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Hometown: South - Carolina and Dakota
Home country: Oz
Current location: Kansas
Member since: Mon Nov 15, 2004, 04:30 AM
Number of posts: 37,573

Journal Archives

I've always hated the term "middle class"

because I see the way it is used.

The accursed payroll tax cut was called - by Democratic politicians - a "middle class tax cut". Yet the distribution was like this

12.1% of the payroll tax cut goes to those in the bottom 40%
26.7% of the payroll tax cut goes to those in the top 10%

27.1% goes to those in the bottom 60%
46.4% goes to those in the top 20%

Of course, most politicians, and even many DUers say that much of the TOP 20% is part of the "middle class". And then again, many of those same people will insist that most of the top 20% is also part of the "working class". They say "somebody who has a job making $25,000 a year is working class" and also "somebody who has a job making $250,000 a year is working class". As if those two people are in the same class.

Now I am not saying that somebody in the top 20% can't be on the same SIDE as somebody in the bottom 80%, but they really need then to fight for the bottom 80% and NOT for the bottom 99%. Otherwise, the results of the fight will look like this (taking away the top 1%)

12.1% of the payroll tax cut goes to those in the bottom 40%
23.7% of the payroll tax cut goes to those in the top 9%

27.1% goes to those in the bottom 60%
43.4% goes to those in the top 19%

Still very unequal in THEIR favor.

THE Database

of income inequality, for those few who might be interested


As a public service, your humble janitor has compiled and tabled some numbers, for some groups, every five years (both to eliminate the ups and downs of single years AND to avoid a mind-numbing endless row of numbers.

Cleans things up a bit. That's the janitor way.

Share of income going to various groups.

year *** 90-95th *** top 4% *** top 1% *** top 5% *** top 10%

1960 *** 10.9 *** 12.54 *** 10.03 *** 22.57 *** 33.47
1965 *** 10.9 *** 12.98 *** 10.89 *** 23.87 *** 34.77
1970 *** 10.96 *** 12.64 *** 9.03 *** 21.67 *** 32.63
1975 *** 11.45 *** 13.11 *** 8.87 *** 21.98 *** 33.43
1980 *** 11.47 *** 13.15 *** 10.02 *** 23.17 *** 34.64
1985 *** 11.44 *** 13.45 *** 12.67 *** 26.12 *** 37.56
1990 *** 11.57 *** 14.08 *** 14.33 *** 28.41 *** 39.98
1995 *** 11.89 *** 14.99 *** 15.23 *** 30.22 *** 42.11
2000 *** 11.00 *** 15.08 *** 21.52 *** 36.6 *** 47.6
2005 *** 11.18 *** 15.24 *** 21.92 *** 37.16 *** 48.34
2010 *** 12.19 *** 15.99 *** 19.86 *** 35.85 *** 48.04
gain *** 1.29 *** 3.45 *** 9.83 *** 13.28 *** 14.57

Source of the numbers appears to be the research of Pikkety and Saez.

Just think though, once the economy really gets going, we will probably soon reach the point where the top 10% gets over 50% of the income.

I can hardly wait.

Just note how relatively flat those percentages were in the good old days - before Ronald Reagan.

edit - dang it all elad, the formatting trick that Make7 told me on DU2 isn't working. I have to use my old asterisk technique, and do it with an invisible cursor. Grabs microphone. "clean up on aisle 7, clean up on aisle 7"

Welcome to the Grand Illusion

Yes, I welcome Styx fans.

Well, it seems we sort of have another Super-Committee working to find a "grand bargain" to solve our very serious debt problem. Omigosh, did you hear? The debt limit had to be raised - again. We have to do something.

Yet, we the people are being asked to accept a "grand compromise" between Republicans and Democrats.

However, the Republican position going in to negotiations is - the Ryan budget. This budget promises to balance the budget in ten years. But they start on the revenue side with a brand new idea for Republicans - tax cuts, and in another huge break with precedence, they are tax cuts where the rich get most - if not all of the benefits.

The Ryan budget DOES call for increases in tax revenue, but they do not say how that will happen in combination with the tax rate CUTS which they do specify. They say they will close loopholes and eliminate deductions (maybe that darned standard deduction that all those working people take to avoid paying their fair share). They cannot specify the loopholes because then people would be able to do the math and show their plan simply WILL NOT WORK. It is apparently a faith-based plan requiring Jesus to return and instead of turning water into wine, he will turn tax cuts into increases in revenue. Praise the Lord.

So, we start this Grand Illusion with one side having a position based on some combination of fantasy and lies. And some parts of the media will blame Democrats who do not "compromise" with such dishonest brokers.

Are Democrats saying very much about this basic problem in this 'negotiation"?

But what about the dishonesty of the Democrats? Not to raise the spectre of a dreaded false equivalency, but Democratic Politicians do not seem very honest to me either - most of them anyway.

First of all, by acting like a "grand bargain" is even possible or would somehow be beneficial. Second, by being half-hearted about revenue increases. Obama has proposed the Buffett rule, for one, which would raise a mere $50 billion or so over the next decade.

One thing they clearly can't talk about is their own Ryan-like deception. The fact that many of them already voted in favor of almost $6 trillion in tax cuts over the next decade.

Yes, I said almost $6 trillion - a number you have probably never heard. I had been using the number $3.7 trillion http://www.democraticunderground.com/10022130101

but it turns out I was wrong, or mis-led.

See, that $3.7 trillion number does not include the AMT patch, which was also made PERMANENT as part of the ATRA-(zine) legislation which was passed with Democratic votes and signed by Obama. The cost of THAT was kept hidden because, as Congress always does it (why?) it was already included in the baseline and thus the $1.9 trillion which it will cost over the next decade was not included in the cost calculations.

Isn't it wonderful how our politicians can sweep facts right under the rug?

So the real total (until I discover even MORE tax breaks swept under the rug) is $5.6 trillion - almost $6 trillion.

Now, because I am kind of obsessive about it, let's look at how the $5.6 trillion in tax cuts which DEMOCRATS passed are distributed. I already did this for the $3.7 trillion. Who gets the $1.9 trillion from the AMT patch?

The media will tell you it is the middle class. CTJ (Citizens for Tax Justice) disputes that. http://www.ctj.org/pdf/amtpatchisnotstimulus.pdf

Because that chart is for the Senate proposal from 2009, I cannot be sure those numbers hold for the ATRA's AMT patch, but they are the only numbers I had and since the AMT patch is pretty standard, they should be close.

They show that only 2.5% of the benefits of the patch go to the top 1%. Which is pretty good. But an astounding 43% go to the top 5% and an even more astounding 92.6% of the benefits go to the richest 20%.

So the AMT patch provides tax cuts to the top 5% of $817 billion over the next decade. Combined with the $1.3 trillion in tax cuts from ATRA gives them $2.1 trillion in PERMANENT tax cuts - to the richest 5%.

Well it sure will be nice if the Buffett rule gets $.05 trillion of that back.

But that is something that Democrats are not going to talk about - those $2.1 trillion in tax cuts for the richest 5% that they just voted FOR. Nor will they mention the $4.15 trillion in tax cuts for the richest 20% that they just voted for.

That's the Democratic Party's lie. That they will not bother to mention something like "hey, if we are concerned about the debt, how about undoing the $2.1 trillion in tax cuts we just gave to the richest 5% of Americans"

Of course, if they tried to talk about it, the richest 5% would probably fire them and buy another Congressperson, and as for the media? Well, they are largely owned by the richest 5% too.

But I have this Grand Illusion that I can help to make those two numbers part of the public discussion.
$2,1 trillion in tax cuts for the richest 5%
$4.1 trillion in tax cuts for the richest 20%

Remember them, use them, email them to your Congressperson and your local newspaper. Show me a "grand bargain" that reduces the deficit by more than $4 trillion.

I would bet that most of the Germans are really mixed

I always claimed German myself, because my last name is German, or sometimes Jewish.

But my dad would be half German and half Swiss. And then his father would be half German and half English, and his mother would be half Swiss and half German. And his German grandfather would be half German and half Scot.

And then my mom would be half Irish and half German. And her father would be half Irish and half English. And her mother all German. And her paternal grandfather all Irish and paternal grandmother half English and half Irish.

So for dad (without going further back and finding some Irish and some French huegenot) 3/8 German, 1/4 English, 1/4 Swiss (German speaking), 1/8 Scot

and for mom 1/2 German, 3/8 Irish, 1/8 English

Thus for me 7/16 German, 3/16 English, 3/16 Irish, 1/8 Swiss, 1/16 Scot. Mostly German, but not all.

isn't there a point to this?

Start with the trouble in River City. First you have somebody, Professor Harold Hill, telling a crowd of people "I am upset about this pool table, and you should be too." However, in the musical it is made clear that Harold Hill, who is not a Professor, nor even named Harold Hill, is NOT really upset about pool tables. His purpose is "get the people riled up, so I can sell them band instruments."

In a similar way, there are certainly some people who write, blog, tweet, appear on TV, etc. who have one or more agendas when they write.

Certainly I have an agenda when I write, several agendas
1. To advocate for the bottom 60% in America
2. to refute spin which favors the top 20%
3. to look at the big picture
4. to argue against hate, greed, selfishness, and cruelty and in favor of love, sharing, understanding, reason, and kindness

Now any pundit out there may claim some sort of ideals for themself that they are trying to promote, but they may also be trying to promote themselves - that is, read my articles, buy my books, look at my website, and so on. One primary objective - make me money, give me power and influence.

But it still seems like a fair question when somebody writes "I am upset at Obama, and you should be too" or "I am upset about NSA spying and you should be too" to want to know "what is their motive?" and "what is their agenda?" Or you could find yourself paying a lot of money for a band instrument you did not really want for a band that does not really exist.

article does NOT live up to its title

"Here's why ..."

So I read through the whole article and they never say why.

Is it because we do not feel as cohesive as past generations who pulled together to fight "common threats" like Nazis and Communists?

Is it because of television and automobiles and shopping malls and population growth?

Television gives us a different type of society (and also probably teaches different messages). In pre-television society, people went to large PUBLIC events for entertainment - concerts, lectures, shows, even movies. Now with things like television, cable television, DVD players people can avoid the public and get their entertainment at home. Then too, the entertainment was probably higher quality. The public lecture about substantive issues, versus a TV show/movie with explosions and sex and fist fights.

Automobiles have more and more replaced PUBLIC transportation. Pre 1945, many people were probably still walking and taking trains. When you walk to a local store, you pass by neighbors on a regular basis. When you get in your car and drive to the big grocery store or wal-mart or strip mall, you are isolated from neighbors in a metal box. At the store, you are surrounded mostly by strangers who have also come from miles away. Even if you have a friendly interaction that person remains a stranger who you will not likely see again for many months if you even remember them, versus seeing the same people maybe multiple times a week at the local store.

Maybe population growth is less of a factor, but as cities become bigger, it seems to me one of the primary characteristics of the big city is that people are strangers in them. Again, perhaps because of the automobile. You do not work in your neighborhood with your neighbors. Everyone gets in a metal box and drives for half an hour to work with strangers and then drives home. True, if you stay at a job for a time, then people do not remain strangers, (and more job mobility is another factor here). But it is hard to have the interactions or connections outside of work if you live far apart. If I am driving 20 minutes from the east and my work-buddy is driving 25 minutes from the south, then to ever do anything outside of work requires a fair amount of effort.

Cell phones seem to add to this. With a cell phone you do not have to interact with the public - with the people who happen to be occupying the space near to you. Instead you can be on the phone, or texting with somebody who matters, some part of your little circle of family/friends.

Many of these things were discussed in the great book "The Poverty of Affluence" by Paul Wachtel, which unfortunately was never mass marketed.

I have found the internet outrage machine to be depressing

If Romney was President, then DU would be the opposite, we would be spewing outrage and trying to create outrage over everything Romney was doing.

I admit that I fell for some of this when Bush was President and also for some of it when Obama was President as well (as the far left seemed to be also ginning up outrage over everything Obama was doing).

No matter what though, there always seems to be a surplus of people who are outraged about something and others who will GET outraged at the drop of a hate (supposed to be hat, but I wrote hate first and thought it was sorta apropo).

I am sorta reminded of the classic Trek episode where there was an entity which fed off of hate and it set up a situation creating conflict between some Klingons and the Enterprise, so it could feed off of the violence and hate that it was creating.

Sometimes it feels like our whole nation is being played this way, except that the entities are people who feed off of clicks to their site or eyeballs watching their TV show, but they feed - get their fame and fortune by stirring us up and playing us for fools.

See, also "The Music Man" about the terrible trouble in River City.

thinking about the past

I often think of the past. For one thing, because I am old and can remember when Isaac Asimov and Arthur Ashe and Robert Kennedy were still alive.
But for another thing because I do historical research every day, looking for distant relatives and family connections.

Today I am looking at John Loomis in the 1880 census. He was 52 years old and his wife Sarah was 46. Living in Butler County, Iowa and working, of course, as a farmer. They have seven children living with them in 1880, including their two oldest sons George 26 and Burton 24 and down to their youngest son Sherman 6.

1870 census tells me they have two more daughters who were not with them in 1880 when they would have been 23 and 21. And it also tells me that John is apparently the anti-christ, since it says his personal property was worth $666 in 1870 and his land was worth $350.

In the 1900 census, George was still with them, a widower, and Sarah's mother, 86 year old Sallie Vincent was also with them! The 1900 census also says that only 7 of their 9 children are still lving (perhaps the 7 listed in 1880?) and that only 1 of Sallie's 5 children was living. I know that sons George, Charles and Sherman were alive in 1900. I cannot find Burton and cannot identify John Wesley. The daughters I will not be able to find unless a) I get lucky and a widowed parent is living with one of them in later censuses or b) somebody posts their own family information online including one of those daughters.

As it turned out, I got lucky and after her husband passed away, Sarah was living in 1910 with her daughter Minnie B, who had 3 children by a Mr. Fuller and was now married to a James H. Miller. Her daughter Amanda is also with them in 1910.

But that is getting into the weeds of research, which was not why I started this essay.

I wanted to think about, to talk about the way they lived back then. 1880 was only 133 years ago. Hardly a blink in terms of history. I mean, the other day a 103 year old woman was on the news chatting away with her interviewer. My mom and dad's grandparents were living in 1880.

How did they live? Consider John's family. He and his wife raised 9 children on just what they could get from the land. John was not paid a living wage. John did not have a 40 hour work week or paid holidays or paid vacation or paid sick leave or health insurance with his job. (And, as I well know from experience, neither do most self-employed people today). He did not have electricity or central heat or air conditioning either.

He probably heated his home with firewood, and if he got hot, the best he could do is drink a cold drink (with no refrigerators) or take a cold bath (with no running water). They fed their family with what they got from the ground and from their livestock, and with farm products that they sold. They had to can their own food, probably slaughter their own meat and churn their own butter and make their own clothes. Unlike me, they probably did not have a closet or three full of old clothes and multiple pairs of boots and shoes.

Think of Sarah giving birth to 9 children between August 1853 for the first and June 1873 for the last. No such thing as an ultrasound and likely almost no pre-natal care.

Think of what the kids did not have. No bicycles (invented in the 1860s). No skateboards. No board games. No such thing as basketball or football (baseball though, dates to before 1850 but how readily was equipment available - balls, gloves, bats?) And in some ways they are better off too, because there was no such thing as four square either. No such thing as a radio, a television, an ipad, an ipod, a computer, a VCR, no playstation (although I guess pong was invented in about 1872) (see how old I am, I remember pong). no records, no CDs (I guess they did have these things called 8 tracks) and very few musical instruments. There were very few public libraries, if any.

Not much in the way of schools. The 1940 census tells me my dad's maternal grandfather (born in 1860) had a 4th grade education, his wife had a 6th grade education (but their daughter graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1927 (yes, my grandma rocks!) Dad's paternal grandfather (born 1875) had a 10th grade education and his wife had a 6th grade education. Only one of my mom's grandparents lived past 1940, her paternal grandfather, who had an 8th grade education.

It was like living in North Korea, there was no such thing as Coca-cola. No such thing as a la-z-boy. No such thing as McDonalds (all you hitchhikers try not to pass out when you consider that reality) or Amazon. Billions and billions of consumer items that we are able to buy today, including DVDs of Carl Sagan's TV show, were not available in 1880 even if they could afford them with their average income of perhaps $3,000 a year. John lived to be almost 80 and Sarah lived to be 87. Did they think life was hard or that life was good, or both at various times?

Something to think about. There has been a lot of improvements and inventions in the last 130 years, and in spite of the unfairness of those at the top grabbing a gigantic slice of the pie thanks to Reagan, we do still have it pretty good in San Dimas these days. If only we would be excellent to each other. Drop one of us back in 1880 and we would have no doubt about the hardness of life back then. Today, we have lots of benefits and advancements that we perhaps do not appreciate enough. Even advancements in justice. In 1880, Sarah could not vote. She lived long enough to see women's suffrage. Did she register and vote in the 1920 election before she died in 1921? Or just celebrate the progress?

Considering the years as well, Sarah lived through the Civil War and WWI. We have had nothing like those in my lifetime. 117,.000 Americans died in about two years of WWI and 620,000 died in the four years of the civil war. The battle of Gettysburg itself, with 51,000 casualties was almost as deadly to Americans as all of Vietnam (it is worth remembering though, that the Vietnam war, like the Iraq invasion, was far more deadly to those living in the country where it was fought and feeling the brunt of our military might) , and that when the US population was much smaller.

The future may not be bright. I worry about things like population, resources, and environmental damage that even my nieces and nephews will face in their lives, but the present seems pretty good compared with the not-so-distant past.

Apparently somebody lied to you

because what you wrote is NOT true

"The credibility of his self defense claim flew out the window, the instant Zimmerman ignored what he was told, got out of his car and headed in Trayvon's direction."

Clearly I need to put this in my journal because many people seem to think that is what happened. It's not.

What happened is this

Zimmerman calls the police (and it is on tape and the recording is on the web)

Zimmerman (paraphrased) Now he is walking toward me. He's checking me out.

more talking. Then you can hear Zimmerman open his car door and start breathing hard as he is obviously walking after Trayvon. As Zimmerman talks to dispatch. The dispatcher picks up on the heavy breathing and asks

Dispatcher: "Are you following him?"

Zimmerman: yeah

Dispatcher: Okay, we don't need you to do that.

Zimmerman: okay.

n.b. This is just what Zimmerman said. I am not claiming that this proves Zimmerman actually stopped following Trayvon or trying to figure out which way he went.

and as for Zimmerman "instigating" a confrontation. Something else is also a FACT.

Zimmerman on the tape says "shit, he's running" and then talks to dispatch for another minute during which he also says "I don't know where he is". So I still don't see how Zimmerman could catch Trayvon.

Reagan didn't really raise the cap

Here's the history of it


You see the cap was increasing even before Reagan, although it was flat from 1937-1950.

The real value of the cap in 2013 dollars increased from $73,165 in 1980 to $88,544 in 1988, but it was also growing before Reagan, being just $62,324 in 1974.

The real thing Reagan did was increase the payroll tax, it was 6.13% in 1980 and 7.65% by 1990 (although some of those increases may have come from laws passed before Reagan was President) and the tax increase on the self-employed was huge. Those job creators saw their tax rate go from 8.1% in 1980 to 15.3% by 1990, almost a 90% increase, and on top of the increases in the cap. http://www.ssa.gov/oact/progdata/taxRates.html
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