Numbers that Astound

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I heard yesterday on NPR that 110 people in Russian had 35% of their countries wealth. I was thinking that couldn’t possibly be true. But after reading a little, it seems plausible. That is one of the most crazy facts I’ve ever heard.

It got me wondering about US distribution of wealth. The problem with trying to get your mind wrapped around the whole problem here in the US is that it is very easy to askew the numbers. It is tricky figuring out what the fudge factor is and what exactly what each party is using for information when publishing their findings.

It is all over the place. But one thing is for sure, there are a very small percentage of people here in the United States that have an unbelievable percentage of all the wealth. It isn’t as “bad” as Russia, but it is pretty unbelievable.

The average CEO’s salary is really a whole lot more than what people believe. Like I said above, it really depends where you look to find the numbers. Here it says it is 350 times the average worker’s salary. That is pretty much a ballpark number. That means that the average CEO makes as much in one day as their worker would make in one year. That seems pretty high.

There is only an X amount of wealth. It seems to me that the country would be better off if it was spread more evenly. If you watch the video below, it shows how very little a very large percentage of all Americans have. The poorest 40-60% of us have virtually no accumulated wealth. That is more than 150,000,000 people in our country.

I remember reading somewhere that something around 20 something percent of us do not have health insurance. If you remove all the people over 65 years old that have medicare, that percentage is much, much higher. Probably in the 30% range. And these are the people that have virtually no wealth. So, every time one of these people get sick or haves an accident, really no matter how minor, they are destitute. If not destitute, then severely hurt financially.

We live in a very affluent country. If you want to see what happens when the wealth is very inequitable, go to a country like Brazil. The infrastructure and crime is horrible. We as a country need to think more as tribe and start doing things that are good for the whole. What is perceived as wealth inequity is never a good thing for society. It isn’t a perception anymore in the US, it is a reality. We need to address it or we, as a whole, will all suffer the consequences.

63 thoughts on “Numbers that Astound

  1. Greg

    This should lead to an interesting conversation.

    PS: the security question should come BEFORE the “post comment” button.

     
  2. Vincent

    As you say it is hard to wrap your brain around which makes it hard to judge what is BEST. An example that highlights the difference between a statistic that has “big tails” and on that does not. Consider Wealth and Weight. If you took a random sample of 1000 people averaged their weight you might get 165lbs If you then add the heaviest person in the would to the sample it would only slightly move the average. If you sample 1000 and measure their wealth then add the wealthiest person in the USA to the sample there wealth completely change the average.
    While each country has a different distribution as a country get wealthier and there is increasing opportunity to earn all else held constant the distribution will skew more.

    The problem I have with the video above is the seeming assumption that what people think the distribution should be or is, is somehow correct. The real question should be what is the goal of having a optimal distribution policy?

    I would suggest maximizing each individuals opportunity to move up the wealth ladder and minimizing the risk of moving down is the right policy goal.

     
  3. Matt

    I heard that Denmark has the happiest population in the world they share evenly, have the same medical care for each person and it all seems to work . Capitalism sucks it just breeds greed and jealousy !!

     
  4. SalRuibal

    The mega-rich can’t really spend all of their money because there isn’t that much time in the day. What they are accumulating is political power, which is even more valuable than money. The alternative to having a lot of money is having a lot of real friends, people who will help you shovel your driveway when a blizzard hits. People who will cry with you and drink beer when your Dad is dying in hospice. Friends show you skills and adventure that make your life more meaningful. Friends give gifts from the heart, not some expensive store. In 1996, Trudi and Steve introduced me to mountain biking. I’ve tried to pass on my love of the sport through my writing and consider my readers to be friends. I hope they pass on the love, too. I’m not wealthy, but I have had a life filled with great adventures around the world, much of it on two wheels. I owe that to my friends, who have supported me and the newspapers and magazines I write for. My life would have been very different had I not met Steve and Trudi at Cactus Cup in 1996. I wealthy in the things that matter most: love of family, love of work and love of sport.

     
  5. Jim

    The real issue is WHO gets to decide what is fair. It seems our present system has created enormous inequity as far as compensation (I agree), but also the perception that if one is “wealthy” then that wealth was unearned (pay your fair share comes to mind). Many of us work our tails off, make responsible decisions in life, pay an incredible amount of taxes, only to be told (by our Government and others) that it is not enough. I’m in the category mentioned in Steve’s post (one injury or illness away from being so far in debt I would never recover), and think what is fair is that I get to keep more of what I earned, rather that it be wasted on someone’s misguided philosophy that THEY know better how to care for me that I do.

     
  6. Rob

    If “fairness” is something we are really looking for, a national sales tax/consumption tax in lieu of the income tax would be a start. Those with massive amounts of accumulated wealth, with little or no income, would pay, and those who currently pay nothing, or actually get refunds, would be paying into the same pot. Eliminating deductions would also wove towards “fairness”, and level things out on the top and bottom ends.

     
  7. Craven Morehead

    wealth distribution fair? really steve? how would you rank your contribution toward the ‘greater good’. prize money and cash for odd jobs here and there are probably unreported. i suspect you would be one that gets subsidized for riding your bike as a job. oh wait…

     
  8. Wildcat

    “We as a country need to think more as tribe and start doing things that are good for the whole.”

    Yeah right, I can’t even get the guy next to me in rush-hour highway traffic to let me merge. We are way past doing things that are good for the whole. These days it’s more like “Go fuck yourself”. Kind of like how my wife had her purse stolen a month ago, putting us through all kinds of crap, and just so they could go get 60 bucks worth of gas. Reminds me of that scene in LA Story where the people line up to be robbed. People are out there just waiting to take advantage of you. It’s so sad that this deal has made me not want to trust anyone anymore. And my son is being raised in this world. I’m going to have to raise my son to keep his life to himself, his situation protected, his house security wired like a 7/11. He can’t walk or ride his bike to school. He can’t roam the neighborhood in the evening before supper time. If you let your guard down for a moment someone is there to take advantage of you and your situation.

    People watch that show The Walking Dead. Have you noticed that ever since they got to that prison – the “walkers” haven’t really meant much. It’s not them they worry about. The zombies are just like rats – a pest. In a world that is filled with cahos is the other humans they worry about.

    Don’t know where I’m going with this other than to say that we are well past the whole “tribe” line of thinking. It’s every man for himself out here. And on that note I’ll say God bless everyone – I hope you all have a great day – spread some random smiles today! Or, should I rather say, go eff yourself.

     
  9. Mark S

    bicycles, Google, iphones, the roof over your head, and many other “luxuries” were all brought to you by capitalism. You’re welcome. Anyone who tells me I make too much money and should give a “fair share” to my rulers so they can distribute it to the more deserving but “less fortunate” should pack up and move to China, North Korea, Vietnam, or Cuba.

    I’m curious how well a freedom loving anti-capitalist democracy would function if we all couch surfed and rode bikes for a living…probably not too well. Please consider this in depth report from a reputable news source

    http://www.theonion.com/articles/marxists-apartment-a-microcosm-of-why-marxism-does,1382/

     
  10. Brian Murphy

    You are absolutely wrong when you say ‘There is only an X amount of wealth.’ Wealth is not a zero sum game. Huge gains in wealth come from ideas that increase productivity. Xerox in the 60’s, TI calculators in the 70’s, PC’s in the 80’s, the Internet in the 90’s. Yes the people at the top of big companies over pay each other. In Russia the situation is different. A cabal out of the KGB raped the country.

     
  11. Steve Tilford Post author

    Wildcat-Your post shows some of the things that do happen when wealth isn’t equitable. People will do many things to survive. Crime becomes part of this. I can’t blame the “street urchins” in Sao Paulo for stealing. If they could possible get $60 from a stolen purse, their lives could chance dramatically.

    We are not past the point on no return. But, once we are over that line and people don’t have any other mentality or experience of what society should be, then it is very , very hard to get back. We are very close to a tipping point. We should make sure we all understand the consequences of doing nothing.

     
  12. Greg D.

    “There is only an X amount of wealth.”

    I have to jump in on this one due to the stated premise of your observation.

    This statement is an assumption for the premise of why such statistics are even sought out. This ‘X’ amount of wealth is absolutely, 100% incorrect and the basis of “fairness” arguments. Wealth is created by the value that one creates. The value of something is determined by what someone is willing to pay for a good or service provided (Please note that value does not = moral or ethical values, but rather economic values. A drug dealer is not providing a moral or good for you value, but they are creating a value to those that desire the product they offer.)

    The amount of wealth in the world is only limited by individuals’ ability to create value to trade with others. That is why it is not ‘X’ amount. Each individual has the possibility of creating more wealth (ie adding to the amount of X=C+(I*V)+…, where ‘I’ is the individual and V is value created by said individual and ‘C’ is the current amount of wealth created in the world (constantly changing due to I*V). The amount of value created is determined by basic economics of supply and demand. The rarer the value (desired good or service) and the higher the demand for that value (good or service) then the higher monetary value it will receive in the market. What this means is that for the vast majority of folks in this world we are average Joe’s that do not have some super spectacularly rare good or service that we are able to provide. Due to this our wealth is determined by the rarity of what it is we do for a living and the ability of others to provide that same good or service.

    The ability of each individual to provide a good or service that is valued and that someone is willing to trade for, is what is the basis of the common phrase, “To make money.” Emphasis on the “make” part. Money, which is nothing but a piece of paper signifying an amount of trade value, is made. In other words, it is not set or fixed. It may increase or decrease (hence the importance of accurately measuring GDP, which I do not believe is accurately measured anymore.) The value it has only comes from the willingness of someone to trade for the good or service offered. The value of currency is directly related to the supply of it. If you quit printing dollars, then the value of the dollars in circulation will go up because it will be rarer. Simply put, the price demanded for goods and services would become less because dollars would be rarer and their value higher. Remember, money is infinitely divisible. What is a better determinant, or measure of the value of something would be the % of your income required to obtain it.

    Anyway, a bit of a ramble, but I hope the basis of what I said is understandable.

    Best regards.

     
  13. kermit

    Good Reply Steve,

    Tipping point.

    Hi Vincent. I’m reminded of a friend who said maybe “white” is just an idea… Didn’t go over to well with the other panelists at the symposium who where all women of color.

    Tough for all of us to put our heads around the other guy’s life.

    Where we live now the Wy Air Guard has 8 C-130-H3s stationed. They are constantly being flown and engines run day and night. Planes fuel capacity 60,000 lbs. more or less. Plane can fly 5,200 mile empty.

    Do the math, how much food could kids be given here instead?

    Where is the threat baby?

    My wife is a teacher, yesterday she was asked at a school meeting by the United Way to contribute to help take care of homeless kids at local schools. On what salary?

    I’m looking for work. Send a message to Steve if you have anything on the Front Range/WY area and need a hand. I have lots of skills. Made bike components that Scott Moninger and Davis Phinney rode. Built four houses and two five-unit apartments that are still standing, to my knowledge, 17 yrs. later.

    Lately I’ve been getting message back- not qualified” in my job search. Any body else get them? For example- not qualified to teach beginning ceramics at a community college. I taught it for three years at a major univ. as a graduate instructor. Also taught at a community college as an adjunct. Really?

    And last Steve don’t forget about the drugs.

    On my site Free Soiler I noted in 2004 that there was a lot of Hollywood in the Armstrong phenomena. Too bad for Sheryl, I guess. Don’t know her, but….

    AT Velonews?!. today.

    Sheryl Crow told Jeff Novitsky in 2011 as part of his probe into Lance Armstrong that she saw her then fiancée receive a blood transfusion in 2004. As reported by The New York Daily News the full allegations are soon to be unveiled in, “Wheelmen” a book written by Wall Street Journal reporters Vanessa O’Connell and Reed Albergotti.

    According to the book, which is set to be released next week, Crow witnessed the transfusion whilst flying to Belgium aboard Armstrong’s private jet in 2004.

    “Rather than try to hide the transfusion from her, Armstrong was completely open about it,” the book revealed. “He trusted that Crow would have no desire to tell the press or anyone else about the team’s doping program. He explained that it was simply part of the sport – that all cyclists were doing the same thing.”

    The pair who were together for three years, and briefly engaged, parted ways in 2006. Crow was forced, however, to revisit her time with the then superstar of world sport in 2011 after US federal prosecutors began their investigation into alleged doping at Armstrong’s US Postal team. Although the federal investigation was later dropped with no explanation, the following USADA investigation resulted in a life-time ban and a nullifying of all results from July 1998 onwards.

    Be angry, but serve.

     
  14. Luca Fagundes

    Not sure why singled-out Brazil in this post, but you are 1000% correct. I’m from Brazil originally, and go back every couple years to visit. No middle class. You either have maids, or you are a maid. People commit crimes out of necessity. They do it to survive.

    An infrastructure/public services? Awful.
    In Fortaleza, Brazil, a large city in the north, the police went on strike for a few days in 2011. The city fell into anarchy. It was related to a compensation dispute with the city. Imagine calling 911 and no one answers?

    The masses must remain happy, or disparity takes over.

     
  15. Wildcat

    Thanks for your reply. I was having a not-too-optimistic morning when I posted that comment. We need to love thy neighbor.

     
  16. channel_zero

    think what is fair is that I get to keep more of what I earned, rather that it be wasted on someone’s misguided philosophy that THEY know better how to care for me that I do.

    The industrial, economic and intellectual property regulation is taking far more than that from you. Which is mission accomplished for the “free markets, small government” fraudsters.

    Go ahead and rejoice getting an extra $20 while your real earnings/wage power has been constantly eroded by industrial policy and health policy for 25+ years.

    The scam is working on you, that’s for sure.

     
  17. channel_zero

    There is no one kind of capitalism.

    Denmark’s economic policy is another form capitalism. It’s not America’s low regulation, corporate welfare capitalism.

     
  18. Rod Lake

    Flame away, but yes the CEOs, at major US companies, are worth 380 times more than the janitor. “Working harder” is a stupid measurement. Janitors work hard for 40 hours a week but have no responsibility to make decisions that affect millions of people–employees, vendors, shareholders. When companies run efficient, profitable, ethical companies, I have zero problem with what shareholders are comfortable with paying their CEO.

     
  19. channel_zero

    Uh, no actually. The U.S. uses a looser version of centralized industrial planning though most corporate overlords try to pretend they funded it themselves like ranchers call using BLM land “theirs.”

    Countries with centralized industrial planning do just as well. Japan and China are two examples of countries with centralized industrial planning.

     
  20. Oldster

    Thought evoking, Steve,
    but….. just the other day you were rolling around in Catherine’s company comped mini-van and staying at her temp company housing as she and her husband mull over First World problems. I see some irony there – just saying. I am all for working hard at a career and reaping the benefits – and I hope I can believe in good human nature

    As a group, cyclists generally have it made. Affluent enough to waste our time gallivanting about the globe to pedal a bike while others endure extreme poverty and life situations that are exceedingly difficult to overcome. Great roads, trails and personal safety. Most resources are just a click away, we worry more about types of power meters than we do about hunger, fresh water or polio outbreaks. Even the poorest among us have it pretty darn good

    Is it the government’s job to level the playing field in some way or is it collectively our job (as citizens) to spend time and resources to affect our communities in a positive manner? I am all for hard work and the latter

     
  21. channel_zero

    Xerox in the 60′s, TI calculators in the 70′s, PC’s in the 80′s, the Internet in the 90′s.

    In the 60’s and 70’s tax rates were very progressive though. Now? Not so much.

    Also keep in mind intellectual property policy has been fundamentally altered since the 1990’s and the introduction of process patents.

    For example, the person accredited with creating the spreadsheet (Dan Bricklin) did not apply for a patent. There was no patent for computer programs! Now that’s changed and it’s been blindly accepted that ANY idea is worthy of a patent even if it is never used in a product or service. It operates as a tax on anyone, especially your competitors. See Vonage’s takedown by the telcos, or Adobe vs. Macromedia.

     
  22. Steve Tilford Post author

    Oldster- I understand what you might think is ironic about this post. But it isn’t.

    I would be the first to admit that I have it good. Cyclists, in general, do have it made.

    I’m not saying that the government needs to even the playing field. I’m saying that when there is a general perception that there isn’t an even playing field, humans tend to justify “cheating the system” to try to even it personally.

    I’ve had the luxury to travel to many different parts of this planet, through cycling. I’ve personally seen the affects of dividing a society into the halves and half-nots. The quality of life for all demographics is much less when this occurs.

    We are a wealthy country. The wealthiest. There should be plenty to go around. I don’t know how to make everyone happy with their situation, but when a huge percentage of the populous is poverty stricken , with no available medical care and feel that they aren’t being “treated fairly” by society, then unrest, and all its by-produccts, occurs. It truly doesn’t matter if it is just a perception or actually real, you get the same results.

    We will need to address the solution from many fronts. Personally, through private industry, and also through our government. But it needs to be addressed. I believe our situation is close to dire.

     
  23. Oldster

    thanks for the reply, Steve

    I have another conundrum for you – imagine health care wrapped up with retirement in a few more years. Some scenarios are pretty bleak as it is not sure what the fix is

     
  24. Steve Tilford Post author

    Even in Switzerland they have problems with this whole thing. In the article below, they say there is going to be a general population vote on whether to make the minimum income $34000, which is just above poverty line, in Switzerland.

    They are also voting on whether to limit executives pay to at 12 to 1 ratio, ie. no executive can make more than 12X their workers salary.

    Both of this measures seem extreme. It goes to show you even in a small country, by geography and population, that is very well off, the citizens can’t agree what is equitable for society.

     
  25. tim

    Yep, there is too great a disparity of income. Let’s start by equally dividing all race winnings between every athlete regardless of finish place. Its only right that they get paid the same since they are all equal. Never mind that some have trained harder for many years and have devoted themselves to their pursuit and that others are new to the sport or have made the decision to skip a few workouts when the weather is bad. After all they can’t control the weather can they? The prize money would be guaranteed by the promoter for all who signed up. If they were ill they would not be required to race to receive their entitled share and should also get an additional benefit to cover their health care costs. Additionally state and national championship races should be required to offer jerseys and medals to all regardless of whether they are from across the state line or not. Its only fair.

     
  26. Rod

    We’re already distributing our wealth, with less than half of us paying taxes to support the other half on welfare, food stamps, and other forms of public assistance when the vast majority of that welfare half is able to get a job but would rather suck from the government tit.

    Tim has a good point…reminds me of what is being done in schools where all the kids are ‘winners’ even when they lose…everybody gets a medal/whatever. The rampantly PC ‘capitalism is bad’ society we’ve created is rapidly sucking us into a Second World vortex.

     
  27. Steve Tilford Post author

    Craven-I’d rank my contribution towards the greater good pretty okay. But that is an opinion, yours might differ. But, the implication of your comment of me not paying taxes on my earnings is an insult. Maybe try to stick to the topic and not make up complete fabrications about things you know absolutely nothing about.

     
  28. Jprumm

    Rod, you took the words out of my mouth. I have neighbors that live in a house just like mine and have not paid taxes or the mortgage in two years. There are seven people living there and none of them work. They are all on welfare, SS disability, food stamps and now will get Obamacare. They have two kids, three full grown dogs, five puppy’s and three cat’s.

    I have to come home after week away risking my life to see these folks enjoying the same life I have without earning it. For those bleeding hearts out there that think I am harsh I don’ care. I believe in helping the poor, sick and elderly. But the type of folks that can work but chose not to work I am tired of helping them.

    We are distributing the wealth of the middle class so these folks can sponge of the system. This is not an isolated story. It is happening all over our country.

     
  29. Steve Tilford Post author

    Tim-I see that this is a very divisive subject. That being said, your analogy is a bad representation of what the video, and many others feel, need to be addressed.

    Your analogy mirrors more of the dreaded socialism word they use on the video.

    Why don’t we present it this way-Everyone is mandated to race bicycles by law. The prize money is used to support your family, pay your bills and health costs. The prize list is so structured that when you win you receive 380 times as much as the rest of the average bicycle racers. Along with the money, comes power and the ability to change the rules, so you win more often. You also get to use this money to hire the other great riders to work for you, so you and your friends win virtually every race you compete in, while all the time the rest of the riders are falling down, getting hurt, not being able to compete on hardly any level. Eventually the other riders give up and there isn’t a race anymore. This is what the video is portraying.

    Both of these analogies are very extreme. What we need is moderation. But I think we need to address the situation. Nothing radical needs to be done instantly, but the situation needs attention. I’ve personally witnessed countries with wealth inequity and they are not nice places to live.

     
  30. Bill K

    In America, there are many who believe that the “Surplus Population” will just “go away”, if they are ignored.

    If he be like to die, he had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.

    “Man — ” said the Ghost, ” — if man you be in heart, not adamant — forbear that wicked cant until you have discovered What the surplus is, and Where it is.”
    “Will you decide what men shall live, what men shall die? It may be that, in the sight of Heaven, you are more worthless and less fit to live than millions like this poor man’s child. Oh, God! to hear the Insect on the leaf pronouncing on the too much life among his hungry brothers in the dust!”

    .

     
  31. Euro

    Sorry Steve-you live in some weird imaginary world, without kids or a real job and real world problems. Your idea of a tough day is having to get stitched up after a tough bike ride, or needing to fix your van unexpectedly. Sounds like most of your friends are exactly the type of rich people you are so opposed to. Maybe they can give up their Aspen vacation home and give the proceeds to some lazy fool who doesn’t feel like working? Please stick to bike riding and don’t try to sound intelligent about politics or silly socialist/communist theories…

     
  32. Thad W

    I think when ever “social Justice”, “income distribution” type thoughts come down the pike, one really has to question some of the motives behind them. Politicians love to make it look like they are the ones that care and the other side wants your mother to eat dog food. They really just want the power to control the money, I do not think they are overly concerned for the down trodden. Look at our own welfare system. We do work in the urban core where you find 4th generation welfare recipients that the last person in their family to ever have to work was their great grandmother who is now 65. That really seems to be working. I cant wait to pay more taxes so that our favorite liberal can say they are administering some more “social Justice” to get some more results like that.
    I am starting to get callous to this talk because most of the “Evil Capitalist” of which I am one, just want to work hard and get paid for it. The math never works for Socialism, other peoples money always runs out. Then what do you do?

     
  33. chuck martel

    I don’t get to look at the income tax return of even the folks that live across the alley, have no idea of the actual income or wealth of anyone and don’t believe the media knows either. These billionaires might as well be sasquatch as far as I’m concerned. They don’t sneak onto my place and run off with my stuff, either. The only entity that can do that is the government, taking my property through taxes and stealing my money through inflation by enpixelating more of it.

     
  34. Jim D.

    Guess what, no matter what any one the above think we do not matter any more. The 1% does not give a shit about any one of us. They live in a bubble that if any one of us cracked that bubble we won’t care either. The only thing we have is that place that we find on our bikes, that place where it is all right. [no chain] fuck you gh. Go ride, thru pain, mental and physical, and make it right. For yourself. Jim

     
  35. zed

    efficient, profitable, ethical companies

    I’m sure one or two exist, but I have a hard time finding them among JP Morgan Chase, Apple, Monsanto, and Sony.

     
  36. Mick

    Entertaining discussion. It’s like a John prine concert. Try not to take yourselves too seriously. We’re all a few years away from having some low income saphrophite assist us with our basic bodily functions.

     
  37. zed

    It really is like a bike rice. Top-3 take something home.

    What about the other 50? Let them starve? Are they going to somehow get suddenly better than the top-3? Because as we all have experienced, there are “fast riders” and then all the rest.

    So, starving the other 50 is okay? Because that’s what an unfettered capitalist society creates. As mentioned above by another post, look at Brasil’s contrast in wealth and poverty, and lack of class mobility. I know I’m looking forward to “Express Kidnappings” in the U.S. aren’t you?

    There’s your bike race metaphor in living color. Is it still okay?

     
  38. zed

    Reagan’s “welfare queen” bogeyman lives on. Yes, the poor are poor because it’s their fault. Dog forbid you take the time to address the problem.

    Get off your mighty horse and explain to me what path they have to leave the system. Because if they could be employed, they would earn less to the point of homelessness and have no medical coverage. And then what?

     
  39. zed

    mmm. Yes, George Bush and Bill Gates hang out with the third generation welfare recipients because their lives are so easy. Uh huh.

    And what kind of work are you doing in the “urban core.” Visiting I’m sure then fleeing in fear of the inner city ghosts and goblins. Whatever you do don’t eat the food there. It might infect you with icky poverty.

     
  40. Double D

    Blaiming things like terrible infrastructure, crime, and other ills on wealth inequality is absurd. In reality, while statists and collectivists decry the rich, they fail to see who ultimately holds the most wealth and power in their countries: government. All the powers of the wealthy do not compare to the wealth and power of government. Consider that government generally holds the powers to wage war, enslave citizens into the military, manipulate the economic cycles and currency, engage in wholesale robbery against the populace, etc. Do the wealthy have these powers? While I do realize that there is naturally corruption and injustice regarding wealth in the nation, we can trace this back to government. The government subsidizes and props up certain industries. There are the military- and prison-industrial complexes. Along with this we have politicians engaging in insider trading on Wall Street. If one is truly concerned with making the world a better place, it appears to me that there is only one option. That is the complete opposition to the existence of the state and advocating for a Voluntaryist system based on natural rights (i.e. property, liberty and life) and completely free markets.

     
  41. zed

    We’re already distributing our wealth, with less than half of us paying taxes to support the other half on welfare

    Don’t get out much I see. Which half isn’t paying taxes? I’ll give you a hint, start at the top 2%.

    As for the rest, what is your solution? Cut them all off. Let ’em starve! Poverty is their fault! France tried that about 1792. How did that turn out?

     
  42. The Cyclist

    Capitalism is powered by greed. Greed is killing this planet. Pretty obvious to all who want to see. And Switzerland btw is the only country in the world which can be considered being more or less democratic. The rest is just pretending. Period.

     
  43. Jim

    Channel_Zero

    “Go ahead and rejoice getting an extra $20 while your real earnings/wage power has been constantly eroded by industrial policy and health policy for 25+ years.

    The scam is working on you, that’s for sure.”

    You don’t know my situation – and probably not many others on here. Misguided supporters of big government love to make themselves feel better by spending someone else’s money. I’m tired of it…

     
  44. Greg

    it’s like you people don’t even understand that the Walton family has as much wealth as the bottom 30% of the US population. Maybe if all that money somehow got into the hands of the workers at Wal mart for example, who despite working 40 hours a week still can’t afford to raise a family and have to get food stamps to feed their children, maybe then there would be fewer people getting welfare and food stamps. And I don’t understand the hate for food stamps recipients. They are not living lives of luxury. They are people who struggle, 47% of them are CHILDREN. Do you want them to work? 30% of the US population is 90 million people. It’s obscene that they have that kind of money. By reading these comments I get the impression that you think that people who make $100,000 a year are the target of wealth redistribution. No. I’d consider that upper middle class. But it’s pretty stupid that there are adults in their 40s and 50s who worked all their lives and make 20-30 grand a year working hard jobs. Probably has somethign to do with unions not existing in this country anymore. If there was more worker solidarity, everyone would be making more money and the CEOs wouldnt think they live on a different planet.

     
  45. Abby Normal

    The game is rigged, and “our” kind of Capitalism sucks, didn’t always used to be this way, we had our tanks full 3-5 decades ago and now we are running on fumes, it can ALL be traced back to corporate greed, and yes a handful of Scandinavian countries seem to be doing something right. Now, before some jackwagon wants to give me the # for a moving company (jeesh I hate that kind of stupid shit) you have to realize that what they (Scandinavians) are doing TODAY concerning corporations, taxes, and regulation, they mostly copied from our tax, business, and corporation/manufacturing model of the 1950’s and 60’s. We can get back there, we still have SOME of the infrastructure in place, and SOME of the old smart dudes that know how to do it are still alive, we just have to toss out the kool aid that Koch bros and the like have been selling (make no mistake, they sold the kool aid, they wouldn’t dare give it away) and get back to what works, (supply side doesn’t work, could work, but takes way more regulation than most supply siders like – a whole other post) we know how to do it, we created it, it’s just that corporate greed, the mindset and everything that comes with it must be destroyed.

     
  46. Mark S

    The Onion is just as real as the Daily Show and Colbert Report. You need to know that the article is basically a satirical critique of Marxist ideologues who think all of society’s problems stem from the capitalist concept of property rights and “ownership” of the means of production. I thought it was funny, and illuminated the concept of “fairness” when it comes to any government imposing that term’s meaning on the governed.

    If the Onion isn’t philosophically authoritative enough, here’s some Thoreau:

    “For government is an expedient, by which men would fain succeed in letting one another alone; and, as has been said, when it is most expedient, the governed are most let alone by it. Trade and commerce, if they were not made of india-rubber, would never manage to bounce over obstacles which legislators are continually putting in their way; and if one were to judge these men wholly by the effects of their actions and not partly by their intentions, they would deserve to be classed and punished with those mischievous persons who put obstructions on railroads.”

     
  47. jack-john

    The path is fairly straight forward. Go to school, work hard, stay married, don’t shit out illigament kids, save money, retire securely. Really not that hard

     
  48. chuck martel

    Gee, greed isn’t illegal, it’s one of the Catholic church’s seven deadly sins but gets a lot more attention lately than the other six. For instance sloth, don’t hear much excoriation of the slothful. Pride’s another one, that’s actually encouraged in some quarters. Lots of apologies for lust, seems to be a lot of that going around. Envy is one of the seven, as well, and figures in to the conversations about inequity.

     
  49. Delmar

    Here is another Micro Economic Look at the Macro Economic Conundrum. I like the analogy of the Splitting the Purse to a bike race. I bet there are some good bike racers, students….. that can not afford or justify gas money to St. Louis and the entry fee so do not participate. If you took the $5000 purse and gave it evenly among the first 100 finishers, everyone would get $50.

    How about the salaries at the BMC Pro Cycling Team? There are 26 riders and 14 on the development Team. What does Cadel and Tejay make? $2-3m. How much does Timmy Roe make $60k? That is 41 times as much if you can assume Cadel is at 2.5m. How much more do the riders make as a multiple than the staff? Who works harder? Would it be better to redistribute the $10M in salaries over the entire staff of 75, paying everyone $133,333.00 a year?

     

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