Death of the Middle Class - Social Anxiety Forum
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post #1 of 43 (permalink) Old 12-10-2015, 05:15 AM Thread Starter
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Death of the Middle Class


The middle class in America is on life support. Ever since Reaganomics began, the American Dream has been under attack.


Sipping Champagne on the Titanic: Twenty Billionaires Own More Than the Bottom Half of Americans


http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/ite...f-of-americans

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The new Institute for Policy Studies report "Billionaire Bonanza: The Forbes 400 and the Rest of Us" is out. I printed a copy, started reading and promptly threw it against the wall in fury and disgust.


How can the wealthy be so cruel?


How can there be 400 billionaires so self-absorbed in their fortunes and greed that they cannot see the sea of suffering that surrounds them? They are sitting in the 16 lifeboats of the ill-fated Titanic wearing mink coats, diamonds and white, elbow-length dinner gloves while the rest of us thrash in icy, black water, drowning in the disaster of our economy. Our children are stiffening, dead in the water. Our students are being dragged down into the depths of poverty by the heavy chains of debt. Our elders are desperately trying to keep their heads above water.


If the United States were the Titanic, those on the Forbes 400 list would be sitting in the lifeboats, guilty, hard-hearted and refusing to go back to help the screaming, pleading voices drowning in the dark night.


Like the iconic disaster story, the current crisis of extreme wealth inequality might have been (and still could be, according to the report) averted: more lifeboats, better emergency protections, taking out the barriers to upward mobility, raising the floor so that our heads are not traveling underwater, protected only by the dangerous metal-hulled theories of free markets and trickle-down effects. The wealthy could use their class, privilege and fortunes to create a safer ship for all of us.


Instead, well, we know how this story goes.


Reckless, irresponsible greed has created a crisis in which every 38 seconds, a US citizen dies of poverty and poverty-related social conditions. The US Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling handed US politics over to the wealthy on a silver platter, turning elections into auctions with political offices going to the highest bidder, starting at prices far out of reach for the average American. The opportunities needed to save lives and build economic justice are held in the same hands as those gripping wealth and power. The political purse strings tie inequality up with a bow and condemn the rest of us to a life sentence of poverty.


The Institute for Policy Studies report shares some damning statistics: The top 20 billionaires (who could all fit in a private jet together) own more than the bottom half of Americans. They are all white, mostly men and nearly half of them belong to the same three families (Walton, Koch and Mars). If the Forbes 400 list threw an exclusive party, they could all fit into the Seattle Space Needle, wining, dining and toasting to their success while idly spinning in circles.


Perhaps Oprah Winfrey and Robert Smith (the only Black people in the room) might exchange tight-lipped looks when one of the Koch brothers points out that the 400 Space Needle billionaires own more than the entire Black population and one-third of the Latino population combined. The five Latinos at the party might grimace. There are only a few Asians, and not a single Native American.
There are no teachers or artists at the party. Those professions are not valued and rewarded like hedge fund traders, hotel chain owners, high-end real estate developers, tech firm owners and media moguls. There are no country doctors or any health-care professionals, though pharmaceutical company owners are present. There's plenty of inherited wealth in the room, mingling with family dynasties, and perhaps chatting with so-called self-made men who shipped jobs overseas and refused to pay living wages in the United States. The four Facebook billionaires are huddled in a corner together, all men, all white. There are no farmers, though the two brothers who own the Cargill grain fortune might claim to be family farmers.


This is what wealth looks like in the United States: a disgusting outcome of hundreds of years of exploitation, extraction, conquest, colonization, slavery, wage slavery, indentured servitude, wars, militarism, crony capitalism, sweatshops, low wages, destruction of the earth, the genocide of Native peoples, racism, sexism and oppression. (My apologies if I forgot anything; truth is hard to keep track of.)


The rest of us - the other 99% who are not invited to the party - are veterans, school teachers, ambulance drivers, dancers, researchers, inventors, clerks, accountants, child-care providers, firefighters, nurses, mom-and-pop store owners, novelists, activists, civil rights lawyers, truckers, ranchers, sculptors, painters, public speakers, ministers, social workers, waiters, cooks, bellhops, taxi drivers, dishwashers, construction workers, singers and musicians. The wide swath of our human family is excluded from the profit of a whole society's worth of labor and productivity. We create the wealth through our sweat, hard work, creativity, inventions, skills, services and knowledge. We do not get to enjoy the wealth, however. That is reserved for a very narrow group of people, most of who can be described as the owning class.


The Institute for Policy Studies report contains some grave warnings about the dangers of extreme wealth concentration. Like the unfortunate Titanic, there are icebergs ahead in the cold waters of the global economy. Continuing full steam ahead without correcting the causes of extreme inequality is risking disaster. Those on the Forbes 400 list may soon find themselves horrified in the lifeboat of their bank accounts, watching the elderly, poor people and the nation's children drown in the disaster of poverty.

And I always thought this would be
the land of milk and honey
Oh but I came to find out that it's
all hate and money
And there's a canopy of greed holding me down.
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post #2 of 43 (permalink) Old 12-10-2015, 05:22 AM
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people who want to redistribute wealth to "help" the middle class are a bunch of socialists and communists who don't understand that the wealthy are the job creators and tax cuts for the wealthy will make everyone wealthier. WEALTH TRICKLES DOWN. Occupy Wall Street and all those other communist groups are made up of a bunch of idiotic university students who think they are better than everybody else.
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post #3 of 43 (permalink) Old 12-10-2015, 05:39 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by JTHearts View Post
people who want to redistribute wealth to "help" the middle class are a bunch of socialists and communists who don't understand that the wealthy are the job creators and tax cuts for the wealthy will make everyone wealthier. WEALTH TRICKLES DOWN. Occupy Wall Street and all those other communist groups are made up of a bunch of idiotic university students who think they are better than everybody else.
These wealthy idiots will die just like the rest of us when the oceans release toxic fumes and all life on the planet is extinguished due to greed and ignorance.

And I always thought this would be
the land of milk and honey
Oh but I came to find out that it's
all hate and money
And there's a canopy of greed holding me down.
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post #4 of 43 (permalink) Old 12-10-2015, 06:06 AM
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Yep, Obama didn't even used lube when he screwed the middle class.
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post #5 of 43 (permalink) Old 12-10-2015, 06:13 AM Thread Starter
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Yep, Obama didn't even used lube when he screwed the middle class.
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And Obama wants the TPP to finish off the middle class. I bet President Hillary would sign the TPP too. Bernie is our last chance.

And I always thought this would be
the land of milk and honey
Oh but I came to find out that it's
all hate and money
And there's a canopy of greed holding me down.
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post #6 of 43 (permalink) Old 12-10-2015, 06:42 AM
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Originally Posted by JTHearts View Post
people who want to redistribute wealth to "help" the middle class are a bunch of socialists and communists who don't understand that the wealthy are the job creators and tax cuts for the wealthy will make everyone wealthier. WEALTH TRICKLES DOWN. Occupy Wall Street and all those other communist groups are made up of a bunch of idiotic university students who think they are better than everybody else.
Pretty much. And so many of the wealthy are champagne socialists. Tell me about how great the middle class is in socialist or communist countries.

The USA isn't perfect. Not by a long shot. But it has provided a higher sustainable standard of living than any other nation in the world. Find me one nation which hasn't committed genocide or slavery. We used to think the ideal nation was the Nordic nations but Sweden now has the second highest rates of rape in the world and is turning into a third-world nation. Norway survives because it has so much oil revenue, basically a Scandinavian Kuwait.

OP's article presents the complaint that people suffer in life and those who have more must be forced to give up their wealth. The problem, aside from moral qualms about stealing, is that doesn't work. It's been tried before and two things happen - the wealthy simply flee the country and the money will run out. And then you're back to your original problem except now you no longer have these economic powerhouses driving production. You get a dead economy which will fail because it is disconnected from reality, just like the Soviets.

Yes, I'm from a wealthy family but only because they pulled themselves up. Post-civil war they lost everything, great-grandad spent his days doing the books for a general store and building coffins in his spare time. Grandfather never went to college, opened a clock repair shop and turned it into a trusted brand eventually becoming a millionaire. My father worked himself to the bone, ate peanut-butter sandwiches every day and wore the same suit for years. He's now a millionaire too. But they should have their wealth stripped from them? Where's the motivation to excel and sacrifice if you know someone else will profit? And if you say "it makes you a good person" then shove it where the sun don't shine.

And if you say they don't deserve their wealth, then those on welfare deserve it even less. If you need help and deserve it, they'll help. My grandfather is a philanthropist. But they would sooner burn their crops than let a totalitarian government confiscate it. Because that's what you're advocating, men in suits with guns taking the property of private citizens.
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post #7 of 43 (permalink) Old 12-10-2015, 07:11 AM Thread Starter
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https://ourfuture.org/20151209/new-r...-model-economy

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See if this business model sounds familiar:
● Close American factories and offshore production to a low-wage country with few environmental regulations. (Note: moving a factory out of the country “increases trade” and they say that’s a good thing.)
● Replace American-made goods with cheap stuff made overseas.
● Allow U.S. workers to end up with low wages – or no wages at all.
● Pay workers so little that they need public assistance to get by.
● Let executives and shareholders pocket the wage and cost-of-protecting-environment differential.
● Dodge taxes using schemes that shift profits to offshore tax-haven subsidiaries.
● Use your status as a giant, multinational corporation to drive smaller competitors under.
● Watch as your shareholders who benefit from this model use their wealth to influence government to keep wages low, keep the offshoring going, keep the tax-dodge loopholes open, and keep the workers from unionizing.
Some call this the “Walmart Model.” One result of this model is that the six “Walmart heirs” are so wealthy from inherited stock that they have more wealth than 42 percent of all Americans combined. That figure is from 2012. It may be worse now.
The billionaires created by stripping the rest of our wages (and taxes needed to fund our government) use the wealth gained from this model to influence our government and keep the game going. For example, the Walton heirs helped fund a drive to repeal inheritance taxes. The Walmart heirs were one of 18 families that funded a 10-year campaign to get rid of inheritance taxes. In 2006 Congress did just that. Public Citizen documented how these families used front groups to push the “death tax” AstroTurf campaign to convince Americans that average people (“They’re taking family farms!”) were affected by this tax, when only one-fourth of one percent of Americans were affected at all. This campaign gave politicians “cover” to vote for the repeal. (Congress has since restored some of the estate tax.)
A Measure Of The Cost
How much does this Walmart-model economy cost? A new study measured job losses from Walmart’s offshoring at 400,000.
The New York Times reports on the study, in “Walmart’s Imports From China Displaced 400,000 Jobs, a Study Says”:
Imports from China by Walmart, the nation’s largest retailer and biggest importer, eliminated or displaced over 400,000 jobs in the United States between 2001 and 2013 …
The jobs, mostly in manufacturing, represent about 13 percent of the 3.2 million jobs displaced over those same years that the study attributes to the United States’ goods trade deficit with China. Walmart’s Chinese imports amounted to at least $49 billion in 2013, according to the study, which was based on trade and labor data. Over all, the United States’ trade deficit with China hit $324 billion that year.
The study is “A Conservative Estimate of ‘The Wal-Mart Effect’,” by Robert Scott of the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). Key findings from the report include:
● The Walmart-based trade deficit with China alone eliminated or displaced over 400,000 U.S. jobs between 2001 and 2013.
● Walmart is responsible for a $36.7 billion increase in the U.S. trade deficit with China between 2001 and 2013—15.3 percent of the total growth in the U.S.-China trade deficit.
● Chinese imports entering through Walmart totaled at least $49.1 billion in 2013, up from $11.4 billion in 2001.
● The manufacturing sector has been hardest hit by the growth of Walmart’s imports. Walmart’s increased trade deficit with China between 2001 and 2013 eliminated 314,500 manufacturing jobs.
● On average, each of the 4,835 Walmart stores in the United States was responsible for the loss of about 86 U.S. jobs due to the growth of Walmart’s trade deficit with China between 2001 and 2013.
The study begins:
In the long history of false promises made by trade negotiators, the claim that China’s entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001 would reduce the U.S. trade deficit with China and create good U.S. jobs stands out. The total U.S. goods trade deficit with China reached $324.2 billion in 2013. Between 2001 and 2013, this growing deficit eliminated or displaced 3.2 million U.S. jobs (Kimball and Scott 2014). As the world’s largest retailer, U.S.-based Wal-Mart is a key conduit of Chinese imports into the American market.
The study explains how China sets up this situation:
China has achieved its rapidly growing trade surpluses by manipulating its currency: it invests hundreds of billions of dollars per year in U.S. Treasury bills, other government securities, and private foreign assets to bid up the value of the dollar and other currencies and thereby lower the cost of its exports to the United States and other countries. China has also repressed the labor rights of its workers and suppressed their wages, making its products artificially cheap and further subsidizing its exports. Wal-Mart has aided China’s abuse of labor rights and its violations of internationally recognized norms of fair trade by providing a vast and ever-expanding conduit for the distribution of artificially cheap and subsidized Chinese exports to the United States.
It concludes that America needs to reform its trade policy to benefit working people instead of billionaires like the Waltons:
The U.S. relationship with China needs fundamental change: addressing the exchange rate policies and labor standards issues in the Chinese economy should be important national priorities. Wal-Mart’s huge reliance on Chinese imports illustrates that many powerful economic actors in the United States benefit from China’s unfair trading system. Wal-Mart’s gain, however, is not the country’s gain, as Wal-Mart’s imports have contributed to the ever-growing trade deficit that imperils future economic growth.
That 400,000 job-loss number doesn’t measure the jobs lost at smaller, local Walmart competitors driven out of business. It doesn’t measure the cost of public assistance for low-wage employees. It doesn’t measure the way communities are hit by the job losses and resulting low wages. It doesn’t measure the lost jobs due to deferred infrastructure maintenance that result from tax dodging – and budget cuts forced on us by politicians funded by billionaires.
The “Walmart model” has become the model of our economy. The billionaires that model creates use their wealth to bribe – I mean, “influence” — our government to keep things the way they are. It is time to take back our government from the billionaires, fix trade, fix taxes and fix wages.

And I always thought this would be
the land of milk and honey
Oh but I came to find out that it's
all hate and money
And there's a canopy of greed holding me down.
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post #8 of 43 (permalink) Old 12-10-2015, 07:38 AM
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Oh boy, more believers in the tinkle down fairy.. Wealth comes from the workers, not a bunch of Mitt Romney's hiding billions in the Caymans.


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post #9 of 43 (permalink) Old 12-10-2015, 07:55 AM Thread Starter
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Oh boy, more believers in the tinkle down fairy.. Wealth comes from the workers, not a bunch of Mitt Romney's hiding billions in the Caymans.


The so-called "job creators" create jobs in China that pay $1/day and have no unions, no overtime, no worker protection whatsoever, and pollutes the environment. Well guess what, we all share the same environment, namely a tiny planet called Earth. When the Chinese emit pollution into the air, that air travels across the Pacific and ends up in the USA and the rest of the world. So we are watching them destroy the country, just to buy themselves another yacht and add more zeroes to their illegal secret offshore banking accounts.

In this country we have socialism for the rich and rugged individualism for the poor - Martin Luther King

And I always thought this would be
the land of milk and honey
Oh but I came to find out that it's
all hate and money
And there's a canopy of greed holding me down.
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post #10 of 43 (permalink) Old 12-10-2015, 07:56 AM
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Oh look, more science to spank down the righties...

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Thanks to factory closings and other economic factors, the country now has 120.8 million adults living in middle-income households, the study found. That compares with the 121.3 million who are living in either upper- or lower-income households.

"The hollowing of the middle has proceeded steadily for the past four decades," Pew concluded.

And middle-income Americans not only have shrunk as a share of the population but have fallen further behind financially, with their median income down 4 percent compared with the year 2000, Pew said.

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-w...e-middle-class
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post #11 of 43 (permalink) Old 12-10-2015, 08:01 AM
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The so-called "job creators" create jobs in China that pay $1/day and have no unions, no overtime, no worker protection whatsoever, and pollutes the environment. Well guess what, we all share the same environment, namely a tiny planet called Earth. When the Chinese emit pollution into the air, that air travels across the Pacific and ends up in the USA and the rest of the world. So we are watching them destroy the country, just to buy themselves another yacht and add more zeroes to their illegal secret offshore banking accounts.

In this country we have socialism for the rich and rugged individualism for the poor - Martin Luther King
They don't care about the environment. They view the economy the same as a day care, if the biggest fattest kid can eat 3/4 of the cookies by himself then he should do it and feel zero remorse.
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post #12 of 43 (permalink) Old 12-10-2015, 09:48 AM
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Originally Posted by JTHearts View Post
people who want to redistribute wealth to "help" the middle class are a bunch of socialists and communists who don't understand that the wealthy are the job creators and tax cuts for the wealthy will make everyone wealthier. WEALTH TRICKLES DOWN. Occupy Wall Street and all those other communist groups are made up of a bunch of idiotic university students who think they are better than everybody else.
It's agood thing that you are very young, I used to be extremely naive too.

Hint: you're wrong. dead , dead, dead wrong.
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post #13 of 43 (permalink) Old 12-10-2015, 09:55 AM
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Oh boy, more believers in the tinkle down fairy.. Wealth comes from the workers, not a bunch of Mitt Romney's hiding billions in the Caymans.


Haha trinkle down fairy, I love it.

For those who believe this ****, why do you think that rich people barely pay any taxes? And before you show me how they pay the most, imagine how much they DONT pay.
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Haha trinkle down fairy, I love it.

For those who believe this ****, why do you think that rich people barely pay any taxes? And before you show me how they pay the most, imagine how much they DONT pay.
They don't mind if a poor person is paying half of what they make towards income tax, sales tax, registration, tolls, government required insurance racket, etc.. But god forbid some guy in a 10,000 square foot house with a private jet has to kick in over 50%. Cry me a damn river.
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It's agood thing that you are very young, I used to be extremely naive too.

Hint: you're wrong. dead , dead, dead wrong.
So I'm going to become one of those bitter young adults who hate the wealthy? Nah, I don't think so. My parents raised me right.
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post #16 of 43 (permalink) Old 12-10-2015, 11:28 AM
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So I'm going to become one of those bitter young adults who hate the wealthy? Nah, I don't think so. My parents raised me right.
25 years of nepotism and 2% pay raises will change your mind.
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post #17 of 43 (permalink) Old 12-11-2015, 01:21 AM
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Trickle down fairy hahaha.


The rich get richer, and the poor, poorer.

If you don't believe me, go out and live by yourself starting out with nothing but say 5k to start yourself off. Then work two full time jobs with minimum wage entry level position. That's 80 hours a week work. Then try to climb the mountain trying to escape poverty.

Pay your rent which is too damn high.
Pay for your smart phone.
Your car loan.
Car insurance.
Groceries & living supplies.
Electricity, Internet, necessary insurances.
Many other bills.


Chances are, like many lower class Americans, you're gonna wind up breaking even, or worse in debt. What little paltry savings you slowly conjure up, easily gets wiped every couple of years by some unfortunate, unforseeable event.


Starting out with no money in this land of opportunity and zero connections, your only real shot at beating poverty would be to taking a risk getting in debt or wasting time for a degree, hoping once you master that skillset, you'll be able to have a real career and pay off your debts in time.

Supply and demand, you got a product or a skill that's high in demand? You better advertise and make bank/connections quick before someone else takes that opportunity instead of you. Reputation, connections, people who will vouch for your high quality work, these are resources.


Rich people claiming the trickle down wealth theory is legitimate in this country?--That's kind of insulting to the countless workers who are the true backbone. Considering the huge wealth gap in this country, me and my friends are half surprised there isn't some form of revolution taking place. Do rich people really think poor people are lazy? The ones who are just above welfare, all they ever do is work nonstop 70-80 hrs a week or so, forever, then die.


Even though I know I'm going to one day die while working, I'm still grateful for being in this country compared to the third world hell hole my mother worked her butt off to escape. Nonetheless it's quite sad that currently there are a lot of men/women in their 40s who are unemployed. Something is obviously wrong and if you're blind as to how corrupt the system is now?--Then I really don't know what else to say aside from the fact maybe you should try living in the shoes of the working class for a year or so as an experiment. Many entitled wealthy kids who rely on their parents wealth to make it in life often don't know the true value of a dollar. How much blood and sweat it takes just to make barely enough to survive, all the while 99% of the people around you are trying to screw you over and take it from you. Pffft, ignorance is bliss.

"All greatness of character is dependent on individuality. The man who has no other existence than that which he partakes in common with all around him, will never have any other than an existence of mediocrity. "
-James F. Cooper


"Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there... Wondering, fearing, doubting..." -Edgar Allan Poe

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3bMZ5dNsl4
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post #18 of 43 (permalink) Old 12-11-2015, 01:50 AM
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Oh boy, more believers in the tinkle down fairy.. Wealth comes from the workers, not a bunch of Mitt Romney's hiding billions in the Caymans.


That looks like Hill Clinton!


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post #19 of 43 (permalink) Old 12-11-2015, 01:55 AM
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Pretty much. And so many of the wealthy are champagne socialists. Tell me about how great the middle class is in socialist or communist countries.

The USA isn't perfect. Not by a long shot. But it has provided a higher sustainable standard of living than any other nation in the world. Find me one nation which hasn't committed genocide or slavery. We used to think the ideal nation was the Nordic nations but Sweden now has the second highest rates of rape in the world and is turning into a third-world nation. Norway survives because it has so much oil revenue, basically a Scandinavian Kuwait.

OP's article presents the complaint that people suffer in life and those who have more must be forced to give up their wealth. The problem, aside from moral qualms about stealing, is that doesn't work. It's been tried before and two things happen - the wealthy simply flee the country and the money will run out. And then you're back to your original problem except now you no longer have these economic powerhouses driving production. You get a dead economy which will fail because it is disconnected from reality, just like the Soviets.

Yes, I'm from a wealthy family but only because they pulled themselves up. Post-civil war they lost everything, great-grandad spent his days doing the books for a general store and building coffins in his spare time. Grandfather never went to college, opened a clock repair shop and turned it into a trusted brand eventually becoming a millionaire. My father worked himself to the bone, ate peanut-butter sandwiches every day and wore the same suit for years. He's now a millionaire too. But they should have their wealth stripped from them? Where's the motivation to excel and sacrifice if you know someone else will profit? And if you say "it makes you a good person" then shove it where the sun don't shine.

And if you say they don't deserve their wealth, then those on welfare deserve it even less. If you need help and deserve it, they'll help. My grandfather is a philanthropist. But they would sooner burn their crops than let a totalitarian government confiscate it. Because that's what you're advocating, men in suits with guns taking the property of private citizens.
You watch entirely too much fox news and listen to monday morning rumors too often.

Yeah, well, you know, that's just, like, your opinion, man.
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post #20 of 43 (permalink) Old 12-11-2015, 03:36 AM
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You watch entirely too much fox news and listen to monday morning rumors too often.
Nah man, hate fox news. Too biased and conservative. No idea what Monday morning rumors means.
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