Sustainable Development (environmental, population, economic, resources wars, ext.)

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by Darth_Yuthura, Jan 4, 2010.

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  1. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    No. If you can't measure something, then you lack the rational basis to implement policy based on it.

    Right now, you aren't making rational arguments based in reason and logic. You're making emotional arguments, about how "It's not fair that they make more money!" without actually providing any sort of concrete definition for what would be fair. All you have provided are subjective examples operating at the extremes. You completely avoid looking at the boundary conditions (i.e. at what point exactly do you decide that someone has "enough" and shouldn't be allowed to have any more).

    I'm sorry, but making an emotional argument isn't going to help you make good policy. Good policy is based on facts, statistics, and logic, not feelings and subjective "I know it when I see it" attitudes.

    Give me cold hard facts and measurable data to support your proposals, and then we can discuss it. Until then, all you are doing is whining about how you don't like things as it is. You aren't actually putting forward any real policy ideas.

    As I said, the point of a standard deduction is to provide a tax-free baseline, anything beyond which is taxed. I even explicitly said that whether the current standard deduction/itemized deductions are sufficient to provide the tax-free baseline is a perfectly reasonable discussion to have. But that's a completely different discussion that you seem to want to have. You seem to prefer making wildly inaccurate claims about what I say, and then push your straw man arguments to the extreme instead of actually dealing with the very real issues that I have brought up.

    Kimball Kinnison
  2. JediSmuggler Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 5, 1999
    star 5
    But you still imply that a certain group has less of a right to their property (in this case, their money), simply because of how much they have.

    I'm sorry, but that is wrong. For all liberals talk about how people would have equality, they certainly seem to view some people as being less equal than others in several areas. If certain people aren't "progressive" or if they "have too much," they seem to be targets.
  3. Fire_Ice_Death Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2001
    star 7
    Would you be happy with people having their own personal fiefdoms then?
  4. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    Being taxed at a higher marginal rate is a small price to pay for being a billionaire. Let's not forget that Bill Gates obtained much of his wealth through anti-competitive business practices that were later deemed illegal. The world's richest people often cheat their way to the top: the Waltons with their illegal union busting and flagrant violations of all sorts of labor laws. Microsoft with its anti-trust violations worldwide, etc., the bank executives with their taxpayer funded bonuses last year. No question whatsoever that they aren't getting a great return on their tax investment.

    Again, what they are paying for chiefly through their higher tax rates is a comfortable, secure business environment that encourages them to cheat their way rich.

  5. anakin_girl Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 8, 2000
    star 6
    Yeah, I would love it if someone would explain how a feudal system would be good for the country. I'm sure it would be fantastic for the handful of feudal lords, but it would suck pretty badly for the country as a whole, as well as 90 percent or more of the people who live in it.

    But I suppose that doesn't matter, as long as the feudal lords get to "keep what's theirs."

    As far as Bill Gates: I know he worked his butt off but I also remember him getting busted for a few illegal antitrust violations. And considering the fact that antitrust laws are not enforced the way they were 40 years ago, his violations must have been pretty bad. Again, only vaguely remembering the story from the late 90s.

    Sam Walton: He started a good company. My husband worked for Wal-Mart in the early 90s and at the time, employees were well treated and well compensated, and Wal-Mart made a point to sell American-made goods. Sam himself said that if he treats his employees well, they'll treat the customers well. Outstanding philosophy and it's too bad so few companies have it now; besides the fact that poor Sam is probably turning somersaults in his grave over the greed and corruption that overtook the company he started.
  6. darthdrago Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 31, 2003
    star 4
    Jabba (or A_G, or anybody) question for you:

    Though it's a matter of record that Microsoft has been stung legally in the US and EU over it's business practices, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is still getting lots of publicity & kudos for their philantropy, particularly in developing nations.

    Since Gates has made it a point to use his remaining wealth to directly confront sustainability issues in the developing world, are you willing to give his past accummulation of said wealth a pass? Or is Gates/Microsoft permanently stained by the anti-trust issues regardless of future behavior?
  7. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 4
    If you think that's what I'm advocating for, then you clearly don't understand the context of the problem.

    If the world offered infinite resources that just depend of people working to get their living... I wouldn't be making this argument. The problem is that the world has only a finite number of resources.

    Why can't you have a billion Bill Gates in the world? Because there simply aren't enough resources in the world to allow for a billion people to become as rich as Bill Gates. It's not a matter of whether someone has enough, but whether someone having too much detracts from everyone else.

    I'm not saying that the ultra-wealthy should GIVE their riches away; I'm saying they should STOP obtaining more wealth. There's not enough in the world for everyone to have enough to get by if you have a million people all fighting for resources they don't need. Having fewer people with more wealth detracts from what the rest of the world can have for themselves...

    Seriously, if ONE person could obtain ALL the riches in the world, would you defend this person going out and taking away all the opportunities other people have to live? It's not like he's stealing anything, but such a person would only bring instability and desperation as the peasants can't challenge him for supremacy. He doesn't need all those resources, but taking them with nothing other than to satisfy his greed is destructive.

    Greedy people cause instability! Don't you get it?!

    What issues? Frankly I can't see any kind of resolution with your valiant desire to empower the rich beyond what can be sustained by a world of finite resources. If you can't overcome that, then anything else you bring up to compliment that argument is nothing more than playing games on paper.
  8. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 4
    I don't know if you realize it, but what you're suggesting is just to abolish civilization completely and go back to anarchy. Without rules, you can ensure all people are treated fairly. You want to kill someone? You have just as much right to kill another as they have to kill you. Don't want to be taxed? Well then you have as much right not to live in a civilized world. Go back to the wilderness and live as you want, but once you're part of a system of rules, you have the responsibility to follow those rules. If you want to change the rules, then it's your responsibility to convince others to follow your rules. If your rules suck, then no one will bother with you. The French Revolution happened because of such conditions as are happening today and quite frankly... I don't want to see an American revolution. I would rather see stability, where we all can have access to any resource they need with about the same ease as everyone else.

    Bill Gates worked hard, but there is a difference between work and an idea. His ideas were grand, but now it's causing a stagnation in technological development. Just as easily can someone of his power develop something new can he also quash someone else's ideas. The electric car by GM was such a technological leap which was destroyed by capitalism and greed when it could have been further developed years ago. No one can defend the good of capitalism leading to revolutions in technology without also confronting its power to quash competitors.

    The problem with people having 'too much' is that they hoard resources and wealth which they don't need. It's one thing to simply be passive and lazy, but it's quite another to actively engage in activities which prevent others from getting what they need. Or at the least make it harder for others to live. I wouldn't ask Bill Gate to work and give his wealth away... just that he let go of any resources he doesn't need. If he wants to buy a 747 every day just to destroy it, then it's a needless waste and generates economic/environmental/cultural instability.

    If you were to theoretically allow all his wealth to be taken away, it would provide enough for millions to live more comfortably. Only one person would be cheated. But by his incessant drive for wealth and power, he detracts from what many depend upon to earn a living. Yeah he generates demand, but there's only so much that any one man can ever really want. Anything more he takes is just greedy.
  9. anakin_girl Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 8, 2000
    star 6
    darthdrago: I'm not sure what you mean by giving Bill Gates a "pass," but I have a lot of respect for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. I think Gates is certainly entitled to deduct from his taxes any money that goes into the Foundation, or any other charity. My point and that of others (Jabba I believe) was that Gates and other people as wealthy as he is, did not become that way simply by pulling up their bootstraps. He is being rewarded for his hard work, but not only that, he is being rewarded for being at the right place at the right time. Our point was also that not all wealth is acquired by honest means. Those on the other side seem to believe that wealthy people are only wealthy because they work harder than poor people, and that if a person is poor, he must not work hard enough or be of value to society. Not so.
  10. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 4
    Good point. If you had one billion dollars, all you have to do is invest it in something and you can live comfortably off the interest without ever working a day in your life. The money Bill Gates made is his to do with, but any who inherit that fortune don't have to life a finger... just be Gate's son/daughter/partner ext. Making the initial wealth may have been difficult, but one you have it... making more is so much easier to do. The wealthiest people generate a positive feedback loop where they can make ever more money more easily than those who live from paycheck to paycheck.
  11. anidanami124 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 24, 2002
    star 6
    Wow just wow.


    OH so let's just go get some person who knows nothing about running a corporation and make him a CEO. :rolleyes:

    That's what I told you. That's what I said. The CEO is the face of the company he does a good job the company will do well. If he does a poor job the company will do poorly. If you're uncle does a bad job at running the company he works at it will fail. I told you that stop telling me what I said and did not say.





    Quality applies to big a small corporations. Small corprations need just as good of quality as big ones. And priceing you're stuff down does not give you better quality. In fact it more or less give you wrose.

    What? Ok let's go into a Wendys. Is that job really worth 10 dollors any hour? Any one can do it. Is someone counting nails all day to put in a box really worth pay someone 15 dollors any hour? Going by what you say. Somone who makes And they don't even have to be a CEO more then those people are evil. Let me put it to you this way a Chemical engineer is worth ever cent he makes becasue not ever one can do what he/she does/ Not ever one can be a CEO. But those who are and those who run the companys very well are worth what they make. Why becasue not ever one can do it.

    But going by what you say. The guy who counts nails all day should be making the same kind of money the Chemical enigneer makes becasue it's some how on the same level. Also let's go back to what KK has said. CEO's are paid in stocks and bounds. When the company does well they make more because the stock goes up. The company does bad there money starts to go down and in many cases the board will get ready of the person becasue they to will lose money. The money they make is based more on the stock then anything else KK has pointed that out to you many times already. Yet you refuse to read that and just keep calling them all evil and attacking people who are rich.

    All I know is that I should never try to become rich becasue it's some how evil. :rolleyes:
  12. JediSmuggler Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 5, 1999
    star 5
    Oh... so a person is only entitled to what he needs. Who decides what he needs? You? Some government bureaucrat? That is an awful lot of power over a person's life that you are handing over to another.

    Perhaps you ought to think a bit about what John Locke wrote about the right to property:

    The labour of his body and the work of his hands, we may say, are strictly his. So when he takes something from the state that nature has provided and left it in, he mixes his labour with it, thus joining to it something that is his own; and in that way he makes it his property.

    He has removed the item from the common state that nature has placed it in, and through this labour the item has had annexed to it something that excludes the common right of other men: for this labour is unquestionably the property of the labourer, so no other man can have a right to anything the labour is joined to?at least where there is enough, and
    as good, left in common for others. [Note Locke?s statement that every man ?has a property in his own person?. He often says t
  13. anidanami124 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 24, 2002
    star 6
    I would not want to live in that kind of world either. Heck I want to go out and go back to college so I can get into a job to make more money and become rich. But that is some how know seen as a sin. Why should it be a crime to want to work hard and become rich. Why attack people who have worked hard to get where they are at.

    I mean why bother to even go to school to become a Business Analyst, Graphic Designer, Software Developer, if they should be worth the same as the person who who counts nails and screws all day. I mean why bother to work up the ladder. I mean it really does not seem worth it to me and that's sad becasue there are jobs out there that pay great that I know I could learn to do become good at them and become rich doing them. But what's the point?

  14. Fire_Ice_Death Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2001
    star 7
    Hmm....I see the ESP of our resident Republicans is in overdrive tonight.
  15. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 4
    Am I deciding what someone needs? I was explicitly aiming at what people don't need. Do you really need to have a billion dollars in the bank... the stock market, money market, or some other form of liquid assets when you're never going to spend it? After all, Gates is earning more than he's capable of spending. What difference is it between one billion dollars and a hundred billion for Gates? It can make a hell of a difference for a lot of other people who aren't so greedy.

    And what of the fruits of a society or civilization that the superwealthy are extracting from the rest of the US? By exploiting jobs to China, these such people are providing jobs for the US, right? Please explain how the super wealthy provide jobs when they've closed down US factories in favor of India, Korea, and China?

    Sure, that provides for some new jobs to be created in the US, but the tertiary sector minimum-wage jobs don't compare to those of manufacturing and primary sectors. Notice how the unemployment rate is getting higher? Know why that is?
  16. Espaldapalabras Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 25, 2005
    star 5
    The Constition is a means, not an end. I don't have much time, but freedom from want and Amartya Sen's Development as Freedom are where I will start to look to develop that definition.


    Progressive taxes are the only thing standing between the rich's lucre and the hordes outside the gate. Society has a right to determine what is just and fair. You view income inequality as just and orderly, I don't.


    Well that depends on if we are talking about the world we have or the world we'd like to have.

    What do you mean by free actors? The power relationship of those who employ and those who work for them are not equal. Where there are masses of others willing to work outside the gates of the factory, the individual's ability to bargin is viritually nil. Granted it is now greater than nil, but it is nowhere near equal. The only reason you think so is because it is mostly true in your case as you are highly skilled and you have a few anecdotal accounts of people doing it.

    Something I just read in the Economist:


    Because more people agree with me. Political science cannot be expressed in equations.

  17. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 6
    It's funny how just about any topic almost always comes down to taxes. [face_laugh]

    I'm in favour of an Estate Tax in principle. I think 50% might be too high, but there should be a substantial amount taxed.
  18. anakin_girl Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 8, 2000
    star 6
    Or something. Their arguments are breaking down to a few delusions:

    Rich people only get rich by working hard. Rich people work harder than poor people. If you're poor, you must not be working hard enough. The amount of pay you receive is directly associated with how hard you work.

    And another, related delusion:

    There is an infinite amount of wealth to go around and if you want your share, work hard.

    The person flipping burgers at Wendy's should be paid $10 an hour for several reasons: one, $10 an hour is a living wage. Two, flipping burgers is hot, smelly, disgusting work and the burger-flipper earns every dime of that $10 an hour. And yes, I would be willing to pay more for a burger for which the burger-flipper got a decent wage.
  19. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    I only have a moment.
    I'm sorry, but have you not read what I have said? I specifically said that I recognize that not everyone who is wealthy got so through their own labor. If you'd like, I'll post the quotes where I said that. JediSmuggler hasn't made any comment like what you describe either. Here, you are simply putting forward a straw man argument and putting words into our mouths.

    Again, I haven't seen anyone claim that there is infinite wealth to go around, nor that there are infinite resources. This is just another straw man argument.

    Remember, money itself is not a limited resource. Just because someone is wealthy doesn't mean that all wealth will be concentrated only to the rich. If the rich want services, they have to pay for them just like anyone else, and they will have to pay a wage that people are willing to accept. That is a simple fiscal reality.

    Except that you are ignoring the effects that wage inflation has on the economy in general. If you want businesses to raise wages, they need to get the money from somewhere, and that usually means raising their prices (which you say you would accept). However, when prices go up, that raises the cost of living, and so that $!)/hour wage that the person at Wendy's is now getting doesn't buy them as much as it used to. When you force wages to go up, it merely serves to drive prices up as well, which then is used as an excuse to force wages to go up, and so on and so forth, ad nauseum.

    If the economy were to do as you wish here, all you would do is spur large amounts of inflation, which doesn't help anyone.

    Kimball Kinnison
  20. anidanami124 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 24, 2002
    star 6
    But it's not worth a ten doller any hour job becasue any one can do it. Also you are at that point saying that it's the same as someone who has spent years of there life to get a degree in comupters worked and worked there way up. I mean really if all he had to do was going to Wendys to start making ten dollars any hour then why go to school? Why put in all taht time and money to learn something that can be put to very good use. There is a very good reason you don't get paid 10 dollars any hour at a Wendys.

    I mean heck someone goes to school to learn to be a teacher and let's say they end up working at the Traget making 10 dollars any hour. Yeah that's a good waste of time and money if all that person had to do to make a living is go work at a Traget.

  21. anakin_girl Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 8, 2000
    star 6
    I want to address Kimball's points later (with my apologies if he feels I've put words in his mouth, there just seems to be a lot of "taking other people's hard-earned money" arguments around here, not from any specific poster), I only have minute right now.

    anidan: Why go to school if you can make $10 an hour at Wendy's? So you can make more than $10 an hour and so you can do something less greasy and hot than flip burgers. ;) Seriously, who has making $10 an hour as a goal? Who wants to flip burgers for the rest of his or her life? I could get paid $20 an hour to flip burgers at Wendy's and I still wouldn't want to do it for the next 30 years.

    Flipping burgers is usually a last-resort job for people, and not because it's minimum wage, but because it's unpleasant.

    On your point about teachers, if you're saying they're underpaid, you're right. I don't think the answer is to underpay everyone else though.

    I also don't see how it's an "attack on the rich" to say they should pay more in taxes. My husband and I should pay more in taxes than the burger flipper at Wendy's, because my husband makes a lot more money than the burger-flipper at Wendy's. That's not an attack on people of his income (and we are not "rich" by any stretch of the imagination).
  22. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 4
    You're using absolute statements again. And you're wrong.

    Edsel Ford got rich because of his father. George W Bush got much of his wealth off the prosperity of his father, despite running most of his own businesses into to the ground. My own father inherited a significant sum of wealth that his father earned decades ago. My father works harder than most, but didn't inherit the majority of his wealth... he was thrifty and careful where he spent his money. I have an aunt who's husband had a six-digit annual wage... she was reckless and lazy, becoming wealthy because she married the right guy with a lot of cash rolling in.

    And hard work often doesn't translate to wealth. Look at people in India and China who work six days a week, 14 hours a day, either answering customer calls, or in a factory sweatshop. They get paid less than $2 an hour and can't afford to work fewer hours and maintain a living.

    Really? Since when? Show me stats which translate the relationship between hard work and wealth.

    Obviously without someone giving you money, you won't earn anything by just sitting around. But that doesn't mean grinding your head against a rock wall for ten hours a day will translate to anything of value.

    I'm sorry, but I don't see how factory workers in China are able to work more hours. If they never take a break and never sleep, they still can't earn what a minimum-wage earner in the US gets for a 40-hour week salary. You COULD be poor because you're lazy, but that's not always the case. You could be poor because the only means you have to make a living is a job which pays only two dollars an hour... plus you're required to work outrageous hours per day. Don't like it? There are many others lined up for your job... good luck finding a better line of work!

    What you inherit, or what you're given also translates to how much easier it is to earn a living.

    Put George W Bush in any wage-earning position and you would find he can't do so well without the resources of his Father's success. If you cut off Bush's or Gate's assets from themselves, they would become significantly hindered in their ability to make profit. That means their wealth gives them an advantage over everyone else.

    Yes, you can't make money by doing nothing. But if you have hired muscle, you can become a major criminal kingpin who gets his wealth by what his cronies do. If you have resources, you can 'earn' money much more easily than if you just earned all your wealth from scratch. If Bush started with just himself and his education, he wouldn't have had the means to 'invest' in a lousy oil company. He didn't buy that baseball team with funds he earned... it may be successful, but I could do the same if someone gave me a baseball team. Maybe not as well, but I would be in a far better position to earn huge sums of money after than before.

    You're contradicting your own point. No, there isn't infinite wealth to go around. So that means the greed of certain people will directly impact what others will need to get by. If the wealthiest take more and more than they need, it will detract from what others can earn for themselves.

  23. anakin_girl Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 8, 2000
    star 6
    Yuthura: The first four quotes you attributed to Kimball were actually made by me as summations of the fiscal libertarian points, and Kimball said that my summations weren't accurate. About to get to his points:

    As Yuthura said, so much of our labor is outsourced to countries where the laborers are willing to accept a much lower wage than Americans are. Demanding that Americans accept the low wages and long hours of Chinese employees is not an acceptable solution. In a total free market, American workers would be forced to do that. Never mind that we no longer produce much of anything in this country. As I mentioned in the thread about the recovery of the US economy, we need to invent and produce something here.

    Yes, the rich buy goods and services, but how many of those goods are made in China?

    Also, the top 5 percent does not necessarily buy goods and services. They buy what they need and invest the rest of it. That investment creates jobs for a handful of stockbrokers but not for anyone else. (Maybe not even for the stockbrokers; we have a few investments which we made without using a broker.)

    Since there is not an infinite amount of wealth to go around, my point about ensuring that the limited amount of wealth in this country is not concentrated into the hands of a few people, still stands. The old rule that "He who has the gold makes the rules" pretty much dominates all aspects of society, including our political system; politicians are more beholden to those who contribute large sums to their campaigns than they are to the people who can only contribute a single vote. Case in point: the failure of the Dorgan Amendment in the Senate, and the correlation between the "no" votes and the amount of money politicians received from the pharmaceutical industry. It doesn't matter that the Dorgan Amendment would cut health care costs and therefore be better for the average American, the only thing that mattered was what would be better for the PhRMa lobby.

    My point is that since "He who has the gold makes the rules" is a rule, letting only a few people control most or all of the gold, would be very, very dangerous. When that happens we are no longer a representative democracy.
  24. anakin_girl Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 8, 2000
    star 6
    Exactly. Those who were born wealthy or even middle class have better opportunities to access wealth than do those who were born in poverty. They have a better chance to go to a good school, either because they can afford an elite private school or because their parents can afford to live in a neighborhood that feeds into good public schools (as anyone who has ever house-hunted knows, those houses sell for thousands more than houses in neighborhoods with poor schools). Therefore by default they can access a better education, which leads to better skills, which leads to being valued more by society--which leads to being paid more.

    Additionally, as Yuthura mentioned, those who were born wealthy can take their wealth and make investments and become wealthier. Essentially they get rewarded for knowing where to put their money, not by earning it.
  25. Cheveyo Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 29, 2001
    star 5
    You tell me. How many PCs at Best Buy or Frys come with Windows 7 pre-installed? For being so terribly "stained", Microsoft is still leading the pack. It's not like Microsoft was caught sleeping around with Linux, and now his golf career and merchandising contracts are ruined forever and...oh mixed parables... sorry. [face_whistling]

    Anyway, Microsoft, the company, should adhere to business laws. Period. If they are found to have violated them (as the have in some anti-trust law cases over the years) then they must be penalized for it. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, on the other hand, is a nonprofit org founded by those two individuals. So I don't think I understand what your true point is, since the two are completely different... Unless you are saying that without Microsoft doing its dirty deeds, then Bill wouldn't have ever had the money to start and run the foundation with his wife... Is that what you're getting at?
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