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#152 Oct 23 2011 at 8:07 PM Rating: Good
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Timelordwho wrote:
Well, you sure are a special snowflake then.

Do you place any value on things that society has created and refined over time?

If your answer is yes, you believe wealth creation exists as a concept. If your answer is no, then go enjoy the simple pleasures of sticks and mud, and dance the dance of futility.


A short term, emotional value doesn't indicate wealth has been created.

Yes, I value my PSP now, but will I value it when it is broken? I paid for the PSP, but who will pay for it to be returned to a valuable state again? We don't even fix broken things most of the time, we just throw them away.

I see televisions and monitors in the alleys and on the the sidewalk with "free" signs on them all the time. Was wealth, in a long term sense, created when that television was made? Its sitting on the side of the road. Eventually the municipal staff will come along and pick it up and take it wherever they take the broken and unwanted things that are "produced" by my city. Is wealth created as junk leeches chemicals into the ground and water? Or as it is burned?

I guess I am thinking more in a sense of absolute wealth, as in more materials to work with or even creating a lasting echo.

I believe in knowledge as wealth, but all the words in the world won't mean anything if there is no one around to read them. If humanity goes extinct before it ever truly contributes to the thinking, living universe, not just as a text book example of a society whose gizmos evolved faster than the worldview necessary to weild them intelligently, but as a leader of discovery -- if we never reach that point - it would be less tragic than us never attaining self referential awareness in the first place.

The number of material artifacts created by humans has increased exponentially. If the creation of material artifacts is what you call wealth, then yes, we are more wealthy than we have ever been in all of history.

I am not convinced that material artifacts trump basic things like clean air, good water, and food that isn't poisoned. We have less clean air and less clean water than we used to have.

So are we more wealthy?



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#153 Oct 23 2011 at 9:34 PM Rating: Good
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So are we more wealthy?


Yes.
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#154 Oct 24 2011 at 12:23 AM Rating: Decent
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I am not convinced that material artifacts trump basic things like clean air, good water, and food that isn't poisoned. We have less clean air and less clean water than we used to have.

So are we more wealthy?


Obviously. If clean air and water were valuable they would have more demand, so we would supply more of it. Since we have less of it, we must demand less of it, therefor it is less valuable. The invisible hand of the free market ensures it as thus. Capitalism wins another day.

But while we're on the subject, the free market would totally allow for cleaner air and water if it weren't for that pesky EPA, always playing the martyr.
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#155 Oct 24 2011 at 7:45 AM Rating: Good
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Olorinus wrote:
Timelordwho wrote:
no wealth creation could have ever occurred in the course of human history


Has any wealth truly been created? We have certainly gotten better at transforming the earth into objects, and created more garbage, but can anything that ultimately ends up in a dump or an incinerator (and thus into the atmosphere) be called wealth.

Like we "have" more gold than we ever had before, but the sum total amount of gold in and on our planet has not increased. We have dug up more coal and burned it - but the total amount of "coal wealth" (created by more than 300 million years of sunshine and geologic pressure) hasn't measurably increased in the time frames we are talking about.

I am inclined to believe wealth creation is a myth, created by a flawed economics that considers the earth's resources unlimited


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#156 Oct 24 2011 at 8:04 AM Rating: Excellent
olo wrote:
I am not convinced that material artifacts trump basic things like clean air, good water, and food that isn't poisoned. We have less clean air and less clean water than we used to have.

So are we more wealthy?
I don't live west of the Rockies, so I can't comment on air, but water quality in the US and Canada has been fine for several decades, and last I checked the food wasn't poisoned.

You have a computer, high speed internet, a psp, and lord knows what else. How can you say you don't have wealth of some sort?

Edited, Oct 24th 2011 10:04am by Lubriderm
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#157 Oct 24 2011 at 8:25 AM Rating: Decent
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But, what about, like, spiritual wealth, man? We're all like, totally bankrupt in the cosmic sense.
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#158 Oct 24 2011 at 8:35 AM Rating: Excellent
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Debalic wrote:
But, what about, like, spiritual wealth, man? We're all like, totally bankrupt in the cosmic sense.

I invested in spiritual gold and silver. Spiritually speaking, I'm making out like a bandit.
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#159 Oct 24 2011 at 8:39 AM Rating: Good
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#160 Oct 24 2011 at 9:07 AM Rating: Good
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Debalic wrote:
But, what about, like, spiritual wealth, man? We're all like, totally bankrupt in the cosmic sense.

God's too big to fail. Immaculate bail-out incoming.
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#161 Oct 24 2011 at 2:40 PM Rating: Good
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I wouldn't call any of that stuff (psp, clothes, etc.) wealth. Only because it strikes me as really weird to do so.

But I would call capital wealth. And capital has most certainly increased over time, as we become able to take advantage of it. For instance, satellite systems certainly constitute capital in our modern society, and they certainly didn't exist in the past. Internet networks, wireless networks, oil adventures, solar energy, etc. are all forms of capital that we couldn't take advantage of hundreds of years ago. Now we can in a meaningful way. Hence, wealth has increased.

(The problem is that it hasn't increased fairly for all classes--the richest man in the world owns telecommunications companies for a reason. :P)

That said, I don't really understand what we are debating here. Marx felt that capitalism would be necessary to establish the systems to properly make use of capital before a society could transition to socialism, so it's hardly something that's controversial on the right or left.
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#162 Oct 24 2011 at 2:46 PM Rating: Excellent
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idiggory, King of Bards wrote:

(The problem is that it hasn't increased fairly for all classes--the richest man in the world owns telecommunications companies for a reason. :P)


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#163 Oct 24 2011 at 3:06 PM Rating: Good
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You just moved from discussing capitol to commodities. That was my point. Control over capital constitutes wealth, imo. Wealth allows you to take advantage of commodities. But commodities only constitute wealth insofar as they allow you to take advantage of capital.

Though, like I said, the average person is in a much better position with regards to capital than they were 150 years ago. Only the bottom bracket (such as the homeless) are really unchanged.

The telecommunications companies are rich because they have extreme control over one specific form of capital that's become a core part of modernity. What they charge only changes how that wealth scales (and charging nothing would constitute potential wealth). But the people who have a cell phone don't actually have any more wealth than the money they use to make use of the capital. The cell itself is a commodity, not wealth. Well, it's not a large source of wealth (it does have some resale value).
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#164 Oct 24 2011 at 3:11 PM Rating: Good
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Though technically speaking, "wealth" itself lacks a solid definition where economics is concerned. So if we are approaching this from that context, neither side is really right or wrong. In a purely colloquial definition, commodities would be considered wealth (and no less so than cash or capital). I just prefer wealth, in an economic context, as it prefers to capital or a person's ability to make use of it (aka cash or similar).
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#165 Oct 24 2011 at 3:33 PM Rating: Excellent
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idiggory, King of Bards wrote:
You just moved from discussing capitol to commodities.


TBH I was just making a smart-**** remark. Smiley: wink
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#166 Oct 24 2011 at 4:13 PM Rating: Good
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That's definitely your right, lol. This is the Asylum. :P
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#167 Oct 24 2011 at 4:18 PM Rating: Decent
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idiggory, King of Bards wrote:
Though technically speaking, "wealth" itself lacks a solid definition where economics is concerned. So if we are approaching this from that context, neither side is really right or wrong. In a purely colloquial definition, commodities would be considered wealth (and no less so than cash or capital). I just prefer wealth, in an economic context, as it prefers to capital or a person's ability to make use of it (aka cash or similar).


This is part of what I'm questioning as well. What does a wealth gap really mean? And is that the most important thing to look at? I don't think so. The fact that a rich person has 1000x as much as a poor person rather than merely having 100x doesn't really affect the poor person at all. What does is whether the poor person can obtain basic necessities and even luxuries. What matters is the relative quality of those things as well. I don't think anyone can honestly argue that the condition of the poor is worse today (in those terms) than in the past.

We have better food (ok, processed is bad, but not-rotten is pretty good), better medicine (even without health insurance), better housing, better transportation, greater comfort, greater luxuries, and frankly a whole lot of things that the rich, much less the poor could not have dreamed of having just a century ago.


Why then insist on focusing on the distribution of wealth within the economy itself? Why does this matter? I just don't get the whole "I'm going to ignore my actual condition and compare it relative to someone else instead" position. It makes no sense to me.
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#168 Oct 24 2011 at 4:43 PM Rating: Excellent
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idiggory, King of Bards wrote:
That's definitely your right, lol. This is the Asylum. :P


Well I'm sympathetic to both sides and all, I've just lost track of all the debate, etc. going on here. Smiley: rolleyes

It's getting pretty above my head honestly. In my mind a fair society has a way to both ensure the well-being of the less fortunate and reward hard working individuals. How much wealth is too much for one person? I don't know. How much of a safety net is too much? I'm not sure. We seem to have both to some degree, and that's good. I don't feel overly cheated by the wealthy at the moment. I also don't feel I'm giving others a free ride to a better life. We could give or take a some more from either side, and I'd have a hard time believing the system was somehow drastically unfair.

TL:DR = I don't have a dog in this race. Smiley: lol
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#169 Oct 24 2011 at 4:44 PM Rating: Decent
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Timelordwho wrote:
Ok, If it was over your head, you were talking about a zero sum system.


With in the context of "relative wealth". Don't lose sight of the issue being debated here.

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It's entirely obvious, even without a definition, A + B + C = 0.

You said that industrialism broke this equation to no longer be a zero sum system (A + B + C = X ; A + B + C + X = 0)

This is false because for this to be true, no net economic growth (and therefore, no wealth creation) could have ever occurred in the course of human history prior to the industrial revolution.


Nope. I even explained how net economic growth occurs. My point wasn't that economic growth never occurred, but that it occurred slowly enough and via methods that generally didn't directly impact the relative wealth question we're discussing that it could be largely ignored.

A nobleman who owned title to a large estate and surrounding lands gained control of the bounty of those lands. It could be correctly stated that the whole net sum produced on those lands was relatively fixed. It could thus be argued that if the nobleman takes a larger share of that bounty (makes himself more wealthy), then the consequence was increased poverty for those ho lived on and worked on his lands. This is the state of economics that existed more or less unchanged since man first started building cities and land titles and whatnot (a few thousand years). This was certainly the economic system with which Marx was familiar.

The industrial revolution changed that in one very obvious way: The rich guy who opens up a widget factory can gain a massively greater share of the wealth generated by the factory without actually making the people working in the factory any more poor. He pays them a set wage of $X/hour. Prior to industrialization, each worker produced some number of widgets over that time. Enter industrialization and each worker can be retrained to use the widget making machines and thus produce 10x as many widgets in the same amount of time. He's still paid the same wage, but the owner of the factory makes 10x as much, right?


That's the "problem" with Marx was talking about. He saw the owner gaining 10x more, but the worker making the same. His experience with economics was that such a great disparity, even if it appears on the surface to have no negative for the worker *must* actually have one in some way. The workers wage should become less worth relatively speaking, or some other effect would make his relatively low wage cause him harm. And if we were living in a past age where we just worked the laborers harder or longer hours to increase production, he'd have been right. But industrialization really did change economics in ways which the economists of the day had a hard time predicting.

The biggest change is that due to the increased volume of production now possibly from the same amount of labor, the predicted deflation of the value of wages those economists would expect was more than offset by the decrease in cost and increase in availability of products and services which average working people could not afford prior to that point. Suddenly, finely crafted (well, somewhat finely crafted) furniture was available to average people and not just the rich. Then things like running water, indoor plumbing and toilets, and automobiles, then washing machines, radios, telephones, TVs, computers, the internet, cell phones, and a host of other things became steadily available, not just to the richest people, but to even the modestly salaried workers.


He envisioned a future where capitalism would cause industrialization to focus wealth on the producers and poverty on the workers, with the workers lives getting progressively worse until eventually they would have to rise up as one and reshape the whole system. The reality, however, is that this didn't happen. The condition of the workers did not get worse. It got better. Even in the absence of unions acting on the assumption that if they didn't intervene things would get worse, things didn't get worse. They got better. It didn't happen all at once though. The positives took time.

What did happen is that enterprising people pointed at Marx's warnings, pointed at the dollar wealth gap (while ignoring the quality of life improvements going on all around them), and convinced people that if they didn't take some kind of drastic action, then the inevitable disaster for the working people would occur. They scared the people into supporting unions in some countries, adopting draconian laws in others, and in some into overthrowing their governments in some form of communist revolutions.

All of those things were unnecessary. The danger wasn't real. But it was (and still is) a means to gain power for those who can convince others to fear what might happen and give them power to help fight it. And I can forgive Marx for failing to see the truth. But it still boggles my mind that otherwise intelligent people still fall for the whole "If you don't join with us, those evil rich people will take everything!!!" arguments. The very process makes no sense. The economic system largely requires consumption of that increased production to work. It's in the wealthy's best interest to make sure that there are sufficient people with sufficient buying power in the economy to buy the things their factories make, right? Think about that. They want to employ as many people as possible, but they want them employed making useful things that other people will want to buy.


There's just no logical motive for the players in the free market to take everything away from everyone else and make them poor. I will point out for comparison though, that those who espouse socialist or communist systems absolutely do have a motive to make as many people poor as possible. It's their route to power and control. The free market tends to free those within it. And that's a threat to some people.
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#170 Oct 24 2011 at 5:01 PM Rating: Excellent
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The fact that a rich person has 1000x as much as a poor person rather than merely having 100x doesn't really affect the poor person at all. What does is whether the poor person can obtain basic necessities and even luxuries. What matters is the relative quality of those things as well. I don't think anyone can honestly argue that the condition of the poor is worse today (in those terms) than in the past.


Except where did anyone demand that we transfer wealth from the rich to the poor? Instead of pumping that money into the poor, so they can enjoy more crap (which itself wouldn't be a bad thing at all, since public spending is the absolute best way to stimulate economies), they should pump it into public works.

Do you REALLY think that the life of a poor person wouldn't be radically different than it is now if they had access to free schooling, free health care and didn't need to work every hour of every day just so that they could fall deeper into debt?

Frankly, I don't care if there's a disparity between rich and poor (and Marx didn't either). I care that it's so extreme, and comes at the cost that basic modern (or even biological) needs are denied to people simply because they don't have the money for pay for them.

And there's a whole other aspect to capital-based wealth too which opens up a completely different can of worms.
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#171 Oct 24 2011 at 5:24 PM Rating: Excellent
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The fact that a rich person has 1000x as much as a poor person rather than merely having 100x doesn't really affect the poor person at all.
In an immediate sense no. A system that encourages and increases wealth disparity will have a long term negative impact on the people at the low end of the scale, and more importantly will push more people into that low end.

To use the lack of any immediate impact when comparing two people is a strawman, as this is not the problem.

Edited, Oct 24th 2011 6:25pm by Xsarus
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#172 Oct 24 2011 at 5:45 PM Rating: Default
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The fact that a rich person has 1000x as much as a poor person rather than merely having 100x doesn't really affect the poor person at all.


Clearly this is true
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#173 Oct 24 2011 at 6:05 PM Rating: Good
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Debalic wrote:
But, what about, like, spiritual wealth, man? We're all like, totally bankrupt in the cosmic sense.


You joke, but there's something to that. What good is wealth if it doesn't lead to prosperity? How can we have prosperity without happiness? That's why other countries take pride in their "gross national happiness" kicking our GDP in the ****.
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#174 Oct 24 2011 at 6:29 PM Rating: Decent
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idiggory, King of Bards wrote:
Quote:
The fact that a rich person has 1000x as much as a poor person rather than merely having 100x doesn't really affect the poor person at all. What does is whether the poor person can obtain basic necessities and even luxuries. What matters is the relative quality of those things as well. I don't think anyone can honestly argue that the condition of the poor is worse today (in those terms) than in the past.


Except where did anyone demand that we transfer wealth from the rich to the poor?


Where did this come from? Smells like a strawman to me. My point is that the argument that there's something wrong about a large wealth gap between rich and poor is not necessarily an indication of an economic problem which needs to be fixed is fallacious. The question of what someone might propose in order to fix that "problem" is a whole separate component to the issue. I didn't say it's wrong because the solution off "transfer wealth from rich to poor" is the wrong answer. I said it's wrong because that larger gap doesn't actually equate to the overall conditions for the poor getting worse.


Quote:
Instead of pumping that money into the poor, so they can enjoy more crap (which itself wouldn't be a bad thing at all, since public spending is the absolute best way to stimulate economies), they should pump it into public works.


Kinda splitting hairs though, aren't you? So we're not transferring the "wealth" from rich to poor, we're just taking the wealth from the rich and using it to fund public works, which just happen to be designed mostly to benefit the poor. I'd argue that's worse than a straight wealth transfer, because in the transfer at least the poor person gets a choice as to how the money he's getting is spent.

Your solution infringes liberty in both directions. The rich person loses control over some of the fruits of his labors *and* the poor person has no choice about what benefits the government chooses to provide to him. So maybe he wants one set of things, and would choose to buy those things if he had the money, but the government decides that something else is better for him. No liberty gained there at all, is there?

Quote:
Do you REALLY think that the life of a poor person wouldn't be radically different than it is now if they had access to free schooling, free health care and didn't need to work every hour of every day just so that they could fall deeper into debt?


Striking the assumed conclusion you put in there, then yeah, I agree his life would be radically different. He'd be radically worse off in some cases, and at best no worse off. Or are you magically ignoring countries founded on the same "public works for the people" principles and ended out being horribly authoritarian? You get that it's countries that have only adopted small amounts of those things which have done "ok", right? Those that go further end out badly for most of "the people" they start out wanting to help.

Quote:
Frankly, I don't care if there's a disparity between rich and poor (and Marx didn't either). I care that it's so extreme, and comes at the cost that basic modern (or even biological) needs are denied to people simply because they don't have the money for pay for them.


You've yet to tie any sort of causation from one to the other though. Explain to me how a rich person making more money makes a poor person's life worse? How does this make health care less affordable for him? How does this make basic needs less available? See, I can explain to you very easily how it makes those things better. Most of those "modern needs" are met with modern technology which largely exists because rich people choose to invest in developing those things. And while I'm sure the average guy investing in a company designing new medical devices, or telecommunications technology, or housing materials would like to see those improved things enter the market and become cheap and available for all and improve the lives of his fellow man, if you take away the chance to make a profit while doing so, he's much less likely to invest in them.


That's how greedy rich people make the world a better place for us all. Now, how about you explain to me how they make it worse? Absent those greedy people, we wouldn't have most of those modern necessities you think the poor people are being denied. Kind of a catch-22, isn't it? And what modern necessities might be invented and brought to market in the next century which you would deny to everyone by preventing them from ever being created in the first place if we adopt this idea of taxing the rich more to pay for existing things?


There is a cost to those free things. They really aren't free.
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#175 Oct 24 2011 at 6:33 PM Rating: Decent
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The fact that a rich person has 1000x as much as a poor person rather than merely having 100x doesn't really affect the poor person at all.
In an immediate sense no. A system that encourages and increases wealth disparity will have a long term negative impact on the people at the low end of the scale, and more importantly will push more people into that low end.


This is exactly what Marx believed. But he was demonstrably wrong. That wealth disparity *didn't* cause long term negative impact on those at the low end of the scale. What it actually did was cause absolutely unprecedented prosperity and "real" quality of life gains.

Quote:
To use the lack of any immediate impact when comparing two people is a strawman, as this is not the problem.


And if I hadn't explained in detail how Marx's theories assumed a longer term growing harm which never actually manifested, you'd have a point. This is why I argue that Marx can be forgiven. He could not know for sure what would happen over the next century or so. He can be forgiven for so completely getting it wrong. The question though is what rationale those who have the benefit of having seen a century and a half of the greatest prosperity gain among the poor in human history use to continue to declare that his predictions were right *and* to justify some kind of action to prevent the things which haven't happened from happening?


It's pretty darn ridiculous, right?

Edited, Oct 24th 2011 5:36pm by gbaji
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#176 Oct 24 2011 at 6:53 PM Rating: Good
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This is exactly what Marx believed. But he was demonstrably wrong. That wealth disparity *didn't* cause long term negative impact on those at the low end of the scale. What it actually did was cause absolutely unprecedented prosperity and "real" quality of life gains.


I can't tell if you are just insane or not... Because that's EXACTLY what happened.

[EDIT]

And because I know you'd be a smart ****, "that" is referring to what Marx thought would happen.

Edited, Oct 24th 2011 8:53pm by idiggory
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#177 Oct 24 2011 at 6:57 PM Rating: Excellent
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If we had prosperity across all economic strata, we would not be at 9% unemployment right now (and closer to 16% underemployment.)
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#178 Oct 24 2011 at 7:04 PM Rating: Excellent
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#179 Oct 24 2011 at 7:15 PM Rating: Excellent
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#180 Oct 24 2011 at 11:44 PM Rating: Good
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We have better food (ok, processed is bad, but not-rotten is pretty good), better medicine (even without health insurance), better housing, better transportation, greater comfort, greater luxuries, and frankly a whole lot of things that the rich, much less the poor could not have dreamed of having just a century ago.


Yet the rich can easily afford health care, education, housing, utilities, food costs etc. Everything you just listed is not wealth it is relative to wealth, all of that stuff still costs money to obtain.

And I don't care who you are Money is Wealth, it lets you buy PSP's etc. But you are right it doesn't matter if the rich guy has 1000x or 100x the money. The issue is that people who have no money have no wealth, they can not afford all of things at once, and many who can are walking on a thin line doing so (hello middle class) The ones who can, make all kinds of cash, and they pay the least in taxes because the super rich elite that people hate, and no it is not the people @ 250K, make all their money in investments, they pay less tax this way than the majority of people (as well as a plethora of other money making loopholes.)

That is the wealth gap, it is not how much stuff you can get, is it can you afford all the stuff you need. (and thanks to some government programs that Republicans would like to cut, people can afford more then they would normally be able to.)

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#181 Oct 25 2011 at 10:19 AM Rating: Good
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So people believe that world hunger has NOTHING TO DO WITH a tiny tiny minority of people hording 80+% of the world's wealth?

Seriously?

That's totally nuts.
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#182 Oct 25 2011 at 10:32 AM Rating: Excellent
Olorinus wrote:
So people believe that world hunger has NOTHING TO DO WITH a tiny tiny minority of people hording 80+% of the world's wealth?

Seriously?

That's totally nuts.
What's nuts is living a totally comfortable consumeristic lifestyle and just hoping everyone above your station in life stops things like world hunger. That PSP of yours would have bought a lot of meals and/or bug nets.
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#183 Oct 25 2011 at 10:43 AM Rating: Excellent
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That PSP of yours would have bought a lot of meals and/or bug nets.

In theory. In reality, it probably would have gone towards some pseudo-charity's "administrative costs" or the bug nets would have been "lost" at some central African guard outpost.
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#184 Oct 25 2011 at 10:51 AM Rating: Excellent
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Should fund the charities that support terrorists. They're doing more than anyone to attack the wealth of the upper class. Smiley: wink
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#185 Oct 25 2011 at 10:52 AM Rating: Good
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Jophiel wrote:
Duke Lubriderm wrote:
That PSP of yours would have bought a lot of meals and/or bug nets.

In theory. In reality, it probably would have gone towards some pseudo-charity's "administrative costs" or the bug nets would have been "lost" at some central African guard outpost.


That is certainly an issue, though there are now reputable organizations that work solely to rate the efficacy of these charities, both in terms of how much goes to the people and how helpful their donation is (for instance, mosquito nets are hugely beneficial in a cost to aid sense).

Far from being a perfect system, but certainly better than nothing.

Oh, and Rick Perry is insane.

My favorite part is when he uses an ad hominem attack on Mitt Romney to sidestep the issue of wealth disparity.
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#186 Oct 25 2011 at 11:08 AM Rating: Good
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I donate every month to save the children, I do what I can but small donations aren't going to solve the systemic problems that face our planet.

Also lol at comparing my used PSP I bought to people who have billions of dollars.

According to the United Nations, it would only take $30 billion a year to launch the necessary agricultural programs to completely solve global food insecurity.

So... just one or two of the world's super billionaires could solve world hunger. Huh. Or I could feel bad about buying a used PSP and solve nothing.

Essentially if the world's 5 richest people would content themselves to living as I do (which isn't terrible, I do okay) then a billion people could lead better lives.

Edited, Oct 25th 2011 10:14am by Olorinus
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#187 Oct 25 2011 at 12:05 PM Rating: Excellent
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Except it's not that easy. Famine issues these days are caused as much, if not more so, by internal governmental issues as they are by basic lack of food.

Now, to swing that around, the Powers The Be don't help the situation in regards to treating/exploiting mineral and environmental resources in these countries.
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#188 Oct 25 2011 at 12:17 PM Rating: Good
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gbaji wrote:
or a person's ability to make use of it (aka cash or similar).

This is part of what I'm questioning as well. What does a wealth gap really mean?
An imbalance in power.


Edited, Oct 25th 2011 8:18pm by Elinda
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#189 Oct 25 2011 at 12:51 PM Rating: Good
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And that $30M would just end up going to some genocidal warlords. Which, as I pointed out before (in another thread?) some more genocide would surely help a lot of these problems.
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#190 Oct 25 2011 at 2:16 PM Rating: Decent
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Olorinus wrote:
So people believe that world hunger has NOTHING TO DO WITH a tiny tiny minority of people hording 80+% of the world's wealth?

Seriously?

That's totally nuts.


What's nuts is failing to realize that we're talking about a domestic economic policy within a single country and arguing about which system of economics is "better". And in case you missed it, we don't have rampant hunger in the US.
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#191 Oct 25 2011 at 2:20 PM Rating: Good
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Olorinus wrote:
So people believe that world hunger has NOTHING TO DO WITH a tiny tiny minority of people hording 80+% of the world's wealth?

Seriously?

That's totally nuts.

You can't eat money. Yet, you can eat grubs - for free.

Lack of food is a distribution problem.
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#192 Oct 25 2011 at 2:35 PM Rating: Decent
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Elinda wrote:
gbaji wrote:
or a person's ability to make use of it (aka cash or similar).

This is part of what I'm questioning as well. What does a wealth gap really mean?
An imbalance in power.


And you believe that by giving government control over what that wealth is used for instead of those who created it will somehow fix this imbalance in a positive way?
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#193 Oct 25 2011 at 2:53 PM Rating: Excellent
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gbaji wrote:
Elinda wrote:
gbaji wrote:
or a person's ability to make use of it (aka cash or similar).

This is part of what I'm questioning as well. What does a wealth gap really mean?
An imbalance in power.


And you believe that by giving government control over what that wealth is used for instead of those who created it will somehow fix this imbalance in a positive way?


If the gov't isn't also being ruled by those groups, yes.
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#194 Oct 25 2011 at 3:00 PM Rating: Decent
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Olorinus wrote:

According to the United Nations, it would only take $30 billion a year to launch the necessary agricultural programs to completely solve global food insecurity.

So... just one or two of the world's super billionaires could solve world hunger. Huh. Or I could feel bad about buying a used PSP and solve nothing.


Um... Did you miss the "a year" part of that? Those super billionaires don't "earn" $30B/year. That's somewhere in the range of their entire accumulated earnings for their entire lives. So way to "solve" world hunger for a year or two there Skippy!

Quote:
Essentially if the world's 5 richest people would content themselves to living as I do (which isn't terrible, I do okay) then a billion people could lead better lives.


Even ignoring the per year issues mentioned above, this is still indicative of a gross understanding of what "the rich" do with their money. You, and most working/middle class people live on nearly 100% of your earnings each year. If your salary goes up, you spend more money and live a better life. If your salary goes down, you have less money to spend and have to cut things out. But wealthy people are wealthy (by definition) because they *don't* live on all the money they make. They invest increasingly larger portions of it. Bill Gates maybe spends a few million a year on his own living expenses.


The point being that if you really are just talking about the billionaire sacrificing his own standard of living, you might garner a couple million dollars a year for each of the handful of "super rich" folks (and less for people who are merely millionaires). If you try to take all of their earnings each year, you'll get a lot more *but* now you're hurting all the people who are benefited by those investments. That's a lot of jobs lost because you want to punish a rich guy.


I really think that people who propose stuff like this have no clue what the actual effects will be. You make the mistake of assuming that a loss of earnings for a rich person affects him directly the way it does you. That's simply not true. It affects all the things he's invested in *first* and then affects him. Long before you make a rich person poor, you make all the things he affects with his money poor. And employment is a direct function of that. Why do you suppose that a bunch of banks losing money caused a bunch of regular working/middle class people to love their jobs? The banks had to tighten their investment budgets, which reduced the money available for numerous companies to borrow, which in turn caused them to have to lay people off.


Taxing the rich sounds great to the ignorant. For the rest of us, it's equivalent to someone saying "make more people unemployed". And I don't know why most people would want to do that.

Edited, Oct 25th 2011 2:00pm by gbaji
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#195 Oct 25 2011 at 3:29 PM Rating: Excellent
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Taxing the rich sounds great to the ignorant. For the rest of us, it's equivalent to someone saying "make more people unemployed". And I don't know why most people would want to do that.


Except that EVERY economic study done in the past 30 years has shown that tax breaks on the rich don't create jobs, that stimulated spending in the lower classes is the best way to stimulate an economy (which is the best way to create jobs), and that the rich have an extremely high tendency to lock up their wealth such that it fails to circulate.

But, of course, you could just ignore all that and pretend like the upper class are actually going to invest their wealth in creating jobs.
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#196 Oct 25 2011 at 6:43 PM Rating: Decent
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idiggory, King of Bards wrote:
Quote:

Taxing the rich sounds great to the ignorant. For the rest of us, it's equivalent to someone saying "make more people unemployed". And I don't know why most people would want to do that.


Except that EVERY economic study done in the past 30 years has shown that tax breaks on the rich don't create jobs, that stimulated spending in the lower classes is the best way to stimulate an economy (which is the best way to create jobs), and that the rich have an extremely high tendency to lock up their wealth such that it fails to circulate.


Every single study? That's a pretty absurd exaggeration. You're telling me what you believe, not what it "proven" to be true, and certainly there are a **** of a lot of economists who disagree with you.

Quote:
But, of course, you could just ignore all that and pretend like the upper class are actually going to invest their wealth in creating jobs.


They invest their wealth in things which increase their wealth. That *usually* also happens to create jobs. Don't create a strawman. While not every dollar of wealth is expended in ways which creates jobs, a very high percentage of jobs exist because of dollars of wealth being expended (and depending on how literal you're going to be, *all* jobs depend on wealth existing first). Pursuing a course of action to eliminate wealth is the economic equivalent of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
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#197 Oct 25 2011 at 6:50 PM Rating: Good
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You can, but you're not going to digest it very well and get even less nutrients from it.
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#198 Oct 25 2011 at 7:20 PM Rating: Good
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Well, I should have probably specified studies that are actually concerned with the way things actually work, not their own theories that fail to be supported by any evidence from the actual economy.
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#199 Oct 25 2011 at 7:37 PM Rating: Default
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idiggory, King of Bards wrote:
Well, I should have probably specified studies that are actually concerned with the way things actually work, not their own theories that fail to be supported by any evidence from the actual economy.


But you define the former to be those which agree with you and the latter to be those which disagree. It's meaningless. I could just as easily dismiss all of the economic studies which show that lowering tax rates on the rich doesn't have any positive effects on employment and overall prosperity among the rest of the people. It's a pretty weak argument though, which is why I don't do this.


I actually argue why I believe my position to be the correct one. That just seems to be much more constructive, don't you agree?
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#200 Oct 25 2011 at 7:53 PM Rating: Excellent
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Except that your arguments are never grounded in any kind of reliable information.

And it's not hard at all to understand why it's absurd.

What stimulates the economy? Spending. Who are the main purchasers of commodities? The lower two classes. How much of their income do they put back into the economy? Almost all of it. Who benefits from this spending? Businesses. A larger market means support for larger business models, which creates more jobs. Which brings more wealth to the lower classes, which leads to more spending. Etc.

The wealthy don't spend. Well, they do. They spend a lot. But the percentage of their income that they spend is vastly lower than what the lower classes do. So each dollar of wealth that the lower classes have is intrinsically more valuable for the economy. The wealthy have a really annoying tendency to let their wealth sit in a bank account, in bonds, annuities, etc. This means that their money goes to banks, insurance companies, etc. And these are the sorts of investments that aren't going to create a large number of jobs or stimulate markets (especially when it comes to annuities).

It's really not all that hard to understand the basic structures that lead to one system's failure compared to the other.
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#201 Oct 25 2011 at 8:28 PM Rating: Default
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idiggory, King of Bards wrote:
Except that your arguments are never grounded in any kind of reliable information.


And you're the grand arbiter of what is and isn't "reliable information"? Smiley: lol

Quote:
What stimulates the economy? Spending.


Nope. An increase in the exchange of the fruits of one person's labors for the fruits of another. You've made the mistake of thinking that it's the dollars that matter. If you understood economic theory better, you'd see why this is wrong.

Quote:
Who are the main purchasers of commodities? The lower two classes.


That really depends on how you define "commodities". You're looking only at "consumables", in which case your statement is true. But that's not even close to the entire range of things which can be bought and sold and certainly is not the only sole driver of economic growth.

Quote:
How much of their income do they put back into the economy? Almost all of it.


I'm not sure how this is relevant, but sure.

Quote:
Who benefits from this spending? Businesses. A larger market means support for larger business models, which creates more jobs. Which brings more wealth to the lower classes, which leads to more spending. Etc.


Sure. I can flip this around though:

What stimulates the economy?: Production of goods which others may buy.

Who are the main producers of those goods?: The wealthy and business owners.

How much of their earnings do they put back into the economy?: Almost all of it.



What you fail to grasp is that both sides of that equation are equally important. You are proposing to reduce the money being used to produce goods in order to increase the amount of money being used to buy goods. Surely you can see how that isn't going to work very well.


Quote:
The wealthy don't spend. Well, they do. They spend a lot. But the percentage of their income that they spend is vastly lower than what the lower classes do.


You are confusing "spending" with "consuming". They are not the same thing and it would help your understanding of macro economics if you stop treating them as though they are.

Quote:
So each dollar of wealth that the lower classes have is intrinsically more valuable for the economy.


No, it's not. Let me ask you a question which should illustrate why: What determines the value of the dollar you have to spend compared to the cost of the goods you want to spend it on? You're missing a whole half of the economic equation.

Quote:
The wealthy have a really annoying tendency to let their wealth sit in a bank account, in bonds, annuities, etc. This means that their money goes to banks, insurance companies, etc. And these are the sorts of investments that aren't going to create a large number of jobs or stimulate markets (especially when it comes to annuities).


The fact that you think that money just "sits" anywhere is where you go horribly wrong (well, more wrong than you already were). That money is invested in ways which result in increased production and increased jobs. Where do you think the money people use to buy things comes from? Where do you think the jobs they get the money from come from? Small businesses take out loans to start or grow their businesses and they hire people. Big business does this constantly.

The large amounts of wealth that you think are idle because it's not being spent in a grocery store is what makes that grocery store have shelves full of food for you to buy in the first place. That's the "supply side" of the equation. I know that liberals work hard to pretend it doesn't exist, but you've brought this to a whole new level.

Quote:
It's really not all that hard to understand the basic structures that lead to one system's failure compared to the other.


Of course it's not. If you take all the money being used to make things and give it to people so they can buy things, your economy will collapse instantly and most of your people will starve to death. I'm not even arguing that some demand side initiatives can't have value depending on the specifics of the economic conditions. But your argument rests on an assumption that the only thing that matters is how much money people have to spend on consumable items. That's just absurd. There's a balance there. If you can't acknowledge any value to money being held in the hands of the wealthy, then you are essentially arguing for a completely untenable economic agenda.


Kinda exactly like the OWS folks.

Edited, Oct 25th 2011 7:30pm by gbaji
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