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Old 05-02-2009, 09:44 AM   #61
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I don't know how to define that level either. To me, it simply does not seem right for the weaker members of society to be neglected while the rest prospers.

.....
Thanks for the thoughtful reply. I'm taking away that you see the same issues that I see - we don't want people among us to die of starvation, we'd like everyone to be able to earn a decent living in a free market, but we don't know how to make that happen. I agree with your revolution comment. Although none of us want to live in a communist Russia, I don't want to live in a pre-communist Russia, either.

The tax thing was a tangent, but I'm glad to see we're on the same page there. I believe that a fair number of Americans believe there should be no tax at all on capital income, and that bothers me.

Once again, regarding the Rand quote, I'd say that I agree with the first two paragraphs. It's the third paragraph where she goes to extremes that give me problems. Given the world situation when she wrote that, and her personal history, I can see why she might have felt very strongly. But, I don't think it fits the world that I live in.
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Old 05-03-2009, 03:13 PM   #62
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Are you surprised no one answered that question?

What enlightenment (i.e. something that isn't basic knowlege - e.g. differences in GDP and social variances between the USA and Rwanda) or insight does it bring to the discussion?
Subsequent discussion obviates my need to answer your question. The I-made-it-on-my-own crowd wants lower taxes. Great! So do I. The question that doesn't get answered is what services are you willing to live without because the implied answer is I made it on my own, so any government service is money badly spent.

By doing a little thought experiment of putting a reasonably smart guy such as yourself of, say, 95th percentile intelligence in an environment devoid of infrastructure and service and asking what could you have accomplished tells you that you couldn't have achieved the same level of absolute wealth, and you agree that that is obvious from just reading U.N. statistics.

Now, as I have said time and again, big government is not the answer to everything either. The question is, how small should government be? What are you willing to live without? Holding a tea party is great, and I suppose chest thumping about one's own greatness and achievement serves its purpose in the right occasion, but the fastest and surest way to slim down the government is by eliminating social security and medicare. I don't see anyone putting his support behind that idea.
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Old 05-03-2009, 03:40 PM   #63
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Subsequent discussion obviates my need to answer your question. The I-made-it-on-my-own crowd wants lower taxes. Great! So do I. The question that doesn't get answered is what services are you willing to live without because the implied answer is I made it on my own, so any government service is money badly spent.
I didn't make any comments mentioned above.



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By doing a little thought experiment of putting a reasonably smart guy such as yourself of, say, 95th percentile intelligence in an environment devoid of infrastructure and service and asking what could you have accomplished tells you that you couldn't have achieved the same level of absolute wealth, and you agree that that is obvious from just reading U.N. statistics.
My questions was not if anyone could or could not obtain the same level of absolute wealth. The question was as stated in the post of mine you quoted.

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Now, as I have said time and again, big government is not the answer to everything either. The question is, how small should government be? What are you willing to live without? Holding a tea party is great, and I suppose chest thumping about one's own greatness and achievement serves its purpose in the right occasion, but the fastest and surest way to slim down the government is by eliminating social security and medicare. I don't see anyone putting his support behind that idea.
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Old 05-03-2009, 03:57 PM   #64
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I do not follow nor have attended any tea party, other than have heard about it. Just now, found this on TaxDayTeaParty.com - The Official Online HQ of the April 15th Tax Day "Tea Parties".

"On April 15th, hundreds of thousands of citizens gathered in more than 800 cities to voice their opposition to out of control spending at all levels of government. Organized in all 50 states by Americans from all walks of life, these "tea parties" were a true grassroots protest of irresponsible fiscal policies and intrusive government."



Note the highlights that I made. Sounds like the right things to protest, no matter what your political inclination is. If you don't protest those, what do you protest?

They do not say "No taxes whatsoever".

I guess the fight starts when we sit down to separate the beneficial policies from the irresponsible ones. Oh my. As they say, the devil is in the details.
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Old 05-03-2009, 08:49 PM   #65
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Thanks for the thoughtful reply. I'm taking away that you see the same issues that I see - we don't want people among us to die of starvation, we'd like everyone to be able to earn a decent living in a free market, but we don't know how to make that happen. I agree with your revolution comment. Although none of us want to live in a communist Russia, I don't want to live in a pre-communist Russia, either.

The tax thing was a tangent, but I'm glad to see we're on the same page there. I believe that a fair number of Americans believe there should be no tax at all on capital income, and that bothers me.

Once again, regarding the Rand quote, I'd say that I agree with the first two paragraphs. It's the third paragraph where she goes to extremes that give me problems. Given the world situation when she wrote that, and her personal history, I can see why she might have felt very strongly. But, I don't think it fits the world that I live in.
You point is very well taken. I certainly do not want to see people starve or suffer, etc either. The only place where we disagree might be the following. Realisticly, I do not think it would ever be possible to "ensure" as you put it, that no one will starve or suffer from lack of health care etc, in this country. I think that is the price you ultimately pay to live in a society such as ours, where you are free to make your own choices. The vision of "saving everyone" while emotionally very satisfying, is ultimately utopian, and therefore impossible. The persuit of attempting something like that would ultimately fail, and probably bankrupt the country in the attempt.

What I think is a much more realistic discussion, would be in the US, what percentage of people would it be acceptable to "starve" or go without medical attention? I know that sounds cold and creul, and heartless. But in my mind it will always be impossible to help everyone. If we set a goal of 5% (or 10% or 15%) of the population, are we such a terrible country then? I think the more rational discussion for things like extreme poverty, living without healthcare, making a decent living, etc, need to be tempered and contrained by how many make that goal, and how many do not.

I have heard many say that we are a prosperous enough nation that there is no need for any man woman or child to go without food, medical attention, shleter, education, etc. Although upon asking "how do we get the money for that?" there is never a satisfactory answer. Only that "really smart people" should be able to figure it out...
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Old 05-04-2009, 08:46 PM   #66
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You point is very well taken. I certainly do not want to see people starve or suffer, etc either. The only place where we disagree might be the following. Realisticly, I do not think it would ever be possible to "ensure" as you put it, that no one will starve or suffer from lack of health care etc, in this country. I think that is the price you ultimately pay to live in a society such as ours, where you are free to make your own choices. The vision of "saving everyone" while emotionally very satisfying, is ultimately utopian, and therefore impossible. The persuit of attempting something like that would ultimately fail, and probably bankrupt the country in the attempt.

What I think is a much more realistic discussion, would be in the US, what percentage of people would it be acceptable to "starve" or go without medical attention? I know that sounds cold and creul, and heartless. But in my mind it will always be impossible to help everyone. If we set a goal of 5% (or 10% or 15%) of the population, are we such a terrible country then? I think the more rational discussion for things like extreme poverty, living without healthcare, making a decent living, etc, need to be tempered and contrained by how many make that goal, and how many do not.

I have heard many say that we are a prosperous enough nation that there is no need for any man woman or child to go without food, medical attention, shleter, education, etc. Although upon asking "how do we get the money for that?" there is never a satisfactory answer. Only that "really smart people" should be able to figure it out...
I've said that I don't think we can find jobs for everyone with market-based wages that provide a "decent" (which I guessed at 50% of the median wage) income. I think the problem is that the market puts US workers in competition with foreign workers. I'm not sure how you feel about that.

However, I think you're right in saying that we disagree on what gov't or private charity can provide. I think it's possible to provide basic food, shelter, and clothing for everyone. My reasoning is that we're already doing it. If a few (sane) people don't have these things, it's not lack of resources or will, it's just that they fell through the cracks or made other choices (e.g. If there is someone out there who is trading food stamps for drugs, there really is nothing we can do about that. However, we have enough money to pay for the food stamps.) Most other wealthy countries provide medical care for everyone, so it seems economically possible to do that, too.

I see a problem developing when people want to provide more than the "basics". Getting everyone up to "decent" or "standard US quality" generates the big expense and the disincentives that worry you.
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Old 05-05-2009, 04:06 PM   #67
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I've said that I don't think we can find jobs for everyone with market-based wages that provide a "decent" (which I guessed at 50% of the median wage) income. I think the problem is that the market puts US workers in competition with foreign workers. I'm not sure how you feel about that.
This is certainly a true statement. A line worker in the US certianly cannot compete with a line worker in a foreign third world country. Not sure exactly what do do about that one. You can create huge import taxes, but that is really a govt manipulation of the free market, and has it's own unintended consequences to deal with. Maybe the time has come for more of an education empahsis in the US. There used to be a time in the US where manual labor was enough to support your family on. Those days are gone now if not rapidly fading. Maybe more of an emphasis on learning a trade. I never met a poor plumber or carpenter. I think the idea of the govt to try to provide an "artificial" way that manual labor type jobs can continue the way that they have is destined to fail.

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However, I think you're right in saying that we disagree on what gov't or private charity can provide. I think it's possible to provide basic food, shelter, and clothing for everyone. My reasoning is that we're already doing it. If a few (sane) people don't have these things, it's not lack of resources or will, it's just that they fell through the cracks or made other choices (e.g. If there is someone out there who is trading food stamps for drugs, there really is nothing we can do about that. However, we have enough money to pay for the food stamps.) Most other wealthy countries provide medical care for everyone, so it seems economically possible to do that, too.
I think we will have to agree to disagree on this issue. Even though it sounds cold and creul. Hunger and being cold are powerful motivators to achieve. For some, nothing less than that motivation will get them to start moving in a positive direction...
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Old 05-10-2009, 11:40 AM   #68
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The bad news for this spring's college graduates is that they're entering the toughest labor market in at least 25 years.

The worse news: Even those who land jobs will likely suffer lower wages for a decade or more compared to those lucky enough to graduate in better times, studies show.

. . . For example, a man who graduated in December 1982 when unemployment was at 10.8% made, on average, 23% less his first year out of college and 6.6% less 18 years out than one who graduated in May 1981 when the unemployment rate was 7.5%. For a typical worker, that would mean earning $100,000 less over the 18-year period.

. . . many graduates end up with lower-wage, lower-skill jobs at less-prestigious firms or in firms outside their field of interest. Once the economy picks up and they try for better jobs, these workers have to learn skills they should have been developing immediately out of college. In the meantime, colleagues who graduated in a better economy have already developed these skills and progressed much further.
Luck matters. The more you open your eyes to it, the more you see the considerable influence of randomness at work.

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Old 05-10-2009, 04:18 PM   #69
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Luck matters. The more you open your eyes to it, the more you see the considerable influence of randomness at work.
Or it is called selective observation.
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Old 05-10-2009, 06:14 PM   #70
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Luck matters. The more you open your eyes to it, the more you see the considerable influence of randomness at work.
Hard work matters more. I'm talking about people living in the United States.

It is a beautiful Sunday afternoon and I'm in my office at work (granted, I'm taking a break right now). Yesterday, Saturday, I was in my office from about 10:00 am to a little past midnight. I do not know when or if I will go home tonight. This likely will be a 100 hour week. I don't know how to say it in any other way. My willingness to focus on school/career over the past 35 years is why my salary today is $186K/yr (a good, but not exorbitant salary). Luck was 1%. Dedication was the other 99%.

And Ironically, I graduated from college in the same "unlucky" 1982 that you mention above.

So for the people earning at or near minimum wage ... if they're not spending the vast majority of their free time trying to improve themselves, either at their jobs or through education, then I don't see why my *hard earned* tax dollars should be giving them handouts. I don't see why they should be called "unlikely," when by and large, they're simply not willing to put in the effort necessary to better themselves.

This has nothing to do with not helping the truly needy or allowing people to starve. It's about excessive government bloat and the inherent disincentive to work. We live in a very generous nation. For example, I live well under the food stamp budget. I don't see why people who are on the receiving end of my tax dollars shouldn't be expected to do the same.
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Old 05-10-2009, 08:13 PM   #71
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Or it is called selective observation.
Exactly.
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Old 05-10-2009, 08:38 PM   #72
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Hard work matters more.
Really? Always? Has your hard work rewarded you with Nicky Hilton style wealth?

Clearly both hard work and luck have a roll. Sometimes one dominates the other. Often times its harder to tell the difference than many think (or want to believe).

And congratulation on the big salary . . . I only wonder how much more you would have earned had you been lucky enough to graduate a year earlier.
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Old 05-10-2009, 08:46 PM   #73
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And congratulation on the big salary . . . I only wonder how much more you would have earned had you been lucky enough to graduate a year earlier.
How does luck play into that?
To have graduated a year earlier one of the following would have to have happened:
1. advanced a grade at some point in time
2. born a year earlier
Neither of which involve luck.

I use the term luck as in a game of chance.
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Old 05-11-2009, 01:49 PM   #74
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How does luck play into that?
To have graduated a year earlier one of the following would have to have happened:
1. advanced a grade at some point in time
2. born a year earlier
Neither of which involve luck.

I use the term luck as in a game of chance.
2 does involve "luck" even if we borrow your definition. Although parents might plan things, the date of birth is a random or "chance" event for the child. Moreover, you could you get really "lucky" and be born on the cusp of the school calendar year and thus have the option of being one of the youngest ones in one grade or one of the oldest ones in another grade.
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Old 05-13-2009, 10:10 AM   #75
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Hard work matters more. I'm talking about people living in the United States.

It is a beautiful Sunday afternoon and I'm in my office at work (granted, I'm taking a break right now). Yesterday, Saturday, I was in my office from about 10:00 am to a little past midnight. I do not know when or if I will go home tonight. This likely will be a 100 hour week. I don't know how to say it in any other way. My willingness to focus on school/career over the past 35 years is why my salary today is $186K/yr (a good, but not exorbitant salary). Luck was 1%. Dedication was the other 99%.

And Ironically, I graduated from college in the same "unlucky" 1982 that you mention above.

So for the people earning at or near minimum wage ... if they're not spending the vast majority of their free time trying to improve themselves, either at their jobs or through education, then I don't see why my *hard earned* tax dollars should be giving them handouts. I don't see why they should be called "unlikely," when by and large, they're simply not willing to put in the effort necessary to better themselves.

This has nothing to do with not helping the truly needy or allowing people to starve. It's about excessive government bloat and the inherent disincentive to work. We live in a very generous nation. For example, I live well under the food stamp budget. I don't see why people who are on the receiving end of my tax dollars shouldn't be expected to do the same.
I think that "luck" and "hard work" both count, but 1% and 99% is a significant exaggeration.

Based on your post, I'd guess that I work(ed) about half as much as you, but I earn(ed) about 80% as much. Reversing the ratios, you work twice as hard for 25% more income. How do you explain that?

Or, half of full-time, year-round workers earn less than $40k per year. There must be millions who are earning in the low $30s. You earn 6x that, but you work, at most, 2.5x as much. How did that happen? Why don't they work a little harder for a lot more pay?

Or, there must be a CEO somewhere who is earning 10x what your are, but he can't be working much harder -- there aren't enough hours in the week. Why aren't you willing to increase your effort just a little so that you can get 10x the pay?
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