The Evil of Being Wealthy

Bill Mattocks

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The Occupy Wall Street group is apparently going to take a tour of the ultra-rich of NYC today, to protest in front of their homes. Which led me to the question, what is wrong with the ultra-rich?

Is it legally or morally wrong to be rich or 'ultra-rich'? Some politicians have been quoted in the past as believing that at a certain point, a person has 'enough' money and should not be allowed to have any more of it. Is that the case? If so, how much is 'enough'? Who decides?

I have also heard arguments that many of the rich and ultra-rich did not earn their money, but inherited it. I don't know the statistics of earned-versus-created wealth, but even if it is true that many of the rich and ultra-rich inherited their money, does that make it somehow less moral for them to have it? Is there a law or moral rule that says that you can only keep the wealth you personally created by working? If I win the lottery, should I give that money back, because I did nothing more to 'earn' it than by a $1 lottery ticket, as compared to someone like George Soros?

And what of Bill Gates versus Warren Buffett? Two of the wealthiest men in the world; but one built his wealth in his company, which he created from scratch; while the other merely reaped the profits from investing (wisely, as it turns out) in the stock of other companies, eventually buying but never personally running any of them? Buffett, the new darling of the higher-taxes-for-the-rich crowd, never physically 'worked' for any of his money, not a dime of it was by lifting a shovel or turning a screwdriver; not even by running a company personally. Is their right to keep their money - or not keep it - somehow morally different?

And that brings me to the idea of taxation. I'm sure that the wealthy prefer not to pay taxes; heck, I prefer not to pay taxes. And the wealthy have advantages I do not; they can pay for lawyers and tax accountants who can cleverly shield their money from taxation. I'm not talking about illegal tax dodges, but just by using the loopholes and shelters that are legal. And, I'm also willing to agree that the ultra-rich and huge corporations spend a lot of money to lobby Congress to keep taxes low on the ultra-rich and to keep those loopholes and tax shelters going. However, as long as they are paying the amount of taxes they are legally obligated to pay, are they breaking the law by doing so and not voluntarily paying more? Are they somehow immoral for wanting to pay as little tax as they legally can? I pay my taxes and fill out my return honestly each year, but if I have a tax break coming, I take it. Am I being immoral? Am I a bad person for that? Should I ignore legal ways to lower my tax bill and pay the highest amount I can instead? Would that make me a moral person then?

Finally, the very notion of being wealthy. It seems to me that there is an immense anger and resentment of people who have more money than oneself. Especially if that number is some exponential multiplier, like 10X or 100X or 1000X more than oneself. If I earn X dollars per year, and some CEO earns 100 times X, it is seen as 'wrong'. Yet, corporations hire CEOs and determine their salary, just like any other employee they hire. Like a baseball team that signs million-dollar contracts with star atheletes and pays the run-of-the-mill player much much less (and minor league players get a pittance compared to that). For those who see that as 'unfair' or 'morally wrong', I have to ask - what's wrong with it? And if it is indeed wrong, what do you propose as a solution? I have asked some of the OWS people that. I get conflicting answers. Some seem to want to see government regulation forcing CEO's to earn no more than a certain multipe of the highest-paid employee in the company. Others have said that they don't want to have the government force anyone to do anything, but they want to someone how bring public pressure to bear on stockholders to insist that CEO's not be paid so much, and to insist that the corporations they invest in be more interested in the workers than in profit or return on investment. I have to laugh at that last one; good luck! If I invest in a stock, it's not to make sure the employees are happy; it's to make money! That being kind of the point of investing.

Anyway, just some random thoughts about picketing the homes of the ultra-rich. I still don't know why or what they hope to accomplish. Your thoughts?
 

Tez3

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In the Victorian times here it was considered your civic duty if you were rich to be philanthropic. Schools, hospitals,orphanages, libraries and many public buildings were raised and maintained by rich men. Charity was also considered to be a duty. Now, whether this was a way of showing off your wealth instead of the conspicous consumption we have now I don't know, certainly these Victorian ladies and gentlemen seemed very serious about the amount of good works they did.I doubt they paid much tax either personally or through their properties/businesses but perhaps they gave to the country more than if they had paid? However times change and we are living in what to me seems a much more selfish age in many ways.
An interesting article on 'philanthrocapitalism'. I've not tried pronouncing that!

http://www.philanthrocapitalism.net/bonus-chapters/victorian-giving/
 

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Is it immoral to accumulate wealth per se? Well that is up to the individual wealth collector to sleep well with their own consciences. All I can say is that such actions are perhaps not the most compassionate. As you say though, it is their money earned by whichever means legal or no and it does not state anywhere on the dollar or any other currency that it must be either accumulated or spent with compassion.

In terms of tax evasion, I think that is unacceptable behaviour from ultra-wealthy even when the economy IS sound. I find it distasteful that the those from the Rothschild and Rockefeller bracket down to the brackets of the Buffets and Gates (though not those specifically as I do not want to argue philanthropies) are evading tax when the great mass of the populus are struggling to make ends meet and are STILL required to pay their own revenue dues (which in turn would offer its hand in the form of government help should the unlikely event occur that those ultra-wealthy people needed it). Is that immoral behaviour? I do not know. I do think it shows ZERO compassion towards those dupes like myself that have purchased their wares or deposited money in their institutions.

One story that for me since typified this kind of behaviour from a while back was the band U2 who moved their money offshore where it was sheltered from Irish taxation while that much lauded home nation of theirs off whom they made their living both literally and lyrically ran out of funds. Is it for Bono and U2 to rescue Ireland? Of course not. Their money made fair and square. I would suggest that it was perhaps just distasteful though. Immoral?
 

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There is no inherent nobility in poverty, but, boy, do people act as if there was...
 
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Bill Mattocks

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In the Victorian times here it was considered your civic duty if you were rich to be philanthropic. Schools, hospitals,orphanages, libraries and many public buildings were raised and maintained by rich men. Charity was also considered to be a duty. Now, whether this was a way of showing off your wealth instead of the conspicous consumption we have now I don't know, certainly these Victorian ladies and gentlemen seemed very serious about the amount of good works they did.I doubt they paid much tax either personally or through their properties/businesses but perhaps they gave to the country more than if they had paid? However times change and we are living in what to me seems a much more selfish age in many ways.
An interesting article on 'philanthrocapitalism'. I've not tried pronouncing that!

http://www.philanthrocapitalism.net/bonus-chapters/victorian-giving/

Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are well-known philanthropists, but (for example), Steve Jobs was not only not a philanthropist, he put a stop to the Apple Philanthropic Trust after he came back to power at Apple. Do Bill Gates and Warren Buffett then get a 'pass' from the OWS folks, and Steve Jobs doesn't? I'm just curious how this is supposed to work. As I understand it, we judge the rich by how much of their money they give to charity?
 
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Bill Mattocks

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Is it immoral to accumulate wealth per se? Well that is up to the individual wealth collector to sleep well with their own consciences. All I can say is that such actions are perhaps not the most compassionate. As you say though, it is their money earned by whichever means legal or no and it does not state anywhere on the dollar or any other currency that it must be either accumulated or spent with compassion.

Actually, I wasn't referring to money earned illegally, like through drug dealing or rum-running (the latter is how the Kennedy family got their money, remember). I mean whether they earned it themselves, personally, or inherited or otherwise legally acquired it (say through the lottery).

In terms of tax evasion, I think that is unacceptable behaviour from ultra-wealthy even when the economy IS sound. I find it distasteful that the those from the Rothschild and Rockefeller bracket down to the brackets of the Buffets and Gates (though not those specifically as I do not want to argue philanthropies) are evading tax when the great mass of the populus are struggling to make ends meet and are STILL required to pay their own revenue dues (which in turn would offer its hand in the form of government help should the unlikely event occur that those ultra-wealthy people needed it). Is that immoral behaviour? I do not know. I do think it shows ZERO compassion towards those dupes like myself that have purchased their wares or deposited money in their institutions.

In terms of tax evasion, I have to ask you to to clarify what you mean. Legal or illegal?

I get a 'standard deduction' on my income tax return every year. That's a tax shelter set up by Congress. Should I not take it? I get a tax deduction on the interest I pay on my student loan. Should I not declare that? I am allowed to contribute a portion of my income to my 401(k) retirement fund and that is sheltered from taxes until I withdraw it, after I retire. Should I not do that? If I were wealthy and could afford to invest in municipal bonds, many of them are tax-free because the government wants to encourage people to invest in city bond issues to help keep cities running. Should wealthy people not do that?

I guess what I'm saying is that there are all kinds of ways to legally avoid paying some taxes. If it is not moral for the wealthy to use those tax shelters, what about me? I'm not wealthy, can *I* use them? If it's immoral for them, why would it be moral for me?

One story that for me since typified this kind of behaviour from a while back was the band U2 who moved their money offshore where it was sheltered from Irish taxation while that much lauded home nation of theirs off whom they made their living both literally and lyrically ran out of funds. Is it for Bono and U2 to rescue Ireland? Of course not. Their money made fair and square. I would suggest that it was perhaps just distasteful though. Immoral?

If it is legal to move one's money overseas to avoid taxation, then what is to be done about that? We could try to make it illegal to do so; I could support that. Does marching on the rich people's houses do that? If it does, then maybe I see the point.

I did note something interesting the other day - I don't know the truth of it, so I won't repeat it as if it were true, but the concept was that if the richest 1% of the entire country had ALL their money confiscated, it would fund the federal government for approximately 90 days. After that, the money would be gone, the 1% would be poor, and what would have been accomplished? It's not like taking away their money will fix anything, is it? The thought occurs to me that it would just make some of us feel better about it. So that's a legal reason to take people's money away now? Because it makes poor people feel better? Seems contrary to a just society to me, but maybe that's just me.
 
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Bill Mattocks

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There is no inherent nobility in poverty, but, boy, do people act as if there was...

I don't know if I buy that statement directly, but the contrary certainly seems to have some credence; ie, it is immoral to be wealthy. I guess I never quite understood that.

It's not that I'm ever going to be rich or even aspire to it. I'm 50 years old. I earn a good income but I'm in serious trouble financially. I won't ever be rich, and I will probably be borderline poor when I retire, if I even can retire voluntarily. I've lost a home due to foreclosure, I've lost a job. I'm putting off dental work because I can't afford it. I just filled out my health insurance for FY 2012 and my premiums have gone up 250% (yes, that's right, 250%, not joking). You'd think I'd be one of the ones out there waving around a placard and screaming for the heads of the rich people on a platter.

But I am not. Yes, there is inequality in the system; lots of it. Yes, there are many broken aspects of our society and our government, and we need to find solutions to them sooner rather than later. Yes, we stand on the precipice of a dangerous economic disaster of epic proportions. And no, I don't have those solutions myself. But I don't think that tearing it all down is the solution; and I fear those who seem to be leaning towards that. And yes, for the record, 'canceling of all debt everywhere' is tearing it all down. No economic system can withstand that. I'm no expert, but I know that much.
 

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It's evil until the people complaining are rich, then it's ok.

At least that seems to be the double standard.
 

Empty Hands

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Many people seem to have an unhealthy obsession with whether or not something is "deserved." This happens at all levels. Some people are very angry that the rich don't deserve a billion or two. Some people are very angry that the poor might get a hundred dollars a month in food assistance unless they have somehow shown themselves blameless - like by being disabled. Everyone is obsessed with fault and just desserts.

I don't care. I really don't. It doesn't matter to me if Paris Hilton never has to work a day in her spoiled, useless life. It doesn't matter to me if a drug addict and all around useless human being gets a little tax money for food every month. I'm not going to waste my energy and anger judging the mass of humanity.

What does concern me is a well functioning, safe and prosperous society that allows the opportunity to be rich, and prevents total disaster for those who can't make it. That is what is important. That the most people possible have opportunity and happiness and won't starve in the streets. Does that mean higher taxes on the rich right now? Yes, of course it does, we have a major revenue and debt problem, and bringing the top bracket back up 4.6% to Clinton era levels is not communism, confiscation, or class warfare. Does that mean we might have to engage in trade protectionism, curbing offshore holdings, or other measures to boost local business and production? Yeah, it might. But it shouldn't be a moral response to the moral status of others, it should be a rational and fair choice in pursuit of rational and fair goals.
 

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There is no inherent evil in becoming wealthy. However, the backlash comes out of a three-fold problem:

The wealth of the country has become hyper concentrated. The economy is a cycle of money. In the capitalist system, as businesses expand to meet rising demand, they spend money throughout all levels of the economy, effectively distributing the wealth of the capitalist class to the consumption classes. The consumption classes, in turn, produce goods and services to gain money, with which they create the demand. In the US, this cycle has been broken. The consumption classes have not gained income since Reagan got into office, and we've had a startling decline since 2008 - The previous 30 years were financed by personal debt, and it stopped working. Now, a handful of people have all the wealth, invested in the corporations, who aren't spending it, because the investors demand more profit than the system can bear. The money does not cycle - it just accumulates at the top. Corporations aren't hiring because the demand's not there. The demand's not there because they laid us all off and won't pay those of us that do have jobs more than subsistance wages. Those who have the money have to be the ones that prime the money pumps and start the levers of activity.

Second, the financiers of the nation are, entirely rightly, percieved as having perpetrated an evil on the nation, entirely apart from being wealthy. In their urge to collect wealth, those participating in the mortgage industry defrauded us in at least three layers, first by approving loans to buyers who did not have income to pay back loans, second by laying pressure on appraisers to inflate the value of properties so that they could squeeze interest and fees on loans that weren't backed by real collateral, and thirdly, by being too incompetant and greedy to even be bothered to keep track of who paid on time and repossessing our homes at, essentially, random.

Finally, a lot of us believe we have been lied to. We were told that if we conformed and got our educations, that there would be reasonable jobs available for us, and that we could be not wealthy, but reasonably comfortable. So we hunkered down, took out our student loans, did the work to go through college - and there's nothing for us, because the cycle is broken. What we want is for the promise to be kept, to have work, and for our work to be accompanied by rewards to us. Meanwhile, we have been told for decades that if we give the rich more money and take away the rules that keep them from ****ing us, they'll give us good jobs and let us earn money while leading us to rationalist paradise - and yet, here we are floating around 10% unemployment and the lowest real wages in decades. So...
 
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Bill Mattocks

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Many people seem to have an unhealthy obsession with whether or not something is "deserved." This happens at all levels. Some people are very angry that the rich don't deserve a billion or two. Some people are very angry that the poor might get a hundred dollars a month in food assistance unless they have somehow shown themselves blameless - like by being disabled. Everyone is obsessed with fault and just desserts.

I don't care. I really don't. It doesn't matter to me if Paris Hilton never has to work a day in her spoiled, useless life. It doesn't matter to me if a drug addict and all around useless human being gets a little tax money for food every month. I'm not going to waste my energy and anger judging the mass of humanity.

What does concern me is a well functioning, safe and prosperous society that allows the opportunity to be rich, and prevents total disaster for those who can't make it. That is what is important. That the most people possible have opportunity and happiness and won't starve in the streets. Does that mean higher taxes on the rich right now? Yes, of course it does, we have a major revenue and debt problem, and bringing the top bracket back up 4.6% to Clinton era levels is not communism, confiscation, or class warfare. Does that mean we might have to engage in trade protectionism, curbing offshore holdings, or other measures to boost local business and production? Yeah, it might. But it shouldn't be a moral response to the moral status of others, it should be a rational and fair choice in pursuit of rational and fair goals.

I can't disagree with anything you've said here. I believe that the OWS thing has a lot more to do with the first item you mentioned than the second, though. But I like what you're saying here.
 

Tez3

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Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are well-known philanthropists, but (for example), Steve Jobs was not only not a philanthropist, he put a stop to the Apple Philanthropic Trust after he came back to power at Apple. Do Bill Gates and Warren Buffett then get a 'pass' from the OWS folks, and Steve Jobs doesn't? I'm just curious how this is supposed to work. As I understand it, we judge the rich by how much of their money they give to charity?


I have no idea about the modern Americans but the whole attitude was different in past times here, it was a case of people having a duty to others, it's making money and appreciating what you have by spreading wealth. The main thing in Victorian eyes was to 'better yourself', to raise yourself out of poverty and when you had to enable others to do the same, more along the lines of the principle of teaching people to fish rather than giving them a fish. There was a great push then for the working man to educate himself, education became compulsory for children, evening classes were held for adults, all to give people the chances to rise. Charity after all is a cold thing.
I think the Labour movement is more accepted here because of that Victorian attitude of civic and national duty, America had always seemed more 'everyone for themselves' as patriotic as Americans are.
Perhaps in modern terms it would mean the rich pay their pay share of taxes. I see no reason why they shouldn't.

Btw I don't know who the OWS is.
 

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Actually, I wasn't referring to money earned illegally, like through drug dealing or rum-running (the latter is how the Kennedy family got their money, remember). I mean whether they earned it themselves, personally, or inherited or otherwise legally acquired it (say through the lottery).



In terms of tax evasion, I have to ask you to to clarify what you mean. Legal or illegal?

I get a 'standard deduction' on my income tax return every year. That's a tax shelter set up by Congress. Should I not take it? I get a tax deduction on the interest I pay on my student loan. Should I not declare that? I am allowed to contribute a portion of my income to my 401(k) retirement fund and that is sheltered from taxes until I withdraw it, after I retire. Should I not do that? If I were wealthy and could afford to invest in municipal bonds, many of them are tax-free because the government wants to encourage people to invest in city bond issues to help keep cities running. Should wealthy people not do that?

I guess what I'm saying is that there are all kinds of ways to legally avoid paying some taxes. If it is not moral for the wealthy to use those tax shelters, what about me? I'm not wealthy, can *I* use them? If it's immoral for them, why would it be moral for me?



If it is legal to move one's money overseas to avoid taxation, then what is to be done about that? We could try to make it illegal to do so; I could support that. Does marching on the rich people's houses do that? If it does, then maybe I see the point.

I did note something interesting the other day - I don't know the truth of it, so I won't repeat it as if it were true, but the concept was that if the richest 1% of the entire country had ALL their money confiscated, it would fund the federal government for approximately 90 days. After that, the money would be gone, the 1% would be poor, and what would have been accomplished? It's not like taking away their money will fix anything, is it? The thought occurs to me that it would just make some of us feel better about it. So that's a legal reason to take people's money away now? Because it makes poor people feel better? Seems contrary to a just society to me, but maybe that's just me.
It is a very interesting question as ever and you know I appreciate exactly the inference you are drawing and your logic is accurate in that what is either fair or immoral for one is fair or immoral for all. And I agree with that inference in principal though I cannot help but feel that these things taken out of theory and into context are affected by scale, would you see that, no?

I am ok with the idea that values pertaining to wealth should NOT be affected by scale and but I still feel that they are.

I mean, if you earn $100 and are taxed a percentage then that is your fiscal duty taken care of. If I am a tax advisor and suggest a way that you can avoid paying your tax by either "legal" loopholes or other less savoury means then fair enough, that is for you to reckon with your own conscience (me as your tax advisor, I have ceded my conscience anyway per my terms and conditions :p). Is the treasury at a loss? Yes. In the scheme of things is that either any less acceptable or any more forgivable that similar fiscal manoeuvres on behalf of say JP Morgan Chase? Well no. Still, when we scale that up such that those $100Bn profits are skilfully dodged by me as tax advisor as if I am some quickstepping footballer or magickally swept away to Swiss / Cayman accounts or filtered through some distant business interest (ethical, legal or not), then the picture seems to become all the more distasteful, especially if we ourselves have given up a portion of our income in what we perceive as our fiscal duty to our nations. I would ask why do the ultra-wealthy have no qualms about unscrupulous activities like these theirselves? Do they feel no owing at all to their nations? Or are they so globalist that the idea of nationality is nothing to them? I cannot know. It puzzles me.

Regarding avoidance and evasion, yes, I am sorry and I am aware of the legal difference in semantic however again I feel that on the largest scales the delineation between the two is increasingly blurred. (And I as tax advisor tend to use my jargon and sleight of hand to prove that shifting money cannot be illegal anyway ;))

Here one of the giant telecomms companies Vodafone recently managed to avoid / evade (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/nov/14/vodafone-tax-evasion-revenue-customs) a tax liability of not just $103.60 out of a state minimum wage and but of 瞿7 billion (GBP) and were able to kind of and sort of "negotiate" that down to a far more respectable-to-vested-interests 瞿1 billion. I think in THAT scale of things and in THIS particular economic situation we are currently in, that is something of a bitter pill in my personal opinion. I do not know if I am making proper sense and I hope that is not diverging from the OP and if it is I am sorry. I do not think that wealth is -or holders of wealth are- evil, as I think there is immense potential within vast wealth to act for the benefit of a great many.

Yet I can only ever ponder from my position down here among the dregs about when is enough wealth enough for some.
 
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Bill Mattocks

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There is no inherent evil in becoming wealthy. However, the backlash comes out of a three-fold problem:

The wealth of the country has become hyper concentrated. The economy is a cycle of money. In the capitalist system, as businesses expand to meet rising demand, they spend money throughout all levels of the economy, effectively distributing the wealth of the capitalist class to the consumption classes. The consumption classes, in turn, produce goods and services to gain money, with which they create the demand. In the US, this cycle has been broken. The consumption classes have not gained income since Reagan got into office, and we've had a startling decline since 2008 - The previous 30 years were financed by personal debt, and it stopped working. Now, a handful of people have all the wealth, invested in the corporations, who aren't spending it, because the investors demand more profit than the system can bear. The money does not cycle - it just accumulates at the top. Corporations aren't hiring because the demand's not there. The demand's not there because they laid us all off and won't pay those of us that do have jobs more than subsistance wages. Those who have the money have to be the ones that prime the money pumps and start the levers of activity.

I have to disagree here. Money is not money if it is not being spent. If I have a billion dollars and do not spend a penny of it, I have no more impact on the system than a person living in a cardboard box. Nor does anyone have LESS money because I have a billion dollars in a shoebox and refuse to spend any of it.

However, since no one lives without spending ANY money, unless they are entirely dependent on others, we can assume that a billionaire does spend money. He has a house, a car, the trappings of wealth. All of those things are spent and go into the economy, employing builders, farmers, merchants, bankers, and so on. The more he spends, the more goes into the economy, of course. The person who lives in a box, he doesn't put anything into the economy except that which he gets from others already, in the form of social assistance, charity, and so on.

Second, the financiers of the nation are, entirely rightly, percieved as having perpetrated an evil on the nation, entirely apart from being wealthy. In their urge to collect wealth, those participating in the mortgage industry defrauded us in at least three layers, first by approving loans to buyers who did not have income to pay back loans, second by laying pressure on appraisers to inflate the value of properties so that they could squeeze interest and fees on loans that weren't backed by real collateral, and thirdly, by being too incompetant and greedy to even be bothered to keep track of who paid on time and repossessing our homes at, essentially, random.

I absolutely support vigorous prosecution of those who have broken the law. If the law was not broken, no matter how egregious the 'moral offense', we have no means in a just and law-abiding society to punish people for being 'greedy' or 'evil'. To do so puts us outside the laws we claim to support.

Finally, a lot of us believe we have been lied to. We were told that if we conformed and got our educations, that there would be reasonable jobs available for us, and that we could be not wealthy, but reasonably comfortable.

No no no no no. We were 'told' by whom? Show me that contract, please. There is no such thing, express or implied. I got that from a OWS protester on Twitter the other night; my head nearly exploded. He said he went to college and got a degree, but now he can't find a 'decent' job he likes, and society 'promised him' that if he went to college, he would find a job he liked. Oh dear me. People believe this? Horrifying.

I got a degree in computer science. There are jobs in computer science. I am happily employed. My pal got a job in art history (true story). He is a flight attendant. He's lucky to be one; the airlines have not been hiring for a long time. He hates his job, but can't quit. AND THAT IS THE FAULT OF SOCIETY HOW?

Pardon me for being blunt, but nobody promised you jack. Nor me. If I had chosen a different field (I originally went to college for law enforcement), I would have had to deal with the consequences of my decision, good or bad. That's someone else's fault how?

So we hunkered down, took out our student loans, did the work to go through college - and there's nothing for us, because the cycle is broken. What we want is for the promise to be kept, to have work, and for our work to be accompanied by rewards to us. Meanwhile, we have been told for decades that if we give the rich more money and take away the rules that keep them from ****ing us, they'll give us good jobs and let us earn money while leading us to rationalist paradise - and yet, here we are floating around 10% unemployment and the lowest real wages in decades. So...

I'm 50 years old. I am still paying off my last student loan - it ends this December, FYI. I've lost my house. I lost a job. I had to live apart from my wife for three freaking years, from late 2006 to early 2010, because she was in our house, which we were struggling to keep, in one state, while I took the only job I could find, 800 miles away. I saw her twice a year in person. I'm a service veteran who served during a time when where was no GI Bill; veterans before me got it, and those afterwards got it, but for me, nada. I get NO help from anyone; not dollar one. I'm not complaining, because I am not starving, and I know that things could change any time and I'd be sucking wind. But I am not a victim. I may win, I may lose, but everything I do have, is mine; I earned it, I paid for it, it belongs to me. I won't apologize for that. Nor will I demand other people's money or property if my life goes south again. I do not understand this victim mentality.

There are no promises. Not for me, not for you. There are some safety nets, but not many. And it's unfair in many ways; life is unfair. And while I don't have a problem with efforts to make things better for those whom life has chewed up and spat out, nobody got any promises. If you think you got one, you're mistaken, IMHO.
 
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Bill Mattocks

Bill Mattocks

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I have no idea about the modern Americans but the whole attitude was different in past times here, it was a case of people having a duty to others, it's making money and appreciating what you have by spreading wealth. The main thing in Victorian eyes was to 'better yourself', to raise yourself out of poverty and when you had to enable others to do the same, more along the lines of the principle of teaching people to fish rather than giving them a fish. There was a great push then for the working man to educate himself, education became compulsory for children, evening classes were held for adults, all to give people the chances to rise. Charity after all is a cold thing.

First, that's a romantic notion, but I do not know if it is true. Read Charles Dickens.

I think the Labour movement is more accepted here because of that Victorian attitude of civic and national duty, America had always seemed more 'everyone for themselves' as patriotic as Americans are.
Perhaps in modern terms it would mean the rich pay their pay share of taxes. I see no reason why they shouldn't.

Again; if you took ALL of the wealth from ALL of the wealthy, it would fund the US federal government for 90 days. I keep asking THEN WHAT? I don't seem to be getting any response.

Btw I don't know who the OWS is.

"Occupy Wall Street." Sorry, shorthand.
 

Tez3

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First, that's a romantic notion, but I do not know if it is true. Read Charles Dickens.



Again; if you took ALL of the wealth from ALL of the wealthy, it would fund the US federal government for 90 days. I keep asking THEN WHAT? I don't seem to be getting any response.



"Occupy Wall Street." Sorry, shorthand.


Charles Dickens was the first person quoted and talked about in the link I put up to prove that philanthropy in victorian times was workable and not romantic.

I can't debate with you about US taxes and the wealthy, I don't know enough, I think you'll have to wait for an American or a knowledgable outsider for that one.

I can't say anything about the Occupy Wall Street lot either as I have only seen it on the televion with no great depth of reporting. Our big thing is that the MoD minister has been up to things he didn't oughter and really needs to resign.

Sorry, can't contribute much more than that.

It depends on what you taxes are for ( I've just asked on the other thread) here the very rich still use the police, fire and ambulance services as well as the sewage, roads, street lighting and cleaning etc that the poor do, taxes here pay for all that so damn right the rich should pay their share of taxes. For Americans, I don't know how it works.
 

Jenna

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There is no inherent nobility in poverty, but, boy, do people act as if there was...
Rhetorically I would posit the contrary position that there is inherent nobility in (excessive) wealth? What would be your thoughts?
 

Empty Hands

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I have to disagree here. Money is not money if it is not being spent. If I have a billion dollars and do not spend a penny of it, I have no more impact on the system than a person living in a cardboard box. Nor does anyone have LESS money because I have a billion dollars in a shoebox and refuse to spend any of it.

Not true, unless the government is rapidly printing money - which ours is not. Spent money has a multiplier effect, which fuels most of our economy. Money taken out of the system represents a loss of aggregate demand. Granted, the corporations are not keeping their money in shoe boxes, and there is a multiplier effect from even very conservative investments, but it can't match capital investment and expenditures. It especially can't match using that money for new hiring, which is what our economy needs the most right now.

Of course, I don't blame the corporations for holding onto cash reserves. Demand is down, and those left in the work force have improved productivity, new hiring is not justified. That is where the government should be stepping in to solve this collective action problem and stimulate demand. Government can't, however, because half of the country has made the ideological decision that government cannot be allowed to intervene in the economy in any meaningful way. So here we languish.
 

Steve

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Nothing at all wrong with being ultra-wealthy. While they say money can't buy love, I'd like to try it for myself to make sure.

I am a huge fan of Bill and Linda Gates. The Gates foundation does great work and he is to be commended.

Personally, I don't have a problem with Jobs or Apple, either. While it's great when influential companies have philanthropic interests, it's not, IMO, a requirement. However, Gates and others have shown that philanthropy can be good business. The Red project has been a huge hit. Who knew? Create a red iPod or a red t-shirt, put Bono's name on it, sell it for a few dollars more and it generates sales and increases brand recognition and loyalty for your other product lines, as well. Komen's pink campaign is another one. Sell a pink version of something and you're almost guaranteed a boost in sales.

Ultimately, I agree with your points in the other thread, Bill. We should create laws that make sense and hold everyone accountable to these laws. I don't blame anyone for working within the current tax structure. I think we should change that structure to make it more equitable. But when it all shakes out, the richest and most powerful among us are doing better than ever, and there's no incentive for them as a block to push for equitable change.
 

WC_lun

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It isn't immoral to be rich. I don't think any of us would turn it down if we somehow managed to become rich. Just like any oncome bracket, there are those that are moral and those that aren't. I would say it is immoral to earn you money with the get paid at all cost mentality. I also think it is wrong to take advantage of people, and twist good bussiness practices completely on its head in order to make a buck, like some of our financial insitutions have done recentley. Where myself and others will probably disagree is that I also think it is a responsibility of the better off in our society to give somethng back to those less forunate. No, I don't mean handing over money to people that don't want to work, but rather give back to the community through charity, time, or contribution. No rich person ever became rich by themselves, no matter where thier money came from. Also, it is just good common sense that if the lower class have hope and a chance to make thier own way, they will spend more money on bussinesses' goods and services, making both bussinessmen and investors more money in the long run.

I do think that many people when they become rich tend to forget that we are all interconnected. When one person suffers, so does another, even if the connection is not immediately seen and aware of.
 

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