Sunday, April 03, 2011

The Representative of the Super Rich

Remember when us Little Guys were disgusted over massive Wall Street bonuses that cascaded over the Super Rich amid catastrophic financial failure and taxpayer bailouts?

Back then, the Super Rich directed us bewildered Little Guys to their Representative. We Little Guys stepped into his imposing office and asked:

Hey, what gives?

The Representative of the Super Rich chortled indulgently from behind his mahogany desk, then removed his pipe from his mouth, leaned back whilst crossing one Brooks Brothers clad leg over the other.

We have contractual obligations, he said. And besides, you have to pay for talent. You do want top talent, don't you? Now run along.

We did.

Fast forward to, say ... today.

Some of us Little Guys are wondering why contractual obligations and paying for talent has somehow become less important for, say ... teachers and cops and firefighters. The Super Rich once again direct us to their Representative.

We Little Guys step into his imposing office and say:

Hey, what gives?

The Representative of the Super Rich lets out a great disgusted sigh and stands. Straightening his spine, he steps from behind that massive desk, revealing the knife-sharp creases in his Brooks Brothers trousers.

Don't be ridiculous, he booms. These people must sacrifice!

* * *

73 comments:

Bill said...

Stop being a little guy.

Leslie Morgan said...

I believe I know how they do that (speak out of both sides of their mouths). They have a face on each side of their heads. They have hair like the Trumpster. Upon hearing which of their constituents awaits an audience, they flip the mop of hair over the face they don't want to show and spew pablum from the other face.

I just had a memory of my now-deceased gramps going off on "Nine-Face-Nixon" when I was about 7 years old. I'm not sure how Nixon might have managed that multiple faces on the head thing.

BTW, in my favorite theme: there are vastly more of us little guys than "them". There is strength in numbers.

Bill said...

Leslie: Yes! But victimhood is so much fun. Isn't it?

Leslie Morgan said...

@ Bill ~ I'll let you know when I become a victim.

VideoDude said...

As I said on FaceBook: "Who is the more foolish, the fool or the fool who follows him."

Whatever the Teapublicans put out on Faux News and right wing radio, their minions believe every word.

Such as: "Cutting Taxes on the rich will create jobs." "The financial crisis was caused by the workers and Unions." Now everywhere I go on the internet, you have Teapublicans cursing the "evil" workers! Why? Because they heard it on Faux news or from the Fat Drug Addict. No answers to our problems just lies and pointing fingers at the very people who really built this country and keep it going...THE WORKERS.

Anonymous said...

I guess I enjoy being a little guy. Every time one of those big guys walks by I can hear their little brains rattling around in their large hollow skulls. I think that would annoy me after a little while.

RJ

Leslie Morgan said...

@ RJ ~ Wouldn't you agree that the stench of their duplicitous arrogance is also quite taxing?

Erin O'Brien said...

I know there is the separation of federal vs. state issues here, but the ideological failure of this mentality just floors me.

Leslie Morgan said...

Requires a great leap in logic, doesn't it EOB?

Hey, if you get a chance, peek at my vintage gentlemen over at my place.

Anonymous said...

Eventually all the senses are offended. But that's life huh Leslie? To live fully we take salt and sugar.

A liitle anecdote that I hesitate to publish but WTF.

Recently I was engaged in a real estate transaction in this little piece of paradise called DeKalb County, TN. When it came time to discuss terms the agent seemed almost embarassed to ask if I could come up with some earnest money. When I asked about the terms of a 15 year mortgage I thought she'd faint. "I'm sorry Mr. Johnson" as she fumbled for her charts,"I haven't been doing many of those. People around here are just struggling to come up with their monthly payments"
In the mid-term elections DeKalb County, TN voted overwhelmingly Republican for the first time since Nixon, largely in response to "Obamacare", etc. These people are working their asses off to survive. I'd love to see the reaction if someone suggested by looking for a helping hand they were being victims.

RJ

Vince said...

where are you putting the definition of Super Rich. Are we talking a multiple of billion.
And where is the switch between Little Guy and say Pauli the Plumber with five employees. Does the brake-points change from state to State. Say, is your Average Comfortable in Lala land cutting a Super Rich swathe in say Kentucky.
I'm honestly asking this. I know where the cut-offs are here, where the question the wags are asking is 'who was a millionaire'.

alphadog said...

Vince,
That's a question I too would like answered. How much is enough? At what point are you considered wealthy and deserve no more?
For reasons of my own I am not going to get into this discussion today other than to say that I, labeled as upper middle class by those that attach such labels, am getting damned tired of footing the bill for this country to keep pissing away money through ineptitude, defense spending (read fucked up foreign policy), greed and an overblown bureaucracy.

Anonymous said...

Vince I don't know that I can answer your question but maybe I can make a start. You're instincts are right. There are regional differences in terms of real value. Your buck will do more in Kentucky than California. In regard to the spirit of Erin's post I heard that the Obama team thinks they'll need at least a billion dollars to run his re-election campaign. That's WITHOUT a primary challenge (Sorta like an elimination tournament in our election process.) So I guess one might be considered "wealthy enough" if one can get access to an influential public official AND meet all their financial obligations. Stay tuned. Now that corporations have no limits on campaign contributions who knows where that figure will settle.

RJ

Bill said...

victimhood is a state of mind, not a condition.

Kirk Jusko said...

Bill said, "Stop being a little guy."

Escuse me, but for the last ten years, maybe longer, conservatives running for election have accused liberals of being "elitist". There's various definitions you can use for "elitist", but being a "little guy" is not one of them. So, does Bill think Erin is NOT an elitist, and is advising her to become one? Does Bill think Erin is a conservative since she was, in effect, complaining about the elitists (the guys who aren't little)? Is Bill, defending elitists, a liberal encouraging Erin to becaome a liberal?

Semantics is fascinating, isn't it? Especially when it comes to politics.

Leslie Morgan said...

@ Bill ~ At last we agree! And in that context, I am a victor, not a victim. ;~}

Bill said...

Kirk. I didn't know that I meant what you said I meant but thanks for interpreting.

I really don't care who has tons of money and who doesn't. If I want more I have to do something different or more of what I'm doing. We all have choices. I can't bring down a country's economy by speculating on their currency or sovereign debt. George Soros can and has but, hey, he's a progressive. I don't consider myself a little guy or a big guy and I'm not mad at the people with lots of money. Soros included.

Leslie: Are you a little guy victor?

Erin O'Brien said...

"At what point are you considered wealthy and deserve no more?"

It's not a matter of reaching a ceiling on how much you can have, but you better damn well pay your fair share.

Wait--I heard the bell ringing ... yep. Time to go fellate General Electric everyone!

Anonymous said...

Chit. 57 years and now you tell me what I've needed all along was a bell.

Anyway..."pay your fair share" kinda goes to Vince's question. I think most peeps, regardless of political affiliation, are willing to ante up provided "fair" is not a moving target. However when they see GE, et al playing by a different set of rules that's when they get angry. So I guess at the point I can shelter my capital gains to the point my tax liability is 0 I've become "Super Rich."

Bill it may be true that you can't move markets individually but you have access to the same markets in which Soros operates. If you can enlist the support of enough like minded people then you can create edges just like the big guys. It happens everyday. They're called "Investment Banks."

RJ

Leslie Morgan said...

@ Bill ~ Well, I'm a little person. And I'm certainly not a super rich.

Bill said...

What's with the mindset of people who think other people, because they make more money, should be penalized?

Al The Retired Army Guy said...

"It's not a matter of reaching a ceiling on how much you can have, but you better damn well pay your fair share."

An interesting observation. What is a fair share? 50%? 25%? And who makes the decision as to what is "fair?" The government? Obama ("at a certain point, I think you've made enough")? The IRS? What Erin or anyone else might view as fair may not be viewed the same by the one paying that share. So again, what is fair, and who decides that it is? Give me a number/name.

For the record, Bill's sentiments regarding how much others make, how much money they have ... I'm in violent agreement.

BTW, I once was a little guy, but then I grew to 5' 8". Compared to some others (the Goat most notably) I am a little guy. But anyone shorter than me is littler. Since they're smaller, that makes them the little guys. As I am taller than them, and shorter than the Goat, that makes me something else. Medium guy maybe? ;-)

As for "super rich," I make a chocolate mousse that is super rich. So there's one definition for us all ...

Al
TRAG

Vince said...

It's a simple fact that the lower the income the more tax as a percentage of income you pay, simply because you need to spend more of that income in order to survive. And regardless of the hoohah one hears about the payment of the majority coming from elsewhere on the demographic scale. So what if the likes of Bill Gates pays 3 billion in personal taxation no one in their correct mind would equate his responsibility with the income of the coffee chick that puts up with inane banter from blokes walking about with morning notions.
But there is in society a figure that most have in mind when they say this gal is on the average income, this one is comfortable and this one is laughing all the way to the bank. And while this may change from State to State and even within. Nonetheless, there is today a similar picture that the Simpsons exemplify for the 50s where the mom stayed home with the 2.7 kids.
To Erins comment on the Super-rich, if you were to see an episode of Dallas you would laugh yourself silly at the notion that $60million being very wealthy.

Leslie Morgan said...

@ RJ ~ I liked your anecdote you were hesitant to share and it pleases me to hear that one of us is making it despite everything. Yesterday I had a real, sobering encounter.

My haircutter is a lovely disabled woman from Germany who is now an American citizen. She is highly skilled at the only job she has ever performed and when Las Vegas is booming, so is she. She's done some work preparing showgirls to take the stage and she takes care of nobodies, like me. She seemed distressed yesterday. Women chat openly in salons, especially when one has undressed and donned a robe.

When Las Vegas began to bust this time, people (of course) stopped spending their disposable income on luxuries. Fine haircuts and coloring apparently rates right up there as a luxury. Christine is now working at 3 salons, 24-hours around the clock (this is Las Vegas, she might pick up some night work). She goes home in between jobs to an apartment where the power has been turned off and she has no way to pay the $100s it will take to restore. Her cell phone (upon which she relies to keep her business going) is on "receive only". She cannot dial out.

She is not unusual in any way. There are thousands or millions of such stories. BTW, she may not be able to pay for her utilities, but she pays her rent to keep a roof over her head (whether or not there are any lights or heat) and she pays her self-employment taxes right on time, every time.

alphadog said...

Leslie,
At this point I have to ask, what has paying all of those taxes done for your friend? Had she been able to invest them, or gamble them in the casinos for that matter, she would be no worse off than she apparently is now; but she might have fared quite a bit better.

Leslie Morgan said...

@ Alphadog ~ I think we're on the same page here. I'd say to Christine(and have) "Run, Christine! Forget the damned tax payment. Feed yourself. When they catch up to you, you'll make a payment arrangement." You see, she believed in the system. She'd do the "right things" and have a good life as one expects in the promise land.

alphadog said...

Leslie,
I believe you've got it.The righteousness "The System" is the greatest lie ever perpetrated upon the citizens of any nation.

Erin O'Brien said...

I'm wondering what "violent agreement" is. Al, does that mean you punch people you agree with? COME ON. Try emphatically agreeing or vehemently disagreeing.

Now then, is it right or fair that the middle class pays something like 28 percent in federal taxes and GE pays none?

So Alph, move somewhere where they have no taxes.

Bill said...

Erin: I think it's great that Al violently agrees with me! I'll take any kind of agreement!

Now, Erin, you know very well that GE is not a person and the corporate tax code is different. Having said that, Jeffrey Immelt is a Pal of the President and, in addition to taking full advantage of the tax breaks, GE is getting lots of sweetheart deals and no bid contracts. You know, green and all? Cronyism is alive and well in the White House. Lots of waivers for health care too, for friends of Obama.

Yabu (EOTIS) said...

You know Erin, "What Gives?" is a good question, no matter what side of the fence you're on. Troubled times ahead, I don't care who's yard you're in. Fact.

Leslie Morgan said...

@ Alphadog ~ Yes, I'm generally a pretty quick study. Imagine being an immigrant who had to move mountains just to get here, to finally attain citizenship because to be an American was as good as life could be . . .

Al The Retired Army Guy said...

@ Erin - "violent agreement" is an old saying from my Army days, meaning "strongly agree."

And I'm still waiting for someone to tell me what a "fair share" is and who decides that it is (number/name).

Al
TRAG

Anonymous said...

@Leslie- Thanks for the acknowledgement. However I could be laid off tomorrow and I think I'd be about 3 pay periods/billing cycles from homelessness, like many in the good ole USA. Fortunately I've lived long enough to be comfortable with uncertainty. I don't lose sleep worrying about the next calamity. Tell Christine to hang in there. I suspect someone with her resourcefulness will weather the storm. The tragic nature of Alph's comments about the taxes is she's one of those who the IRS would imprison while Wall Street swindlers go free.

RJ

alphadog said...

Precisely RJ

Bill said...

Christine is exactly the type of person the social safetynet is for. She should be encouraged to get down to the welfare office and get her gas and electric turned on immediately. she should also be is government assisted housing. These things are meant to be used by people that need them.

Leslie Morgan said...

@ Bill ~ Wow. It's almost as if you actually know something about social services. Alas, Christine lives in the most backward, tight-assed, retro, haves-and-have-nots spot in the nation. If she had 8 babies at home, the welfare department would not pay to have her utilities restored. They may agree to review her case to see if she qualified for some medical assistance for the kids (read this PAID FOR BY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT)or some food stamps (PAID FOR BY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT). As for assistance from local or state government, forget it. There is little, and nothing in her profile would qualify her to receive any of it.

@ RJ ~ You're talking to one! I took my union pension at age 55 (3 years ago) because it wouldn't grow any more per month if I left it in longer. But you wouldn't want to try to live on it. I'm a long way from Social Security, so I work to supplement. Today, I'm doing pretty well. I hope tomorrow is as full of opportunity.

Bill said...

Leslie: I do know a little about these things. I have done lots of volunteer work, mostly for Catholic Charities, and mostly investigating elderly abuse in facilities. I also know, personally, some down and out people and do what I can to make their lives a little easier. There are a lot of generous people and organizations around and, when I was a child, our family was the recipient of some of this generosity.

Leslie Morgan said...

@ Bill ~ A more human and humane reply than I might have expected. Good for you, as a human being, all the way around. I don't disagree with what you have said here. And I do what I can for Christine, which is too little.

clementina said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

@Leslie. I see blogs with those paypal donation thingees (observe the highly technical terminology)
You or EOB put one on your blog and I'll throw Christine the cost of a haircut.

RJ

Vince said...

Leslie; the problem with social security is a question of costs. Not costs of those in receipt of the cash. But in the running of the admin. Whats not so well known is that such budgets have 40% of available income going o payroll.
And Bill, Catholic Charities are notorious for being amongst the most inefficient. Where moneys as low as 10% are distributed for the notional purpose of that charity.

Leslie Morgan said...

@ Bill ~ That is a wonderful idea I will begin to pursue today. As I know nothing about how to do it, I will be happy for the opportunity both to potentially assist a friend and learn something new. Thank you. I hope to be hitting on you for the $35 cost of a good razor cut.

@ Vince ~ I will be very straight and say I do not put anything like full reliance upon Social Security landing in my bank account. I am working now at some of the highest paying gigs I've had in my life (though they are intermittent) and I figure I have about 15 years during which to do that. And I tuck away as much of it as I can, aiming for that interest rate of about 1% on others' use of my money. I'd characterize myself as hopeful with 20/20 vision.

Bill said...

Leslie: It WAS a good idea but it wasn't mine. RJ was the generous and creative soul.

Leslie Morgan said...

@ Bill AND RJ ~ "Oh, my," she blushed over her morning coffee. "I've bungled it!" She'd blundered and felt it showed her age. She didn't care for that.

RJ, I thank you. Bill, I thank you, too, for pointing it out. I'm already bubbling on some ideas, such as how I can reach some of her clientele - get into her Rolodex, so to speak.

Thank you, men.

VideoDude said...

Teapublican Rep Paul Ryan introduced his 1012 budget. Further tax cuts for the rich and and basically the elimination of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. All the they can offer are the very same policies that got us into this mess!

What's "Fair Share"? How about making all those Wall Street bankers who got Billions in bonuses, give those billions to the American people? You know, like Bush gave away the Surplus in 2001. If you Make under $250,000 a year, you get part of the Financial Destruction Bonus! These vultures are getting rich for destroying our economy!

Bill said...

Dude: Got exaggeration?

Al The Retired Army Guy said...

@ Videodude: again, give me a number as to what a "fair share" is (e.g., taxes as a percentage of income ... if you make $1 million you pay 25%, etc.) and who makes the decision as to what is fair and what isn't.

As for the Wall Street execs getting bonuses, that is a function of their employment agreements with their companies, not a matter for the public sector. The stockholders of said companies have the power to vote on bonuses and approve or disapprove them. Suggesting that we take their bonuses away (which were given to them by a privately held company) and give them to the "American people," whatever that means essentially constitutes theft.

Now, should those banks have received bailout money if they were paying out huge bonuses? IMO no. They should have used all of their available assets, to include bonuses to right their ships before accepting any bailout money, again, IMO.

Like Bill, I do not concern myself with the "vultures," "super rich," etc. I can't control what they do or don't do in most cases, and they can't really do the same to me. Rather than wring my hands, call them names, blame them for every ill from the economy to the common cold, I focus on myself and my wife, and our lives together. Worrying about the wealthy is just not worth a moment of my time.

Al
TRAG

VideoDude said...

Al, as far as exact figures, I am not an economist. Bill, so the facts are really exaggeration? I think you need to read Rep. Ryan's proposed Bill. He wants to cut taxes on the top earners from 35% to 25%, paid for by eliminating Medicare and Medicaid. Which the vast majority goes to children and the elderly.

How about raising tax rates back to where they were under Saint Reagan(I think that was 41% in the top bracket.)?

How about ending the incentives for corporations to send jobs overseas?

So taking the money back from the Wall Street Bankers who stole it from the world economy is theft? Take the money from them and put it in real job creation and economic growth for everyone. Because of the Teapublicans the Government was unable to sanction the Wall Street Banks. What little they did do, the Teapublicans are trying to stop it.


How about making the real people who created this mess, Politicians, Corporations, Wall Street Bankers, pay for their own mess?

You tell me what is fair about Tax Cuts for the rich and corporations, paid for on the backs of the most vulnerable of our society?

American Corporations made all time record profits in 2010, The wealthiest among us became wealthier over the last 10 years. While the working people, you know the ones who really built this country and keep it going, became poorer.

Al The Retired Army Guy said...

Erin made a statement about people "paying their fair share." I asked a simple question as to what is a fair share, and who decides that it is indeed fair. I'm still waiting for an answer to what I believe is a simple question.

Yes, taking money away from private corporations (that is, taking money away in the absence of proof that they broke the law, disobeyed federal regulations, etc.) is indeed theft. One may not like these entities (and we all know that they are at least in part responsible for the financial meltdown), but the fact is they are privately owned and publicly traded companies. Unless there is proof (a la Bernie Madoff) that they broke the law and should be punished accordingly, e.g., fined, taking their money is indeed theft.

I agree that those responsible should clean it up. But we both know that will never happen for any number of reasons.

How about tax cuts for everyone? Or a flat tax? Or everyone pays 10%? Again, I'm still waiting for an answer to my original question of what is a "fair share," and who decides that it is.

Al
TRAG

Anonymous said...

"The stockholders of said companies have the power to vote on bonuses and approve or disapprove them." Al TRAG.

In a word...BULLSHIT. Boards of Directors can legally disregard the wishes of the shareholders if they claim to be acting in the corporations best interest. It's called the "Business Judgement Rule." As Lewis Black would say, "Google It."

%2FArticle1-681639.aspx&ei=3PKcTcvYEoejtgeupr27Bw&usg=AFQjCNFw6cT5e63Twg3HfcJpuhAexHI8xw


"The Securities and Exchange Commission disclosed the challenge in a filing ahead of Goldman Sachs’ annual meeting next month.

The nuns asked the shareholders to request that the board’s compensation committee initiate a review of the company’s senior executive compensation policies and make available a summary report of that review by 1 October, 2011.

The nuns have made their feelings on Goldman’s pay levels clear in previous years, with about as much success.

Chief executive Lloyd Blankfein, who has claimed to be doing “God’s work” at Goldman, saw his pay reach $14 million in 2010, with four other senior executives receiving a similar amount.

Goldman said it would resist the request. “Shareholders already have access to the information necessary to understand and assess the compensation decisions made with respect to our senior executives, and the firm as a whole,” the firm said."

RJ

P.S. If the link screwed up just google nuns and goldman. there are a zillion articles.

alphadog said...

Quick question Vid, were you in favor of the bonuses paid to Freddie and Fannie execs? Tax dollars paying tax supported employees of a tax backed public enterprise of the Federal Government that were bailed out with, again , tax dollars when the program went south?

Anonymous said...

Jesus Christ I can't believe we're having this conversation. The Collateralized Dept Obligations and Credit Default Swaps that lead to the banking crisis have been empirically demonstrated to have been frauds. There are fucking memo's (Hell I can't remember every source but I damned sure bet I can find it)from Wall Street traders explicitly stating the invest vehicles- derivatives, etc.- are worthless.

RJ

P.S. Elvis Lives!

Anonymous said...

And if it ever gets past the spam filter I also include legal precedent where Boards of Directors can legally ignore the opinions of stockholders. Google: Business Judgement Rule. Good God Almightly. Denial, more than a river in Egypt.

RJ

Anonymous said...

And JoAnne Kloppenburg you Gravy Sucking Pigs.

RJ

Al The Retired Army Guy said...

@ RJ: As I said, if there is proof these folks did things and broke the law, they should be held accountable under it. From what you're saying there is, and so these folks should be charged, tried, and judged by a jury of their peers.

I researched the business judgement law. Basically, it all boils down to decisions made by corporate boards in good faith. Good faith means they made those decisions without malice and without intent to defraud anyone. In other words, corporate boards cannot be held liable for bad decisions made in good faith.

This being said, if there is proof that these decisions were made in the absence of good faith, and there was a proven intent to defraud, then yes, those making such decisions should be held accountable. If those on corporate boards saw the memos from the traders you refer to and still made these decisions, then yes, they did not act in good faith on the behalf of their shareholders.

I don't suck gravy. I do, however, know how to make it. And I like pigs since they supply wonderful things such as pork belly, ribs, and cheeks.

And for Joanne Kloppenburg ... who cares. I sure don't.

Al
TRAG

Anonymous said...

The Wisconsin GOP cares about JoAnne.

The Public Employee Union cares about JoAnne.

People like me who are certain "The Right" is determined to cast The New Deal into the dustbin of history and who are waging war on working people care.

Nuns who own stock are asking Goldman for a review of Executive Compensation and Goldman said "nah, it'd be a poor use of company time."

There are entire sections of bookstores devoted to books on the financial crisis. There is an Academy Award winning Documentary called "Inside Job" that shows the criminal behavior of Wall Street firms. Read Matt Taibbi "Why isn't Wall Street in Jail? There is evidence out the arse. No one's gone to jail. Your tax dollars and mine funded the bailout. Where is the outrage?

RJ

Bill said...

Whichever way you come down on that Prosser/Kloppenburg race, it's kind of creepy that a judge is so obviously biased one way or the other and voters KNOW which way he/she is going to rule! Even the ninth circuit court of appeals surprised us once in a while with a conservative leaning ruling.

Al The Retired Army Guy said...

@ RJ: There is no doubt in my mind that there was some very shady stuff that went on on Wall Street. The sad truth, however, is that politicians on both sides of the aisle are in bed with them. When they get into a problem, they know they can rely on some pol to save their bacon. And that's what I suspect has happened here.

As for the bailouts, I was not in favor of them. If you're a private company, and you mismanage it, you take the consequences of your actions, even if that means folding. AIG, Goldman Sachs, the auto industry have only themselves to blame if you ask me. As I've said, if they've done something illegal (and it appears there is ample evidence to that end) they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

However, some of these companies are huge and employ a lot of folks, as well as have a huge impact on our economy. My guess is the folks in Washington took a look at that and didn't have much of a choice. Thousands would have lost jobs, entire sectors of our economy would have collapsed, and there would have been nothing left to recover from. It's a guess, but I suspect that our elected representatives had a choice of shitty, shittier, and shittiest. They most likely chose shitty and did the bailouts.

BTW, I'm on the right, and I'm not campaigning to end the New Deal (it's been tried since the '30s, and it's never worked), nor am I waging war on the working class or anyone else for that matter.

Finally, I couldn't access the link you posted, so I can't comment on the nuns/Goldman Sachs.

Al
TRAG

Anonymous said...

Let me be crystal clear again re: Big Bidness. It is ABSOLUTELY a bipartisan scam.
I understand the rationale behind the bailouts i.e "Too Big to Fail" but my complaint is that the wrong doers that contributed to the genesis of the problem seem to be getting a pass.
Last comment and I'm done. I have no problem with someone getting wealthy, filthy dirty wealthy. My beef is that SOME people have used the influence that wealth brings to create unfair edges against the competition.
Leslie could probably enlighten us more completely but Las Vegas casinos will refuse action to so called "advantaged" players even though technically they are not cheating but instead using a keen mathematical aptitude to create very small but significant edges over thousands of hands, rolls, etc. that has the potential, however small, to break the bank.
There are laws on the books that are supposed to do the same sort of thing for the markets. All I'm asking (even though I believe capitalism is inherently exploitive)is that the rules be enforced.
Sweet dreams.

RJ

Bill said...

Bidness idn't right is it Buckwheat?

Al The Retired Army Guy said...

Still waiting for someone, anyone, from either side of the aisle to tell me what is a "fair share" and who decides that it is.

Al
TRAG

Erin O'Brien said...

Al, are you trying to make me crazy?

Our elected government, local, state and federal, sets tax codes. Go read your local codified ordinances. Go on. Go to city hall and tell the clerk you want to see the local tax code and then research when it was adopted, who voted, etc.

My "fair share" is something like ... what is it these days? ... 25 percent? Then there's all the crazy loopholes and deductions.

For GE, the fair share is zero. (Hmm. Didn't the Supreme Court just make a big-ass decision saying Corps are just like regular citizens when it comes to the "free speech" of financing their lapdog candidates?)

Also, I think RJ's "gravy sucking pig" assertion was directed at some unspecified sector of the Super Rich.

Al The Retired Army Guy said...

@ Erin: I am well aware there are tax codes since, like you, I've been paying taxes my entire working life. Sometimes I get a refund, sometimes I don't. But I do know there are government developed, written, and enforced tax codes at the federal, state and local levels.

You specifically stated "fair share." I think we'd all agree that our tax codes, as written, may be viewed by some as "unfair." It is in this spirit that I understood your statement, and it is the reason I asked for a clarification. You suggest 25% - is that for everyone, or a certain demographic? If one makes $50K a year, that's $12,500 a year. If one makes $1,000,000, that's $250K. I'm quite sure that most folks wouldn't willingly agree to be taxed at the rate of 25%. I am, of course, not addressing the loopholes/dedutions you refer to.

Is there truly a "fair share?" My guess is there isn't, if for no other reason that what one person thinks is fair and what our elected representatives think is fair (and codify into our tax codes) are widely divergent views, and ne'er the twain shall meet, as they say.

Speaking only for myself, I try to keep as much of the money I've made as I can (and I suspect most others do too) - if our tax codes allow for more of my earnings to be taxed, I wouldn't be happy about that, and would consider that "unfair." Like you, I also think that GE not paying taxes is grossly unfair. I suspect, though, that the execs and accountants at GE don't feel the same way. It appears our tax laws allow GE to get away with this, and I think we all agree that is patently wrong and should be fixed.

And no, I'm not trying to drive you or anyone else crazy.

Now I'm off to get my herb/vegetable garden started for this year.

Al
TRAG

Erin O'Brien said...

Here, Al.

Al The Retired Army Guy said...

@ Erin: thanks for that. I guess what I'd ask now is 35% a "fair share" for those that make $375K and up? Or do you and others like you on the left think it should be higher, because 35% isn't a "fair share?" Or should it be less?

Al
TRAG

Anonymous said...

"Fair" is obviously subjective.

Long ago I heard "Fair is what you pay the bus driver"..."Fair is where you go to get cotton candy"...etc.

The benchmark I have often heard bandied about is "shared sacrifice". The idea is no one wants to part with their money but if we all have to it shouldn't be more painful for one person than the other. As has often been pointed out lower incomes, even at a smaller percentage contribution, experience more pain in terms of a real impact on their way of life. If I made a billion dollars a year and paid at 90% that would still leave me a 100 million dollars. I think I could scrape by.

RJ

Al The Retired Army Guy said...

@ RJ: that is basically my point. Fair is subjective depending on how you view the issue. There really is no such thing as a "fair share" as each individual has a completely different perspective on it as it applies to them.

I could scrape by on a 100 million too.

As for sacrifice, what we're facing in terms of the national debt is staggering. We have to cut back spending, and I think most reasonable people agree on that. The real issue is where to cut.

Most agree that our three biggest costs are Medicare/Medicaid, Social Security and DoD. The first two are political poison - there isn't a politician on either side who, if they voted to cut those programs, would survive. They'd be voted out at the first opportunity. AARP is a very powerful lobbying organization, after all. DoD is a bit easier to cut, since weapons programs, R&D, personnel, etc. aren't seen as entitlements as are the other two (M/M, SS).

I've done a bit of research on the debt, and the bottom line is it's just not sustainable. We can't continue to spend at the rate we are, and expect China or some other country to continue lending us money. We certainly don't want to beholden to them.

You are right in that it's going to take sacrifice on everyone's part. The problem I see is that a lot of individuals, groups, coroporations, etc. aren't going to take kindly to being told to tighten their belts, and their supporters in congress will fight it at every opportunity. But make no mistake - we're not going to get out of the debt mess until we stop spending more than we take in. My guess is it's going to take some kind of financial catastrophe for it to really sink into everyone's head. That's unfortunate, but I think until that happens, the status quo will reign.

So, if we can't touch SS or M/M, we cut Defense spending. That's fine, but it still won't be enough I suspect to significantly lower our debt. With that in mind, where do we cut next after DoD? Hard choices will have to be made, and they will hurt. But unless we do that, we'll continue to amass debt until at some point, we will default on it. Our economy will crash, and with it much of the world's. That's not a good thing, and the current squabbling in Washington on the budget reflects that realization.

Note to Boehner and Reid: Stop grandstanding, shut up, and do your jobs.

Note to Obama: You too.

Al
TRAG

Anonymous said...

I think the horse is out of the barn too.

The 80 billion or whatever they're squabbling about is about 2 percent of the budget. America has got to get used to smaller and not being first in everything and I don't know that that shift in perspective will come without a crisis. Clearly, just based on sheer numbers, some sort of global realignment is coming just maybe not in our lifetime.

I saw a statistic the other day that just boggled my mind. There are 700 million people in India under the age of 35. They're well educated and hard working. That's twice the population of the U.S.

I have a physician friend who is Indian and he goes home about every other year for an extended visit. Recently he was in Calcutta and had a problem with his cell phone. A friend told him "No problem, give me the phone." Friend took it to a street vendor in a little lean-to shop in a public market and a tech savy merchant repaired it. The cost-1.50 U.S. It would have been 60-80 minimum here. How we gonna compete with that longterm?

RJ

Bill said...

Gee. Looks like Floppenburg may have lost. Too bad about all those union dues flushed down the drain.

Al The Retired Army Guy said...

@ RJ: Quick answer? We're not. In Asia (or at least in the places I've been too, anyway) labor is far cheaper than it is here, even amongst those that are educated as you point out. They don't have pension plans, health care, negotiated days off, negotiated vacation days, sick days, etc. They just work their asses off and for the most part (again, from what I've observed) do not complain. It is very much a cultural thing as well.

There are also bad things that come with that cheap labor (and lack of regulation/environmental standards) of course ... low wages, human trafficking, third country nationals taken advantage of, pollution (a lot of it, trust me), etc. I guess at least some of that is a cultural thing as well, unfortunately.

In Korea, I purchased an acoustic electric bass guitar. It did not come with a case. So, I went to the "ajima" (means "aunt" in Hangul, basically denoting an older woman) who made soft cases for instruments in a small storefront inside the Nakwon Musical Instrument Market in downtown Seoul. She took my bass, laid it on top of two newspapers glued together with rice glue, drew the outline of my bass on it, and told me to come back in two days. I do so, and I have a brand new gig bag for about $30. Here that same type of bag would cost me $60 or more.

Same thing - we just can't compete with that, unless, of course, we change some things.

@ Bill: saw that about the Wisconsin Supreme Court race. Apparently there were about 7,000 votes in Waukesha county that hadn't been counted due to "human error." Not exactly sure what that means, but if it stands those dues will indeed have been flushed down the drain. We'll see, I guess.

Al
TRAG

Anonymous said...

Jeb Bush, Katherine Harris and a number of Florida State Troopers were just seen leaving the Waukeasha County courthouse.

While it is understaffed and underfunded India has National Healthcare.

RJ

Al The Retired Army Guy said...

RJ: I was referring to Thailand (circa 1996), not India. Korea has a single payer system, and Koreans pay a tax to pay for it and are automatically enrolled in it. It's been that way there since 1989. Essentially, Koreans pay half the premium via tax, and their employers pay the other half. Thailand has since initiated some reforms in universal healthcare coverage, beginning in 2001.

BTW, in an article I was reading about the Wisconsin Supreme Court race ... there was a mention about certain groups backing (financially and otherwise) the effort to recall Scott Walker and Republicans/Democrats who voted for the Union bill. One of them is called "Democracy for America," founded by our old pal, Howard Dean, former Governor of Vermont - You Know How I Feel. Even the Vermonters I met up there thought Dean was an idiot. As he once so famously said, "yeeehhhaaawwww!"

Al
TRAG

Bill said...

Well said my man.
http://bit.ly/eVMjlN