Senate Income Inequality in the U.S.: Causes, Effects, Solutions

Discussion in 'Community' started by Jedi Merkurian, Mar 17, 2011.

  1. Jedi Merkurian ST Thread Reaper and Rumor Naysayer

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    At the risk of topic drift, but isn't that what Blithe is saying? That reducing the number of stationary bases in allied nations in favor of mobile platforms would reduce our expenditures without sacrificing capability?
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  2. Souderwan Jedi Grand Master

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    Honestly, that's not how I interpreted him, but I can see your interpretation. I focused on his statement that we should consider a re-arrangement of spending, which implies no net change in spending. Shuffling existing funding to maintain our mobile platform end-strength makes sense to me and if the cost is a base in Germany and one in South Korea, I'm on board. But doing so won't yield significant cuts in the short term. In fact, it might cost more just to move all those people and equipment. Not to mention, without those billets overseas, we will almost certainly have to phase out all those personnel. But I do think that it's fair to say that if we were to scale back our forward bases, in the long run (10 yr span), we would see net savings that would actually allow us to reduce overall spending without sacrificing capabilities in existing (mobile) forces.

    But--and remember that I actually agree that we should get rid of almost all those forward bases (except for a very few specific ones for very specific strategic reasons I can't get into)--removing those bases does not come without cost. It means the military will necessarily be less agile, less able to respond to a crisis. War requires infrastructure and if it doesn't exist, you have to build it. And that takes time and money.
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  3. Blithe Jedi Master

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    Jun 24, 2003
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    Merk's interpretation is correct. I'm sorry for not making that a little more clear.
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  4. Souderwan Jedi Grand Master

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    Jun 3, 2005
    star 6
    No worries. I don't know if there was a way to make it any clearer. I suspect I just interpreted you the way I did based on my own personal lens. In any case, my concerns about that approach as outlined in the first paragraph of my last post stand.

    Let me give you a perfect, unclassified example. In the New START Treaty, the US set on a path to drastically reduce our nuclear stockpile and total number of launchers. One of the major selling points to this move was that we would realize significant cost savings by not having to maintain the current infrastructure necessary to maintain, test, and verify control of all those weapons and launchers. Estimates were provided that suggested total net savings in the first year on the order or millions of dollars, and then growing annually ad infinitum (really, only 10 yrs which is the real horizon that Washington looks at for budgeting purposes). But it turns out at that getting rid of weapons and disabling existing launchers actually costs money--on the order of billions of dollars. So how did we achieve this bit of budgeting magic? By simply saying to DoD "Figure it out". It's called an unfunded mandate--something Congress does all the time. . The result was that DoD had to cancel/delay funding from some of their RDT&E budget, and remove all kinds of money from O&M (this is the money we use to fund missions and fix our equipment). And even with all that, DoD still had to request supplemental funding (just not for New START) to meet obligations. Now certainly in the long run, the reduction in total armament and launchers will absolutely save money. But in the short run, expenses actually went up (and will continue to be higher for this particular item for some time to come).

    So shutting down bases is a great idea provided that we understand the implications: 1) Large numbers of personnel (in excess of 100,000 or so) will be out of a job, 2) New conflicts may cost more due to lack of infrastructure, 3) the military will be less agile and responsive, 4) it will take longer and cost more than anyone expects (true of just about every project ever with the exception of the Virginia Class Submarine program).

    Anyway, we've diverged from the main topic quite a bit and I realize it's gotten a bit wonkey. Suffice it to say, my overall point is that since the 90's we've successfully squeezed the DoD budget since the 90's down a lot all while demanding more and more out of those forces. Shrinking the military budget even smaller will come with cost and we should understand and accept those risks as a people rather than blithely (no pun intended :p ) saying "Cut defense! Feed the poor!".
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  5. DARTH-FURBABY Jedi Master

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    Apr 9, 2004
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    Out of witty things to say, so no-mod edit
    Last edited by DarthBoba, Sep 28, 2013
  6. Lord Vivec Force Ghost

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    Apr 17, 2006
    star 8
    No he wouldn't. You're only demonstrating your failure to grasp his argument. He is specifically not just saying the government should have more of his money. He has said that there should be greater taxation. Why? Because he believes--correctly--that substantive, responsible changes in policy can only be changed through meaningful changes in budgeting. This means taxation increases or spending cuts in one department to shift funds into another. Insubstantial changes to the revenue stream will never fund substantial policy changes. You may as well ask why people who work on reducing world hunger don't give up one meal every day. It doesn't do anything.

    The efficacy of the action has nothing to do with his belief in government or lack thereof, and everything to do with the amount of money being brought to bear.
    Try the Congressional Budget Office which found that low capital gains taxes (though still higher then than now) have no demonstrable effect on increasing GDP, do tend to increase risk-taking behavior, and do not have much impact on venture capital.
    Congratulations on not knowing what you're talking about. The home mortgage issue is separate, and has to do with the Home Mortgage Interest Deduction. That's entirely separate from the taxation of realized investment income. It's literally a whole different section in federal law. While there is a separate capital gains exclusion for the sale of one's primary residence, that's obviously not a primary or really very meaningful source of income for most people, measured against their lifetime wage earnings.

    While the dramatically lower rate on investment income is technically available to all, it is manifestly of more benefit to those who can make a majority of their annual income in the form of investments. These people tend to be the wealthiest Americans. Thus justifying the statement that this policy is of disproportionate benefit to the wealthiest Americans.
  7. Saintheart Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2000
    star 6


    I'd suggest you have another read of what you just wrote here. If there's higher taxation as Buffet suggests, necessarily the government will get more of his money. Although more cynically, the result probably will be exactly as you've said: there might be higher taxation, but he won't be handing over another dollar of his money - because, as evidenced by his actions rather than his words, he invests according to the tax implications of a given product. Or, more specifically, his actions conform with the theory underlying the Laffer Curve.

    Like I said, he remains a hypocrite because the definition of a hypocrite is someone whose behaviour does not match the principles they espouse.

    You mean this Congressional Budget Office? Or this Congressional Budget Office? As I said earlier, economics is not a popularity contest, and there isn't always agreement about the causes of a phenomenon.

    More weasel words. Define what you mean by "very meaningful", and while you're at it, what you define as "meaningful" since it seems you're no longer using that expression. As with your use of the word "distort", you still haven't identified the baseline market behaviour you want in place so we can see whether it's reasonable or not. Not to mention that you're not comparing apples with apples by comparing capital values against lifetime wage earnings. I'd call a tax break in the thousands or tens of thousands to the poor, benighted home owner a pretty meaningful source of income in real terms when it comes to capital for the average person. Fair enough that people paid in stock options are receiving income by capital rather than wage as such, but if Warren Buffet wants to help his employees on that score he has a clear choice: pay them in stock options.
  8. Lord Vivec Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 17, 2006
    star 8
    You are having a lot of trouble with this. The difference between what you said and what Buffet actually said in that in former case, one person is giving up money, and in the latter everyone of a given income bracket is giving up money. Thus my previous post. As I said there, even giving away all his wealth would be like trying to solve world hunger by having one person starve to death. It doesn't do anything meaningful. That would require pooled resources from many individuals applied into a systematic program.
    What was the point of those two links? One criticized the CBO for being misled about the economy in the way all other major economists were. The second complained about its tendencies in overall budget calculations. Accepting both those as true, what does that have to do with anything? I never claimed the CBO was infallible. I claimed it made a reasonable analysis around this one issue of capital gains taxes. Do you have any reason to suggest that this was wrong? Neither link is very germane as either a specific commentary nor even an applicable trend.
    Apologies, allow me to clarify. I'm comparing lifetime wage earnings to lifetime net revenue from home sales. For most Americans, the former is significantly larger than the latter. Or if "significantly" is going to be the next word you take issue with, just say it's larger.
  9. J-Rod Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 28, 2004
    star 5
    State and local governments, fine. And look, I know there are homeless drunks and addicts. But that aside I'm not aware of any significant amount of hunger in the US. In fact obesity has risen in all demographics according to the latest finding. So, who is going without healthcare, education or shelter?
  10. anakinfansince1983 Nightsister of CT, SW Saga and Lucasfilm Ltd

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    Ah, so "drunks and addicts" deserve to be homeless. Got it.

    I'll dig up stats in a minute but if you think nobody in the United States is going hungry, that's laughable.

    And people without health insurance go without health care. "They can always go to the ER" is not an acceptable standard.

    Shelter--you just acknowledged the existence of homeless people and implied that they deserve their state.

    Education--you yourself have commented on substandard school systems in the US. Are you saying that it's acceptable for these systems to be substandard as long as we can say that, technically, kids are "getting an education"?
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  11. J-Rod Jedi Master

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    Jul 28, 2004
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    I never said that our school system is substandard. Granted we pay too much for what we get.

    And of course drunks and addicts deserve to be homeless. It's part of what makes many of them get sober. It's called a bottom. And you don't change without hitting one. I had to hit mine.

    And are you going to tell me that obesity and hunger go hand-in-hand?

    And while there may be headline grabbing stories about someone being denied a medical procedure, it's the exception, not the rule. Health insurance and health care are not the same thing.
  12. anakinfansince1983 Nightsister of CT, SW Saga and Lucasfilm Ltd

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    I stopped there.
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  13. darth-calvin Jedi Master

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    Dec 10, 2002
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    And look, I know there are homeless drunks and addicts. But that aside I'm not aware of any significant amount of hunger in the US. In fact obesity has risen in all demographics according to the latest finding. So, who is going without healthcare, education or shelter?

    JRod, I suspect you don't really want to know these things, but if you're serious about it you can go here to census info.
    http://www.census.gov/prod/2013pubs/p60-245.pdf

    There is a lot there so I'm not going to counter all of your points with cited stats (they are in there), but here is one specifically. 15.4% of American's do not have insurance. Page 22.

    And your concept of who is homeless is so disturbingly wrong that I'm wondering if you actually do live in 1950's tv world.
  14. Arawn_Fenn Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 2, 2004
    star 7
    In Toronto, drunks and addicts deserve to be mayor!
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  15. Valairy Scot Backpacking One Pack a Day Mod of New Films

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    J-Rod, some obesity (some!) is caused by bad nutrition, which in some cases is due to lack of access to good and proper food.

    Do some people eat their way into obesity? Yes. Not all. Just like some people don't-exercise their way into heart attacks, or _____or ______. At what point do we say "screw everybody who doesn't follow J-Rod's plan for a fruitful life"?

    And so, while I do exaggerate, you look at the worse case scenario and decide they're representative of all that "group." Just like "welfare queens" are the vast majority of those on welfare. Or those minus health care are just selfish folks preferring toys to purchasing healthcare to have more toys. Or that some selfish and lazy government workers are representative of all government workers (and strangely, nearly absent in the private sector).

    I think a lot of folks here would be willing to find common ground if you acknowledged there might even be common ground - sure, disagree all you want on tactics, but shouldn't the goal be to reduce obesity, increased access to basic healthcare, provide a decent/good education and all for the common good of all the citizens with as little "heavy hand of government" as possible?
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  16. Game3525 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 25, 2008
    star 4
    Hell, in the US they becomes President........
  17. Fire_Ice_Death Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2001
    star 7

    This whole thing reminds me of Christmas party episode of The Office where Michael tries to get Meredith to go to rehab but learns that they need to want it first and vows to make her hit rock bottom. IIRC weren't you an addict of sorts, J-Rod? I know when we climb ourselves out of the holes we're in we think, "If I can do it, so can you!" But that whole, "Deserve to be homeless," is going a bit far. Especially since rehab seems to be a revolving door and 12 step programs have a success rate of 5%, the same rate of spontaneously quitting.

    So, what's at the bottom if you hit it? Half-assed treatment? It must be nice to sit there and type such nonsense and feel superior that you're so bootstrappy. Oh, then there's this from Forbes. For you people too bootstrappy to read: the article basically points out how only 3 percent of people that use crack or meth become addicted. Then there's this bit:

    If you have something else going on in your life you're more likely not to use. Which goes against everything you've been saying about 'hitting bottom'. I appreciate how little you care about these people and I'm sure they've done something in their life which is something you've never done and is therefore against god or whatever crap you use to justify your hatred, but these are still people deserving of a life and therefore deserving of compassion.
    Last edited by Fire_Ice_Death, Nov 9, 2013
  18. J-Rod Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 28, 2004
    star 5
    People in the U.S. do not die from lack of access to food.

    Accept it. It's not a bad thing. And I've been homeless and I've worked, and still do to a lesser extent, with the homeless. I have a pretty good idea who is homeless and why. While some on this board like to "research" homelessness and addiction, I'm in the trenches.

    And here, FID is a more objective look at AA.

    Yes, any stat for recovery is grim. Which is why I say that drunks and addict "deserve" to be homeless. (Poor wording, but I just used the wording of anikinsfan, not my own.) I've been clean and sober for 21 years. I've lost a lot of friends to addiction. I've been to more memorials than I care to ever want to remember. It's a war, so if my language is rough I've earned that right. I have watched helplessly as SSI funds so much addiction and relapse. To recover you have to have a job and accountability. Period. If you give an addict anything (outside of a treatment program) you are hurting his chances of recovery. He has to earn his own way. Or he will die.
  19. Lord Vivec Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 17, 2006
    star 8
    Except that 1 in 6 Americans live in poverty according to the latest US census bureau report. These are people who either already go without some food or are one financial emergency away from living on the street or going without food; one medical emergency away from crippling debt. People who live in poverty are in a state of food insecurity.
    Yes. Let's go back to the concept I previously defined: food insecurity. People in poverty have access to lower quality food which doesn't give them the required nutrition. Obesity isn't just caused by eating a lot. It's caused by not eating the right foods.
    You really think that's what she was talking about?

    People who are in poverty and/or without health insurance have to make a decision whether they will take a treatment that will put them in crippling debt or deny themselves that treatment. That's what going without health insurance in present day does.
    What was the point of this link? Besides it being a wikianswers citing a 2004 report, no one besides you has brought up dying from hunger. I can't begin to fathom why you've decided to hold "dying from hunger" as the line that won't be crossed. It doesn't matter if meals have to be skipped or access to nutritious food isn't there. It's okay if people have to decide to deny themselves medical treatment. As long as nobody dies specifically from not having eaten enough food.

    It's especially baffling considering people in poverty are more likely to die from undiagnosed and/or untreated medical conditions. One would think you are purposefully drawing the conversation to death from starvation in order to keep the discussion away from these other topics which you seem to have an incredibly difficult time defending.
    I see we've reached the point of 'person on sidewalk ranting about who knows what' part of the debate.
  20. J-Rod Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 28, 2004
    star 5
    Food insecurity? Food insecurity?!?! FOOD INSECURITY!?!?!?!?!?! [face_laugh]
  21. Lord Vivec Force Ghost

    Member Since:
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    star 8
    Are you even trying? Is that really all you can muster? How is anyone supposed to take you seriously when you laugh a well known economics term?
    Last edited by Lord Vivec, Nov 10, 2013
  22. anakinfansince1983 Nightsister of CT, SW Saga and Lucasfilm Ltd

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    I'm going to take a wild guess that J-Rod's stance on this is that "US children do not resemble/have the same hardships as children in Africa, therefore they are not starving."

    As I mentioned in another post, that standard is pretty damn low and completely unacceptable to me. I want to know if poor people here favor as well as poor people in European countries, and if percentage wise relative to overall population, we have a greater number of poor people than European countries do.

    If the answers to these two questions are "No" and "Yes" respectively, we have a serious problem, and adding "but but but" to the end of the response doesn't change that.

    I am reminded of this derp by a North Carolina General Assembly representative though.

    Oh, you live on two dollars a day instead of a dollar and a half a day? You aren't poor, shut up. :rolleyes:
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  23. Fire_Ice_Death Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2001
    star 7
    Vivec, you should know you need to spell it out or it doesn't exist for conservatives and sometimes not even then.
  24. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 10
    J-Rod, as I mentioned in the other thread, the US is the 39th most unequal place on earth to live.

    http://www.businessinsider.com.au/m...011-10#39-united-states-of-america-gini-450-1

    Look at the other 38 ahead of you - though to be fair, you have a lot in common with those states in that you're both desperately unequal and the evil scum ****s who execute their own citizens.

    How is that ok? China and Russia have more income equality than the US.

    I need you to acknowledge that your country has failed an unacceptably high portion of its citizens. This is not the fault of liberals or a lack of God (it's God's fault, actually, in that more secular countries don't have this problem). The titans of capitalist thought, like Adam Smith, never intended capitalism to live in such excess. And the problem it has is that it makes Marx's prophecy come true.
    Last edited by Ender Sai, Nov 10, 2013
  25. Skywalker8921 Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 9, 2011
    star 4
    We lived in a single wide trailer until I was 17. No clear memories, but from what I've been told my early childhood years were pretty rough. Dad and Mom were living paycheck to paycheck. There were times when there was no food in the cabinets. By mutual agreement between them, Dad worked a full time job while Mom stayed home to care for me. (I was born three months premature with moderate hearing loss and a mild case of cerebral palsy affecting my left leg, by the way.) Mom later finished college and got her teaching certificate, but decided not to teach full time. Instead she became a substitute teacher. The pay she brought home from subbing was a great help. Dad eventually became plant manager at a local furniture plant, which meant he got a pay raise, and stayed in the position for a few years until the stress finally led him to quit and he hired on with another furniture company as an upholsterer again.

    By the time I was 17 we were more finically stable and were able to move into a double wide trailer. Dad paid for my community college expenses out of pocket, but we had to take out loans when I transferred to a four year school.

    Despite the situation when I was young, we were still able, through careful saving, to take day trips to Asheville or Boone occasionally as well as two trips to Walt Disney World when I was 5 and 9.

    Just throwing this out there for everyone to read. Make of it what you will. We weren't in poverty in my childhood, but my parents didn't have an easy time of it either.