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Hometown: South - Carolina and Dakota
Home country: Oz
Current location: Kansas
Member since: Mon Nov 15, 2004, 03:30 AM
Number of posts: 32,930
Hometown: South - Carolina and Dakota
Home country: Oz
Current location: Kansas
Member since: Mon Nov 15, 2004, 03:30 AM
Number of posts: 32,930
otherwise communication is impossible and if I say the word "rich" I might as well say the word "guipure" or "flibbertigibbet" because they all mean the same thing, which is precisely nothing. Because rich could mean this or it could mean that.
It seems to me, though, that there is a concerted political effort by many of the rich (as I call them, members of the top 20%) to define themselves as middle class, and to claim that only the top .1% are "really rich". Or perhaps it is defined in an operational way as "somebody who lives on investment income". Which would mean that if I had investments that made $25,000 a year and I lived on that amount, which I surely could having often lived on less, then I would be considered rich, whereas somebody who had a job making $400,000 a year would not be considered rich since they are living on their salary rather than on their investments.
Either way, I consider that to be a pernicious effort. One that I oppose every time it rears its ugly head.
What makes it pernicious, is that it allows policy makers to put forth policies which they claim benefit the "middle class". Two primary examples being Obama's promise to not raise taxes on the middle class, which he then defined as "households making less than $250,000". Except that plan ends up providing about as much benefit to the top 5% as it does to the bottom 60%. Or the payroll tax cut which is again touted as a middle class tax cut, but provides 27.1% of its benefits to the bottom 60% and 26.7% to the top 10%. In the name of the supposed middle class, benefits skew upwards, as the definition of middle class and the definition of rich both skew upwards.
Posted by hfojvt | Tue May 29, 2012, 12:59 AM (0 replies)
and of the bottom 50%.
Those above the median income are perfectly free to have solidarity with the bottom 50%, but they are not free to delude themselves that they are part of it.
The thing is that the bottom 50% is getting squeezed, not just by the top .1% or by the top 1%, but by the top 50%. Many people in the top 50% don't wanna pay more taxes to help out the bums in the bottom 50% Instead they want more for themselves.
If all the AGI in the US in 2007 was divided equally among all the taxpayers each taxpayer would get $62,369.
Take away the greedy top .1% and divide the rest of the pie equally and each taxpayer gets $54,986
Take away the greedy top 1% and divide the rest of the pie equally and each taxpayer gets $48,620
Take away the top 5% and divide the rest of the pie equally and each taxpayer gets $41,069
take away the top 10% and divide the rest of the pie equally and each taxpayer gets $36,000
take away the top 50% and divide the rest of the pie equally and each taxpayer gets $15,287
take away the bottom 50% and divide the rest of the pie equally and each taxpayer gets $109,451
take the top 10% away from the top half and divide the rest of the pie equally and each gets $61,890
If I could split the bottom 50% in half, I could show that the bottom gets much less of the pie than the top half. In fact, in 2005, the bottom quintile got 3.4% of the national income and the next quintile got 8.6% - 250% as much as the bottom quintile.
For a person in the top 10% to say "I am not rich" says to me that they are thinking/saying "I should get a bigger slice of pie for myself". I think that outlook of "I am not gonna share with those below me, because I want more for myself" is a bigger part of the problem than any infighting I am doing here by expressing my opinion of the facts.
Edit - just to include some other averages
average income of the top .1% - $7,437,986
average income of the top .9% = $755,246
average income of the top 4% = $227,956
average income of the next 4% = $165,389
average income of the next 40% = $61,890
average income of the next 25% = $21,835
average income of the bottom 25% = $8,735
Posted by hfojvt | Sun May 27, 2012, 04:25 AM (1 replies)
that I have learned that people will make up all kinds of ridiculous straw man arguments and hurl vitriol instead of listening and discussing with those who disagree with them
but really I already knew that.
Perhaps Pascal made that point very well in his Pensees.
Q: Why are you hitting me?
A: Aren't you from the other side of the lake? (i.e. the other tribe)
"Ideas on earth are badges of friendship. Friends agree with friends in order to express friendliness. Enemies disagree with enemies in order to express enmity." Vonnegut
What's my next line?
I think it may be this
"I'm telling you. People come and go in this forest, and they say 'it's only Eeyore, so it doesn't count.' They walk to and fro saying 'Ha ha!' But do they know anything about A? They don't. It's just three sticks to them. But to the Educated - mark this, little Piglest - to the Educated, not meaning Poohs and Piglets, it's a great and glorious A. Not," he added, "just something that anybody can come and breathe on." House at Pooh Corner p. 88
But I cannot help noticing the response Eeyore got to his little rant.
"Piglet stepped back nervously and looked around for help."
Well that's what WOULD happen.
Posted by hfojvt | Sun May 20, 2012, 04:18 PM (0 replies)
"Our enemies are innovative and resourcefull, and so are we. They never stop thinking of ways to harm our country and our people,
and neither do we."
George W. Bush, accidentally telling the truth
That was my email signature line in 2005.
I added this, about his re-selection
"I prophesy to you this evil man will plunge our Reich into the abyss and will inflict immeasurable woe on our nation. Future generations will curse you in your grave for this action." Erich Ludendorff
the abyss? Did I exxagerate? Be hyperbolic?
You decide. For myself, I think western civilization came that close, all too close, to going down with a crash.
immeasurable woe? Okay, maybe it is measurable, like 12.7 million unemployed even now. But nobody has really measured the number killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, nor the long term effects.
An election is coming up. Let's learn from our past mistakes, shall we? Don't vote Romney, don't vote Republican, don't return to the disastrous policies of George W, Bush and Ronald Reagan.
Posted by hfojvt | Mon Apr 30, 2012, 04:02 PM (0 replies)
Just for fun, I calculated my own wages compared to the poverty line over the years. I graduated from college in 1985 and got a job that November, working for Uncle Sam at the USAF. So, starting in 1986.
1986 - 299%
1987 - 0% (quit the last job in November (after getting promoted) and didn't have a paying job. Bought a trailer and some land for $4,500 in July and lived there for a year before going to graduate school (saved about $3,000 in rent expenses and much later sold the land for $22,000)
1988 - 96% (based on the school year rather than the calendar year, I know I made $5900 for my first year as a graduate assistant and $6100 for my second year)
1989 - 95%
1990 - 40%
1991 - 76%
1992 - 0% (started my own store in June 1991, made no money, but lived in the store and covered some living expenses that way. So my real income was somewhat higher through 1998, but I wasn't really living well in a basement for a year with no hot water, but considering the upstairs was practically a library, that's living well for me)
1993 - 124% (in Feb, got a job at a satellite dish factory)
1994 - 160%
1995 - 39% (sorta quit and then got laid off from the factory in March, made some money shovelling snow the next winter which does not show on my FICA earnings report)
1996 - 69% (first got a job at another satellite dish factory, then a part-time job at the bar down the street from my store)
1997 - 123%
1998 - 129% (in June sold the building and moved, mostly working temp jobs for three years in Iowa also made some money as a landlord from the building I bought, but that was negated, and then some, when I later sold the building for a huge loss)
1999 - 168%
2000 - 180%
2001 - 190% (in those two years I ALMOST made it out of the bottom quintile if I hadn't gotten fired in March 2002 ...)
2002 - 113% (not including some $4,000 I made from unemployment, got a part-time janitor job in August)
2003 - 145%
2004 - 201% (full time janitor in May)
2005 - 237%
2006 - 219% (went back to part-time in October, as I called it "semi-retired", partly was afraid Bush would wreck the banking system. No point working full time and saving if the banking system collapses and wipes it all out, and besides, my house was paid for by then)
2007 - 104%
2008 - 113%
2009 - 130%
2010 - 116%
25 year average 126.64%. 22 of 25 years in the bottom quintile, and no health insurance until May 2004.
Anyway, perhaps TMI, but that is my experience with poverty and near-poverty. I'd like to hear your stories.
Posted by hfojvt | Sun Apr 29, 2012, 06:25 PM (35 replies)
Just got back from another after-prom party. As usual, nobody was recycling. This time instead of constantly picking cans out of the trash, I decided to try something different. I took an empty trash can and put a hand-made sign that said "recycle" on it. In that manner I managed to recycle 96 cans and 26 plastic bottles. Still ended up with a fair number of cans in the trash. I doubt if more than 70% were recycled.
And, of course, 96 cans is only 2.5 or 3 pounds, which hardly makes any kind of dent in the 1.34 billion pounds that get thrown away every year http://journals.democraticunderground.com/hfojvt/171 Still, it is better than nothing. Those 1.34 billion pounds generally get thrown away one can at a time. Hopefully I also helped to remind fifty or sixty young people that recycling is a good thing, that they can get in the habit of recycling.
At another job, I was moving some bottles from the trash to the recycling, and one of the bartenders sarcastically asked if I was going to "save the earth". Obviously, I am not. I am not an Atlas who can pick up the world on my massive shoulders. But I can do something, and I think that every little bit helps. I recycle more than my share of the total 2.73 billion pounds used each year, even though I cannot personally reduce the amount discarded even from 1.3400 to 1.3399 billion pounds on my own.
But I can do a part. If the earth doesn't get saved, it won't be because I didn't do my part. Like John Lennon, I am sure I am not the only one, and hope that others someday will join us.
Posted by hfojvt | Sun Apr 22, 2012, 11:20 AM (8 replies)
Go back to the very beggining.
First, these people (ALEC) are not stupid. They are not insane. They also do not give a rat's a$$ about any social issue. They don't care about birth control. They don't care about gay marriage, or gay abortion, or gay military service. They don't care about prayer in the schools. They care about one thing. And only one thing. Okay, maybe not only one. Really billions of things, that are all the same thing - $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$.
Dollar frigging bills.
See, they might yell about, say, the Death Penalty. But they only do so, because they are like the pick pockets who can make more money when their victims are all concentrating on the spectacle of an execution.
The death penalty is not a real concern though. It is just a squirrel that is supposed to distract us dogs.
The robber baron Jay Gould famously boasted that he could "hire half of the working class to kill the other half."
Not that "the 99" was ever really united. But issues like birth control and abortion are there to keep us divided. Suddenly we are not talking about, or thinking about economic issues. Nope, it is now all birth control and all Limbaugh all the time.
Here's the thing. Both major parties really SHOULD represent the 99%, or even the 80%. That is clearly a vast majority. And yet neither party does. Why not? Because of all the discussion about abortion. There's a pro-abortion party that doesn't represent the working class and an anti-abortion party that doesn't represent the working class.
Yet, books are written asking "gee, why doesn't the working class vote for us"? Maybe because it is pretty obvious that we are not the party of the working class. We put abortion and birth control and minorities and a million other issues ahead of the working class, which is expected to sit at the back of the bus and be insulted. "Vote for us, ya racist, sexist, homophobic morons, we care about you!"
But that is the obvious reason - to put working class issues behind the issue of birth control. Now the parties can be different on the issue of birth control. That keeps both of them from having to represent the bottom 80%. Because here is what the bottom 80% should be demanding. First, we - SQUIRREL!!!
Posted by hfojvt | Thu Mar 15, 2012, 11:16 AM (0 replies)
the ten reddest states by victory margin in the 2008 election
Wy - 32.24
Ok - 31.29
Ut - 28.02
Id - 25.30
Al - 21.58
Ak - 21.54
Ark - 19.85
La - 18.63
Ky - 16.22
Tn - 15.06
Ne - 14.93
Ks - 14.92
Okay, that is 12, but notice that 3 of the 4 deepest red states are not on the list of 10 worst states for kids. Arizona's victory margin for McCain was only 8.48, and neighboring New Mexico and Nevada both went for Obama by over 10%. Yes, the worst state for kids is a blue state. Arkansas by the way only went for Bush by 9.76 in 2004. It became deep red in 2008 because of what Obama did to Hillary, their native daughter, as it were, in the primary.
The deepest red states in 2004
Utah - 45.54
Wy - 39.79
Id - 38.12
Ne - 33.22
Ok - 31.14
ND - 27.36
Al - 25.62
Ak - 25.55
Ks - 25.38
Tx - 22.86
SD - 21.47
Mt - 20.50
Ky - 19.86
Ms - 19.69
Again, the four deepest red states are not on the list of ten worst for kids. I would also note that the West is deeper red than the south. Some of that may come from the triage. Kerry, having limited resources in a close race, did not bother to campaign in places like ND or Ne or Ks or Ok or SD. The Obama campaign, having more copious resources in 2008, put some effort into those states. It did not really pay off, except in lowering the margin of victory, but Obama won a number of traditionally red states like Nevada, Colorado, Virginia, North Carolina and Indiana. In a perhaps closer race, it may once again make sense to write off ND and Ks instead of wasting limited resources chasing after 9 electoral votes you are not gonna win anyway.
Posted by hfojvt | Tue Jan 31, 2012, 11:40 AM (0 replies)
What if the facts are that somebody blew up my house when my wife and baby daughter were in it? Could I hate then?
By which I mean, SHOULD I hate then?
Martin did not think so. On January 30th, 1956 Martin Luther King was at a meeting for the Montgomery Bus Boycott. As he relates is starting on page 135 of Stride Toward Freedom, he was told by Ralph Abernathy.
"'Your house has been bombed.'
I asked if my wife and baby were all right.
They said, 'We are checking on that now.'"
He continues on page 139
"I could feel the anger rising when I realized that my wife and baby could have been killed. I thought about the city commissioners and all the statements that they had made about me and the Negro generally. I was once more on the verge of corroding hatred. And once more I caught myself and said: 'You must not allow yourself to become bitter.'"
Of course, now we on the left, some of us, perhaps most of us, honor MLK with our lips, but are ignorant of his teachings, or flat out reject them. Martin writes on page 103
"A fifth point concerning nonviolent resistance is that it avoids not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. THe nonviolent resister not only refuses to shoot his opponent be he also refuses to hate him. At the center of non-violence stands the principle of love. The nonviolent resister would contend that in the struggle for human dignity, the oppressed people of the world must not succumb to the temptation of becoming bitter or indulging in hate campaigns. To retaliate in kind would do nothing but intensify the existence of hate in the universe. Along the way of life, someone must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate. This can only be done by projecting the ethic of love to the center of our lives."
Posted by hfojvt | Fri Jan 27, 2012, 01:57 AM (0 replies)
Governor Brownback stated that the Kansas tax system should be made fairer. I agree with that. Currently the poorest quintile (20% of the population) pays an average rate of 9.2% in all state taxes. The middle quintile pay 9%, and the top 1% (those making over $424,000 a year) pay only 5.9%. (According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy)
Yet Brownback's idea of making this fairer is to give a 1.55% tax cut to those at the top and a .4% tax increase to those at the bottom.
Instead of allowing the temporary sales tax increase to expire as promised, Brownback would extend it. Probably the other 1% sales tax increase will not be allowed to expire either.
Brownback promises that this will bring prosperity. It might. A future prediction is hard to refute. There is no doubt at all, that it will be a tax break that favors the rich.
As far as prosperity, from 1980 to 2010, per capita income in Texas only grew 318%. That's barely different from Kansas growth rate of 302%. South Dakota, (my home state which also has no state income taxes) only grew by 334%. That's slightly better than Kansas, but SD still only has a per capita income of $33,865 compared to $39,737 in Kansas.
Other higher tax states like Massachusetts grew by 410% and New Jersey grew by 363%, and some states like Alaska and Nevada, which have no state income taxes, only grew by 240%. Nevada currently has 13% unemployment.
During his campaign, Brownback often stated that Kansas should be more like Texas. Yet when I looked it up, Kansas was already better than Texas in almost every category. Kansas has a lower crime rate, a lower poverty rate, a higher graduation rate, and a lower unemployment rate. The poverty rate in Texas is 16.2%, compared to Kansas at 12.5%. The unemployment rate in Texas is 8.1%, compared to Kansas at 6.5%.
If Brownback loves Texas so much, he could always move there instead of trying to drag Kansas down to Texas's level. For myself, Kansas is my home now, and in the words of a fictional Kansan "There's no place like home."
Posted by hfojvt | Sun Jan 22, 2012, 02:21 PM (1 replies)