Sanctuary for those who want to constructively criticize the US

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by TreeCave, Jul 12, 2002.

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  1. TreeCave Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 28, 2001
    star 4
    Tenor, someone in another thread sent me to that link for another reason. I sure can't find anything like that that is up to date, after trying about 12 search strings at Dogpile.

    I suspect the comparisons have not changed enough in either direction - there was a global boom, now there's a global recession, etc. - that we can't use them.

    I do disagree that bigger govt is going to help - the only form of big govt that is successful in any of the countries who are doing better than we are in some ways is a socialist one. In other words, I think big govt can be fine in socialism, but the democratic republic form (for lack of a perfect term) of our govt doesn't support it well. Seems to me the author was concluding that socialism works, so we need to lean toward it. It's my philosophy, though, that no one form of govt is right for every nation. It just seems logical to presume that maybe, for example, a tiny landlocked nation dependent on exports like England does not need the same sort of govt we need on this self-sustaining continent.

    But some of these statistics are alarming to me - these things need fixing.
  2. Devilanse Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2002
    star 5
    When I say control the media...I am refering to the bloodsucking vampires who keep tales of tragedy and misfortune in the spotlight for as long as they can squeeze viewers out of it. These lovely human beings keep their ratings up and the viewers glued with crap.

    How long did it take for the Jon Benet Ramsey case to finally get out of the media? These network execs didn't keep running the story into the ground out of a sense of honor for the families involved, but for money.

    Theres a difference between covering a news worthy story, and dragging out the agony of something like this for ratings sake.

    The first step down a dark path?

    Guys....

    We all started down that path a long long time ago.

  3. Vaderbait Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 26, 2001
    star 6
    My only problems with the US itself (not the society, for all major countries seem to have the same problems in society) would be some laws and how some boneheads get some really stupid things passed.

    Sometimes I'd like it if you didn't have the freedom of speech in some cases so extremist groups I don't like wouldn't be able to confuse people. :p But then I realize we're probably better off WITH the free speech.
  4. tenorjedi Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 17, 2000
    star 5
    Interesting. I wasn't surprised in the least by nearly all of the statistics. I think I've seen that report before somewhere (it has been out for years). I'm surprised why no one questioned me on why those figures cannot be compared accurately or fairly, but I guess everyone knew the answer. I think a fairer comparison (although it is not accurate by any means) would have been between the US and the USSR. But the time for a nation to fairly compare to the US is not now. Perhaps not ever, but I doubt that ;) .

    One of the only things that struck me as questionable was the wealth distribution of 99 (out of a possible 100 for the worst score) That is wholely innaccurate. There's wealth and estimated personal net worth. Two completely different things. I mean if we're supposedly only one step away from the worst wealth distribution concievable, then they need a calcualtor.

    I'd also point out that the home ownership % may look bad but I'd be quick to point out that most people 65 and over sell their homes and move into condos, apartments and retirement homes, and another large percentage are people starting out and building up credit to get to the point of home ownership. That's not to say everythings great in that department, and that anyone gets a 3 car garage house anytime they want. But if a person keeps their job for more than a year and makes a decent wage, they can afford the mortgage on what they'd pay for a 2 bedroom apartment. Of course then you've got real estate taxes (most states) but anyway.

    Final point (I'm sorry but it relates to my job so I've gotta say it again) the tax % comparison is misleading. You've got 15% base, plus 7.5 fica and med, plus state 3-6%, plus real estate, plus property tax plus sales tax plus local tax (for those that live or work in large cities) and it gets narrower (I know many countries have additional taxes but not all of them). Without sales tax, property or real estate, your average middle-lower class american pays anywhere from 20-30% and the upper class pays more like 50% of their income (as long as they don't live in TX FL or AK which has no state tax) Overall when you look at it, it's pretty much in line with what other countries pay, and note that that's without many of the socialist programs like healthcare. Again I appologize but I deal with this stuff every day and it eerks me.

    a tiny landlocked nation dependent on exports like England does not need the same sort of govt we need on this self-sustaining continent.

    Exactly. One point this guy (assumed) forgets is socialism and beaucracy get incredibly inefficient and sometimes largely corrupt the larger they get. With such a broad base and a lack of choices, you cannot service everyones individual needs with great efficency. That's why universal health care would be such a disaster here. It'd be worse than Canada in that regard (not a pot shot at Canada, but we've all heard your complaints about the system)

    But some of these statistics are alarming to me - these things need fixing

    True there's alot of things that need addressing, and yet it goes largely unchecked, both by democrat and republican. The thing that would fix alot of this would be to fix the trade deficite. But that would hurt all those rich nations compared to us in that study. Especially Japan. We've tried to raise tariffs but we all know the belly aches cried when that happens. (my ears are still ringing) Before too many people outside the US start using this report, remember, that deficite is part of what is allowing your country to show so well on the %. Just a little thing to think about.
  5. TreeCave Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 28, 2001
    star 4
    Devilanse, thanks for outlining what you'd like to see the media prevented from doing, but I still want to know: who do you want controlling the media? The Federal government? State government? Consumer activist groups? The Christian Coalition?

    Traditionally, the broadcast media have censored themselves. Studios and networks have censors who say whether you can say certain words or film certain acts on shows. Now, one has time to edit a show, so this is not so difficult. But when it comes to the news... well, actually most of the news is scripted and half-fictionalized to a disturbing degree. But it's historically been up to the network to say whether we should actually see the cop beating that kid's head into the car 68 times a day, or just hear about developments in the case as they happen. Breaking news is a nightmare - a few years ago, a man drove out on the freeway in southern CA, rolled a big banner out on the road which basically invited the press helicopters to film him -which they did - and then he lit himself on fire. Middle of the day, and here this goes for kiddies to watch on network TV.

    Some of the stations were smart enough to have a 3 second delay on the satellite relay - that gave them just enough time to cut the feed before the actual suicide came on screen. Since then, I believe most other stations have adopted such a system. This is an example of self-censorship.

    But the reason these things are on the TV at all is people watch - OJ got huge ratings, Jon Benet, cops chasing cars... heck, all of reality TV came from the viewer's fascination with such stuff.

    So if you don't trust network censors, who do you trust with controlling it?

    TenorJedi said: "I'm surprised why no one questioned me on why those figures cannot be compared accurately or fairly, but I guess everyone knew the answer."

    Uh, weird. I just didn't see that in your post.

    I mean if we're supposedly only one step away from the worst wealth distribution concievable, then they need a calcualtor.

    I thought this stat was just saying that we have the widest variety of salaries - as such, it didn't mean much to me (comparing a teen's after school job wages with a single mom's is a little pointless). So I didn't have much use for that particular stat, even though I think I took it a little differently than you did.

    But if a person keeps their job for more than a year and makes a decent wage, they can afford the mortgage on what they'd pay for a 2 bedroom apartment.

    I couldn't afford a house on $42k in Los Angeles two years ago. So I moved to a less expensive area - whoops, they only pay people in my field about $30k tops, and the houses were not that much less. So I moved on to a place where the wages were supposedly closer to the housing costs. Whoops again - the job market went from great to #1 worst in America overnight, with a state income tax that was 9% (not 3-6%), AND the housing prices soared at the same time.

    So now I'm back in LA, unbelievably in debt, aware that there is no way in all that's holy I can afford a house on wages. I have to start a business or something, or there's just nothing for me.

    Or perhaps you were only referring to families. Good for them. I realize how unimportant single people are in this country (not accusing YOU of implying that) even though many of us contribute a great deal more to the work force in a lot of ways.

    Also, TN has no state income tax.

    It'd be worse than Canada in that regard (not a pot shot at Canada, but we've all heard your complaints about the system)

    I've heard the media claim there's a huge problem with Canadian health care, but living in LA I know dozens of Canadians and former Canadians quite well, and they think it's great and miss it very much when they're here. Just my experience. I'm sure Tom Brokaw knows best. :D

    We've tried to raise tariffs

    I will never understand why we don't at least match the tariffs each nation imposes on OUR goods.

    B
  6. TreeCave Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 28, 2001
    star 4
    But if a person keeps their job for more than a year and makes a decent wage, they can afford the mortgage on what they'd pay for a 2 bedroom apartment.

    I hate to harp on this, but it nagged at me all day until I finally remembered the following.

    The LA Times reported recently (no, I can't find a link) that the way the US govt reports its stats, it looks like the average household income is MORE able to afford a house than it was in the 80's. But this stat ignores the fact that that average household income is now derived almost always from 2 wage-earners, not 1. This means single people AND single parents (which includes widows, divorced dads and other people no one has a moral objection to, except my aunt's insane fundy church) have a much harder time buying houses than did their counterparts 20 years ago.

    I knew a lady who was a server for 30 years. In the early 80's, she was making $22k a year, which was not unusual for servers then, and she bought a house without too much scrimping. In the early 90's, she was making about $26k in the same line of work, and couldn't possibly have bought a house on that.

    Servers aren't the best example as their salaries are weird anyway (no minimum wage, lots of false reporting, etc.) But most people I've talked to have a similar story - they're making at most $10k more than they were making 20 years ago, and housing, automotive and college costs have all skyrocketed way out of proportion to that.

    One other point: Tenor, you said the rich pay 50% of their income in taxes. True for many I'm sure. But every class is filled with cheaters on taxes, and while I condemn rich cheaters no more than poor and middle classers who spread Earned Income Credits 3-4 ways and so on, I think the rich class in general might be "stealing" more from the IRS than all the poor and middle class put together. This is just my impression from working with accountants, and I realize you ARE an accountant, so your view may be different. I can assure you I've seen tax returns for several well-known TV/film people, and the most they paid was 33%, because there were so many legal ways to disguise income.

    And with Enron and all those, they paid their CEO's in stock options and booked those as "expenses" - doesn't that mean there was no income tax on them? Wouldn't they only have had to pay taxes on the profits after they sold the stocks? And even then, there are ways around that in many cases.

    Here's my take on taxes for the US. Sales tax only, no income tax. Does it work? Look at TN. They don't want to "punish people for working" by taking a chunk of what they make. They have an 8.25% sales tax on everything, including food (I THINK prescription medicine's excluded, but that's it). When Knoxville wanted a huge stadium, they passed a whopping "entertainment tax" on concerts and games and everything sold at them - people grumbled but went anyway, and the stadium got built without robbing the educational funds or anything else. And it's much harder to cheat a sales tax than an income tax. And finally, the sales tax is not too regressive (meaning, it "punishes" the poor less than some taxes) - poorer people will pay less tax because they'll spend less. In fact, it encourages frugality, which is not a bad thing. And did retail suffer in TN? No - that place has more retail stores than anywhere else I've lived, including LA. Businesses can't wait to come in.

    I believe this should work on a national scale, and it would be better than the system we have.
  7. xian-me Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jul 13, 2002
    I wish America would concentrate more on what's wrong with American youth.

    I'm an American citizen, and I can't apply for dual citizenship from my "home" country because it could hurt my dad's job. I moved here in '99, after leaving America in '88. They're busy fussing over the world, and my lord, we have enough problems here. Kids shoot up a school? they fuss about it, enforce stricted gun laws, and then leave it at that. How's about helping out there large mass of disenfranchised, disillusioned, and other -dis-type kids out there. How about making the welfare system work for the people who deserve it? Women who refuse to get real jobs and just spit out kids to get more money don't deserve welfare. Our public school systems are a mess. Schools in wealthy areas with award-winning teams [academic and athletic alike] get more funding, whereas poorer schools don't recieve nearly enough, which doesn't give children in those areas the footing THEY deserve to chase the american dream. It's all unbalanced. I'm not saying remove our peacekeeping efforts [there are plenty that are legit], but come on, we need help at home too! We're turning into drones..

    /end rant
  8. TreeCave Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 28, 2001
    star 4
    Um, you might want to be careful with your wording there - it sounds like you're blaming women as the primary abusers of welfare. Remember that behind every unwanted child and every abortion, there is a man who had himself a good time.

    Now, onto your other very good points regarding school. Americans seem to be split on the idea of whose responsibility it is when kids go on violent rampages at school. Their parents want to blame movies and video games, despite the fact that for every video gamer who commits a crime, there are probably thousands who don't. Most others are happy to blame the kids, write them off as "bad eggs" and hope the next ones turn out better.

    I think the parents should share the responsibility for such violent crimes. Every day, parents manage to notice their kids are on drugs, or depressed, or getting gradually into violence. Those parents who can't be bothered should be punished. (There are exceptions, and I would be willing to hear a parent's defense of how he couldn't have known what was happening, but what irritates me is that I'm the only one asking!)

    About inequality between poor and rich district schools.... this sort of throws a wrench in the idea of "created equal", doesn't it? We want to get people out of so-called poverty cycles - particularly the ones who try to help themselves and/or have special talents or skills - but we don't start by making sure they have access to quality schools. Just one of the many illogical ways we mishandle education here. To be fair, I haven't figured out a perfect solution myself. The education system is so complex.
  9. Gonzonaut Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Apr 28, 2000
    star 3
    "I wish America would concentrate more on what's wrong with American youth."

    I'll agree with that, and I am of America's youth. Unless America focuses more intensely on educating my generation and remedying our problems, the overall American condition will decline. I can offer a disgusting account of a worst case scenario of poor government handling of education. My state, Tennesse, I believe ranks 49th in the nation in education. Funding for extra-curricular funding is being dramatically cut. For example, a prestigious program known as Governor's School was once established to reward Tennessee's top students (junior and senior year) the opportunity to study subjects in a camp like atmosphere at multiple state universities. This was an excellent institution and was a serious boon on college applications, but the year I became eligible for Governor's School, the program was indefinitely cut because the state had saw fit the cut this rewarding educational opportunity in misguided attempt to help the state's budget crisis. This is just my personal greivance. Tennessee reached a new low when the budget crisis became so severe that all state funded institutions had to be shut down from on the work week of July 1-5. This did not only include minor endeavors and facilities such as interstate reststops and roadworks, but all state universities and university research projects! This account of my states dire situation does not reflect the state of the nation as a whole, but the fact that a governmental error of this magnitude could occur at all in the US should serve as a grave warning to the rest of the nation about how far we can potentially fall.

    My other constructive criticism for the United States is this current executive administrations appearant desire to depose Saddam Hussein. It seems that just when you think that nothing else could be done to further destabilize the Middle East, America has to threaten unprovoked attacks there. It is very ironic, and hypocritical, that our president, who criticized the past administration for spreading military forces thin on "unwarranted" peace keeping missions, would attack a sovereign state without provocation in the region of the world most distrustful of America and its intentions. If we undertake this endeavor, then we will have justified anti-American extremism in the Middle East.
  10. TreeCave Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 28, 2001
    star 4
    Gonzonaut, very well stated. I have nothing to add except that I went to middle and high school in TN - graduating in 1990 - and things were MUCH better then. I'm appalled to hear how badly things have gone since.

    I gotta look into their budget crisis now. It was such a well-run state during the 80's.
  11. xian-me Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jul 13, 2002
    Gonzonaut,

    Exactly. Children are going to grow up both pissed off and uneducated. When I was in the seventh grade, my geography book predated my start in school, period. We're going to have a generation of undereducated ingrates who are either going to be apathetic or do something extremely stupid.

    The balance IS in favor of the wealthy. I'm not going to go into taxes, because I'll be honest and say that it doesn't concern me. I live away from my family, without support right now, and I make enough to be on the poverty line, and I could care less. I don't "require" the crap that american youth needs, but that's a rant for another thread. But when I did live with my parents, in a wealthier area, I went to school, and then moved to Indiana [yes, I'm sorry too] and saw the vast difference.

    EDUCATE US ENOUGH TO ALLOW US TO THINK FOR OURSELVES!

    Oh wait.. the government doesn't want that..
    *crawls back into corner and grumbles*
  12. TeeBee Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Apr 2, 2002
    star 3
    How's about helping out there large mass of disenfranchised, disillusioned, and other -dis-type kids out there.

    Agreed, as long as they have a legit reason for being diss-ed that has nothing to do with hard work and taking responsibility for one's choices and actions.

    I think too many people become 'disillusioned' because they confuse the idea of "land of opportunity" with "land of entitlement". Not to mention realizing and dealing positively with the one simple truth that never changes: life is not fair.
  13. tenorjedi Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 17, 2000
    star 5
    Ahh good something to reply to :) I don't want to get too far off track but I'd just like to revist a few things.

    Uh, weird. I just didn't see that in your post

    What I said: It's interesting to compare %'s but the data is hardly comparative in several catagories for many reasons.

    Basically I could compare Guam to Japan or Moracco to France, but for the sake of proving any point the facts would be skewed due to the difference in size and in population.

    I thought this stat was just saying that we have the widest variety of salaries - as such, it didn't mean much to me (comparing a teen's after school job wages with a single mom's is a little pointless). So I didn't have much use for that particular stat, even though I think I took it a little differently than you did.

    Well it doesn't make one bit of difference except I found that figure to be innaccurate. Yes there's difference in wages but the score of 99 out of 100 is a definete bias and lowers the persons credibility in figures that the author derived on his own.

    I couldn't afford a house on $42k in Los Angeles two years ago. So I moved to a less expensive area - whoops, they only pay people in my field about $30k tops, and the houses were not that much less. So I moved on to a place where the wages were supposedly closer to the housing costs. Whoops again - the job market went from great to #1 worst in America overnight, with a state income tax that was 9% (not 3-6%), AND the housing prices soared at the same time.

    Areas do differ significantly. If you live in a very dense area, housing will be higher. In the suburbs though one can typically find an older 3 bedroom house for 50-100K range. With interest rates the way they are your payments would be 500-650/ month on a 30 year loan which is comparable to rent in most cities (aside from New York, LA etc which is incredibly high). There's programs now where you don't even have to put on a down payment and it's added back into the loan, so people that don't live in dense urban areas are running out of excuses to buy a home if they want to. And of course state taxes vary but often times states have higher sales tax or local income tax or county taxes to make up the difference.

    Or perhaps you were only referring to families. Good for them. I realize how unimportant single people are in this country (not accusing YOU of implying that) even though many of us contribute a great deal more to the work force in a lot of ways.

    If you're willing to move a little ways out of the city you might be able to afford a house. Have you ever called a good mortgage place? You might be surprised, and while I'm not sure about California, they might have the program where you can put your down payment back on your loan. As for the difference, if you still have problems, you can always sublet an extra bedroom to make up the difference. (yeah not a great thought, but there's ways around the problem)

    I've heard the media claim there's a huge problem with Canadian health care, but living in LA I know dozens of Canadians and former Canadians quite well, and they think it's great and miss it very much when they're here. Just my experience. I'm sure Tom Brokaw knows best.

    Actually, living 20 miles from Canada, I heard alot of complaints of their health care system. Tom Brokaw is an idiot who had is tupee' accidentily grafted onto his brain. Wait till you have a family member have to go to a federally funded hostpital like the VA, before you (or anyone else) think universal health care is such a great idea.

    True for many I'm sure. But every class is filled with cheaters on taxes

    Yes there cheaters out there. Every year I have to smack someone upside the head to let them know they're going to have to watch their back the rest of their lives for things they've done in previous years if they don't amend their returns.

    I can assure you I've seen tax returns for several well-known TV/film people, and the most they paid was 33%, because there wer
  14. TreeCave Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 28, 2001
    star 4
    In the suburbs though one can typically find an older 3 bedroom house for 50-100K range. If you're willing to move a little ways out of the city you might be able to afford a house.

    ERGH!!! Did you read my post? I just explained to you that I did move, TWICE, and it has ruined my financial life. I moved to a small town, then a medium sized city, and in both cases my wages dropped in proportion to housing costs so that actually I had a WORSE income-to-rent/mortgage ratio than I had had in LA. The only places where you can you buy a 3 bedroom for under $100k do not pay anything for the type of work many of us do. Housing is cheap in WV - hardly any jobs at all. In Knoxvile, TN, for example, I would only make about $24k a year for the same work that pays $42 in LA., and they have VERY few 3 bedrooms under $100k. Plus, the same apartment I have in LA would cost only a couple hundred less in Knoxville, so saving for a mortgage would be even harder.

    I really don't know where you're getting this, but having actually searched for a house for the past 3 years, I think you're mistaken. Why do you suppose they have 100% mortgages and 60 year pay-off periods now? Because it's impossible for most people to afford a house under standard conventional mortgages.

    Wait till you have a family member have to go to a federally funded hostpital like the VA, before you (or anyone else) think universal health care is such a great idea.

    I didn't say it was such a great idea - I said all the many Canadians I know like it. And I DO have relatives who go to VA hospitals - mostly in the DC area. They are very satisfied with their treatment there. Perhaps it depends on who runs the hospital, or perhaps like schools, some of them get more funding than others.

    But you have to consider state taxes, capital gains, Fica Medicare local taxes etc. If they live in California (say a movie star), they've got (basically) 30% (because of the gradual scale), plus 9% state tax, plus 7.5 FICA and Medicare (15% if self employed). Right there you've got 46.5. If they are self employeed or even incorporated themselves they're still paying 54% altogether. So that's where the 50% comes from. Fica does have a max limit, but that goes up every year.

    I WAS taking all this into account. I know what they really truly grossed and what they really truly netted, and they kept 66% of what they grossed through our clever tactics - shell companies, disguising income as other things, finding expenses anywhere and everywhere. It's harder to do for actors - whose income is so obvious - than with crew (producers, directors, etc.) who have legitimate needs for "production companies". And these people are not cheating - well, in my mind they are, but it's all perfectly legal.

    And it's not CA that has a 9% income tax - ours is around 4%. That was Oregon - a hideous state, and a perfect example of what happens when socialism goes bad.

    Of course you'd probably gasp at the taxes on a new car

    You don't pay taxes on a new car now? Where do you live, LOL??? Every state I've lived in (except Oregon) charges the same sales tax on cars as they do on everything else. TN also adds in a "luxury" tax if it's an expensive car.

    What's so insane about a person who goes to school for typically 5 years minimum to expect 50K/year or more.

    Even if you deduced two months' worth of salary at a rate of $50k to account for summer break, you'd give them a lot more than they're getting now.
  15. TreeCave Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 28, 2001
    star 4
    A couple more thoughts on the stats article.

    Tenor - you're right that comparing us to some of those other countries is skewed. We should do 10 times better than they do, because we have probably 20 times the resources they have. Comparing us to the USSR wouldn't even work, because they don't have half the stuff on their nearly landlocked land mass that we have - we could be totally self-sufficient, or darn close. I don't know of any other country with that possibility. Australia might be the best comparison, and it was in some of those stats but not all. (Might have been nice if they'd used the same exact counties for every list, but perhaps the stats weren't even available that way.)

    And I'm surprised this didn't come up before, but it ties into the above point: how much has our foreign aid contributed to the well-being of those countries? That's not a rhetorical question, and I'm not about to assume we're the force behind all earthly prosperity. But I believe we've helped some of them out a lot. And some of them have helped us in some ways. But if any of what we're told is true, out govt gives away a lot in foriegn aid.

    Now, let's play the analogy game! Giving foreign aid while your own citizens have problems (bad schools, for example) is a bit like telling your child she'll get no birthday presents this year because you're buying the neighbors a car.

    BUT.... in a global marketplace, it's not that simple. IF the neighbor is so flattered that they give Mommy and Daddy great jobs with salary increases that pay for the car the first year, the daughter will have much better presents in the future. Some of our foreign aid is probably intended to work this way - I mean, if Japan collapses and can't buy Pepsi and CD's from us, it would have some effect on our economy.

    The question is, are we doing a good balancing act with our foreign aid? Are we getting a "return" on our "investment"? And in those cases where we don't, do we have purely humanitarian goals, or are we just making "bad deals"?
  16. Ender Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 12, 1998
    star 6
    You know, I'm really sick of U.S. pizza restaurants using that fake cheese crap. It tastes almost the same as the real thing except it gives heartburn that feels like you've swallowed lava. If you don't start using real cheese I'll go to the UN and file a complaint.


    I feel as if a weight has been lifted off my shoulders!
  17. chibiangi Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 16, 2002
    star 4
    If you live in a very dense area, housing will be higher. In the suburbs though one can typically find an older 3 bedroom house for 50-100K range.

    Maybe in the middle of freaking nowhere Mid West, USA, but in LA and its surrounding areas (everything all the way down to Long Beach) you CANNOT buy a house for 50-100k.

    A three bedroom for $50-100k? You are out of your mind!?

    What you MIGHT be able to get in the 100k price range is a 1 or 2 bedroom condominium, not a house.

    For a 3 bedroom in LA, you're looking at 250k minimum. Most are well into the 300Ks.

    Look it up if you think we're full of it.

  18. Olivier Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Mar 12, 2002
    star 2

    One of the only things that struck me as questionable was the wealth distribution of 99 (out of a possible 100 for the worst score) That is wholely innaccurate. There's wealth and estimated personal net worth. Two completely different things. I mean if we're supposedly only one step away from the worst wealth distribution concievable, then they need a calcualtor.


    I think there may be a misunderstanding here: 100 doesn't corresponds to the worst wealth distribution conceivable, but to the worst out of the countries they took into consideration. And they stated that they only took the industrialized countries into account:

    "As mentioned earlier, America has the greatest inequality of income and wealth in the industrialized world:

    Inequality of income (0 = most equal society, 100 = the least equal):"

    This kind of comparison is far from perfect, because it doesn't give us the reference (to what difference in wealth does this 100 index correspond), nor did they detail what they took into account to caculate this index.
  19. Olivier Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Mar 12, 2002
    star 2
    TreeCave


    And I'm surprised this didn't come up before, but it ties into the above point: how much has our foreign aid contributed to the well-being of those countries? That's not a rhetorical question, and I'm not about to assume we're the force behind all earthly prosperity. But I believe we've helped some of them out a lot. And some of them have helped us in some ways. But if any of what we're told is true, out govt gives away a lot in foriegn aid.


    If I remember well, this issue as already been raised on those boards, maybe 2 or 3 months ago.

    here is a link where you'll see that the foreign aid of the US is not that different from that of other industrialized countries. (In fact, if you take population into consideration, the sum of foreign aid per capita is smaller in the US than in most of the contries listed here).

    In another article (I didn't keep the link, however), I read that, as you rightly suspected, the "return on investment" for the US amounted to much more than the sums "invested".


    [edit] I found the text I was looking for. It is a statement by Statement of J. Brian Atwood, Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, to the Committee on International Relations House of Representatives.
    It is a bit old now (1995), but I doubt that things have changed drastically since then.
  20. TreeCave Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 28, 2001
    star 4
    Ender, Canadian pizza is no prize. I've tried it! Oh, the heartache!

    Maybe in the middle of freaking nowhere Mid West, USA, but in LA and its surrounding areas (everything all the way down to Long Beach) you CANNOT buy a house for 50-100k.

    Apparently I'm not explaining it clearly. You can only find a horrible 3 BR house for that price in Knoxville, TN, a pleasant town of under 200,000. Knoxville has crappy weather, okay employment, bad schools.... in short, not a place anyone would choose to live, but not a place you'd reject a good job in if you were offered one. So the real estate should be about as affordable there as it is anywhere.

    Same is true in Modesto, California, a town of under 200,000. Unfortunately, since it's only a 2-hour one way commute from San Francisco, people who don't mind traveling that far for work and get paid well have run up Modesto prices so that a 3 bedroom is at least $150,000. I was there - I know.

    And this is happening everywhere. People keep moving further and further out, developing 2-3 hour commutes (not just in big cities, either - I know people in Austin, TX and Phoenix, AZ who drive an hour or more to work, and those aren't huge cities. This pushes even distant suburban housing costs up and up and up as the standard for a "convenient commute" drops lower and lower and lower.

    And no, this is not all due to bad traffic. The worst traffic anywhere I've lived, including LA, is Nashville, TN followed by Portland, OR. Those places are so badly arranged, everyone drives 45 minutes to work, minimum, and there's no reason for it.

    What you MIGHT be able to get in the 100k price range is a 1 or 2 bedroom condominium, not a house.

    And that would be an hour out of town, minimum.

    Olivier, will respond later! Thanks again!
  21. TreeCave Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 28, 2001
    star 4
    I'm curious. Someone mentioned earlier that s/he perceived Americans as "gung ho" on the undeclared war against, uh, Al Queda or Afghanistan or... I'm not making fun, I'm really not sure as there is talk about invading everybody but England, LOL. Anyway, I am not gung ho on this war myself. I don't even think I'm in favor of it, or at least not of continuing at this point. I mean, we've shown we can beat the snot out of anyone who tries to hurt us. We've probably permanently dismantled Al Queda. Beyond that, I'm more concerned about tightening port (air AND sea) security than trying to nuke one man in a honeycomb of mountains.

    How do the rest of you feel? Is anybody really "gung ho"? If so, what is the goal of the war in your opinion, and at what point should we stop waging it?
  22. Kessel Runner Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Apr 10, 1999
    star 6
    I am most decidedly not gung ho on the war against terrorism. I have the continuing impression that this "war" is being used as an excuse to expand the fed's control of our daily lives. For example there is a law on the books which was written during the Civil War stating that the military may not act as police within the borders of the U.S. Congress, at this very moment, is debating whether or not to remove this law from our books. I have the feeling that we are inching closer and closer to a military state.

    As for the initial question of what one thing or things would I like changed in the U.S. today....I think that first and foremost for me would be the abolition of the Death Penalty.
  23. TreeCave Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 28, 2001
    star 4
    I personally agree that the real reason for this war is not that straightforward. I'm not sure the reason for any war is, actually, but this one is troubling.

    Even according to the media or the common person, what is the goal? To get bin Laden? If that was the goal, we'd have sent in Special Ops forces, not troops. Is the goal to dismantle Al Qaeda? I hope so, as this is one goal most everyone can agree on. But haven't we already done that inasmuch as it can be done? And since it's simply not possible to prevent every act of terrorism, once we are sure Al Qaeda's out of the picture, shouldn't we move onto domestic protection, such as port security? I'm not at all satisfied we've taken proper steps in that direction.

    Instead, we're talking about citizen ID cards - more and more authorization and hoops for real US citizens to wade through. Leaving aside for the moment the argument that this is Big Brother-ish, it's simply not going to prevent terrorists from hanging out in the US, getting licenses, etc.

    IMO, what would help is closing the borders down to people who aren't becoming citizens. It's the "American Way" to let anyone IMMIGRATE here, but we let people come and hang out for indefinite periods of time, frequently not doing anything that really benefits the US as a whole. We must make changes that apply to rich white Europeans as well as poor, brown-skinned newcomers. "I've come to spend lots of money" is not a sufficient reason to let people into the US for indefinite periods of time.
  24. Kessel Runner Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Apr 10, 1999
    star 6
    and none of the security changes which have been made up to this point would have truly changed the events of the 11th.

    When it comes to immigration policies, I'm not sure I'm ready to get as hard-nosed as you are, but I haven't fully fleshed out my feelings on this particular issue. I can understand both sides, but I don't know which side I agree with.
  25. TreeCave Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 28, 2001
    star 4
    Just to be clear, what I'm saying is anyone can come and work on becoming a citizen (and we need a standardized method for becoming a citizen, so we can track what they're really up to). But some of the student visas and work visas and so on.... I think those can be abused to allow anyone to come in here and do as they please. Hell, we're giving Welfare and public education to illegal immigrants.

    On the flipside, I've long advocated making a program for illegal aliens that denies them US citizen-taxed social programs, but helps them become self-sustaining, non-tax-money-hemorraging (sp) citizens. This would - if done properly, of course - bring in some earnest people who want to become Americans because they appreciate what the US has to offer, and eliminate some deadbeats who just wafted up across the border to enjoy our social programs. (And I do believe this happens because of my mother's experience doing taxes for non-citizens who managed to pay nothing in taxes, but got all sorts of free rides that poor Americans don't even know are available!)

    While it's a great ideal to have wide open borders, I do not see a problem with turning some people away as long as its on the basis of their demonstrated intent, not superficial traits like nation of origin or race. No matter whether you're a beautiful Dutch trust-fund spending model or a poor man who barely made it to Miami in a cramped truck, you deserve the chance to become an American citizen. But you don't deserve the chance to just come to the US, work illegally, avoid taxes, etc.

    As far as terrorism goes, I do think this would be a lot more effective than the replacement for SDI, whatever its initials are. The missile shield thingy that might be great if China actually decides to nuke us, but wouldn't stop a repeat of any of the terrorist attacks that have ever been perpetrated in the world.
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