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The Super Rich

The rise of the super-rich and how it’s re-ordering not just the U.S. economy, but the whole world’s.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, right, walks with Laura Arrillaga-Andressen, center, wife of Marc Andressen, left, at the Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, Wednesday, July 11, 2012. Marc Andreessen is founder of Netscape. (AP)

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, right, walks with Laura Arrillaga-Andressen, center, wife of Marc Andressen, left, at the Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, Wednesday, July 11, 2012. Marc Andreessen is founder of Netscape. (AP)

The super-rich are getting richer, all over the world.  Not just well-off, wealthy, but toweringly rich on a scale that challenges our understanding of how things work and ought to work.  Editor and correspondent Chrystia Freeland has worked around the world as a high-profile reporter for some of the bibles of big business:  The Financial Times, The Economist, Thomson Reuters.

Now she’s reporting to us on what she’s seeing.  An explosion of concentrated wealth so great it’s changing the way the US and the world work.

This hour, On Point:  Chrystia Freeland on plutocrats.  The super-rich.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Chrystia Freeland, editor of Thomson Reuters Digital, she’s the author of Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else.

Nicholas Carnes, assistant professor of Public Policy at the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University and the Co-Director of the Research Triangle chapter of the Scholars Strategy Network.You can find his recent New York Times op-ed here.

From Tom’s Reading List

Reuters “Today’s plutocracy, as described by Chrystia Freeland, can make for an ugly spectacle. It is an increasingly stateless and distant class. The very rich may sometimes dress scruffily or express an affection for common tastes, but their wealth naturally separates them from the rest of the public. It isolates them physically, as they flit from palace to palace in private jets. And it isolates them psychically, as they grow comfortable with the view that their wealth is not merely the fruit of talent and work but the mark of superiority.”

Daily Beast “Becoming a plutocrat is like being one of those 18 men. This is not to suggest that women are somehow biologically precluded from breaking into the plutocracy, in the way that the female physique may never run a marathon as quickly as the male one. But the image is a way of illustrating a significant and rarely remarked-on aspect of the rise of the super-elite: it is almost entirely male.”

The New Yorker “The richest man in the room was Leon Cooperman, a Bronx-born, sixty-nine-year-old billionaire. Cooperman is the founder of a hedge fund called Omega Advisors, but he has gained notice beyond Wall Street over the past year for his outspoken criticism of President Obama. Cooperman formalized his critique in a letter to the President late last year which was widely circulated in the business community; in an interview and in a speech, he has gone so far as to draw a parallel between Obama’s election and the rise of the Third Reich.”

Excerpt: Plutocrats

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  • Michiganjf

    Here’s a take on one of the factors enlarging wage disparity in America:

    A CEO sees a number on a page, like how much the company will save if it cuts pay or fails to raise salaries, say for all cashiers in a store like STAPLES.

    Cashiers make up a vast number of the workforce in a company like STAPLES, so the dollar amount on the page will be HUGE if you cut their pay, and the CEO gets really excited over that big “BOTTOM LINE” number, knowing how it will affect the value of his stock options that year and boost profit margins.

    He then sees a number showing how much he’ll save if he cuts pay for a handfull of corporate headquarters jobs instead… the number is relatively small, compared to the savings of cutting pay for those thousands of cashiers, so he goes with the big number that got him excited and leaves pay for the people at corporate alone this quarter, especially as he actually SEES those corporate workers in person every day, as he walks to his upstairs office.
    Ensuring others at corporate are well-compensated also makes his own bloated salary look less out-of-place to the board of directors for the company, so he doesn’t want those in close proximity earning too much less than himself.

    Now, imagine this same dynamic happenning over and over again, quarter after quarter, for years on end.

    … pretty soon, you’ve got a MASSIVE wage disparity between the vast numbers of workers who ACTUALLY work hard every day in the stores, and those who get paid much more, simply because they’re walking through doors at corporate headquarters instead of walking into a brick and mortar retail outlet.

    I see this dynamic in MY company, where I’ve seen AN ENTRY LEVEL, NO SPECIAL SKILLS REQUIRED job at corporate pay TWICE what a full-time worker of twenty years gets paid at the store level.

    The ONLY reason this has happened, across America over time, is because people like Romney DON’T consider fairness, or how American business needs a healthy middle-class FOR THE COMPANY’S OWN LONG-TERM HEALTH… instead, all CEO’s seem to consider is what will be good for thier own pay compensation and that of investors, NEXT QUARTER!

    This thinking has KILLED THE AMERICAN MIDDLE-CLASS, the original “goose that laid the golden egg” for American business, and the disappearing wealth of the middle-class IS WHAT HAS REALLY DESTROYED JOB GROWTH IN OUR COUNTRY!!!!

    • Wm_James_from_Missouri

      Good points but I disagree with the statement

      _“…what will be good for their own pay compensation and that of investors.”

      _Boardrooms today only care about “ investors” as much as they have to, to get by. This is why we need laws that guarantee that profitable companies pay a minimum dividend to shareholders. Competition for investment dollars would further force other dividend rates to the correct “rate of return” levels. These dividends should be taxed at the same rates as ordinary earned income !

      _I think you would be stunned how quickly our system would become more equitable and honest. You would also be amazed to find that people would fall in love with capitalism again !

      • responseTwo

        This is an excellent point. The thing that amazes me is how no one mentions the fact that if the cashiers didn’t do their work, the CEO would make nothing. I’m a baby-boomer. Used to be wealthy people would give back to society what society gave to them. Now they think they are better than than everyone in society and their workers are dummies. 

        Oh, by the way, I don’t envy wealthy people (I don’t want t be one) and I don’t consider how much money one has a metric for success. Actually, life is so short – why be OCD with “success” to begin with?

        As far a facebook, I think it’a a lousy, intrusive, and un-intuitive application. It’s successful because of the way people can share their pictures. 

        • StilllHere

          Really, I use the self-checkout line in the grocery store every time; so cashiers aren’t crucial and RFID technology might make them totally unnecessary soon.  It reminds me of bank tellers.  It has been years since I actually went in a bank branch.  

          I think you are projecting your sense of inferiority but it’s all too subjective.  

          If enough people feel the same way about FB, then users will shift just like MySpace found out.

          • RolloMartins

            It’s not just cashiers. Use some commons sense: there are always workers earning low pay necessary to run a business. Staples, even if they go to something like auto-checkout (WalMart is testing a self-checkout with iPhones) will need stockers, and others to assist. The point is that the business lays upon the backs of workers.
            I think you are projecting your sense of superiority, but it’s all too subjective.

          • StilllHere

            Hopefully robots can do the stocking someday like they do fulfillment in Amazon distribution centers.  In any case, the thread started with cashiers so that’s what’s being responded to. 

            Business lays upon the backs of workers …  Please.  If you don’t like your job at Staples go somewhere else.  If Office Depot pays their stockers more go there.

          • 1Brett1

            “Let them work at Office Depot if they don’t like working at Staples!” 

            I challenge you to a polo match…of course you’ll have to wait until “Desmond” brings around the Bentley… 

          • Michiganjf

            Rollo makes the obvious point about your silly “point,” but here’s another:

            http://news.cnet.com/8301-17852_3-20078150-71/major-grocery-chain-gets-rid-of-self-checkout/

          • J__o__h__n

            I never use those.  I don’t get a discount for supplying my own labor. 

          • StilllHere

            What you get is time, but that is more valuable to some.

        • DrewInGeorgia

          “Used to be wealthy people would give back to society what society gave to them.”

          Really? Sure there have been some benevolent individuals in the wealthiest class of Citizen, I’m pretty sure they have been the exception as opposed to the rule though. Also, most Rich don’t think they’ve been given anything because they somehow actually believe they’ve earned it. If all those who have amassed ridiculous amounts of wealth consistently gave back to society we never would have seen a ninety percent Taxation rate in this country. Now entitled brats whine about having to pay 10-15%.

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

            I’d modify the original. How about:

            “Used to be the rich would shut up in public about how well they have things in this country.”

        • http://www.jobwaltz.com JobWaltz.com

          Wealthy people create jobs and provide society with the goods and services that customers desire. They also generate tax revenue. In return they are demonized. God bless America

  • Wm_James_from_Missouri

    Ask any young person to name 5 famous historical figures that have been dead for more than (say) 50 years.

    _Do you think they will answer something like;
    Socrates, Ben Franklin, Edison, Einstein, Thomas Jefferson;
    _
    or do you think they will answer;

    _Giovanni Medici, Diamond Jim Brady, Carnegie,
    Croesus of Lydia and Marcus Licinius Crassus ?

    • burroak

      That is if they can name five, and, if so, possibly the first(4 Americans plus  a European).

  • Yar

    If simply living in the USA does not make you a citizen, then we are not a Christian nation and we are still a nation of slavery.  This is what is at stake in this election, the plutocrats know it, and it scares them.  This is the current civil war being waged in America and it is a class war.
    Plutocracy is the reason Jesus was hung on a cross.  The early christian era had turned the ten commandments into a complicated legal code which no one could actually follow.  Laws which created slaves. This is why Jesus kicked over the tables of the money changers and why the plutocrats of the day conspired to kill him. History may not truly repeat itself, but we shares striking similarities with the past.

  • StilllHere

    There have always been the rich, just like there has always been envy.  

    Take the two gents above, they created two products that hundreds of million of people used for untold hours everyday, and how much did we pay for those great products. Zero, absolutely nothing, say it again… but we all benefited greatly from them and they found a way to make others subsidize our use.  Win win!

    The rich have always been able to isolate themselves to the extent they want, private rail cars on the transcontinental rail lines, top deck on the Titanic, private clubs, …  None of this is new.  

    Many of the super rich have created foundations that have agreed to unprecedented transparency regarding their gifts and grants.  It would be interesting to know if super rich charity has changed over time.  

    Social mobility still exists but now the knowledge economy offers more of the opportunity, again the gents above.  It seems like super richness is much more democratic now than it was at any time before with more super rich generally.

    Feelings of superiority seem too subjective to even comment on and maybe is says more about the sensitivities of those who see themselves as inferior.  

    • Yar

       What would Scrooge McDuck do with 210 billion dollars? Ain’t nothing free.  Even English takes time to learn.  What is gained by owning the whole world and not finding satisfaction.  The poor have always been with us, The super-rich; I don’t think so, they are an invention of magic money. Andrew Carnegie said “The man who dies rich dies disgraced”Most contributions to charity comes from the poor and middle class and goes to the church.  http://thebillfold.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/scrooge-skiing-460×250.jpg

    • anamaria23

      Your knack for defending  the indefensible is alive and well.
      Recent info shows 412 billionaires in USA  including EACH Wal-Mart heir worth 20 billion.   China with 95.
      Russia 101.   Canada is around 23.
       
      The question is how much do they give back to society as in the days of Rockefeller, Carnegie.  How much does Wal-Mart give back to the communities or to the people who line up at the cash registers that fatten their wallets.
      Is it democratic to build an empire on imports from China while our manufacturing is in decline? 
       
      Why is wanting a just society seen as feeling inferior?

      “Plutocrats”  by Chrystia Freeland  regarding the 0.1%  and their detatchment from “the masses”  should be an intersting read.
       
       
       

      • Gregg Smith
        • 1Brett1

          Yes, Wal*Mart makes a lot of charitable contributions; it helps with their “benevolent benefactor” promotion, and it gives them a lot of tax deductions. It’s almost worth their ruining local small businesses and providing some low-paying jobs. And don’t forget the cheap, sub-standard crap they sell relying on oppressing world economies! Aww, those kindly Wal*Mart executives and billionaire owners…

      • StilllHere

        Your knack for saying nothing has never been as powerful.

        US has never manufactured more than it does now.  Wal-Mart is a corporation that employs more Americans than any other I believe and all associates are shareholders as well, so their wallets are also being fattened.  Try to keep up.

        Just society, please, what does that mean? I’m sure our definition doesn’t agree, but nobody’s does.

        • nj_v2

          Mall*Wart employees are shareholders only if they buy shares, just like anyone else.

          Why do wingers resort to lying to support their corporate masters?

        • anamaria23

          Your word “never” is debatable.  Yes, of late manufacturing is making  a comeback.
          I did not know that all associates are  shareholders and have fat wallets. 
          Some that I know are struggling mightily.

          Defend Wal-Mart as you may, I find it difficult as I have watched small businesses fold  in several  communities when Wal Mart arrives.  However, it is a means by which low and middle class people can feed and clothe while not breaking the checkbook, it is true.
          Years past, in my town, I could go to the center for a spool of thread or basic clothing.
          Now I must drive several miles to a Target or Wal Mart for inferior products.

          • StilllHere

            No, not of late.
            http://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/g17/current/
            Continual increases in manufacturing output in the US.

            Their wallets might not be fat, but they’d be empty if people didn’t shop at Wal-Mart.

            Businesses fold everyday as consumers make choices about what is best for them. 

            Try Michaels for tread, they have all sorts of price points.

      • http://www.jobwaltz.com JobWaltz.com

        Creating wealth is a benefit to society. Savings is the basis for capital formation and investment; it’s how our economy grows. In creating wealth jobs are performed and goods and services that customers desire are produced. 

  • 1Brett1

    It’s not that one makes a lot of money or that one has a lot of money that I judge, it’s how one acquired his/her money and how one wields his/her money, by the conditions under which he/she spends it or uses it. 

    We, as humans, cast judgments all the time; my judgment is that Philanthropy/charity seems to be a good way to wield power among super-rich folks. I wish they would stay away from politics, though, but I fault the system more so than the individual. It is also understandable to pass judgment on those who try to use money in a corrupting way or begin to feel as if they are superior, therefore should be allowed a different set of rules. 

    While super-rich folks who don’t do anything with their money other than become conspicuous consumers or engage in a hobby of material acquisition are free to do as they wish with their money, and most people would acquire some materials of comfort if they had money. It’s not unreasonable, however, to see someone build a home the size of an industrial complex that costs $100 million and think how garish and wasteful this is. 

    So, the qualities of conspicuous consumption and an intention to be corrupting are two repugnant qualities among any class, it’s just that the upper-class folks can actually be in a much stronger position to display such qualities. 

    • Gregg Smith

      How many jobs does building a $100 million dollar house create? 

      • jefe68

        Probably about 60 to 70 from designers to builders and then there’s all the help afterwords.

        • Gregg Smith

          I think that’s a bit low but close enough, thanks.

        • 1Brett1

          While that’s probably a slightly generous estimate, you’d agree that most of those jobs are very temporary, and the specialized skills required to, say, hand carve marble sconces for lighting a foyer or plastering crown molding, are not much in demand. The person who possesses those skills may get a big paycheck but doesn’t have much work and doesn’t himself employ many others. 

      • 1Brett1

        Not many more than a $1 million dollar house! Not enough to change circumstances regarding job creation. It’s a little early for you to be shooting from the hip; your aim seems better after coffee, maybe? ;-) 

        My point was about garishness and wastefulness, and I wouldn’t want to begrudge anyone using their money for the acquisition of comfort or beauty. But, for example, the Segal guy who owns resort time-share businesses and built that monstrosity in Florida modeled after Versailles, while at the same time sending his employees scary memos about his having to close his business if Obama is re-elected, is a perfect example of a nouveau riche with no sense of societal propriety or excess. In short, he’s a pig! He has a right to be a pig, and because he’s made himself so visible in the public eye (building the largest house in the US; making political statements meant to thrust himself into the limelight), people have a prefect right to judge him. 

        • Gregg Smith

          I get your point but I am trying to point out that when the rich conspicuously consume it helps others. A $100 million dollar house helps the builders, architects, building material suppliers, real estate agents, landscapers, maids, butlers, painters, even artist whose paintings hang, the furniture industry and on and on. Even if the money is put in the bank, it still works for us.

          I haven’t seen the resort, I may think it’s beautiful …or not. If it complies with code then who am I to say? It is an undeniable fact that if Obama is re-elected many people will lose their jobs the next day. It was good of Segal to give his employees a heads up. No business should lose money. Society is benefitted far more when businesses make boatloads of it.

          I don’t get the judge thing. Sure you can judge however you see fit. Just don’t feel like you are entitled to their money or that you have a right to tell them how to spend it.

          • 1Brett1

            No, the $100 million thing was a general uber-rich person’s house. That was in my first comment. In my second comment, I mention Segal; he’s building  his personal house, and it’s not even finished. He will have spent $250 million when it’s complete. He won’t have employed many for that $250 million, and most of those will have been temporary. 
            Segal isn’t worried about losing money when he is building a $250 million house. What he did to his employees at his business (resort time-share) was a publicity stunt.

            I do find your “I don’t get the judge thing” statement to be disingenuous. Everyone judges, some more harshly than others; some more quickly than others. 

            I don’t have a problem with rich people flaunting their money, generally speaking, but Segal is a nouveau-riche pig with no class. I’d feel the same way about him if he sent out scare memos to his employees warning them they’d lose their jobs if Romney were elected. I also wouldn’t think twice about his having a $5 million house, but a $250 million house? 

          • Gregg Smith

            Should he sell his house so he can keep employees working in a business that loses money?

            Maybe you haven’t heard it but I hear all the time about the trillions of dollars held in the private sector that is sitting on the sidelines. It’s true. There’s a reason and it isn’t greed. It will stay there with another Obama term and jobs will be lost.

        • Vandermeer

          I’d like to see rich people invest in their communities not their own private mansions. The ancient Athenians invested in the beauty of their public buildings not their own residences. Medieval burghers invested in their town’s cathedral… where is our sense of community over personal aggrandizement?

          • Gregg Smith

            Why do you assume the rich do not invest in their communities?

          • 1Brett1

            Why do you assume he/she assumes the rich do not simply because he/she expressed a preference. 

          • Gregg Smith

            Why ask the question: “…where is our sense of community over personal aggrandizement?”

          • 1Brett1

            Meaning, “where is the demarcation line?” Where should it be? NO sense of community? All personal aggrandizement? 

          • Acnestes

             They do.  But they’re essentially gated communities that we’ll never see.

        • JGC

          I would like to “like” this at least 10 times…

      • anamaria23

        It would be interesting to know how much of the materials used in such a mansion are imported and from where or how many craftspersons are from other countries.
        As one who leans toward Tolstoy’s  belief in “the utmost simplification of things”,  I would find such an “abode” an  encumbrance.

        • Gregg Smith

          I live in a tin roofed shack, it suits me fine. I have a big yard. I made $500 last week in 3 hours playing piano for a swanky private party in a mansion. And I booked a couple more as a result. I have no problem with that.

          • Shag_Wevera

            Gregg, you may not believe this, but I’d love to spend an evening with you debating over beer and pretzels…

          • JGC

            Yeah, Gregg, can we all meet at your tin-roofed shack? I’ll bring some home-smoked sausage  and arugula salad, and a case of St-Ambroise…But you’ll have a lot of explaining to do to your  neighbors when they see the Prius plastered in Obama/Biden 2012 bumperstickers parked in your front driveway…

          • anamaria23

            Sounds good.

          • burroak

            Now, that is American rugged individualism, here, here.

      • http://www.jobwaltz.com JobWaltz.com

        More importantly, when the rich are motivated to create wealth to be able to afford a $100M house, they usually create many many jobs and deliver goods and services that customers desire.

  • Gregg Smith

    I don’t care how much money anyone has.

    • jefe68

      Nor do I. But I do think this is an interesting topic.
      I’m not one of those who hates rich people.
      I’m more into the idea that we have to ask ourselves what kind of society do we want?

      People should read a Tale of Two Cities, Oliver Twist, and a few other Dickens’ novels.

      • Gregg Smith

        My beef is with the assumption the poor are poor because of the rich.

        • jefe68

          I think it’s more complicated than that.
          For instance, in this country CEO’s make more than they do by a huge margin than they do in Japan and other industrial nations. 

          Profits have gone to this and to the market if the company is on listed. This market is bad for some companies, witness FB’s foray into that den of wasps.

          Henry Ford had it right on one level, he realized that paying his workers enough to afford his cars was a good idea. However you can’t pay a line worker enough to afford a BMW so that adage does have it’s limits.
          And then there is China…

        • Shag_Wevera

          Of course not, they are poor because they are bad people.  DUH!

          • Gregg Smith

            That’s just silly.

          • Shag_Wevera

            Is it?  Isn’t there a tradition in America of blaming the poor for their plight?

          • Gregg Smith

            No, there is a tradition in America of compassion, charity and upward mobility. But flip it around, is every poor person completely helpless with no control of their destiny? 

        • TomK_in_Boston

          People are poor because of policies that direct all the wealth to the top while simultaneously not doing anything to level the playing field at the bottom.

          For example, the states used to use tax revenues to provide nearly free, high quality public education. That was a big part of the growth of the middle class in the 50s and 60s. Now the priority is to keep taxes down, and state funding of universities has plummeted and tuition has soared. This is redistribution of wealth from the middle class to the rich who het most of the tax savings.

          If medicare is turned into vouchercare to balance the budget while cutting taxes on the rich, the net result will be a far larger direct transfer from seniors to the romney types.

          • Gregg Smith

            Income is a choice. In America you are not chained to your station in life.

          • TomK_in_Boston

            I don’t know if you’re serious or a troll, but – the system sets the odds of success. The same hard working entrepreneur who wants to rise has a higher chance of success in the USA than in Haiti. However the odds are worse in the USA now than they used to be. Recent studies have also shown that people are more “chained to their station” in the USA than in western europe.

            A GW Bush or a Romney has a guarantee of success in the USA and is likely to be more successful than a genius from a poor background. 

          • Gregg Smith

            What about an idiot with a poor background and a rap sheet a mile long like Snoop Dog?

          • TomK_in_Boston

            Sorry if you don’t understand statistics. There will always be winners, and people like you will always cite them to prove that everything is fine. You could say the same thing about the hunger games society.

          • Gregg Smith

            You are doing it with Romney and GWB who are every bit the exception that Snoop Dog is. Most people carve out their own destiny.

          • JustEdith

             Yeah.  And Chevy Runs Deep and A Diamond is Forever!

          • Mike_Card

            Hang on!  Income is a choice?  How does THAT work?

          • http://www.jobwaltz.com JobWaltz.com

            >
            Now the priority is to keep taxes down, and state funding of universities has plummeted and tuition has soared. This is redistribution of wealth from the middle class to the rich who het most of the tax savings.

            I would say that government regulation and various wealth transfer schemes prevent the market from adjusting to the new reality that globalization presents us. We dealt with massive dislocation caused by industrialization in the 1800s and early 1900s – people moved from the farms to factories. Remember how traumatic it was for a hundred cotton pickers to be replaced by a single gin or reaper. 

          • TomK_in_Boston

            Funny how we’ve been deregulating since 1980 yet gvt regulation is the big problem. The Bush crash was caused by deregulation of wall st.

            There’s no reason to look for anything more complicated than low taxes to explain the defunding of State Universities.

          • http://www.jobwaltz.com JobWaltz.com

            TomK – small well publicized deregulatory efforts are a drop in the bucket compared to the new regulations that have been going into place since the 1980s. The world becomes a more complex place and government regulation keeps growing in an attempt to centrally plan/manage the market. It doesn’t work. For evidence – http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/229635/we-i-didnt-i-deregulate/veronique-de-rugy

            “Total real expenditures for finance-and-banking regulation rose 45.5 percent from 1990 to 2010, with a 20 percent increase in the last ten years. That spending rose by 26 percent during the Bush years, and by 7.1 percent in 2009. While these data do not say anything about the regulators’ effectiveness, it is reasonable to assume that a dramatic increase in their budgets is not a sign of radical deregulation.”

        • JustEdith

           My beef is with the notion that the poor are poor because they deserve it.  Most middle-class people are one catastrophic illness or misfortune away from being poor.  Working and studying hard is no guarantee of security as I always believed growing up. 

          • Gregg Smith

            Working and studying hard certainly helps but the biggest thing is making good decisions like not doing drugs, being dependable, investing passion,  not having children before you have a job, being ethical and striving for excellence. All of that is free.

          • StilllHere

            Look at unemployment rates by education level, there is a clear link.

          • anamaria23

            Yes and that is a relatively new situation.
            My generation was the first to go on to college in my family.  Previous generations were all employed even high school dropouts most owning a home, however  humble. 
            Now, for most families. two incomes are required to stay afloat.
            We are in transition as a society.

          • StilllHere

            In my family as well, but it was ingrained at an early age that education (the more the better) was the key to success, defined as the ability to clothe, feed and house oneself without need for much more.

    • Shag_Wevera

      Even yourself?  You are a liar,  I think.

      • Gregg Smith

        Of course my business is my business. Why so nasty?

        • Shag_Wevera

          Sorry, I just wanted to point out that do DO indeed care how much money SOMEONE has.  I apologize for the appearance of hostility.  I’d like to beat you about the head and shoulders with logic, if possible.

    • mikepiehl

      Me neither…UNTIL their wealth starts affecting elections and laws.

  • JGC

    I care how little money many people have.

    • Gregg Smith

      Interesting comment since the show is about the rich not the poor. What do you suggest? 

  • TomK_in_Boston

    I love the USA and my vision is of a democracy with broad middle class prosperity, not an oligarchy. 

    I’m sick of hearing about how the rise of inequality is due to global forces, “acts of god” if you will, beyond our control. Nonsense. We choose to set ultra-low tax rates on the rich, we choose to do nothing to prevent offshoring. The Chinese didn’t make us deregulate wall st. The Chinese aren’t forcing us to take seriously putting a financial con man in the WH.

    Inequality will take another quantum leap if the class warriors get to turn medicare into vouchercare and privatize SS. More $ will be redistributed to the top as the elderly are squeezed to make up the difference. We won’t be able to blame that on China, either.

    The reason for the rise of inequality, of the onset of an oligarchy of super rich and peons in the USA, is our votes.

    • Michiganjf

      While I don’t completely disagree, and “liked” your comment, the fact is, human beings are “programmed” to believe and accept the most inane, absurd ideas, even when those ideas are harmful to them, and it’s obviously very difficult for many to ovecome that “programming.”

      If this were not so, most in advanced countries would quickly give up certain fairy tale religious notions, and almost no one in America would vote for a “modern” Republican.

      Humanity, unfortunately, is seriously flawed at its core, and the brain doesn’t seem to have an across-the-board ability to correct for flaws in reasoning or instinctual adaptations.

      Since this is so, and much of humanity is extremely susceptible to manipulation by con-artists (basically), one can’t remove ALL the blame from the cons themselves… they know quite well what they’re doing through their manipulation, do it heartily, and always have.

  • RolloMartins

    When money is not equated with free speech, I’ll stop caring so much about the 0.1%. Class warfare is upon us (the 99.9%), and we’re losing.

    • StilllHere

      Free speech is free by definition and by your example.  Class warfare doesn’t exist.  

      • 1Brett1

        You have $100,000 dollars and give one percent of your money to voice your opinion. Another person has a billion dollars and also contributes the same percentage of his money. Who is going to have more influence, the person contributing a thousand dollars, or the person contributing ten million dollars? 

        • Shag_Wevera

          I was told there wouldn’t be any math…

        • StilllHere

          Depends what they have to say, how they say it and how it resonates.  Do you have any data to support your contention?

          • 1Brett1

            I’d say, for example, the Koch brothers have a bit more say than I do.

            “Depends what they have to say, how they say it and how it resonates.” This statement of yours doesn’t jibe. We all have our views and like it when those views are prominently expressed, but how the powerful (both liberal and conservative alike) dominate public view is of more concern than what they’re saying, how they say it, and how it resonates…

          • StilllHere

            Any evidence to support that?

            What laws recently passed have benefited just the Koch brothers?

            Here in NPR land, liberal views dominate.

          • Steve__T

             How many politicians do they have in their pocket’s VS how many does the average person have.

          • http://www.jobwaltz.com JobWaltz.com

            And yet even NPR’s own investigative reporting shows that politicians respond to voters NOT to political contributions.

            http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/461/take-the-money-and-run-for-office 

          • Steve__T

             I find you to be very naive, did you read the comments about the article?

          • 1Brett1

            Oh, yeah, you’re right! My influence on the political arena is just as powerful as the Koch brothers…sure, but as you say, they don’t have any bearing on anything, as they didn’t directly pass any laws! In fact, they’re business acumen is so bad they’ll blow $400 million on absolutely nothing whatsoever  …so brilliant of you to point that out.

        • JGC

          This is cool, in that your idea is a game. I read somewhere that this sort of gaming question within a group would be a great way of tackling our fiscal problems. Small random groups, not from just one party or one viewpoint, and face to face, to come to a conclusion, and to mesh it with other small groups under the same exercise.  That could generate real progress. I don’t think we can plan on progress from a Congress so beholden to monied interests as what we have now.

    • sickofthechit

      It hasn’t been Class-Warfare, it has been Class-Genocide!

  • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

    Mitt is proposing to barely tax these folks’ capital gains at all which represents almost all of their income these days. WTF? Like there capital is not going into overseas investments? The wealthy are not each individually buying thousands of cars, boats, shoes, shirts and sweaters which creates work and jobs. Most of their income is spent buying up stock and property and only an extremely tiny fraction of their income purchases goods and services which actually drives job creation.

    The more money that goes into the hand of the wealthy is money not going into the hands of workers who would actually use that money to buy more cars, clothing, food and services from other workers . This is one of the root causes of the sluggishness of our economy.

    This is lunacy!

    Share holder value was an invention of the 90′s to justify managing businesses by the quarter, not by the one, five or ten year plans. Basing business decisions upon the volatility produced by swing traders and programmed trading is just plain foolish. I can honestly say that many C-level execs are no smarter than most of the people below them. They are
    capable of extraordinarily stupid decisions. Problem is that although I keep hearing politicians call for accountability, there is no accountability, not in government and not in business.

    When you give people like these golden parachutes… where is the incentive for them to really perform? What greater value do they bring to the company than any competent administrator? What value do they bring to the company that is greater than that derived from the Intellectual Property upon which the success of the entire corporation is based?  In most cases, IP is produced by scientists, engineers and others making 100 times less in salary. Back in the old days there was profit sharing with the workers in recognition that, they too were significant contributors to the success of the company. This is no longer the case. This disparity is truly disturbing.

    • sickofthechit

       I think the best place to start in on profit sharing is in  the pension arena.  I envision a 401-k type system where each employee puts in say 5% of salary which is matched by their employers.  This would go into a pool for all employees and payouts would be based on the number of hours each employee worked in relation to the whole number of hours worked by all employees.  What this does is put everyone into the “median” as far as pensions go.  The reason I think this is more fair is it at least attempts to recognize that each contributed to the overall good of the organization and their wages have rewarded them on a current basis and pension should be more of an equalizer in retirement.

      • OnPointComments

        Hours worked is not an appropriate measure of the value of contributions.  Under your theory, the time spent by a neurosurgeon removing a brain tumor is no more valuable than the time of the janitor who swept the floors of the hospital.  Should the neurosurgeon, who spent a decade or more becoming educated and skilled, be rewarded in retirement at the same rate as the unskilled worker?  Should the executive whose decisions affect the viability of a company and all of its workers be equal to the cashier?  “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need” has been tried, and it doesn’t work.

        • sickofthechit

           I am not espousing wages be paid on this basis I am only calling for a restructuring of the basic pension plan.

          I really think basic needs (housing, food, health care and education) should cost us all the same amount of time. I am not saying that I should get to live in the same house as the rich guy, or that he needs to give his up.  If for example we institute health care for all then it should “cost” us all the same.  The “cost” being time.  Each day we each wake up with the same amount of time ahead of us.  If we determine that health care (which I consider a basic human right) costs 15% of total income then the fairest way to pay for it is for each of us to pay 15% of our income.  The person making $10,000/year would pay $1,500, while the $100,000/year person would pay $15,000 and the $1,000,000/year person would pay $150,000/year. It “costs” each of them the same.  What could be more fair for paying for basic human rights? charles a. bowsher

          • OnPointComments

            How much should the annual IRA pension payment be for the neurosurgeon who made $1 million per year, vs. the janitor who made $20,000 per year?  The surgeon’s job required much, much higher skill, and had much higher risks; the janitor’s job required little skill, and could easily be replaced with another person.  Your pension premise is that “payouts would be based on the number of hours each employee worked.”  A simple example:  the surgeon makes $1 million per year for 30 years, and the janitor makes $20,000 a year for 30 years; over 30 years, the surgeon contributes $1,500,000 to the 5% IRA, and the janitor contributes $30,000.  Your premise is that they would each receive the same payment from the IRA if they worked the same hours.  A payout over 20 years would give each $38,250 a year, quite a nice raise for the janitor, more than was made working, but not so much for the surgeon.  Your premise doesn’t work, and additionally, it isn’t fair.

    • Michiganjf

      This is a good post, and I’ve wondered why the media hasn’t latched onto Romney’s comment in the debate, that he wants to remove ALL tax from “dividend and investment income…” this would basically leave Romney paying almost NOTHING in taxes the last several years, and little even prior to that!

      People should be ALL OVER this in the media!

  • Gregg Smith

    I guess it’s a good time to repost this story:

    http://www.citydebate.com/florida/miamibeach/stories/0104150710.htm

    • nj_v2

      A simplistic analogy for the simpleminded.

      Who says Greggg’s posts are useless?

      • Gregg Smith

        Why thank you NJ.

  • 1Brett1

    I use Fb; it’s one way to keep up with friends and family. But most people seem to tire of it after a year or so; as time goes by, they seem to use it less and less. It’s stock has gone down since being publicly traded. It probably will go the way of MySpace, especially if FB doesn’t diversify. Also, to me, it’s one of those businesses made of gossamer that doesn’t really produce anything other than an advertising vehicle or data mining for other businesses. As far as really doing anything of substance for the economy, businesses like FB really do more to create a house of cards effect. Look how quickly MySpace went into the crapper? 

  • Shag_Wevera

    How much is enough?  How much are you comfortable accumulating while others suffer?  Once you can pay all your bills and the bills of your ancestors, why must you cut throats to further increase your wealth?

    The difference, I am convinced, between the poor and the wealthy is the desire of the wealthy to continue working feverishly when they no longer have need of money.  Were I to win a large lottery, my primary goal would be to never work again.  Gates and Zuckerberg (and Romney?) just can’t stop.

    • William

      Is it more about a difference in work ethic? A person like Gates, Jobs, Howard Hughes, Buffet, Akio Morita, were all very hard working people. Is there something wrong with that?

      • JustEdith

         Many people work their arses off and yet they will still be poor. They will still have to work until they drop dead because they have no retirement, through no fault of their own necessarily. That’s the problem I have with this system. I know a lady who lost her savings in this last crisis on Wall Street. She had to go back to work, in a job that paid her a lot less of course, and then there is the little problem that she may be taking a job away from a younger person. I’m sure there are thousands like my neighbor.

        And Bill Gates, anyone who knows his story knows that he got rich off of other people’s work. A lot of his wealth came from buying other programmers’ work and then patenting it. Sure he was very clever and the programmers who sold their work for cheap probably felt pretty stupid and cheated afterwards. But there you go, that’s the work ethic of today for you. You’re a player or you get played. Loser! Now the big software companies push their weight around with patent protection and other tactics to keep other smaller companies out. How many times has Microsoft had to pay fines for their monopolist tactics?

        Howard Hughes was born into a wealthy family. Yes. He had a strong vision but how many people, who also have good ideas, have we never heard about and never will because their families are nobodies and never will be-s? Or maybe their strong visions and good ideas are a threat to the established elites and their dreams get crushed by the powerful who don’t want the competition? Think about Preston Tucker and how he was squeezed out of auto manufacturing.

        Hard work is not necessarily the path to wealth as many of us were raised to believe. Too often it takes money to make money and if you don’t have any, well it’s difficult that you are going to accumulate any as most people have a lot of debt. Not because they’ve lived beyond their means but because they decided to do something crazy like get a masters degree, you know, dare to get an education. (Darn those moochers.) Or maybe they had the bad luck to end up in the hospital but their health insurance is lousy. (Those losers! Why didn’t they work harder?)

        You cannot ignore the role policy plays in determining society’s winners and losers.

        • William

           Some people work harder but not smarter. It does not make sense to work in many building trades because of the competition from cheaper, illegal labor. It does not make sense to stay a hardworking maid when there is only so much money you can make at the end of the day. It does make sense for a person in the trades or cleaning industry to start their own company and work harder than their competition to get ahead.
          Bill Gates – He was very good at business and putting people in the right job and building a successful company. His competition, IBM, for example, was full of smart people, but did not have the same vision or were held back by their own company. Gates did make many people that worked for him very wealthy and created hundreds of thousands of jobs.
          H.H. – just a smart guy that took a small family business and built an empire.
          Hard work is usually rewarded but it won’t work for a person if they are fighting economics. The odds are most small business firms will fail within the first five years. Most of these business owners work very hard, but it just does not work out for them.

          One think this author is not discussing is the role in government that hinders people from being successful. Failing public schools, bloated government workforce, high taxes, fees on small business community. The policies put forth by government seem to play a larger role in the wealth gap than people like Gates, Buffet, etc….

          • Steve__T

             And who do you think payed the government to put those policies in place and erase others that leveled the field?

          • William

              Influence is bought buy all groups, unions, charity groups, corporations, individuals.

    • OnPointComments

      How much are you comfortable accumulating while others suffer?
       
      President Barack Obama:
      $  1,300,000:  net worth at 12/31/07
      $11,473,336:  net worth at 12/31/11
      $10,173,336:  783% increase in net worth
       
      Please explain to us how the suffering of others would have been alleviated had President Obama not cut throats to increase his wealth.

    • Sam Bisquit

      I think it’s a mistake to view this as a problem with a few greedy individuals at the top who don’t know when to stop.   It’s the system that’s out of control.  I believe individuals such as Gates, Zuckerberg, and Jobs would still have ended up building their companies as they did had their wealth producing potential been a fraction of what it has turned out to be.  In Gates’ case he actually has moved on, is no longer running Microsoft, but the system still allows this company to transfer and concentrate more wealth onto  a relatively small number of people.
      It’s a mistake to lump true entrepreneurs like Gates and Zuckerbeg,  talented  visionaries that create new industries with lots of new employment opportunities  with the pack of financial vampires (hedge fund managers  leveraged buyout looters, unregulated investment bankers) like Romney, George Soros, Carl Icahn, Vikram Pandit,  etc.,  whose primary “business” mission is wealth acquisition by whatever means possible. I don’t mean to suggest this later class of business executive is not also talented; they’ve just chosen to apply their talents toward a goal whose only objective is wealth accumulation by exploiting the current system.
      When the US economy began to grow by leaps and bounds after WWII it was the progressive graduated US income tax that kept a lid on things, and managed to create a cap on how much wealth the truly greedy could grab without any significant dampening of growth.  In the ensuing years there’s been a slow but steady erosion of this system that was based on economic fairness to the mess today that has been engineered by the greedy (of both political parties).  
      How has it come to pass that income derived from labor, actual WORK!,  should be  taxed at a higher rate than income derived from already accumulated wealth that you’ve handed over to someone else??   What has happened to corporate governance that has allowed the ratio of CEO to average worker pay to explode from 20-to-1 in 1965  to 325-to-1 in 2011!!? 
      http://www.ips-dc.org/reports/executive_excess_2011_the_massive_ceo_rewards_for_tax_dodging
      http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2012/05/ratio-ceo-worker-compensation
      Romney, as do many others in his rarefied sphere, “earned” $21M+ off his $250M+ treasure chest in 2010 mostly from “investments made in the past” — no “working” involved here (feverishly or otherwise).  This Mitt quote says it all –
      “For the past 10 years, my income comes overwhelmingly from investments made in the past, rather than ordinary income or earned annual income. I got a little bit of income from my book, but I gave that all away. Then, I get speakers fees from time to time, but not very much.”.  His speaker’s fees for 2010 totaled $375K  (7.5 times the median household income for 2011).  Plutocrats?  Nah,  Pluto is not nearly far enough from planet the rest of us live on.

  • JustEdith

    I used to think that the wealthy deserved to be wealthy because they’d worked hard to get there, but what is happening today is different.  It was not enough for some to live more comfortably than others, no, they had to have it all.  We all know that one of the reasons the wealthy are so much wealthier now is because of policy, although there has been a significant effort to convince us otherwise.  It’s ‘the market’, we’re told, as if it were a force of nature or an all-knowing god almost. 

    Talk about the road to serfdom!  These people are sitting on trillions in offshore accounts while our governments, which are supposed to be there protecting the citizenry, are going bankrupt.      http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2012/jul/21/global-elite-tax-offshore-economy

    The very notion of citizen is almost obsolete, we’re consumers now.  Well consumers have only as many rights as dollars they’ve got in their wallets. We are all very vulnerable as corporations become more powerful than states and impose their market values as the ONLY model for society. 

    • Shag_Wevera

      “The very notion of citizen is almost obsolete, we’re consumers now.”

      This is brilliant, Edith.  Is it “Just” as in plain, or as in righteous?  I vote for the latter.

    • TomK_in_Boston

      Right. And, if you had asked me how we could transform our great middle-class society (which had plenty of wealthy people) into our current oligarchy, I would have said slash taxes at the top and deregulate wall st.

    • Thinkin5

       Thanks for posting that link. Frightening that this has all been accomplished without the greater population knowing and without a whimper of protest.

    • Michiganjf

      Fantastic post and link… Thanks Edith.

    • JGC

      This is a great link, but  there is willful ignorance when it comes to this sort of topic.  American exceptionalism  is being taken to its extreme. There is little use for opinion from outside our border.   

  • TomK_in_Boston

    It’s appropriate to have this topic while a presidential candidate is proposing tax cuts when the rich are already paying rates at or near post-1929 lows. You wanna know why we’re growing an oligarchy? Look at the RR budget and you have the answer. Look at union busting, deregulation of wall st, and our refusal to discourage offshoring, since that would be messing with the holy free market. It’s voodoo economics, not the “new economic order” or other such nonsense about forces out of our control.

  • stillin

    will pay karmically for every soul they had to step over to get there.

  • StilllHere

    Why should we be envious of the two guys above who created products that everyone wanted and nobody paid for?  Why should we use the government’s tax and regulation club to stifle innovation and have this country slide to the lowest common denominator?  Why should we force workers to join corrupt unions that relegate the hard-working and motivated to be dragged down by those who think they should get paid just for showing up, where merit doesn’t matter and rugged individualism loses out to collectivist lethargy?  Can the government insulate us from a world of competitors through misguided protectionism and does that lead to inefficient use of our resources (worsening our quality of life) and ultimately our doom?  Should we cede all control to the government, a collective of career bureaucrats striving to grow their unsustainable feifdoms like parasites?

    That’s what this election is about.

    • tncanoeguy

       I don’t think it’s the either/or scenario that you portray.  We need a healthy system of free enterprise but also a counterbalancing public sphere.  To think that the titans of “industry” are somehow more enlightened these days is, I think, a bit naive.  The goal of a corporation is to generate profit, not to employee people or be overly concerned about their welfare.  Ideally happy and healthy employees will help productivity and profit, but in a world where plenty of workers are available there may be a tendency to not worry about them too much.  There will always be someone else to hire. 

      • StilllHere

        Perhaps, but workers are an investment which, depending on level of training, can be significantly costly and turnover is destabilizing and bad for morale.  Workers with appropriate skills are not necessarily plentiful and unemployment rates by education level indicate this.  It is a difficult balance but successful businesses find a way to do well by customers, employees and owners. 

    • http://www.jobwaltz.com JobWaltz.com

      Unfortunately the election is a choice between socialist/populist A and socialist/populist B. If you want free markets, vote Gary Johnson.

  • Yar

    wrong thread

  • TomK_in_Boston

    Agent Smith:
    It’s silly to mention snoop dawg. Like I said, it’s all about odds. There is a success story like snoop’s in every society, Haiti, Belarus, Iraq, you name it. By your logic, all those societies are  all A-OK.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

    Citigroup’s CEO is out, after losing ~80% of its stock value (in a market where stocks are reaching highs).

    Vikram Pandit is getting “punished” with $260m in parting gifts, and probably a case of Rice-a-Roni.

    It must be nice to “choose your destiny” that way. The rest of you can just compare and contrast with what you got the last time you lost a job. Even one you were good at.

    • http://profiles.google.com/rickevans033050 Rick Evans

      From a Citigroup shareholder who bought near the bottom. Actually it was closer to 90% but your point is more than well taken. Just hope his riddance is my continued capital gain.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

        I’m a bit confused by your wording; are you a Citigroup shareholder and if so, at what point in the journey did you buy.

        You are more “invested” (/rimshot) than I am at this point. Seriously, I’m an ordinary mutual funds sort who wants to hear more from people who buy individual stocks about what seems like a raw deal.

        Somewhere along the line I see the E-Trade baby and Jim Cramer on TV, full of rah-rah that a HS football coach gives out. At the end there plenty of headlines like that for Citigroup.

        In the middle, almost media silence.

        • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_CWHAYBH53KKZBICUSCCDFJSWWI MerlotMan

          I initially bought Citi in December 2009 and held it until September 2012.  I didn’t make make much off this security.  With all of the various state, federal and international government regulations, I concluded that I could earn more on my investment in other sectors out of the glare of excessive regulations.

          Investing is challenging at any time…especially during these uncertain times.  However, I know of no other compelling way to grow my money over the long term.

          As a side note, I made $19k in less than two weeks on the Sprint position – timing is the only reason; however, that’s why I invest.  It could have gone in the other direction, but I believe in the risk/reward equation.

          • JGC

            There are no excessive bank regulations for the regular taxpayer left holding the bag when the economy blows up, as it seems to do with a regularly increasing periodicity.   Investing is challenging at any time…excuse me, could you please pass me the Grey Poupon? 

          • http://www.jobwaltz.com JobWaltz.com

            There’s FDIC insurance to back up the small investor in our ponzi scheme banking system.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_CWHAYBH53KKZBICUSCCDFJSWWI MerlotMan

        Good Luck Rick, I actually sold Citi after three years last month.  The stock was not moving up, just side ways.  I bought Sprint before the Softbank announcement…

  • http://www.facebook.com/luke.held.9 Luke Held

    The history of the US seems to be a constant battle of the Rich vs Labor.  Unions have been able to balance the concentrated Wealth but have lost their power over the last 30 years (Private sector union jobs are at an all time low).  As unions loose membership and therefore power the Democratic party is become more representative of the monied power, and more similar to the Republican party which is historical a representative of the Rich.  IS there a way without unions for the working class to properly counterbalance the rich?  Or is the only way out to re-strengthen unions?

    • StilllHere

      Really?  Take the two guys above.  How many workers at FB or Netscape were calling for union protection?

      Unions spent $400M in 2008 election cycle; they don’t sound poor to me.

      • http://profiles.google.com/rickevans033050 Rick Evans

        If the women of Wal*Mart were unionized they wouldn’t be licking their wounds after taking a beating in the courts. And, yes Luke Held is right that America’s rent-a-congress has been on a long term lease to anti-union corporate interests.

        • StilllHere

          I’d rather have the courts decide than some criminal union thug.

          So the union’s $400M investment was not well spent?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    All power structures become oligarchies. If that oligarchy is based on money it’s called a plutocracy.

    As more and more power and money gets concentrated into the hands of fewer and fewer people, government is going to be increasingly bent to benefit and serve that group.

    In case anyone hasn’t noticed, while the unwashed masses keep running from one party to the other, structures like the Fed don’t change hands based on who is elected. And neither does the overall thrust of government regardless of which party is running it.

  • geraldfnord

    Why do some of you here criticise these tireless, creative, paragons who prove, by virtue of their high estate and enviable lives, that they are GOD’s Favourite People, the Elect that we poor damned masses should get down on our knees and _worship_ for their deigning to employ us for as little as they can get-away-with?  (And while we’re down there….)

    Sts Calvin, Spencer, and Rand make this all clear—thank GOD there are at least _one_ party that fervently believe so, and we should be grudgingly grateful that the other major party at least acts as if they did so believe half the time.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TTqpEJh03fI  This one goes out to nuveau plutocrats, everywhere…

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    Capitalism has worked because it’s worked out like that game you’d play in gym at school where you have everyone holding onto the edge of a parachute and everyone pulls and the person in the middle flies up.

    The whole thing works because everyone pulls in their own direction and it all balances out. When you only have one or two people with all the pull, it no longer works.

  • geraldfnord

     But straw-men knock down more easily than real arguments, so the Market’s drive toward maximal efficiency _demands_ that its acolytes only oppose straw-men.

    (Similarly, it’s a lot more efficient to back the powerful against the powerless—and lucrative, too:  the wealthy and powerful have always well compensated at least some of those who insist on continually stroking them and ‘proving’ that their wealth and power are entirely merited, whether it be by God’s election, the hereditary rights of the noble, or hard work done by oneself alone.)

  • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

    Aren’t plutocrats shutting the door – near zero taxes are being proposed for the financial elite. The average Joe reaps next to nothing from capital gains and dividends so derives nearly no benefit.

    Driving wages down, how are we supposed to buy all the stuff that they make profit from?

    This is kind of like the farmer starving the milk cows to save money to feed his children steak. Pretty soon there’s no milk and no profit.

  • tncanoeguy

    What about the “death tax” issue?  Is that an example of the rich using the political system to perpetuate their place in society?  

    • StilllHere

      The exlusion goes from $5M to $1M next year; this is not a super-rich issue.

      • tncanoeguy

        So the super-rich pay a significant inheritance tax? 

        • StilllHere

          Yes, unless they use lawful means to avoid which generally means distributing their wealth in some way.

        • BHA_in_Vermont

           Unless Romney gets elected

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000605091422 Maureen Roy

    YES, we do indeed have a Golden Book a la Venice – namely the Social Register, which many people still don’t know exists:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_Register

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    When power becomes that concentrated, people get to decide whether they want to do “constructive” capitalism (creates wealth for many) and make a billion or choose “destructive” capitalism (destroys wealth for many) and make two. And those who will lose are powerless to stop them.

  • MarionBu

    it makes me think of the book “Why nation fails” that talked about the idea of Creative destruction and the fact that elite don’t want creative destruction.Marion

  • Yar

    Wealth that exists only on paper is the illusion of wealth, it isn’t the same.
    Compare the value of Facebook and Caterpillar, One has 152,000 employees in plants all over the world, the other is a bunch of computer code in a room of servers with a few thousand workers.  The value of each doesn’t translate dollar for dollar. Caterpillar is an evolving company, Facebook is a butterfly.

  • http://www.facebook.com/luke.held.9 Luke Held

    They didn’t build it!  Zuckerberg, Alexander Graham Bell, these folks didn’t invent the world, if they didn’t do it, someone else was minutes behind them with the same thing.  The Super rich build their wealth on a huge existing ecosystem.  They deserve some fraction of their wealth.  Let’s bring back the 94% marginal Tax rate form a half century ago.

    • OnPointComments

      The “huge existing ecosystem” is available to everyone, so to be fair under your scenario, everyone should pay the same tax rate.

  • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

    Here’s a warped perspective – see this photo of David and Jackie Siegel in their throne room.

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/spitzer/2012/10/11/david_siegel_of_the_queen_of_versailles_westgate_ceo_needs_to_stop_whining.html

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

      Gives the word “gross” a compounded new meaning.

  • MarionBu

     it makes me think of the book “Why nation fails?” where the author talks about creative destruction and the fact that the elite don’t like creative destruction.

    • Yar

      It is creative destruction right up to the point it becomes a destructive creation.

    • Yar

      It is creative destruction right up to the point it becomes a destructive creation.

  • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

    Let’s talk about boards – it’s incest. These guys all chair or sit on each other’s boards. They keep voting each other’s packages up as the revenue of their companies will bear.

  • Thinkin5

    There was a day where we had a middle class and a person could save for retirement, own a home, and send their kids to college. These things are rare now for the “middle class”. How did this happen? It’s NOT because we are ‘lazy or slackers’. 

    • BHA_in_Vermont

       No, it is because we are victims with a feeling of entitlement.

      • Thinkin5

         That kind of thinking helps the 1% feel a little better about themselves. According to some of the CEO 1% on Wall Street their feelings are hurt that people don’t admire them now.They don’t seem to remember the damage they caused in 2008. They came out just fine so what’s the problem?

  • kmh5004

    not to mention that CEOs and board members all sit on each other’s boards.  I’ll compensate you more and you compensate me more, ok?

  • http://www.facebook.com/chiguide.pelao Chiguire Pelao

    Please talk
    about the appearance that the Right seems to be protecting and perpetuating the
    wealth of the wealthy while the Left seems to be more for the small guy.  Is this just an appearance to seem different,
    or is my perception correct.  This is the
    issue that made me turn Democratic.  After
    years as a stern Republican, I don’t see them any longer as trying to help the
    regular guy, and this coming from a person making over 200,000 per year.

    • AudreyA

      The Right is interested in protecting the free market economy (which of course benefits the wealthy along with everyone else) while the left is interested in using government to redistribute wealth and promoting equaltiy of outcomes, that is, making everyone equal even if it means everyone equally lower.  The result of Left policies is increased dependence on government and lower achievement and prosperity across the board, resulting in a moribound economy that eventually cannot sustain social programs.  The good intentions of the Left do not make them right in their actions. Good regulation of a free market leads to prosperity for everyone–I’d rather have a good job from a company that’s making the CEO rich than a rent-subsidized apartment, food stamps, and
      medicaid.

      • http://www.facebook.com/chiguide.pelao Chiguire Pelao

        You completely miss the fact that the wealth has already been re-distributed!!! The middle class has been eroded to make the wealthy wealthier.  That is the whole premise of the argument – the re-distribution has already happened and it has move the money upwards! And it’s getting worse.  I am not worried about a retired citizen getting better healthcare into their dying days, I am worried about having to pay more of it while the wealthiest pay no taxes or 14%, the middle class has to pay more of our income than the
        wealthy!!!  The same people who had more
        of their college paid for by government, had music and art in their schools, have now stopped paying for the very services that they depended upon to make it.  Even Mitt Romney’s father, George Romney, was public aid recipient as child after family fled Mexico (read the facts on the Boston Globe – 9-19-2012) Now the people below them have to use more and more of their assets to just make it without losing their home; we even have to pay for the bus to take our kids to school – they did not.  As others have said, they make it to the top, then they remove the ladder so they can keep more of their money.  You offer no support, partly because it does not exist, that leftist policies provide a less healthy economy that can not provide social programs, that is just fantasy.

        • AudreyA

          Here’s an example: Greece, Spain, Portugal, and maybe France, all European social democracies teetering on the brink with leftist social welfare programs and moribound economies. France raised the taxes on the wealthy and what happens? the wealthy leave. Here’s a statistic to consider: while the middle class has shrunk in the US, the upper class grew; that is, a large percentage of formerly middle class people moved UP. If the rich removed the ladder, how did more people end up in the upper income brakets?  “The hollowing of the middle has been accompanied by a dispersion of the population into the economic tiers both above and below. The upper-income tier rose to 20% of adults in 2011, up from 14% in 1971; the lower-income tier rose to 29%, up from 25%.” http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2012/08/22/the-lost-decade-of-the-middle-class/ 

  • Human898

    The follwing seems to sum up a portion of the society the founders of this nation envisioned.

    Thomas Paine – 10 Jan. 1776

    “In order to gain a clear and just idea of the design and end
    of government, let us suppose a small number of persons settled in some sequestered part of the earth, unconnected with the rest; they will then represent the first peopling of any country, or of the world. In this state of natural liberty, society will be their first thought. A thousand motives will excite them thereto; the strength of one man is so unequal to his wants, and his mind so unfitted for perpetual solitude, that he is soon obliged to seek assistance and relief of another, who in his turn requires the same. Four or five united would be able to raise a tolerable dwelling in the midst of a wilderness, but one man might labor out the common period of life without accomplishing any thing; when he had felled his timber he could not remove it, nor erect it after it was removed; hunger in the mean time would urge him to quit his work, and every different want would call him a different way. Disease, nay even misfortune, would be death; for though neither might be mortal, yet either would disable him from living, and reduce him to a state in which he might rather be said to perish than to die.”

    http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/v1ch4s4.html

    The notion that one is absolutely “self-made” independent of any others is unintelligent and vain. I think people are less at odds with people making money or becoming wealthy than they are with the notion that becoming wealthy elevates one’s character or is the only measure of success and that one necessarily works harder than those making mere fractions. In addition, what tends to happen is that one forgets how their wealth is made possible. It does not fall from ths sky, there is a circulatory flow, not a trickle up or down, but in both directions and there is a process. One’s monetary success does not make them a human success for all some might believe it does. Greed, gluttony and vanity are not human virtues.

    The best cookie recipe and best made cookies don’t get to millions of customers because the cook singlehandedly bakes them all and delivers them. An attitude that suggests that is out of touch with reality and perhaps delusional.

    The problem appears to be not so much people becoming wealthy, but the imbalance between the upper and lower and how the upper makes more by taking more from the lower (lower wages and benefits) so their incomes increase. That is not the attitude of all wealthy people and some live very modestly or give most of their huge annual incomes away to help raise up others.

    This is not the first era in human history that has found the domination of greed, gluttony and vanity has harmed humanity as much or more than it may have helped it.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    There are two ways to become richer than everyone else – either make a lot more money than everyone else – or make everyone else lose a lot more money than you do.

    The middle class have lost a lot over the past couple of decades.

    • http://www.facebook.com/chiguide.pelao Chiguire Pelao

      Don’t forget inheritance by doing nothing…

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

        Agreed – income is income and should be taxed accordingly

  • tncanoeguy

    Don’t the super-rich pass on wage income and go right to investment income?  They can pay themselves $1 a year and do just fine. 

    • OnPointComments

      That is incorrect.  The IRS doesn’t allow wage income to be recharacterized as investment income.

      • Crumbx

         How about a person who makes their money from owning real estate rental property?  Do they pay SS and Medicare taxes on their “Business Income”?  I think not.  But I bet they sign up for Medicare when they turn 65.

      • glenninboston

        they attempt to…

  • Thinkin5

    The negative to society is that the money isn’t trickling down. It’s just getting sucked up and kept at the top.

  • mikepiehl

    Why do we aspire to this? I’ve always tried to live just below or WAY below my means and I’ve always been happy. 

    • tncanoeguy

      Just because someone is rich doesn’t mean they are happy.  Look at that guy in The Queen of Versailles.  He was obsessed with money. 

  • AudreyA

    On the issue of taxing capital gains, in the 90′s, my brother-in-law, facing bankruptcy, closed his small dairy, sold his cows, and used the proceeds to pay off his debts. But he forgot capital gains tax, and ended up owing the IRS $30,000, a debt that took him years to pay off. Capital gains don’t just apply to rich investors!

  • TomK_in_Boston

    Isn’t it time for someone to accuse anyone who wants a more equal America of “envy”? I expect good righty ‘bots to say their lines on cue!

  • tncanoeguy

    What about the valuing of different forms of work?  Is it inevitable that a CEO’s work is valued at 100′s of times that of their employees, or has that growing difference been engineered? 

  • http://www.facebook.com/kyle.rose Kyle Rose

    I can’t tell whether the guest is being disingenuous or just doesn’t understand, but either way she’s clearly ignorant of the fact that the justification for capital gains taxes being lower than income has everything to do with government promoting investment and nothing to do with investment being more virtuous than wage earning. Whether one thinks this is a good idea or not is *irrelevant* to the fact that this is the historical reason for it.

    • glenninboston

      The major problem in a capitalist system (which I support) of the government ‘promoting investment’ (in this instance, through the tax code) is that it is ineffective at promoting future growth, and rather – largely contributes to asset bubbles and volatility in the markets. In my opinion, the government should get out of the business of picking winners and losers with the tax code. Regardless, I partly agree with your point, that which is more virtuous is largely irrelevant. 

  • BHA_in_Vermont

    The “WORK” that the shares we own do is a BIG FAT ZERO!!!!!!!!!!! Which is why Romney’s $20M was ‘earned’ with a BIG FAT ZERO amount of work on his part.

    UNLESS you buy ORIGINAL stock from a company offering, you are NOT helping the company or the economy by buying shares of stock. The only entity “helped” when you buy outstanding shares of stock is the “$9.95″ trade payment. If you pay more for it than the person who sold it, they make money but have provided ZERO benefit to the economy by selling it to you.

  • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

    1) What about all of the bad behavior that low capital gain rates promote i.e. high volatility in oil and other sector’s stocks as well?

    2) What about all the the “capital gains” realized as compensation packages by C-level execs? That’s income disguised as investments.

    3) What economic purpose does Vulture capitalism serve? Some call it consolidation but is it not just a form of pillaging using other peoples money to siphon off other people’s money including workers in those companies.

  • TomK_in_Boston

    A small step away from the Ameri-oligarchy will be getting Eliz Warren in the senate. It’s great to see Scott Brown slowly exposed as a nasty Ken doll who has run a campaign of nothing but sleazy attacks and endless repetition of “I’m bipartisan”.

    • http://www.facebook.com/kyle.rose Kyle Rose

      Please explain to me how putting another Harvard professor into a position of power is going to dilute the oligarchy in any way. I’m not a huge fan of Scott Brown, and he’s definitely less of a guy-next-door than he’d like you to believe given his pedigree, but your assertion is ridiculous on its face.

      • JustEdith

         I don’t understand what’s wrong with her having gone to Harvard.  So she’s educated.  I would say that’s a good thing.  She has thoroughly studied the effects of the new economy on the middle-class and wants to do something about it. We shouldn’t be Jacobins here and put everyone in the same boat.  

  • ttajtt

    i heard in the 70′s, big Bush wrote the idea for a global market.   what happens when they have it all?   what happens to their cash when they get out of the rat race? who got/gets it?   when a major crack/air/drought happens?  where do we LITTLE POPLE run.  Daniel Boone days is gone, the mother earths care is over.  food BANK?  what will be the ID-card be?   

    • JustEdith

       I wonder the exact same thing. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/pinche.gomez Pinche Gomez

    The golden door is alive and well at all levels of society. Every group of professionals, from real estate brokers to doctors require licensing. When enough people have their licenses, they make the requirements more difficult and usually require sponsorship from existing members, making it impossible for an outsider. I could more easily become a brain surgeon than a Licensed Site Professional (LSP) in MA, essentially a 14 year process, if you find a sponsor. 

    • glenninboston

      An excellent astute comment that doesn’t get enough play – not just the role of special interests in being “anti-capitalist”, and that is the implicit point that the problems with capitalism is extremely local, where “influence” is the easiest to garner. In Boston proper, you only have to look at real-estate market’s dominance by four or five national development companies to realize, even a hard working individual with solid savings and good earnings has no shot to even play in the game. 

  • Michiganjf

    As to whether or not the Super Rich should pay full income tax on dividend and investment income.
     
    HERE’S WHY THE WEALTHY DO INDEED OWE THE REST:

    Every single dollar earned by the wealthy consumes at least some of the limited resources of this planet, or what one might call “planetary legacy.”

    Whether in paper resources, mineral, energy, rubber, asphalt, petroleum, water, LAND (which is highly limited), food for workers, etc…, resources of some sort are consumed for every dollar earned. Also, some degree of pollution is likely produced.Since this is the case and we live on a planet of limited resources, one must question why our society allows the wealthy to use up a disproprtional amount of “planetary legacy” for their own personal benefit.

    In other words, a very few are costing the vast majority of current and future generations quite a bit of their planetary legacy.

    They have no right to do this, EXCEPT that our society never gave much thought to what the wealthy really cost the rest of the world and future generations.

     Yes, entrepreneurship itself creates value, but just how much do all future and current generations on Earth owe a single entrepreneur? Should one entrepreneur be allowed to bleed the planet for tens of thousands, or even millions of times the resource cost of the average individual? Our society lets a single wealthy person do exactly that!

    My contention is that the wealthy owe the rest (current and future) due to the very fact that our society allows these few to amass so much unto themselves, for their own private and selfish benefit.

    If they are forced to pay back this debt to society in the form of higher proportional taxes, so be it.

    They SHOULD be forced to pay restitution for the disproportionate amount of limited resources they are allowed to consume, and tax is the easiest, most equitable way for them to do it.

    Even when paying increased taxes, the wealthy still amass wealth and enjoy its benefits beyond the wildest dreams of the vast majority of us.

    The wealthy in the U.S. have no legitimate basis for complaint, since our society is more fair to these individuals than nearly any other nation on Earth, despite what these individuals cost current and future generations in terms of “planetary legacy.”

    The wealthy in America will still have the best of all worlds, despite being asked to PAY THEIR FAIR SHARE, as per this simple, logical argument.
     

    • katpower

      Well put…..Some economic models are now beginning to put some quantitative value to our natural resources consumed and the pollution created, and are speaking to the need to consider these in a cost/benefit analysis for corporations contribution to our nation’s GDP.  More taxes for pollution, paying for the natural resources etc could begin to address these costs.   In other words creating a world where we ask companies to also have an equal amount of responsibility to balance the rights they have been given….
      No one considers allowing individuals to only have rights without responsibilities a wise choice.  However we give companies the rights of individuals without asking for the responsibilities that go with these rights.

    • sickofthechit

      I really like your comment. Excellent. May I quote you? charles

       Heinlien has an interesting take on this in one of his novels called “For Us, the Living”.

      “We live on a limited resource in the middle of nowhere.”
      Charles A. Bowsher

  • Jadusta

    I am very sympathetic to Ms. Freeland’s position and tend to agree with it and find it extremely troubling.  What I do wonder, however, is looking back through history is perhaps the current situation not that atypical?  I.e., were the decades after WWII the exception that proves the rule.  The world has always had a handful of elites while most people lived hand to mouth.

  • Bill Bodge

    Should be called “The New Entitled Class”.  This is all being driven by the policies of the 80′s and 90′s.  Trade liberalization, a strong dollar policy and advances in technology allowed US corporations to expand overseas quickly and cheaply.  This drove stocks higher which goes disproportionally to the wealthy.  
    The wealthy can than consolidate political power.  
    Look at the effects in professional sports.  Higher pay was driven by corporations using their wealth to buy up all the luxury box seats etc.  That is starting to decline.  The Jets had 10,000 unsold seats game going into their last game.  I expect this phenomena to spread across the economy as a whole.
    Those days are waning.  A new artisan economy is starting where individuals and small companies will fill niches more efficiently.  More tools than ever are available to inidividuals to level the playing field.

  • burroak

    Morning, comments from fellow onpointer’s regarding cost of living pay increases, and thoughts about sharing the pie within a company. I am for capitalism and value entrepreneurship(just look at how many American products this nation has produced since its inception).
    Executives are paid higher salaries for more responsibility, supposedly; so what, nowadays, constitutes a decent, working wage for an employee. And with that, are middle class jobs dissappearing or on the rebound? 

  • AliVT

    I’d like to point out the idea of risk. Investments, by definition, are RISKS. So, if an investment does NOT pan out, that money is lost. To compare the worker doing an extra shift is misleading. The worker is GUARANTEED payment for the work done. The investor, who has been taxed on the compensation earned, is now risking that money, and those risks often create opportunities for people to work and earn a living. To then tax and indeed discourage this risk is not in the best interest of ANYONE.

    • BillSpinner

       Such bull! Investors don’t pay taxes on losses. In fact, losses reduces their taxable income. What you’re implying is that investors should be treated better because their risks paid off. How is that worth more than someone who works for wages and has few if any opportunities for to accumulate massive wealth?

  • deafinition

    Will you guest please discuss the Citizens United case and how it points out how class warfare affects politics?

    • OnPointComments

      I’ve been asking people about their opinion on the Citizens United case.  Nearly everyone says that big money influences elections  My follow-up question is “Has the money spent on elections since the Citizens United decision changed your vote?”  The universal response is that it hasn’t.  It seems everyone thinks they are too smart to be taken in by the advertising, and everyone else is too stupid to not be taken in.

  • Vishal Greenaway

    Would love to hear Chrystia’s comments on those who embrace the Plutocrat cause, but fall far short of their league. Example: Professionals who make less than 1 million year.

    From Vishal – Buffalo, NY

  • mikepiehl

    …and why do the right (who are more than likely: Christian) champion this “prosperity doctrine” “I got mine: good luck getting yours” and the left seems to champion helping eachother?

  • Frederick Lucies

    Reaching mid 50s, jobs were harder to find, and for 7 years I paid 2-3 mortgages or a mortgage and rent.  Forced me to declare bankruptcy last year.  Currently unemployed.  Corporations will self-immolate as more and more of us cannot afford to purchase the junk they sell.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Spence-Blakely/1251757037 Spence Blakely

    What does it mean to ask, ” I made it, why can’t you?” Does it mean we should all strive to be high-paid CEOs, doctors, or lawyers? Should or could those be the only jobs? If everyone in a company is a CEO, who are the other employees? Or is it matter of everyone being CEO of a one-person company? Or is that plumbers, shoe salesmen, electricians, secretaries, etc. should be paid as much as CEOs, to lessen income inequality, assuming those are necessary jobs?

    • Mike_Card

      Reminiscent of the old saw about civilizations that value philosophers more than plumbers:  neither their pipes nor their theories will hold water.

  • tncanoeguy

    Is there something wrong with expecting those who have benefited most from the system to give more back? 

    • OnPointComments

      They do.

    • William

       Don’t they already? Creating wealth usually requires hiring people, buying goods and services from other companies and individuals which creates jobs etc… Is the only way to give back is via higher taxes to the government?

  • deafinition

    Will your guest talk about the Citizens United case and how this is a form of class warfare in politics?

  • Coastghost

    So heartening to hear Harvard grad Chrystia Freeland discuss with Yale grad Tom Ashbrook the plight of the super-rich, which includes Bruce Springsteen as much as Mitt Romney, Paul McCartney as much as Oprah Winfrey, J. K. Rowling as much as many a corporate CEO, and six-figure income NPR personalities as much as President Obama. Chrystia sounds a lucky ducky herself: so what is this messenger telling us exactly? (Ivy League education, with a stint at Oxford, seems not to have impaired Chrystia’s Empathy Quotient, and Tom’s EQ seems as robust as ever.) But why fail to speak to the contrast between business types and corporate types who are about making money and profits vs. entertainers and celebrities who make up the unelected populist royalty? (E.g.: Ashton Kutcher, we just learned, made over $20 million in a recent year for being on a dippy TV show.) Pro athletes still earn millions each year to public acclaim, “successful” pop musicians are worth much more than most individuals picking up their hot tunes, numerous actors and actresses get rewarded handsomely by a fawning public. But I doubt Ms. Freeland cares to characterize any multi-millionaire athlete, entertainer, or celebrity as “plutocrat”.

    • JustEdith

      Celebrities are nothing without the media dedicated to their promotion.  I see celebrity worship as the new opiate of the people.  The Lindsay Lohans and Kim Kardashians of the world keep us busy talking about nothing.  They bug me too, so I don’t pay attention. I may think Kim Kardashian is a jerk, but she isn’t a corporation practicing mountain-top removal and dumping the waste in the rivers at enormous profit, which she then hides overseas so as not to pay taxes. She isn’t Exxon/Mobil/BP drilling off the coasts and paying practically nothing to the American people to whom the resources belong, causing oil spills and deaths because she didn’t feel like paying $500,000 for a safety vaulve, to save a few bucks in the short term.  She isn’t paying thousands of lobbyists to write legislation to skew the game in her favor. She isn’t Lloyd Blankfein getting an enormous bailout from the government for failing, basically.  These celebrity jerks are a different kettle of fish.  Just ignore them but ignore the  people at the US Chamber of Commerce who buy your congress at your own peril.  Athletes are rich but they are not plutocrats. 

      • Coastghost

        I would not so generously exempt professional athletes from membership in the plutocracy that Chrystia Freeland is quacking about: granted, while most professional athletes are not overtly political, they serve their corporate masters just as surely as anyone employed in the energy or finance industries, not only in terms of their franchise or league employers but also in terms of the companies and corporations who pay them to represent and endorse their products and in terms of the media corporations who profit from their celebrated labors. (Also, I wouldn’t be so hard on oil companies, to the extent that, in spite of industrial mishaps, their work helps keep the entire global economy working in terms of transportation and production: after all, without relatively affordable gasoline, no one would be driving to theatres or ballparks or concert venues or environmentalist rallies, just as many fewer people would be sharing their civic views online were oil not available for the manufacture of these nifty computers and all their plastic components, not to speak of the energy required to operate them.) Cults of celebrity are not such a recent phenomenon, either, I don’t believe, and if anything are becoming at least as dangerous as corporations when they slosh over into political realms.

    • http://www.jobwaltz.com JobWaltz.com

      Chrystia just serves up eat-the-rich porn to an uncritical audience of NPR dupes.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    Capitalism in Charles Dickens time worked very well – for rich capitalists.

  • ThirdWayForward

    The plutocrats have such a large sense of entitlement. They think that income derived from capital gains should not be taxed at the same rates as earned income. They believe that they are more virtuous than the rest of us.

    The system is much more closed than the national myths we tell ourselves at bedtime. 

    No individual person should own or control more than $100 million –there is simply no reason that anyone should wield that much economic power over others. No institution should control more than $1 billion, for the same reasons — power, economic and political, needs to be divided, or it turns on the rest of the society that created it.

    With very few exceptions, plutocrats all began with a huge leg up on the rest of us. Mitt Romney, for example, has never had to work a day if he chose not to. He makes on the order of $60,000 a day without doing a thing. We heard a commentary yesterday about images of whether we are choosing a national “boss” or a “president.” God help us if we elect a plutocrat for President.

    People conflate capitalism as a mode of ownership, profit-extraction, and hierarchical control (closed system, BAD) with the free market (open system, GOOD). They need not be linked. One can have cooperative, employee-owned and controlled enterprises within a free market system. This provides the benefits of cooperation and competition without the evils of creating a class of overlords. There should be very substantial social and economic supports for such enterprises (and for profit-sharing and employee-control for those enterprises that are externally-owned).

    • Coastghost

      So are you buying into Chrystia’s myth of the virtues embodied by the Left Plutocracy? Left Plutocrats are acceptable to the extent that they exhibit empathy with their adoring publics (e.g.: Oprah, worth well over $1 billion, Springsteen, worth almost as much as Romney, your choice of pro athlete, pop musician, or fashionable actor/actress; but then, I don’t hear Oprah assenting to your assertion that she has no business controlling her vast fortune, nor do I hear that she is paving the south side of Chicago with streets of platinum and gold; likewise, I hear Left Plutocrat “Boss” Springsteen is campaigning for Left Plutocrat Obama, but I don’t hear that he’s divesting himself of the $100 million+ he would have to lose to meet your wealth ceiling of $100 million; Left Plutocrat George Clooney would have to divest himself of c. $60 million to reach your wealth ceiling, but I don’t hear he’s donating $60 million either to Obama’s Left Plutocracy campaign or to establishing an Occupy Hollywood or Occupy Beverly Hills chapter). Ashton Kutcher made over $20 million in a recent year, which comes to almost $55,000 a day: but of course, his talent and celebrity renders him praiseworthy, whereas Romney’s income and wealth only makes him worthy of vilification.

      • katpower

        I love movies and Oprah a lot…but I know there must be millions of people who have the same talents as Oprah and Ashton Kutcher but who weren’t there at the right time or place or pursued work that is worthy in other ways but does not have that type of ridiculous remuneration this society allots celebrities….I don’t agree with that either, although presumably most of those people have earned their money because we the masses seem to be in the habit of needing our Aristocracies, “Gods” to adulate….Don’t begrudge them, but certainly if they made a lot less money they would still have been compensated enough for the work they pursue….being adulated is enough motivation for most people who pursue that type of career with maybe a little extra than the masses…

      • Human898

        Problem with your premise Coastghost:

        It makes the assumption that there are no virtuous wealthy people who do things like suggest that they would be more than willing to pay more in taxes because they would still live far into the lap of luxury after doing so.   It is not the wealthy or the opportunity to become wealthy that people dislike, it is the extreme obscene excess and attitudes such as yours.   There are many many fine and very wealthy people, then there are greedy, gluttonous and vain wealthy who demonstrate they care for little, but themselves, delusions of grandeur about themselves and the size of their net worth, totally ignoring or being ignorant of the process, mechanics and the society that makes that possible.

        • Coastghost

          The problem with your premiss, Human898, is that you would make a virtue of statism, which is hardly a tenable conclusion to draw from either your argument or Chrystia’s. Surely, a bleeding heart Left Plutocrat doesn’t have to wait for 15 April each year to practice philanthropy. George Clooney could hand an envelope with a check for $60 million to Sean Penn to take to Haiti any day of the week to alleviate poverty there, but you argue he should wait for IRS confirmation of his charitable deduction. –Again: Chrystia is only trying to make the world safe for Left Plutocracy, as she herself admits, she’s not opposed to capitalism outright, otherwise, Left Plutocrats couldn’t become such conspicuous philanthropists. 

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/QRWGVJMC7SNI5FBBNNJDF4G6AM Linda

    When we quote Jefferson saying there are no paupers, lets not forget that he paid his slaves nothing.

  • Fairness_First

    I’ve always thought the biggest problem with Romney’s line of reasoning, and those who think like him, is that not everyone can be an entrepreneur. How would that work if everyone was? Most people simply don’t have the characteristics needed to be go-getter, ruthless business people. You can’t blame the majority of people who want to work and have a decent, secure life for not being entrepreneurs. You can’t say that most people don’t deserve to have a financially secure life just because they don’t possess business acumen.

    • Human898

      In addition to that FF, might also be the notion that employees are simply expenses and not also consumers, if all higher income people are lining their pockects with the savings of lower wages for lower end labor, they are also reducing the purchase capacity of their own society.  The wealthy might purchase five items where the less wealthy buy only one of that item.  

      The math is that 10 wealthy people buying 5 items that cost a dollar apiece does not add up to or exceed 90 people buying just one item at the same price.  If 10 people make more, but they don’t need more than 5 of the item and the non-wealthy people make less and can no longer afford the item, what happens to the company that makes that item with regard to their sales, income and ability to pay their workers, much less a big paycheck to their executives or a larger dividend to their investors?

      • Bruce94

        “If 10 people make more, but they don’t need more…”  You’ve put your finger on an important conundrum for the oligarchs who fail to understand how their ultimate interest lies in having a thriving middle-class with purchasing power to generate demand for the goods & services they produce sufficient to support the survival & growth of their own companies. 

        Some venture capitalists (members of the elite, super rich club) do understand the virtuous cycle between consumers and businesses on which all entrepreneurs depend and in which the real nexus of job creation resides.  They are informed by not only their communitarian values, but also their “enlightened self-interest.”

        Among them are Warren Buffett who famously made the case for the “Buffett Rule” in his article, “Stop Coddling the Super Rich” at

        http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08

        And Nick Hanauer whose article, “Raise Taxes on the Rich to Reward Job Creators,” can be found at

        http://www.bloomberg.com/news/

        Another conundrum your comment points to is the assumption about consumer needs and preferences inherent in the neo-classical economic growth model driving the insatiable appetites and acquisitiveness of the super rich.  That model views man as having infinite needs and the economy as lying outside the boundaries of the ecosystem.  Ultimately, this view leads to a hyper individualism, rabid consumerism and rapacious, unregulated capitalism that contradict not only the laws of thermodynamics, but also human nature.

        We live in a world of finite nonrenewable resources, limited capacity to absorb waste & by-products of production & consumption, and time (itself a kind of nonrenewable resource). 

        We can also use Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs concept to further appreciate this conundrum.  Accordingly, when acquisition of goods & services is used to satisfy the higher needs (i.e. self-actualization), consumption turns into consumerism, and consumerism becomes a social disease.  See Amitai Etzioni’s article in TNR entitled “Spent: America after Consumerism” for a discussion of some of the implications when growthmania hits the wall of Mother Nature or Imploding Markets.

        I suspect the power elite & super rich have an answer that goes like this:  the global economy that permits the free flow of capital, goods and labor across nation-states makes community and mutuality obsolete.  After we’ve outsourced high-wage U.S. jobs (hollowed out the middle-class), we’ll simply sell our goods in those same overseas markets, and watch the American Dream dissolve from some remote island paradise enclave.

        • Human898

          Hello Bruce, thanks for your response and referenced material.  I think economies and personalities are both complex and simple, meaning there seem to be basic consistencies regardless of a myriad of complexities.  If one studies the history of our nation and the history the founders of this nation were very educated in world and classical history and philosophies.  They appear to have come to many of the same conclusions some ancient civilizations came to with regard to balance and a means to maintain it.   The problem with trying to suck all the wealth out of an economy and control it for one’s self is that in the longer term, all that contributes to that wealth, having been gutted, no longer contibutes to that wealth.  One might have a mountain of money that they can use to live in luxury for the rest of their lives, but luxury has to come from somewhere and its not coming from people living it, but the labor that plants the food, harvests it, cooks it and serves it.    World history is full of social revolutions, including the American Revolution and it was in part about wealthy monarchs and aristocrats wanting to do just what some of the modern “aristocrats” are doing now, whether they are conscious of it or not.  

          I think the simple sides of economics and societies are that they are circulatory and interdependent, the ones that do the best (as they are now) are the ones that have found the best balances all around.  The Gini coefficient is in effect a measure of balance.  Money and wealth can be made and possessed by a person, but they don’t make the person, virtuous character does.  Greed, gluttony and vanity are not virtuous for all that some seem to believe they are. 

          There are very wealthy people who are humane, humble, kind and generous, clued in and treat people as people, not as less or more based on their income status.  They are not the ones people refer to when the speak of wealth in a negative way.  Most are not against wealth or they would have to be against themselves in many ways, what they are against is self-centered wealth, greed, gluttony and a refusal to recognize or an ignorance about how their good fortune really comes to them.

          Very best,

          • Bruce94

            Thanks for the reply.  I look forward to reading your future posts…you obviously take the time to think about and appreciate the complexity of many of these issues. 

            Hopefully, I don’t come off as resenting material success.  I applaud successful people who have special talents, energy, drive, ambition, determination or whatever you want to call it.  I also happen to believe that the trappings of success need to be balanced with communitarian and transcendental values in order for us to become and remain fully human (as I think you’ve suggested in some of your comments). 

            And our admiration for their success needs to be tempered with the realization that the super rich owe something to society for their capacity to shape their destinies and further with the awareness that, in many instances, luck and circumstances may have contributed to their achievement as much as intelligence, hard work or creativity. 

  • aech3

    I do not think it is ok to label “the battered wife” as one of the “weakest members of our society” I am deeply disappointed at Tom, who has done many good shows on domestic violence, and not only let this “slip” but also, agreed. 

    • ttajtt

      Tom brings up points.   is the “47%” on welfare of those able to work or the rich. THANK YOU, to todays back bones.  the richy love what they keep or take it back on income tax time. 

  • Human898

    Interesting that neither the son of the salesman nor the salesman seemed to note that aside from his sales ability, he had a product to sell and that product was not made singlehanded by him, nor delivered and serviced by him.  His sales job had a network of others to back him up and without customers, he would have no commission. 

     The concept of mutual give and take or commerce, thoughts and consideration of the world and other people around them seems to be lost on some who have done well monetarily. 

    A need for consumers as well as producers seems to be lost on people who seem to believe that because their paycheck is fat, they don’t have to think about all the mechanics of how and of what goes into that paycheck and consideration of all the other people involved in that.

  • idmacrae

    Nobody is arguing against federal income tax, rather the
    argument is about changing the tax rate by a few percentage points.  Since inception, the federal income tax has been used as a tool of social policy, to direct investment, to provide for the common good.  To move the rate a couple of points higher on the rich is not an existential thing, it is just a tweak.  It is simply societies’ decision
    that society would be healthier after that slight adjustment.  It is not socialism or communism, it is capitalism making a tweak or adjustment for the good of society as a whole.

    Ian

    • StilllHere

      Reframe.  Why are we always focused on the revenue line?  How about the expenses?  Too many special interests here.  Too many third rails, sacred cows, ….

  • Thinkin5

    If Romney buys his way into the White House it will be like the fox getting into the hen house. He will wipe out the middle class and you can bet they will change the laws and how we vote. It’s happening in FL, Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, etc.

    • Fairness_First

       I agree with your concern, but sadly I need to point out that EVERY president buys his way into the White House!

    • tncanoeguy

      Will be a great time for corporations.  Can I incorporate myself? 

      • sickofthechit

        That’s only for the rich, I mean wealthy.  But you’ll want to do it as an L.L.C. I believe.  Why else would all the lawyers “L.L.C.” themselves?

    • JGC

      like FOX getting into the henhouse…

  • MichaelinVancouver

    Several different voices this morning seem to express the sentiment: “If you aren’t rich, it’s your own fault.”

    What often goes hand in hand with this is a whole different sense of entitlement: I’ve made it, I’ve achieved and mastered that which our society values the most, so I DESERVE a totally different kind of preferential treatment.”

  • MichaelinVancouver

    Several different voices this morning seem to express the sentiment: “If you aren’t rich, it’s your own fault.”

    What often goes hand in hand with this is a whole different sense of entitlement: I’ve made it, I’ve achieved and mastered that which our society values the most, so I DESERVE a totally different kind of preferential treatment.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/letty.horan Letty Horan

    Nothing demonstrates the haughtiness and disrespect shown to working class people than Romney’s remark about his relatives.  “My father was a CEO and a Governor and my grandfather was a failed contractor.”  Why did Romney choose the word “failed” to describe his grandfather rather than the more kind and wise adjective “hard working”.  Think about it.  

    • tncanoeguy

      Did his grandfather end up broke, or was he just a working man? 

    • Jasoturner

      Because Romney associates money with success.  He associates lack of money with failure.  And thus the breadth of his thinking is stripped bare.

  • Flowen

    Comparing themselves to battered wives is all the evidence one needs to declare these one million taxpayers are in general SICK, specifically psychopathic.

    Out of touch and seeing their own interests as being everyone’s interest.

    These people are driven ONLY by the need to acquire power as compensation for personality defects

  • glenninboston

    Keep in mind, that one of Adam Smith’s tenets of a successful free market system requires “the invisible hand” of government to work successfully, as well as “perfect information”. Government has an essential role to play in a successful capitalist market – which over the last 20 to 30 years we have lost sight of, in our push to deregulate everything we can get our hands on, and in deference to the super rich…

  • longtimelistener1

    I would suggest your listeners to read a new post by Richard Posner at the Backer-Posner blog Luck, Wealth and Implications for Policy-Posner, 10/14/2012

  • DrewInGeorgia

    Tom, you asked why we don’t have more people who are not millionaires running for office?

    Because the only people who deserve to be in positions of power are those who have no desire to be.

    Thanks for the show On Point!

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      Tangent: A certain amount of economic security is needed to take the time to run for any elected office.

      “Who can take that time out from their job” is almost a measurement of means. It doesn’t bode well that our media is pretty self-reinforcing on the score of economic means (no matter how achieved, someone will always write a Horation Alger backstory for a millionaire) and gatekeeperness to “serious candidate” status.

      It may correlate to “who has enough money after getting a bachelors degree to take an unpaid intership”. Some grads need to go straight to work, and we end up with just another way of sifting out the “riffraff”.

  • glenninboston

    Agreed 100%, but having listened to him a lot, I suspect he meant, “most vulnerable members of our society”. Regardless, well said…

  • RichardSklarek

     The structure of society has been eviscerated. You (Tom) say that the rich have to live somewhere, but they don’t. They have property in San Miguel de al Allende, Stowe, Buenas Aires, Provence, etc. We used to somewhat mingle together. We went to the same churches and synagogues and lived in relative proximity. We felt we were part of a community and the community was important. Now Nietzsche’s “God is dead”. Marxism is dead and capitalism and profit has risen to the highest good. Any way this is achieved is fair play. If you are not rich you are weak and have no moral fiber. Money in politics and as the highest good are the same as steroids in sports. They skew the results and leave the society hollow.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    The only reason the US middle class has had it so good was that the uber rich last century were scared the wave of socialism/communism running the globe would overrun them as well. So we got tossed quite a few bones.

    I think given technological advances and seeing that other countries like China can control the peasants, the US ultra rich are getting ready to take their country back from the US middle class.

  • ThirdWayForward

    The epitome of the plutocrats’ sense of entitlement is the owners of companies who are now threatening their workers if Obama is re-elected. They say that if Obama is re-elected, they will be firing people on their staffs. 

    This kind of naked economic intimidation is pure evil, and it tells us a great deal about the rotten, bullying, self-righteous, narcissistic characters of these particular plutos.

    • OnPointComments

      The economic reality that liberal fantasists are unwilling to accept is that companies have limited resources.  When the government mandates that company costs must be higher, something has to give.

    • OnPointComments

      The epitome of liberals’ sense of fairness is enacting the WARN act in 1988 that requires employers to provide 60 day written notice of potential layoffs to employees, but telling employers to ignore the WARN act when liberals think it might be harmful to their candidate’s campaign.

  • RichardSklarek

     The structure of society has been eviscerated. You (Tom) say that the rich have to live somewhere, but they don’t. They have property in San Miguel de al Allende, Stowe, Buenas Aires, Provence, etc. We used to somewhat mingle together. We went to the same churches and synagogues and lived in relative proximity. We felt we were part of a community and the community was important. Now
    Nietzsche’s “God is dead”. Marxism is dead and capitalism and profit has
    risen to the highest good. Any way this is achieved is fair play. If
    you are not rich you are weak and have no moral fiber. Money in politics
    and as the highest good are the same as steroids in sports. They skew
    the results and leave the society hollow.

  • Human898

    Benjamin Rush – Written in 1777  – Bicamericalism

    “I cannot help commending the zeal that appears in my countrymen against the power of a King or a House of Lords. I concur with them in all their prejudices against hereditary titles, honour and power. History is little else than a recital of the follies and vices of kings and noblemen, and it is because I dread so much from them, that I wish to exclude them for ever from Pennsylvania, for notwithstanding our government has been called a simple democracy, I maintain, that a foundation is laid in it for the most complete aristocracy that ever existed in the world.”

    “In order to prove this assertion, I shall premise two propositions, which have never been controverted: First, where there is wealth, there will be power; and, secondly, the rich have always been an over-match for the poor in all contests for power.”

    “These truths being admitted, I desire to know what can prevent our single representation being filled, in the course of a few years, with a majority of rich men? Say not, the people will not choose such men to represent them. The influence of wealth at elections is irresistible. It has been seen and felt in Pennsylvania, and I am obliged in justice to my subject to say, that there are poor men among us as prepared to be influenced, as the rich are prepared to influence them. The fault must be laid in both cases upon human nature. The consequence of a majority of rich men getting into the legislature is plain. Their wealth will administer fuel to the love of arbitrary power that is common to all men. The present Assembly have furnished them with precedents for breaking the Constitution. Farewell now to annual elections!Public emergencies will sanctify the most daring measures. The clamours of their constituents will be silenced with offices, bribes or punishments. An aristocracy will be established, and Pennsylvania will be inhabited like most of the countries in Europe, with only two sorts of animals, tyrants and slaves.”

    http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/v1ch12s8.html

    • tncanoeguy

      Wow!

    • Fairness_First

       Great quote. So what’s the solution????

      • Human898

        I don’t have all the solutions, but either the wealthy who seem out of touch with reality actually take an interest in more critical and deep and less egocentric and self-centered thinking, introspection and discoverying more about themselves and their relationship to and impact upon society or what has happened in the past will repeat itself and unfortunately that was not pretty and it is perhaps something most thinking people would like to avoid, but step on the little guy too long so he doesn’t compete with you or dilute what you have and the little guy is going to find strength in numbers to oppose an assumed power in wealth.  Paying or bribing people to be enforcers to hold others like them down will no longer work.  

        The unfortunate thing is that it is not a new situation to history, but a repeat. 

        The other unfortunate thing I see is that there are very wealthy people who are very thoughtful, considerate and aware (clued in) to all of this and are fighting for the little guy as much as the little guy is or as much as some other super wealthy are fighting to shift the wage savings of the little guy to their net worth.   What is the longer term impact of profiting from driving down wages??  If one reduces the consumer capacity of the world, yet also depends upon that capacity, the longer term effect is to either neutralize profits of reduce them.   How strange it seems to be that some seem to think of employees as only an expense, not as consumers.

  • http://www.facebook.com/luke.held.9 Luke Held

    Great show, but where was this discussion of workers and unions!?  There was only a momentary mention, the rich cannot be talked about without talk of the workers that actually created that wealth.

    • OnPointComments

      Your analysis is simplistic at best.  Using your logic, Michelangelo was no more entitled to the wealth he earned by virtue of his artistic talent than the person who manufactured the paintbrush.

  • glenninboston

    I didn’t get that at all from what she has said. I also disagree that just because you belong to a certain class, you are somehow invalidated from critiquing it. When Warren Buffet says in response to criticism that Obama is launching a class war (and I’m paraphrasing), “there’s been a class war for a long time, the difference is that we’ve been winning it”…Personally, I think it lends it further weight. 

  • idmacrae

    In a sense, Atlas Shrugged may be happening.  The super rich can locate their base anywhere in the world, based on tax rates, worker compliance, their subjective feeling of being mistreated by the masses…..  If they don’t get their way in America, they can leave, taking their factories and paychecks with them.

    • JGC

      I don’t know if you were eluding to this, but Peter Thiel is taking this to the (almost) extreme, through seasteading –  trying to build an offshore über-rich libertarian city on an oilriggish settlement  200+ nautical miles offshore from San Francisco.  No government mandates or taxes, just a pure libertarian paradise…for them.  The rest of us will be stuck working in their Foxconn Nation.  Or commuting by helicopter to clean the toilets and strip the bedsheets of the 0.01% on Thiel Island.   

  • WolfgerSchneider

    Fixing Capitalism won’t solve the basic premise of capitalism that growth forever is necessary.  This is the seed of its demise as we are hitting the limits of nature in an overpopulated world. 
    Tom you asked many questions about capitalism today.  Check Jerry Mander’s new book “The Capitalist Papers:Fatal Flaws of an Obsolete System”.  In it you’ll find the answers to your questions on Capitalism and Globalization.  His recommendations is evolution in the form of economic succession. The system can’t be fixed as it was good for the frontier but is not so for the wasteland being left behind.

  • Michiganjf

    Why are ONLY already wealthy candidates running for national office?

    Because the Super Rich will ONLY back those who want into or are already in “The Club,” of course!

  • erptr

    Chrystia’s point about plutocrats escaping the boundaries of the nation state was perfectly stated. As long as this global system (or lack thereof) is mutually enriching to both lawmakers and capitalists it will continue to exist, and the “invisible hand” will continue to promote profit and exploitation over fairness and human rights.

    • Human898

      There is also the question of where loyalty lies, to one’s national interests or society or to monetary profit??

  • Human898

    I think most people would agree that capitalism comes in many forms and could argue that people like Bernie Madoff, Ken Lay and others from Enron and other white collar con artistry were all “capitalizing” off of the trust of others.   Parents who sell their children for a fee or into prostitution are also capitalists, as are price gougers and monopolists, but most of us would not agree that all the mentioned forms of capitalizing or capitalism are beneficial or good for society for as much as they might be good for those who profit from such activities.

  • Jasoturner

    I have more in common with a middle class French, Spanish or Chinese citizen than I do with the super-rich in America.  The super-rich worldwide constitute a small, scattered nation of individuals that do not need to tolerate many of life’s little speed-bumps.

    I’m not sure I envy them, though.  Can Mark Zuckerberg derive more pleasure from a novel or painting than me?  Does he think more deeply than me about issues of science and politics and morality?  He very well may, but it isn’t a slam dunk that he does.  Indeed, he may not, because he has little need to.

    I have the good fortune of knowing, and have hung out with, some very wealthy individuals in my life.  People who have no need to work ever again.  The life is pampered, classy and delicious, but at least the folks I know seem to really derive pleasure from simple things like joking around or talking through the small issues of life and relationships, even with average people like me.  The trappings of wealth are sort of secondary in a way.

    Of course, if you view money as life’s scorecard, the whole picture changes.  But then you’ve sort of sold yourself out, too.

  • BillSpinner

    “Self-made” is part of the problem.

    Really liked most of this, but Ms. Freeland contributes to the problem by using the term, “self-made” to describe successful entrepreneurs who come from modest or poor backgrounds. Of course they deserve credit for hard work, creativity, determination, etc. But the term implies that they should get ALL the credit.

    So, she shouldn’t be surprised when these now elites dismiss the have-nots and feel no responsibility to give back.

  • Coastghost

    BTW, Tom Ashbrook and Company: who exactly is the audience for this book? Who are its intended purchasers, that is? How much does its barcode say it is worth? I doubt Chrystia will pick up the 20% in royalties or residuals that a Venetian merchant would have been charmed with, but with her high profile, et cetera . . . . is she donating copies to the Occupy Harvard chapter she’s helping to set up? Her book sounds more and more like a commodity to help boost the fortunes of WBUR, NPR, her current and former employers in the Laputan chattering classes, sounds if you will like a screed from a post-postmodern Robin Leach.

    • Human898

      If you care to read the comments rather than let your narcississtic disorder get in the way, you might note that most people are not against wealth and doing better, but have serious problems with what appear to be delusional and vain attitudes such as yours and the notion that wealth, rather than overall virtuous character, makes you or anyone a good or successful person and that anyone on earth could possibly acheive their wealth literally single handedly as a sane truism.  

      In the history of the world, there have been super wealthy and powerful emperors and kings and few, if any, could or would claim with any sort of sanity that their vast wealth and power presented only human virtue and good and somehow excluded them from being some of the worst oppressive tyrants the world has ever known.  In additon, confidence artists are only successful by defending their own facades of goodness and virtue for they know their entire livelihood depends upon deception of their virtue and the gaining of people’s trust based on that deception. 

      It is not wealth that is evil, but what people are willing to do to achieve it and keep it in relation to making it a priority over and above the very societies that their wealth is derived from.

      There are very wealthy people who do not think of themselves as portraits of superiority or human virtue simply by the size of their incomes or net worths, nor do all of them lavish themselves with excessive luxury simply because they are fortunate enough to “have it” (the means to do so) They do many good things for people that do not find the same level or kinds of fortunes.

      Shouldn’t we be praising good character and human virtue and dismiss the idea that it comes solely from wealth or is absent in those without wealth?

      Similar and conjunction with that, shouldn’t we also be discouraging the idea that wealth alone somehow makes one the epitome of virtue and hard work and that without wealth there is a lack of hard work, of human virtue or honorable and good character?

      Shouldn’t we all be aware and be reminded of the potiential, not the certainty, of the evils of placing material wealth above all else? Might there be a reason this is pointed out in the texts and tenets of many religious, but also secular beliefs throughout history?

      • Coastghost

        Physician, heal thyself. If the “narcississtic disorder” (sic) you readily diagnose me with were measured by prolixity, you’d have me beat today both by number of posts and length of posts. (Because of your invocation, I return favor and diagnose you as suffering from “DSM politics”, the ascription of mental aberration to someone whose political views you disagree with in the absence of willingness or ability to simply mount an effective or coherent argument.)

        • Human898

          Yes, we are all narcissistic to a point and the disorder spoken of is the narcissistic personality disorder of which we are all vulnerable to, just as I and we are all capable of making mistakes typographical or otherwise. Perhaps you would like to deny your own capacity to make mistakes?

          http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/narcissistic-personality-disorder/DS00652

          Our posts speak for themselves, do they not? Thank you for your response.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001048219334 Vic Volpe

    If puppets will march on Washington to defend their self interest, why won’t working people?
    Ref: See Hrendrick Smith’s ‘Who Stole the American Dream?’.

  • http://www.facebook.com/pinche.gomez Pinche Gomez

    Serfdom ended when nobles could no longer find cheap labor. Many factors then, e.g., printing press, plaque, Columbian exchange, Protestantism, etc., but the end result is the rise of a middle class only when the price of a life increases.

  • Bernadette Callister

    Tom, This was a very revealing discussion about the “super rich” and raised points about thier position on the ongoing “attack” on them in the media and political debate. It never occured to me that they would have resentment that they feel maligned about appying themselves and earning thier money. My counter to that is that I started earning my own money at age 9 as the communities babysitter of choice for my skills at child care earned as the oldest of 6 and earned .25 an hour which I saved in asavings account. As a student nurse I worked for a dollar an hour on week ends and days off and had a savings account that that money went into. All my adult life as I earned my money as an R.N. I saved part of it automatically deposited from my earnings. I payed taxes according to the economic standards of the time. When i was hit by a truck as a pedestrian there was no one to champion me and make certain my rights were protected. There wasn’t enough money to be gained by representing me and all of the savings and earnings were lost. The point I’m trying to make is that the “super rich” are insulated from the kind of impact of such an event because it’s far more lucrative to advocate for them because the rewards make it so. I contributed according to my means just the same and did it on my own using skills and initiative but I was not entited to the same buffer they are. This is the issue as I see the question of disparity. The first thing the lawyer asked me from my hspital bed was’what kind of insurance do you have” and fax me a copy of your policy. He determined there was evnough insurance to make it worth his while. So basicly he processed my insurance and took 30 thousand dollars of it for his fees but did nothing else to represent my rights. ai found out later his daughter was a medical student at the facility on whose campus this accident took place; a conflict of interest, I think so. There was never a question of fault for adequte safety measures at the crossing. his parting comment to me was, “on your little $600. a week job that’s all the insurance you could affort not like my wife who can afford unlimited amount of insurance. My little $600. a week job was to provide care to and protect the integrity of people who are at thier most vulnerable. Thier dignity and very lives were dependent on my integrity and ethics but that was not as significant as how much money I made.

  • Bruce94

    Great show illuminating some of the critical issues affecting both the standard of living and quality of life we enjoy in the U.S.  I would agree with most of Freeland’s analysis except when she implied that Romney’s success at Bain reflected the experience of a self-made, super-rich, risk taker. 

    My understanding is just the opposite:  Romney left Bain and Co. to cofound Bain Capital only AFTER the partnership agreement was amended to remove any and all financial or professional risk to Romney.  As a child of privilege and wealth, unlike his father, Romney had his old boss and family to fall back on in the event that Bain Capital failed.

    As for the rest of Freeland’s analysis, I was surprised by the apparent lack of focus on social mobility.  In the U.S. historically there has been greater tolerance for income inequality because the doors of opportunity used to be kept wide open.  Now we see opportunity waning as many of the most advanced, industrialized countries with whom we compete have surpassed us in terms of social and economic mobility.  Whether measured by the influence of parental background on student achievement (PISA) or intergenerational earnings elasticity, mobility in U.S. has been declining as compared with not only the Nordic countries, but also Australia, Canada, Germany, Spain, France and Italy.

    I think one of the biggest reasons we see a decline in our mobility and increasing inequality relative to these other countries is that they have historically made the necessary public investments in human capital (e.g. education, job training, health care), infrastructure, research, and innovation to keep the middle-class expanding and living standards improving. 

    Romney and the elites he represents say they don’t want public spending to rise above 20% of GDP.  This limit entails fiscal and tax policies that IMO would not only cause the U.S. to lag further behind nearly every other advanced country in the world, but also inhibit our recovery from the Great Recession in the same way similar policies contributed to the Japanese Lost Decade.

  • Mattyster

    Everyone should read “Outliers” by Maclolm Gladwell.  Those who believe themselves to be self-made deserve a lot of credit for their own talent and hard work, but they tend to ignore their own luck.  They believe anyone who doesn’t accomplish what they accomplished is somehow less worthy and less competent.  They don’t acknowledge that the luck of their time and place and circumstances also contributed to their success.

    • TomK_in_Boston

      The “born on 3′rd base and think they hit a triple” gang is disgusting. Lord R, with a governor CEO father, thinks he is  self-made. W thought the same. Makes you want to slap them. They are the ones who truly receive “affirmative action”.

      There is a lot of foolish discussion on this topic, like saying that one example of success from a poor background, eg snoop dawg, means the system is fine. It’s all about the statistics, the odds. In the 50s and the 60s we had hard working people moving up, we had rich people, and we had people failing economically despite their efforts. We had people falling behind because they were lazy. Hey, we were capitalists. Winners and losers, the free market, etc, despite tax rates that today’s TeaOP would call socialism. Eisenhower the socialist, LOL.

      The difference between then and now is that MORE people were moving up, and FEWER were falling behind, based on THE SAME hard work that Americans do today, and their children were doing even better. Why? Because the system is now massively biased toward the elites, and doesn’t support the middle class like it used to.

      Simple example: great public education at State U used to be almost free. Now it’s getting expensive because the states can’t tax the rich to pay for it. What do you think, are the odds better for a poor kid to move up with nearly free higher ed or with expensive higher ed?

    • hennorama

      “They believe anyone who doesn’t accomplish what they accomplished is somehow less worthy and less competent.”

      They not only believe those things, they also believe those who are unlike them are lazy irresponsible victims.
      Well … at least one of the super-rich has been quoted on the topic:

      “… there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what. And I mean, the president starts off with 48, 49, 48—he starts off with a huge number. These are people who pay no income tax. Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn’t connect. And he’ll be out there talking about tax cuts for the rich. I mean that’s what they sell every four years. And so my job is not to worry about those people—I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

      Let’s look at some data.

      This article compares unemployment and food stamp (SNAP) participation.  For those of you who are particularly interested in the U6 unemployment rate, this chart shows it, and food stamp participation:

      http://www.csmonitor.com/Business/Paper-Economy/2012/0403/Food-stamp-use-down-in-January

      Did millions of Americans suddenly get lazy in mid-2008, quit their jobs, then sign up for SNAP (“food stamps”)?  Did they see Barack Obama becoming the Democratic nominee for President on June 3, 2008 and suddenly say “Whoopee!  Now we can get lazy and irresponsible and dependent on the gov’t!”

      Not bloody likely.

      By the way, who was President when this spike started?

      Maybe the trigger was on Aug. 29, 2008, when Sen. McCain named Sarah Palin as his running mate.  Maybe it was when SpaceX put the Falcon into orbit on Sept. 28th.

      Maybe it was because Pres. Bush announced economic stimulus measures on  Jan. 18th, or when the US gov’t took over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on Sept. 7, 2008.

      Maybe the trigger was on Oct. 3, 2008, when Pres. Bush signed the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, creating TARP.

      Americans did NOT suddenly become lazy and dependent, because Americans AREN’T lazy and dependent.

      An enormous calamitous economic upheaval occurred, and millions of people suddenly needed help. Many of these people who suddenly needed help had never thought they’d be in such a position. They had worked hard all their lives and had never asked for or taken any help from the government before. They simply got overwhelmed by an enormous tidal wave of negative economic outcomes.

      Don’t sell these people short. They’re not lazy or irresponsible or dependent. They are the backbone of America, and are struggling diligently to dig themselves out of the huge hole they suddenly found themselves in.

      • anamaria23

        Very well said.  Thanks.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kyle.rose Kyle Rose

    I should add to my earlier comment, however, that her misrepresentation of the purpose of lower capital gains taxes serves only to take away from the legitimate point she repeatedly makes, that governments have been captured by the rich. This is nothing new, but we the people fail to learn from history and keep giving government so much power that the rich can and do reap huge benefits by corrupting it.

    • StilllHere

      Uggh, Kyle, any evidence to support this?  Does it work at all levels of government equally well?  Most of the corruption in government I’m familiar with is gov officials enriching themselves, such as LA County tax assessor just yesterday and allegations against Congressman Jackson from the day before.

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  • twenty_niner

    The final phase in the socialist arc is capitulation: a realization that getting the under-privileged to the same level as the privileged is tantamount to accelerating a 1kg mass to the speed of light – it will take an infinite amount of energy and time. Give me all of the best trainers in the world, the best facilities, and there’s no way I will ever run as fast as Usain Bolt. Much more practical is to simply cast concrete blocks on his feet. Now we can race. The casting of concrete blocks is now a recent proposal in France:

    “French President Proposes Banning Homework”

    “The justification for this proposed ban? Inequality.”

    “Homework favors the wealthy, Hollande argues, because they are more
    likely to have a good working environment at home, including parents
    with the time and energy to help them with their work.”

    http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2012/10/french-president-proposes-banning-homework/

    Good Lord. Don’t they realize that highly-educated parents will simply create and assign their own homework?

    • katpower

      So you must buy into a myth that the people on top have solely gotten their on their own merit, and that it does not rise from their interdependence on the rest of the people….people rise in a vacuum because some genetic advantage such as certain athletes have over others…

      Do you also believe that certain work deserves so much more renumeration and inherently has so much more value that it justifies 20% of people to own 84% of the wealth….and if for some reason you are not in the top 20% you are somehow inferior?  

      I believe that each human has value, and that each type of work is necessary and essential part of the whole that makes life as it is possible for you and I

      To clarify….you would not be alive without food.  The food on your table comes from the earth, and the more polluted that earth becomes the less healthy you are.  Most of the pollution comes from “industries” created  by top earners who are not willing to clean up their mess, so they can maximize their wealth.
      You would not be able to eat that food without the work of the farmers, the farm workers, the truckers, the grocery store clerks, the autoworkers that create the trucks, and the list goes on….so why should their work be valued so much less than someone like Romney who has not hesitated to hurt others in completely devious manner in order to gain his wealth?  

      Should their be rewards for creativity and new inventions, especially those that benefit all of humanity?  Absolutely.  However research actually shows that a society in which the inequality has not risen to the obscene level it has in the US many more people are flexible and creative in their thinking.  I believe in democracy, and in capitalism….however I believe in a capitalism that is ethical and considers the worth of humans and the natural environment, and which greed is not a value that supersedes all others.

      I don’t even believe we are a democracy anymore…we have become a “Corpocracy.”

      • twenty_niner

        “So you must buy into a myth that the people on top have solely gotten
        their on their own merit, and that it does not rise from their
        interdependence on the rest of the people”

        No, this is typical left/right pigeon holing. Many of us are more complex than that.

        I know all types: a handful of “very successful” people, 2%’ers, who have completely lucked into their status. I know a handful who’ve worked for it, and I know a handful of extremely talented and hard-working people who’ve never made it, at least so far.

        Inequity abounds in life, in all facets: luck, health, who our parents are, God-given talents, who we get as teachers, so on. The question is what to do about it? This is the point of the post. In my view, socialists, while well intentioned, wind up going way to far in their aim to level the playing field, but I don’t support Laissez-faire either.

        I’m a centrist. To hell with both parties; enact Simpson-Bowles! Raise taxes, slash government spending. Short of that, let the sequestration go into effect.

        • katpower

          Well your complexity did not express itself so well through the comment I replied to in my opinion, however it really shines through in this one though.  Thanks for enlightening me….

        • Human898

          To hell with both parties or with the talking points of some.  As you have explained as a centrist and many here are, based on their agreeing with you (even if you may suggest they are not like you), there are some, and some being the key word, that appear to want to forward the notion that all are one way, all are another way without articulating all, but some.   Politically it works best to manufacture talking points such as all who are not wealthy are as Mr. Romney described 47% and all that are wealthy are virtuous nobles who the world could not function or survive without.  Further points to add would be that those who are not wealthy are characterizing all wealthy as being greedy, gluttonous and vain.  

          Looking at so many of the comments here I see less evidence that a lot of people are calling all (another key word) the wealthy greedy, gluttonous and vain, but rather, some and some that because of their wealth, appear to have lost touch with the reality of from whence that wealth is derived, while other very wealthy people are fully aware of how their wealth comes to them and have no problems with using their wealth to help raise others up.

          There may be two dynamics working at the same time, a failure to properly articulate that not “all”, but some, are either greedy, gluttonous and vain capitalists at the top, taking advantage of all those below to support them (they don’t float on thin air) and likewise a failure to articulate that not “all” but some people at the very opposite end are greedy capitalists of another nature and are capitalizing off the same system, but in a different way.   Their rewards may be great relative to the exchange of their efforts, but at the same time, what possible occupation could any human being have, working 24/7/365 that is truly worth the value of some top compensations and how is it that a CEO can “justify” their pay, yet seek to deny a laborer their own justification?

          The other side is that articulation of that comes off as centrist and fair and agreeable.   If one wants power over another and there is a competition for that power, who does one choose of two that agree?   In order to choose one over the other, talking points and wedges need to be manufactured.     In any competition, there is a winner and a loser, third place is moot, thus the reasons we end up basically with a two party system.   That can change simply be renaming one of the two main parties since it would seem the main reason they continue to dominate is that people are all betting on a winner and as a candidate, one can either try to draw all the bets to them under a new party or they can run through one of the existing parties.  Look at Ron Paul for example, think of John McCain.  

          Their connundrums are that running as Maverick or as a Libertarian outside a main political party means breaking habits and conservatism is all about sticking with status quo, at least for some or at least with regard to establishing a new political party.  Democrats are also somewhat creatures of habit as are many, perhaps most of us.  For Paul and McCain to run inside the Republican Party and ask for some Republicans to support them while at the same time trying to present themselves as “maverick” or different than the main stream, runs into problems.  It’s hard to say I disagree with you while holding out your hand for support.  In a way it is that same connundrum the subject of this program has brought forth which is why articulation is important and distinguishing “some” from “all”. 

          I’ve gotten very long here, but sound bites don’t seem to work as well articulating things as we might believe and some may believe they do, but then offer far more quantity of sound bites, than add up to many more words than a few longer, more articulated explanations or discussions might add up to. 

    • JGC

      This sounds like some of the stuff the Québecois are encountering under their new separatist provincial government.  I have been out of town for one week, and when I come home, I learn the new government is trying to outlaw languages other than French in their preschools.   Highly educated parents will insist their children have some functionality in English to be a part of the world economy.  It does no good to enforce stupidity as a part of the lowest common denominator.

      • JGC

        I don’t want to edit, but want to add that many regularly educated Quebeckers also would also like their children to learn basic English. 

    • StilllHere

      Lowest common denominator, nous arrivons!

  • hennorama

    Mr. Romney’s economic plan centers around cutting tax rates, with [BEGIN EDIT] rate cuts increasing as one’s income increases. In other words, the higher your income, the more your rate would be cut. For example, those in the current 10% bracket would have their rate cut by 2 percentage points to 8% (a 20% reduction), while those in the current 35% bracket would have their rate cut by 7 percentage points to 28%. [END EDIT]   His contention is that cutting tax rates will lead to significantly higher economic growth.

    If this was true, it would be quite easy to demonstrate, wouldn’t it?  For example, one could compare the highest marginal tax rate in the US to GDP growth.  If lower rates led to higher growth, you could see this very clearly if one plotted them together on a graph.

    There’s just one tiny problem – there is no apparent correlation of lower Federal taxes rates and higher US GDP growth.  Look at the chart in this article:

    http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/signal/does-28-top-marginal-tax-rate-mean-175706337.html

    There are more charts here, including other countries:

    http://filipspagnoli.wordpress.com/stats-on-human-rights/statistics-on-gross-domestic-product-correlations/#23

    Try it for yourself.  Just search “Top Marginal Tax Rate and GDP Growth” and see what you find.

    Does anyone dispute this?  Can anyone prove otherwise?

    As far as the super-rich plutocrats and tax cuts are concerned, I simply wish to quote a bit from a recent Newsweek piece from British novelist Martin Amis:

    “It has to be admitted, meanwhile, that Uncle Sam is highly distinctive, even exotic, in his superstitious reverence for money. In every other country on earth, the Republicans’ one idea so far this century would never be mentioned, let alone tabled, passed, and given a second term. Tax cuts … for the rich? And this plainly indecent policy is already an established failure. According to the Pew Research Center, only 8 percent of ordinary Americans—and only 10 percent of the “upper class”—think the rich are taxed too much.”

    source: http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2012/09/09/martin-amis-on-god-money-and-what-s-wrong-with-the-gop.html

    • Gregg Smith

      “Mr. Romney’s economic plan centers around cutting tax rates, with greater rate cuts the higher one’s income.”
      You lost me already. The language is fuzzy. Are you talking about the tax rates or the percentage of ones income paid in taxes (i.e. rate) after all taxes are paid? And I don’t think the contention is that Marginal Tax Rate reductions in and of themselves will stimulate the economy. Sorry, I didn’t make it past there.

      • hennorama

        My apologies for my “inelegantly stated” post.

        Here’s what I meant when I said “…with greater rate cuts the higher one’s income.”

        Mr. Romney proposes the following:

        A 20 percent reduction of the six current tax rates, as follows:

        10% bracket becomes 8.0 %, a 2.0 point rate reduction
        15% bracket becomes 12.0 %, a 3.0 point rate reduction
        25% bracket becomes 20.0 %, a 5.0 point rate reduction
        28% bracket becomes 22.4 %, a 5.6 point rate reduction
        33% bracket becomes 26.4 %, a 6.6 point rate reduction
        35% bracket becomes 28.0 %, a 7.0 point rate reduction

        Ergo, greater rate cuts with higher incomes.

        Again, my apologies.

        Read more: Tax Proposals: Obama Vs. Romney http://www.bankrate.com/finance/taxes/tax-proposals-obama-vs-romney.aspx#ixzz29geCUjR5

        • glenninboston

          Personally, I think you write too much (one of the above seems like something you cut and post!), and too long, but thank you for making this important point. i wish President Obama would point this out more often – Romney is very good at using vague language, while promising far bigger percent reductions (and value deductions) to the most wealthy. And trust me – they read between the lines.

          • hennorama

            Thank you for your comments and your kind words.

            Yes, my posts do indeed tend to be long, and I do post fairly frequently. Guilty as charged.

            My main goal is add to the discussion, and in doing so to completely justify my positions and/or completely refute the positions of others that I disagree with. Part of the nature of forums such as these is the lack of immediate back and forth, so I tend to try to anticipate all sides of an argument, and doing so can require lengthy posts.

            I’m very careful in attributing anything that is not my own original thought, and provide the sources of virtually all data or articles that I quote. I do also at times repeat some of my own earlier comments, and try very hard to indicate when I’m doing so.

            I also try to respond to anyone who comments on my posts, which further adds to the frequency. Again, just trying to add to the discussion, and also to be respectful of those who take the time and make the effort to respond.

            Thanks again for your response.

          • glenninboston

            HA! Anyway, I wasn’t being critical – it’s good to see respondents who are both engaged and informed. 

            And if Romney were asked directly, I suspect he would say his 20% income rate reduction on all classes is EXCLUSIVE of his plan (per the 2nd debate) to reduce capital gains taxes to ZERO. 

            That probably means the wealthiest would probably receive closer to a 70% tax reduction. (that’s not a scientific number, just a random one…but let’s just agree, it will be a lot higher than 20%!)

          • hennorama

            Thanks again for responding.

            I didn’t take your remarks as being critical, exactly. My explanatory comments were meant for everyone, including you.

            As to Mr. Romney’s tax plans – I’ve made numerous add’l comments on them today, so I won’t repeat myself here.

            Best regards.

      • hennorama

        Gregg I wanted to also respond to the 2nd part of your post.

        You said “And I don’t think the contention is that Marginal Tax Rate reductions in and of themselves will stimulate the economy.”

        Mr. Romney’s running mate Mr. Ryan has said that RATE reductions are the most important part of Mr. Romney’s tax plan:

        “Paul Ryan said that the most important aspect of the Mitt Romney’s tax plan is that it lowers tax rates across the board in an interview that aired on “Fox News Sunday.” Host Chris Wallace pressed Ryan on which aspect of Romney’s plan — lowering tax rates, raising taxes on the middle class, or not increasing the deficit — is most important.

        “Keeping tax rates down,” Ryan said. “By lowering tax rates, people keep more of the next dollar that they earn. That matters. That is incentives. That’s pro-growth policy. That creates 7 million jobs… That’s more important than anything.”

        source: http://livewire.talkingpointsmemo.com/entry/ryan-lower-tax-rates-are-most-important-part

        and here’s the FNS video. the quote on rates is about 14:00 into the clip :

        http://video.foxnews.com/v/1869261696001/exclusive-paul-ryan-on-fox-news-sunday/?playlist_id=930909788001

        (this clip also has Ryan’s infamous “I don’t have the ti[me]…it would take me too long to go through all the math…” quote at about 13:20 or so).

        Mr. Romney has also said that his plan will maintain revenues, and not add to the deficit, so one would need to conclude that he is not proposing that overall tax revenue will decline, and is contending that lower rates are the way to greater economic growth.

        Do you conclude otherwise? If so, please explain.

        A few quotes from Mr. Romney on the topic from the first debate:

        “But in order for us not to lose revenue, have the government run out of money, I also lower deductions and credits and exemptions so that we keep taking in the same money when you also account for growth.”

        “I want to underline that — no tax cut that adds to the deficit…”

        “…I won’t put in place a tax cut that adds to the deficit. That’s part one. So there’s no economist can say Mitt Romney’s tax plan adds 5 trillion (dollars) if I say I will not add to the deficit with my tax plan.”

        “I want to bring down the rates down, at the same time lower deductions and exemptions and credits and so forth so we keep getting the revenue we need”

        “And so what I do is I bring down the tax rates, lower deductions and exemptions — the same idea behind Bowles-Simpson, by the way. Get the rates down, lower deductions and exemptions to create more jobs, because there’s nothing better for getting us to a balanced budget than having more people working, earning more money, paying — (chuckles) — more taxes. That’s by far the most effective and efficient way to get this budget balanced.”

        ” My plan is not to put in place any tax cut that will add to the deficit.”

        “Well, mathematically there are — there are three ways that you can cut a deficit. One, of course, is to raise taxes. Number two is to cut spending. And number three is to grow the economy because if more people work in a growing economy they’re paying taxes and you can get the job done that way.”

        “PRESIDENT OBAMA: There has to be revenue in addition to cuts. Now, Governor Romney has ruled out revenue. He’s — he’s ruled out revenue.
        MR. LEHRER: That’s true, right?
        MR. ROMNEY: Absolutely.
        PRESIDENT OBAMA: OK, so —
        MR. LEHRER: Completely?
        MR. ROMNEY: I — look, the revenue I get is by more people working, getting higher pay, paying more taxes. That’s how we get growth and how we balance the budget.”

        • Gregg Smith

          Romney’s tax plan is revenue neutral. That means within that framework the same revenue will come in. He reference that in the last exchange you quoted. Mr. Obama is also being coy with the language by equating tax hikes with revenue. In other words, if you oppose tax hike then you oppose more revenue. It’s a leap. And Mr. Romney was too when he described the 3 ways to cut the deficit. He used the word “mathematically” but should have said “theoretically”. As a practical matter it is well beyond impossible to cut the deficit in any meaningful way by taxing or cutting spending. There is just no way. The only way (still a long shot) is growing the economy.  

          Lowering tax rates coupled with ending many deductions and cutting spending simply keeps money in peoples pockets as opposed to moving it through the bureaucratic process from and back to the taxpayer.  It’s a wash revenue wise but  huge increase in efficiency and fairness. 

          A comprehensive energy policy, the corporate and capital chains tax structures, easing of the massive increase in regulations and most of all repealing Obamacare are the keys to growing the economy by incentivising risk-taking.

          • Human898

            Revenue neutral also means no additional revenue will be coming in, thus how does one pay for additional spending and paying down the national debt?   In addition haven’t we already seen what effect cutting the tax rate has on “more money in people’s pockets”???

            Historically what have been the top marginal tax rates when this nation’s best economies existed?

            Plus, you suggest that no one is or has been doing what is proposed.  

            Did you notice how when risk taking was incentivized, it led to the Wall Street Journel headline on September 18, 2008, “Worst Crisis Since 30′s, No End, Yet in Sight”?

            http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122169431617549947.html

            Could that realization and the fallout from it have had something to do with the economy and unemployment people are talking about now? 

            Where is there historical evidence that a recession of this magnitude would take the amount of time some have given or expected and who are those most impatient and ready to use the sluggish economy to suggest they now know better than they did in 2008, what political policies would have worked better than those that have been able to get past those blocking them and have had a chance, not just to be implemented, but do as they are intended to do?

            Where is the historical evidence that tax cuts only lead to recession free economies?

            I don’t see government as the end all, nor do I see the private sector as the same, what I do see is a constant need to try to maintain a healthy balance within the nation’s circulatory system and the interaction and interdependency and cooperative collaboration of the two sectors. I don’t see them mostly at odds with one another, but interdependent, the reasons our founders design a government full of internal checks and balances and represented by the people that will be governed by that government as an external check and balance. But, it is a government and a government for a reason to act as a check and balance to power and influence of people over people and the founders of this nation were well aware of the power and influence of wealth. They didn’t want to squelch it and the spoke of a society and a society’s government working best when a society’s people were most virtuous. A society corrupted and influenced by the bribes of the wealthy (those who can afford to bribe) was not a virtuous society.

            They saw human nature and the way some, not all, used wealth in corrupt ways to influence (bribe), gain and retain power for themselves.

          • hennorama

            Gregg – thank you for your response. I understand and respect your views.

            It is exactly my point that Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan claim their tax plan, which is the centerpiece of their economic proposals, is revenue-neutral and/or deficit-neutral. Without conceding that this is either possible or whether the required cuts in deductions, exemptions and credits would be likely to pass Congress, let’s assume that it is possible for the sake of argument.

            Therefore, his plan is supposed to either keep Federal revenues the same, or increase Federal revenues through significantly higher economic growth. Putting it in other words, Mr. Romney claims his plan does NOT cut overall Federal revenue. Therefore, there’s no fiscal stimulus effect involved, since he claims his plan doesn’t put tax money back into Americans’ hands, net net.

            So if he’s not cutting tax revenues, what does he have left? Rate cuts. Reforming the tax code.

            As I said, if it was true that rate cuts result in economic growth, it would be quite simple to demonstrate by charting GDP changes and marginal tax rate changes.

            The problem is, this is simply untrue, as I demonstrated.

            If you can show otherwise, I invite you to do so.

            I’ll refrain at this time from commenting on the balance of your points, for the sake of brevity.

  • Patrick McCann

    This liberal chick with the book is really, really stretching it to make the case against financial success.

    • Coastghost

      Well,
      if Australian PM Julia Gillard can proclaim that misogyny is identical to
      sexism and that we can all damn well scribble that usage note into the margins
      of our dictionaries to reflect her  Humpty Dumptyish assertion, then surely
      Harvard-educated Chrystia Freeland can claim that Left Plutocrats are all adorable darlings because they don’t manufacture infrastructure components or create
      environmental hazards and that their wealth is merited because they treat us so
      generously to their bottomless reserves of empathy and sincere philanthropic regard. (I wonder all of a sudden how many gaffers, best boys,  make-up artists,
      screenwriters, and stuntpersons have attended the political soirees hosted by
      Left Plutocrat George Clooney over the past months and years.) The only
      financial success she decries is that reaped by Right Plutocrats, but then, it
      was likely some pesky lowlife editor or marketing person who clipped the controlling adjective from her cover and title page.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/QMDZ3LH5U2B4GAT7J2HS4TCP6E Jim

      apparently, you like many rich wannabes do not even bother to listen to this programme at its entirety. either you are honestly ignorant or you are pathetically stubborn to accept reality.

      she is not making a case again the financially success.

    • Mike_Card

      You have a problem with a “liberal chick” who writes a book?

      • L armond

        He has trouble with anyone who is  ’transparent and shares truth as most of the 47% see it.

    • Mattyster

      We’re all in favor of financial success.  That’s not what this is about.  It’s about fairness and community.  But you know that, you’re just trying to make us defensive.  Sorry, not biting.

  • L armond

    “My great aunt, when she is taken out to accomplish her shopping, often sticks her little pinky out and says “My this and My that….” Bless her in her dotage, and medication….She still thinks she runs THE Garden Club, and ALTAR GUild, and expects us to be part of her ‘retinue.’ It is the way of the ‘comfortably well off’ to be catered to. and have ‘My people’ jump to their every need. Of course she still thinks ‘The Help’ receives minimum wage from the ’60′s’, etc. etc……I’m just sayin’,..”My this, and MY that…”comes naturally to the catered to class, The UPSTAIRS people, ..who have no respect for we underlings…unlike the Brittish Upper Classes during the Wars…..Could be the reason they want to shut down BIG BIRD…seeing how different “THEY are from US, in the USA.
    YES, its THE REGENCY CLASS for the Republicans from the “OLD Tidewater” class on THE BAY, up US95 North to C’VILLE, up 29N to Faquier County to 66East to DC to ‘C’ Street. WE call it, Pat Robertson WAY.”Oh, and she and others of her ilk never contribute to any local causes if they have their special charity.  Yep, their lawyers and accountants figure out how much to contribute just in time for the ‘season of giving,’ but she will never help anyone out without saying, “Never give anyone money.” She has no idea how much bus fare is.

  • Human898

    Thomas Paine addresses “I built that”

    Thomas Paine – 10 Jan. 1776

    “In order to gain a clear and just idea of the design and end of government, let us suppose a small number of persons settled in some sequestered part of the earth, unconnected with the rest; they will then represent the first peopling of any country, or of the world. In this state of natural liberty, society will be their first thought. A thousand motives will excite them thereto; the strength of one man is so unequal to his wants, and his mind so unfitted for perpetual solitude, that he is soon obliged to seek assistance and relief of another, who in his turn requires the same. Four or five united would be able to raise a tolerable dwelling in the midst of a wilderness, but one man might labor out the common period of life without accomplishing any thing; when he had felled his timber he could not remove it, nor erect it after it was removed; hunger in the mean time would urge him to quit his work, and every different want would call him a different way. Disease, nay even misfortune, would be death; for though neither might be mortal, yet either would disable him from living, and reduce him to a state in which he might rather be said to perish than to die.”

    http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/v1ch4s4.html

  • 1Brett1

    Aww, Mitt’s from humble beginnings…I mean to say his father was from sort of humble beginnings. For a while, when his father was a young boy, he and his family received benefits from some of the first Welfare legislation upon their return from missionary work in Mexico. In fact, the early legislation was passed specifically to help Mormon missionaries returning to the US.

    Growing up privileged and connected through contacts his father made for him, as well as connections from the Mormon Church, helped Mitt quite a bit, though. 

    A hand out and a leg up can do a man a world of good! 

    • StilllHere

      Nothing wrong with a safety net, just don’t make a hammock of it.  You’re not on a deserted island, everyone’s got a network, use it.

  • Coastghost

    Friday is upon us: can hardly wait to hear how much is not said by this week’s distinguished panelists about “Not Optimal” Obama. Sure seems like the buck remains stalled in the corridors of power somewhere between the State Department and the White House–it manifestly hasn’t reached the Oval Office yet. Also: wasn’t it Obama who offensively politicized the bin Laden raid? He certainly seems to have greatly enjoyed taking credit for it ever since, in which case our media fail us yet again in not reporting how instrumental Obama was in personally planning the raid as far back as 2002. (I know, I expect far too much from our intrepid newsgatherers.)

    • Mattyster

       Yeah, yeah, we know.  Anything bad that happened before or during Obama’s watch is his fault.  Anything good that happened is in spite of him, and how dare he take credit, and after all it really wasn’t very good, and in any case it wasn’t good enough.  You guys are a sad case.

  • Fredlinskip

    Majority of Americans for past 30+ years have like sheep bleated the mantra, “let the wealthy become more so and all will be well”. Such is the proposition of supply- side trickle down economics begun by the Republican deity Ronnie Reagan.
    Anyone capable of thought should have realized a long time ago what a ridiculous notion this is- yet there it is. This proposition could not possibly have lasted this long without the power of a mass media campaign of misinformation manipulated by those that reap enormous profit by keeping these delusions alive.
       Another ridiculous notion perpetuated is that trillions of debt can be paid down without revenue.
        Another fact that should be obvious to anyone who thinks history matters is that our economy functioned best for all when tax rates for upper incomes was much higher.
        Another is that paying down debt makes the most sense when economy is strong- Clinton understood this, Bush willfully didn’t.
       Austerity in times of recession is recipe for making bad situation worse. All’s one has to do is examine economies currently around the world to verify this fact.

    The misinformation age and laziness of individuals and media outlets to look up and report the facts allow these delusions to persist to the detriment of all.

  • hennorama

    Apologies in advance for this being mostly off-topic.

    An odd random thought just occurred to me.  I was thinking about Mr. Romney and his proposals and his claims that 12 million jobs will be created and his comments about “the 47%.”  This was all running together in my head when I realized Mr. Romney has a huge problem:

    If 47% of America “… are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them … I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.” then exactly who will be taking these 12 million new jobs?

    Immigrants?  Students graduating from college?  Young people just turning age 16 or 18 or 21?  Are 47% of them irresponsible victims too?  Mr. Romney himself said he’d never be able to convince 47% of Americans to be personally responsible and to care for their lives, so it follows that they wouldn’t take any new jobs, right?

    This is a rhetorical remark, so I’m not asking for an actual answer here.

    Again, my apologies for being mostly off-topic.

    • OnPointComments

      Most of the jobs will go to people who became unemployed during the recession and have been desperately looking for work.  For the remaining jobs, some of the “47%” are going to have to take responsibility and support themselves.  The extremes that get discussed aren’t true:  everyone on the right doesn’t believe that all of the 47% could work but doesn’t want to, and everyone on the left doesn’t believe that all of the 47% are looking for a job but can’t find one.  There is a middle common ground:  there are some able-bodied people who are capable of working, but are content to live on assistance instead.  We can’t afford them.

      • Human898

        As you have pointed out, there are some of the 100% who are able bodied people who will not take responsibility for themselves, just as there are some at the other extreme end of the 100% and the scale who think they are somehow entitled to obscene incomes yet don’t pay taxes based on government laws that allow them to avoid doing so (see (HINT) High Income, No Taxes).  The irony is that both are capitalists capitalizing on what some of them complain about, the government. 

        In addtion, in order for people to lose jobs, they must be fired and laid off, who has been doing this and why?   Has anyone profited from laying off or firing American workers, then complained about the unemployment rate, those on government assistance, those who do not meet the income level needed to pay income tax (who set that rate?) and the national debt?   Who created the child tax credit?  

        I believe this is what people speak to when they say “out of touch”.   We may teach math, science and languages, but we don’t seem to teach much about critical or extended thinking, cause and effect.  If we did people might be a little more in tune with how the figures on their paycheck and compensations are made possible and appreciate both ends of the pole and the middle.  They might also see economies not as trickle down or trickle up, but as circulatory systems where if all the “blood” is pooled in one place, that place has more blood than it can use, the rest of the body is starved for blood and in the longer term, the entire body dies because all parts of the body support other parts of the body. Money is said to be “in circulation” for a reason.

      • glenninboston

        “There is a middle common ground:  there are some able-bodied people who are capable of working, but are content to live on assistance instead.  We can’t afford them.”
        Who? Name one. It’s a tired cliche, most people on assistance need it, and given the opportunity to work for a living, will take it. Clearly you are someone who has never worked with or near a lower-income community…

        On another note, as a human being, EVEN IF 95% of the people “are content to live on assistance”, let’s not screw the 5% because we’re not clever enough to fix the policy/program. It’s bad for our country. And it’s unjust, unkind, and selfish. 

        • OnPointComments

          For more than a decade, I volunteered at a homeless shelter and soup kitchen that served about 40,000 annually.  Many, many times the people who ran the shelter were asked by the media and reporters why they couldn’t get jobs for the people who came there.  The reply was (I’m not able to remember the statistics exactly, but you’ll get the point) that 70% percent of the people who came to the shelter were addicts, with no desires beyond where to get their next drink or fix; 15% sufferred from mental disease; 10% were temporarily without a job or home, and quickly became self-supporting and left; 5% were chronically unemployed, and were in and out of the shelter periodically.  The point is, how much government assistance should be given to the 70% who are addicted?  They received the same government assistance as the 10% who were suffering a temporary hardship and corrected their problem, but the 70% had no desire to change their situation.  I questioned whether the government assistance and even the shelter was enabling the 70%.  The people who ran the shelter had a much better Christian attitude than most, including me; they were there to provide a service, no questions asked.

          • glenninboston

            And, I would say, someone who is fortunate enough in life never to have had a friend or loved one fall victim to addiction, or worse, suffer from a mental disease that leaves them unable to cope in society – but cuts in government funding leave them homeless. 

            Frankly, I question your statistics, I’ve worked with some of the poorest in NYC for a chunk of my early career – and that’s a truth (I don’t know how you could work in a soup kitchen and have so little empathy, and questioning your story is easier than questioning your humanityl), and the largest chunk had a lot of pride, and wanted badly to work and support their family. But why don’t we agree to be smart, and both of us stop quoting anecdotal information as if it is somehow gospel truth.

            Instead, (as my point was) let’s fix the laws so we can help the people who need help (not those who don’t), whether with addiction, joblessness, or pyschiatric illnesses. Can we agree on that? Or do you really just think those aren’t worth funding? 

  • 2Gary2

    This is how the rich can buy peace:

    1.Rule changes that raise the floor

    • Ensure the minimum wage is a living wage
    • Provide universal health care
    • Enforce basic labor standards and protections

    2. Rule changes that level the playing field

    • Invest in eduction
    • Reduce the influence of money in politics
    • Implement fair trade rules

    3. Rule changes that break up wealth and power

    • Tax the 1 percent
    • Rein in CEO pay
    • Stop corporate tax dodging
    • Reclaim our financial system
    • Re-engineer the corporation
    • Redesign the tax revenue system

    Tax capital gains as the income they are-this included social security and medicare taxes.
     

  • conor shields

    The American left leaning liberal continuously fights for a compassionate capitalism, where social progress takes place without disrupting the economic progress of capitalism. The crucial question that Chrystia Freeland and the liberal intelligentsia (I don’t use that term in a critical way) fail to ask, or worse, consciously avoid asking is, at the most basic level (governing principles, morals/approach to morality, everyday function) what part does our economic system play in continuing and exacerbating our social ills.

    • Human898

      I can remember a time when children were asked what they wanted to be when they became adults and they responded with, “fireman”, “policeman”, “nurse”, “doctor” and a number of other things that indicated they wanted to help other people in the world.   I can remember the feeling I had when that changed and the most common response from children to what they wanted to be when they grew up was “rich”.     I don’t know what others were taught as children by their parents and their religion, but greed, gluttony and vanity were not considered to be human virtues in the house I grew up in nor in the church our family attended.   Somehow it seems, the American Dream has gone from what would be considered very moderate comfort to super-sized dream on steroids that has created a nightmare of trouble for those thinking they can get-rich-quick and not pay any longer term consequence.  

      We appear to be having these conversations now, not because of the attitudes of all of this era’s superwealthy, but because it would appear, some of the super wealthy are super wealthy by shifting lower wages of many into obscene excess of a few and the attitude of some of the super wealthy that they are anymore entitled to the number of figures on their paycheck that the lowest paid in the organization(s) they are connected to or that the lowest paid are simply figureheads and contribute nothing to the overall profit, wages and compensation for all in those organizations.   It and the tensions created by it are nothing new if one reviews history, even the history of this nation and its founding and the fears of the founders of this nation regarding the ill influences of wealth and power derived from it.   They were not attacking wealth and freedom to do better (or not do better), but attacking those who would use wealth as power and influence and basing their thoughts on those that have in the annals of world history, to assert tyranny over those without wealth.

      A monarchy is not necesarily required for an aristocracy to develop.  A plutocracy is not an official term, but a defining term, to describe an aristocracy measured soley by wealth, not by virtuous character.   You might be interested in reading what the founders of this nation thought and read the writings of one that was the greatest influence to many of our founders, interestingly enough, a Baron, Charles-Louis de Secondat, baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu.

      Here is a good source of the thoughts (through their documents) that went through his mind and of the founders of this nation regarding many of the topics we are discussing in these times.

      http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/

  • josef gerbase

    The speaker makes the horrible mistake saying that Capital gains  is the same as any other form of income. This is not true investments are a driver of the economy. Remember if you want to tax the rich its called sales tax they make more they spend more and get ride of the  mortgage deduction.  This interview was conducted with people who don’t understand basic economics.

    • Human898

      Yes, people have been able to tell how much they have been driving the economy.  That’s why they’re complaining how well the economy is doing??? Some people are on this planet, some in their own little world it would seem.

    • glenninboston

      Hi Josef, a misrepresentation of what the speaker was saying, AND the role of a lower tax rate for capital gains – while the ‘idea’ has merit, there is in fact no evidence that a lower tax on capital gains actually increases real investment. In fact, *economic theory* would support the contrary point of view – that anything above the true market rate of investment (i.e. that driven NOT by tax benefits) is wasted, and really only contributes to asset bubbles and volatility. 

      More importantly – Romney says he will reduce this to ZERO – which will further perturb markets, increase volatility in asset prices, and ultimately hurt the middle and lower classes who are less able to manage in a down-business cycle. 

      I suspect it is not the interviewer who doesn’t understand economics…

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=628944823 Ruben Ramirez

      Right now the super-rich are paying very low taxes (some almost nothing!) and the economy has been at its lowest in almost a century. On the other hand, the golden economic periods of the US correspond to much higher taxation for the very rich (for instance the 50s and 60s)… Somehow the theory that very low taxation on the rich implies a better economy doesn’t agree with history. However, I agree with you Josef that investments are an important economic driver (though not the only one!) and so they should be promoted. The following thoughts solve this apparent contradiction:

      Super-rich will always invest as far as their taxes are not ridiculously high and so they see a way to profit. Consequently, slightly higher taxes at the very top are not going to affect the economy in a sensible way. However, that same higher taxation would provide the US government with the means to better foster an educated and healthy population and a stronger national infrastructure, which are the basis for safe investments. Many people in the US are caring to much for the super-rich’s pockets, while other countries are now developing faster than the US, often supported by those same super-rich guys. 

      Increasing their taxation through sales instead of income taxes is not as effective, as super-rich tend to spend a very small percentage of their income in activities that can be taxed that way (contrary to current middle class, that have to pay twice income tax rate as the super-rich and also pay sales taxes on almost 100% of their income).

    • Duras

      Do you think that someone who devotes his or her life to the stock market will quit investing if capital gains tax goes up?

      What are they going to do?  …Quit capitalism and become a teacher?  Capital gains was taxed at 28% during the 1980s and I don’t recall a lack of investment.  Money ain’t flowing; it’s pooling at the top.  And that is the way the numbers have played out.

    • http://twitter.com/jacknoir2 jack noir

      Apparently you are the one with little understanding of economics. Sales taxes are the most regressive form of taxes. The poor and middle class pay a far higher percentage of their incomes in sales taxes than do the rich.

  • StilllHere

    Why so much envy and self-victimization?

    • 1Brett1

      Why do you envy the envious and self-victimized?

      • StilllHere

        It’s pity, but you are clearly emotionally stunted and intellectually bankrupt.

        • 1Brett1

          Why so much envy toward the emotionally-stunted and intellectually-bankrupt? You needn’t envy those qualities, why you already possess them…

          • StilllHere

            Again, it’s pity.

          • 1Brett1

            Why do you envy pity so much?

  • dannsmith

    Tom Ashbrook is so blatantly super liberal and biased, it makes it hard to listen to what would otherwise would be an interesting article

  • dannsmith

    Tom Ashbrook is so blatantly super liberal and biased, it makes it hard to listen to what would otherwise would be an interesting article.  He over talks guest when they say something that favors the other side and interjects “reverse” comments to mislead. Like taking about the “super” koolaid The koolaid comment started in reference to Obama and continues to have that association but he is trying to make it refer to the rich. The incorrect reference makes him look ignorant and rigidly biased. News should be unbiased. 
    The comments then all come from liberal listeners because those are the only people who listen to this station. The “news” in this station then becomes just an opinion and no longer news. It drives away people like me who want to hear both sides.

    • http://www.jobwaltz.com JobWaltz.com

      Completely agree. This was as bad as a Fox News opinion panel critique of Obama. A true liberal circle jerk.

  • http://www.jobwaltz.com JobWaltz.com

    The rich do not get wealthy on their own. In creating wealth, they typically employ many people and provide society with the goods and services it desires. This is by far a bigger benefit to society than the wealth that is taxed by the government to waste on the military industrial complex or subsidizing one corporate welfare recipient or another.

    The author and the mainstream media do not understand the free market system. No surprise.

    • Carlos R Canas

       Adam Smith, in his Wealth of Nations, theorized that the reason why capitalism worked was first that anybody could freely participate in a market, either as a seller or consumer. Anybody could enter or leave a market, and that ultimately, all sellers in a market could only have “economic profits”.  He also contemplated the role of governments as regulators, and as builders and maintainers of roads, ports, etc., for the common good. Oligopolies, monopolies, technological or other economical barriers, were distortions that affected  and distorted the work of the “invisible hand”, and that eventually affected market efficiency. In this scenario, nobody could be “wealthy”, an eventually all participants were “well-off”.  That is what the “father of capitalism”, explained.

      • http://www.jobwaltz.com JobWaltz.com

        That’s nice but completely irrelevant.

  • http://www.jobwaltz.com JobWaltz.com

    Regarding the guest that blames technology and globalization for the reduction in the middle class….

    I would say that government regulation and various wealth transfer schemes prevent the market from adjusting to the new reality that globalization presents us. We dealt with massive dislocation caused by industrialization in the 1800s and early 1900s – people moved from the farms to factories. Remember how traumatic it was for a hundred cotton pickers to be replaced by a single gin or reaper. 

    We are currently being pummeled by inflation and corporate welfare from the Federal Reserve. No mention of that. It is the single greatest contributor to the the expanding wealth inequality.

    • StilllHere

      Really, what inflation?
      Corporate welfare?  The mortgage market is multiple times bigger than the corporate debt market. 

      • http://www.jobwaltz.com JobWaltz.com

        “What inflation” – I guess you don’t buy gas or groceries. The government inflation #s are designed to hide inflation rather than measure it. To the extent that the mortgage market is subsidized the banks are major benefiaries, perhaps more-so than home “owners”.

        • StilllHere

          No, gas and groceries are nothing compared to mortgage which is down considerably over the last 20 years.

          • http://www.jobwaltz.com JobWaltz.com

            “Mortgage which is down considerably over the last 20 years” – last time I checked real estate prices have increased dramatically over the last 20 years, culminating in the 2007 bubble. This was the result of the Fed’s cheap money policy.

  • responseTwo

    “Wealthy people create jobs”  –  no they do not. Consumers with money to spend create jobs.Wealthy people work hard, many have a good bit of luck along with that, but if they had no people to buy their services/goods they would be as poor as the slave-labor workers that many of them extort in China.Read the following.http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/17/business/economy/income-inequality-may-take-toll-on-growth.html?hp&_r=0

  • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

    I fear that the speed at which computers and software area advancing outstrips our ability to evolve as a society and economy. Lawyers,
    engineers and even doctors are becoming obsolete to one extent or
    another as software capability overlaps and exceeds theirs in terms of
    efficiency, speed and accuracy. Self driving cars can eliminate the need
    for professional drivers. The fewer people we need to design, make or do ‘stuff’, the fewer people who get jobs to earn money to pay for that ‘stuff’.

    This dynamic that we are in is thus decreasing consumption and consumption is the entire basis of our economy… essentially everywhere. We’re decreasing the number and power of consumers who are the base creators of demand and thus decreasing their role in job creation. This is not a Red or Blue issue… this is the reality of decreasing expendable income by decreasing wages and eliminating jobs. The difference now is that the difference in speed of computers to do work is orders and orders of magnitude greater than humans.

    Having worked in the heart of the technology revolution for over 3 decades and seen mind-boggling advancements in hardware, software and usage paradigms, I sense that we are reaching a tipping point where we humans are becoming economically obsolete to do work. People are becoming obsolete faster than we can develop work for them to do that makes economic sense in our current definition of capitalism.

    I’ve seen outsourcing of highly skilled engineering and technical jobs by global corporations who have no interest in who they employ. All they care about is ‘shareholder value’ but in the past two decades, that has represented less and less of the middle class and more and more, just the wealthy. This is not a complaint, it is the quandary of our current short term investment-based capitalist paradigm if not any future capitalist paradigm which no longer shares success with employees, just the ruling elite within them.

    The problem is that this problem is not being managed by anything other than pure chaos, and I find it hard to imagine anyone arguing that chaos is an efficient management style. We cannot let the level of chaos descend into riots over food and and shelter; at that point society and economy are on the verge of collapse. The super rich have their play grounds, but that will all be in jeopardy if they allow the system to fall apart due to nothing more than pure, unrestrained greed which is what happened in Wall Street leading up to 2008.

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  • Michiganjf

    Romney paid 14% tax on earnings in 2011, and would have paid only 12% in 2012 if he had taken his full deductions, which he fudged just so he would comply with his LIE that he’s never paid less than 14% (why are you still hiding those earlier returns, Romney?)

    Well, now we know that the Super Rich have 21 TRILLION in wealth hidden in offshore accounts!!!!

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2012/jul/21/global-elite-tax-offshore-economy

    (Thanks to commenter JustEdith for the AWESOME link)

    So we know Romney has much of his wealth stowed “offshore” so he won’t have to pay taxes on it, though no one knows how much he has hidden away.

    The thing is, that means Romney, and others like him, ACTUALLY PAY MUCH LESS ON THEIR INCOME THAN THAT ALREADY PALTRY 12-14%!!!!!!!!!!

    Yup, sure pays to rig everything your way, while you rob the rest into paying for all that infrastructure you need to make all that money in the first place!!!!

    Romney/Ryan for president of SOME OF AMERICA 2012!!

    • StilllHere

      You haven’t even come close to establishing why this matters.

  • Michiganjf

    WOW!

    Awesome interview with Mrs. Freeland and Matt Taibi last night on Bill Moyers!

    Definitely worth a watch at his website!

    • StilllHere

      3 know-nothings with a recommendation from another, sorry, no thanks.

  • http://www.jobwaltz.com JobWaltz.com

    Freeland largely doesn’t get it. What is more, she has no appreciation for the value that many of the super rich add to society in creating their fortunes. Discounting the hedge fund managers, the rise of a Rockefeller or Jobs employs thousands or millions of people – the very middle class that she so cherishes.

    I’ve been listening to her spread propaganda on NPR for years now. She generally shills for the establishment neoliberal/Keynesian status quot, and has little understanding of economics. To the extent that she advocates change it’s always for more regulation and taxation, which results only in a growing wealth gap. She hints at this in the interview, but doesn’t fully connect the dots or see the implication. The answer to the wealth gap is not more government attempts to redistribute wealth and “level the playing field” and “give equal opportunity”; the answer is more freedom (i.e. less government).

    Remember, the super wealthy hire people to aid them in legally avoiding taxes, while the poor and middle class are subject to them. What’s more, she advocates more wasteful spending on pop buzzwords like “infrastructure”, without understanding that it will only result in more borrowing and inflation. Government-created inflation is doing more to wipe out the middle class and grow the wealth of the super elites than any other single factor.

    • ExcellentNews

       Indeed, there are moochers and victims in our society. I am not sure whether their prevalence is 47% or not. However, there is another group that is quite large. It is what Lenin called “The Useful Idiots”. I normally do not insult people online, but your case merits an exception since you are such an articulate member of that class. Or perhaps you are a robo-poster from India paid 15 cents/hour by PACs to spam and prevent an objective and truthful debate online?

      If not, then you are one of these people who would argue against their own interests and against the interests of the people in general, against any reason. Who benefits from the rise of the new feudal lord class? Nobody but the precious few of themselves.

      Ms. Freeland is right on the mark, 100% correct as to what is happening in our world. No matter how hard a regular person works, no matter how right they lead their life, the odds are increasingly against them, and the returns are ever diminishing – to a large extent because the handful on top are doing everything they can to make it so. I cannot blame them for acting in their own interest, but I DO BLAME YOU for not acting and speaking in the interest of ORDINARY US.

      • http://www.jobwaltz.com JobWaltz.com

        So I’m the useful idiot? Right. You don’t know me. I’m a climber and I’m working through the system and finding success. I have studied enough economics to know that Freeland’s appeal is to dupes that swallow whatever NPR is pimping. You remind me of the poor people in Venezuela that voted “in their own interests” to re-elect Chavez. Meanwhile the producers are all leaving the country and its returning to early 20th century levels of production. Shouldn’t you be camping out in Zucotti Park complaining about capitalism? Turn off your computer and join the revolution.

  • ExcellentNews

    This is truly one of the best OnPoints ever. We need more programs like that, on more networks around America and the world. Here is the summary: Middle Class – UNITE OR PERISH.

    One minor point to make. It is perhaps not right to lump all the “super-rich” in the same basket. A small number of them is super-rich because they DID create innovations that make the lives of the rest of us better. Most tech entrepreneurs are in this group. Interestingly – perhaps owing to superior intellect and education, most of them DO recognize the points made by Ms. Freeland and are supporting Obama. So, it is ironic that the picture for the show features two such people – Andreesen and Zuckerberg. Talk about misleading pictures…

    This being said, the majority of people labeled super-rich DID not make their fortunes this way. The inherited, or multiplied an already existing advantage by ARBITRAGE. Romney, the exploding blending industry, job outsourcers, energy magnates – all great examples of fortunes made by arbitrage which DOES NOT create anything of real value for mankind, and often results in deterioration of welfare for the majority. No wonder they are the ones who like to DEIFY themselves the most and denigrate the rest of the population as moochers and no-goods.

    It would be interesting if Ms. Freeland could discuss this more. As for the rest of us, if we the people are stupid enough to elect Romney, we do indeed deserve to live as peons in a new feudal age.

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