On Riches and Poverty

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We hear a lot of sneers directed at the rich. Like “the 1 per cent,” “greedy” or “fat cats.” Today, I’ll ask: To what extent do the rich deserve these insults? Then, I’ll look at poverty, and ask: Why are so many people poor? And how might the problem of undeserved poverty be solved?

 

First, is being “rich” a relative or an absolute thing? Were, for example, the Roman emperors rich? At one level, they were indeed rich; they had far more money and resources than the people around them. At another level, because of economic expansion over the centuries, many Western people today can afford things the Roman emperors could not have dreamed of. Beef from Argentina, bacon from Denmark, wine from Chile, or out-of-season fruit from Morocco, for example. So, while absolute standard of living is important in determining whether or not someone is “rich,” it’s also necessary to look at what they enjoy relative to those around them.

 

I’ll briefly re-cap the economic fundamentals. It is natural for convivial human beings to create well-being. That is, to deliver what others are voluntarily willing to pay for. There are many ways to do this; every one of us must find the way or ways that best suits us. To support this vital function, and to encourage it to continue, a framework is necessary, in which each individual will receive just rewards in exchange for his or her skills and efforts.

 

In an earlier essay I identified four things this framework must provide. First, sound money. Second, property rights. Third, a system which implements objective, individual justice; that is, the condition in which each individual is treated, in the round and as far as practicable, as he or she treats others. And fourth, a free market, in which there are no arbitrary barriers or obstacles to who may trade and with whom.

 

There is, however, a fifth condition necessary before people can flourish economically; and that is a negative condition. Unlike today, there must be no privileged political class, that has the power to bleed individuals and the economy, and to use the proceeds for their own selfish gain, to enrich their supporters and cronies, or to fund their pet – and often nefarious – projects.

 

Riches

 

So, how can people become rich, or at least comfortably off? There are several ways. First, and very much foremost, by earning it. That is, by creating wealth through honest work and business in the free market. Not only is this by far the most praiseworthy means of building personal wealth; but it’s also the one which is natural for convivial human beings. In a free market with justice, good people can fully enjoy the well-being, which they have justly earned through delivering what others are voluntarily willing to pay for.

 

Unfortunately, the rapacious political classes and their cronies make it forever harder and harder for people to reap the rewards they deserve for their good work. They see the profit from honest business – that is, the excess of the value produced for others over the costs of producing that value – as a bad thing, not the unmitigated good which it really is. They seek to re-direct as much of that profit as they can to themselves, and to their cronies and supporters. To make things worse, many new business ventures today fail before they ever really get going. And for professionals (like me) who have developed strong and saleable skills, it’s worse yet; we are denied access to the market by bad, political “laws” that favour big companies over small ones.

 

A second way to get rich is through luck. For example, by inheriting the millions that Daddy earned, or by winning a big lottery prize. There is nothing wrong with these; but for obvious reasons, very few get rich in such ways. A third way to get rich is through canny investment; by providing resources to people who will use them well, in exchange for a share of the profits. The problem here is, that you must be already quite well off in order to do this at all.

 

Moving down the scale, another way to bring in money – often in large quantities – is to suck wealth out of the system like a parasite. For example, through asset stripping of companies, or through becoming adept at corporate politics. Further down again is scheming, gaming the system to your own advantage. For example, accepting subsidies, or lobbying for advantages or to harm your competitors. Then there is the criminal means; such as theft, fraud, intimidation and violence, as practiced by organizations like the Mafia. And at the very bottom of the scale is what Franz Oppenheimer called the “political means,” in essence, legalized robbery.

 

It’s plain from all this that – luck aside – it is extremely hard for anyone to become rich without either already being rich, or taking money from others by means parasitic, criminal or political. Thus, sneers directed at the rich are entirely justified, if their riches have been acquired by such means. Meanwhile, those who deserve to be comfortably off, or even to become rich, are drained of their earnings and life-chances by the criminal political class and their parasites and cronies. Further, these good people are often the targets of hatred and slurs from those that are draining them dry. So the rich get richer, the poor don’t get any better off, and those in the middle get screwed.

 

Poverty 

 

The opposite of rich is poor. And like riches, poverty has both absolute and relative aspects. Clearly, in those Western countries which have had a history of relative economic freedom, most people are better off than those in third world countries with no such history. This is not surprising; for social structures, that are based on political power and cronyism rather than on the free market, virtually always result in a few rich and very many poor.

 

There are many reasons why individuals are, or become, poor. But all of them can, I think, be put into one of four categories. One, lack of access to the free market. Two, lack of ability to create wealth or well-being. Three, lack of just reward. And four, debt.

 

Lack of access to the free market can be due to a variety of causes. For example: Wars or political oppression. Regulatory burden, such as business licensing, or bad laws made to favour some economic actors over others. Tariffs, prohibitions or sanctions. Anti-business culture. Or minimum wage legislation, which prevents people not yet skilled enough to be worth the minimum wage from getting jobs at all. It’s sobering to realize that most, if not all, of these causes of lack of access to the free market are down to acts of political governments.

 

As to lack of ability to create wealth, there are two main groups of causes. First, things which are the individual’s own fault. For example, if they’re too lazy or too dishonest to use Franz Oppenheimer’s “economic means,” that is, honest work and fair exchange. And second, things which are no-one’s fault, like accident, illness or disability.

 

Lack of just reward can sometimes be caused by exploitation of the individual, for example by abusive management or by criminals. But more often, it’s caused by political action. For example, by heavy taxation. Or by deliberate currency inflation, making it impossible for people’s savings to keep pace with ever rising prices. Or by a dishonest, unstable banking and financial system. Or by a lack of respect for property rights.

 

Lastly, debt can be a self-caused source of poverty, such as when individuals have spent on credit beyond their means, or done real damage to others for which they must pay compensation. But debt for individuals can also be brought about by the deliberate actions of others. For example, overblown damages or maintenance payments imposed by a politicized legal system. Or a corrupt, gluttonous state that seeks any means possible to force its debts on to those it rules over.

 

Solutions to poverty

 

To look for solutions to poverty, I’ll re-arrange the causes I listed above according to who is at fault for each.

 

If an individual is poor through that individual’s own fault, the remedy is in the individual’s own hands. No more need be said than: reform your conduct, get earning, and if you’re still in debt, pull yourself out of it.

 

If, however, individuals are poor through someone else’s fault, then it must be the responsibility of those at fault to fix the problem. In today’s system, those at fault – common criminals excepted – are almost always the political class, their henchpersons or their corporate cronies. But the framework of justice, which I outlined above, would solve the great majority of these problems. Removing political operators and their cronies from positions of power and privilege, bringing them to justice as they deserve, and making them compensate their victims, would go a long way towards achieving this. And the combination of sound money, freedom of trade, property rights and objective justice will then be able to fix the problem for good.

 

Where individuals’ poverty is no-one’s fault, then it is appropriate to set up systems of insurance or mutual aid. Such schemes existed in the 19th century, for example the friendly societies. But they were elbowed out by politicized welfare states.

 

Welfare is a large subject, which demands an essay in itself.  But in the framework of justice I described, re-vitalization of private welfare schemes is one of three elements which I think can help to cure poverty. The second is removal of disincentives to saving for the future. And the third is non-politicized means of education and training for whatever skills are in demand. These elements together should be enough to ensure that no-one becomes poor through no fault of their own. But even so, voluntary charity is always available as a final back-stop.

 

To sum up

 

Today, a rapacious political class makes it far harder than it ought to be for people who deserve to be comfortably off, or even rich, to get what they deserve. Instead, good people are ripped off, and the benefits go to the state and its political class, and their cronies and supporters. The rich get richer, the poor don’t get any better off, and those in the middle get screwed.

 

Many of those, who today are rich, have not earned their riches, but got them through parasitism, cronyism or politics. Such individuals fully deserve all the sneers and slurs that we hear so often directed at “the rich.”

 

Undeserved poverty is often the fault of individuals and groups other than the people who are made poor. Leaving aside laziness and dishonesty, most poverty is caused by the acts of political governments and their parasites and cronies.

 

The problem of undeserved poverty can be solved by a combination of the following: Sound money. Property rights. Objective justice. The free market. Removal of the political class and their cronies from their positions of power and privilege, and bringing them to justice. Removal of disincentives to saving. Re-vitalization of private systems of insurance and mutual aid. And de-politicized systems of education and training.

 

Comments

George N Romey Added Nov 11, 2018 - 8:56am
Neal very good article. Since the creation of money it’s mostly been the poor and the rich. The great middle has been the anomaly. Moreover, we have a tendency to always want more and the easiest way is to take from others. In see no change to this trend until something catastrophic occurs and changes world order. There might be a world one day of abundance for all but it’s light years away. More than likely we’re destroy ourselves first.
Neil Lock Added Nov 11, 2018 - 10:28am
Thank you, George, you're definitely on the right track there. In a regime that allows the possibility of upward social mobility, a middle class will form and grow. In a regime that despises its middle classes and tries to squeeze them out of existence, things will first stagnate, then either collapse (think Venezuela or Cambodia) or undergo a revolution. And in Europe at least, virtually all the governments and all the political parties today hate the middle classes, and seek to bleed them dry.
 
One good thing, perhaps, is that this is coming to be discussed openly, and so is becoming recognized by many. The ruling class of politicians and corporatocrats is now hated intensely by the old working classes, as well as by the former middle class they have impoverished. (That's one of the things Brexit was about, for example). Something is going to have to give.
Stone-Eater Added Nov 11, 2018 - 10:38am
Neil
 
Good article, but...
 
So, how can people become rich, or at least comfortably off? There are several ways. First, and very much foremost, by earning it
 
No, First and foremost it's the luck to have been born into the right place at the right time having wealthy parents. That's a 95% of them. No network = no wealth. Took me a long time to find out, but it's reality.
Stone-Eater Added Nov 11, 2018 - 10:40am
George
 
More than likely we’re destroy ourselves first.
 
Not ALL of us. Genetics make sure that SOME will survive. But, frankly, would it be such a loss when such a stupid species as ours would disappear ? We are SO intelligent and don't even figure how to use that in favor of us all.....
George N Romey Added Nov 11, 2018 - 10:42am
SEF I agree the ability to obtain wealth is strongly tied to birthright. The rich hate the poor but of course the poor are needed. 
 
What’s scary are the fools that think global government will change this dynamic. 
Stone-Eater Added Nov 11, 2018 - 10:46am
George
 
Global government will NEVER work. Best example is the EU which is only a tiny part of the world, and it's exclusively white and christian. Even that doesn't work out due to different cultures and mentalities. So imagine a WORLD government...
 
A global government would only be possible in form of a global economic dictatorship where people are conditioned to stay at a first grade level in education, and a 100% censorship of all media is installed worldwide.
 
And that will never happen.
The Burghal Hidage Added Nov 11, 2018 - 11:21am
I must ask you too, Mr. Lock. The word of a Cambridge man should count for something: would you consider that I am short in commentary on other WB posts?
Neil Lock Added Nov 11, 2018 - 11:22am
Stone-Eater: Reading your first comment, I think I probably phrased my question poorly in the article. It might better have been "How should people be able to make themselves rich, or at least comfortably off?"
 
I think that, by the time I get to the end of my argument, I am agreeing with you when I say "luck aside... it is extremely hard for anyone to become rich without either already being rich, or taking money from others by means parasitic, criminal or political."
 
And I agree with you and George, global government is a no-no. It would be way worse even than what we suffer today, and with no possible escape from it. Ever.
Neil Lock Added Nov 11, 2018 - 11:27am
TBH: Autumn must have been getting to you (oh, I meant the season, not the person! :-)
 
You're certainly a more than welcome, and more than averagely active, participant on my threads! As to third parties' threads, I'd have to leave judgement on such a matter to the respective authors.
Stone-Eater Added Nov 11, 2018 - 11:33am
Neil
 
"How should people be able to make themselves rich, or at least comfortably off?"
 
Now, what is "rich"....in which terms...I know what you mean, but I've found out that - for me - richness in life is not material wealth. But of course I'm not promoting poverty as well LOL
Koshersalaami Added Nov 11, 2018 - 11:44am
Good post. The issue isn’t wealth, it’s how some gain it and keep it and, in terms of the health of the country, how well it’s distributed. Rich countries have thriving middle classes, Third World countries don’t, because businesses thrive best when the largest proportion of the population has money to spend. Which is the opposite of the direction we’re going.
 
A lot of this is in inheritance taxes. People looking to end inheritance taxes are some combination of screamingly selfish and stark raving nuts. I’m not saying we should confiscate inheritance, but no inheritance taxes on anyone, regardless of wealth? As I’ve pointed out elsewhere, to use a wild example:
 
If we taxed people at the Koch brothers level of wealth at a ridiculously draconian effective 99%, their estates were divided evenly between their wives and kids, and they predeceased the rest of their families, after we divided up the leftover 1%, the least any single individual would inherit is $150,000,000. And these guys want 0% inheritance taxes, which would of course mean the least any single heir would inherit would be fifteen billion. If this is how we handle the distribution of wealth, we’re headed for Third World status. No way around it. That’s too much desperately needed revenue to leave on the table, and what’s worst, not having it will mean these same people will insist on cutting social services to make up the deficit. 
Stone-Eater Added Nov 11, 2018 - 12:06pm
Islamic ham
 
(;-)
 
Rich countries have thriving middle classes,
 
50 years ago. But by eliminating the educated middle class in favor of an elite and the dumb proletariat (by dumbing down education and creating "workplace fear") you get the condition for an all-over control, not only by surveillance but also by media censorship.
 
The middle class in Europe has declined dramatically. And there's no protest. Why ? Because we have an overload of information, and the population has been brainwashed into a consumer society which has for biggest ideals to buy a new gadget every n months and have the newest car and fashion. Promote short-life memory and prevent history that would enable them to follow the string....
Katharine Otto Added Nov 11, 2018 - 3:03pm
Neil,
Let me ask you a question:  Why is everyone so obsessed with money?  Especially those in the so-called "rich" Western countries?  It seems to me that you can't have the "super-rich" without having the "super-poor," but confiscating the wealth of the "super-rich" will not help the "super-poor" to achieve more quality of life.
 
Is monetary wealth necessary to "quality of life?"  The soap-boxers in media, in the governments, and central banks seem to think so.  You indirectly refer to the "ruling class" which is also the "parasitic class," in my opinion, those who steal through taxes in order to boss everyone around, create monopolies (the biggest of which is government itself) and pretend they are protecting the poor from the rich exploiters.  While the going lie is that 1% of the people pay 99% of the taxes, the fact is most taxes, including the tax of inflation, is paid by those who can least afford them, such as excise taxes, sales taxes, licenses, fees, payroll taxes, and all the taxes exacted by the four levels of government (if you live in a city in the US), that serve only to limit freedoms and restrict free enterprise and trade.
 
You claim property rights are important, but we have no property rights.  We pay property taxes and are always subject to the government's whim about whether our properties will be eminent domained for the next oil pipeline, or seized on some pretext of crime, or polluted beyond livability by a nuclear power plant meltdown upriver.
 
While your ideas may be good in theory, what you seem to be advocating is anarchy, with no government to help anyone exploit anyone else.  You may have to go without fresh bananas, so I hope your garden in your property rented from the government is flourishing.
Koshersalaami Added Nov 11, 2018 - 4:01pm
I don’t know why anyone would assume that if you get the basics of food, shelter, and medical care that you won’t have any aspirations past that. 
Thomas Sutrina Added Nov 11, 2018 - 5:59pm
Neil great article.  A wealth management company pointed out that within three generations the wealth of the original person is lost on average unless the government through barriers prevents the loss.  Doesn't take much investigation to show that his is a reasonable conclusion.  Just ask where the wealth of the people like Washington is today or look at the Robber Barons.  The manager said this is not an American experience but is world wide.
 
So the importance of government is not stressed enough.  The second a nation has a class society structure, and about 99.9% do, then barriers to retain wealth within a class exist and to prevent a person from moving up or down to another class.  This is one of the major reasons for revolution and it is the reason for the American Revolution.  I colonist in the eyes of the upper class of England no matter how much wealth could not become part of the governing and wealthy class.  Thus a lesser human, a colonist would not be heard.  Benjamin Franklin when to England to represent the colonies before the Revolution and came back knowing this and then becoming part of the resistance.  Just read the Declaration of Independence and the rejection of class is obvious.
 
America started with almost know class structure in the north since slavery was almost non-existent, but the ~ 5 to 10% that owned slaves in the southern colonies created a class society with my guess three classes: slave owners the very rich, slaves and indentured people, and everyone else.  Slaves were less then humans so the southerners that signed the Declaration and approved of the Constitution dismissed slave as part of "all men are created equal."  
 
The reason ~99.9% societies have a class structure is that the wealth always control government and they always want to pass the wealth and power to the next generation.  That is why the wealthy in America have been chipping away by adding exceptions to 'equal.'  Only when the general population stand up does large chunks of those exception are removed, and the process starts again.  The Civil War and the Civil Rights movement are the two times in American's history.  Are we near a third?
 
Poverty is not an accident in America!  The Democratic Party the only party in America that has hung together since the founding and even through the Civil War because class is a very powerful common interest, the desire to pass wealth and power to the next generation is very powerful reason to create a factions  "Ultimately, "the most common and durable source of factions has been the various and unequal distribution of property," Madison argues . . .  Madison feared that the unpropertied classes would use their majority power to implement a variety of measures that redistributed wealth. "  Minority factions form to gain power Madison writes.  Ref: Federalist papers 9,10 see Wikipedia.
 
The FDR's New Deal started to employ the Roman's approach of using welfare to control the unpropertied classes.  Thus the poor was concentrated in cities where welfare distribution could be controlled and within the cities ghettos were created (HUD segregated policies thru 1960's of an unpropertied poor).  Welfare rewarded single parents thus destroying families, and religious social structures, and without fathers teaching boy we get the crime, education failures, and gang problems.  Blood in the streets.
Jeff Michka Added Nov 11, 2018 - 7:04pm
Tommy the Sutrino is back with his "FDR did everything to make America "bad."  Honk honk, Sutrino.  I'd think, Neil, you may have more Morroccan wine and your fruit from Chile.  Although Chile produces excellent wine., think "Chateau Thames embankment" maybe the cheap stuff in the UK.  And Sutrino pumps out more propaganda.  Welfare didn't "reward" single parent families, but was another rightist fantasy whereby the poor weren't really poor in two parent homes, because if Mom and Dad both had two jobs, they could eat for part of the month, so were just lazy if they didn't.  The cryptofascists set up the single parent phenomena to make welfare more degrading, not FDR.
goldminor Added Nov 11, 2018 - 7:48pm
Interesting post, well laid out and presented. Also great commentary. I am glad that I wandered over to this site.
Koshersalaami Added Nov 11, 2018 - 8:56pm
Hard working Americans aren’t where the wealth is any more, even collectively. It’s not your wealth that needs to fix this. 
Thomas Sutrina Added Nov 11, 2018 - 10:31pm
Jeff Boy, did I lie about FDR.  We both know that I did not because the supportive data make it undeniable.   I pointed out the actual actions of his administration and what he said.  For example his State Of the Union speech on Tuesday, January 11, 1944.  The first time FDR presented these economic bill of right was during the 1932 campaign speech Commonwealth Club, September 23.
Neil Lock Added Nov 11, 2018 - 11:09pm
Katharine: Why is everyone so obsessed with money? Let me respond with a quote from one of my previous essays: "Money is power; the power to do what you want. It gives you the power to make choices... On the other hand, lack of money leads to lack of power." In that article, I compared the kind of re-distributory taxation we suffer under nowadays to murder of the part of our lives we used up in order to earn the wealth that was stolen from us. I suspect that, if we could only get rid of that kind of taxation, then money per se would become a lot less important to many people.
 
As to advocating anarchy, I take care to try to distance myself from the position of "anything goes" with which lovers of freedom are (too) often labelled. The question is, how do we create a framework of just governance (giving us the good things, like sound money and objective justice, that I mentioned in the article) without allowing a ruling class - as they are able to today - being able simply to lord it over ordinary people, without any respect or concern for us?
 
Other than those two points, I agree with you...
Neil Lock Added Nov 11, 2018 - 11:15pm
Koshersalaami: Yes, inheritance is an awkward question. One I'm still in the process of thinking through.
 
But who is this "we" of which you speak, that you think should have the power to tax the Koch's and those like them? That, to me, is a key. The ruling classes claim to be "we" and to "represent" us, but they don't do any such things. It's all a front for their legalized robbery.
Neil Lock Added Nov 11, 2018 - 11:22pm
Mogg Tsur: I basically agree with the points in your first comment, though I don't find what our enemies are doing to us very amusing at all. You might find some interest in looking at some of the articles I have published in this very forum in the last few months, notably "On Business and the Economy" and "On Money, Power and Taxation."
 
As to your second comment, welfare happens to be the next subject on my list to tackle, so I'll just say "watch this space."
Neil Lock Added Nov 11, 2018 - 11:25pm
Thomas: Some good points, thank you. Yes, Madison was far sighted, wasn't he?
Neil Lock Added Nov 11, 2018 - 11:26pm
goldminor: Thank you for your kind words. Always pleased to be of service :-)
Neil Lock Added Nov 11, 2018 - 11:29pm
Jeff M: I used Chilean wine just as an example, though it does tend to be one of my more frequent quaffs. Since I happen to be in Portugal at this moment, maybe I should have talked of Portuguese wine instead - and I can assure you that it's good, strong stuff!
Cullen Kehoe Added Nov 11, 2018 - 11:39pm
t seems to be a 'natural' state that wealth accumulates in the hands of the few. 

When you can get  seriously wealthy folks to open their wallets on big investment projects, wealth flows around the economy through the hands of little guys. And society benefits as a result. 
 
(That's why, traditionally speaking, after a natural disaster or a war, when people are rebuilding everything, the economy is often pretty good. Unemployment is low, people are working, getting money in their pockets...until everything is rebuilt again. Then things slow down and begin to revert to their natural state.) 
 
It's funny that one of the best times to be a peasant in the Middle Ages immediately after the Black Death. There were so few peasants still alive, you could command a serious wage to work the land of a lord. Anytime circumstances force rich people to open their wallets, society benefits. 
Stone-Eater Added Nov 12, 2018 - 12:48am
Neil
 
I agree that money is power - be it cash, precious metals or land owning. But ask the question WHY so many people WANT power. Is it an inferiority complex or are they overwhelmed by the fact that there's 8.000.000.000 more of them around and they have the desperate need to get into history ?
 
I don't get it. Especially the religiosos around should make humbleness and modesty their motto :)
Mark Hunter Added Nov 12, 2018 - 3:40am
I used to want to be rich, until I started paying attention to the lifestyles of the rich and realized how desperately unhappy and unmeaningful most of their lives were. Now I just want to be ... comfortable. Which in many parts of the world is better than almost everyone.
opher goodwin Added Nov 12, 2018 - 4:16am
Neil - good article. I agree with your conclusions even though I am not as cynical as you are about political systems.
The political system we have was set up to perpetuate the cronyism and distribution of wealth we now have. I have nothing against a State providing all the basics for its people - health, education, infrastructure, water, power, transport, defence, as I believe this can be done efficiently and cost effectively. 
I want far more transparency regarding politicians and their practices and an end to their relationship with big business.
It is obvious to me that the vast majority of the rich did not honestly 'earn' their money.
Neil Lock Added Nov 12, 2018 - 4:42am
Stone-Eater: You ask, why do so many want power? It's a good question. From what I see, the political class divide mainly into two types.
 
One (the "left") is driven mainly by envy and hatred. They hate people who are different, or people who are better than they are. Particularly they hate those who earn a good living through their own efforts. So, they want power in order to keep those people subjugated (or worse).
 
The other side (the "right") are driven far more by selfishness and greed. They want power and riches (unearned, of course) so they have something to be able to strut, and to feel good about themselves for.
 
Then of course there are the really bad guys, the ones that have both sets of these characteristics. Tony Blair was a perfect example.
Neil Lock Added Nov 12, 2018 - 4:46am
Opher: It seems that here, you and I are quite close in our diagnoses of this problem, but we are 180 degrees apart on the cure. For me, the state, with its moral privileges, is the root of the problem. And no amount of "politics" can fix that. The foundations have to change.
Neil Lock Added Nov 12, 2018 - 4:48am
Mark: Yes, being comfortable would be nice, wouldn't it? That's part of the reason why those that hate us want to take away our earned comforts.
Neil Lock Added Nov 12, 2018 - 4:51am
Cullen: Ah yes, you have picked out that it is the velocity of money circulation that is the indicator of prosperity, rather than the actual amount of the stuff (or even of the resources it represents). An astute point.
Jeffry Gilbert Added Nov 12, 2018 - 5:10am
Luck is the intersection of preparation and opportunity. 
Stone-Eater Added Nov 12, 2018 - 6:21am
Jeffry
 
Good one. Marked.
opher goodwin Added Nov 12, 2018 - 6:24am
Neil - yes you are right. We agree on the problem. A solution is always harder.
I think the problem can be fixed through good governance - limiting earnings, graduated taxations and providing excellent services for everyone. It would reduce the obscene incomes at the top, reduce poverty at the bottom and provide a much better, more stable society. All we need to have are good politicians to implement and govern.
Jeffry Gilbert Added Nov 12, 2018 - 6:26am
good politicians 
 
Oxymoron. 
 
Stone-Eater Added Nov 12, 2018 - 6:27am
Neil
 
I don't want to fall into that left/right scheme again. To me, there is no right or left. People simply choose the (political) side which looks more promising for their own pocket. When a "left" is in power, they go along, when there's a "right", too. 
 
And more often than not a side is simply chosen to get media attention, work in opposition until in power, and then profit from it.
 
Take the Greens in Germany. Starting as an Eco-party, positioned left-wing, they morphed into a right-wing NATO party and adopted ideas of other right-wingers in order to get votes (Russia is the enemy.....). They promote open borders for everyone as a balance (we're soo social). Why ? Because that way they can get the votes from mainly young immigrants and secondos.
 
It's all bullshit.
Steel Breeze Added Nov 12, 2018 - 7:38am
i'm content with just being......content...
FacePalm Added Nov 12, 2018 - 9:00am
Not to mention FDR's confiscation of real wealth(gold) from Americans, his declaration of bankruptcy of the gov't of the US, his blatantly socialist policies and creations, his changing of the wording of the 1917 "Trading With the Enemy" act to essentially declare that all Americans were enemies of the government, ad nauseum.
 
Neil Lock-
Ever read "Rich Dad, Poor Dad," and see his quadrant?
On the one side, he put those who get a job and those who start their own businesses.
On the other side, he put business owners and investors.
 
Guess which ones get rich?
 
But at the core of the real problem is that the "money" is fiat debt notes; it's all "paper wealth."  Should the USD crash - as is planned for the future - then:
 
"If, however, a government refrains from regulations and allows matters to take their course, essential commodities soon attain a level of price out of the reach of all but the rich, the worthlessness of the money becomes apparent, and the fraud upon the public can be concealed no longer."
-- John Maynard Keynes(1883-1946) British economist
Source: The Economic Consequences of the Peace, 1920, page 240
 
All this talk of becoming wealthy - which i would define as never having to worry about paying bills again for the rest of your life - is really nonsense as long as the literal root issue is not addressed...as Thoreau noted:
 
"There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root."
-- Henry David Thoreau(1817-1862)
 
...though these days, what with the "success" of the dumbing-down program, i'd up the number considerably, like at least a 100,000.
 
"The study of money, above all other fields in economics, is one in which complexity is used to disguise truth or to evade truth, not to reveal it."
-- John Kenneth Galbraith(1908- ) Canadian-born economist, Harvard professor
Source: Money: Whence it came, where it went - 1975, p15
 
i rather despise the notion of "re-distribution of wealth."  It's theft, plain, simple, unadorned, and naked.
 
The democratic "welfare plantations" are designed specifically to NOT help people become independent, just to keep them from starving and not much farther - to get them maybe 2 steps up the ladder before placing a ceiling they cannot pass - no education in how to improve their lot, stimulate creativity and invention, how to take raw materials, fashion them, then market them - nothing like that.  They're to create and maintain a voting base, that is all. 
 
"You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
You cannot help small men by tearing down big men.
You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
You cannot lift the wage-earner by pulling down the wage-payer.
You cannot help the poor man by destroying the rich.
You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than your income.
You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
You cannot establish security on borrowed money.
You cannot build character and courage by taking away men's initiative and independence.
You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves."
-- William Boetcker(1873-1962) German-born Presbyterian clergyman, 1916
Source: often falsely attributed to Abraham Lincoln
 
But it's now obvious that the PtB - those who fancy themselves as the rulers of the planet - mean to do whatever they can to prevent the success of the "lower classes" by refusing to teach them the principles necessary for a firm foundation; nope, they encourage exactly the opposite, secure in the knowledge that although they have vast wealth, they put it in corporate entities(like foundations) which allow them to retain control of the assets while disavowing "ownership" and the taxes that go with it.
 
The socialist looks at the mansions of the wealthy and says "No man should have so much."
The capitalist looks at the mansions of the wealthy and says "Every man should have so much."
FacePalm Added Nov 12, 2018 - 9:03am
Oh, and here's a 4-word secret to great wealth:
 
"Wait long.  Move fast."
Stone-Eater Added Nov 12, 2018 - 9:26am
Face
 
The error people make is as follows:
 
Welfare is a good system for people who are disabled or have no jobs due to old age, lacking qualification etc. That's not socialist but only human and - when seeing that older people have problems finding jobs because the economy prefers to pay less and employ the young - it is justified.
 
But then you get a LOT of jobless people in Europe which would have the capacity and the power to work. But they CAN'T - due to financial hurdles in creating your own company, due to regulations and laws - there's thousands of paragraphs that block people to get on their own feet.
 
And these countries are NOT socialist - none of them ! How can one be against welfare payments and at the same time favors BLOCKING unemployed people to get back on their feet ?
 
Think.
 
It's all about control.
George N Romey Added Nov 12, 2018 - 9:28am
Money can provide the key to happiness. Talk to a poor person and then talk to a rich person.  In all likelihood the rich person will be far, far happier.
 
Some income inequality is good.  Its what motivates people to work harder and prepare better.  However, we now have too much inequality.
 
Finally, we as a society need to learn to be minimalistic.  Not surprising Youtube sensations are people showing off their tiny houses or living in a camping trailer.  Seems as though people are starting to realize having experiences are better than material things.  Material things that tend to take up your time, impoverish you and imprison you.
Stone-Eater Added Nov 12, 2018 - 9:36am
George
 
Seems as though people are starting to realize having experiences are better than material things.  Material things that tend to take up your time, impoverish you and imprison you.
 
I've been preaching that for 25 years. I'm, for Western standards, poor. But I've seen the world, and I didn't work my ass of in order to buy the stuff what so-called "status" needs in order to be "respected". Such shit never interested me - and now, at 60, I can look back to a rich life - and I still have the power to do things in Africa, because I don't feel worn out yet. And if my eyesight goes completely nuts one day, I have my kids that guide me - and the sea breeze doesn't require eyes.
 
Luckily I've been playing guitar for so long I don't need to look at the instrument anymore to play. So - another good thing LOL
FacePalm Added Nov 12, 2018 - 10:54am
Of course it's about control; the globalists who set out to "effect government capture" first got those governments indebted to them, then dictated the policies they were to enforce.  This is the reason why the founder of the Rothschild dynasty would write "Give me control of a nation's money supply, and i care not who makes it's laws," or why his son Nathan could say:
"I care not what puppet is placed on the throne of England to rule the Empire, ... The man that controls Britain's money supply controls the British Empire.  And I control the money supply.''
-- Baron Nathan Mayer Rothschild(1777-1836) London financier, one of the founders of the international Rothschild banking dynasty
 
This is a snapshot of "the Beast that Deceived the Whole World:"
 
"The whole profit of the issuance of money has provided the capital of the great banking business as it exists today. Starting with nothing whatever of their own, they have got the whole world into their debt irredeemably, by a trick.  This money comes into existence every time the banks 'lend' and disappears every time the debt is repaid to them. So that if industry tries to repay, the money of the nation disappears. This is what makes prosperity so 'dangerous,' as it destroys money just when it is most needed and precipitates a slump.  There is nothing left now for us but to get ever deeper and deeper into debt to the banking system in order to provide the increasing amounts of money the nation requires for its expansion and growth.  An honest money system is the only alternative."
-- Frederick Soddy(1877-1956) British author, professor, Nobel Prize for Chemistry, 1921
 
And welfare should be left in the hands of local community churches or other charitable organizations free from government control.  Welfare from government is simply re-distribution after gov't's extract a sizable portion for themselves, first...AND, it's done by force or threat of force, not as a gift from the heart, as charities are SUPPOSED to be. 
 
But even charitable organizations need to be monitored closely; many in the US have CEO's and corporate Boards of Directors who are paid hundreds of thousands a year, PLUS "benefits," which is why i'll never give a dime to the American Red Cross or the Combined Federal Campaign or other ripoffs.  OTOH, the head of the Salvation Army takes no more than 30k/yr. last time i checked, a fitting amount for a charity whose avowed purpose is to help those in need, rather than preying on the gullible like the Red Cross does.
Stone-Eater Added Nov 12, 2018 - 11:09am
Face
 
I see we're on the same side there.
Ken Added Nov 12, 2018 - 11:26am
No, First and foremost it's the luck to have been born into the right place at the right time having wealthy parents. That's a 95% of them.
 
Actually, that is incorrect.  In Europe, that is fairly accurate with much "old money" and so many aristocratic members.
 
In America, very few of the wealthy did not earn it themselves, typically through providing some innovative new value to life.
Dino Manalis Added Nov 12, 2018 - 11:27am
 We're all rich in something, that's why those talents have to be developed into a serious career.
Stone-Eater Added Nov 12, 2018 - 11:57am
Ken
 
In America, very few of the wealthy did not earn it themselves, typically through providing some innovative new value to life.
 
If you talk of the middle class (so it still exists....) that's ok. But concerning your elite, no way. Best example is Trumpie who's had millions of $ shoved up his ass by his father, no ? Take all those elite universities you have, then make a career at Goldman-Sachs or the UN etc. You think that a ghetto kid from Detroit can make it there ?
 
No way.
 
You can't take people like Gates or Jobs as an example, these are exceptions, and I don't know how much of their biographies is true. Gates didn't develop shit, he bought MS-DOS from Paul Allen and, being a good PR guy, made his fortune out of that. So much for innovation.
 
Fact is that these "innovative ways" often are used to profit on the shoulders of others. iShit stuff wouldn't exist without the exploitation of the mines in Congo, for example where people work for 2$ a day. But that's another subject ;-)
Dave Volek Added Nov 12, 2018 - 12:25pm
Neil
 
Just here for a brief visit. You have created a well-balanced article here. I have no major issues with anything you have said. 
 
I think we need to understand the state of poverty on one's psyche. It is very difficult for a poor person to rise significantly higher than their current station--even when they strike it rich by luck or by the workplace. For example, my oilfield experience shows  that many young men of low economic origins are given opportunities to gain personal wealth, yet many of them squander the opportunity.
 
 
I had a brief encounter with poverty. It took me about a decade to realize how my thinking had been warped for that time. I put this piece up on WB, but it's easier to find it on my website:
 
 
 http://davevolek.org/articles/RationalityPoverty.html
 
I'm in favor of reducing minimum wage while slowly increasing a Guaranteed Basic Income. But that's another article!
 
You may be interested in this novellette from Marshal Brain. As we move more into technology that will replace jobs, society will have to deal with those who don't have the skills to find work in this new economy. The author offers two solutions. 
 
http://marshallbrain.com/manna1.htm
 
Not much success in promoting TDG in other internet forums. WB is still the best for intelligent discussion. 
rycK the JFK Democrat Added Nov 12, 2018 - 1:39pm
"It is natural for convivial human beings to create well-being."
 
Well stated and there are several aspects to this:
 
[1] "The poor will always be with us" and "there will be wars and rumors of wars" appear to be sound prophecies that have been true every year for some 20 centuries so far. So much for the religious stance and also Islam treats rich and poor the same. Buddha did not change the lot of the poor not did Confucius. Israel has a very small lot of poor with respect to their citizenship and this does not apply to refugee camps or Gaza next door. 
 
[2] There is not enough wealth to go around. It must be concentrated in order to get enough capital in one spot to manufacture things so spreading the wealth evenly is joke. This is the pyramidal form of government seen everywhere on this planet for some 5000 years or more.  
 
[3] Governments that seem to have the most poor also seem to be violent dictatorships or something close to that. Just pick a few spots in Africa for proof of this. Consider PRC, NK, Zimbabwe, Guatemala, etc. India is a notable exception as they have probably  the most poor and a docile government. 
 
[4] Those places that appear to have few or zero persons in the poverty level frequently have high debts to pay for this or have an unfair advantage in their economies such as being in the dirty gun business or in the dirty money hiding business. Look at Sweden and Switzerland closely. 
 
[5] Plans like the Great Society, Great Leap Forward, etc have not worked. The plight of the poor in the US, UK and EU are paid for by debt, which cannot endure more than two more decades before the local currency crashes. 
 
[6] Drug addiction ensures poverty and high maintenance costs as few can ever be cured of severe addictions. This also hikes crime and debt levels. 
 
So far, the notion of creating small places where people can be prosperous and free of war and crime only applies to places that are very small. 
 
Nothing has worked well that can be applied everywhere. 
rycK the JFK Democrat Added Nov 12, 2018 - 1:42pm
Ken
 
"In America, very few of the wealthy did not earn it themselves, typically through providing some innovative new value to life."
 
Agreed as this is the same old stale leftist argument that begs a 100% inheritance tax. 
 
If we want to see more poverty then place high taxes on carbon dioxide and let the left run things. 
Ian Thorpe Added Nov 12, 2018 - 1:55pm
The other comments (I read most of them,) have covered pretty much all I wanted to say. The 19th century social reformer William Cobbett had a nice phrase for many of the parasites you refer to. He called them "tax eaters". This did not mean only public sector workers, but those who fed and grew fat on the tax revenues of the nation, bankers whose loans earned interest from government overspending, the contractors who through graft and cronyism were awarded major public works contracts, then simply sub - contracted the work and in effect took a cut for adding a mark up to the sub contractors invoices and passing them on. There are hundreds of ways of being a tax eater now, as government, like John Steinbeck's monster in The Grapes Of Wrath,, continues to grow perpetually, and as it grows spawns more tax eaters.
TexasLynn Added Nov 12, 2018 - 2:09pm
SE >> No, First and foremost it's the luck to have been born into the right place at the right time having wealthy parents.
 
This got me to thinking on the few multi-millionaires I know personally and what they had in common.  I'm talking about people I knew growing up who are very successful today.
 
To a man (as in every one of them), they were not born into wealth.  Every one of them were at best middle class (some not even that) and built their businesses from scratch.
 
The richest of the bunch dropped out of high school because he didn't see the value in those wasted years when he could be working and building a business.
 
Others were big on the education route.
 
None of them became rich overnight... it was a slow, gradual, decades long process.
 
If I had to point to a single common characteristic, it would be that they are all "grounded".  They have a unique ability to see things as they really are.  They have a common sense that most lack.
Thomas Sutrina Added Nov 12, 2018 - 2:23pm
Driving around town Glenn Beck had a black young man that grew up in a ghetto without a father and only knew the culture of the gangs so ended up as a teenager in jail, he did it.  In jail had time to think and realized that he was in jail due to the gang mentors that show him how to.  They were the only mentor option. 
 
Realizing that the gang mentors were bad he found himself when he got out returning to the ghetto and not finding other to teach him how to not be a gang member.
 
A white women talked with him before he got out and after.  She decided he was worth the effort so took in into her home, got him out of the ghetto gang environment.  He was scared of the unknown because whites were the enemy and not to be trusted.  He took the risk also. 
 
He is a model, actor, and public speaker to present the story to others in reform schools etc. like on Glenn Beck radio. 
 
Go back to my original comment Nov 11, 2018 - 5:59pm poverty is not an accident and as other here have pointed out and this young man can attest to without someone showing you the path it is hard to stumble your way out of poverty.  
 
Poverty is not an accident because votes have political power.  If it works keep doing it.  Since FDR started giving the black poor welfare the whole black community ~ 15% of the population switch in mass to vote democratic ~97%.   FDR's segregated housing policy that made sense in 1930's to have neighborhood of similar people, races. concentrated that political power.  
 
The destruction was well know before the 1960's of black ghettos and ADFC agents specifically search for men that lived with the single parent mother and ended welfare if found.  My father worked with a man that lived out of his trunk so he was only visiting if present when the agents visited unannounced.   
 
So why hasn't the welfare system change since its conception except by significant public pressure that happened to end segregated housing.  To my knowledge that an a few work training programs are the only ones that have not continued decade after decade?   
 
Can anyone here on WB answer that question?   Why haven't the known faults of welfare been fixed?
Stone-Eater Added Nov 12, 2018 - 2:24pm
Tex
 
Every one of them were at best middle class (some not even that) and built their businesses from scratch.
 
Ok. Which clearly means that we Europeans are victims of over-regulations and rules. Which I can proof. But this has nothing to do with "socialism". This has to do with the fact that a certain "caste" wants to make sure that not everybody can get the possibility to "make it". 
 
I call that the network. And that network is not socialist. It is to a 100% neoliberal - all for me, nothing for you.
George N Romey Added Nov 12, 2018 - 2:37pm
Over the years as the rich have gotten richer the ordinary person has seen social mobility die.  When it was just the guy that lived in the nicest house on the hill and drove the nicest car more could attain his status.  Today its the guy with 5 houses, 20 cars, one airplane.  And the house in no longer on a hill but on a private island.
 
People confuse levels of rich.  Someone making $250K a year is very comfortable but may not really rich in the eyes of the true rich.  A CEO bringing down $25 million a year would think a doctor or lawyer making $250K well, well below his league.  We've entered the days of the super rich.  And that is killing society.  No one needs 5 houses or 20 cars and certainly doesn't need their own island. And I would bet my mother's grave plot that person only got there by being an underhanded, psychotic, moral less piece of horse dung. 
TexasLynn Added Nov 12, 2018 - 2:50pm
SE >> Ok. Which clearly means that we Europeans are victims of over-regulations and rules.
 
Well, I would have to agree with that.  And I would have to agree that regulation (govt control) is a fundamental characteristic of socialism.  See Europe... but also non-European socialist societies (like Cuba or Argentina).
 
Thinking on this further, it also means I knew a lot of lower and middle class people growing up... and not rich people.  It had to do with the circles I ran in.  If I had run in the rich circles, that percentage of self-made millionaires would be skewed in the other direction
 
I don't want to infer that all the rich are self-made.
 
SE >> But this has nothing to do with "socialism". This has to do with the fact that a certain "caste" wants to make sure that not everybody can get the possibility to "make it".
 
OK... I will certainly concede that you (and others) know more about Europe than I do.  I'm just an objective observer looking in.  So convince me it's the caste system.
 
Help me out by explaining the difference between socialist and neoliberal.  Personally, I equate the two.  Socialism, after all, in the minds of socialists is equality for all... except them, who will be running things.  It's just a kinder-gentler means to totalitarianism.  Castro, Chavez, Clinton... "all for me, nothing for you"; sounds about right.
 
I will add that I had a buddy that moved to Ireland (as a missionary).  He came back for a visit and I asked him "What is the main difference between the people of Europe (Ireland) and the people of the U.S."?
 
He was quick to point out the "caste" system; explaining that here we see no barriers between the classes.  A person can rise or fall into a class they were not born in.  There (Europe), people believe those barriers are insurmountable.  That was his opinion of the main difference.
Stone-Eater Added Nov 12, 2018 - 3:05pm
Tex
 
Help me out by explaining the difference between socialist and neoliberal.
 
In short, the original socialism as we knew it in Europe was "government of the people for the people". Centralized, but unlike communism, not meant to create a population where nobody stands upon another.
 
Socialism was the trigger to our systems we have in Europe, called Social Democracy. It means a mix of about 70% capitalism and 30% socialism (care for the poor and sick and unemployed).
 
What we call Neoliberal here (a wrong definition, because liberal means "free", but not Ayn Rand defined exploitation) is when the economy has no borders anymore to respect human rights, working hours, salaries where people can live on etc. You might call it "laissez-faire" economy. I cited Ayn Rand.
 
We refuse that, because to us capitalism and neoliberalism root in the same, but while capitalism in its pure form simply rewards the one who works, neoliberalism is not rooted in WORK, but in profit and exploitation - take Hedgefonds or the financial system we have now (keyword FIAT money).
 
So, I'm all for
 
- less regulations for John Doe for business
- more fairness in business without lobbyism
- a state-ruled health and welfare system
- infrastructure is in state control (power, water etc.)
 
That's hardly socialist or communist. Forget the -isms. I just want fairness for all.
George N Romey Added Nov 12, 2018 - 3:10pm
Well I think most Americans see things very different than a couple of decades ago.  As late as the 1990s Americans thought social mobility in the US to be alive and well.  Fast forward 20-25 years and much fewer think that.  During the same time we have seen the birth of the super rich, or what's considered the .001%.  The most recent data from 2015 indicated that in the US the .001% included 16,000 households with household income starting at $7 million.  This is where the real wage growth has been and what often skews the overall numbers.  I'm assuming that three years later the numbers for the .001% have only substantially increased.
 
Those making in excess of $7 million soon forget what its like for the man or woman trying to live on $50K a year.  And they get into this mindset that they need more, more, more although clearly at $7 million a year more money is not going to materially enhance your lifestyle.  In fact it becomes a twisted mental illness.  
 
The mindset of the 50s-90s is no gone in the US.
opher goodwin Added Nov 12, 2018 - 3:18pm
You can create a fairer society with high enough standards of living for everyone and less inequality. It isn't rocket science.
There is more than enough for everyone. It is just ridiculously unfairly distributed. It is not beyond the wit of man to create fairness.
Jim Stoner Added Nov 12, 2018 - 3:23pm
Thanks for this article and the cogent analysis, Neil.   Apart from pure greed--seeking acquisition for its own sake--there are three main motivations involved:  1) the minimum requirements for survival--a just society would ensure that all their citizens have those needs fulfilled.  The US falls short of this objective but generally tries to do so (Social Security and Medicare being two success stories, and welfare and affordable housing being less so).  
2) The desire to create, and the collateral benefits that come from this creation.  This includes entrepreneurs sportsmen, and artists, and many others who find their work fulfilling in this way.  An enlightened society should always encourage this, as long as it does not interfere with 1). 
3) Envy of others' success--this, unfortunately, has become more prevalent.  The world now has access to media which provides images--whether true or not--of the most wealthy societies; this drives economic migration.  Similarly, in our domestic politics we have too much evidence that people--who are not generally deprived of the basics of life, but feel they are less privileged than others--take out their frustrations through political acts that are often counterproductive or emotional.   This disease is only going to worsen, I'm afraid, as one area that moves relentlessly forward is ease of communication. 
The only solution to 3) is for individuals (those not in danger of loss of the minimal survival requirements) to become more grounded, more able to appreciate the fact they are, in historical terms, very fortunate, and thus to be able to work together with others for mutual benefit.  I felt that Neil's essay was particularly strong in this regard.  
 
George N Romey Added Nov 12, 2018 - 3:45pm
Throughout mankind universal change only comes when the powerful are threatened.  Today's .01% see no reason for change and they command the resources, politicians, education-you name it.  The great equalizer of the Great Depression is that many of the rich with paper assets (stocks, bonds) found themselves impoverished over night. Anyone that cares to can stream videos on YT from the 60s and 70s listening to people describe how they went from rags to riches overnight.  But the ordinary man really found himself in true dire straits.  Real unemployment in this country was closer to 35% to 40% and that didn't include workers that found themselves only with part time work.  FDR and his wife Eleanor were taken back by the conditions they saw on his campaign train tour.  Americans showing up filthy, emaciated, tattered clothing often covered in lice and other bugs to beg FDR for help.  
 
FDR got through Social Security, wage and hour laws, ability to join unions in part because the remaining rich was sacred of the swelling crowd.  Anyone not lazy enough to make a trip to their local library would realize FDR was trying to appease a growing menace, not some bleeding heart socialist.  We forget there were people camping out on the banks of the Anacostia River ready to burn DC down to the ground.  His advisers wanted FDR to declare essentially Marshall Law but he understood people wanted and desperately needed some kind of hope.  There were people on the left that never trusted him and swore he was nothing more than an agent and dupe of corporations. Anytime he sided closer to what business wanted (like creating a 40 hour instead of a 30 hour work week) his opponents to the his left would scream he was an agent of big business.
 
In 2008 we had the ability to put the greed genie, this time big finance back into the bottle.  But your guy Obama that you speak so dearly of didn't have the guts, conviction, morals to do so.  He is the biggest liar that has ever graced the White House, far worse than Trump.  Trump is what he is.  Obama was a total con job.
 
Not only that but the .01% rigged the system so they will never lose in a crash again.  They simply will be made whole by the Treasury printing money out of thin air and handing it to the Fed (and indirectly to other major central banks).
 
For those of you that want systemic change it for sure will never come until the .01% again either lose it all themselves, now doubtful, or become sacred of the growing mob.  Like 1933 the ordinary person will be living in a total hell hole or worse.  Next time there might not be an FDR desperately trying to hold the country together.  
 
 
Jim Stoner Added Nov 12, 2018 - 4:10pm
I agree that some of the malfeasance causing the economic crisis could have been prosecuted, but that was not Obama's decision. 
In retrospect (though I also predicted it at the time), it was certain that many would be disappointed that Obama could not accomplish all that he aimed to do; unfortunately, few seem to realize or accept that was primarily due to the reflexive resistance of the Republicans.  The differences between Obama and Trump are that: 1) Obama rarely lied to the public whereas Trump does it daily; and 2) the things Obama tried to do would help everyone, whereas those Trump does helps himself, his family, his cronies, and harms everyone else. 
Neil Lock Added Nov 12, 2018 - 4:20pm
OK, I see I've stirred the hornet's nest here. But I want this conversation to continue! I've just got back from Portugal, I've had a few drinks and I'm mellow, but I'm super-busy tomorrow so I won't be able to talk to y'all. It will probably be Wednesday before I can get back to you. Thanks to all who have contributed so far.
George N Romey Added Nov 12, 2018 - 4:25pm
No Jim Obama screwed took the side of his rich Wall Street buddies that handsomely funded his campaigns.  Do some research, read the book Confidence Men.  By 2008 a number of politically active men on Wall Street knew they had a big problem that could go horribly wrong for them.  They didn't trust McCain.  He might be willing to bail them out but would take a them to the woodshed like never before.  They weren't sure about Clinton.  Obama on the other hand was seen as an impressionable stooge that could easily be manipulated.  How they would appeal to his intellect?  One Harvard type to the company of a Yale type.  Obama took the bait because he so desperately needed to be seen as a critical thinker.
 
Later his newly appointed Financial Staff (including people like Christine Romer) told Obama he'd only have the money and political power to bail out either Wall Street or the American people (by then millions of Americans losing homes because they lost jobs or had hours cut).  Obama chose Wall Street because they'd gracious fund his re-election and appealed to his ego.  Many of his staffers quit disillusioned the man they saw as the new FDR was nothing more than another neoliberal phony.
 
You seem to forget that FDR faces a very similar situation.  He was never afraid to go up against adversaries and would never give up. He cleverly used the new medium of the time, radio (and even movies) to whip up support.  Obama had the wind to his back in 2009 but in the end he's nothing more than a dressed up and well groomed Donald Trump, worse.
 
I'd take someone like Trump that can easily be seen through versus someone like Obama that is a pathological liar.  In reality Trump is far less harmful, his ignorance is on full display.  The megalomaniac Obama is far more dangerous because he easily fools the sheep.  He learned at an early age tell people something with certain words and tone and they will believe everything coming out of your mouth.
 
 
Jim Stoner Added Nov 12, 2018 - 4:37pm
FDR was very careful in taking action against the capitalists, largely for the same reason Obama was careful.  The priority was reviving the economy. 
Unfortunately, too many people do not see through Trump.  They understand that he talks out of his ass, lies constantly, thinks only of himself, but they do not seem to realize that he will not do a thing to benefit their lives, except accidentally.  Donald Trump is just Spiro Agnew on a larger scale. 
George N Romey Added Nov 12, 2018 - 4:56pm
No Donald Trump is essentially harmless.  The big money crowd will never support him.
 
FDR by all means was a capitalist.  He was born to the .01%, attended the best of schools.  As a young man he went to work on Wall Street. In 1920 after losing the election as VP candidate for the Democratic Party he was considering returning to Wall Street.  Given his family connections he's have any job he wanted.  Once he was stricken with polio that option was not possible.  At the time a disabled man, even a very rich one would never be accepted into business. Physical conditions were considered a sign of mental impairment.
 
Later with the help of friends and Eleanor he re-entered politics as friends would make sure his ailments were hidden from public view.  FDR initially planned to introduce "pro growth" policies to stimulate the economy but by 1932 realized the US was well beyond that point.  The "New Deal" he spoke about was vague and had very few specifics.
 
FDR was a realist and a very determined individual.  Much of his conviction was tied to a very outsize ego.  He was far from perfect.  He was a racist that would have embarrassed even Trump with some of his often public view.  Its just at the time the President could control the press to his liking.  No one in the press would have dared to call FDR a racist.  Their job and career would have been gone in a flash.
 
Do some reading and stop watching MSNBC.
Jeff Michka Added Nov 12, 2018 - 5:09pm
People like Mogg Turd simply have a Trump-mouth case of the runs where they pass Trumpian lies along to try and infect everybody.  Jim Stoner's very. very nice description of Orange Garbage bag is true, and Trumpists will never admit they got conned.  And the wannabe fascist running dogs here still "blame Obama" for "anything."  Obama is not president, Orange crapola is.  This is Orange S**t's watch, rightists.  Maybe someone needs to mention Hillary to keep the ERWs going here.  Hillary, Hillary, Hillary...and Hillary is not locked up.  LOL. 
Thomas Sutrina Added Nov 12, 2018 - 7:47pm
George, a lot of the major communist and founders of socialist movements were from wealthy families.  Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt are members of that group.  Socialism promotes as I have the supremacy of the upper class, the wealthy.    So the Roosevelt, Kennedy's, Bush's, etc. are good candidates to be socialist or and group that believes in classes and them being part of the governing class.
Thomas Sutrina Added Nov 12, 2018 - 7:54pm
Jim S. and George, President Trump does believe in a class society.  The difference is that he have taught his children to be capable of growing the wealth the inherit.  Thus the need to create barriers to prevent the loss of the inheritance was not needed.  They can compete with anyone.  As I mentioned that a wealth management company owner did the research to find out that on average inheritance is lost in about three generations.
Jim Stoner Added Nov 12, 2018 - 7:58pm
George,  I don't know why you think I don't know all about FDR.  I was a history major, concentration in modern history, and took several courses in US history.  I'd be glad to match wits with you on the subject anytime.  
MSNBC is OK, but I prefer PBS and BBC.  Pretty much anything except Fox News and RT (the two are very similar). 
 
Donald Trump is harmless to the big money guys--so far, he's been helpful, though his policies are doomed to failure--but he is not generally harmless.  Do not be deceived--he's doing major damage every day to our nation, our civic institutions, the quality of discourse and social interaction, and our perception in the eyes of the world.  We need our allies as much as they need us. 
George N Romey Added Nov 12, 2018 - 8:35pm
Yeah RT that gave Ed Schultz a job after MSNBC fired him for daring to cover Sanders instead of Trump. Your ignorance just showed your another sheep.
Jim Stoner Added Nov 12, 2018 - 8:49pm
 
Is Schultz still there (I'm guessing not)? I liked his midwestern populist approach, though it's not exactly coming where I'm coming from.  (And he gave initial exposure to my favorite radio host, Norman Goldman.) 
 
Nevertheless, I gave up on RT long ago when I watched their programs shown abroad.  RT is a Russian propaganda tool.  Fox is a Trump propaganda tool.  They are allies, whether they "collude" or not. 
Stone-Eater Added Nov 13, 2018 - 1:14am
RT is as much a propaganda tool as any TV station is. The net is the only source for background info. And the channels that shed light on geostrategic/economic events are more and more censored or shut down.
 
I'm not even discussing with people anymore which use TV as their only info source.
Stone-Eater Added Nov 13, 2018 - 1:20am
Thomas
 
Trump is what we call here a Hochstapler. A pretender. A tweeting macho who would not be capable to lead an enterprise due to his over-exaggerated ego. Look at his cabinet. People leave frustrated. Though he says: I fired them. Bad soap, this one.
.
opher goodwin Added Nov 13, 2018 - 5:39am
George - I have yet to see any evidence for this constant diatribe against Obama. The crash was no his fault. It was the deregulation of banks that had started well before his time.
Thomas Sutrina Added Nov 13, 2018 - 9:48am
Stone_Eater, Obama and Bill Clinton are far better 'hochstapler's' then Trump.  They get their wealth from pretending to have political power to give out favors in return for money.   Clinton's sexual actions are another signal that he better fits 'hochstapler.'  
 
Trump's turning a small amount of money from his father and maybe his father's help along the way is not based on pretend capacities like influence.  Steel and concrete are real, solid.  Political favors are smoke and mirrors.
George N Romey Added Nov 13, 2018 - 2:53pm
Opher Obama only insured the next crash will be far, far worse. He allowed the banks to get even bigger.  He allowed the Treasury to print over $10 trillion to hand out to the banks in exchange for their worthless assets (purchased at book not market value).  He failed to have the DOJ try to prosecute just one Wall Street banker.  Even Ben Bernacke later said Wall Street executives should have gone to jail. He allowed foreign banks to be bailed out through currency swaps.
 
His financial team told Obama he'd only have the monetary and political capital to bail out either Wall Street or Americans.  Guess who he picked?  Most of his staff resigned in disgust then later wrote about their experience.
 
Bank deregulation-Bill Clinton, a Democrat.  NAFTA-Bill Clinton, a Democrat.
 
Here's an idea.  Read a book.
Neil Lock Added Nov 14, 2018 - 4:31am
All: Many thanks for all your comments, and for keeping it (for the most part) civilized. It is rare that here on WB we are able to get the "left" (Opher, Stone-Eater etc.) and the "right" (Lynn, FacePalm etc.) to discuss issues such as these amicably, and even to reach some common ground. Long may that continue.
Neil Lock Added Nov 14, 2018 - 4:32am
Dave: thank you for dropping by and complimenting this forum in such forthright terms. Autumn should be pleased. And do not fear, I have my sights set on "welfare" as my next topic, and will have some (pretty negative) things to say about the idea of UBI.
Neil Lock Added Nov 14, 2018 - 4:33am
rycK, you said: so far, the notion of creating small places where people can be prosperous and free of war and crime only applies to places that are very small. Yes, I think you're right. Only small communities can succeed in organizing people in a civilized way. A peer-to-peer network of many small communities, not a single monstrous world-wide hierarchy of superstates, nations, states, counties and municipalities, is where we the human race should be heading.
Neil Lock Added Nov 14, 2018 - 4:33am
Ian: I like William Cobbett. I used to be a regular visitor to a pub about 10 miles from my home, that bears his name :-)
Neil Lock Added Nov 14, 2018 - 4:35am
Thomas: Why haven't the known faults of welfare been fixed? My answer is, because the system as it is is too damned convenient for the ruling classes.
Neil Lock Added Nov 14, 2018 - 4:39am
Opher:  It is not beyond the wit of man to create fairness. In a political system, those that have the power to create something called "fairness" will always be able to bias it in their own favour and that of their cronies and supporters. We need to go beyond politics in order even to start addressing the problem.
Neil Lock Added Nov 14, 2018 - 4:40am
Jim Stoner: Thanks for the compliments, and welcome to WriterBeat.
rycK the JFK Democrat Added Nov 14, 2018 - 11:48am
Neil Lock
 
"Only small communities can succeed in organizing people in a civilized way."
 
Democracy has never worked well in multi-million groups. 
rycK the JFK Democrat Added Nov 14, 2018 - 11:49am
Opher: 
"Fairness" is a political term that means that some can adjust the wealth and prospects of others for political gain. 
 
Thomas Sutrina Added Nov 14, 2018 - 3:14pm
[Nov 12, 2018 - 2:23pm] Thomas: Why haven't the known faults of welfare been fixed? [Neil Lock Nov 14, 2018 - 4:35am] "My answer is, because the system as it is is too damned convenient for the ruling classes."   and then answered on [Nov 14, 2018 - 4:39am] Opher:  It is not beyond the wit of man to create fairness. In a political system, those that have the power to create something called "fairness" will always be able to bias it in their own favor and that of their cronies and supporters. We need to go beyond politics in order even to start addressing the problem."  
 
Modern liberals/progressives believe their morals are based on caring and fairness.  Opher, YOU HAVE FAILED! Modern liberals/progressives, YOU HAVE FAILED!  So long as you VOTE and fund the present crop of politicians then what your actually supporting is the mirror image morals of harm and reciprocity respectively.  
 
PS this is for you JFK Democrat  I wasn't going to cite the above: http://www.intellectualtakeout.org/blog/why-conservatives-cant-understand-liberals-and-vice-versa
 
Conservatives see the present crop of American Democrat politicians as socialist or Marxist.  The history of a Marxist government USSR and Communist China is that any opposition was put down ruthlessly.  Socialist government have a broader span with Communism at one end.  The people existed at the pleasure of the political leaders.  About as far from caring and fairness possible.  
 
Caring and fairness if they really meant something to socialist political leaders would have resulted in actions decades ago to address the failures of welfare that in America has reach the level of wholesale murder, blood in the gutters of the streets, wholesale broad day light robbery across the cities under the decade long Democratic politicians' control.  Europe is not that much different as we see from the response of the wave of Islamic mostly young men they have opened their borders and let in.  
 
The article is not really on rich and poor it is upper class and lower class that are separated by barriers of laws so that the upper class are considered more human then the lower class.  The upper class is morally superior to the lower class so should tell the lower class what is good, in their best interest.  In the extreme which is close at hand the lesser humans are slaves with their lives in the hands of the upper class.
 
Oper and modern liberals or progressives are you moral or not.  Do you choose to open your eyes or not.  What class do you see yourself in.   Are you afraid that your fate is being judged by the upper class.
 
These are my question for the those between rich and poor that are on WB.
rycK the JFK Democrat Added Nov 15, 2018 - 12:57pm
Thomas
 
"http://www.intellectualtakeout.org/blog/why-conservatives-cant-understand-liberals-and-vice-versa"
 
Too much mumbling at that site. Why should we want to understand the far left?
 
The world has been run by groups of folk in what I call pyramids  for 5000 years. This means some 1-2% of the population controls some 90% of the wealth and nearly %100 of the power. 
 
The Pyramidal Theory of Capitalism Explained in Simple Terms.
 
"Capitalism insists that individuals perform functions efficiently and are regarded as valuable as individuals if they fulfill this requirement and are rewarded according to their particularized contribution to the efficiency of the pyramid. Many capitalists are not easily replaceable [except when traded among different pyramids] and this violently collides with and is in direct opposition to statist dogma.  Jobs are not easily transferable among the various levels of the pyramid in opposition to the statist dogmas and this is what determines the height of the pyramid and the steepness of the walls or the higher the apex the more successful the pyramid. The secondary enemy of capitalism or the modern corporation is the union that continuously recites the hackneyed slogan “equal pay for equal work.” There is no equal work above the levels of menials in pyramids and the unions attempt to put in work ‘rules’ that require more employees to be hired [featherbedding] thus boosting costs and reducing profits and endlessly harp about job definitions to expand their power. Unionism forces many pyramids to collapse and move elsewhere as in the US steel industry, the auto industry and textile businesses. Unions cannot comprehend, or wish not to acknowledge that they can, the notion that rank and file wages and benefits are different from country to country and that high costs make the corporation less competitive and prone to spontaneous dismantlement or toward the nearest exit. What unions and statists also fail to observe is how easily pyramids can be folded and reconstructed in a different locale or under a different governmental system thus they were mystified and stunned when US and European manufacturing plants migrated to Asia, but not South American or Africa. Socialism, much like unionism, requires that the citizens depend on the state for nearly everything; capitalism requires that individuals contribute much more than a single individual could do in another setting for the general benefit of both the pyramid and the individual. Capitalism is thus positive and productive whereas socialism and its variants are destructive and negative."
 
So, we all understand that the socialists and others covet the wealth and power of capitalist entities but they have yet to show a reasonable alternative--nay--they have only shown brutality and failure  with experiment as we saw with the PRC, Cuba, NK, USSR and some 50 experiments in Africa since colonialism was ended in 1948
 
On the basis of efficiency, alone, only capitalism has proven that this system can provide the most wealth for most of the populations. Alternatives have been unsuccessful 
 
So, capitalism works so then just live with it.