part-time spouses raising the family while their spouse works, you have excluded 1/3 of the population from your statistics.

I know a young woman who works occasional part-time jobs while raising two children and occasionally an additional two step-children who are children of her working husband. Her husband works in construction and is a solid hard-working man who gets good job reviews, but has been out of work several times recently due to the market. He is working now. They don’t use drugs at all, nor drink excessively. The woman had a tough start in life due to her mother who did use drugs and died of hepatitis when the young woman was still was a teenager. Fortunately, she had some social support from her grandparents and her dad, though not a lot of financial support. The couple was only really able to buy a house due to tragedy – payments from the death of her only sibling – her half brother – during army training. These people work extremely hard and are very successful based on how they started out. I don’t know their exact wage but I am pretty sure that construction worker plus only occasional part-time work puts them under median household income of $52K, and that his income is under median wage of $46K.

If you ask how I know the details of their lives and the quality of their circumstance, it is because the young woman is my niece and the dead mother was my sister. I defy you to place these hard-working people and the thousands of other families like them into a category of failures or flawed because they don’t work hard enough. If you haven’t met any people like them, I recommend you go check out an additional 10,000.

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Peter September 4, 2014 at 12:21 pm

Interesting story – and certainly much sympathy goes out to your family and their struggle. But you really paint the picture of the American dream in this story, albeit unintentionally. Your sister’s drug use and unfortunate death certainly set your niece up with some tough circumstances out of the gate. This kind of thing happens way more often than many acknowledge – and I’m not dismissing this difficulty in any way.

However, your niece then found support from other family members (not the government) and both worked herself part-time and married someone who is also a hard-working individual. They have persevered through there own difficulties (layoffs, caring for children and stepchildren) and managed to earn a living that is likely not in the bottom 20% – but nearing the median household income nationally.

It’s not easy, but their children are going to be in a much better spot going forward thanks to their efforts. They won’t have to struggle as much as your niece did due to her circumstances. Two points this story illuminates:

1) There is no quick fix. It’s almost a generational progress for most – to move into better and better circumstances. The sad thing is that life is like poker…. (bear with me) – you can play really really solid for hours and hours – and blow it all with one unfortunate move. Drug use is certainly one of those things that can set a family back not only for years, but also for future generations.

2) There isn’t anything that the government should be doing to help your niece. If anything, I’d like to see education assistance, but with their income financial aid is certainly a possibility. There is no place for the government to force your niece’s husband’s employer to pay him more, nor to not lay him off. They shouldn’t get handouts either.

You should be proud of how well they are doing. Thanks for taking a break from reading from the liberal playbook (sorry, couldn’t resist) to share such a personal story.

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Steven H September 4, 2014 at 12:40 pm

I am very proud of them. Their children are doing great (1st and 6th grade) and the parents are great parents. But I worry how they will ever pay for higher education. And their struggles have been continuous. If my parents had not been so generous with time and a little financial support, if tragedy had not helped them get a house, if other circumstances had been just slightly worse, they would be on the streets, and at that point, yes government would have needed to help them.

As it is, I would love for my great-niece and nephew to grow up in the New Deal/ Great Society world and Progressive Era economy where we actually made sure there were financial ladders to climb up, wages were not stagnant, and where schooling did not bankrupt your entire family. But we are stuck where we are.

I am just tired of people labeling the lower 47 or 50% as flawed or deficient, and acting like it’s no big deal for these people to learn an entirely new life skill, take college classes, or hey they can start a business! It’s sort of like Romney’s quote (paraphrased): “If poor children don’t have money to go to school, they can just borrow it from their parents.” It’s these “let them eat cake” moments that make me want to tax every dollar away from the people who voice such nonsense and have no idea how privileged they are, and have no idea how hard others work to be rewarded with so much less.

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Peter September 4, 2014 at 12:52 pm

I’m afraid you are adding in extra context to my posts then. I haven’t echoed any of those things and do have sympathy for the struggle of many. Of course I do – I went through it myself.

I could rewrite your first paragraph though like this – “If it weren’t for my sister’s drug use and untimely death and my niece’s husband’s layoffs, they would be in excellent shape – maybe even able to pay for college completely out of pocket for their two children”.

It’s all how just you look at life.

Steven H September 4, 2014 at 12:52 pm

And I do appreciate and agree with your comments, by the way.

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Peter September 4, 2014 at 12:53 pm

As do I.

Steven H September 4, 2014 at 3:52 pm

“I’m afraid you are adding in extra context to my posts then. I haven’t echoed any of those things and do have sympathy for the struggle of many. ”

It’s funny how easily misunderstandings creep in. What you say above does not bother me, but it baffles me a little. I was just continuing to share my thoughts in the second post, not adding anything to your posts or implying that you would agree with any of my added comments. Nor was I accusing you of doing the things I list in the third paragraph. We all speak and type English pretty well here, yet things still get implied that are not intended.

No gripe or question here. Just an observation.

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Peter September 4, 2014 at 5:58 pm

Fair enough. Applying context from prior posts directed at me I suppose.

Ken September 4, 2014 at 10:17 am

When I think of government, I think that if not for intrusive government, small businesses would typically be much more successful at much earlier stages. I think most small business owners would agree with me. When I think of government’s behavior relative to (especially) small business, I often think of the children’s book, “The Little Red Hen”.

When small business owners are working eighty hours a week, government isn’t there helping with that work, are they? To the contrary, government typically has added to the workload with their stack of (often non-value adding) compliance mandates, but then they become completely invisible.

When business owners can’t make payroll, aren’t sleeping at night, taking less in their paycheck, or perhaps getting no paycheck at all, government is … well…. once again absent.

When small business owners lose money in their first several years, year after year, and are in danger of folding, government is once again not particularly visible in their “helping build that”.

But let that business overcome all the obstacles placed in front of it, and let that business make a profit, and government is first in line for their cut, saying things like “you didn’t build that”, “we’re all in this together”, and so forth.

And interestingly, at least to my way of thinking, government never has to justify itself. Government never has to provide an additional product or service to justify taking that “nth plus one” dollar of profit in the form of taxes. They simply take it because…well… they’re the government. They can expand the size of government without justification, and then not be particularly accountable for how the money is spent, simply because they are government. Kumbaya, everyone. We’re all in this together.

Of course all analogies fail at some point, and I would say that this one does, too. The relationship between business and government is not entirely this way, as there certainly are some things where government intervention has added value. Child labor comes to mind. Safety regulations, and so forth. However, I think the amount of government we currently have far exceeds its added value.

And I would say the relationship between business and government is mostly the way I describe it, like The Little Red Hen. You rarely if ever see government helping out. You typically only see them when it’s time to cash in on the profits.

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Peter September 4, 2014 at 12:35 pm

I want to piggyback on this and add another thing…. The failure rate for starting a business is very, very high. However the payoff is also very high as well. This is not for everyone. Many people feel more comfortable with some stability – and even more only feel comfortable with total stability and no risk at all.

There will be – and always should be – a large payoff for taking risks. Otherwise, why would anyone take them? Would the gold rush have happened if you had to give half of the gold you found to the people that stayed home in your town? Why would people have uprooted their families (or left them for years) and exposed themsleves to danger and uncertainty if there wasn’t a payoff?

There is nothing wrong with taking the safer route. With different family circumstances, I may have very well chosen that path. But that road results in a certain financial lifestyle. To go 10 miles down the road and then start complaining is silly.

Ken is right – it would be one thing if the government helped subsidize my child care when I was building my business and working until 11 PM at night – not seeing my kids sometimes for days – and making no money. If that had happened, maybe giving them half of my income now would feel like gratitude. Instead, it just feels like I’m being taken advantage of and made to be a scapegoat for the government’s ineptitude (which got us into this mess – Democrats, Republicans, Congress, Presidents, etc. etc.). That’s the honest truth.

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Steven H September 4, 2014 at 4:11 pm

Ken,

I agree that small businesses should be given more encouragement, and it should be easier to start and continue them.

But you bring up an interesting point. Other than trimming the regulatory burden and lessening the small business tax burden (the typical two requests), how could government make it easier for small businesses to begin or continue?

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Peter N September 4, 2014 at 11:21 am

It is hard keeping up with you guys. There are too many off topic posts.

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Stevendad September 4, 2014 at 11:53 am

Steven H Re: income. Ok. You are nit picking everything. I thought I saw a glimmer of an open mind. Wrong. In your view it sucks to be an American and a Texan. There is no opportunity and we should just all leave. Europe and their Socialism are much better. And I guess you can sneak south into Mexico. All of those people chose their jobs. None can educate or work harder to make more. You win. There is no hope for the millions who are victimized and unfortunate enough to be born here. I give up.

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Peter September 4, 2014 at 12:48 pm

Stevendad – There is no question that there are many, many success stories like the 10,000 people you are talking about. Yet I do have people in my life like Steven H that see it as a rigged game that they can’t possibly win (or is too difficult). I just hope their mindset doesn’t continue to spread.

That’s what bothers me the most about Obama. I voted for him the first time because I thought at the very least he may be able to bring some inspiration and optimism to the American people at a time when we needed it. He is (was?) a powerful speaker and appeared to really inspire our youth in particular. His story itself is a great American dream example. Unfortunately, almost immediately after winning the Presidency, he started talking from the victim and reliance perspective Steven H is coming from. He became very negative and started the process of polarizing the masses against the 1%. It was jarring to watch and a total letdown.

Again, I know Congress (equally inept) plays a huge role here – but if anything the President is like a football coach. They set the tone for the nation. So it’s not surprising that we have some who would find their way to this article and feel victimized by the fact that others income has risen more than theirs.

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Steven H September 4, 2014 at 1:02 pm

” Yet I do have people in my life like Steven H that see it as a rigged game that they can’t possibly win (or is too difficult).”

Please don’t mischaracterize my position. I am doing fine. I am winning. It’s others I worry about. I’m not saying you can’t win. I’m saying that we are making it unnecessarily difficult on today’s generation.

Stevendad shrugs off half the population as if they are just screwing up or not working hard enough. And, as I have said before, the argument for me has never about whether it is POSSIBLE to reach the goal at the end of the field. It’s just that I see the playing field continually getting tilted. It’s cranked up a little to favor the wealthy and they say it’s still fair. Then they crank it up further and say it’s still fair. See people can still climb, slowly up the hill to the goalpost. It’s still possible to get there so it can’t be unfair, right? And then people fall off the low end into poverty and they say, “what’s wrong with those people, why don’t they stay on the field?”

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Peter September 4, 2014 at 1:07 pm

There are a lot of people who are screwing up though. LOTS.

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Steven H September 4, 2014 at 2:08 pm

Agreed. But lets not throw it the workers with the screw-ups. Let’s increase opportunity, not decrease it. Let’s make success a little easier, not a lot harder. It’s enough of a struggle as it is.

Peter September 4, 2014 at 6:01 pm

I believe government plays little role in this as you pointed out in your question to Ken. They don’t really help and they don’t really hurt. They just take the profits.

Steven H September 4, 2014 at 8:13 pm

“I believe government plays little role in this as you pointed out in your question to Ken.”

Was that what I said? Not what I meant, certainly. Our government is the cheapest per GDP of any first world nation. I think our taxes are a reasonable fee for living in the best country in the known universe .

Stevendad September 4, 2014 at 11:54 am

Steven H. That was sarcasm in case it was too subtle for you.

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Stevendad September 4, 2014 at 12:51 pm

Steven H Bad story. However, they cannot find any way to invest in themselves? It is a shame you pay so much in taxes or perhaps you could. My father threatened to kill me with an axe when I was 13. We all have bad stories. Some of us overcame them.

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Steven H September 4, 2014 at 2:11 pm

No they are shiftless sluff-offs who don’t believe in education.

Goodbye.

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Stevendad September 4, 2014 at 1:02 pm

Steven H. You consistently bring up flawed and defective. NO ONE else. Do not put words in my mouth. I only say, over and over, opportunities are there. You are being the cynical defeatist. Again, my first job was cleaning vomit and urine off bathroom floors. My Dad spent hours a day screaming F bombs in my face and calling my mother a whore when I was 12. How was your childhood? What was yours? I have been in the outhouse. Have you? Perhaps I need to see another 10000, but I KNOW opportunity is there.

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Steven H September 4, 2014 at 1:27 pm

How am I supposed to describe your list then? By your own list, you indicate that people who are not in upper half of income either
- are not educated
- use excessive drugs or alcohol
- do not work hard
- or had a child while a teenager.

But it is somehow wrong to say you think those people are flawed or defective. How do you describe them then? Virtue-deficient?

But really let’s NOT get on another multi-post rant about definitions. I am not being a defeatist. I am pointing out that income disparity, rising education costs, and stagnating wages make life hard on today’s generation, especially at the lower end of the wage scale. And all I hear is that half of America is lazy, uneducated, drugged out, or oversexed. You are the person painting the bleak portrait of Americans. I think there is hope for more than 90% of Americans, if the GOP just quits squashing their efforts.

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Stevendad September 4, 2014 at 1:08 pm

I am grateful for the chance America gave me. I do not tear down this country because everyone is not rich. Again the opportunities are there.

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Stevendad September 4, 2014 at 1:19 pm

Steven H. Again, I never said we should give up on anyone. Your words again. Another stupid assertion of your own, not mine. I just refuse to continually deride a country that has given me such amazing opportunity. It is still there.

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Steven H September 4, 2014 at 2:01 pm

When did I EVER say we should give up on ANYbody?

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Stevendad September 4, 2014 at 1:33 pm

Steven H. So a large percentage of the poor have college degrees, avoided teen pregnancy, do not abuse drugs and work 60 hours a week. Right.

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Steven H September 4, 2014 at 2:13 pm

This entire is a page is a waste and I wish I could delete it. I’m sure others feel the same. I am not responding to any stevendad posts in the foreseeable future.

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Peter N September 4, 2014 at 2:16 pm

I just stopped my subscription. There are too many off topic and worthless posts.

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Stevendad September 4, 2014 at 4:21 pm

Steven H. It got too personal for both of us. You invalidated that I could struggle and succeed and you feel I negated your tragedy. I did not mean to. I am sorry for your family. I see tragedy daily and some get past and build up and others don’t.
This all hit two weeks adter the death io my father so my patience of being called stupid was a little thin. It is clear to me you are where you will be for a long time if not for ever. Good luck in the future. I’m completely out. I apologize to the others for witnessing this online bar fight.

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Steven H September 4, 2014 at 7:56 pm

Sympathies to you and your family.
Be well, Stevendad.

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Steven H September 4, 2014 at 5:02 pm

The irony of the debate on this blog is that almost everyone here who has revealed themselves to be in the 1% or even 2% is an entrepreneur and/or business owner. I say irony, because most of the ill-will that people have toward “the rich” is against financial institutions and investment bankers and hedge fund managers and large company management teams. Small business entrepreneurs are held in pretty high esteem. The gripe against the entire 1% is largely because many of the available stats have not broken down that group in smaller segments. But the Saez spreadsheets show that the upper 0.1% earn about the same as the next 0.9%. so that 0.9% are not getting the bulk of the treasure attributed to the 1%.

So when the entrepreneurs here feel they are being attacked by America, I think they may be jumping in front of the flak intended for higher tiers. Just a thought.

Consider: I had posted a story some pages back where a reporter interviewed 6 people at various income levels, from poverty to Forbes 400. Each subject made 5 times the previous subject in annual income. The annual incomes were approximately (at that time):
10K, 50K, 250K, 1.2M, 6M, and 30M.
There is at least one more high end persion that could have been interviewed at $150M because average income of top 400 earners was recently over $200M.

So if we were to take these 7 salary points and divide everyone into the 8 resulting tiers above and below these points, we have 8 tiers of income levels in our economy, each one making 5 times what the lower one makes (except Tier 1 which is a catchall). This is interesting to look at the earners this way, I think. Tier 1 has a mishmash of different folks, including poor, retired, disabled, some veterans, maybe even enlisted men (not sure about this one) who technically have small salaries. Tier 2 has most working people below median income. Tier 1 and 2 together is approximately half of Americans. Tier 3 has the next 48% of Americans, or so: median income up through many professionals and doctors and some SBOs. Tier 4 starts at $250K and goes to about $1.2 M (rounding for this 5x point). This has a lot of higher end professionals, SBO’s, some financial folks and lawyers, and some company management. I think this tier is where most of the SBOs on this site have said or suggested they fit in, on Tier 4. At the top end of this tier, folks earn 5x the 98 percentile income and 25x the median income. Not bad.

But there are still 4 more tiers to go. (!!!!)

Think about that. I don’t think I have ever met or talked to anyone above Tier 4. I’m solidly in Tier 3, and I feel like I know folks in my tier and one up and one down. From conversations here, I have gotten the impression that most (not all) of the folks in Tier 4 have very little concept of or sympathy for Tier 2 people because the lifestyle is just too far removed from their own. Even if they started out at low family income, that was 30, 40, or 50 years ago and they don’t know what today’s Tier 2 is like. I don’t blame them. They probably know some Tier 5 folks. Tier 4 folks probably don’t know many Tier 6 folks, largely because there just aren’t that many of them. Tier 7 and 8 are both wholly contained in the top 400 earners (which may or may not match up well with the Forbes 400, which is selected on wealth, not income).

OK, great. What’s the point?

First, is anybody besides me astounded that there are that many levels of income in US separated by 5x multiples?

Second, do the folks here actually know very many people (besides family) separated from them by more than one tier? I have the notion that Tier 5 people GENERALLY have as little sympathy and understanding of Tier 3, as Tier 4 folks GENERALLY seem to have little understanding or sympathy for Tier 2. Maybe that’s a little harsh. Maybe it’s not a matter of sympathy but of empathy, meaning an intimate understanding that comes from regular interaction. I’m not trying to paint anyone as cruel, but just hypothesizing a possible disconnection in society by economic tier.

Then when you get to Tier 6 and 7 and 8 folks, should we suppose that they also have little empathy for folks more than a tier away? The community is so small in Tiers 7 and 8 that the theory probably does not persist. But Tier 6 is as far removed in income from the Tier 4 entrepreneurs on this thread as the entrepreneurs are from sub-median income workers in Tier 2. Interesting.

A significant percentage of our Congressmen are Tier 5 or 6. Maybe that is why they have no clue about the plight of most Americans.

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Peter N September 4, 2014 at 9:46 pm

“So when the entrepreneurs here feel they are being attacked by America, I think they may be jumping in front of the flak intended for higher tiers. Just a thought.”
But the tax rates laws affect us too. I mentioned some of the worthless business mandates.

I really so resent the “You didn’t build that”. My company is in a new business park. The developer added the infrastructure. We paid for that when we bought the land. When we build the building we HAD TO add side walks and street lamps even though the business park is in an out of the way place were people don’t go at night. It is out of the way so the cops and firemen, bus drivers and student drivers train around our building. The point is that the city, county and state didn’t build that. The expect the developers to and then those that want to build must pay for the other upgrades.
We even had to pay a $2000 per car traffic impact fee but there have been no road or traffic light additions.

I mentioned before. My company was started in 1982. That is a long time of building.

“First, is anybody besides me astounded that there are that many levels of income in US separated by 5x multiples?”
No! I mentioned before that in any competition there will be some that are many magnitudes better than others.

“Second, do the folks here actually know very many people (besides family) separated from them by more than one tier? ………..”
Yes, I play serious table tennis. When I go to the club there are all sorts there. Some are retired. Some are students. You have the sympathy/empathy all wrong. I was a pathetically poor college student once. My first ‘job’ out of college was the navy. I didn’t feel like anybody ever looked down on me. I was just getting started. In high school I was voted to be the person most likely to have a computer on my desk. That turned out to be small thinking because I own an industrial computer company but the point is that my fellow students knew what was in my future and it wasn’t being on public assistance. My next point is that I doubt any tier looks down on those that haven’t made it……yet. There are a lot of people that haven’t made it yet. What people will look down on are those that self destruct. These people will never move up a tier. They will be perpetual losers. My fellow high school students could have been politically incorrect and named those most likely to be on welfare, get pregnant and be in jail too. I bet they/we would have been right.

Steven H, you have to accept there will always be losers and winners. The world isn’t like Lake Woebegone where everyone is just a little bit above average. There are those that are going to be below average no matter what you do. There are people that win the lottery and have no clue what to do with the money and end up broke.

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Steven H September 5, 2014 at 4:45 am

Peter N.,

Thanks for the responses to my wonky post and questions. And for the personal insights which help understand perspective. And empathy.

I’m surprised at the “infrastructure” burdens imposed by local government. One usually hears about the tax breaks and incentives given to businesses in exchange for that type of investment, but I imagine that is reserved for the much larger companies as cities compete for their business to move or start an office there.

Of course the infrastructure costs I was previously defending are at the national level and are simply the costs of keeping the nation and society running. I still think the federal costs and safety nets are reasonable, but I also realize that the argument between your perspective and mine on those.government size-and-responsibility issues have been going on as long or longer than the country. Not likely to be resolved here on this little blog.

What you bring up are the costs and burdens at the local level. From what I have read and looked up, local and state taxes, while overall smaller as percent GDP than federal taxes, have been rising more dramatically than federal – doubling or more over the last decades while federal tax/GDP levels have stayed relatively constant. That’s a topic I have not looked into as much, and I wonder how much tax anger is sparked by the local levels, even while the federal taxes get more of the attention and blame.

More to say about your response but I have to go get ready for the day.

And thanks for sticking around. BTW, my goal is to keep all of my conversations much more civil than the previous Steven{H,dad} debacle.

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Peter September 5, 2014 at 11:20 am

I think you would be surprised by the roadblocks that the government puts in the way of running a successful business. In my industry (the financial world), much of the “regulation” push led by people like Spitzer and Warren have resulted in giant amounts of paperwork and infrastructure that we didn’t have to have before. For instance, if someone wanted to put $1000 in a mutual fund in 1999, I just wrote down the amount and account number and handed it to our guy that put the orders in. Now, there are piles of paperwork and suitability reviews, etc. that no less than 4 people have to look at after I fill it all out. The nobility was there as I certainly saw some people in the 90′s who were doing things unethically. This helps protect the consumer. But it also costs a lot of money to build this sort of infrastructure. And you better believe that cost either gets passed on to the consumer – or results in slower growth and productivity (which slows the economy and in turn hurts revenue, etc.). Airport security could be used as another example. The post office as another. Pretty much anything the government gets involved with in private industry slows it down. Private industry is much better at making decisions based on a bottom line than the government which has a currency printing press. Sure, these things protect people but in my opinion they choose protecting a few over liberty for millions. But this is another level of the debate. That’s why I laugh at “you didn’t build that” coming out of the mouth of the head of the very organization that tries to make my job more difficult and then takes half of my profits. (sounds like an ex-wife haha)

One of the things Romney said during the election that I actually agreed with was that business will succeed in spite of the government. I do believe that. But I would NEVER believe that the government played a huge role in “building that”, in fact I believe they frankly get in the way of business quite often.

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Peter N September 5, 2014 at 8:26 am

“Of course the infrastructure costs I was previously defending are at the national level and are simply the costs of keeping the nation and society running. I still think the federal costs and safety nets are reasonable, but I also realize that the argument between your perspective and mine on those”
But who pays the taxes for that? Not the lower 47% that Romney mentioned.
The federal infrastructure is a cooperative effort but Obama made it sound like it was a government only effort. Completely discounting where the money comes, the top half that pays taxes.

Tell me, what do we get for our taxes the is so important? There are gas taxes for roads but after that I can’t see where the government is more of a help than a hindrance. Since our products are small we don’t really have high transportation costs. Pony express would do.

As far as getting help. I learned to add and subtract watching my mother balance a check book. A young high school or college kid taught me how to multiply and divide during a lunch break this was during the summer between first and second grade. I simply wanted to know how to compute batting averages from stats on my base ball cards. I learned statistics and probability playing Avalon Hill and SPI games in grade school.

Obama would make you think you can’t learn without schools or the government. That is BS. It just takes desire.

Get off this GDP kick. You always mention GDP. GDP is a measure of economic activity but it is not a measure of creating wealth. It certainly is not a measure of human capital.

Also, the minimum wage argument looks good but in the end a businesses must look at that it costs to hire each employee and ask can I make a profit and if so can a bigger profit be made elsewhere? What if the jobs simply aren’t worth $15 an hour?

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Steven H September 6, 2014 at 7:11 am

Peter N says: “But who pays the taxes for that? Not the lower 47% that Romney mentioned.
The federal infrastructure is a cooperative effort but Obama made it sound like it was a government only effort. Completely discounting where the money comes, the top half that pays taxes.”

1) More than 85% of Americans pay federal income or payroll taxes and those taxes all go into the same federal pot. Of the remaining who don’t pay, 2/3 are elderly who paid their share previously, and 3/4 of the remaining non-paying non-elderly 5% of the population are just really poor, making less than $20K.

So the money for our society comes from all of us, working, retired and even poor. All of us pay some kind of taxes. 95% of Americans are either paying federal/payroll taxes or are elderly/retired. Yes there are subsidies to the poor, sick and elderly. Yes the currently working people pay for that. But even poor people in houses (property tax) or apartments (indirectly paying property tax) or buying basic household items (sales tax) pay into society with taxes.

So it is really not true to claim the “only the upper half pay taxes” argument. It’s just bumper sticker politics.

2) “The federal infrastructure is a cooperative effort but Obama made it sound like it was a government only effort. ”

Obama was inelegant in his statements. He gave credit to business in the speech but did not do so in a way that made his case well with the business community. Warren said it better:

“I hear all this, you know, ‘Well, this is class warfare, this is whatever.’ No. There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own — nobody. You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police-forces and fire-forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory — and hire someone to protect against this — because of the work the rest of us did. Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea. God bless — keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is, you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.”

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Steven H September 6, 2014 at 9:35 am

“Obama would make you think you can’t learn without schools or the government. That is BS. It just takes desire.”

It’s the rare student who can learn without instructors. Perhaps you did not require government funded schooling, but I’m pretty sure your employees did.

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Peter N September 6, 2014 at 8:33 pm

You assume that everything must be taught in a class room by regular teachers. I/we have taught our employees what can’t be learned in school. What we do is not taught in high school or even most universities.

“More than 85% of Americans pay federal income or payroll taxes and those taxes all go into the same federal pot. ”
This is false. Most get their money back. In 2009 49% ended up paying no federal income tax. It is the income tax that pays for the government and any infrastructure it may build. The medicare and social security taxes are squandered.

““I hear all this, you know, ‘Well, this is class warfare, this is whatever.’ No. There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own — nobody”
It is class warfare. Yes, other people are required to do business with but these deals are even exchanges where we feel both benefit. It isn’t like either party is given or received anything.

““I hear all this, you know, ‘Well, this is class warfare, this is whatever.’ No. There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own — nobody. You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. ”
But I paid my fair share and then some too. When you say the rest of us that excludes me and I find that offensive, and a lie.

“You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. ”
This is total BS. The rest of us doesn’t seem to include me. BS. I paid too.
I pay property taxes on my home that goes mostly to schools even though I don’t have any kids in school. My company pays property taxes too. So I really end up paying much more than my fair share. We all paid to teach the kids to read and write and do some math BUT MY COMPANY TAUGHT THEM WHAT THEY NEEDED TO KNOW THAT MAKES THEM SPECIAL!

“You were safe in your factory because of police-forces and fire-forces that the rest of us paid for.”
“You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory — and hire someone to protect against this — because of the work the rest of us did. ”
The police didn’t help us one bit when I company was broken into. No one was ever prosecuted and we never got our property back. This argument is so lame.
Can I make my own automated defense system. I own a high tech company. We would have volunteers working over time to make an automatic defense system. Some of my employees have more guns they can count. Some fly model airplanes. We could easily make a drone self defense system.

I had an interesting conversation while playing table tennis today. My practice partner is black, but not typical, and for some reason he wanted to talk more than play. His views are a lot like mine even though he has a widely different perspective as a black person. He is retired but at one time he had to be in the top 1% by teaching others how to pass their stock broker exams. The government didn’t teach him that. He learned it on his own or while working for a mutual fund company. He went out on his own and started teaching employees of major banks and brokerage firms who pay big bucks. He does it over the internet using gotomeeting. It is obvious he couldn’t do this own his own. He needs the internet but he pays for that. Other than that he needs customers or students. So what does the government provide him? Perhaps the basic infrastructure for the internet but he pays for that every month. He isn’t given that. He is a one man show. This person is semi retired now. He has nice cars and a very nice house that cost about 6 times what I live in.

My black friend and I are both ‘cheap’ or frugal. We are largely self taught. We took advantage of the current conditions. We agree on almost everything. Where we start to diverge is on some points that have been brought up in this very long thread. What do you do with the social deficits? He has no sympathy for those that won’t work for their welfare payments like I do but he thinks that those that do work should be paid enough to live on but that doesn’t include cell phones, tvs, cars, vacations, gold bling, etc. I could live with that but forcing people to work is against my libertarian ideals but perhaps what is needed is for big brother to step in and have poor farms again.

Anyway, I bet those that teach bankers and wannabe stock brokers how to get their licences get paid over $400K.

Now back to I didn’t do this own my own. I paid for the help I got and the taxes for the roads and infrastructure. No one let my use this for free so f__k U Obama and all you libtards that support the dictator.

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Peter N September 6, 2014 at 8:41 pm

I think those that aren’t the ‘rest of us’ should go on strike for a year and see how rest of you do. Poorly I bet.

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Steven H September 7, 2014 at 10:08 am

Peter N,

We obviously have some perspectives that we disagree on. These are what I earlier called stationary views, or what some call core beliefs.

You have a lot of complaints here, so please forgive me if this gets long. You accused me previously of dodging your questions, so I am trying to be complete.

But first I need to address one point that is clearly wrong and that I have authority to speak on, because you are mischaracterizing what I believe:
- I do not assume “everything must be taught in a class room by regular teachers”. The public education system is flawed and imperfect as it always has been, but it provides the basic grade school foundation on which later education can be built. I do not oppose or deny the value of company training. Quite the opposite. I want more companies to provide training and apprenticeships. Your company trains your employees rather than expecting them to show up at the door with 10 years applicable experience? Great! You are part of the solution. But you were not teaching them in grade school so give a little credit where credit is due.

- Grammatical pedantry – You are a smart guy so I expect you to argue like a smart guy and not rely on grammatical nit-picking. Regarding:
===
“You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. ”
This is total BS. The rest of us doesn’t seem to include me. BS. I paid too.
===
Of course you are one of the millions of taxpayers that contributed to educating with public funds. The language above is not intended to exclude certain taxpayers. English is not a computer language and sometimes you have to take words and phrases at their intended meaning and not complain because they fail to express perfect boolean logic. I think you know this. Why complicate the discussion with pedantry?

- School Taxes – “I pay property taxes on my home that goes mostly to schools even though I don’t have any kids in school.”
and the fact that you have no kids is irrelevant because:
“We all paid to teach the kids to read and write and do some math”
… which was then used as the basis of education for employees that you hired, and from whose labors you profit. As well as the educations of the rest of children who build the society that you and your business rely on.

- “My company pays property taxes too. So I really end up paying much more than my fair share. ” SH: Everybody who has ever paid taxes thinks they pay more than their fair share. This is subjective and not objective. I have 3 kids and I have invested a h3ll of a lot more in the next generation than you ever will in time and money. I pay the same taxes and get small deductions for kids on my taxes but the burden on parents is a lot higher than non-parents who actually can consider using the same time and funds to start a business instead.

So maybe I’m the one who is paying more than my fair share. Maybe it is the non-parents who should pay for ALL of the schooling in this country as reimbursement for the labors of parents. Just another way of looking at it.

- Police and Fire Protection – “The police didn’t help us one bit when [my] company was broken into. No one was ever prosecuted and we never got our property back. This argument is so lame.”
SH: Are you really arguing that you would be better off with no public police and fire forces? Or are you just complaining that they are not perfect? I have a lot of complaints about our over-militarized police forces who steal people’s property under false pretenses of the drug war. Black people have a lot of legitimate complaints about being harassed by police for LWB – Living while Black. But I don’t think anyone thinks we would be better off without police. Are you saying you do believe that? And if not, why bring up such a false argument?

- “We could easily make a drone self defense system.”
That could be very interesting. It sounds facetious at first but you could actually come up with a product. But that’s the engineer in me talking. (No response necessary for this one.)

- “My practice partner is black, but not typical …”
I would hate to ask you what blacks you think are typical. (No response necessary for this one.)

- “He needs the internet but he pays for that.” – But government, paid for by taxpayers, funded the research that established the internet.

- “What do you do with the social deficits? He has no sympathy for those that won’t work for their welfare payments like I do but he thinks that those that do work should be paid enough to live on but that doesn’t include cell phones, tvs, cars, vacations, gold bling, etc. I could live with that but forcing people to work is against my libertarian ideals but perhaps what is needed is for big brother to step in and have poor farms again.”
SH: Work is a virtue and a blessing. I agree with Clinton when he said that welfare should be a way out and not a way of life. There are a few legitimate disabilities that keep people from working and that might allow non-working welfare, and there is also the problem that child-care for the poor can easily exceed any income they can initially receive at the bottom of the ladder. These are tough issues. But we need to solve them by addressing their plight honestly. Part of that means to get away from the distorted statistics that claim that half the country is lazy, flawed, and not contributing.

- Side issue: Cell phones are cheap and are a necessary tool for any working person. We’re not talking iPhone 6 here. But way too much ink and hate has been wasted on the cell phone program started in the 1990′s that has been rebranded ObamaPhone by GOP. Lies always taint the conversation. From factcheck in 2009: “Low-income households have been eligible for discounted telephone service [and free cell phones] for more than a decade. But the program is funded by telecom companies, not by taxes, and the president has nothing to do with it.”
http://www.factcheck.org/2009/10/the-obama-phone/

==== This is enough for now. Not dodging the rest of your questions and issues, but this is already long, and I have some work to do.

Thanks as always for the input ands insights, even when I disagree with some of it.

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Steven H September 7, 2014 at 10:46 am

One more: [I had most of this written up from before but thought it was too long. Seems like I need the whole content to make my argument.]

====
SH: “More than 85% of Americans pay federal income or payroll taxes and those taxes all go into the same federal pot. ”
Peter N: This is false. Most get their money back. In 2009 49% ended up paying no federal income tax. It is the income tax that pays for the government and any infrastructure it may build. The medicare and social security taxes are squandered.
====

We could dispute for days whether SS should be lumped in with other federal income and spending. Fact is though, that it all goes into the pot and it all comes out of the pot. There is no designated individual fund, and my guess is that those who live to see retirement and live til 80 or so get more out of the system than they put in, but many others do not. “Longevity Gap” studies show you are much less likely to live past 70 if your income is less than 60K, so the poor tend to get the short end of the SS stick as well, paying more into the lifetime receipts of those who are already better off.

Recall that at that the time of Romney’s 47% speech, there were actually two 47% statistics going around. 1- 47% don’t pay income tax. 2- 47% (of households) receive government assistance. Put these together and you get the false meme that 47% are on the dole and not paying for it. Nevermind that item 1 left out the payroll tax that paid for many of the government benefits referenced in item 2. Nevermind that item 2 referenced households where any one person might receive benefits (retired or disabled grandparent, disabled child, injured veteran; one of two working parents temporarily unemployed) while others in the household worked for a living; no the whole household was on the dole by that statistic. Nevermind that retirees earned those benefits through a lifetime of taxes.

So, the 47% argument of people not contributing is bumper sticker politics. It sounds good but is nearly meaningless. Payroll tax for SS is treated by people as a separate account when convenient for political argument, but the income really all goes into the same federal pot.

And of the 43.3 % not paying Federal income tax in 2013 (down from the earlier 47%), about 2/3 of those pay payroll tax. About 2/3 of the folks who pay neither federal nor payroll tax are elderly. About 3/4 of the remainder are very poor, making less than $20K. This leaves 1.3% of the population as “other”, with whom maybe a few of those you could make a legitimate gripe that they do not contribute.

In actual percentages from 2013, adding to 100%:
…Pay federal income tax – 56.7%
…Pay federal payroll but no federal income tax – 28.9%
Remaining that pay no federal or payroll income tax are:
…Elderly – 9.7%
…Non-elderly with income less than $20K – 3.4%
…Other – 1.3%

And that does not even mention the fact that anybody who buys anything (other than untaxed food, in some states) pays a sales tax, and if you own property you pay a property tax, and if you rent, you indirectly pay that property tax as part of your rent.

To summarize: When you take today’s 14.4% % who pay no federal income or payroll tax, and subtract out the elderly and very poor, you have only 1.3% who don’t contribute to society through federal taxes and perhaps have some capacity to do so. And everyone contributes to local taxes.

So this argument that Romney had about the 47% is just political garbage, and I quote him, because people forget the context and full extent of disdain Romney expressed for working Americans:

====
“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it. [...] These are people who pay no income tax. Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax. [...] And so my job is not to worry about those people—I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
====

But (if today’s proportions hold) 2/3 of that 47% pay federal payroll tax (and that means they are working, by the way), and 2/3 of the remaining are elderly. He only really had an argument for the remaining 5% of the population or so, and about 3/4 of those are/were just really poor.

So this whole argument falls apart if you do even a small amount of research and math. And yet, due to bumper sticker politics, almost everybody has heard about the 47% who are being pushed around in the wheelbarrow by the hardworking 53%. In my opinion, the 47% stat is meaningless and the story of American sloth expressed with it is a complete lie; a fabrication constructed to persuade the unintelligent masses who perform no research or independent thought and do little math that they are somehow being taken advantage of.

I am always surprised and disappointed when intelligent people bring up the 47% argument as if it has any merit. I even saw an argument in the ultra-conservative National Review that this argument was both false and nonproductive for conservatives because it was so easily refuted. To me this argument is a canard and is far beneath the intelligence level of argument I’m sure you can supply.

Stats Reference: http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/taxtopics/federal-taxes-households.cfm

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Steven H September 8, 2014 at 9:07 pm

======
““I hear all this, you know, ‘Well, this is class warfare, this is whatever.’ No. There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own — nobody”
It is class warfare. Yes, other people are required to do business with but these deals are even exchanges where we feel both benefit. It isn’t like either party is given or received anything.
======

Peter N.,
Yes it’s true that business consists of negotiated deals: Business to business, supplier to consumer, employer to employee, lender to debtor. And at the level of your business, which is likely (I think) solidly in “Tier 3″ (from earlier discussion) or perhaps the lower reaches of Tier 4, I suspect the deals are fair in all such negotiations. You speak well of your employees who are apparently well-trained and well-paid, and I trust your business deals are shrewdly negotiated and fairly dealt. I only know you from your own descriptions, but you seem straightforward enough. I think I have no gripe with your business or earnings. Nor do I think that the small businesses of Peter or Stevendad or thousands of other small business owners are the source of ill in our economy.

But I do believe that there is ill in the economy that comes from larger business, big banks, and investment houses. Against the negotiating and economic and political power which those institutions wield, there is no way that employees, consumers, debtors, or even the smaller businesses can garner a fair deal.

If there is class warfare, it is as Warren Buffet said: The rich are winning. But while you may be in the 1%, you are not the rich. You complain that you have not been receiving the bonus of boosted income, and perhaps you are right. But you are acting as a human shield for the real perpetrators of disaster on our economy. You oppose the added taxes that need not be subtracted from your income, but desperately needs to be subtracted from those in the upper Tiers. Yes, along with training and more education and getting everyone to pull their share, and other changes required in our economy. But really, even Tier 1 and 2 are pulling more of their share than you give them credit for. I propose it is the nation’s largest banks and financiers and lenders and monopolistic super-corps who are the major leeches on the economy, and I question why you would bother to defend them.

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Steven H September 8, 2014 at 9:17 pm

I got my own Tier system wrong. I meant that your income is by my guess in Tier 4 or lower Tier 5. But I would never ask you to confirm your income as that would be impolite.

Steven H September 6, 2014 at 9:50 am

Re: GDP

There seem to be many folks out there who agree with you about the shortcomings of GDP. However, no corresponding indicator with any historical data behind it seems to exist. And GDP is not exactly meaningless, it is just flawed. So unless and until a better measure comes around, I am stuck with GDP as a scale factor to indicate the size of the economy.

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Peter September 5, 2014 at 11:35 am

Interesting quote from Joan Rivers in all of the tribute articles:
“I knew from the start I wasn’t the most talented, the prettiest or best, so I had to work much harder: the immigrant mentality.”

Kind of in line with what Ken and I were talking about earlier and Peter N has referenced multiple times. Where do you want to be in life? How do you get there? We all have bumps in the road and hardships to overcome – some worse than others (Joan Rivers herself had quite a few along the way). But you keep pressing on and maybe after years and years and maybe even generations, you improve your lot in life.

The government as it stands in the USA has almost NOTHING to do with this. And thankfully so.

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JTM September 5, 2014 at 11:11 pm

Thing is, many at the top, like Peter N push those below down and down. How can one say that’s not truw, just look at his statements on here. Not everyone (actually most don’t) has the innate ability to fight back and push through this. I’m lucjy enough to have been able to push back against these types of people who say you’re different, you’re not right somehow, as I’ve always had book intelligence on my side through all the negativity around me. But, just because one person can do something, doesn’t mean most can. My experience is this great negativity holds more people back than many realize and then these same people who have been denigrated for some perceived difference continue to be put down for not matching up to some other fools “ideal”. Sorry, but I see continuous negativity by the “elite” as much of a hindrance as any to many people and until people like Peter N show some sort of compassion I have no reason to believe otherwise.

We cannot all be the 1%

Someone needs to do the jobs no one else wants to do.

One does not need an advanced education or much of an education to do most of these jobs, but we are all glad someone is willing to do them. Yet, the Peter Ns and Romneys of this world want to paint these people as lazy or stupid or whatever, plus liberal/democrats (thought there are plenty of Rep/conservatives in the same boat blaming someone else for their lot in life), just plain not worthy of a reasonable wage because they “don’t measure up”. If a job needs to be done for the rest of us to live a good life, why should it not pay a reasonable wage? If it doesn’t, why should the rest of us subsidize the Walmarts of this country so they can get away with paying unreasonable wages? Why shouldn’t the users of the products/services pay the actual costs?

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Peter N September 10, 2014 at 12:46 am

“Thing is, many at the top, like Peter N push those below down and down.”
Lies! How?

“We cannot all be the 1%”
Yes, and there will always be a 50% in the bottom half no matter how much you spend on them. Amazing how that works out.

” If a job needs to be done for the rest of us to live a good life, why should it not pay a reasonable wage?”
If a job NEEDS to be done it will pay a living wage.

I think I have made it clear I don’t want to subsidize Walmart or anybody.

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Steven H September 6, 2014 at 7:46 am

Look at the Elizabeth Warren quote above (if you had not read it before) in my reply to Peter N. She expresses the ‘liberal’ view of government much better than Obama did.

And here’s another quote:
“And, and frankly, I was born with a silver spoon, which is the greatest gift you could have, which is to get born in America. I’ll tell ya, there is—95 percent of life is set up for you if you’re born in this country.”

That’s Romney, from a lesser quoted portion of his 47% speech. And I agree with this one. This is a great country. But without government it would not even be a country. I do not understand the concept of praising the country but saying the government does nothing useful. The government performs absolutely essential functions, which i divide into three parts: 1: Social, Financial, and Physical infrastructure (laws, courts, police, regulation, roads, research grants, federal banking, etc.), and 2: Defense, and 3: Safety nets (support for retired, disabled, and poor). All of this is necessary to keep this great country functioning.

If you say you don’t see how government is doing anything for you, then maybe that is a compliment to government. Disneyworld is, in my opinion, one of the best-managed enterprises of any kind on earth. When I go there, I do not see all of the thousands or millions of things they take care of behind the scenes to make that place function. I just know that when I go there, I have a really great time. It costs more than some vacations, but as a family destination, it has never been a disappointment.

When you are able to buy food with confidence because you know government food inspection helps protect our food supply, when you know the banks are safe because of federal regulations, when you feel safe that foreign forces are not about to invade your city because you have faith in our military, when you can spend your day worrying about your business and not the thousands or millions of things that are managed by government to go right in this country, then government is working. It’s good that you don’t have to see it or think about it.

It is absolutely correct to criticize and improve how our government accomplishes its tasks. But to say that government has nothing to do with being successful in this country is to ignore WHY we are the greatest country in the known universe.

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Steven H September 6, 2014 at 9:21 am

Peter, I agree with your inspirational message. But as I have said before, teaching people how to succeed and creating the best society for people to succeed in are different things. The answer to income disparity is not to tell people to work harder. The answer to income disparity is to reverse the forces that created it in the first place.

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Man-of-Reason September 6, 2014 at 1:09 pm

Peter,
Without this country and our democratic republican government, Joan Rivers would not have been Joan Rivers. She never would have had the opportunity had her family not immigrated to the U.S. All that most people want for their children is opportunity to compete on a level playing field, yet that field has gotten tilted more and more by the wealthy over the last forty years.

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Steven H September 6, 2014 at 7:19 am

How do I alert the moderator to spam? Should I just leave a post full of expletives and links so it sends the reply to moderation, and end the post with “Hey! Delete the spam post I just replied to!”

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Steven H September 6, 2014 at 9:12 am

Moderator just deleted the spam. Good job!!!

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Peter September 7, 2014 at 2:49 pm

I’m officially out. Steven H really making this chat a lot less productive and more dogmatic. I can’t fight it anymore and there is no point.

It’s been fun. Thanks to Ken, MOR, JTM, JB, Aspiekid and all the others for what has been a very insightful conversation up until recently. Now it’s just the same crap congress is doing – just people talking at each other.

Good luck to the rest of you that continue to try and talk with Steven H. I will not be back.

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Steven H September 7, 2014 at 5:22 pm

I’ve looked over my last responses to you and Peter N. and see nothing “dogmatic”. I actually thought the conversation was improving, and I was looking forward to your further responses.

But I’ve been posting a lot, and if I am breaking up the previous club by driving people off, I’ll just leave myself. I have never intended to dominate the conversation or be unpleasant. The bit with stevendad was unfortunate and embarrassing. Two people being too stubborn, I’m afraid.

I have been learning quite a bit about how “the other side” thinks and the additional perspectives and insights from the excellent posters on both sides have been incredibly enlightening.

I intend to finish my little conversation with Peter N (if I haven’t driven him off too), and then if no one else cares to engage me further I will abandon the other topics and questions I had planned to put forward.

So if you are really tired of having me around, have a little patience and I will go away in about a week, after the Peter N conversation closes out, at least until someone addresses me specifically again.

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Steven H September 9, 2014 at 8:41 pm

Well, it looks like Peter N is declining to engage with me anymore as well, so perhaps I should leave this blog alone for awhile. I’ve probably said more than my share.

But before I go elsewhere for awhile, I’d like to address Normal Joe, JTM, MOR, Aspiekid and anybody else posting or listening in the liberal or centrist realm. Because I worry about the liberal message and how we get it ‘out there’. The posters here are great, with huge amounts of information and insights and cogent presentation. However, I think you folks may share some of the frustration I have in how the conservatives poll test and package their message in ways that spread their views … but often not in a way that seems honest or complete. Maybe that is just spin and messaging that should be expected. Maybe I should not be surprised. But then the liberal messaging comes out … or not … yet … for a long … long … while. And when it does come out, it is a nicely written, coherent and intelligent article covering all the bases but that nobody but a few liberals read. and nobody at all actually remembers.

Is this how it seems to you, too?

So everybody remembers that 47% didn’t pay income taxes a few years ago, that 47% of households were receiving government assistance at the height of the recession, that we had trillion dollar deficits for several years running, and there are probably more people who know that we have 17 trillion in debt than there are those who know the names of their 2 state Senators. I mean, 10 years ago, who could rattle off the total of the National Debt? Everybody also “knew” about a lot of false stuff that did not actually happen like the “Obama spending spree” or “Death Panels”, or false attributions of cause, like “Obamaphones”, or the “Food Stamp President”, or false ideas of the economy like the idea that blocking the debt ceiling increase and driving the nation into debt would somehow be a good thing.

Why is it like this? Where are the liberal think tanks and their messages? Why do the conservative lies get all the way around the world twice before the liberal truths get their pants on?

I don’t know. I really don’t.

But until and unless the liberal messaging system gets its act together, you and I have to get the message out in ways that people can remember and understand. I have no desire to be part of a distribution system of false information like the Cons have in Faux News. I just want to have liberals define themselves and not have the Cons do it for them. I want them to have answers to the Con arguments, not years or months after the fact, but in minutes.

I have the bare beginnings of a list of some suggestions, although some of these are way too late. Others are current. Many came from others on the discussions here, either directly, or through inspiration of the conversation. Here goes.

When Cons say that 47% don’t pay taxes, answer that 95% of Americans either pay Income or Payroll taxes or are elderly. 3/4 of the remainder are very poor. And everyone pays some kind of local tax.

When Cons say taxes are already too high on the wealthy, answer that the effective tax rate on the upper 0.1% is half what it was in 1980. [Stats for your back pocket: Effective tax rates on upper 0.1% were 59% in 1970; 51% in 1980 and 23% in 2010.]

When Cons say we lost the War on Poverty, answer that safety nets have cut poverty by 10% of Americans relative to where it started in the 60’s (from 26% down to 16%). And that Vietnam interfered with continuing Johnson’s plans.

When Cons say globalization is to blame for income inequality, tell them they are right, and that we need to change our trade policy. Tell them we cannot afford to drain the nation’s prosperity until we are all paid third world wages.

When Cons say that educating our kids is a problem, tell them they are right, and that the answer is more investment in our schools and teachers, not cutting funding. Better and increased funding for State Colleges would help too.

When Cons say taxes on small business is too high, tell them they are right. Small Business taxes must be cut but personal income taxes on the most wealthy (upper 0.1% and up) must be raised to balance that revenue loss.

When Cons oppose increased minimum wage, remind them that $10.10 in today’s dollars is still below it’s historical peak. Tell them it’s better to have employer’s pay people a wage they can live on rather than have Uncle Sam make up the difference.

When Con’s refer to the Obama spending spree, answer that Obama is the only post WW2 President to oversee raw dollar spending decreases across his first 4 years. [3.52 billion in 2009 vs 3.45 billion in 2013].

When Con’s mention ObamaPhones, remind them the program started in the 1990’s and is funded by Telecoms, not government.

When Cons say we need a balanced budget amendment, tell them they are right. What we need is a policy that automatically raises taxes to produce enough revenue to pay for the spending that has already been legally authorized by Congress.

There’s a start. Comments? Ideas?

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Jason September 10, 2014 at 6:57 am

Dude, you are so blinded by bias it is unbelievable.

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cliff September 10, 2014 at 9:52 am

Steven H – looks like you succeeded in chasing everyone away. Hope you learn something from this.

The very things you are describing in your last lengthy spin-filled post are the very things you are doing. Others are laying out nicely written, coherent and intelligent posts and posing good questions and you are replying with canned spin and closed ears and minds.

Maybe you answered your own question – why the “liberal” view doesn’t get spread easier. Maybe your view makes no sense.

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Steven H September 10, 2014 at 5:53 pm

Well your view is one perspective.
But I have written a plethora of nice coherent posts, too, see previous 3 blog pages) complete with facts, statistics, research and links, and what do I get?

Accusations that I am Marxist and a libtard, and attacks that I am a liberal who won’t change his opinion, from conservatives who won’t change their opinion.

My talking points list was inspired by the stubborn-headed attitudes of the prominent conservative posters here that half the country’s citizens are broken, lazy, and irresponsible, and that the only thing wrong with this country and with income disparity is that the poorest half of the country needs to “invest in their education” and work harder.

I laid out ten short assertions and only the last one is a wild card, practically made up during the writing of the post. But all ten are reasonable assertions based on established statistical and economic facts and logical conclusions stemming from those facts.

I invite you to dispute the facts and logic in any of those ten. If facts and logic make no sense to you, then that is the problem. Not my list.

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Steven H September 10, 2014 at 5:57 pm

And Cliff, if you do respond with cogent arguments opposing any of my ten assertions, I promise to be polite and gracious. Even if all you bring is opinions to a fact-fight.

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cliff September 11, 2014 at 7:58 am

It’s not worth it to bother. Even in your tirade above you simply answer one side’s assertions with assertions of your own. You don’t listen, you don’t have an open mind, and nobody is posting anymore because of it. What’s sad is I even agree with some of your points – but it won’t matter. Good luck with whomever you continue to engage.

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Steven H September 11, 2014 at 12:53 pm

So you just see it as symmetric barbs?

Granted the upper half of my last long post was a rant. Most of the posters on this blog (not all) have contributed one or more rants. Your complaint is a rant.

But the last ten items are not just throwaway assertions. Five of them answer grossly incomplete and/or non-factual statements with more accurate and complete facts. Only the remaining five of them merely express an alternate perspective.

Steven H September 10, 2014 at 5:58 pm

Name and refute one item in my list of ten assertions that is biased; i.e. not supported by fact and logic. Please be prepared.

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Peter N September 11, 2014 at 9:57 am

“Name and refute one item in my list of ten assertions that is biased; i.e. not supported by fact and logic. Please be prepared.”
I didn’t see a list but I haven’t seen you post links to any facts that weren’t from another liberal webpage spouting the same garbage.

My mother said
“The world does not owe you a living”
“The world does not revolve around you”
She explained to me what communism and socialism are when I was in third grade by using a recent test as an example. If I got an A and another got a C then the grades would be averaged out to a B and that isn’t fair to the person that gets an A.

What we have here is a bunch of C and D students saying those that got good grades did so by cheating or being lucky to guess the answers. They are also suggesting that the A students lose a grade so the students that failed can pass even though it won’t help them for the next test as they fall further behind.

JTM, seems to think the good students cheat the F students out of their grades.

Steven H, you seem to think that everyone deserves to pass even if it is at the expense of others. If you were running the school I would quickly find another because I would wouldn’t want my grade point damaged by having to share grades when I am competing with other students in other schools to get into the same colleges.

How simple and clear can I make it?

Back to reality. Most people that make $400K a year must work hard to achieve that goal. I my case I took a few chances. Sometime I had to take a step back to go two steps or more ahead later. Sometimes and idea would just come to me.

Steven H and JTM want to blame someone else.

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JTM September 11, 2014 at 10:55 am

Peter N – I don’t want to blame anyone else “think the good students cheat the F students out of their grades”. I do think you are arrogant, elitist and think poorly of others based almost solely on how much they make. I don’t think the measure of a person is how much they make or how much they have in their bank account, it is in how they treat others. From your posts on here, you sound too selfish and self-important to treat people that are “below” you respectfully.

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Steven H September 11, 2014 at 1:07 pm

Peter N, you are attributing ideas to me that I have not stated and do not advocate. I don’t favor equaling out all pay. That is not what complaints about “income inequality” are about.

The complaint is about excess income slopes. The thesis is simple: Power and money accumulate and corrupt. Think gilded age.

My complaint is not with small or even medium businesses such as yours, or with their owners. My complaint is with the bloated financial sector and overbearing, near monopolistic mega-Corporations. The political influence of these entities have tilted the financial realm such that former C students are getting Fs, and B students are getting Cs, and you get A’s by working really hard at productive work, OR by being in an industry (the financial sector) that siphons off the work of others.

So JTM may not blame others, but I do. But I’m not blaming you.

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Steven H September 11, 2014 at 1:10 pm

Here is the main reason I think that the wealthiest reject the entire premise of income inequality, or excessive income slopes, or income disparity. They believe their own income is at risk. And as Upton Sinclair (author of “The Jungle”) wrote:

It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!

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cliff September 11, 2014 at 2:37 pm

This is so offensive it isn’t even funny. Peter N and Steven H – neither one of you have any idea what you are talking about. You are both just being rude (Peter N) and offensive (Steven H).

Several of the posters above who oppose you Steven H have said that they would gladly pay higher taxes if they felt like it would help. It’s so offensive for you to think everyone who is rich has done so in some way shape or form that isn’t fair or owed to someone else – or that they are all sympathetic. It is also unfair to assume that anyone who thinks taxes should be raised is a “libtard”.

To anyone who might be popping in this thread late (like me) – scroll back a few pages and I think you will find a nice debate. If anyone knows of where we might continue a discussion like that one, please let us all know.

cliff September 11, 2014 at 2:38 pm

Should have read “unsympathetic”

Steven H September 13, 2014 at 6:49 am

If you want links to a non-liberal web page refuting your arguments, how about these? They are two links to the ultraconservative National Review magazine, showing articles by two different authors, deriding the “Freeloader Myth”, aka the 47% statements, as dangerous and flawed.

The first of these was published around 6 months before Romney’s infamous fundraiser. He should have read it.

http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/283265/freeloader-myth-ramesh-ponnuru

http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/327961/romney-s-47-percent-blunder-rich-lowry

So can we finally dismiss this 47% Freeloader Myth as political propaganda, and poor propaganda at that?

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Steven H September 13, 2014 at 7:06 am

Peter N: “Back to reality. Most people that make $400K a year must work hard to achieve that goal. I my case I took a few chances. Sometime I had to take a step back to go two steps or more ahead later. Sometimes and idea would just come to me.”
===

I think I will agree with you for people who have come up through the economic ranks, and especially for businessmen in or about your economic tier. I am especially respectful of firms in the “constructive” economy such as engineering firms like yours. But I also believe there are additional economic tiers that are completely outside of the constructive economy and are part of a destructive economy. There is no good reason for the financial sector to have grown from 2% of the economy after WW2 to more than 8% of the economy now. I also believe there is more damage than good that comes from economic behemoths like Wal-Mart or any other pseudo-Monopoly that drives out or absorbs entrepreneurs rather than encouraging their proliferation.

The destructive economy is a leech on the economy as a whole, driving down economic growth and median wages.

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Peter N September 13, 2014 at 8:10 pm

My problem with financial institutions is that they don’t create wealth.
During the great recession I would have let the banks that were in trouble go under. Even more important that those running these companies be held accountable. There are islands in the Aleutians that would make good dumping grounds for criminals.

“I also believe there is more damage than good that comes from economic behemoths like Wal-Mart or any other pseudo-Monopoly that drives out or absorbs entrepreneurs rather than encouraging their proliferation.”
Walmart is not the problem. There are many that benefit from their lower prices. I buy a lot of my cheap sports wear from Walmart.

“The destructive economy is a leech on the economy as a whole, driving down economic growth and median wages.”
What destructive economy? Who or what are the leeches? You tend to make up factitious boogey men

I don’t get you. You vote for politicians that penalize people that make only $200K per year. As the other Peter said this may not be a lot depending on where you live. Your attacks against those with bonus income and such attack those that are making money. They may not be rich but wanting to become rich. Many of these wanting to become rich are people like me. It will take many years to become rich of significant amounts of income is confiscated by the gov.
Yet you give no credit to those that don’t earn their income through a mutual beneficial exchange of money for price or product.

What you can’t seem to come to grips with is that the liberal way is flawed. You or other liberals are not willing to create a company that is willing to hire the un-employed when they can’t make a profit for their liberal masters. In order to make your utopia work you must FORCE others to contribute to your vision/religion. This is what I resent. You can’t make your utopia work without destroying someone else’s.

Steven H September 14, 2014 at 5:27 pm

[replying on main thread to your last post below]

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Ken September 10, 2014 at 9:28 am

I am officially out. Later.

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Steven H September 11, 2014 at 4:52 pm

Cliff,

[I'm replying here, because there is no reply button on your last post.]

Starting a conversation by telling people they don’t know what they are talking about sort of puts you into the same category as the people you are criticizing.

Let’s step back a minute. I will admit getting frustrated and reverting to rants multiple times throughout pages of conversation. But you are also overreacting to some of my posts.

I have a hard time seeing how the Sinclair quote is rude. To me, it’s just a truism that applies to human nature. It says that people look after their own self-interest. It’s the same thing as saying people vote their wallet. It was not intended as an insult but as a valid recognition of a barrier to understanding.

Are you offended that I place that as a reason the wealthiest resist the income disparity arguments? Why? I truly don’t understand how this is offensive.

One of the social (as opposed to economic) gripes I have here or in any conversation is that people’s egos often get way too brittle. Politeness is important, but in a passionate exchange of ideas, such as exists here, I firmly believe you have to build a minimal heat shield for yourself and not let every slight be a distraction.

I was initially offended, and strongly, when Peter N started calling me a libtard and a Marxist, but now I don’t care. If he wants to fume a little but still adds even a little cogent insight to the argument, I’m OK. After some reflection, I think I am more offended when calm and cool Peter (the original), who has posted a lot of really excellent posts by the way, blasts me for being a know-it-all on posts where I worked really hard to be polite and ask a reasonable question which he never even took time to answer. I am more offended by the logical flaws in Stevendad’s posts which he refused to acknowledge despite my initially polite coaxing (and my later unreasonable persistence).

But if you think the quote is rude, that is your right. I disagree, and let’s move on.

As to the economic discussion, I would love to participate in a resumed polite discussion as long as it doesn’t rehash the same old ideas.

Oh, another thing, since you bring it up: generalizations. I don’t think every rich person opposes tax increases. Even on this blog, Peter (original) has expressed some flexibility to this idea. Many wealthy people think they should be taxed more. Sometimes people on both sides of the argument generalize simply due to limited space in these posts. I try to recognize this and hope others do too. It’s sort of an “if the shoe fits, wear it” situation. But that is different than the claim that 47% of Americans are slothful because they don’t pay income tax.

So, what would you like to discuss? Your call. Any fresh ideas on whether income disparity is a problem, or causes or solutions? Something new you haven’t seen brought up? A continuation of a subject from a few pages back? You want a reboot, and I second the motion. I’ll try to behave and shut up long enough for some of the other old voices, or any new voices, to present their excellent views. JTM and MOR still seem to be around and they have good insights, and posts that are usually much calmer than mine. Peter N may even surprise you with one of his calm and cogent posts.

Proceed, guv’ner.

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Steven H September 11, 2014 at 4:58 pm

Rereading. You thought I was offensive and Peter N was the one that was rude. Ok I don’t think the quote was offensive, then. Just clarifying.

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Steven H September 11, 2014 at 7:15 pm

If you have no other proposals, Cliff, perhaps you could find something to discuss here:
http://www.businessinsider.com/charts-on-us-inequality-2014-4

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Steven H September 14, 2014 at 5:53 pm

Peter N.

You and I are talking about the same bogeymen, not something facetious or made up.
1-financial sector which does not create wealth, for the most part, and destroyed a lot of earth in the great recession. I agree that banks should have been held more accountable, though I understand why it was too scary to let them collapse.
2- Behemoths like Wal-Mart who are subsidized by food stamps because they pay too little.

We are actually in partial agreement here. The financial industry and the pseudo-monopolies are the destructive sector. Even though Wal-Mart has nice low prices, they do more harm than good to the overall economy.

And what penalty is there for taxpayers that make $200K per year if you have a new tax that starts at $200K/year? Zero, actually. There is no penalty on the $200K earner. The ‘penalty’ doesn’t really show up until you make a lot more, like $400K, and then it is only about 2% of total income, if it even applies.

The point of tax increases on earners starting at $200K is that there is very little impact until you get up into the upper 1%, and the effective tax rates are still far lower than they were historically.

You don’t get my perspective, but I really don’t understand yours. The % increases on the sub $400K earners are not that high at the federal level (local taxes have gone up more over last decades), and they will help close the debt gap that has been put in place by decades of unsustainable tax (revenue) cuts while maintaining spending/GDP at the high end of historic norms.

My theorem is simple:
Revenue must be increased to close the debt gap.
It must come from those that have money (not those who don’t).
Spending must be controlled but spending cuts alone will not close the debt gap.
Revenue increases and spending cuts must build the middle class, and must “penalize” the very prosperous more than it penalizes the very poor.

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Steven H September 14, 2014 at 5:55 pm

“destroyed a lot of wealth in the great recession”. Not “earth”. Danged auto-correct.

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