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Rory
 Post subject: 1950-2050: The Golden Age?  |  Posted: Sun Oct 19, 2014 8:39 am

Joined: Wed May 07, 2014 6:02 am
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 Does anybody else ever think that in the West we may well be living in what may prove to be for humanity the golden age of civilisation? We find ourselves in a society with sufficient division of labour to ensure that the standards of service provided by each sector are generally high, and with a mechanism of redress for those occasions when performance falls short of a goven standard. We are sufficiently economically advanced to ensure that even the poorest are guaranteed a basic living standard. We have access to information on other cultures that is globalvand instant and that so far is not heavily restricted by the internet police. As such we have freedom of thought and speech. Even our health care is of a good standard and is affordable for most people. Education standards are high with universal access. Yet, our civilisations face a number of concurrent serios threats that, if tackled individually, would probably be manageable, but their simultaneity may mean that lufe post2050 is fairly precarious. Clinate change, antibiotic resistance, terrorism, economic fraility and the increasing tensions between East and West. I am no futilitist - I am not suggesting that there is any short-term threat to Western civilisation, but it seems to me that perhaps this hundred years is the peak of humanity not because of any innate deterioration of human potentiak nut because of the nature and timing of multiple threats to our existence and sellbeing. Each of the threats is substantial, global in scope, and occurring alongside the others. _________________If you are doomed to be boring - make it short. Andre Geim
iNow
 Post subject: Re: 1950-2050: The Golden Age?  |  Posted: Sun Oct 19, 2014 2:12 pm

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 I don't think so. If we humans are currently at the peak of our potential, then I've done a very horrible job of estimating where that potential is. Looking around today at all of our problems and dysfunction, I have to hope that the best is still remains in front of us somewhere in the future. _________________iNow"[Time] is one of those concepts that is profoundly resistant to a simple definition." ~C. Sagan
Rory
 Post subject: Re: 1950-2050: The Golden Age?  |  Posted: Sun Oct 19, 2014 2:52 pm

Joined: Wed May 07, 2014 6:02 am
Posts: 1921

 Quote:iNow wrote: I have to hope that the best is still remains in front of us somewhere in the future But just because you want something to be true doesn't mean that it is true. It's one of those discussions in which only time will tell. _________________If you are doomed to be boring - make it short. Andre Geim
bunbury
 Post subject: Re: 1950-2050: The Golden Age?  |  Posted: Sun Oct 19, 2014 9:32 pm
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 Quote:We are sufficiently economically advanced to ensure that even the poorest are guaranteed a basic living standard.The trouble with this statement is that a "basic living standard" needs to be defined. Here in the US a family cannot sustain what I'm sure you and I would call a decent standard of living if the breadwinners are taking home the current minimum wage. It is perfectly possible to provide everyone with a decent living standard, but the political will is not strong enough to make this happen. I am with inow here - I sincerely hope this is not the golden age.
Rory
 Post subject: Re: 1950-2050: The Golden Age?  |  Posted: Wed Oct 22, 2014 7:03 pm

Joined: Wed May 07, 2014 6:02 am
Posts: 1921

 Absolutely, there are deficiencies in the world and a lot of room for improvememt - my point was that, given the ongoing population increase, and scarcity of resources, and build-up of waste products, it is difficult to imagine a future that is better than present day conditions, unless some kind of extreme transformation occurs. That transformation might be the developmemt and widespread use of more efficient green technologies. That would mean that peoplewouldn't need to work so hatd in order to feed themselves, clothe themselves and generallycto minimise entropy. I.e. economic conditionds would improve, no illegal wars would be initiated with the intent of purging fossil fuels, so terrorism would decline, and of course this solution would address climate change. The short-termism of career politicians and greedy capitalists generally mean that this prospect looks increasingly unlikely. _________________If you are doomed to be boring - make it short. Andre Geim
billvon
 Post subject: Re: 1950-2050: The Golden Age?  |  Posted: Thu Oct 23, 2014 10:45 pm

Joined: Thu Oct 02, 2014 5:23 pm
Posts: 86

 Rory wrote:Does anybody else ever think that in the West we may well be living in what may prove to be for humanity the golden age of civilisation?I think so, and it's one reason why I think it is important to solve some really vexing problems (like fossil fuel dependence, manned spaceflight, pollution) now rather than later. Only the rich can afford to forego luxuries to support something like manned space exploration - and right now we're very rich compared to the rest of history. That may not always be true.
Futilitist
 Post subject: Re: 1950-2050: The Golden Age?  |  Posted: Sat Oct 25, 2014 4:29 am

Joined: Fri Sep 14, 2012 9:33 pm
Posts: 656

 Rory wrote:I am no futilitist - I am not suggesting that there is any short-term threat to Western civilisation, but it seems to me that perhaps this hundred years is the peak of humanity not because of any innate deterioration of human potentiak nut because of the nature and timing of multiple threats to our existence and sellbeing. Each of the threats is substantial, global in scope, and occurring alongside the others.You realistically see that the various threats to humanity must logically eventually lead to collapse. But the golden age has already ended. We are very clearly in decline. The simultaneous, substantial, and global threats we face now can only get worse until they finally lead to collapse. There are many reasons to assume that that collapse must take place long before 2050.---Futilitist
GiantEvil
 Post subject: Re: 1950-2050: The Golden Age?  |  Posted: Sat Oct 25, 2014 6:59 am

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 bunbury wrote:Quote:We are sufficiently economically advanced to ensure that even the poorest are guaranteed a basic living standard.The trouble with this statement is that a "basic living standard" needs to be defined. Here in the US a family cannot sustain what I'm sure you and I would call a decent standard of living if the breadwinners are taking home the current minimum wage. It is perfectly possible to provide everyone with a decent living standard, but the political will is not strong enough to make this happen. I am with inow here - I sincerely hope this is not the golden age.I agree.While certain aspects of our times are consistent improvements over much of what has come before, we still have a long way to go. We have constant improvement towards the social destratification of society. I don't believe any modern industrial country legally allows blatant slavery. And most Americans are free to "gay marry" if they wish. And in my state, I can legally posses and consume pot. But there is also a terrific rift of income inequality. And I hold it self evident that wealth is not distributed as a matter of merit. What I really think can be summed up in a snowboarding metaphor. "There will always be chunder on the way to the freshies." _________________It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.-W. K. Clifford-
billvon
 Post subject: Re: 1950-2050: The Golden Age?  |  Posted: Sun Oct 26, 2014 10:26 pm

Joined: Thu Oct 02, 2014 5:23 pm
Posts: 86

 GiantEvil wrote:While certain aspects of our times are consistent improvements over much of what has come before, we still have a long way to go. We have constant improvement towards the social destratification of society. I don't believe any modern industrial country legally allows blatant slavery. And most Americans are free to "gay marry" if they wish. And in my state, I can legally posses and consume pot. But there is also a terrific rift of income inequality. And I hold it self evident that wealth is not distributed as a matter of merit.Agreed to all of the above. However, income equality, in and of itself, is not a bad thing. If the rich get richer at a rate of 3% a year, and the poor get richer at a rate of 1% a year - then we are definitely headed in the right direction, even if that gap is growing. The gap itself isn't important, it is the standard of living for everyone in society.
GiantEvil
 Post subject: Re: 1950-2050: The Golden Age?  |  Posted: Tue Oct 28, 2014 6:48 am

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 billvon wrote:GiantEvil wrote:While certain aspects of our times are consistent improvements over much of what has come before, we still have a long way to go. We have constant improvement towards the social destratification of society. I don't believe any modern industrial country legally allows blatant slavery. And most Americans are free to "gay marry" if they wish. And in my state, I can legally posses and consume pot. But there is also a terrific rift of income inequality. And I hold it self evident that wealth is not distributed as a matter of merit.Agreed to all of the above. However, income equality, in and of itself, is not a bad thing. If the rich get richer at a rate of 3% a year, and the poor get richer at a rate of 1% a year - then we are definitely headed in the right direction, even if that gap is growing. The gap itself isn't important, it is the standard of living for everyone in society.But it isn't getting better for everybody. The ACA is about the only good thing to happen for poor people lately. For the rich to have more wealth requires that everyone else have less. The current picture for middle class and poor is not good.http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/23/upshot/the-american-middle-class-is-no-longer-the-worlds-richest.html?abt=0002&abg=1http://billmoyers.com/2013/09/20/by-the-numbers-the-incredibly-shrinking-american-middle-class/http://www.businessinsider.com/22-statistics-that-prove-the-middle-class-is-being-systematically-wiped-out-of-existence-in-america-2010-7?op=1http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/poverty-was-flat-in-2011-percentage-without-health-insurance-fell/2012/09/12/0e04632c-fc29-11e1-8adc-499661afe377_story.html _________________It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.-W. K. Clifford-
Rory
 Post subject: Re: 1950-2050: The Golden Age?  |  Posted: Tue Oct 28, 2014 12:20 pm

Joined: Wed May 07, 2014 6:02 am
Posts: 1921

 Quote:billvon wrote: If the rich get richer at a rate of 3% a year, and the poor get richer at a rate of 1% a year - then we are definitely headed in the right direction, even if that gap is growing. If the pay for all classes increased in real terms then it would be okay, except for the alienation between social classes, but that is not the situation in the UK or even globally. The rich are getting richer because the poor are getting poorer. Living standards are continuing to fall, those in work are not guaranteed protection from poverty, and the use of food banks continues unabated. _________________If you are doomed to be boring - make it short. Andre Geim
billvon
 Post subject: Re: 1950-2050: The Golden Age?  |  Posted: Tue Oct 28, 2014 10:21 pm

Joined: Thu Oct 02, 2014 5:23 pm
Posts: 86

 Rory wrote:If the pay for all classes increased in real terms then it would be okay, except for the alienation between social classes, but that is not the situation in the UK or even globally. The rich are getting richer because the poor are getting poorer. Living standards are continuing to fall, those in work are not guaranteed protection from poverty, and the use of food banks continues unabated.?? I don't think there's any causal relationship there. Poverty does not breed wealth. In the US the bottom 20% are either stagnant or increasing slightly, depending on where you measure from. The rich are getting much richer.
iNow
 Post subject: Re: 1950-2050: The Golden Age?  |  Posted: Wed Oct 29, 2014 12:04 am

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 Perhaps the intended point was that because so much more wealth and money is flowing to the top 1% and 0.1% there is that much less wealth and money to flow down to those in poverty, or even those in the bottom 80 to 90%. The notable gains being realized in the current environment are quite narrowly focused toward a vanishingly small and fractional few.http://www.forbes.com/sites/laurashin/2 ... n-poorest/Quote:The 85 Richest People In The World Have As Much Wealth As The 3.5 Billion Poorest _________________iNow"[Time] is one of those concepts that is profoundly resistant to a simple definition." ~C. Sagan
billvon
 Post subject: Re: 1950-2050: The Golden Age?  |  Posted: Wed Oct 29, 2014 3:48 am

Joined: Thu Oct 02, 2014 5:23 pm
Posts: 86

 iNow wrote:Perhaps the intended point was that because so much more wealth and money is flowing to the top 1% and 0.1% there is that much less wealth and money to flow down to those in poverty, or even those in the bottom 80 to 90%. I don't think it's a zero sum game. If you start a new industry (say Internet service providers) the result is not that some people lose money to enrich the people running the business. Overall the economy improves, and there is more money total in circulation.
iNow
 Post subject: Re: 1950-2050: The Golden Age?  |  Posted: Wed Oct 29, 2014 4:59 am

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 I agree that it's not a zero-sum game, but was positing that perhaps that was Rory's intended point.With that said, the total share of overall earnings among the bottom 90% is declining at alarming rates, and given that 70% of all US economic activity is based on consumer spending that reduction in purchasing power among the vast majority of our populace doesn't bode well for anyone.Real wages among the top 1% have risen at a rate of nearly 10% whereas real wages among the bottom 90% (a sizable majority) have steadily declined at a rate of 1-3%. Add to that how most gains are being seen in the stock market and not in the jobs market, or how wages keep going down despite productivity going up and the nature of the problem before us becomes more apparent.It should also be noted that while the wealthy are earning at higher rates, they are not spending at higher rates. The people who do spend... Who do the bulk of the consumption... Are on net making less and drawing lower incomes and hence are having to borrow to execute on that spending (often for basic goods),consequently adding to their debt burden. As if we are striving for some sort of trifecta, our country is also not generally investing in the future in any meaningful ways and is actually drawing down fiscal spending which may ultimately lead to another layer of problems with secular stagnation.http://www.epi.org/publication/ib347-ea ... -strongly/http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexch ... agnation-0So, as a general rule, as the overall economy improves, so too do the number of opportunities and potential for personal enrichment, but general rules don't always apply and there are a growing number of important exceptions. Sometimes a rising tide doesn't actually lift all boats. Sometimes it just results in more drownings, especially when the barriers to entry into potential prosperity have so consistently been displaced upward these last several years and so often rely on arbitrary things such as the lottery of birth. _________________iNow"[Time] is one of those concepts that is profoundly resistant to a simple definition." ~C. Sagan
iNow
 Post subject: Re: 1950-2050: The Golden Age?  |  Posted: Wed Oct 29, 2014 5:06 pm

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 Just watched this and thought it was pretty well done. It's My Little Pony explaining some of the reality of inequality as voiced by Amy Poehler, Andy Richter, and Sarah Silverman: _________________iNow"[Time] is one of those concepts that is profoundly resistant to a simple definition." ~C. Sagan
GiantEvil
 Post subject: Re: 1950-2050: The Golden Age?  |  Posted: Wed Oct 29, 2014 8:54 pm

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 Here is an article which, to me, sums up the issue quite well; http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/06/the-pitchforks-are-coming-for-us-plutocrats-108014.htmlMy better nature wishes for a peaceful policy shift, but I honestly feel the visceral desire for bloody revolution. For now I guess I will pay attention and vote carefully. _________________It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.-W. K. Clifford-
iNow
 Post subject: Re: 1950-2050: The Golden Age?  |  Posted: Thu Oct 30, 2014 12:41 am

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 I saw that when it first came out. IMO, it resonates more since the messenger is himself part of the top one-tenth of one percent. _________________iNow"[Time] is one of those concepts that is profoundly resistant to a simple definition." ~C. Sagan
billvon
 Post subject: Re: 1950-2050: The Golden Age?  |  Posted: Thu Oct 30, 2014 3:31 am

Joined: Thu Oct 02, 2014 5:23 pm
Posts: 86

 iNow wrote:With that said, the total share of overall earnings among the bottom 90% is declining at alarming rates, and given that 70% of all US economic activity is based on consumer spending that reduction in purchasing power among the vast majority of our populace doesn't bode well for anyone.But the overall income (in real dollars) is going up at good rates. The 40-60% household quintile in the US, for example, has gone up almost by a factor of 2 since 1965. That means a better standard of living for almost everyone. The one exception is the bottom 20% - that's been flat, which is something we should work on. But often the perception you get from reading popular press is that the bottom 90% is making less over time, and is thus being harmed by the rich. That's not the case; the vast majority of US households are making more in real dollars when you look at 10+ year time frames. And to me that's a good thing.Quote:So, as a general rule, as the overall economy improves, so too do the number of opportunities and potential for personal enrichment, but general rules don't always apply and there are a growing number of important exceptions. Sometimes a rising tide doesn't actually lift all boats. Sometimes it just results in more drownings, especially when the barriers to entry into potential prosperity have so consistently been displaced upward these last several years and so often rely on arbitrary things such as the lottery of birth.I definitely disagree that there are more "drownings." Since 1965 income for most Americans has been going up. There have been dips due to recessions (5 since 1965) but overall, for most households in the US, income has been going up.
iNow
 Post subject: Re: 1950-2050: The Golden Age?  |  Posted: Thu Oct 30, 2014 4:01 am

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 Looking at overall income anchors the dataset since averages are pulled so far upward by a small handful of the uber wealthy. They are several standard deviations outside the median and should likely be omitted.Some estimates suggest that had wage inequality not risen between 1979 and 2007 the way it did then middle class incomes would have been about $18,000 higher in 2007. Instead of just looking at overall numbers and saying, "Yay, there was growth!" I think it's more appropriate to take a broader view and realize how much lost opportunity there was.$18K higher would change lives by the millions, and consequently change the economy itself.You're right that there was lots of growth (although, that too was only broadly shared in the mid-90s, but focused at the top the rest of the time), but there was huge lost opportunity for the heavy middle. More than 90% of the populace experienced wage growth that was strangely slower than the overall average. I'm no math wizard, but that seems skewed to me.http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/201 ... -this-yearQuote:Had wage inequality not risen between 1979 and 2007, middle class incomes would have been about $18,000 higher in 2007. <...> The rise in wages for those at the top also correlates with growth in the stock market, with stock options of executives included in their wages. The EPI report's release comes as the stock market enjoys a strong run, with the S&P 500 closing at a record high of 2000 Tuesday, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average also nearing an all-time high.Had wealth been distributed more evenly throughout these time periods, the standard of living would be higher for Americans at the bottom-end of the pay scale for whom wages are the primary source of income, Gould says.Between 1979 and 2013, productivity grew eight times faster than hourly wages of production and nonsupervisory workers, who make up over 80 percent of the private sector workforce. _________________iNow"[Time] is one of those concepts that is profoundly resistant to a simple definition." ~C. Sagan iNow  Post subject: Re: 1950-2050: The Golden Age? | Posted: Mon Nov 03, 2014 4:12 am Original Member Joined: Thu Aug 04, 2011 11:40 pm Posts: 5728 Location: Iowa  For those who perhaps have not yet seen this:[youtube]http://youtube.com/watch?v=QPKKQnijnsM[/youtube] _________________iNow"[Time] is one of those concepts that is profoundly resistant to a simple definition." ~C. Sagan Rory  Post subject: Re: 1950-2050: The Golden Age? | Posted: Mon Nov 03, 2014 8:57 pm Joined: Wed May 07, 2014 6:02 am Posts: 1921  Too depressing. There's no point trying in business for the average worker, there's no return on invested time/energy/effort.I am struggling to feel any kind of compassion for the rich anymore. When I see a Porsche driver, I like to imagine them being reduced to poverty _________________If you are doomed to be boring - make it short. Andre Geim iNow  Post subject: Re: 1950-2050: The Golden Age? | Posted: Mon Nov 03, 2014 10:34 pm Original Member Joined: Thu Aug 04, 2011 11:40 pm Posts: 5728 Location: Iowa  Even if they started in the gutter and worked their ass off for years and years and years to be able to afford that nice car? Seems a bit fickle and superficial upon immediate inspection.I don't disagree that we have huge problems with opportunity and inequality, but at the same time to say there's no point in trying to succeed in business strikes me as the wrong conclusion to draw.Re: The the issue of working hard and hustling to get ahead, a fun article: http://www.artofmanliness.com/2012/03/2 ... l-lessons/ Quote:Last month we explored the personal finance wisdom that can be gleaned from the life of Benjamin Franklin. Today we will uncover success lessons from a man who has much in common with his colonial counterpart: Andrew Carnegie.Like Franklin, Carnegie was a self-made man who rose from humble beginnings to international eminence. He was born in Scotland in 1835 to a failed linen weaver and immigrated to the United States as a boy. With only a year or two of schooling, he moved from factory bobbin boy to railroad executive to iron and steel magnate, eventually becoming the richest man in the world.Carnegie and Franklin both credited much of their success to self-education (both spent all their spare moments reading any books they could get their hands on) and their membership in mutual improvement groups. As a teenager, Carnegie started... _________________iNow"[Time] is one of those concepts that is profoundly resistant to a simple definition." ~C. Sagan Rory  Post subject: Re: 1950-2050: The Golden Age? | Posted: Mon Nov 03, 2014 11:17 pm Joined: Wed May 07, 2014 6:02 am Posts: 1921  Well, no, I guess there are some wealthy people who deserve their fortune but for every one there is likely to be one or more who have acquired their wealth through immoral means including poor working conditions for their employees or through a business that brings only degradation to their country e.g. drugs, prostitution, gambling, pretty well any industry that sells anything that is not required for survival or wellbeing. A prime example would have been the 29 year old privately educated Cambridge graduate investment banker reported to have murdered two Chinese sex workers. If I had known his character beforehand and was in a position to do so I would have quite happily redistributed his wealth to good people who actually need it. _________________If you are doomed to be boring - make it short. Andre Geim iNow  Post subject: Re: 1950-2050: The Golden Age? | Posted: Tue Nov 04, 2014 1:16 am Original Member Joined: Thu Aug 04, 2011 11:40 pm Posts: 5728 Location: Iowa  But you have no way of knowing how individuals have earned their money, yet you seem quite often quick to judge and even possibly despise them for having it. Your words, a sentiment frequently visible in other posts you've submitted, were: "When I see a Porsche driver, I like to imagine them being reduced to poverty." Anger and gentle hatred of others won't help you or me find prosperity for ourselves, will it?On another note, this is interesting as pertains to the link between money and happiness:http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicd ... y-chart-20^click to enlarge _________________iNow"[Time] is one of those concepts that is profoundly resistant to a simple definition." ~C. Sagan bunbury  Post subject: Re: 1950-2050: The Golden Age? | Posted: Tue Nov 04, 2014 1:53 am Original Member Joined: Sun Aug 07, 2011 5:55 am Posts: 978 Location: Denver, Colorado  I'm with inow on this. There's nothing wrong with becoming wealthy through legal means, regardless of whether that is by the sweat of physical work, steady progress up the corporate ladder, or through clever or lucky investment. At the same time there is nothing wrong with a progressive taxation system that asks the wealthy to pay more, and this should include an inheritance tax with the goal of avoiding the continuous concentration of wealth and power in fewer and fewer untalented and unfit people. I think we are all at risk of seeing anyone who has more money than we do as undeserving. If you only have a bicycle you are jealous of the person with a Ford, who is jealous of the person with a Porsche. This is not the right way to see the world. billvon  Post subject: Re: 1950-2050: The Golden Age? | Posted: Tue Nov 04, 2014 5:02 am Joined: Thu Oct 02, 2014 5:23 pm Posts: 86  iNow wrote:Looking at overall income anchors the dataset since averages are pulled so far upward by a small handful of the uber wealthy. They are several standard deviations outside the median and should likely be omitted.If we omit the exceptions, then the vast majority of Americans are doing much better than they were in 1950 - and overall income disparity is far lower than you claim.Quote:Some estimates suggest that had wage inequality not risen between 1979 and 2007 the way it did then middle class incomes would have been about$18,000 higher in 2007. Instead of just looking at overall numbers and saying, "Yay, there was growth!" I think it's more appropriate to take a broader view and realize how much lost opportunity there was. $18K higher would change lives by the millions, and consequently change the economy itself.I guess we see things very differently. I think that$2K higher is a good thing; increases spending power, improves people's lives and increases their standard of living. You seem to think that $2K higher is, in some way, actually losing$16k because someone else got more.Quote:Had wealth been distributed more evenly throughout these time periods, the standard of living would be higher for Americans at the bottom-end of the pay scale for whom wages are the primary source of income, Gould says.Certainly true. Likewise, had the lowest income earners died off, then average standards of living would be higher. Forcing either to happen, however, is not necessarily desirable.
iNow
 Post subject: Re: 1950-2050: The Golden Age?  |  Posted: Tue Nov 04, 2014 5:57 am

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 billvon wrote:I guess we see things very differently. I think that $2K higher is a good thingI also think it's a good thing, but can at the same time lament how we seem to have settled for so little when so much more was possible. Clearly, there was growth, but there was also tremendous lost opportunity... a failure to realize the actual potential present in the system. It has only been made worse by the fact that this growth has been focused and restricted in such a way that merit and utility and hard work were less rewarded than unalterable things like the lottery of birth. _________________iNow"[Time] is one of those concepts that is profoundly resistant to a simple definition." ~C. Sagan Rory  Post subject: Re: 1950-2050: The Golden Age? | Posted: Tue Nov 04, 2014 2:00 pm Joined: Wed May 07, 2014 6:02 am Posts: 1921  Anger doesn't solve problems unless acted upon and it is not a completely rational emotion but sometimes the intellectual acknowledgement of certain facts has no impact upon emotional response to reality. Every rich person is a reflection of the increasing disparity between wealthy and poor. If you are content to watch economic injustices flow in one direction towards the poor and powerless but not in the opposite direction towards the rich and powerful that would suggest to me that you are doing quite well out of the inequality. Why should I care about the rich? About CEOs prepared to takehome 380x the salary of the average worker? As mentioned in the video, it seems unlikely that the CEO works 380x harder than the average employee or that their ideas are 380x better than the average worker's. In reality the CEO relies on a vast network of other employees for diary management, strategic decision-making, catering, accounting. Is there anything they actually do for themself beside make it to work on time with fastened shoe laces? _________________If you are doomed to be boring - make it short. Andre Geim bunbury  Post subject: Re: 1950-2050: The Golden Age? | Posted: Tue Nov 04, 2014 2:57 pm Original Member Joined: Sun Aug 07, 2011 5:55 am Posts: 978 Location: Denver, Colorado  Quote:Every rich person is a reflection of the increasing disparity between wealthy and poor.Please define what you mean by rich. It seems to me that your bitterness and anger are directed at anyone who has more than you. Or is there a threshold? Only people who have ten times more than you, or a thousand times?Get used to the fact that the rich will always be with us, and that is not in itself a bad thing. iNow  Post subject: Re: 1950-2050: The Golden Age? | Posted: Tue Nov 04, 2014 3:02 pm Original Member Joined: Thu Aug 04, 2011 11:40 pm Posts: 5728 Location: Iowa  Rory wrote:Anger doesn't solve problems unless acted uponActed upon, how? I am not clear how this statement can be viewed as true, but suspect with a little extra context it will become more apparent.Rory wrote:If you are content to watch economic injustices flow in one direction towards the poor and powerless but not in the opposite direction towards the rich and powerful that would suggest to me that you are doing quite well out of the inequality. Is that really the message you are hearing in my words and what you take from my posts here? ... That I am content to watch continued injustice and biased in my support of the wealthy over the poor and powerless? If so, then clearly I'm failing in my attempts to communicate successfully.Rory wrote:In reality the CEO relies on a vast network of other employees for diary management, strategic decision-making, catering, accounting. Is there anything they actually do for themself beside make it to work on time with fastened shoe laces?While some executives are better than others, clearly the answer to your question here is yes. The role of the executive is similar to the role of a military leader or general, and the work they do is hard and involves difficult choices often against impossible odds and within suffocating constraints, and this is true even though some of those fortunate enough to be in such roles are not ideally suited to make those decisions and should not hold the position they do. The position itself, however, is much more complex and intense and emotionally draining than just "fastening shoe laces."I appreciate your frustration and tend to share your concern about the trends we're seeing in aggregate, but I urge you not to let it so cloud your judgement about people as individuals or let it make you so recalcitrant in your views as if this is all an us/them battle where screaming "off with their heads!" is treated as a viable solution. IMO, we can effectively improve the system and make holistic changes that will enhance the lives of millions, reduce poverty, set a basic minimum foundation for all humans, and IMO we can do this all without performing witchhunts (rhetorical or otherwise) against those who happen to be currently thriving in the face of such dysfunction and obstacle. _________________iNow"[Time] is one of those concepts that is profoundly resistant to a simple definition." ~C. Sagan Rory  Post subject: Re: 1950-2050: The Golden Age? | Posted: Tue Nov 04, 2014 3:35 pm Joined: Wed May 07, 2014 6:02 am Posts: 1921  _________________If you are doomed to be boring - make it short. Andre Geim billvon  Post subject: Re: 1950-2050: The Golden Age? | Posted: Tue Nov 04, 2014 4:32 pm Joined: Thu Oct 02, 2014 5:23 pm Posts: 86  iNow wrote:billvon wrote:I guess we see things very differently. I think that$2K higher is a good thingI also think it's a good thing, but can at the same time lament how we seem to have settled for so little when so much more was possible. Clearly, there was growth, but there was also tremendous lost opportunity... a failure to realize the actual potential present in the system. It has only been made worse by the fact that this growth has been focused and restricted in such a way that merit and utility and hard work were less rewarded than unalterable things like the lottery of birth.Oh, I think merit and hard work are rewarded tremendously. Look at the richest, most influential people in society today - Elon Musk, (formerly) Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Sam Walton, and Steve Ballmer.And those are just the big names. Look at John Paul DeJoria - child of immigrants, divorced when he was two, sent to a foster home. He got a \$700 loan and started selling shampoo from his car. He created John Paul Mitchell Systems, started producing Patron tequila, and is now a billionaire.Or Howard Schultz. He was destitute growing up, living in the "projects" in Brooklyn, but was able to afford college on a football scholarship. He got a job at Xerox, then quit to take over a tiny coffee shop called Starbucks.Or Joanne Rowling, born into poverty in the UK. Her family lived on welfare for years while she went to school. Her mother was ill most of the time and she wasn't on speaking terms with her father. Tried to get into Oxford, failed. Then she started writing under the pseudonym J.K.In the US (and many Western countries) if you are talented, willing to work hard and willing to take risks, odds are you are going to do very, very well. Most people don't meet those criteria, and even then, some people don't make it. But having that opportunity open for people is one of the best parts of our society, one that I would not want to see changed.
iNow
 Post subject: Re: 1950-2050: The Golden Age?  |  Posted: Tue Nov 04, 2014 6:47 pm

Original Member

Joined: Thu Aug 04, 2011 11:40 pm
Posts: 5728
Location: Iowa

 There will always be anecdotes and exceptions, and your examples demonstrate this. However, your post seems to ignore the related issue of why so many hard working people are still failing... Why so many people working full time, often two and even three jobs, are still struggling to get by and survive or surpass the poverty line. Clearly, if hard work were the relevant variable here we'd not be seeing such enormous asymmetries or distress among the population. Hard work plays a role, but that work must still be performed within a system that properly protects and rewards it. You seem to be suggesting that the poor aren't working hard enough, but the data easily refutes such claims both in terms of hours and in terms of available luxury/free time available to those in poverty (aka: weekends).These are the types trends that I see and tend to focus more of my comments on:http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/won ... ing-wrong/Quote:Poor kids who do everything right don’t do better than rich kids who do everything wrong<...>Even poor kids who do everything right don't do much better than rich kids who do everything wrong. Advantages and disadvantages, in other words, tend to perpetuate themselves. <...> Specifically, rich high school dropouts remain in the top about as much as poor college grads stay stuck in the bottom — 14 versus 16 percent, respectively. Not only that, but these low-income strivers are just as likely to end up in the bottom as these wealthy ne'er-do-wells. Some meritocracy.Here's the paper from the Boston Fed on which some of this is based: http://www.bostonfed.org/inequality2014 ... awhill.pdfAll one needs to do is look at some basic income mobility metrics to see that you are discussing the exceptions with Steve Jobs and Elon Musk et al., not the rule for the other 99%+ of the population. _________________iNow"[Time] is one of those concepts that is profoundly resistant to a simple definition." ~C. Sagan
billvon
 Post subject: Re: 1950-2050: The Golden Age?  |  Posted: Tue Nov 04, 2014 6:59 pm

Joined: Thu Oct 02, 2014 5:23 pm
Posts: 86

 iNow wrote:There will always be anecdotes and exceptions, and your examples demonstrate this. However, your post seems to ignore the related issue of why so many hard working people are still failing... Clearly, if hard work were the relevant variable here we'd not be seeing such enormous asymmetries or distress among the population. Hard work is only one part of the formula. You also need talent and the courage to take risks. Any one of them alone won't cut it. The hardest working janitor in the world isn't ever going to make very much money, even if he works 16 hour days and mops diligently.Quote:Even poor kids who do everything right don't do much better than rich kids who do everything wrong.That's OK. What's important is that they do better.Quote:Advantages and disadvantages, in other words, tend to perpetuate themselves. <...> Specifically, rich high school dropouts remain in the top about as much as poor college grads stay stuck in the bottom — 14 versus 16 percent, respectively. Not only that, but these low-income strivers are just as likely to end up in the bottom as these wealthy ne'er-do-wells. Some meritocracy.We don't have a meritocracy, nor should we. (You'd hate it, as would most people.)Quote:All one needs to do is look at some basic income mobility metrics to see that you are discussing the exceptions with Steve Jobs and Elon Musk et al., not the rule.Of course they are the exceptions; few people have that combination of work ethic, talent and willingness to take risks.Imagine a world where cheap fusion and capable AI revolutionize the economy, and everyone does better. The bottom percentile make 2x (in real dollars) than they do now, the middle class makes 5x what they do now and the top 1% makes 10x what they do now. I would celebrate that as an overwhelming success. I have the feeling you'd say "but the poor are now five times as poor as they were before compared to those rich guys!"
iNow
 Post subject: Re: 1950-2050: The Golden Age?  |  Posted: Wed Nov 05, 2014 1:49 am

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Joined: Thu Aug 04, 2011 11:40 pm
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Location: Iowa

 billvon wrote:Hard work is only one part of the formula. You also need talent and the courage to take risks. Any one of them alone won't cut it.Indeed, I don't disagree. Success is a combination of many factors, and noticeably absent from your list are things like opportunity, access, food/shelter stability, and luck.billvon wrote:Quote:Even poor kids who do everything right don't do much better than rich kids who do everything wrong.That's OK. What's important is that they do better.It's not clear to me what your intended point is by replying this way. Will you please elaborate?billvon wrote:Quote:All one needs to do is look at some basic income mobility metrics to see that you are discussing the exceptions with Steve Jobs and Elon Musk et al., not the rule.Of course they are the exceptions; few people have that combination of work ethic, talent and willingness to take risks.+ Luck and many of the items already cited that are required for hard work to ultimately bear fruit.That said, nothing you've just said changes the core point that you are citing a tiny handful of exceptions as if they serve as a valid rebuttal to a very broad trend of increasing inequality and decreasing opportunity across the vast majority that has been worsening over time and which is supported by essentially all economic data currently available to us.I can't help but notice that you also seem to be suggesting that poverty is due to a lack of hard work even though many struggling to succeed work extreme hours often across multiple jobs. You may disagree, but IMO nobody who works more than 40 hours per week should be struggling to feed themselves and their families, yet that is more and more becoming the new normal. _________________iNow"[Time] is one of those concepts that is profoundly resistant to a simple definition." ~C. Sagan
billvon
 Post subject: Re: 1950-2050: The Golden Age?  |  Posted: Wed Nov 05, 2014 6:32 am

Joined: Thu Oct 02, 2014 5:23 pm
Posts: 86

 iNow wrote:Indeed, I don't disagree. Success is a combination of many factors, and noticeably absent from your list are things like opportunity, access, food/shelter stability, and luck.Given that my list included orphans, people who lived in their cars and people without access to . . . much of anything, those are not requirements. (Although luck surely plays a part.)Quote:billvon wrote:That's OK. What's important is that they do better.It's not clear to me what your intended point is by replying this way. Will you please elaborate?It is important that they do better than they have in the past; that they can, if they choose, become more successful. It is not important that someone else is doing even better than they are.billvon wrote:That said, nothing you've just said changes the core point that you are citing a tiny handful of exceptions as if they serve as a valid rebuttal to a very broad trend of increasing inequality and decreasing opportunity across the vast majority that has been worsening over time and which is supported by essentially all economic data currently available to us.And I am saying that "income equality" does not matter. It does not matter to a poor person if Bill Gates makes another billion (or loses a billion.) What matters is that THEY make more money in real dollars.Sure, people may be jealous. But jealousy doesn't keep you from buying a better home with the additional income you are garnering, nor does a sense of satisfaction seeing the rich "pulled down" help send your kids to college. Trying to "solve income equality" is trying to solve the wrong problem. Our time would be better spent trying to increase income across the board - and secondarily get people with jealousy issues counseling.Quote:I can't help but notice that you also seem to be suggesting that poverty is due to a lack of hard work even though many struggling to succeed work extreme hours often across multiple jobs.Poverty is often due to a lack of hard work, a lack of talent OR a lack of willingness to take risks. To use a previous example, a janitor can push a mop 80 hours a week and never make it out of poverty. Or a brilliant physicist can decide to never do a lick of work and remain in poverty. Or a hardworking manager at McDonald's can decide to never take the risk of going to college and trying for a different job. It takes more than just hard work.Quote: You may disagree, but IMO nobody who works more than 40 hours per week should be struggling to feed themselves and their families, yet that is more and more becoming the new normal.If we have a society where someone with no talent and no desire to take any risk can work 40 hours a week at a menial job, and still feed their family, we are doing damn well indeed.
iNow
 Post subject: Re: 1950-2050: The Golden Age?  |  Posted: Wed Nov 05, 2014 11:41 am

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Rory
 Post subject: Re: 1950-2050: The Golden Age?  |  Posted: Wed Nov 05, 2014 2:12 pm

Joined: Wed May 07, 2014 6:02 am
Posts: 1921

 Push the malfeasance too far and history shows that there will be bloody revolution. _________________If you are doomed to be boring - make it short. Andre Geim
billvon
 Post subject: Re: 1950-2050: The Golden Age?  |  Posted: Thu Nov 06, 2014 10:21 pm

Joined: Thu Oct 02, 2014 5:23 pm
Posts: 86

 iNow wrote:This seems to miss the point and ignore available information, though. Your position rests on the premise that the opportunity exists at all, which for a great many people simply isn't the case. It's the classic "just pull yourself up by your bootstraps" argument which does not hold up in today's economy for a sizable majority. The opportunity certainly exists; not everyone can take advantage of it. Without talent and a willingness to take risks, even the hardest worker will not succeed. Hard work alone is not enough.Quote:In relative and remedial terms, of course I agree that one who works harder will tend to do better than one who does not, but that is peripheral to what I'm actually discussing. As I have already shared and supported above, hard work absent opportunity and access quite often and far too frequently is not enough.Even with opportunity and access (which most people in the US have) hard work is generally not enough without the other qualities listed above. Quote:The focus of my position is that the system has grown dysfunctional through the years and that those opportunities and that access must be enhanced and rebalanced somehow, whereas the focus of your position is that those living in poverty simply are not trying hard enough to get out of it.I have never said that, and in fact have said the opposite at least two (now three) times.Quote:This is not about jealousy, though. It is curious to me why you've chosen to introduce that since it doesn't relate to my actual argument or posts in any way whatsoever.Because I have spoken to a lot of people who would much rather see a 10% reduction in the income of the top 1% than a 1% increase in the income of everyone. In other words, they are OK not helping the poor as long as the rich are harmed. The desire to see harm done to others due to a lack of what they possess is pretty much the textbook definition of jealousy. They often label it as "reducing income inequality" - but the underlying drive is jealousy.Quote:Stating that we are in an economy with extreme income inequality, suggesting that opportunity and access are becoming less and less available to the masses and more restricted in a nepotistic way on the fortunate few, and acknowledging that this hurts aggregate demand and consequently all of us and the economy as a whole should not IMO simply be brushed aside and dismissed as if petty jealousy is the underlying reason for sharing or seeking to address those points.Wanting to ensure opportunities for all is certainly not jealousy. Wanting the rich "pulled down" to address a perceived unfairness is jealousy. They are two different things since the system is not a zero sum game.Quote:However, none of those things explain why poverty has been so sticky lately nor why people who do work hard and who do have talent and who are willing to take risks are still so frequently suffering in today's economy, nor why they are suffering in greater numbers today than they were in the past.That I disagree with. Compared to the 1950's we have less poverty, less starvation, and less homelessness. The medical problems of the poor have changed from malnutrition and lack of medical care to the health consequences of obesity. And ignoring transients from economic swings (i.e, the recession of 2008) overall we are doing better in all income ranges. That's not to say we have all our problems solved - far from it. Education needs to get a higher priority, as does vocational training. But at least we are headed in the right direction (improved incomes for most Americans.)
Rory
 Post subject: Re: 1950-2050: The Golden Age?  |  Posted: Thu Nov 06, 2014 10:47 pm

Joined: Wed May 07, 2014 6:02 am
Posts: 1921

 Billvon, You seem keen to bolster the contribution of talent and risk-taking behaviour as factors in the discrepancy between wealthy and poor. If reality was as you imagine it to be then the unemployment rate among university graduates would not be so high and there would not be the current situation of highly educated and talented individuals stuck in tedious, meaningless, low paid unskilled work that frankly could be performed more efficiently by robots/machines. And if you are going to argue that these people ought to be able to pull hemselves up by the bootstraps I would say that that is possible for a tiny minority not because of differences in ability but because of differences in circumstances/luck. If we have an economy in such a state that whole swathes of young talented people are expected to perform an economic miracle then it is not an economy fit for purpose in the 21st century. Likewise, risk-taking is not necessarily an attribute to be proud if: the whole point of risk is that there is a calculable probability of success/failure but no guarantee. If you go around retrospectively commending those who by coincidence happened to be in the right place at the right time then you may as well start cheering the lab pigeons who twirl twice in expectation of food arriving.As for the jealousy issue - jealousy is one thing, when somebody has something that you may be able to possess also if you decided to will the action. But the economic situation is one of day light injustice: everybody can see the unfairness of wealth distribution in the West, except for those who don't want to see it. The moment economic destiny is no longer predicated on meritocracy is the moment productivity fails and the econony fails for all. _________________If you are doomed to be boring - make it short. Andre Geim
billvon
 Post subject: Re: 1950-2050: The Golden Age?  |  Posted: Thu Nov 06, 2014 11:46 pm

Joined: Thu Oct 02, 2014 5:23 pm
Posts: 86

 Rory wrote: You seem keen to bolster the contribution of talent and risk-taking behaviour as factors in the discrepancy between wealthy and poor. If reality was as you imagine it to be then the unemployment rate among university graduates would not be so high?? The unemployment rate for university graduates is 3%. That means that for every 100 grads, 97 have jobs. That's pretty _low._ And on average they make more than twice as much as people who do not complete educational programs.What does that mean? It means that the willingness to take risk (i.e. invest time and money in education) pays off. It does not, of course, mean that everyone who graduates from college has talent - but if you are marginal in that department it surely helps.Quote:and there would not be the current situation of highly educated and talented individuals stuck in tedious, meaningless, low paid unskilled work that frankly could be performed more efficiently by robots/machines. I don't know of any talented, highly educated and risk-accepting people "stuck" in jobs that can be replaced by robots. I am sure they exist - but they're pretty rare.Quote:And if you are going to argue that these people ought to be able to pull hemselves up by the bootstraps I would say that that is possible for a tiny minority not because of differences in ability but because of differences in circumstances/luck.I'd say it's possible for the vast majority. Maybe not in a year, or even ten years. Perhaps the best they can do is pull themselves halfway up and give their children a better starting point than they had. (It is difficult, for example, to begin your education at age 30, having had no education up until that point.) But again, if someone in the US has gotten to age 30 with no education at all, that is not because of "the system" - they (or their parents) had to fight the system to remain education-free.Quote: Likewise, risk-taking is not necessarily an attribute to be proud if: the whole point of risk is that there is a calculable probability of success/failure but no guarantee.EXACTLY! And if you prefer a low-risk approach that nets you a reliable but low paying job you should have every right to do that. Quote:If you go around retrospectively commending those who by coincidence happened to be in the right place at the right time then you may as well start cheering the lab pigeons who twirl twice in expectation of food arriving.So you are saying that people who succeed despite difficult beginnings have no role in their own success? An unsupportable premise, conflated with a completely unrelated phenomenon.Quote:As for the jealousy issue - jealousy is one thing, when somebody has something that you may be able to possess also if you decided to will the action. But the economic situation is one of day light injustice: everybody can see the unfairness of wealth distribution in the WestThe term "fair" is entirely subjective. Some people feel it is unfair the rich have so much money when the poor have so little. Some people feel it is unfair that the poor get so much of their living expenses paid for by the government. Neither of those is a valid argument for social change. (Or put another way, they are both equally valid.)Quote:The moment economic destiny is no longer predicated on meritocracy is the moment productivity fails and the econony fails for all.Given that the amount of productivity per person in the US is the highest in the world, and that US wages are the highest in the world, that seems like a minor risk.
iNow
 Post subject: Re: 1950-2050: The Golden Age?  |  Posted: Fri Nov 07, 2014 1:27 am

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billvon
 Post subject: Re: 1950-2050: The Golden Age?  |  Posted: Fri Nov 07, 2014 5:20 pm

Joined: Thu Oct 02, 2014 5:23 pm
Posts: 86

 iNow wrote:Anyway, a few more nuggets from todays news:That graph is an excellent portrayal of how you can use clever math to distort the facts. Even though most people are making more, it looks like (at first glance) that 90% of people are making less.Taking the graph just as data, I have no problem with it. If everyone is making more, then we are in better shape, even if one segment (high OR low) is making even more.Quote:Today, 1% of Americans are taking home nearly 20 percent of the country’s total income, and own more than 35% of America’s wealth.Agreed. And if in 10 years 1% of Americans are taking home 30% of the country's total income, and own more than 40% of America's wealth - AND all sectors of wage-earners are increasing their real income - then that would be a great outcome. Everyone is doing better.Quote:And it didn’t happen by accident. It’s the result of policy decisions on taxes, education, trade, labor, macroeconomics, and financial regulation — all of which shifted economic power away from low and moderate-income American families.If we had a flat tax you'd have a good point. But given that we have quite progressive taxes, and a tax structure that allows low-income people to pay almost zero income tax - while the rich pay upwards of 35% of their income in taxes - it's not really supportable. Indeed, in objective terms, it places far more burden on the rich.Quote:Economic inequality is real, it’s personal, it’s expensive. And it was created.It's real, it's personal - and it's meaningless if everyone's income is improving. (And as for the "personal" part of the problem - again, counseling can help.)Quote:Instead, we’ve allowed worker’s rights to be systematically dismantled, both here and abroad.How in the US have "worker's rights been dismantled?" You might be able to claim they have not grown as quickly as they have in other countries, but given the increase in worker safety regulation, laws against sexual harassment, and laws on whistleblower protection that have been passed since the 1950's - that's not really supportable.
Rory
 Post subject: Re: 1950-2050: The Golden Age?  |  Posted: Fri Nov 07, 2014 6:25 pm

Joined: Wed May 07, 2014 6:02 am
Posts: 1921

iNow
 Post subject: Re: 1950-2050: The Golden Age?  |  Posted: Fri Nov 07, 2014 10:17 pm

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Location: Iowa

billvon
 Post subject: Re: 1950-2050: The Golden Age?  |  Posted: Fri Nov 07, 2014 10:51 pm

Joined: Thu Oct 02, 2014 5:23 pm
Posts: 86

 Rory wrote:Quote:I don't know of any talented, highly educated and risk-accepting people "stuck" in jobs that can be replaced by robots. I am sure they exist - but they're pretty rare.The low skilled jobs that graduates are now finding themselves in can generally be replaced by machines/robots: checkout assistants can quite easily be replaced by automated checkout machines; factory workers can easily be replaced by robots/machines. Basically any job that does not require higher thinking/creativity or human interaction can be replaced by machinery. Agreed. But again, I don't know of any talented, highly educated and risk-accepting people who would be willing to remain a cashier until they were replaced by a POS system. There are definitely people out there (lacking one or more of those attributes) who will be replaced by automation, and that's an issue we have to deal with.Quote:But we ought not to be content with an economic system that increasingly raises the bar to unattainable levels – if people cannot even imagine achieving their personal dream then they will quit trying sooner or later. What is "the bar?" Do you mean the "American Dream" of owning a home? In that case, we're doing well - home ownership has increased from 62% (1960) to 67% (today.) There was a dropoff due to the real estate bubble after the 2008 recession, but even taking that into account, over the last 50 years the bar for that particular goal has gotten lower, not higher.Or did you mean a different bar?Quote:My problem with this is that it should be possible to take the safe option and to work hard and diligently to be paid a reasonable amount; to be financially comfortable and well treated at work, to pursue a career that has meaning. I completely disagree. No one has a right to a safe, well paid, meaningful job where they are respected and comfortable. (Just as no one has a right to a safe, comfortable, fuel efficient car that they are proud to drive, or a right to a reasonably sized flat screen TV that makes them feel good about themselves.) All they have in the US is the right to work towards that job, or that car, or that TV.If all you ever do is push a mop as a janitor, you will never get a job with meaning or be well paid. To go beyond that you need education (a commitment of time and money) drive (the ability to get that education) and talent (the ability to do something other than push a mop.) Not everyone has those things. For people who lack them, they can survive by pushing a mop. And I think that's great - that our society has such jobs to keep people employed and productive even when they lack the drive or the talent to do more. It is far, far better than putting them on welfare (although sometimes that's needed as well.)Quote:No but we should not settle for an economy that drops everyone in the proverbial creek and then blames the ones who are unable to perform an economic miracle to make it back to safety/normality.Fortunately everyone has not gotten dropped in the creek.Quote:The ideal situation would be for a welfare state and an unreigned capitalist state to co-exist independently of one another in the same country and to allow people to opt into whichever system they preferThat's what we have now, without the unreigned capitalist system. (It's quite reigned in, with worker safety laws, minimum wage requirements, unions, whistleblower protection laws etc.) We also have a welfare state that will support people when they lose their job, and will support them for years while they look for another one. We also have programs like WIC, Medicare and Medicaid, Social Security and TANF that provides welfare for those who need it most.Quote: but that is not the situation we find ourselves in. The rich are becoming richer while the poor starve – argue that that is fair if you wish but I won’t join you.People aren't starving. The #1 health problem of America's poor is obesity. Indeed, we have done so well that we have changed the name of the problem to "food insecurity" and we lead the world in overall food security.Personally, a good friend of mine is president of a local food bank, and has recently taken the counterintutivie step of rejecting some kinds of food, like Yoplait, because they contain so much sugar. That is a step supported by the science, since high-sugar foods are causing obesity and diabetes in the poor population here, and the risk of getting too much sugar is far greater than the risk of not getting enough food in the US.That's not to say that no one goes hungry, of course, and that's a problem we should continue to work on. But again, it is getting steadily better, not worse - so the solution should be "continue to improve it" not "change society."
billvon
 Post subject: Re: 1950-2050: The Golden Age?  |  Posted: Fri Nov 07, 2014 11:02 pm

Joined: Thu Oct 02, 2014 5:23 pm
Posts: 86

 iNow wrote:billvon wrote:That graph is an excellent portrayal of how you can use clever math to distort the facts.You're not joking, correct? My irony meter just exploded, especially since you continue to use 1950 as a starting point in your claims so you can anchor your comments in the enormous growth that we saw for 3 decades until the late 1970s.On top of that, you've just dismissed a rather clear and extremely well supported data point, one consistent with all other data we've been seeing on this issue for decades, and one that was presented by The Economist, one of the most unbiased sources of financial information available in the world, as "using clever math to distort the facts."That graph depicts data pertaining to wealth held by households - by the bottom 90% and the top .1%. If the actual wealth held by both were presented on a graph it would not accomplish the objective of the article, which was to show what they perceive as a problem in income inequality - since it would show both climbing. So instead they presented it as a ratio, which accomplishes their goal of making it seem like 90% of households are losing wealth.I like the Economist as well; it's one of the few periodicals I receive. But they, like all popular journals, generate graphics that support the theme of their articles.Quote:You continue to suggest that as long as incomes are growing at all, then nothing is wrong and there is no need to seek improvements. "Move along folks, nothing to see here. It's all sunshine and lollipops and motherhood and apple pie!"No, that is a strawman argument. I have never stated we should not seek improvements; indeed, I have stated we have work to do several times.Quote:Frankly, it's not worth my time to continue if you're not even willing to approach the discussion in good faith and acknowledge these fundamentals of the situation under discussion.I disagree with your assertion that income inequality is, BY ITSELF, a problem. If my disagreement with you makes you angry or frustrated, then I agree, you should not continue with the discussion.
iNow
 Post subject: Re: 1950-2050: The Golden Age?  |  Posted: Sat Nov 08, 2014 1:04 am

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Posts: 5728
Location: Iowa

Rory
 Post subject: Re: 1950-2050: The Golden Age?  |  Posted: Sat Nov 08, 2014 4:15 pm

Joined: Wed May 07, 2014 6:02 am
Posts: 1921

 Quote:billvon wrote:Agreed. But again, I don't know of any talented, highly educated and risk-accepting people who would be willing to remain a cashier until they were replaced by a POS system. There are definitely people out there (lacking one or more of those attributes) who will be replaced by automation, and that's an issue we have to deal with.The chances are that if you work as a cashier you are not going to have access to the kind of venture capital required in order to take risk in any meaningful way. Talent and educational ability and a willingness to take risks are not going to produce anything valuable without investment.Quote:billvon wrote:What is "the bar?" Do you mean the "American Dream" of owning a home? In that case, we're doing well - home ownership has increased from 62% (1960) to 67% (today.) There was a dropoff due to the real estate bubble after the 2008 recession, but even taking that into account, over the last 50 years the bar for that particular goal has gotten lower, not higher.Or did you mean a different bar?Home ownership is a ‘dream’ for some but I was referring in the broader sense to ‘the dream’ as consisting of the capacity for citizens to be able to define and realise their own fate.Quote:billvon wrote:I completely disagree. No one has a right to a safe, well paid, meaningful job where they are respected and comfortable. (Just as no one has a right to a safe, comfortable, fuel efficient car that they are proud to drive, or a right to a reasonably sized flat screen TV that makes them feel good about themselves.) All they have in the US is the right to work towards that job, or that car, or that TV.If all you ever do is push a mop as a janitor, you will never get a job with meaning or be well paid. To go beyond that you need education (a commitment of time and money) drive (the ability to get that education) and talent (the ability to do something other than push a mop.) Not everyone has those things. For people who lack them, they can survive by pushing a mop. And I think that's great - that our society has such jobs to keep people employed and productive even when they lack the drive or the talent to do more. It is far, far better than putting them on welfare (although sometimes that's needed as well.)If you don’t think that people have a fundamental right to respect, life meaning, safety, comfort and financial provisions then I see no point in continuing this discussion with you because our differences of opinion are too great to be bridged.Quote:billvon wrote:Fortunately everyone has not gotten dropped in the creek.The banks here in the UK screwed up to the tune of £500 billion and had to be bailed out by the taxpayer. Most of the UK populace is still feeling the effects of these actions almost 7 years down the line and it looks set to continue on a downward trend. We have superficial improvement built on the back of what will probably turn out to have been a further property market bubble created by the government’s ‘help to buy’ scheme. The banks have not changed their operational policy much and the poorest continue to pay for the reckless mistakes of overpaid city bankers.Play with the semantics if you like but that is the undeniable reality.Quote:billvon wrote:That's what we have now, without the unreigned capitalist system. (It's quite reigned in, with worker safety laws, minimum wage requirements, unions, whistleblower protection laws etc.) We also have a welfare state that will support people when they lose their job, and will support them for years while they look for another one. We also have programs like WIC, Medicare and Medicaid, Social Security and TANF that provides welfare for those who need it most.The system I suggested is vastly different to the one we have now. What I am suggesting, is that those who do not wish to pay tax, would not have to – among other things.Quote:billvon wrote:People aren't starving. The #1 health problem of America's poor is obesity. Indeed, we have done so well that we have changed the name of the problem to "food insecurity" and we lead the world in overall food security.Food poverty is a reality in the UK and has only gotten worse since 2008.Quote:billvon wrote:Personally, a good friend of mine is president of a local food bank, and has recently taken the counterintutivie step of rejecting some kinds of food, like Yoplait, because they contain so much sugar. That is a step supported by the science, since high-sugar foods are causing obesity and diabetes in the poor population here, and the risk of getting too much sugar is far greater than the risk of not getting enough food in the US.I am aware of the problem of increasing prevalence of type II diabetes and obesity in the West but these may be regarded as malnutrition issues and they have no bearing on the issue of food poverty. Quote:billvon wrote:That's not to say that no one goes hungry, of course, and that's a problem we should continue to work on. But again, it is getting steadily better, not worse - so the solution should be "continue to improve it" not "change society."Does that look like the problem is ‘getting better’ to you? _________________If you are doomed to be boring - make it short. Andre Geim
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