How to debate the subject of inequality with liberals

How to debate the subject of inequality with liberals
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Of all the issues that separate liberals from conservatives, I’d argue inequality is the one where the two sides are the furthest apart on.  Typically liberals vent about the pay of corporate CEOs or bankers and compare their salaries to minimum wage workers, teachers or anyone that gets paid less.  Then they advocate for higher taxes on the rich or higher minimum wages as the means to fix inequality.  Conservatives usually counter with something along the lines of “the free market should decide what we make for what we do.”  Many than add “In America we promise equal opportunity not equality of outcome.” 


If you’re a conservative, never say something like that!


It’s impossible to have equal opportunity for all.  The rich will send their children to the best schools, their children will then exit without the burden of debt and be handed a good paying job from a successful relative.  In other words, opportunity to succeed for the wealthy is bound to be far superior to the opportunity of success for the poor. 


My advice to all Republicans/conservatives is to embrace inequality as being something completely healthy and natural within any capitalist system.  Only under socialist governance is the liberal dream of equality possible and we all know what socialism does to economic growth.  Of course liberals will counter by saying that “inequality has gotten worse” but they’ll fail to count the increase in food stamps, unemployment, housing assistance, EITC payments.   But now we’re into the weeds, stick with the concept that equality isn’t something to be celebrated and there is no such thing as equality of opportunity.


Dino Manalis Added Oct 2, 2017 - 9:09am
Inequality is natural, but our policies shouldn't make it worse.  Quantitative easing has made inequality worse, because many depend on higher interest rates to grow their income.  We shouldn't punish success and wealth either, we ought to encourage it.
Bill Kamps Added Oct 2, 2017 - 9:22am
“inequality has gotten worse”
I think conservative have done a poor job of making their case. I think they have also failed to make a difference where that is possible.  Isolated situations like East Lake Atlanta have proven that even if the kids home life is broken, the children can thrive, and the cycle of poverty can be broken.  It does take more effort, and the conservatives have to answer to whether  it is worth the effort.  The interesting thing about East Lake is that when the children's lives started to improve, the home life did as well, because the parents saw hope for the future. 
Yes it is a false argument for equality of opportunity, much less equality of outcome.   However, even given that, the poor in the  US are much better off than they were 100 years ago or even 70.  If we look over long periods of time, it is clear that people are doing much better now than before. 
Inequality is a funny thing to measure, but it is obvious that it is better now than 100 years ago.  If we think the few control everything now, what was the case in the 1890s?   It was worse, even fewer controlled more.  The poor were more poor, and had less, with no real access to services.
In the 1950s there were large numbers of people without electricity in the US.  We do a much better job of dealing with poverty now, than then.  Is it good enough, no. 
Many of the homeless today, are homeless not just because of poverty, but because of various forms of mental illness.  We clearly need to do a better job addressing this.  In large part we have no plan for the marginally mentally ill.  Many are the result of the wars we continue to fight.
Yes the rich will go to better colleges, and private schools, but we are far from equal in public K-12 education.  Suburban schools are much better than inner city schools.  The tax base for these schools is much  stronger.  While we can say it is the fault  of the parents in the inner city, I think more has to be done to break the  cycle of generational poverty.   Again, experiments like East Lake show how it can be done.
Ari Silverstein Added Oct 2, 2017 - 9:49am
Dino: Prior to quantitative easing, interest rates were already anemic.
Bill: Those are all excellent arguments in pointing out the fallacy of the argument that inequality has gotten worse.  Two points of disagreement/comment:
I don’t know anything about East Lake Atlanta and your opinion on why things of changed for the better. I do know that the tax base for most urban school systems is far higher than suburban schools. On a cost per child basis urban schools spend far more than most suburban schools.  Accordingly, the problem with urban schools has nothing to do with money. 
While it’s true that Inequality is a very difficult thing to measure, I would also add that liberals choose to skew the calculation.  Take healthcare insurance, if it costs a company $10,000 to provide it to their employees, that’s the same thing as saying the employee is making $10,000 more than their reported income.  However, when liberals calculate inequality, they leave that money out to make it seem like wages are lower. 
Bill Kamps Added Oct 2, 2017 - 10:07am
If most money is spent per capita on urban schools than rural schools, why are the suburban schools, new, nice, large, and with many more facilities?  where does the money go in the urban schools?
Liberals also often leave out the value of benefits received from government programs . If a person gets $20K per year in salary, and another $20K per year from various government programs, they are still calculated as getting a salary of $20K, and therefore are still poor.
Read if you like.
Ian Thorpe Added Oct 2, 2017 - 10:43am
Aristotle said, "The greatest inequalities arise from efforts to make unequal things equal. (Well he said it in Greek obviously, but that was the message.)
Ari Silverstein Added Oct 2, 2017 - 10:46am
Bill: The answer to your questions is, because urban school districts waste money.  For example, they spend way more money than suburban districts on pensions.  A teacher that receives money not to teach does nothing for existing students in need of learning. Another problem with the inequality math is the fact it’s often based on tax return data. There is a lot of unreported income, especially for the poor, that will never be accounted for. 
Michael: I’m sorry but there is no such thing as correctly administered socialism.  Just think about what you’re saying.  Under socialism, whether I’m a doctor or a garbage collector, my take home pay should be the same.  As for the Nordic Model being better, I’m well aware the grass may appear greener (and in sticking with the grass analogy) however, once you get into the weeds, I’m sure there are flaws.  I’m sorry but I’m not interested in having a long-winded debate about Nordic economics in this comment thread.  I encourage you to write an article of your own.   
Ian: I had no idea Aristotle was a capitalist. 
Stone-Eater Added Oct 2, 2017 - 10:49am
We're animals. So the smarter and stronger survives. Only natural. But then: Is the baby of a Lion who leads the pack favored ? No. It will, as any other animal, have to fight for his standing in the group.
Advantage by birth only exists in humans.
George N Romey Added Oct 2, 2017 - 11:18am
The official poverty rate is about $24K for a family of four. Yet a family of four with a household income of $40K to $50K a year is the working poor and likely uses some sort of government assistance. A study about a year ago showed a little more than half of Americans making less than $30K.
Again we are not providing enough good jobs for our people thus the rise in working poor dependent on government assistance even though they are not considered officially “poor.”
Dave Volek Added Oct 2, 2017 - 11:26am
Your felt your quote "embrace inequality as being something completely healthy and natural" as a very honest opinion of conservatism. I do not agree with it, but at least you are not trying to justify your position as being some kind of God-given directive that only the foolish cannot see or the corrupt do not want to see. 
I went to your link on the East Lake Foundation. That is indeed a great project. I think many kids coming through that program will do better at life than if we had a more capitalistic model in place; i.e. let the poor families fend for their own children.
In this sense, society has made an investment in its people--and their will be dividends 20 years later from that investment.
Ari Silverstein Added Oct 2, 2017 - 11:38am
Stone: Won’t a mother lion do its best to see that its offspring survive. In other words, the stronger the parent the more likely the cubs will become successful adults as well.  If you should disagree, why does it matter humans are the only animals that have advantages at birth?
Michael: I think you’re confusing voluntary socialism with mandatory socialism.  Again, you really should write that article.
George: I couldn’t agree more, there are never enough good job.  What’s your point?
Dave: Thanks for the compliment.  Why do you disagree?
Bill Kamps Added Oct 2, 2017 - 11:43am
Dave, the capitalistic model of let the poor parents fend for themselves, I believe is capitalistically short sighted.  Drop outs, dont become customers of middle class businesses, they become a drag on the  economy raising tax rates for those who  are working. 
Therefore even if one never sets foot in the inner city, and cares not a bit how those folks live, we still have a capitalistic reason to try to make the kids able to get jobs, pay taxes and become customers of our various businesses. 
It takes a little more effort, but not a lot more effort.
Even A Broken Clock Added Oct 2, 2017 - 12:06pm
Ari, I appreciate your honest attempt to discuss this issue because it is at the core of many problems that we have in the nation. Here's some of the issues I see about inequality.
We have transitioned as a nation from a primarily manufacturing/ building / growing economy to a service economy in terms of the percentage of jobs. As a result, the opportunities available to those who work in the service economy are more limited than they were in the past. In addition, large corporations have displaced many entrepreneurs from the economy. People are noticing the reduction in new business formation. Well, who is going to start a hardware store when everyone goes to Lowes or Home Depot? Now the only jobs in this area are available to sales clerks and stocking positions, and maybe you can aspire to be a manager.
The service industry jobs are not compensated at a rate that will enable a reasonable standard of living, especially in larger urban areas. Some would argue as I do that there is a systematic undervaluing of care-providing jobs, such as home health care and nursing / assisted living facilities workers. This assists in building up a bifurcated income distribution, with a large bump in the lower income range, followed by a smaller bump with a large tail in the upper income ranges.
So for those who are not able to participate in the knowledge economy, how can they move from the bottom rung in the economic system up towards a level where they aren't washed away by the swelling waves of rising expenses? I'm not proposing solutions here, just wanting to point out some of the reasons why inequality is growing despite the rise in government spending programs.
George N Romey Added Oct 2, 2017 - 12:15pm
Broken clock even those "knowledge jobs" are limited in size.  Just ask any unemployed 55 year old engineer or technology worker.  Even if we could take all the service employees and give them better skills most of them would still be in low paid service jobs because of the smaller size of "knowledge jobs."  Think of the number of employees at Facebook versus what GM used to employ.  As you correctly pointed out this is what has happened with the hallowing out of our manufacturing base.  And as I have correctly pointed out if I do so say myself that also impacts even the professional classes and those that would want to be part of the professional class.
wsucram15 Added Oct 2, 2017 - 12:34pm
Even a Broken CLock..good breakdown.   They will never bring back manufacturing now which is helped build the middle class.  But it is with training and innovation that we can move forward..but thats expensive.    Need educational subsidies for people or companies need to train already skilled employees a little further and then hire to fill gaps.
Stone-Eater Added Oct 2, 2017 - 12:38pm
You get me wrong.
In other words, the stronger the parent the more likely the cubs will become successful adults as well
What means stronger ? Financially stronger does not automatically mean intellectually stronger. And undoubtedly kids of rich parents have a much bigger chance to "succeed" after, but not because they're smarter, but the way was already paved. They can be he-man-huh-whatthefuck, it doesn't matter. Why do I have the impression that your actual prez comes from that side ? Or to speak with Trump: Very, very sad. Bad, bad people. That Little Rocket Man.
Poor Rex. He deserved better than that rich fool.
Stone-Eater Added Oct 2, 2017 - 12:43pm
BTW Ari: Just a view from the OUTSIDE, as I always say. We have the impression that US politics is in a fog and waits for the sky to clear up....
Stone-Eater Added Oct 2, 2017 - 12:46pm
Where's your article about the MIC you posted Oct. 2 ? I get back to the home page when I click on it here. Ari has noted to follow it....
George N Romey Added Oct 2, 2017 - 12:48pm
Jeanne I know personally more than 10 people in their 50s that have become systemically unemployed.  These were people born in ghettos and other hard pressed areas and that against all odds at one time won.  Now for example my friend Lydia with an MBA and 30 years experience in Public Poverty (she worked for Harvard and was laid off) at age 60 is back to where her two janitor parents were.  Makes you think poverty is becoming a hopeless cause in this country, we just keep adding to it.
Stone-Eater Added Oct 2, 2017 - 12:52pm
What exactly is poverty ? Seen from where ? In Africa poverty means eating some days, here in the Western world people say they're poor when they can't pay their internet bill or the kids can't buy brand clothes...
A matter of perspective......
Ari Silverstein Added Oct 2, 2017 - 1:02pm
Even a Broken Clock: The assumption that increased service industry jobs is the primary reason for increased inequality, is something I disagree with on two levels.  The first is the assumption inequality has gone up.  Please read my dialogue with Bill, it highlights some of the reasons why that assumption in accurate. 
As for service industry jobs being worse than manufacturing jobs, I disagree. Most manufacturing jobs are low-pay and can be accomplished by lesser-skilled employees.  By way of example, as our economy advanced it, our cost of labor made it so that we were no longer competitive in producing textiles.  Accordingly, almost the entire textile industry is located overseas in what we would call a “sweat-shop.”  However, for a poor Bangladeshian, I’m sure the job is highly coveted.  After considering the alternatives, I doubt they even consider the working conditions bad.  As for us, we have more difficult tasks to accomplish, thanks to our advanced society.   
Stone: Is it not possible to have a conversation without bringing up the Tweeter in Chief?  You didn’t answer my question, why does it matter that humans are the only animals that have advantages at birth?
opher goodwin Added Oct 2, 2017 - 1:09pm
Inequality is never right but a natural outcome of life.
But what we have now is not inequality - it is super-inequality.
The degree of inequality that exists today is not scandalous, not obscene, not immoral - it is much worse than that - it is beyond evil. For the rich to scam the poor, to create the mass poverty, the misery and death, so that they can have another penthouse and another yacht; for them to cause the wars and environmental destruction out of their greed and selfishness, is inexcusable.
The level of inequality is becoming so great, and people are becoming so aware of its injustice and cause, that I think we are moving towards a violent revolution.
That's what happens.
Stone-Eater Added Oct 2, 2017 - 1:22pm
why does it matter that humans are the only animals that have advantages at birth?
Because it's not FAIR. Because fairness should be one of our achievements coming from our intellectual capabilities. We've overcome the survival drive, or we should think we I said:
And undoubtedly kids of rich parents have a much bigger chance to "succeed" after, but not because they're smarter, but the way was already paved
This is not a "natural selection" anymore. It's a selection that reminds me of medievan monarchies. Elon Musk is, as Bill Gates, a caricature, just an example. Where would Musk be without Nikola Tesla, who was a genius and died poor ?
It's NOT about intellect of the stronger. It's about how you market yourself.
Dave Volek Added Oct 2, 2017 - 1:33pm
Why do I disgree?
For a very short time, I was a libertarian. I read some Ayn Rand stuff and it made all perfect sense.
Then I realized that I came from the working poor. Had the government not provided for my education, I doubt my father would have picked up the slack. He could not afford it and he didn't value it that much. But since it was free, he acquiesced to the government's action.  Without it, I would have become a full time farm worker at the age of 8, just like my grandparents from Eastern Europe. I would not have become educated enough to read Ayn Rand.
Governments have role to play in both ensuring individual initiative is not stifled and a reasonable opportunity for all to succeed, which includes reasonable education for children of economic classes.
In Canada and the US, I do not see any sign of individual initiative being stifled. For example, I haven't heard any hockey-talented young man quitting his sport because if he gets drafted into the NHL he is going to paying a 50% marginal tax rate. The hockey player still gets to earn their living in an occupation he loves and takes home a lot more money than most of us can only dream of.  If taxes from professional hockey players is going to pay for schools, that is great. 
Mike Haluska Added Oct 2, 2017 - 2:21pm
The UK's Margaret Thatcher had the best response to this stupidity!
George N Romey Added Oct 2, 2017 - 2:21pm
Opher you are right as history shows.  When too much of the wealth is concentrated into to few hands not so good things happen.  SEF many of these so called geniuses were afforded the best in life (tutors, private schools, Ivy League education, all the right connections) because of their birthright. Do you think Chelsea Clinton ever had to comb through the listings on LinkedIn or Indeed?  Some were lucky, prime example George W Bush.
Stone-Eater Added Oct 2, 2017 - 3:02pm
Chelsea Clinton ever had to comb through the listings on LinkedIn or Indeed? 
Might as well name a turkey for the next nominee for a Nobel Prize LOL
Good example and period.
Ari Silverstein Added Oct 2, 2017 - 3:48pm
Opher: I think one that performs exceptional work should be rewarded for their efforts.  Who is any of us to decide how much is too much, the free market should decide.  Furthermore, I think the degree of inequality was far worse in the past.  After all, it wasn’t too long ago that the Rockefeller, Carnegie and Venderbilt family owned pretty much everything.
Stone: It wouldn’t be fair to the wealthy to make so that they couldn’t provide their off-spring a better life.  By way of example, the thing I care about most in my life is the well-being of my children.  No government bureaucrat is going to take a way my right to give them a head start. 
Dave: You make an excellent argument why government must provide some level of services for the poor.  I completely agree that education is one of those services that government can’t ignore.  The question is how much of those services are absolutely necessary, because for each one that’s offered that’s less money hard working people get to keep.  I think a 50% marginal tax rate is an outrageous amount of money for the government to take.  The fact you don’t, more or less explains why you’re not a libertarian anymore.
John: Write more than one comment in a row like you just did and I’ll I have to start deleting them.  I’m sorry but you’re not going to disrupt this conversation. 
Ian Thorpe Added Oct 2, 2017 - 3:57pm
"Ian, I had no idea Aristotle was a capitalist"
Neither did he LOL
Stone-Eater Added Oct 2, 2017 - 4:05pm
It wouldn’t be fair to the wealthy to make so that they couldn’t provide their off-spring a better life
I agree when seeing that the wealthy got to their wealth by WORK or by sheer speculation and connections they inherited. And the kids should have to earn their way independently of that - ok, Illusion.
I'm pretty old-fashioned and can't see why a guy who was working for 40 years in a coal mine is worth less than a 40-year-old who's a hedge fund manager.
The coal miner provided heating for the people. The hedge fonds manager does fuck all for the regular Joe as a result. He's as virtual as his product.
Sorry. but I'm someone who still likes to notice a result of economics in my pocket. As probably 300 million Americans do too :-)
Stone-Eater Added Oct 2, 2017 - 4:05pm
...NOT by sheer....sorry.
Ari Silverstein Added Oct 2, 2017 - 4:57pm
Stone: I don’t see how it’s any of your business why someone is wealthy.  The market has chosen to reward some people and not reward others.  If someone that is wealthy chooses to give his wealth to his heirs, he should be free to do so unharmed.  To take away the right to pass on your wealth is probably the worst idea I’ve ever heard.  It would mean everything I work for would eventually be owned by the government.  I definitely look to grow my nest egg in a country that wouldn’t eventually take it away.  Don’t take my word for it, look at all the wealthy Chinese and Russians who look to move their nest egg to America because they know it won’t be harmed here. 
Dave Volek Added Oct 2, 2017 - 4:59pm
I think a 50% marginal tax rate is an outrageous amount of money for the government to take. 
Now you are getting all emotional. By what standard is this an outrageous tax? If we call this outrageous, then next is 40%, then 30% then 10%. Maybe we should just go straight to a poll tax: $10,000 a head regardless of how much one earns.
The yardstick I offered is "stifling individual initiative". Give me one example of a business person or entertainer who stopped working when their income reached $303,000 a year, the level of income when the 48% marginal tax rate kicks in (in Alberta).
In the 70s and 80s, various European countries experimented with an 80 to 90% marginal rate. And it was observed that high performing people often stopped or  slowed down their efforts for a more relaxed pace of life. But at 50%, they continue on working at a similar rate.
George N Romey Added Oct 2, 2017 - 5:55pm
If the rich really wanted to eliminate loopholes to bring down the overall marginal rate it would have occurred years ago. Most want their deductions and will take the 50% rate. Also passive income is not taxed at that rate.
Ari Silverstein Added Oct 2, 2017 - 5:56pm
Dave: Yes, I think the tax rate matters greatly. It would defy logic that people would work equally hard if they only get to take home 50% of their effort. It also defies logic to punish people for being successful in the form of higher tax rates. I get the fact the government needs money to perform necessary services, but I don't wish to have a long-winded discussion on the appropriate amount. The fact of the matter is that you want to fleece the rich more so than we already do and I think people are entitled to the money hey earn.
Thomas Sutrina Added Oct 2, 2017 - 6:01pm
I would like to have a modern liberal which is much different then a classic liberal please please please provide ONE NATION  where this is true, "Only under socialist governance is the liberal dream of equality possible."  USSR, China, North Korea, Cuba, Argentina, Greece, Yugoslavia, Albania, and Venezuela. have at least a two tier system of the bureaucrats that are paid to maintain order and rule and the others.   They may have a small capitalist middle tier to help maintain a standard of living for the lower tier.  One thing not mentioned below is that modern liberal ignore facts.   They thing because I can create in my mind utopia it can exist, it should exist and I only have to work hard to achieve it.  But no measures or schedule is put forth to say the price is too high and thus not achievable. 
Now back to the general discussion.
Moral foundation theory I found in Wikipedia tells us that modern liberals, populist, and conservatives because they rank the six foundations of morality differently.  
* caring and protecting as opposed to harming
*Fairness and proportionality, sharing and justice as opposed to cheating
*Liberty a limited set of 'shall not rules'  as opposed to a plethora of regulations with penalties
*Loyalty to family religion, nation, race, sex, etc. as opposed to betrayal
*Authority or respect of tradition and legitimacy as opposed to subversion
*Sanctity or purity the keeping of moral standards as opposed to degradation
Modern liberal only concern themselves with not harming and fairness, the first two.  The others are not important and they think seldom about them.
Conservatives fall in line with classic liberals that the founders of the USA would be defined as.  They hold all of the six about equally and have to find a balance for all of them.
Populist or moderates are between the modern liberals and conservatives.  so not harming and fairness rank above liberty, loyalty, authority and sanctity but they are still considered in finding a balance.
The debate needs to be couched first in finding commonality in interest which means  to discuss not harming and fairness.   Only on these subjects can a conservative start to discuss outcomes.  The question put forth where I asked about outcomes.  A conclusion must be achieved before the unimportant issues of the lower four moral concerns should be just touched on.  And only couched in how they effect not harming and fairness.
George N Romey Added Oct 2, 2017 - 7:14pm
There has always been income inequality and a certain amount is good because it fosters motivation. However this level is not heathy for a society, particularly one that was based wide spread prosperity. Not since the guilded age have incomes been so wide apart. The question is what do you value more a strong middle class or a serfdom society?
Tom Hewitt Added Oct 2, 2017 - 9:41pm
Dave Volek @ 1:33 pm
"Had the government not provided for my education, I doubt my father would have picked up the slack."
You mean "formal education", as in going to school. Everyone is educated by simply acquiring knowledge in every day life. Aside from that, why should those be the only two sources of the wherewithal for formal education? Why aren't employers responsible for the education of prospective employees? They're responsible for their land, buildings, inventory, research, etc., etc. But they expect well-trained people to walk in the door and be ready to go to work, employees well-trained at their own expense. There's no reason it should be that way. In fact, most new employees go through some sort of training or orientation when they start work. It would have been quite simple for society to expect businesses to supply the education to needed for their employees at no cost to them.
Ari Silverstein Added Oct 3, 2017 - 6:19am
Thomas: Next time you copy and paste an unrelated comment, it will be deleted.
George: What would you prefer, poor people living higher quality of lives or lower quality of lives?
John: America isn’t a country striving for democracy…we already have one.  So I don’t see how your comment is applicable to this conversation.
Stone-Eater Added Oct 3, 2017 - 6:43am
The market has chosen to reward some people and not reward others. 
When this reward comes out of personal achievements and not simple birth advantages and network connections, I agree. Work and effort have to be honored, not being born wealthy.
If someone that is wealthy chooses to give his wealth to his heirs, he should be free to do so unharmed
I wasn't saying otherwise. But a certain taxation should be effected. Because it's in some way "earned" money.....
Thomas Sutrina Added Oct 3, 2017 - 8:22am
Ari S., this is your subject, "How to Debate the Subject of Inequality with Liberals?"   Yes, then citing, "Why Conservatives Can't Understand Liberals and Vice Versa," is this talking about why the debate is so difficult to have in the first place. 
I said,"The debate needs to be couched first in finding commonality in interest which means  to discuss not harming and fairness.   Only on these subjects can a conservative start to discuss outcomes. "  Right on target of your subject and the copied material set the bases for the comment. 
I know people in WB deliver opinions.  I alway try to respond above that minimum level.    That takes a little research.  Throwing down a half dozen web sites is common or even just one.  The problem is that most cases the relevant information on the site(s) is time consuming to find if you actually find it.   Authors actual present the word of the cited author for that reason.
Ari Silverstein Added Oct 3, 2017 - 9:07am
Stone: I also have a lot more respect for those that make their money via hard work, versus those were born to wealth.  Having said that, my children will be the benefit of my hard and you seem perfectly OK taking their money because they didn’t earn it.  If the Trump tax plan is enacted the tax man won’t be coming for them when I die.  I’m sure that disappoints you greatly, but the alternative is for rich people to stop earning and that’s why his plan is sure to cause the economy to grow.    
Thomas: If it’s too difficult for you to read the articles and provide relevant comment, maybe you should be on a different site. 
Stone-Eater Added Oct 3, 2017 - 9:25am
I’m sure that disappoints you greatly, but the alternative is for rich people to stop earning and that’s why his plan is sure to cause the economy to grow. 
It doesn't. But don't tell me that all people amass their fortune for their kids only ! We're basically egoists, if we admit that or not ;)
All I'm basically saying is that I find it unjust that rich kids have better chances than poor kids, and intelligence is not based on material circumstances. What comes out of it is a different story.
Kids should have equal chances to start in life. I know it's an illusion, but in our ultraneoliberal societies the chance for that is significantly smaller than in any socialist or socio-democratic system.
Stone-Eater Added Oct 3, 2017 - 9:26am
BTW: When I talk of socialism I mean the THEORY of socialism. I don't say that ever existed in reality. It didn't.
opher goodwin Added Oct 3, 2017 - 9:50am
Ari - I also believe that a man or woman should be rewarded for the effort they put in. What I do not believe is that they should have the right to exploit others to gain wealth or to create misery for self-gain.
A man or woman works for a certain length of time. The reward should be proportionate to the time, effort and worth. At present a small elite are scamming off the top. What they do is not work. It is not worthy of reward. Yet they bring in thousands of times more than the honest people who work at valuable occupations.
You defend an immoral system.
Billy Roper Added Oct 3, 2017 - 9:58am
Free men are not equal, and equal men are not free. Equality is a myth, and Marxism killed tens of millions pursuing the myth.
Stone-Eater Added Oct 3, 2017 - 10:08am
Marxism didn't kill anybody. It was the plan of a capitalist elite to exploit people equally for their own profit and sell it as socialism. And it worked. Propaganda. Religion works the same way.
Neither Stalin, Lenin, nor Pol Pot were communists or socialists in the sense of the word. They were dictators for their own power and wealth.
Just like any presidents/leaders today. Some have restricted power, some not. But none of them are there for the good of all. Human nature.
Ari Silverstein Added Oct 3, 2017 - 11:37am
Stone: I find it “just” that rich parents are able to pass on their wealth.  Once again, so long as we live in a capitalist country, there is no such thing as equal chances at the start of life.  I have no idea what an ultraneoliberal society or socio-democratic system is…I'm not all that into labels.  It's difficult enough to explain the differences between capitalism and socialism.   
Opher: When someone makes oodles of money it doesn’t mean they have exploited others or created misery.  Generally speaking when someone makes a pile of money it’s because they created something people value and along the way a lot of people are provided gainful employment.  For example, I believe over a thousand people became millionaires while working for Bill Gates and I wrote that using Microsoft Word.
Billy: You may be a raging anti-Semite but on matters concerning the economy, it appears we agree. 
Dave Volek Added Oct 3, 2017 - 11:38am
I am in the 25% marginal tax rate. In other words, if I earn another $4, $1 goes to government. I should too claim that this is outrageous. The working poor are paying only about 15% as their marginal rate. Maybe I should claim that they are taking advantage of me.
I am hoping that my book sells really well. I will be very happy to be paying a 50% marginal tax rate!
In the 1980s, Sweden had a doctor shortage. It was rather strange in that Sweden had just as many doctors as any other western nation (per capita) and was graduating new doctors from its universities.
What they found out was that doctors were only working half time. With the 80% to 90% marginal tax, it did not pay for them to work full time. So they spent a lot of time at home, and fixed their cars and renovated their houses or learned to cook gourmet meals. The government brought marginal tax rates back to 50%, and the doctors went back to work fulltime. They hired carpenters and mechanics and went to restaurants.
It would defy logic that people would work equally hard if they only get to take home 50% of their effort. It also defies logic to punish people for being successful in the form of higher tax rates.
It may defy logic, but a lot of successful people in Canada are still working hard at a 50% marginal tax rate. Professionals and businesses have a few tools with shell companies to reduce their tax bill a bit. Employees with high salaries are paying the full shot. My boss is probably in a 35% tax bracket. I don't see her finding ways to work less hours.  
It may defy your logic, but all data from western nations suggests a 50% marginal tax rate does not reduce individual initiative significantly.
If you continue to argue this on some kind of moral terms, I would say that high marginal tax rates have been around for a long time.  If you chose a higher paying occupation, then you also accepted the social contract that if you earned a high income, you were going to have a higher tax rate. If you didn't like that, then you had a choice to take on a lower paying occupation.
Stone-Eater Added Oct 3, 2017 - 11:58am
Once again, so long as we live in a capitalist country, there is no such thing as equal chances at the start of life.
That's what I say. So why do you defend it ?
I have no idea what an ultraneoliberal society or socio-democratic system is…
I call that ultraneoliberal, sorry, we can call it corporatocracy.
And what concerns social democracy:
Sorry, Wiki. But it's quite correct.
opher goodwin Added Oct 3, 2017 - 12:52pm
Ari - Nobody 'earns' billions.
opher goodwin Added Oct 3, 2017 - 12:54pm
Billy - equality is in the worth of a person and how they are treated and valued. It is not creating a stereotyped clone. Everyone is deserving of respect and to be treated fairly.
Thomas Sutrina Added Oct 3, 2017 - 12:55pm
So maybe you should write a clearer article.  You jump into specific examples.   So is the article on the examples or the fact that they disagree?  
You say, "My advice to all Republicans/conservatives is to embrace inequality as being something completely healthy and natural within any capitalist system."  But then you can not have a discussion with a liberal.  So the subject is not talking with a liberal.  May the title should be 'telling a (modern) liberal he is wrong'.  
"Of course liberals will counter by saying that “inequality has gotten worse” "  gets back to them only being concerned about the first two, not harming and fairness.
I do not think I have any problem understanding your article maybe you have a problem seeing other points of view, Ari S..
opher goodwin Added Oct 3, 2017 - 12:56pm
You know - strangely - many people work hard at jobs not just to get oodles of money but because they find those jobs fulfilling and worthwhile.
Ari Silverstein Added Oct 3, 2017 - 1:00pm
Dave: After deductions, nearly half the country pays a marginal tax rate of 0%.  So the fact you pay 25% makes you a rarity.  So I agree, you’re being taken advantage of.  I think the tax rate should be the same percentage for everyone.  We should all have skin in the game so that we all care how much our government is spending. 
Your doctor example is an excellent argument for my side of this debate.  Essentially you’re conceding that people aren’t willing to work when the tax rate is too high, but are willing to work if it is lower/lowered.  There is no reason to think the same phenomena doesn’t continue the lower tax rates go.  In other words, the lower the rate the more we work.  However, somehow you’ve made the decision that 50% is the magic number where it suddenly ceases to be true.  Again, this is what I mean about your theory defying logic.  After all, I wonder how many more carpenters and mechanics those doctors would have hired if those doctors started paying a 25% tax rate?
Stone: I defend the freedom to keep what we earn and give it away unharmed. I don’t know what a corporatocracy is, but I do know that corporations are the hand that feeds us. What is it with you and your labels? 
Stone-Eater Added Oct 3, 2017 - 1:58pm
I do know that corporations are the hand that feeds us.
Ok, so be it. Keep it simple and tell that to the WalMart slave. And tell him what a banker gets for shoveling data around. I guess we won't be able to understand each other but that's ok :-)
Dave Volek Added Oct 3, 2017 - 2:06pm
The doctors in my town are in the 50% marginal tax rate. They are probably working 60 hours a week. If their initiative were sapped, they would probably go to 30 or 40 hours a week. If the tax rates were reduced to 25%, they would not work 80 hours a week. They too have their recreations and families that need their presence. Money is not the sole motivator to getting things done in this world.
The Calgary Flames just signed a $1,000,000 a year hockey player. With 84 games in the regular season schedule, he gets a gross pay about $12,000 a game. After 25 games, he moves into the 50% tax bracket, so he is netting only $6,000 a game. I don't see his initiative being reduced to stop him from playing more hockey games.
The Laffer Curve is an economic theory that the government's tax revenue becomes counter productive after raising a tax to a certain point. Like the Swedish doctors, high-income earners will indeed drop out of the economy to some degree if the rates are too high. Proponents of this theory say a 70% marginal tax rate is where initiative is sapped and the government maximizes its tax revenue.
I haven't seen any any high-income earner deliberately reducing his or her working hours with a 50% marginal tax rate. They will probably work the same hours if this rate is reduced to 40% or increased 60%. Of course, many of them will try to manipulate the political process to get their rate lowered--and will cite moral arguments like you have cited. But there is no data to support a 50% marginal tax rate saps individual initiative. But there is data that a 70% marginal tax rate starts changing the output of high-income earners. 
I noticed that you ducked my claim that high income earners have, in essence, signed a social contract with their society. They walked into their high-income occupation with their eyes wide open on how much they were going to be taxed. If they didn't like the deal, they were free to earn a lower income and not pay as much tax.
And they are free to lobby and influence government to lower their tax rate. If they are unable to convince the government to make the changes they want, they still have to play by the old rules.
If high-income earners really don't like paying taxes (which I think is real issue because many high income earners believe they are the saviors of the economy), they are free to take their capital and talents to places that don't have a working tax code--like Somalia.
And I would help them pack their suitcase. Canada needs more entrepreneurs with a social conscience that understand their ability to create and enjoy wealth depends on a strong civil society that depends on a progressive tax code.
Mike Haluska Added Oct 3, 2017 - 5:19pm
Dave - here's something to ponder about the morality of Income Tax:
If the government (or anyone) confiscated 100% of your income, what would you call that arrangement?  I would call it slavery/servitude, wouldn't you?
So when you think about Income Taxes, whatever the percentage is just determines how far close you are to being a slave - it's incremental slavery. 
We all have a finite amount of time on this Earth.  A major portion of that time is consumed by earning a living - survival.  When a government, group or individual confiscates part or all of our earnings, it is essentially stealing a part or all of our lives.  When we can no longer determine what to do with our earnings because someone else has taken them, we are then beholding to that person to "parcel out" what they see fit for us to continue living.
This is essential what ALL socialist states degrade to.   
opher goodwin Added Oct 3, 2017 - 6:46pm
Mike - rubbish. Paying a fair amount for the services that everybody needs is not slavery. That is what fair, caring societies do. They chip in for education, defence, welfare, garbage collection, fire service etc. so that those in need get catered for. It is the cement that holds a society together. It is civilisation.
I've said it before - the judgement of a civilised nation is how well it treats its weakest members. The US is pretty bad at that. They don't tax enough and consequently end up with lousy education, lousy policing and let down the poor, sick and weakest members.
It's time they started acting like a civilised country. The Wild West is dead and buried.
Saint George Added Oct 3, 2017 - 9:32pm
Taxes are paid with $ that the government has previously spent (created by fiat) into the private sector.
Sophistry, misdirection, and irrelevancies, as usual.
Saint George Added Oct 4, 2017 - 2:58am
Actually, socialism isn't a bad model at all if it's administered correctly
Putting up an example like Venezuela as being a bad example of socialism (which you're about to do) is like putting up an example of Syria as a bad example of capitalism.
Huh? But Syria is NOT capitalist, while Venezuela IS socialist. 
Do the following:
1) Clarify what you mean by "correctly"; 
2) Cite an example of a socialist society that is administered "correctly" according to your view of what that word means.
opher goodwin Added Oct 4, 2017 - 3:50am
John G - that seems true - they really do not want to spend money on the masses. They have utmost disdain for ordinary people. The only people who matter are the establishment.
Saint George Added Oct 4, 2017 - 4:23am
Taxation comes after spending
Not my spending, that's for sure.
Alas, that's only from Joe Public-Sector Bureaucrat's perspective. From Joe Private Citizen's perspective, it's the other way around.
Amending Goodwin's post: the only one who truly shows contempt for ordinary people in the private sector is our own skid-mark-g, who only looks at things from the public-sector bureaucrat's point of view, and never from a private individual's point of view.
That's been apparent in all of your posts, skiddy-doo-dah, which is the main reason you are a fraud.
opher goodwin Added Oct 4, 2017 - 5:23am
Saint - defending quality education and public services is the greatest thing you can do for ordinary people. I don't defend bureaucracy. I defend quality services. Your approach is to cut them to the bone so they don't function. That is the reason America has the most ignorant population in the civilised world.
Start applying intelligent instead of dogma.
Ari Silverstein Added Oct 4, 2017 - 6:15am
Stone: What’s a Walmart slave?  Are you suggesting Walmart employees are working against their will?
Dave: Of course some won’t change their desire to work, no matter what the tax rate is.  However, some doctors will throw in the towel and decide that the rat race isn’t worth it anymore, seeing how much they have to give to the government.  Others will work under the table performing house calls for cash.  Others will work part time to stay under the max tax brackets.  Some won't decide to be doctors because after factoring in the cost of school and the after tax pay, it doesn't make economic sense.  Etc. etc. 
As Ronald Reagan famously said: if you want more of something, subsidize it; if you want less of something, tax it.  This entire debate we’re having hinges on your belief that at a certain tax rate one’s behavior doesn’t change.  That’s totally illogical, but I feel like I’ve said that before.  The rest of your comment doesn’t need to be addressed if you can’t get beyond this point.  But should you concede that behavior changes no matter the tax rate, I’d address your other points. 
John: Debating whether or not America is a “real” democracy is way too off topic.  I get the sense you're one of those people that hates America.  This means you'll never agree with anything I write, because everything is with intention of helping our country (and any other country that chooses to follow our lead).  
Stone-Eater Added Oct 4, 2017 - 6:20am
Stone: What’s a Walmart slave?  Are you suggesting Walmart employees are working against their will?
They work there because the don't have another choice mostly. It's not about will but about possibilities....
Ari Silverstein Added Oct 4, 2017 - 8:43am
Stone: There is a huge difference between forced to work and choosing to work.  All of Walmart’s employees could choose to not work and live entirely of the government dole or work at some other low-paying type of job.  They choose to work at Walmart.  You should be thankful to Walmart for providing these people a job and you low prices.  Instead you accuse Walmart of being a part of some evil corporatocracy and engaging in slave labor.  
Mike Haluska Added Oct 4, 2017 - 11:02am
opher - you make a perfectly valid point:
"Paying a fair amount for the services that everybody needs is not slavery. That is what fair, caring societies do. They chip in for education, defence, welfare, garbage collection, fire service etc."
Let me clarify my position.  I understand that there are certain legitimate functions of government that need to be supported by taxation - such as defense, police, law courts, etc. - our Constitution specifies those duties.  We have a different view of whether we should be using the government as a method of enforced charity, but that is a different discussion.  It is the method of tax collection I have a problem with.  Aside from the moral issues I mentioned, the Income Tax is an overly complex, oppressive, costly to administer and enforce, perverted and inefficient system of collecting "revenue" for the government. 
You'll note that in the US we call this department of government the "Internal Revenue Service" - NOT the "Internal Tax Collection Service".  The originators of the IRS knew about the un-Constitutionality of an Income Tax and came up with the euphemism "Revenue" to avoid detection. 
I am convinced that a National Sales Tax should replace the Income Tax for the following reasons:
1) Today's technology would make collection nearly foolproof and effortless.  There would be no need to report your individual expenditures (no complicated "Sales Tax Returns" to file) and the government would get their funds almost immediately - especially with credit/debit card purchases.
2) It could be designed to aid low income families by exempting the basic necessities (groceries, housing, medical, etc.) from the sales tax.
3) Businesses would no longer waste $Billions on tax accountants, tax attorneys, tax lobbyists - they would be obsolete.
4) There is no way to avoid paying the sales tax - even criminals would have to pay.
5) There is a much higher degree of transparency and fairness since there are no deductions, brackets, write-offs, etc. that only a few can take advantage of.
6) Politicians could no longer play "class warfare" with the Tax Code.
7) The people know exactly what the tax rate they're paying is and it's the same for everyone.
8) For those who "insist on punishing the rich", since the wealthy spend FAR MORE than the poor, they will pay far more.
9) It would end $Billions wasted by the government dealing with tax lobbyists and special interest groups.
Your thoughts???
Mike Haluska Added Oct 4, 2017 - 11:06am
John G - your claim:
"Taxation comes after spending."
would be argued with by anyone earning a paycheck.  Your mistake is understandable since only someone who works for a living would see a pay stub with their "gross pay" and a significantly diminshed "net pay".
Mike Haluska Added Oct 4, 2017 - 11:10am
Stone - regarding your statement:
"They work there because the don't have another choice mostly."
I would say that this is a universal condition since our earliest common ancestors were expelled from the Garden of Eden.  How many do you know who work if they don't have to???
Mike Haluska Added Oct 4, 2017 - 11:14am
opher - your claim:
"That is the reason America has the most ignorant population in the civilised world."
is partially correct.  America does have a large segment of the population who are ignorant - they were all "educated" in our Public School System.  And it's not due to lack of funding since ours is the most expensive Public School System on Earth based on $/pupil.
Mike Haluska Added Oct 4, 2017 - 11:20am
Ari - thanks for bringing up Reagan's quote:
"As Ronald Reagan famously said: if you want more of something, subsidize it; if you want less of something, tax it."
We all want LESS poverty and more prosperity.  So what does the government's tax policy do?
Our tax policy SUBSIDIZES behavior leading to poverty and PUNISHES behavior that leads to prosperity!!!  It's a damned miracle that America functions at all!! 
Ari Silverstein Added Oct 4, 2017 - 1:39pm
Mike: When people like Opher say Americans are more ignorant than everyone else I usually dismiss it as more evidence of anti-Americanism and unworthy of my time.  After all, we have the highest GDP in the world by a wide margin and have been around for less time than the rest of the industrialized world, so of course we're smarter than everyone else.  
opher goodwin Added Oct 4, 2017 - 2:52pm
Mike - I worked in state school in Los Angeles. The kids were great. The standards were crap. The funding was abysmal. I was using materials I used with thirteen year old students with my top eighteen year olds.
Education is not valued and not funded.
opher goodwin Added Oct 4, 2017 - 2:55pm
Ari - I'm certainly not anti-American. I love the place; it's energy and vitality. A beautiful country and I have great friends there. But America has big failings too. I lived there for 18 months all told in two periods - 1971 and 1979/80 - but I certainly would not want to live there permanently. It's far too violent for me.
One of the big failings is an inability to take any criticism. Americans think they are the best in the world at everything. They are manifestly not.
Dave Volek Added Oct 4, 2017 - 3:26pm
I have to agree with you that the bulk of our tax revenue should come from a sales tax. You make some very good points to support this economic policy. There are already various version of VAT systems being tried in the world. America could take a look and see what works well and what doesn't, then create its own version. As we implement a VAT, we should be lowering both income and corporate taxes.
Of course it would be silly to tax everyone at 100%. This would kill all individual initiative. Only the very silly would push for an economic policy like this.
On the converse side, a 0% tax rate is silly too. As you have stated in your last post, we have to pay for things like schools, police, etc. So we are going to be somewhere between 0% and 100%. Neither extreme will work.
Economic data suggests (Laffer Curve) that most high income earners do not withdraw their services from the marketplace until the marginal rate reaches 70%. To me, that sounds a little too high. But I sure don't see any Canadian high income earners withdrawing their services at 50%. 
Your paragraph on "some doctors" has no relevance. I don't know any doctors who have thrown in the towel because of the taxes they pay. I don't know any doctors who make house calls or work under the table. I don't know of any students not following their medical school dreams because they will face a 50% tax rate 10 years down the road. 
I know one doctor who works part-time. She puts her kids in day care in the morning, does some clinic hours, and spends the afternoon with her kids. She has found a balance between her family, keeping her medical license active, and keeping her medical skills fresh. She did not make this choice to move into a lower tax bracket.
I know one math teacher who had aspirations of becoming a doctor. He believes he could have done medical school, but he didn't want to go through the extra five or so years of school. He wasn't looking at the 50% marginal tax rate. And experienced Canadian teachers are at about 35% tax rate. He certainly didn't make his decision to change faculties based on 15 percentage points.
Logic may say people will withdraw their services at 50%. If there is any dropout, it is insignificant in terms of altering the economy. Look at the data, not the ideology.
I noticed once again you ducked the issue that high-income earners, in effect, signed a social contract to pay a certain tax rate if they achieved their high income.
From other posts on this thread, it seems you believe that WallMart workers have more freedom than high-income earners.
Thomas Sutrina Added Oct 4, 2017 - 3:51pm
The subject of the article has morphed into a discussion of the arguments between liberals and conservatives and populist.  And even democrat liberals and republican liberals.   And you have shown that you can not have a discussion.  Success is showing that this was never going to be a discussion in the first place.  and Ari knew it and did not want me to stay on topic.  Have fun.
Stone-Eater Added Oct 4, 2017 - 4:08pm
we have the highest GDP in the world by a wide margin and have been around for less time than the rest of the industrialized world, so of course we're smarter than everyone else. 
That doesn't make up for the lack of sensitivity towards people who are not hailing GDP but have other non-materialist values. These won't count a lot more when the ball goes up in flames due to the GDP and "economic growth" addiction.
And the last remark on that sentence clearly shows it.
opher goodwin Added Oct 4, 2017 - 6:56pm
Smarter or nastier?
Ari Silverstein Added Oct 4, 2017 - 9:35pm
Opher: A moment ago you said we were the most ignorant population in the civilized world.  You also find us to be too violent and nasty.  I’m sure if I searched your comment thread I’d find plenty more zingers aimed at America.  The case is closed; you don’t like us.  That’s OK, I think the rest of the world mostly consists of snowflake anti-Semites. 
Dave: Some doctors will see the tax rate and realize that being retired is a better life than continuing the rat race.  So on the contrary, it’s your comment that has no relevance. The data is clear as day, in places where taxes are low, economic growth is the result.  America is the shining example, but there are plenty of other places that prove this out.  Once again, I refuse to discuss any of your other points so long as you don’t agree with Reagan’s famous quote.
Thomas: The discussion has not morphed into that.  Again, it would really help if you read the articles and dialog before providing comment. The only person I’m choosing not to have a discussion with is you.
John: You just offered a choice.  Poverty or a job and less worse poverty. Besides, once on the income ladder one can get promoted and start making more money.  It’s also much easier to find a new job, when you already have a job.  So employment offers much by the way of opportunity and we all have to start somewhere.  Or you can choose no job and remain in poverty, surviving off the public dole. 
Stone: Just because Americans are successful doesn’t mean we aren’t sensitive or only care about material things.
opher goodwin Added Oct 5, 2017 - 3:28am
Ari - far too simplistic. You cannot write off criticisms of aspects of your culture by an over-riding generalisations.
There are many aspects of British culture that I find utterly abhorrent too. No culture is without serious flaws. It is those flaws that I highlight.
By writing them off in the way you do that means you do not have to address them. That is unintelligent and no basis for debate.
Your response is disappointing and rather silly. To simply make a statement that anybody who criticises America hates America so does not need to be considered is not being open to learning. That indeed is one of the major problems with America. Americans think they are so great and better than anyone else that they resent any criticism of their culture. You never learn if you don't listen.
I totally stand by what I said. America has an obsession with not paying taxes (which they stupidly view as government stealing money from them and interfering with their freedom). Consequently their public education service is woefully underfunded and produces swathes of ignorant people.
Couple that with the brainwashed religious fervour that pervades the culture and you have an almost medieval attitude in the population. It produces guilt and extremes.
Couple that with the brainwashed patriotism with daily pledges of allegiance and saluting flags and you have a nationalism that creates an arrogant assumption that America is better than anyone else.
Couple that with a intrinsic racism where black and Hispanic are viewed as lesser humans and form an underprivileged underclass.
Couple that with the newness of the country and you have a frontiers attitude that means you are totally free to do what you want, resent any compromise or interference, laws and taxes are optional and the survival of the fittest is the law. It produces a callous, uncaring attitude that basically says that the weak and needy deserve all they get as do the superrich and greedy.
Those are the flaws that should be addressed and understood.
The other side of the coin is that of a melting pot with a great deal of 'can do' attitude and vibrancy. Nothing is beyond possibility. The American Dream is still alive. With hard work and application you can achieve anything (not really true - but produces some great outcomes among the failures).
Having lived in the States and worked there I have an objective handle on the place. Much I like but the violence, racism and ignorance sullies it.
Now Ari - you are either on here for intelligent debate - or you are just sounding off in a closed-minded arrogance.
opher goodwin Added Oct 5, 2017 - 3:30am
Ari - where does this anti-Semite jibe come from? I haven't mentioned Jews. America isn't a Jewish country. What is that about?
opher goodwin Added Oct 5, 2017 - 6:11am
John G - I agree with you. Debate is not functioning here.
Ari Silverstein Added Oct 5, 2017 - 9:12am
Opher: If it wasn’t clear that you’re anti-American after saying we’re more ignorant than everyone else, your latest comment is an even better example.  I’m not going to cloud this conversation on inequality with a debate about which of our countries/people are better.  I just wanted to make the point that you’re anti-American.  Do I need to add liar to your resume or will you finally admit the truth.
John: I don’t think you know anything about economics and because of all the insults you loft, I don’t feel like educating you.  Go pester someone else.  
Shane Laing Added Oct 5, 2017 - 10:32am
The rich are able to employ accountants to look for loopholes to ensure they don't pay much tax.  I would too if I could afford it and I suspect many of us would.
Dave Volek Added Oct 5, 2017 - 11:55am
Some doctors will see the tax rate and realize that being retired is a better life than continuing the rat race.
Doctors retire because they have hard working life. Lots of responsibility and stress and long hours. When they reach 60, they have more than enough money to retire comfortably, regardless of their marginal tax rate. So they make their decision. No doctor retires because the marginal tax rate is too high.
The data is clear as day, in places where taxes are low, economic growth is the result.
There is some truth to this. Corporations will set up shop, when most other business parameters are equal, in the jurisdiction where corporate taxes are the lowest. Having said that, though, corporations can play games with their shell companies such that they don't pay much tax at all. The rate does not matter much in these cases. 
Once again, I refuse to discuss any of your other points so long as you don’t agree with Reagan’s famous quote.
No I don't agree with Reagan's quote. This economic stimuli and responses are not a linear function. The Laffer Curve suggests that high-income earners maintain their current activity regardless of the marginal tax rate-->up to a point. It has been proven that they do drop out of their vocations when the marginal rate reaches somewhere around 70%, as what happened with the Swedish doctors in the 1980s.  And they drop out in such big numbers that it drastically affects the economy. But up until that point, they are committed to vocation and their after-tax earnings from that vocation.
I have to hear of any high income earners in Canada dropping out because the marginal tax rates are 50%. Most doctors will continue to be doctors until they reach an age between 60 or 65. Most hockey players continue to play hockey until their bodies can't keep up with the younger fellows. Tax rates have nothing to do with their fellows.
You have offered no anecdotal evidence, let alone hard evidence. Your assertions have been based on your ideology, which may seem logical, but it is not the real world.
Again, you are ducking the issue of the social contract between the high-income earner and the society that allows that person to create and enjoy wealth. And the high-income earner had free choice into entering this contract.
Tamara Wilhite Added Oct 5, 2017 - 12:42pm
Enforced equality is equal poverty except for the higher living standards of the decision makers, demonstrated by the Soviet Union's elites having better housing, medical care and shops.
Or it becomes as extreme as the scifi horror story "Harrison Bergernon", though we're already going in that direction where liberals shame people for being selective in sex partners whether for appearance, race, or sex. Also leads to the shaming of women who lose weight and dress attractively, because how dare some try to be better.
We should all be equal in the eyes of the law and free to pursue our goals - which means there will be unequal results due to differences in ability and effort.
Stone-Eater Added Oct 5, 2017 - 1:28pm
The US has the recurring problem of a melting pot syndrome: since so many people from all over the planet have emigrated here, we think we actually ARE the world in miniature
Perfect !
Stone-Eater Added Oct 5, 2017 - 1:29pm
Stone: Just because Americans are successful doesn’t mean we aren’t sensitive or only care about material things
Please see Michael's comment above.
Ari Silverstein Added Oct 5, 2017 - 2:12pm
Shane: Those loopholes are written into the tax for the purpose of increasing spending on this or that favored special interest group.  You see, even our politicians understand that taxes and behavior are closely related.  That’s why Trump’s tax plan makes such great sense, get rid of the tax breaks and lower the rates. 
Dave: Not all doctors have more than enough money to retire comfortably at 60.  Where are you getting this stuff? Just for giggles, let’s assume they all can retire comfortably, what makes you think they will continue to want to work equally hard knowing that their government will take half away?  The suggestion they won’t care makes no logical sense.
Allow me to present another example that may finally help you see the light regarding behavior and taxes.  At the Massachusetts/New Hampshire border you’ll find tons of retail stores in New Hampshire and nothing in Massachusetts.  Do you know why that is?  New Hampshire doesn’t have a sales tax.  As much as you’d like Reagan’s words to not be so, they are proven true with every tax and every subsidy. 
Stone: I saw it...just another anti-American rant.  Autumn must spend her summers in Europe, she seems quite fond of you all. 
Saint George Added Oct 5, 2017 - 3:13pm
defending quality education and public services is the greatest thing you can do for ordinary people.
And cobblers claim, "There's just ain't nothing like a good piece of leather! Making quality shoes for ordinary people is the greatest thing one can do!" To each his own, Opher.
I don't defend bureaucracy.
Yet you defend economic systems and social arrangements that are based on nothing but bureaucracy.
That you don't even realize it is pathetic. That you claim Europeans are routinely "better educated" than Americans is amusing: wrong but amusing.
Dave Volek Added Oct 5, 2017 - 4:42pm
Most doctors in Canada make a very good living. If a family doctor has a thriving private practice, he or she can net $200,000 pretax a year. My quick estimate says such a doctor will be paying about $70,000 in taxes (I can do some more work on this figure if you want). So their post-tax income is $130,000. I believe the average post-tax income in Canada is about $40,000.
Not only that, doctors can divert 20% of their total pre-tax income into an RRSP investment (Canadian pension equivalent of your 401 plan). Such contributions are deducted from taxable income, which moves the doctor into a lower tax bracket; i.e. less taxes to pay yet still getting benefit from these assets. Doctors have the disposable income to make those RRSP contributions whereas $40,000 earners have some bills that need to be paid first.
If a doctor is not earning that $200,000 a year, there are three reasons for this:
1) They do a lot of charity work, like "Doctors without Borders".
2) They are not good doctors and cannot establish a good clientele.
3) They like to live the high life and spend their money foolishly.
If a Canadian doctor cannot retire comfortably at the age of 60, he has made some choices. The system is not rigged against him.
Some doctors do become disabled and don't get 30 years of working to build a comfortable retirement. But we can't blame the high marginal tax rate for this.
But maybe things are different in the US.
Stone-Eater Added Oct 5, 2017 - 5:00pm
Stone: I saw it...just another anti-American rant.  Autumn must spend her summers in Europe, she seems quite fond of you all. 
Easy way out or what ? Listen, I don't know where you come from and what your past is (I guess Israel), but let me tell you I'm neither anti-American nor anti-Israel. I fucking know that MOST of the people everywhere have brains and hate US hegemony, Zionism and Wahhabia extremist bullshit.
I accuse economic and the connected political circles which PROVOKE these anti-feelings. Conservative-progressive-liberal-libertarian-jewish-european-black-white and all other bullshit.
The USA is NO better than any other country. Travel and find out. Open your eyes. Patriotism doesn't serve YOU but the ones who decide YOUR future.
Stone-Eater Added Oct 5, 2017 - 5:03pm
Insular mentality. Inherited from the UK ;-)
Stone-Eater Added Oct 5, 2017 - 5:08pm
BTW Michael: Another problem is that anglophones (US and the Commonwealth....common wealth ? Hmmm)don't speak other languages generally. So how can they capture the spirit of other peoples ? But it's not the regular people's fault again, because they grow up with that. It's that superior thinking of a certain mentality: We don't need to understand other languages, because English is no. 1 anyway. A matter of education -> schools.
In Europe, almost everybody speaks at least 2 languages, same in Asia and in Africa. By school default.
Stone-Eater Added Oct 5, 2017 - 7:24pm
Never forget that one: ;-)
...concerning irony....
opher goodwin Added Oct 5, 2017 - 7:25pm
Ari - once again I will point out that just because a person hands out criticism does not mean they don't like the whole package.
You can label all you want but you are still wrong. I'm not anti-American. I am anti violence, racism, arrogance and religion. You should read what I say more carefully and not immediately try to pigeon-hole or take things personally.
opher goodwin Added Oct 5, 2017 - 7:26pm
Michael - I think you are right. A lot of Americans need to get out more and see the rest of the world. It would open their eyes a bit.
opher goodwin Added Oct 5, 2017 - 7:30pm
Saint - having taught in both countries I think I might be in a position to at least express an opinion on that, don't you?
Shoes don't expand minds and give people different futures. Thought you'd understand.
I don't knock other people's professions but good teaching changes lives and gives a country a future.
Stone-Eater Added Oct 5, 2017 - 7:31pm
Did you notice that in fact your parents intended you to be a revolutionary for whatever cause ? ARI - IRA ? Could also mean "In Response for America" or "Almost Responsable Irrational".
Joke, by the way. Just in case you don't notice it ;-)
Ari Silverstein Added Oct 5, 2017 - 8:30pm
Michael: Like the other anti-Americans on this thread, you seem very much at ease insulting us.  I could insult you back, but I choose to rise above petty name calling.  However, should you have a thought to share on inequality, I’ll be more than happy to chime in.
Dave: You may think people aren’t greedy and will be content giving away their hard work at the age of 60, human nature doesn’t agree with you.  So no, this conversation is not about differences between Canadians and Americans, it applies equally to all people.  The simple fact is that no matter how much money one makes, we all desire to keep it.  It should also be noted that not all doctors have a thriving practice.
An RRSP is nothing more than a tax loophole and I applaud Canada for having it in light of their high tax environment.  The better alternative for economic growth would be to get rid of the loophole and lower the rates, but now we’re into the weeds on ideal tax policy. 
Stone: Like Opher, I can quote you saying disparaging things about America and Americans.  So are you going to lie to my face forcing me to quote you being a liar or can we just agree you’re anti-American and move-on?
Opher: There is absolutely nothing you could say about me that I would take personally because of how low I think of you.  I’d think a lot higher of you if you recognized yourself for being the anti-American that you are, rather than try to weasel out of what you said and continue to say.  Would you like me to quote some more of your anti-American comments?
Saint George Added Oct 5, 2017 - 8:52pm
Shoes don't expand minds and give people different futures.
Neither does a public bus system.
I've noticed this in many of your posts, Opher: you have problems focusing on the topic at hand.
Saint George Added Oct 5, 2017 - 9:03pm
Europeans are MUCH better educated than Americans. This is well documented.
Guess that explains the reason most Europeans prefer American colleges and universities for their graduate and post-graduate studies to their own secondary schools. Because they're better educated.
That probably also explains the reason most Nobel Prizes in physics, chemistry, medicine, and economics, are awarded to Americans, rather than to Europeans. It's because Europeans are so much better educated.
The static test scores for American public school students in reading, math, and science despite greater expenditures per student since the 1970s, is well known. Nevertheless, Europeans today manage to combine genteel smugness about some sort of superiority they believe they have with unbelievable stupidity regarding history, philosophy, economics, and politics. With rare exceptions, they've pretty much swallowed whatever propaganda their own governments and media have fed to them.
Saint George Added Oct 6, 2017 - 3:22am
No doubt some bizarre statistical analysis
Any statistical analysis seems "bizarre" to you, skid-mark, if it contradicts your fantasies. In any case, ignoramus, what you don't know about statistics could fill a book — a beginner's textbook on statistics, for example.
Many articles show that foreign students — from Europe and Asia — stream into the US for their higher education, preferring it to their own universities.
You're stupid in a very special sort of way, I see.
opher goodwin Added Oct 6, 2017 - 5:04am
Ari - you just don't get it. I make a lot of disparaging remarks about Britain. It has some terrible things. But it also has some great things that I'm proud of. In that respect it is like the USA. Every culture has good and bad. To come out with simplistic generalisations about people based on the fact they have made some disparaging remarks about your country is silly. I am not un-American because I intensely dislike aspects of American culture anymore than I am Anti-British because I despise aspects of my culture. 
No country is perfect and America certainly isn't. My American friends are just as disparaging as me about their country. They love it though. You are far too black and white. Lighten up. The world is grey.
Ari Silverstein Added Oct 6, 2017 - 9:02am
Saint George: Foreign students don’t only come to America for our superior universities, they also come here for our superior way of life.  I mean, even the kids of communist party dictators in China prefer our culture to their own. 
Opher: It should be noted that you’re the one making simplistic generalizations about people, which is why I have a very low regard for you. It also doesn’t surprise me one bit that you have made disparaging remarks about Britains and others.  However, according to you, Americans are the most ignorant, the most violent, the most insert negative adjective here ______.  So again, all I read is more weaseling, as you attempt to deny what you’ve already said.  I’ll make you a deal, retract all those anti-American comments and I’ll give you a clean slate and treat you with respect.  Oh and by the way, you really need to lighten up. 
opher goodwin Added Oct 6, 2017 - 12:23pm
Ari - I thought the title of your piece was how to debate with liberals? Debate is engaging with people who think differently to you isn't it? That involves putting your case forward to counter someone else's argument isn't it?
You obviously take great exception to me stating that overall the standard of education in America is poor and that America is a violent place. That does not mean all Americans are ignorant and ill-educated - far from it. Some Americans are extremely well-educated and most are not in the least violent.  But looking at the big picture I see far too many poorly educated people, far too much racism and far too much violence. I stand by those statements.
I would suggest that you should stop the abuse (weaseling and lack of respect) and try engaging in the debate your title led me to believe was the object of the article. I am quite happy to justify my statements in debate and refuse to step down to your level of personal abuse. If you don't agree explain yourself instead of deflecting the comments with nasty comments.
Dave Volek Added Oct 6, 2017 - 12:56pm
I think we have been talking in circles now about high marginal tax rates. And we are not going to convince each other.
I remember a joke from MAD magazine many years ago: "LIBERAL: someone who writes a book about how the rich exploit the poor, sells a million copies, and starts looking for tax loopholes."
The original intent of the RRSP was to entice average income Canadians without a formal pension plan into putting money into their pension. Without a doubt, it has become a tax dodge for wealthier Canadians. Most average income Canadians either don't have the spare money (better to pay off credit cards than to put money in RRSP) or the self discipline to set the money aside for an RRSP. So this social program has missed its target. Your suggestion of removing this program while reducing the marginal rate has merit.
I really hope my book sales puts me in the 50% marginal tax rate. And I will be using my RRSP to reduce my taxes. But no shell companies! I have to honor the great things Canada has done for me. 
Stone-Eater Added Oct 6, 2017 - 1:12pm
Stone: Like Opher, I can quote you saying disparaging things about America and Americans.  So are you going to lie to my face forcing me to quote you being a liar or can we just agree you’re anti-American and move-on?
Maybe you will understand one day that anti-American does not exist PER SE. Just like Opher, I'm not anti-American. We are against the interior/exterior policy of a certain elite (which also exists in Europe) which USES the public. And unfortunately the center of that international club is in the US.
This has nothing to do with the farmer in Montana or the surfie in San Diego.
As the disco freak in Tel Aviv has nothing to do with Jerusalem.
Get that ?? Man, are you stubborn LOL
Stone-Eater Added Oct 6, 2017 - 1:25pm
Conclusion: Ari, what do you defend ? Be frank. Do you defend an economic capitalist system because you had the luck to fit in ? Would you defend a socialist system also the same way IF you grew up in one when no media would tell you it's "wrong" ? I'm sure you would.
Take North Korea. They have a "communist" system. Take Bhutan. These are countries where other sorts of cultures prevail, not McDonalds. Did North Korea ever pose a threat to anybody ?
No. Until the US decided so, because they fear China.
That's all- Just because you are a Silberstein and from German Jewish heritage, it doesn't mean that you have to hail the US endlessly. They're no angels, nobody is.
Get objective !
Living in a country doesn't necessarily mean to accept everything that its government does.
Dave Volek Added Oct 6, 2017 - 2:34pm
I think you make a great point that almost deserves another article. A lot of the values we hold come from the culture we belong to.
If our culture comes from a wealthier background where hard work and smart work are rewarded, we would tend to support a more capitalist philosophy. If we come from a poor background and we can't seem to find those better paying jobs and the future seems a life of low pay, socialism makes more sense, especially a socialism that helps people rise above their current plight.
Bill H. Added Oct 6, 2017 - 3:58pm
SEF - It seems that some out here don't know the difference between a Communist system, a Socialist system, or a Facist system. In another post, several respondents actually think they are the same.
Stone-Eater Added Oct 6, 2017 - 5:04pm
You're right. But that's a general lack of education. Schools are not neutral ;-)
Stone-Eater Added Oct 6, 2017 - 5:06pm
Thanks. That's what I meant !
opher goodwin Added Oct 6, 2017 - 7:31pm
Dave - that's not always the case though is it? Many people from privileged backgrounds become socialists and vice versa.
Ari Silverstein Added Oct 6, 2017 - 8:40pm
I thought the title of your piece was how to debate with liberals?
That was not the title of my piece.   
Debate is engaging with people who think differently to you isn't it? That involves putting your case forward to counter someone else's argument isn't it?
Yes and I agree

You obviously take great exception to me stating that overall the standard of education in America is poor and that America is a violent place.
I think our public educational system is pathetic and think we’re way too violent a place.  However, unlike you, I don’t think we’re significantly worse than any other place. 
That does not mean all Americans are ignorant and ill-educated - far from it. Some Americans are extremely well-educated and most are not in the least violent.  But looking at the big picture I see far too many poorly educated people, far too much racism and far too much violence. I stand by those statements.
That’s just your Americanism rearing it’s ugly head. Assuming you live in an industrialized nation, your home country is similarly educated, similarly racist and similarly violent.

I would suggest that you should stop the abuse (weaseling and lack of respect) and try engaging in the debate your title led me to believe was the object of the article.
As stated numerous times, this is not an article whereby I will debate American exceptionalism or lack thereof.
I am quite happy to justify my statements in debate and refuse to step down to your level of personal abuse. If you don't agree explain yourself instead of deflecting the comments with nasty comments.
It’s perfectly obvious how happy you are discussing why you think America is such a terrible place.  The problem is that you’re oblivious to your anti-Americanism and that you don’t recognize when you’re being a prick towards us. 
Dave: It was nice chatting with you.  Outside of a few personal insults lofted from you, I found the debate to be fruitful even though neither of us budged an inch. 
Stone: Maybe it’s the language barrier but I didn’t follow much of what you just wrote.  Of the little I did understand, yes I defend a capitalist system over any other economic system. 
Rusty Smith Added Oct 6, 2017 - 8:45pm
We've spent decades trying to remove the advantages the child of a wealthy child gets over a poor one and it's never worked because it's not the money, it's the attitude that makes the most difference.
Right now poor families kids can go to college for about $1K a year, but it's about $20K a year for an upper middle class kid.  Clearly money is not what's in the poor kids way these days, but even still many families continue to live in generational poverty.
 No where is that more true than in many black neighborhoods where Asians now run most of the businesses, and 2nd generation Asians usually escape poverty in one generation even if their parents came her on a boat speaking no English.
Why you ask don't poor blacks do the same, it's simple, they as a culture, embrace behaviors and values that cause them to reject any semblance of authority including cooperating with educators, so they never even try to get a good education.
Of course there are exceptions, most notably Obama who proved black doesn't hold back someone who embraces opportunities the right way.  Even so we continue to hold back and often deny college educations to smart middle class kids who happen to be white, so instead we can offer that money to children of color who really don't want or value a good education.
I have a good idea, how about we strike ALL references to color and wealth, and being down the cost of education to something a bit more reasonable, and admit kids based on their academic performance.  Oh I know that will strongly favor ethnic groups that value a good education, like Asians, but it will also reward hard work and good attitudes by giving the best opportunities to those that EARN them.
Ari Silverstein Added Oct 6, 2017 - 8:57pm
Rusty: Being born black is a difficult handicap to overcome no matter how many free stuff the government hands out in the name of racial equality.  As it relates to your “good idea,” I think it’s a ridiculous suggestion.  Colleges should be free to charge whatever they like, if you think it’s too expensive, go to a different college. 
Saint George Added Oct 7, 2017 - 4:27am
Indeed, skiddy-g's farcical ideas are the very object of the parody. Glad to see he has some perspective on himself.
Stone-Eater Added Oct 7, 2017 - 6:16am
Maybe it’s the language barrier but I didn’t follow much of what you just wrote
Hm. You're about the first who doesn't seem to understand my English LOL Why ? Maybe because you don't agree ? ;-)
Ari Silverstein Added Oct 7, 2017 - 8:56am
Stone: Sans Saint George, I haven’t agreed with any of my commenters and continue to issue replies.  As it relates to your most recent comment, I believe something was getting lost in translation.   For example, “Take North Korea. They have a "communist" system. Take Bhutan. These are countries where other sorts of cultures prevail, not McDonalds.”
Take North Korea is not a sentence, nor is take Bhutan.  McDonalds and communism aren't cultures.  I don’t understand the point of saying the culture in Bhutan has prevailed over McDonalds.  No matter the country, the culture in that country has prevailed over all other cultures, this includes America.  I was similarly confused by almost every sentence you wrote.  Look, I applaud you for communicating in a second language, but sometimes your English deficiencies are very apparent. 
Stone-Eater Added Oct 7, 2017 - 9:35am
Sorry, I try it otherwise. In German we get to the point quickly :-)
“Take North Korea. They have a "communist" system. Take Bhutan. These are countries where other sorts of cultures prevail, not McDonalds.”
“Take for example North Korea. They have a so-called communist system. Take another example: Bhutan. These are countries where other sorts of cultures prevail, traditional ones, not a consumer society based on profit without quality only, such as McDonalds represents.”
Something like that :-) I know it's not easy to express exactly what you think in words, even in a native language. That's why I still prefer person-to-person communication en principe.
Stone-Eater Added Oct 7, 2017 - 9:37am
BTW: You'd be surprised when you come to Switzerland. You won't find many Swiss here who have been able to improve their English on WB like I did LOL
You speak and write another language ? Just curious....
Ari Silverstein Added Oct 8, 2017 - 12:28am
Stone: No, I don’t speak another language. 
I followed what you wrote perfectly this time…you’re even more anti-American than I had originally thought.  America is not “a consumer society based on profit without quality only, such as McDonalds represents.”  Where do you people come up with this stuff?  I mean, McDonalds is but a single restaurant chain in a sea of different restaurants one can choose from.  We also do a lot more than shop for stuff.  It’s amazing how low you think of our society and culture.  The fact you don’t recognize how ugly you are towards us is the think that irks me the most about you.  However, your arrogance is a close second in terms of the why I have such a low regard for you. 
Ari Silverstein Added Oct 8, 2017 - 12:59am
I should also add that like you, we care about quality and quantity.  For example, I had a $45 steak tonight and it wasn't at a McDonalds.  Oh and by the way, I read some of your past comments.  You're also a major anti-Semite.  
Saint George Added Oct 8, 2017 - 8:45am
Even in a socialist economy, you have inequality.
And the inequality is entrenched: always the same people are poor (the citizens), and always the same people are wealthy (the leaders).
Socialists seem to like it that way. Under socialism they think to themselves, "Of course it makes sense that Chavez/Maduro/Castro/etc. is wealthy. After all, he's a Great Man who has done Great Things for us little people. He deserves to be wealthy and live in a great, comfortable mansion with all of his luxuries. Why, he gave us paper money to spend! Where would we be without that?!"
While the same kind of socialists under capitalism think to themselves, "Why the hell does my neighbor, Chuck, get to drive a Range Rover to work while I'm stuck with a used Ford!? That's unfair! And he just added another room to his house while can't even afford to paint my front porch! That's also unfair! Chuck's a fool — and he doesn't like Bernie Sanders so you know he couldn't have a heart! He doesn't deserve all those luxuries . . . I do, of course, but under the present system, they'll always go to people like Chuck. The only reason he has all those luxuries and I don't is that he gamed the system and found a way to take wealth away from me! That has to be the only reason. I mean, I know he's a neurosurgeon and I'm only a typewriter repairman but that can't explain the inequality of things, can it? Nah."
Ari Silverstein Added Oct 8, 2017 - 9:24am
MJ: My criticism of Stone’s writing had nothing to do with brevity or lack thereof.  As for the subject of this article, the problem is governments trying to create equality because of concerns over inequality.  It's a huge non-issue that governments need not concern themselves with.  
Saint George Added Oct 8, 2017 - 6:35pm
Unequal societies are sick societies
Marxist dogma and rhetorical sophistry.
Dave Volek Added Oct 8, 2017 - 10:27pm
Ari: My apologies if I offended you. Even though we disagree on many things, you have been respectful to me.
Opher: Just as there are a few people who manage to break the barriers of the lower class and manage to find their way into the upper class, there are a few from the upper class who go the other way. And some of them might feel a little guilty of why they grew up with privilege.
I believe most sociological studies say that most of us either stay at the same relative income as our parents or improve a little bit. Of my social circle, I would say that holds true for about 80%. Sometimes there are big jumps in inter generational wealth (up or down), but they are not the norm.
Saint George Added Oct 9, 2017 - 2:44am
Marxist dogma and rhetorical sophistry.
opher goodwin Added Oct 9, 2017 - 4:10am
Dave - I have had a much better standard of life than my parents. They gave me a great start.
It is a very unequal society and money buys privilege.
Mike Haluska Added Oct 9, 2017 - 12:19pm
opher - you make a great observation:
"The funding was abysmal. I was using materials I used with thirteen year old students with my top eighteen year olds.
Education is not valued and not funded."
but draw the wrong conclusion.  American public schools are better "funded" than any nation on Earth.  The problem is that the immense bureaucracy and inevitable waste, fraud and abuse results in fewer actual dollars getting to the teachers and students.  There is an ongoing case in Chicago where 3 top public school administrators have been found guilty of stealing over $100 million from the Chicago Public Schools.  This is not an exception or confined to Chicago - it is rampant across the country.
I remember a few years back when LA schools were lacking text books while there were warehouses full of new books being horded to hide overspending and bribery between the book publisher and school administrators.
Mike Haluska Added Oct 9, 2017 - 12:24pm
Dave - your statement:
"Just as there are a few people who manage to break the barriers of the lower class and manage to find their way into the upper class"
fails to mention the major road block - the Welfare State.  By rewarding behavior that perpetuates the poverty cycle and punishing behavior that breaks the poverty cycle, the poor are "trapped".  The vast majority that do manage to escape are those fortunate enough to become professional athletes or entertainers (long odds).
Dave Volek Added Oct 9, 2017 - 1:11pm
My limited experience with the welfare system in Canada is that the people who are trapped in this system are incapable of holding down a 40-hour a week job. Very few are scamming the system. 
Many social assistance users run into some hard luck and need a few months of assistance to move past their plight. They do move on.
And nearly all of the working poor prefer to stay with their crappy jobs than go on welfare. We just don't have a big population of abusers as you Americans seem to have. Maybe there is something to be learned here.
Saint George Added Oct 9, 2017 - 7:16pm
Faeces obsessed troll.
I just call it as I smell it.
Mike Haluska Added Oct 10, 2017 - 10:41am
Dave - there is a distinct difference between "poverty" and "distress" and they are usually lumped together as if they are the same thing.  In the US there is absolutely no excuse that anyone should live in poverty - period.  Poverty is a sustained condition caused by lack of resources, employment and other key items.  Distress is a temporary condition such as losing your job due to your employer closing the plant you work in.
The Welfare State was created in 1964 by President Johnson and was sold as the "War on Poverty" - it has since been perverted into institutionalized poverty.  Like most politicians, President Johnson care a lot more about staying in power than the poor.  In his audiotape library, he is heard telling a southern Democratic congressman "if we pass this legislation (Welfare State) the niggers (his words - not mine) will vote Democrat for the next 200 years!"
On the Old South plantations, blacks were given the basics (food, shelter, clothing) in return for slave labor restricted to the owner's plantation.  In today's Welfare State, the Old South plantation has been replaced by the urban ghetto.  The "occupants" are given the basics (lousy schools, dilapidated housing, cash cards for food, clothing, minimal police protection) in return for voting Democratic every 4 years. 
To make sure the Welfare State is self-perpetuating, the "rules" provide incentives for behavior that sustains/grows poverty (e.g. more illegitimate children, more "benefits") and punishes behavior that escapes poverty (e.g. if you work you lose your "safety net").  Of course, the public schools in these "plantations" are dangerous, drug infested, under-funded, outdated, etc. to ensure a continuous flow of misinformed, unaware, brainwashed, dependent on government new Welfare State tenants.  When President Trump's Secretary of Education proposes "School Vouchers" that enable parents to send their kids to any school they want, the kind, compassionate, benevolent, wise Liberals in the Democratic Party are all for it - WRONG!!!!   
Dave Volek Added Oct 10, 2017 - 12:14pm
Most of the welfare people I know are not capable of handling a 40-hour work week. There are people with physical disabilities and there are people with mental disabilities. It's often hard to fit jobs to the physical disabilities, and I wouldn't want to inflict any employer with the hassles of dealing with mental disabilities.
Some of my welfare people could handle a 20-hour work week. Once they get some practice handling shorter shifts and short work weeks, they may find the confidence and life skills to go full time. Unfortunately this is where the Canadian welfare system fails: if someone makes $200 a week part-time, that $200 is taken out of the welfare check. So the incentive is gone to make this step. Other than some version of a guaranteed basic income, I have no solution to this problem. 
By and large, most able-bodied and able-minded people prefer to find low-paying jobs than go on welfare. Even the crappy jobs bring in more money than welfare. So there are not many abusers of the Canadian system.  
opher goodwin Added Oct 11, 2017 - 5:27am
Mike - I don't know what goes on behind the scenes. All I know is that the school I worked at was understaffed, had few resources, no classroom support, was poorly equipped and the standards were incredibly low. The drop out rate was enormous. Over half the kids did not turn up.
Mike Haluska Added Oct 11, 2017 - 11:10am
Dave - your statement:
"Most of the welfare people I know are not capable of handling a 40-hour work week."
does a disservice to the poor and only reinforces their dependency.  Your commentary ("Some of my welfare people") shows a typical relationship between welfare dispenser and dependent.  It also fosters a "superiority" attitude among the welfare dispensers toward the dependents.
I can't speak for Canada, but in the US it is simply untrue that:  
"By and large, most able-bodied and able-minded people prefer to find low-paying jobs than go on welfare."
It is commonly accepted and promoted by the Democratic Party that there are "some jobs that are beneath Americans".  Every city in the US has street corners where immigrants show up in the morning to be picked up by a van to take them to a job site where they hang drywall, paint, do carpentry, construction labor, etc. and NOT for "slave wages" - $20/hr and higher).   
Mike Haluska Added Oct 11, 2017 - 11:19am
opher -
Maybe it would be in yours and the general public's interest to look into this problem rather than assume the politicians are all saints and no massive waste, fraud and abuse happens on a daily basis?
Dr. Ben Carson asked the US General Accounting Office to review the Health and Human Services financial books when he took over the department.  They found $500 BILLION TOTALLY UNACCOUNTED FOR!  That is half a Trillion Dollars that "vanished" without a trace!
As a taxpayer, I feel it is an insult to my intelligence that my taxes continually go up, government services continually deteriorate and I get accused of being "uncaring and selfish" for not wanting to pay MORE taxes!  If I make a $10,000 "mistake" on my income taxes, I could very likely pay huge fines and go to prison.  The government bureaucrats "misplace" $500,000,000 and NOBODY is held accountable or even questioned!!! 
Dave Volek Added Oct 12, 2017 - 12:33pm
These days, I probably know about 20 people on long-term welfare. About a third of them have a serious physical disability of some kind: arthritic knees, epilepsy, cancer, etc. These people can't hang drywall, paint, etc. 
About a third have a serious mental disability. Have you ever tried spending an eight hour day with someone with Down's syndrome or schizophrenia?  Or how about a chronic alcoholic? Guess what, you might as well do the work yourself.
Related to mental illness. About a third have been psychologically beaten up by society. Think a solder with PTSD. Think of a rape victim. Think of a young adult bullied throughout school. These people do not have the skills to 1) be at work on time, 2) stay productive while on the clock, 3) interact with co-workers and customers in a productive way and 4) handle stress when the job demands a higher performance. When these people take on jobs only to get fired, it is a further blow to their ego and fortitude.
I have about two years working on the drilling rigs. Then another eight years in oilfield service. I used to look down at young men who took on a lesser job (like working in a grocery store) than my job. They must be lazy not to want to make so much more money in the oilpatch. As I got older, I realized that there was something in me that allowed me to handle the rigors of the oilpatch (physical work, long hours, all weathers, moving iron). These other guys did not have that fortitude--and there is no way to pour it them. But we should acknowledge that they were gainfully employed.
In a like manner, many people on long term welfare have lost the fortitude to handle a simple job--or maybe never had it in the first place.
Dave Volek Added Oct 12, 2017 - 12:36pm
Mike again
Your story of the $500,000,000 loss is a sad one. It is a shame that we don't have safeguards in place to prevent this loss--or perception of loss.
All I can say is that this is sign that our current system of government is not working. It's time for a better system.
But I wouldn't blame it on welfare recipients. I'm pretty sure they did not get the money.
Benjamin Goldstein Added Oct 25, 2017 - 12:31pm
For the question how to talk to leftists about anything I don't have an answer. It is as if there is a wall.
I agree with the embrace inequality idea. As George Orwell already noted on his appendix on newspeak there is a difference between political equality (rule of law) and general equality (newspeak would destroy the distinction). Yes, every citizen may vote. Now, drop the fetish!
Interesting is that the Roman Republic already came down because of the violence that followed Tiberius Gracchus' equality fetish.
It started with a (what we would now describe as a socialist) land reform. To prevent the law to be rescinded, Gracchus broke the constitution and stood for reelection. After his assassination his younger brother Gaius Gracchus tried to redistribute the land again. He lost the support of ordinary people when he wanted to award citizenship (which included the right to vote) to foreigners (citizens of befriended cities in Italy). What followed was a split in society and violent outbreaks that ended the free Republic and created a brutal dictatorship, the Roman Empire. The Roman Republic lasted from 510 BC to 44 BC, almost half a millennia.
History repeats. Just saying.
Ari Silverstein Added Oct 25, 2017 - 1:46pm
Benjamin: While historical anecdotes are always interesting, I imagine if you could ask 100 Romans of the Era why the empire collapsed, you’d get 100 different answers.  Outside of this article, giving foreigners the right to vote, was not mentioned in any source I just looked up.  But seeing you said it, I’ll add it to the list. 
According to Wikipedia, the Roman Empire lasted much longer than 44BC.  So it would appear we can’t even agree on the date of its collapse, let alone the reason for the collapse.   
Dave Volek Added Oct 25, 2017 - 2:03pm
While I read the "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" a couple of decades ago, I can't recall this particular aspect. In fact, I didn't get the impression that Rome was a welfare state. But I could be wrong. It is a big book.
My sense of the fall was from other reasons. The wealthy were in constant state of confiscating each other's resources (property laws were not well developed) and corrupt emperors incapable of inspiring the masses. As well, citizens were no longer willing to serve in the army because there were longer and land holdings to distribute to long-serving soldiers. Hence, the government had to resort to mercenaries, which demanded more money and drained the treasury. Plus the mercenaries were not that loyal or trustworthy.
Since I read "The Fall", I have come another understanding of Rome. It was a nation with little virtue. Everybody--from emperor to slave--used everyone else for personal advantage. There was little love or compassion or honesty or helpfulness other virtues. If someone did something nice, it usually had a favor that required to be paid back. Rome was a me-first society. If there was a big welfare class, it was only a part of that me-first society. One cannot put the blame entirely on that class.
I have stated several times on WB that most of the people I know on long-term welfare cannot handle the rigors of a 40 a week job. They are mentally or physically unfit. If welfare is the root of our society's eventual collapse, then what should we do with these people? Please respond with your right-wing solution.
I have known quite a few people on short-term welfare. They find themselves in a tight spot of some kind that may or may not be their fault. Within a few months to a year, they manage to work through their difficulties and become self-reliant again. Without that support, they most likely would not have been able get back on their feet again. If these people are the root of our eventual collapse of society, what is the right-wing solution to their temporary plight?
A few of the long-term welfare people I know could handle a 20-hour work week. But unfortunately, the welfare system in Canada does not address this potential very well. Such people prefer to stay on welfare rather than find that part-time job. I believe this could be fixed with a guaranteed basic income, but that is for another article.
I would estimate that less than 5% of the Canadian population is on social assistance. And social assistance is not an easy life. Most able-bodied people find it preferable to work full-time, even at minimum wage.
My experience is Canadian, which may not be true in the USA. According to many WB writers here, the number of recipients are much higher (one writer told me that 21.2% of Americans are on welfare) and benefits are overly generous.
If this is the truth, then you Americans have really screwed up. You have become the new Rome. Trying to blame your eventual fall on the welfare class is not going to change the trend, especially when there is so much corruption at the top.  Just imagine if 21.2% of the population is cut off from its source of income. Do you guys have enough police officers to handle this riot?
Benjamin Goldstein Added Oct 25, 2017 - 2:14pm
Ari: By whipping up the debate on foreign voting rights Gaius Gracchus invited what was called the "Bellum Sociale", the "war against the allies"
Make up your own mind about it!
The Roman Empire started with the dictatorship of Julius Cesar in 44 BC. It ended half a millenium of the Republic, the government system that was the precursor of what America has today!
Ari Silverstein Added Oct 26, 2017 - 9:20am
I don’t dispute allowing foreigners the right to vote is a recipe for disaster.  However, I do dispute your ability to ascertain exactly what caused the Empire’s demise more than 2,000 years after it happened.  For example, you’ll find ample articles on the net linking its demise to growing debt. As it relates to today’s political climate, neither Republicans nor Democrats advocate giving foreigners the right to vote, so based on your analysis of history…we have nothing to worry about?
Thomas Sutrina Added Oct 26, 2017 - 12:03pm
The founders of America also studied the fall of the Roman Empire.  That is why the Constitution defines limited powers and providing welfare was not one of them.  They realized that welfare is required for a nation to exist.  Welfare shows that the government is of the people.  Welfare it is also a tool to obtain and maintain power.  The is the method Chavez used to come to power in Venezuela. 
That is why the founders believed that welfare is best provided by local government and should not reach into the federal government.  The Roman Empire fell because a curious nature of welfare recipients.  They get comfortable with the level that are receiving and treat it as a right.  Thus to insure getting their vote, welfare has to be increase.  This is an upward spiral.  A death spiral because the money for welfare has to come from other programs.  Defense is an insurance policy in times of peace.  It is cut because government can alway justifying that less will still be effective.  And when it is not and tested the conquering army marches into the capital.   The fall of Rome.
Dave Volek Added Oct 26, 2017 - 12:24pm
My recollection is that "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" was published at the same time as the American Revolution. My Wikipedia research says Gibbons published his work between 1776 and 1789. So it's hard to see that the founding fathers had the book of Gibbons to help them in their deliberations.
Gibbons is regarded as the first historian to put the pieces of Rome together. All other Roman writers before him really did not do a good job. If the founding fathers used these writers to influence them, then they were not influenced in a profound way. 
As I have stated in a previous post, I don't recall welfare being one of the reasons for the fall. But there were several other reasons that I do recall, one of them being the Christianizing of the Empire (to which I do not agree with Gibbons). As Ari has suggested, there are other opinions as to the reason for the Fall.
But if you want to hang the all blame on welfare recipients for the Fall of Rome, which then implies the Fall of America should be blamed on welfare recipients, I would say that this is a shallow understanding of this issue.
Benjamin Goldstein Added Oct 26, 2017 - 12:34pm
All: Sorry that I was introducing European history to make an example on how excessive believe in equality can lead to a downfall. I respect that this is not common knowledge. I don't have much knowledge about American history either, e.g. the Vietnam war or presidents before Carter with few exceptions (like the founding fathers). I do not want to come across as arrogant if that is even seen that way.
I wrote in no single comment here about the demise of the Roman Empire. I wrote about the demise of the Roman REPUBLIC. When the Roman Empire came down, freedom and civility were in the dumps for centuries already. Who gives a sh*t about the Roman Empire?!?
Ari: The downfall of the Republic is not so controversial. The Empire was already so down that I wonder what fall people want to talk about. No wonder that there is no agreement. You can't fall if you are a cesspool.
Benjamin Goldstein Added Oct 26, 2017 - 12:40pm
Ari: I forgot to say that the franchise was to be expanded by naturalizing aliens. That is very much the topic of the day in the US.
Dave Volek Added Oct 26, 2017 - 2:41pm
Thanks for insisting on Republic vs. Empire. I went to Wikipedia to get some new insights (or maybe refresh insights I had lost).
It was interesting that the aristocrats held most of the power when the Republic first started. But as time went by, common people were brought into the decision making realm. Then to maintain civil order, a dictatorship was established which became the Empire.
A few months back, I read the Prelude to Foundation series by Isaac Asimov. He came back with a startling prediction: democracy, at best, can only last three centuries. Then society reverts back to some kind of oligarchy.
Benjamin Goldstein Added Oct 26, 2017 - 3:13pm
Asimov is not the first to speak about it. Polybios talked about it about 200 BC.
Marcus Tullius Cicero wrote a book about stablizing a republic. It's called 'De Re Publica'.
Benjamin Goldstein Added Oct 26, 2017 - 3:21pm
Dave: Caesar did not announce himself dictator to stablize the situation. He crossed the Rubicon with his army and seized power. It was a coup d'etat.
Thomas Sutrina Added Oct 26, 2017 - 4:22pm
Dave V., your making a huge assumption that other authors before,  "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" by Gibbons published between 1776 and 1789 did not write about the Roman Empire.
Dave Volek Added Oct 26, 2017 - 4:31pm
From Wikipedia:
Edward Gibbon FRS (/ˈɡɪbən/; 8 May 1737[1] – 16 January 1794)[2] was an English historian, writer and Member of Parliament. His most important work, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, was published in six volumes between 1776 and 1788 and is known for the quality and irony of its prose, its use of primary sources, and its open criticism of organised religion.[3]
Unless Wikipedia is totally wrong on this.
I read the book a couple of decades ago. It seemed to me the time frame was  mostly 0 AD to 500 AD. The Roman Republic was gone by then. My recollection may be weak. 
Ari Silverstein Added Oct 27, 2017 - 8:10am
Thomas: The founders of America were just as corrupt, inept, spineless and clueless as today’s politicians.  Worst of all, they are the most hypocritical bunch of people that ever existed with their all men are created equal jargon, while at the same time condoning slavery.
Benjamin: There is no need to apologize.  I appreciate all comment activity and will respond to anyone that addresses me specifically or offers a general comment in this thread.  My singular point to you is that you’re making historical correlations to an event that happened over 2,000 years ago.  We know far more about events that happened more recently, seeing we all lived through those events or are living through them now.  So if you want to talk about collapse, let’s take our lessons from Venezuela or the former Soviet Union and not Ancient Rome.  Speaking of Ancient Rome, Thomas just added another reason for its collapse. 
Benjamin Goldstein Added Oct 27, 2017 - 1:50pm
Ari: When I left the comment I made a mistake and thought that this part of history is known. The example of course is a better one than anything from today's world because it was the downfall of a truly free state. The fall of the Soviet Union won't do. Russia was never free. But there is no point in expanding on it because this is really European history. Maybe Venezuela is a better example. I frankly don't know. It is not part of my knowledge base.
I think it had a positive effect still. Dave found material on constitutional theory and Thomas found some historic basis from which the US founding fathers learnt.
BTW Thomas did not add a reason for the collapse of the Republic. He did not speak about the Republic in this entire comment section. I think that he will benefit from looking it up. He is usually good when it comes to history.
I disagree with your judgement on the founding fathers. Some let their slaves go (e.g. Benjamin Franklin) and others wished to do it, but where too much in debt (e.g. Thomas Jefferson). They surely had their flaws, but what they created was enourmous. It's not just unmatched by current politicians, but unique in the course of history.
Dave Volek Added Oct 27, 2017 - 2:12pm
Your  "founding fathers" comment is going to raise the ire of more than a few WB writers. Maybe you need to turn it into a full article.
I have to agree with you on this topic. The sooner America understands this part of its history and discards the mythology of its conception, the sooner it can move forward on many different fronts. If America were to extrapolate the period of 1776 to 1789 to today, we would have white, male CEOs revamping the Constitution. Everyone else would be excluded.
The constitution may have been unique in history, but was is really that unique? It looks like an updated version of the Westminster model to me. Canada more or less adopted this model from the British in 1867. We are, comparatively speaking, not significantly worse governed than the US.
You are overrating the importance of American constitution.
Benjamin Goldstein Added Oct 27, 2017 - 3:14pm
Dave: No, Dave, I'm not overrating it. The UK has a long history of freedom and I can feel it. I would even say that the UK is better governed than the US simply because it is smaller and the decision making is closer to the citizen. This is why shifting political powers from higher political levels to smaller political unities is so important to conservatives. How is it called? Federalism. Who invented it? Hamilton.
There is no other country where the branches of government are seperated, where freedom of speech is granted, and so on.  I understand that some things developeed over the time and where not directly baked into the foundation by the Founding Fathers, but there is no such a clean concept of a sound government worldwide. They made a huge step at the time.
I'm also seriously sick of people who constantly trash America (not you). There is this ailing ingratitude about everything that is just and decent. Most parts of the world, for most times in history, are tyrannical hellholes. If it wasn't for America, Germans would still wash themselves with Jew-bone-soap.
Ari Silverstein Added Oct 27, 2017 - 3:53pm
Benjamin: Interesting that you’re so sure about the collapse of Ancient Rome despite it happening 2,000 years ago and so unsure about the collapse of Venezuela despite it happening within the last couple of years.  As it relates to our founding fathers, are you aware they made it illegal to publicly criticize the President of the United States?  How about the fact they didn’t allow women the right to vote? Could you imagine a politician today making a law forbidding one of those things? 
Dave: For the record, I have great respect for many politicians of the past and present.  Sometimes you have to feed the populace what they want to hear, even though that’s not what you believe.  Stated differently, the balancing act of doing the right thing and doing the thing that gets you elected, is no easy task.  Kudos to all that find a way to figure it out. Shame on all those that mostly do the wrong thing specifically to get elected.  
Benjamin Goldstein Added Oct 27, 2017 - 4:15pm
Ari: I studied history a lot when I was in school and I read some of the documents of the time in Latin.
Venezuela is in America. Do you know the recent history of Zimbabwe? Probably not. It's a different continent.
I just looked up the sedition act. It sounds like slander. Do you know how it was applied? If something must be provably 'false' with intent ('malicious') to get somebody convicted for it, it is no restriction of free speech. However, if it was applied, like you said, for sheer criticism, there is blame to be had.
They did not forbid women to vote. Women suffrage did not exist. You fail to acknowledge that they made a huge leap forward. They did not jump to perfection. We still don't have perfection today. I would love to see term limits in the parliaments, for example.
Benjamin Goldstein Added Oct 27, 2017 - 4:33pm
I may also say that the fall of the Republic that provided freedom for almost half a millenium is equivalent to the fall of the Western world and not to some harsh recession because of some temporary socialist mismanagement. It is a more important event.
To be honest, I find the phrase "Destruction of Ancient Rome" strange. The city burned down a number of times. That is also not a big deal. The death of freedom followed by centuries of daily bloodbaths in the Colusseum and in the provinces, persecution of minorities and so on is a big deal. Imagine to wake up in Saudi Arabia knowing that the US has gone forever!
Dave Volek Added Oct 27, 2017 - 5:34pm
You are totally right in that great politicians are indeed their own special kind of genius. When I read about Lincoln and Roosevelt, I see two fellows  who can take a bare majority of popular support and work their way through the democratic processes to achieve much of the goals they wanted to achieve. They understood the people (both for and against their vision) and the members of Congress (both for and against their vision). They knew how to push things through within the rules and sometimes even break the rules--and get away with it. They understood there were limits to how far they could push things, yet took those things right to that limit, but not beyond. And of course, they had a great sense of timing.  It takes great talent to manage all this political maneuvering to see a vision come to fruition.
And of course,  becoming elected and staying elected is another challenge they must muster. 
In Canada, I would put MacKenzie King as a great politician and for the UK, it would be Churchill.
Trouble is that we can't seem to find these people any more. I think the Golden Age of Great Politicians are over.
Ari Silverstein Added Oct 28, 2017 - 6:45am
Benjamin:  All the history books in the world and the ability to speak Latin will not help in the matters we’re discussing.  Nobody alive today has any first-hand knowledge on the Roman Empire or the Roman Republic, whatever terminology you wish for me to use.  However, plenty of people have plenty of first-hand knowledge on Zimbabwe, Venezuela and the Soviet Union's collapse.  So if one wants to make a correlation between the things that could lead to our collapse with one of those countries, I would be much more inclined to believe it to be accurate.  Furthermore, one doesn’t need to live near any of those countries to gain this knowledge. 
Let’s not get too far off subject by discussing women’s suffrage and the Seditions Act.  My singular point to Thomas is that our founders weren’t the saints he made them out to be.  They had plenty of flaws, just like politicians of today. 
Dave: We all tend to look back with nostalgia on past leaders.  If we lived during their times I’m sure they would show many of the same flaws as leaders of today.  I would also add that presidential legacies can take curious turns as history progresses.  Perhaps a more astute leader than Lincoln could have ended slavery without so much bloodshed and the ugly segregation aftermath.  As for Roosevelt, if our country should ever collapse, I think it will be mostly his fault.  In enacting Social Security he’s the single biggest reason our debt is what it is today and our debt will surely cause our collapse if we don’t get it under control. 

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