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Author Topic:   Wealth Distribution in the USA
Tangle
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Posts: 9533
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 3.8


(8)
Message 1 of 531 (699167)
05-15-2013 11:49 AM


Here's a short video I was sent giving a pretty good graphical explanation of how wealth is distributed in America.
Is there a better way?

Life, don't talk to me about life - Marvin the Paranoid Android

Replies to this message:
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Straggler
Member (Idle past 154 days)
Posts: 10333
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


(1)
Message 2 of 531 (699307)
05-17-2013 10:12 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Tangle
05-15-2013 11:49 AM


Better For Who...?
Tangle writes:
Is there a better way?
A better way for who? The overwhelming majority of people? Yes - Obviously.
Is there a better way for those with the most power and influence? Well that is a more contentious question. Many - Including myself - Would argue that such disparities in wealth are ultimately to the detriment of all in society including those at the very top. However it could be argued that those at the very top of the Western wealth chain barely exist in the same societies as the rest of us these days anyway. With globalisation comes a global elite with no real societal ties to anywhere in particular.
Whatever I think most of those with the most power and infleunce seem to think it in their interests and those of everybody else that such disparities in wealth continue and even widen. How exactly they come to this conclusion however I don't really understand....

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dronestar
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Posts: 1425
From: usa
Joined: 11-19-2008
Member Rating: 4.6


(1)
Message 3 of 531 (699319)
05-17-2013 1:01 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Tangle
05-15-2013 11:49 AM


protect the minority of the opulent
From the birth of america, the propaganda of the elites has served the 1%ers well:
"the primary function of government is to protect the minority of the opulent from the majority of the poor." - James Madison
Indeed, I think there are too many americans who would say the wealth distribution is not unequal enough. They believe that the 1%ers are already being too oppressed by government regulations and taxes.
Their indoctrination to protect the elites is complete. They will NEVER consider any form of socialism or fair economic redistribution even when against their best interests.
However, I do feel there is a threshold that eventually leads all peasants to rise against their overlords. Unfortunately, the greed of the 1%ers and the apathy of the 99%ers hasn't triggered that threshold, . . . yet.
Perhaps the elites hope that cooking a frog over a long enough period, so the frog doesn't leap out of the pan, but rather, just . . . cooks . . . is true.

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Straggler
Member (Idle past 154 days)
Posts: 10333
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


(1)
Message 4 of 531 (699321)
05-17-2013 1:24 PM
Reply to: Message 3 by dronestar
05-17-2013 1:01 PM


Re: protect the minority of the opulent
I would make two points (one phrased as a question and one not)
1) When did this extreme level of economic disparity begin? Was it always such or are there specific historical governmental policy decisions we can attribute the current situation to?
2) Right wingers like to point out statistics such as the top 10% pay 70% of total taxes. But think about this for a moment. If a single individual were given all the wealth of the nation they would pay 100% of the nations tax. Would this be a symptom of a tax system loaded against the wealthy? Or simply a result of wealth being too concentrated? I would suggest the latter.......

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Phat
Member
Posts: 18390
From: Denver,Colorado USA
Joined: 12-30-2003


Message 5 of 531 (699326)
05-17-2013 2:16 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Tangle
05-15-2013 11:49 AM


Proud To Be Union
After watching this video, I can say with all honesty that I can be proud to be a moderate liberal and to be the union steward at my place of employment.
Though critics may say that Unions extort money from corporations, I would now argue that the people need to take from the wealthy, since the wealthy quite obviously refuse to give us anything.
Yes...the "Bill" will get paid, but there will be a revolution before that top 10% get to skate off without paying their fair share.
I now know forever which side I stand on in this struggle, and I pray for wisdom and strength from the Good Lord to be able to serve those less fortunate than myself. Now that I see what selfishness causes, it makes me want to be less selfish.

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dronestar
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Posts: 1425
From: usa
Joined: 11-19-2008
Member Rating: 4.6


Message 6 of 531 (699329)
05-17-2013 2:42 PM
Reply to: Message 4 by Straggler
05-17-2013 1:24 PM


Re: protect the minority of the opulent
STRAG writes:
1) When did this extreme level of economic disparity begin? Was it always such or are there specific historical governmental policy decisions we can attribute the current situation to?
Are you asking only of american history? The american founding fathers incorporated slavery in their new system of government. Seems like that was an extreme level of economic disparity.
If world history, you europeans can better present fuedal/peasant societies/histories better than us americans.
STRAG writes:
2) Right wingers like to point out statistics such as the top 10% pay 70% of total taxes. But think about this for a moment. If a single individual were given all the wealth of the nation they would pay 100% of the nations tax. Would this be a symptom of a tax system loaded against the wealthy? Or simply a result of wealth being too concentrated? I would suggest the latter...
I don't see this as a pragmatic question. Are you going somewhere with this?

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Rahvin
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Posts: 4046
Joined: 07-01-2005
Member Rating: 3.8


(1)
Message 7 of 531 (699335)
05-17-2013 4:36 PM
Reply to: Message 6 by dronestar
05-17-2013 2:42 PM


Re: protect the minority of the opulent
Are you asking only of american history? The american founding fathers incorporated slavery in their new system of government. Seems like that was an extreme level of economic disparity.
If world history, you europeans can better present fuedal/peasant societies/histories better than us americans.
Right, but it hasn't always been like that. The graph does not steadily trend toward the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer.
We've had "robber barons" and slave owners and today's obscenely wealthy, but we've also had blowbacks against those things. We abolished slavery. We instituted wide-reaching labor laws. We had the New Deal. We've had many periods in our history where the middle and lower classes were far more even with the wealthy. It's never been totally flat of course, but there were periods when the marginal tax rate topped out at ~90%...as opposed to the paltry ~35% of today.
Not all of these took violent action to accomplish. They took strong leaders, a responsible press, and a population of politically aware voters from the oppressed classes...and a few socially responsible and compassionate members of the privileged class.
Today's problem isn't merely one of the judiciary or Congress. It's a problem of voter apathy and misinformation causing people to often vote against their own best interest...when they vote at all. And that, too, is just the tip of the iceberg.

The human understanding when it has once adopted an opinion (either as being the received opinion or as being agreeable to itself) draws all things else to support and agree with it. - Francis Bacon
"There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs." - John Rogers
A world that can be explained even with bad reasons is a familiar world. But, on the other hand, in a universe suddenly divested of illusions and lights, man feels an alien, a stranger. His exile is without remedy since he is deprived of the memory of a lost home or the hope of a promised land. This divorce between man and his life, the actor and his setting, is properly the feeling of absurdity. — Albert Camus
"...the pious hope that by combining numerous little turds of variously tainted data, one can obtain a valuable result; but in fact, the outcome is merely a larger than average pile of shit." - Barash, David 1995...
"Many that live deserve death. And some die that deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then be not too eager to deal out death in the name of justice, fearing for your own safety. Even the wise cannot see all ends." - Gandalf, J. R. R. Tolkien: The Lord Of the Rings

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AZPaul3
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Posts: 8593
From: Phoenix
Joined: 11-06-2006
Member Rating: 3.0


Message 8 of 531 (699336)
05-17-2013 4:50 PM


Cry, cry, cry.
A lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth. Cathartic maybe but in the end useless.
What do you propose to do about it? Anything other than bitch?

Replies to this message:
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GDR
Member
Posts: 6203
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005


(1)
Message 9 of 531 (699337)
05-17-2013 4:57 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Tangle
05-15-2013 11:49 AM


I don’t have any answers to your question but I do have a few extraneous thoughts.
1/ Firstly money can’t buy happiness and often when we look at those in our societies who have the most they are also the most unhappy and the most discontented. I can honestly say that if someone handed me a million dollars tomorrow I wouldn’t be any happier or more content than I am today. No, I wouldn’t refuse it but it might even take away from the life I enjoy by having to deal with it. The one thing that money could do for me is give me the ability to do a small bit towards balancing that chart so that the bottom end is raised at least in terms of being sheltered and fed.
2/ Frankly I don’t care how rich the top 1% are, but I do care about how poor the bottom 1% are. We should be looking towards a society where the poorest have a roof over their heads, food on the table and clothes on their backs.
3/ I believe that a society we should be helping those in need. The best way is that those that are able to help do so voluntarily and anonymously, but let’s face it that doesn’t happen enough, partly because the need is so overwhelming and also the human tendency of greed is often too great, so we are reduced to having it forced on us by government.
4/ The biggest thing that the poorest in our society need is self respect. It is pretty hard to gain and maintain self respect if you spend your whole life on welfare, so other than those who have a handicap that prevents it, our social programs should be aimed at supporting people as they gain or regain the ability to support themselves. It seems to me however, that is becoming increasingly difficult as there are fewer and fewer jobs that don’t require specialized education. Even fifty years ago a kid could drop out of school and get a job at the local mill or some similar work. That has all been automated or shipped overseas. Still, that should be the goal. I have the opinion that our welfare systems are too often far too bureaucratic and instead helping people out of the welfare system it is trapping them in it.
5/ One thing that wasn’t mentioned in that presentation is that the poorest people in our countries are better off than the majority of people in the third world, and while we are trying to look after the poor in our own societies we should never forget that there are those in even much worse condition in other societies.
I don't have any answers except to suggest that we should all be doing what we can without always turning to government to do what we should be doing voluntarily on our own. As I said however, it doesn't seem to be happening so government action is a necessary result of our own human failings.

He has told you, O man, what is good ; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:8

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Tangle
Member
Posts: 9533
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 3.8


(1)
Message 10 of 531 (699341)
05-17-2013 5:16 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by AZPaul3
05-17-2013 4:50 PM


Re: Cry, cry, cry.
AZ writes:
What do you propose to do about it? Anything other than bitch?
I reckon bitching would be a damn good start.
Coincidentally, I just heard the happiest countries have the least disparity between the top and bottom incomes.

Life, don't talk to me about life - Marvin the Paranoid Android

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Panda
Member (Idle past 3801 days)
Posts: 2688
From: UK
Joined: 10-04-2010


Message 11 of 531 (699343)
05-17-2013 6:48 PM
Reply to: Message 10 by Tangle
05-17-2013 5:16 PM


Re: Cry, cry, cry.
Tangle writes:
Coincidentally, I just heard the happiest countries have the least disparity between the top and bottom incomes.
...accompanied by a considerable drop in crime.
Let's all move to Iceland!

"There is no great invention, from fire to flying, which has not been hailed as an insult to some god." J. B. S. Haldane

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foreveryoung
Member (Idle past 671 days)
Posts: 921
Joined: 12-26-2011


Message 12 of 531 (699344)
05-17-2013 7:08 PM


If each of the 5 income quintiles held exactly the same amount of wealth through force...aka taxation, how do you think the standard of living would fare through time. I'm not talking about immediately after the wealth was removed from the upper brackets; I'm talking about after several decades of such removal.

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Panda
Member (Idle past 3801 days)
Posts: 2688
From: UK
Joined: 10-04-2010


Message 13 of 531 (699345)
05-17-2013 7:35 PM
Reply to: Message 12 by foreveryoung
05-17-2013 7:08 PM


FEY writes:
If each of the 5 income quintiles held exactly the same amount of wealth through force...aka taxation, how do you think the standard of living would fare through time. I'm not talking about immediately after the wealth was removed from the upper brackets; I'm talking about after several decades of such removal.
Well, in Iceland there doesn't seem to be any obvious detrimental effect of having a flat equality curve.
(Actually, it is not quite flat, but it is the best example I can think of that has almost managed to achieve what you are asking about.)
What type of consequences were you thinking about?
Edited by Panda, : No reason given.

"There is no great invention, from fire to flying, which has not been hailed as an insult to some god." J. B. S. Haldane

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Coyote
Member (Idle past 2194 days)
Posts: 6117
Joined: 01-12-2008


(2)
Message 14 of 531 (699347)
05-17-2013 7:52 PM
Reply to: Message 12 by foreveryoung
05-17-2013 7:08 PM


If each of the 5 income quintiles held exactly the same amount of wealth through force...aka taxation, how do you think the standard of living would fare through time. I'm not talking about immediately after the wealth was removed from the upper brackets; I'm talking about after several decades of such removal.
You wouldn't like the results.
If you want more of something, subsidize it. It you want less of something, tax it.
Forcibly taxing enough money from the "rich" to even everyone out would cause the "rich" to stop working as hard. What's the point or working, if your hard-earned money is just going to be taxen away?
And those who are getting free money, what is their incentive to work at all?
The result would come to resemble a third-world country in short order.
But the hard-core socialists keep trying to repeal the laws of human nature, and never learn from their mistakes. Here is a good summary:
Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They always run out of other people's money.
Margaret Thatcher

Religious belief does not constitute scientific evidence, nor does it convey scientific knowledge.
Belief gets in the way of learning--Robert A. Heinlein
How can I possibly put a new idea into your heads, if I do not first remove your delusions?--Robert A. Heinlein
It's not what we don't know that hurts, it's what we know that ain't so--Will Rogers

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jar
Member
Posts: 34065
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 4.0


(1)
Message 15 of 531 (699349)
05-17-2013 8:59 PM
Reply to: Message 12 by foreveryoung
05-17-2013 7:08 PM


Tax and Force are not synonymous
It's unlike that the wealth would ever be the same in all of the divisions and no one is suggesting that. Nor is taxation synonymous with force.
The experience though is that when the disparity between the richest and poorest are minimized the standard of living goes up. This has held true in almost ever case.
In addition, every management study I've ever seen has shown that money is NOT the main or best motivator for increasing productivity.

Anyone so limited that they can only spell a word one way is severely handicapped!

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