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Old 11-24-2013, 08:24 PM   #961
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btw, Irvine. Love your new avatar. My DVR is ready for her awesomeness.
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Old 11-24-2013, 08:33 PM   #962
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btw, Irvine. Love your new avatar. My DVR is ready for her awesomeness.


I hope tonight’s formal has taught you guys that just because you go to a public school and you’re pover it doesn’t mean that you can’t have a good time. Do you know what I mean? Seriously, like, stop worrying about money and get over it and just have an amazing time!
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Old 11-24-2013, 09:59 PM   #963
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He is neutering the United States on the world stage. He is spending us into bankruptcy.
Nobody ever said those things about George W Bush that's for sure.
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It was fueled then, as now, by billionaires opposed to federal oversight, rabid media, Bible-thumping preachers and extremist lawmakers who had moved far from their political peers.
It was fueled then, as now, by billionaires opposed to the Patriot Act and Gitmo, rabid left-wing media and bloggers, Bible-hating secularists and extremist lawmakers who had moved far from their political peers.

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In 1963, that strident minority hijacked the civic dialogue and brewed the boiling, toxic environment waiting for Kennedy the day he died.
And yet Kennedy's parade route was delayed by the huge crowds that came to cheer him in Ft. Worth, Houston and Dallas before he was shot by a communist.
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Old 11-24-2013, 10:02 PM   #964
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on a slightly related topic, wealth and being poor (or "pover" as they say in Australia), one of the things i find very entropic about America 2013 is the plight of the poor, and how if one is poor one is highly likely to stay poor.

it's very easy to tell ourselves that the poor simply make bad choices, and that if we were poor we'd make different choices.

and we might be right.

but it's not because the poor are weak, or lazy, or immoral, or stupid. it's because they're poor.

here's some very interesting reading:

Quote:
This Is Why Poor People's Bad Decisions Make Perfect Sense
Posted: 11/22/2013 5:18 pm
Linda Tirado

There's no way to structure this coherently. They are random observations that might help explain the mental processes. But often, I think that we look at the academic problems of poverty and have no idea of the why. We know the what and the how, and we can see systemic problems, but it's rare to have a poor person actually explain it on their own behalf. So this is me doing that, sort of.

Rest is a luxury for the rich. I get up at 6AM, go to school (I have a full course load, but I only have to go to two in-person classes) then work, then I get the kids, then I pick up my husband, then I have half an hour to change and go to Job 2. I get home from that at around 12:30AM, then I have the rest of my classes and work to tend to. I'm in bed by 3. This isn't every day, I have two days off a week from each of my obligations. I use that time to clean the house and soothe Mr. Martini and see the kids for longer than an hour and catch up on schoolwork. Those nights I'm in bed by midnight, but if I go to bed too early I won't be able to stay up the other nights because I'll fuck my pattern up, and I drive an hour home from Job 2 so I can't afford to be sleepy. I never get a day off from work unless I am fairly sick. It doesn't leave you much room to think about what you are doing, only to attend to the next thing and the next. Planning isn't in the mix.

When I got pregnant the first time, I was living in a weekly motel. I had a minifridge with no freezer and a microwave. I was on WIC. I ate peanut butter from the jar and frozen burritos because they were 12/$2. Had I had a stove, I couldn't have made beef burritos that cheaply. And I needed the meat, I was pregnant. I might not have had any prenatal care, but I am intelligent enough to eat protein and iron whilst knocked up.

I know how to cook. I had to take Home Ec to graduate high school. Most people on my level didn't. Broccoli is intimidating. You have to have a working stove, and pots, and spices, and you'll have to do the dishes no matter how tired you are or they'll attract bugs. It is a huge new skill for a lot of people. That's not great, but it's true. And if you fuck it up, you could make your family sick. We have learned not to try too hard to be middle-class. It never works out well and always makes you feel worse for having tried and failed yet again. Better not to try. It makes more sense to get food that you know will be palatable and cheap and that keeps well. Junk food is a pleasure that we are allowed to have; why would we give that up? We have very few of them.

The closest Planned Parenthood to me is three hours. That's a lot of money in gas. Lots of women can't afford that, and even if you live near one you probably don't want to be seen coming in and out in a lot of areas. We're aware that we are not "having kids," we're "breeding." We have kids for much the same reasons that I imagine rich people do. Urge to propagate and all. Nobody likes poor people procreating, but they judge abortion even harder.

Convenience food is just that. And we are not allowed many conveniences. Especially since the Patriot Act passed, it's hard to get a bank account. But without one, you spend a lot of time figuring out where to cash a check and get money orders to pay bills. Most motels now have a no-credit-card-no-room policy. I wandered around SF for five hours in the rain once with nearly a thousand dollars on me and could not rent a room even if I gave them a $500 cash deposit and surrendered my cell phone to the desk to hold as surety.

Nobody gives enough thought to depression. You have to understand that we know that we will never not feel tired. We will never feel hopeful. We will never get a vacation. Ever. We know that the very act of being poor guarantees that we will never not be poor. It doesn't give us much reason to improve ourselves. We don't apply for jobs because we know we can't afford to look nice enough to hold them. I would make a super legal secretary, but I've been turned down more than once because I "don't fit the image of the firm," which is a nice way of saying "gtfo, pov." I am good enough to cook the food, hidden away in the kitchen, but my boss won't make me a server because I don't "fit the corporate image." I am not beautiful. I have missing teeth and skin that looks like it will when you live on B12 and coffee and nicotine and no sleep. Beauty is a thing you get when you can afford it, and that's how you get the job that you need in order to be beautiful. There isn't much point trying.

Cooking attracts roaches. Nobody realizes that. I've spent a lot of hours impaling roach bodies and leaving them out on toothpick pikes to discourage others from entering. It doesn't work, but is amusing.

"Free" only exists for rich people. It's great that there's a bowl of condoms at my school, but most poor people will never set foot on a college campus. We don't belong there. There's a clinic? Great! There's still a copay. We're not going. Besides, all they'll tell you at the clinic is that you need to see a specialist, which seriously? Might as well be located on Mars for how accessible it is. "Low-cost" and "sliding scale" sounds like "money you have to spend" to me, and they can't actually help you anyway.

I smoke. It's expensive. It's also the best option. You see, I am always, always exhausted. It's a stimulant. When I am too tired to walk one more step, I can smoke and go for another hour. When I am enraged and beaten down and incapable of accomplishing one more thing, I can smoke and I feel a little better, just for a minute. It is the only relaxation I am allowed. It is not a good decision, but it is the only one that I have access to. It is the only thing I have found that keeps me from collapsing or exploding.

I make a lot of poor financial decisions. None of them matter, in the long term. I will never not be poor, so what does it matter if I don't pay a thing and a half this week instead of just one thing? It's not like the sacrifice will result in improved circumstances; the thing holding me back isn't that I blow five bucks at Wendy's. It's that now that I have proven that I am a Poor Person that is all that I am or ever will be. It is not worth it to me to live a bleak life devoid of small pleasures so that one day I can make a single large purchase. I will never have large pleasures to hold on to. There's a certain pull to live what bits of life you can while there's money in your pocket, because no matter how responsible you are you will be broke in three days anyway. When you never have enough money it ceases to have meaning. I imagine having a lot of it is the same thing.

Poverty is bleak and cuts off your long-term brain. It's why you see people with four different babydaddies instead of one. You grab a bit of connection wherever you can to survive. You have no idea how strong the pull to feel worthwhile is. It's more basic than food. You go to these people who make you feel lovely for an hour that one time, and that's all you get. You're probably not compatible with them for anything long-term, but right this minute they can make you feel powerful and valuable. It does not matter what will happen in a month. Whatever happens in a month is probably going to be just about as indifferent as whatever happened today or last week. None of it matters. We don't plan long-term because if we do we'll just get our hearts broken. It's best not to hope. You just take what you can get as you spot it.

I am not asking for sympathy. I am just trying to explain, on a human level, how it is that people make what look from the outside like awful decisions. This is what our lives are like, and here are our defense mechanisms, and here is why we think differently. It's certainly self-defeating, but it's safer. That's all. I hope it helps make sense of it.

This Is Why Poor People's Bad Decisions Make Perfect Sense | Linda Tirado
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Old 11-25-2013, 12:08 AM   #965
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I don't think I've ever heard the term 'pover' here, it's almost always been 'povo.' You know, sticking with the Australian English tradition of plonking an 'o' on the end of a word.
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Old 11-25-2013, 12:10 AM   #966
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I don't think I've ever heard the term 'pover' here, it's almost always been 'povo.' You know, sticking with the Australian English tradition of plonking an 'o' on the end of a word.

Sorry -- my source misquoted Chris Lilly.
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Old 11-26-2013, 04:50 PM   #967
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i thought about starting an entire thread on economic inequality, but i don't even know where to start.

so i'll just post the Pope without much comment:

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Pope Francis denounces ‘trickle-down’ economic theories in critique of inequality

By Zachary A. Goldfarb and Michelle Boorstein, Tuesday, November 26, 1:19 PM

Pope Francis on Tuesday sharply criticized growing economic inequality and unfettered markets in a lengthy paper outlining a populist philosophy that he says will guide his papacy as he pushes the Catholic Church to reach out more, particularly to the disenfranchised.

Using sharply worded phrases, Francis decried an “idolatry of money” and warned it would lead to “a new tyranny.” And he invoked language with particular resonance in the United States, attacking an economic theory that discourages taxation and regulation and which most affiliate with conservatives.

“Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world,” Francis wrote in the papal statement. “This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system.”

“Meanwhile,” he added, “the excluded are still waiting.”


While Francis has raised concerns before about the growing gap between the wealthy and poor since becoming pontiff in March, his direct reference to “trickle-down” economic theory in the English translation of his 50,000-word statement was striking.

The phrase has often been used derisively to describe a popular version of conservative or Republican economic philosophy that argues that allowing the wealthy to run their businesses unencumbered by regulation or taxation bears economic benefits that lead to more jobs and income for the rest of society. Liberals and Democratic officials have rejected the theory, saying it is contradicted by economic evidence.

The papal statement, known formally as an apostolic exhortation, is the first to be written entirely by Francis and discusses a wide range of topics, including the need for “broader opportunities for a more incisive female presence in the Church.”

Francis, who was elected to lead the church in March after the resignation of Pope Benedict, hailed from Buenos Aires and became the first non-European to lead the church in more than a millennium.

Since then, he has been the subject of fascination and attention among many Catholics, political leaders and people all over the world as he has taken a decidedly more populist approach to the papacy. He has adopted a softer tone toward gay people, eschewed lavish features of the papal lifestyle, washed the feet of convicts and repeatedly urged greater effort to lift up the world’s poor.

Francis’s focus on the subject is especially notable given dramatic changes in the world economy.

Many of the world’s richest countries are experiencing historic levels of income inequality, with the quality of the life for workers in the middle no longer improving.

And even in the developing world, there are emerging concerns about inequality and whether workers will benefit from their countries’ increasing prosperity. In China, for instance, officials have made repeated promises to tackle the country’s widening income gap.

It’s the “boldness and explicitness” of the pope’s new writing that makes it so newsworthy, said Michael Sean Winters, a fellow at Catholic University’s Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies.

“There’s no way a Catholic who is a serious intellectual can ever again not address the issue of income inequality, of the structural sins of our economic system. This is so front and center,” he said Tuesday. “He’s not saying ‘I’m an economic expert.’ This is a pastor’s voice. He’s saying, ‘If we’re serious Christians, we need to be knee deep in this stuff.’ ”

Around the world, Francis’s approach has won plaudits from many but also caused anxiety among some. President Obama last month said he has been “hugely impressed with the pope’s pronouncements.” Conservative Catholics, however, have worried that his open tone is too unspecific and causes confusion on traditional teachings such as those against abortion and gay equality.

While Francis’s economic philosophy has yet to cause any major upheaval among conservatives, U.S. bishops and other prominent Catholics spoke out last year against a budget proposed by then-vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) that would have dramatically cut the safety net.

According to polling, U.S. Catholics are more supportive of government taking action to improve living standards and say the wealth gap is historically high, but are divided over the size of government and whether the nation’s biggest problem is unfairness or over-regulation of business. In 2012, Catholics voters split on whether government should take action to reduce the gap between wealthy and less well-off Americans.

Helping the poor and combating inequality have been long tenets of papal statements and classical Catholic teaching, which supports carefully regulated markets and even a government role in redistributing wealth.

In 2009, Pope Benedict wrote in a teaching called “Charity in Truth” that economics should be rethought so that it is guided not just by profits but by “an ethics which is people-centered.”

“An unregulated economy shielded from ‘influences’ of a moral character has led man to abuse the economic process in a thoroughly destructive way,” Benedict wrote. This has “led to economic, social and political systems that trample upon personal and social freedom, and are therefore unable to deliver the justice that they promise.”

In 2011, as the Occupy Wall Street movement was underway, the Vatican’s Justice and Peace agency called for the establishment of a “global public authority” and a central global bank. The document condemned “the idolatry of the market.”

Yet while previous popes discussed the disenfranchised, they didn’t single out the issue the way Francis has. He has not only done so with his words, but in his actions, such as paying his own hotel bill in person or affectionately embracing a man disfigured by disease.

Experts see Francis as trying to reframe economic justice not just a matter of duty but as a way of connecting better to God.

Winters, who writes on Catholicism for the National Catholic Reporter, said a key to understanding Francis is that he’s from Argentina and was archbishop of Buenos Aires in 2001, when the country’s economy collapsed.

“When you see people trying to bless capitalism, he has a very real, vivid experience of capitalism and what it has brought to his country, and it’s not a happy experience,” Winters said. “The key is this is a guy from the Global South. This kind of poverty — there’s no food-stamp program. And these are his people.”

Francis’s language and actions on the economy have been far more accessible than those of Benedict, a theologian who wrote primarily in thick books hard to untangle for the regular layperson.

Pope John Paul also saw his warnings on economic inequality swallowed at times by his war on Communism, far more dangerous in the church’s eyes because of its anti-religious bent. He and Benedict were seen as hostile to some of contemporary Catholicism’s loudest anti-poverty voices — clergy and others who embraced liberation theology in South and Central America.

The two saw theological danger in a movement that brought many clergy into politics, but some historians saw a watering down of church teaching against unrestrained capitalism.

Pope Francis denounces ‘trickle-down’ economic theories in critique of inequality - The Washington Post


i think the issue of economic inequality will be the defining economic issue of the first half of the 21st century. it's existence isn't in and of itself political -- it's a byproduct, in many ways, of technology. it simply is. what to do about it, if anything can be done about it, is where the politics are.
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Old 11-26-2013, 05:34 PM   #968
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i think the issue of economic inequality will be the defining economic issue of the first half of the 21st century. it's existence isn't in and of itself political -- it's a byproduct, in many ways, of technology. it simply is. what to do about it, if anything can be done about it, is where the politics are.
We're entering some strange times. The Pope is right, of course. The worship of money is wrong and any system that promotes it is ultimately flawed.

However, it does seem we are making a lot of progress on defeating extreme poverty:

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Today, roughly 1.2 billion people live in extreme poverty - nearly 700 million fewer than 1990, when more than 1.9 billion people lived below $1.25/day.

The world achieved Millennium Development Goal 1 - to halve the poverty rate among developing countries - five years ahead of schedule, in 2010, when the global rate fell to 20.6% (from 43.1% in 1990). Aggregate poverty rates are now falling in every region, including sub-Saharan Africa since around 2000.
Source:Ending Extreme Poverty | U.S. Agency for International Development
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Old 11-26-2013, 09:34 PM   #969
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Here's an interesting proposal.

End the 1 percent’s free ride: Taxing land would solve America’s biggest problems


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If we want a real overhaul/simplification of the tax code, the way to do it is to tax land value. It might be the only tax we need. No sales tax. No income tax. No payroll tax to fill a Social Security trust fund. No corporate income tax that, as we can plainly see, offshores profits. No need to tax labor and industry at all. Just tax the stuff that humans had nothing to do with creating, and therefore have no basis to claim ownership over at all. You’ll find that almost all of it is “owned” by the fabled 1 percent.

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An LVT would stimulate urban property development without incurring the socially catastrophic ethnic displacement pattern we call “gentrification.” As that noted far-left rag the Economist notes, “Property developers … would be less inclined to hoard undeveloped land if they had to pay an annual levy on it.” Despite this, the new developments wouldn’t push rents up throughout the rest of the neighborhood, because the increased land value would be taxed. The rest of the apartment buildings in the area didn’t get any nicer. So why should they cost more? Urban land, scarce by definition, is very valuable. There is no reason to let a small group of rich landlords extract its value, when what created the value are parks, subways, local restaurants and other things the landlords didn’t provide.
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Old 11-26-2013, 10:43 PM   #970
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i think the issue of economic inequality will be the defining economic issue of the first half of the 21st century. it's existence isn't in and of itself political -- it's a byproduct, in many ways, of technology. it simply is. what to do about it, if anything can be done about it, is where the politics are.
It was a major issue in the late 1800s and early last century. Unfortunately, it took the form of communist tyranny in Soviet Russia, China and elsewhere. Let's hope the issue has a better outcome.


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We're entering some strange times. The Pope is right, of course. The worship of money is wrong and any system that promotes it is ultimately flawed.

However, it does seem we are making a lot of progress on defeating extreme poverty:
It looks like economic inequality differs from place to place. The poverty inequality is definitely much worse in the Third World, while the struggles in the developed world are nothing like other countries.
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Old 11-27-2013, 08:58 AM   #971
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Here is a very worthwhile post in one of The Economist's blogs about a creative idea for dealing with income inequality. Could an increase in the portion of people who are partial owners of companies help?

Employee share ownership: Turning workers into capitalists | The Economist

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Turning workers into capitalists
Nov 25th 2013, 8:58 by Z.M.B. | WASHINGTON

THERE is a depressing familiarity about much of the discussion on what to do about America's widening income inequality. Some remedies are uncontroversial but hard-to-achieve (such as improving education); others are the subject of furious argument (such as more progressive taxation). Debate is heated, but within a fairly narrow set of potential solutions. Once in a while, though, more creative, proposals are added to the mix. "The Citizen's Share", a new book that is the subject of this week's Free exchange column, is one of those.

The book is written by three long-time analysts of, and advocates for, employee share ownership: Joseph Blasi and Douglas Kruse of Rutgers University (Mr Kruse is currently working at the Council of Economic Advisers), and Richard Freeman of Harvard University. Their proposals for countering wealth concentration and the workers' squeeze stem from this background. Their thesis is simple: since part of the reason for America's widening wealth gap is labour's declining share of national income, then countering this inequality means encouraging firms to give workers broader participation in profits, whether through profit-sharing, stock ownership or stock options. The federal government, they argue, ought to be much more radical in encouraging broad employee share ownership, particularly through tax incentives.

The authors show, convincingly, that the logic of citizen capitalism has periodically motivated American politics and business since the Founding Fathers. George Washington gave a tax break to the New England cod industry in 1792 on condition that shipowners signed a profit-sharing agreement with their crew and split the federal "allowance" with them. The 19th century Homestead Acts distributed land free to those willing to till it. In 1974 legislation, sometimes dubbed the Industrial Homestead Act, created Employee Share Ownership Plans, tax-advantaged trusts through which companies can provide employees with share-ownership.

As a result, surprisingly large numbers of American workers share in some way in their employers’ success. Based on a series of national surveys, the authors reckon that some 47% of full-time workers have one or more forms of capital stake in the firm for which they work, whether from profit-sharing schemes (40%), stock ownership (21%) or stock options (10%). About a tenth of Fortune 500 companies, from Procter & Gamble to Goldman Sachs, have employee shareholdings of 5% or more. Almost a fifth of America’s biggest private firms, including behemoths like Cargill and Mars, have profit-sharing or share-ownership schemes. Some 10m people work for companies with ESOPs.
In most cases workers equity stakes are fairly small. But the authors argue that this widespread, if shallow, citizen capitalism is the basis from which something much bolder can be built. They urge a 21st century version of George Washington's logic: government incentives designed to encourage firms to expand employee share ownership. Their proposals range from the small-bore (use the federal government to spread the word on employee share ownership) to a more ambitious restructuring of tax incentives (for instance, making all existing corporate tax breaks contingent on a firm having a profit-sharing or employee ownership scheme).

Are these proposals a good idea? Certaintly the logic that broadening capital participation is part of the answer to countering the squeeze on workers is an appealing one. But does it make sense for workers to build up capital stakes in the firms they work for? One worry has to be the concentration of risk.

If share ownership comes at the expense of wages, workers may simply be shifting from a stable and liquid form of compensation to a riskier one. Messrs Blasi, Freeman and Kruse argue that share ownership should be, and usually is, additional compensation. Surveys suggest that over 70% of workers who benefit from a profit-sharing or other share-ownership scheme say their wages are at or above prevailing market rates—presumably thanks to their firms’ superior performance.Even if the compensation is genuinely additional, employee share-ownership can have disadvantages. It may lead workers to hold too much of their wealth in their own company’s stock. The authors acknowledge this risk and recommend that workers should diversify their portfolios. But since most Americans have very few savings, that caveat sharply limits the potential expansion of employee share schemes, especially for poorer people.
Rather than dole out new special incentives to promote a particular, and perhaps risky, route to broader share ownership, why not eliminate existing incentives that serve to encourage the concentration of capital? The carried-interest loophole, which allows private-equity partners to pay (lower) capital-gains tax rates on their income, would be an obvious place to start.
Interestingly, if we frame this as "putting capital into the hands of workers", it's not terribly far from a textbook tenet of Socialism. And a lot of this mechanism's level of usefulness is a function of how structural the current labor market's problems are, which is an open question.
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Old 11-27-2013, 06:30 PM   #972
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It is an interesting idea but not without its own complications.

For example, if you increase ownership by employees, how does that have an impact on the markets? Remember that markets need some level of volatility. Or, if you increase ownership by employees, how does that impact the risk appetite and risk tolerance of a corporation and does it in fact promote unsound, risky practices (short term gain, long term pain)?
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Old 11-27-2013, 08:33 PM   #973
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It is an interesting idea but not without its own complications.

For example, if you increase ownership by employees, how does that have an impact on the markets? Remember that markets need some level of volatility. Or, if you increase ownership by employees, how does that impact the risk appetite and risk tolerance of a corporation and does it in fact promote unsound, risky practices (short term gain, long term pain)?
Very valid concerns.
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Old 12-01-2013, 11:15 AM   #974
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his direct reference to “trickle-down” economic theory in the English translation of his 50,000-word statement was striking.
So is the Pope saying Catholics should give their tithes and donations directly to their "excluded," sick or needy neighbors rather than the Catholic Church and their "trickle down" assistance system?
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Old 12-01-2013, 12:57 PM   #975
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So is the Pope saying Catholics should give their tithes and donations directly to their "excluded," sick or needy neighbors rather than the Catholic Church and their "trickle down" assistance system?
Basically. Being Argentinian, the Pope saw firsthand what happens when capitalism falls apart and the average person suffers. So he knows what he is talking about.
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