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Old 09-25-2013, 11:46 AM   #681
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I'm not that optimistic, especially with the educated part. Plenty of people, if not most Americans, are unaware of how the economy really works beyond the supply and demand part.
I think that over time, people will eventually get bored of the partisan trimmings and start looking for cold hard facts. Especially after they've been burned a few times.

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Information does move freely, but a lot is inaccurate. Here in FYM, we have people posting articles from the Daily Mail or Examiner.com or even amateur blogs, so that's says a lot.
The same as above - we will start throwing out the bad and enhancing the good. More and more research institutions are using opensource and crowdsource models. If the contributions are pure rhetoric, and can't be supported by verifiable facts - then they will be thrown out. In a way, you are actually proving this point. You mentioned Daily Mail and Examiner as unreliable sources for these very reasons - so you disregard them. Many others will start doing the same. Eventually, we will move toward non-party politics. That's not the same as Single Party - it's just that people won't see the need to align with any single platform. Decision will be based on vetted information.

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Maybe I'm missing the point of your post, but I am simply not optimistic. I don't think we're headed for a feudal society in this country, but the statistics regarding the middle class says it all.
My point is that the exponential growth in technology will not only remove the limited resource problem from the equation - it will allow greater opportunity for everyone to acquire an in-depth education and vetted information. These arenas are not controlled by the rich, but by the bright minds in college labs, grandma's basement, and the local cafe.
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Old 09-25-2013, 11:58 AM   #682
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I think that over time, people will eventually get bored of the partisan trimmings and start looking for cold hard facts. Especially after they've been burned a few times.

The same as above - we will start throwing out the bad and enhancing the good. More and more research institutions are using opensource and crowdsource models. If the contributions are pure rhetoric, and can't be supported by verifiable facts - then they will be thrown out. In a way, you are actually proving this point. You mentioned Daily Mail and Examiner as unreliable sources for these very reasons - so you disregard them. Many others will start doing the same. Eventually, we will move toward non-party politics. That's not the same as Single Party - it's just that people won't see the need to align with any single platform. Decision will be based on vetted information.

My point is that the exponential growth in technology will not only remove the limited resource problem from the equation - it will allow greater opportunity for everyone to acquire an in-depth education and vetted information. These arenas are not controlled by the rich, but by the bright minds in college labs, grandma's basement, and the local cafe.
To add to my previous post, another problem here regarding information is if people are getting any information, or want to. There is plenty of intellectually lazy people out there who not only ignore what is happening in the world, but don't put an effort into learning about it. I know a few people who have no idea who the mayoral candidates are for New York City this year. There's too many people who are that out of touch with what's going on, so even if the reliable information was there, they wouldn't use it.
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Old 09-25-2013, 03:40 PM   #683
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We're cycling...but not in a good direction, instead, we're cycling back to what humans innately know.
You're quote came to mind while I was reading this article:

RIP, the Middle Class: 1946-2013

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In our neighbors’ driveways, in their living rooms, in their backyards, I saw the evidence of prosperity distributed equally among the social classes: speedboats, Corvette Stingrays, waterbeds, snowmobiles, motorcycles, hunting rifles, RVs, CB radios. I’ve always believed that the ’70s are remembered as the Decade That Taste Forgot because they were a time when people without culture or education had the money to not only indulge their passions, but flaunt them in front of the entire nation. It was an era, to use the title of a 1975 sociological study of a Wisconsin tavern, of blue-collar aristocrats.
NBCrusader, this ^ is the America you were referring to. Essentially, it no longer exists (or is fading rapidly).
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Old 09-25-2013, 04:31 PM   #684
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very interesting article. this was a good take-away:

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The shrinking of the middle class is not a failure of capitalism. It’s a failure of government. Capitalism has been doing exactly what it was designed to do: concentrating wealth in the ownership class, while providing the mass of workers with just enough wages to feed, house and clothe themselves. Young people who graduate from college to $9.80 an hour jobs as sales clerks or data processors are giving up on the concept of employment as a vehicle for improving their financial fortunes: In a recent survey, 24 percent defined the American dream as “not being in debt.” They’re not trying to get ahead. They’re just trying to get to zero.

That’s the natural drift of the relationship between capital and labor, and it can only be arrested by an activist government that chooses to step in as a referee. The organizing victories that founded the modern union movement were made possible by the National Labor Relations Act, a piece of New Deal legislation guaranteeing workers the right to bargain collectively. The plotters of the 1936-37 Flint Sit Down Strike, which gave birth to the United Auto Workers, tried to time their action to coincide with the inauguration of Frank Murphy, Michigan’s newly elected New Deal governor. Murphy dispatched the National Guard to Flint, but instead of ordering his guardsmen to throw the workers out of the plants, as he legally could have done, he ordered them to ensure the workers remained safely inside. The strike resulted in a nickel an hour raise and an end to arbitrary firings. It guaranteed the success of the UAW, whose high wages and benefits set the standard for American workers for the next 45 years. (I know a Sit Down Striker who died on Sept. 17, at 98 years old, an age he might not have attained without the lifetime health benefits won by the UAW.)


while capitalism might be more or less a "natural" state, maybe, debatably, a strong middle class has to be created and fashioned into existence.
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Old 09-25-2013, 05:08 PM   #685
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very interesting article. this was a good take-away:





while capitalism might be more or less a "natural" state, maybe, debatably, a strong middle class has to be created and fashioned into existence.
Maybe we need to split the congress into 3 sections: Senate, House of Representatives, and House of the Middle Class.

It's unfortunate that both parties claim to be all about the middle class, yet neither have done much to protect it since the 40's...

We need to start electing people FROM the middle class in order to make a difference. The problem is, they can't get the funding (nor do we really want them to) to start a campaign. Maybe as Social Media replaces TV, we will see some changes in this area.
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Old 09-25-2013, 06:45 PM   #686
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Which brings us back to Citizens United.
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Old 09-25-2013, 07:19 PM   #687
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Is this still law?

Tillman Act of 1907

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All contributions by corporations to any political committee or for any political purpose should be forbidden by law; directors should not be permitted to use stockholders' money for such purposes; and, moreover, a prohibition of this kind would be, as far as it went, an effective method of stopping the evils aimed at in corrupt practices acts. Not only should both the National and the several State Legislatures forbid any officer of a corporation from using the money of the corporation in or about any election, but they should also forbid such use of money in connection with any legislation save by the employment of counsel in public manner for distinctly legal services.
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Old 09-25-2013, 07:26 PM   #688
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Teddy Roosevelt, Republican, 1902

"The great corporations which we have grown to speak of rather loosely as trusts are the creatures of the state [the federal government], and the state not only has the right to control them, but it is in duty bound to control them wherever the need of such control is shown. There is clearly need of supervision—need to possess the power of regulation of these great corporations through the representatives of the public wherever, as in our own country at the present time, business corporations become so very powerful alike for beneficent work and for work that is not always beneficent. It is idle to say that there is no need for such supervision. There is, and a sufficient warrant for it is to be found in any one of the admitted evils appertaining to them."
Oh how far the GOP has fallen...
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Old 09-26-2013, 12:47 PM   #689
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more thoughts on this topic:

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The Real Reason for the Fight over the Debt Limit

MARK THOMAS
The Fiscal Times
September 24, 2013

The fight over the debt ceiling is not, of course, a fight about how much government debt we should have. Politicians and the press often make it seem as though the long-run debt is the real issue, but if that were true we’d be hearing a lot more about using tax increases to close the budget gap. After all, our tax burden is not all that high relative to other countries, and there are ways to raise taxes that do not harm economic growth.

In fact, the debt is not even an immediate problem. As the latest estimates from the Congressional Budget Office show, we don’t have a debt problem until over a decade from now, and when the debt does finally begin increasing the main cause will be rising costs for health care. So finding a way to rein in health care costs, something that already seems to be happening, is the key to solving our future debt problem.

This political dispute over the debt limit is, plainly and simply, about the size and role of government. In particular, it’s an attempt by Republicans to use undue fear about the debt to scale back or eliminate spending on social insurance programs such as Medicare, Social Security, Obamacare, food stamps, and unemployment compensation. And it’s no accident that this attack on social insurance coincides with growing income inequality.

We have lost something important as a society as inequality has grown over the last several decades, our sense that we are all in this together. Social insurance is a way of sharing the risks that our economic system imposes upon us. As with other types of insurance, e.g. fire insurance, we all put our money into a common pool and the few of us unlucky enough to experience a “fire” – the loss of a job, health problems that wipe out retirement funds, disability, and so on – use the insurance to avoid financial disaster and rebuild as best we can.

But growing inequality has allowed one strata of society to be largely free of these risks while the other is very much exposed to them. As that has happened, as one group in society has had fewer and fewer worries about paying for college education, has first-rate health insurance, ample funds for retirement, and little or no chance of losing a home and ending up on the street if a job suddenly disappears in a recession, support among the politically powerful elite for the risk sharing that makes social insurance work has declined.

Rising inequality and differential exposure to economic risk has caused one group to see themselves as the “makers” in society who provide for the rest and pay most of the bills, and the other group as “takers” who get all the benefits. The upper strata wonders, “Why should we pay for social insurance when we get little or none of the benefits?” and this leads to an attack on these programs.


Even worse, this social stratification leads those at the top to begin imposing a virtue and vice story to justify their desire to stop paying the taxes needed to support social insurance programs. Those at the top did it all by themselves. They “built that” through their own effort and sacrifice with no help from anyone else.

Those at the bottom, on the other hand, are essentially burning down their own houses just to collect the fire insurance, i.e. making poor choices and sponging off of social insurance programs. It’s their behavior that’s the problem, and taking away the incentive to live off of the rest of society by constraining their ability to collect social insurance is the only way to ensure they get jobs and provide for themselves.

Of course, this is a false view of how the system operates. The wealthy would not have the opportunity to make so much money if it society didn’t provide the infrastructure, educated workforce, legal protections, and other building blocks critical for their success.
And we shouldn’t forget that many of the wealthy got where they are through the privilege and advantage that comes from familial wealth rather than their own merit.

Contrast that with the fact that the great majority of people receiving payments from social insurance programs are not deadbeats or takers – they are hard working individuals and families who have had a spell of bad luck through no fault of their own e.g. job loss in a recession, and need help getting through it, or who have trouble supporting a household while working at, say, a minimum wage job.

The truth – something those involved in the shameful attempt to make life even harder for the unlucky and the unfortunate seem to have forgotten – is that we are all in this together, and that includes sharing the risks inherent in our economic system through generous social insurance programs.

- See more at: The Real Reason for the Fight over the Debt Limit | The Fiscal Times
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Old 09-26-2013, 12:53 PM   #690
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Oh how far the GOP has fallen...
The Democrats have also been generally poor when it comes to corporate regulation.

I went to a conference recently on the trends in anti-corruption and anti-bribery legislation and I found it interesting that the real leaders, the first nation to enact such laws, was the US, in 1977. That is probably very surprising to people of today, as the US would certainly not be at the forefront.

But think about it - the US took a leadership position on this, lobbied hard within the OECD and the end result was that the other western nations followed suit. It was remarkable, and it was really for the best.

The comment made at the conference by the (American) speaker was "that was accomplished because we had a much more liberal government than the one today."
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Old 09-26-2013, 01:14 PM   #691
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from the article you posted, "...And we shouldn’t forget that many of the wealthy got where they are through the privilege and advantage that comes from familial wealth rather than their own merit."
While I'm not disputing this - I've seen some conflicting numbers. I didn't see any data supporting this (again, I don't doubt that it's true...but data certainly helps when making such a strong claim).
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Old 09-26-2013, 02:10 PM   #692
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While I'm not disputing this - I've seen some conflicting numbers. I didn't see any data supporting this (again, I don't doubt that it's true...but data certainly helps when making such a strong claim).
If what you've seen are numbers showing that most fortunes in the US are self-made rather than inherited, that is (to my knowledge) true. But there are massively important advantages that a wealthy upbringing brings to future wealth, other than directly inherited fortunes. I, for instance, don't expect to inherit buckets of money from my parents. But they could afford to live in areas with strong schools that really helped to foster a strong motivation in me that I might not have gotten otherwise. I am just theorizing here, but I think that growing up in an area where people grow up and make money, rather than being continually trapped in poverty, helps to demonstrate what can be done to make money, and incentivize doing those things. So I absolutely think that the upper-middle class lifestyle that my parents are able to afford will help me "inherit" in a less direct sense. And it's kind of sad that things work that way.
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Old 09-26-2013, 03:18 PM   #693
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If what you've seen are numbers showing that most fortunes in the US are self-made rather than inherited, that is (to my knowledge) true. But there are massively important advantages that a wealthy upbringing brings to future wealth, other than directly inherited fortunes. I, for instance, don't expect to inherit buckets of money from my parents. But they could afford to live in areas with strong schools that really helped to foster a strong motivation in me that I might not have gotten otherwise. I am just theorizing here, but I think that growing up in an area where people grow up and make money, rather than being continually trapped in poverty, helps to demonstrate what can be done to make money, and incentivize doing those things. So I absolutely think that the upper-middle class lifestyle that my parents are able to afford will help me "inherit" in a less direct sense. And it's kind of sad that things work that way.
Yes, this is more or less what I usually see - that most of the wealthy did not directly inherit their wealth, but they did grow up in an environment that nurtured a "wealthy" mindset.

Perhaps this is where much of the anger is coming from - especially those that grew up in the middle class and checked off all the "middle class" requirements to at least stay in the middle class (if not move up into the upper middle class) - only to find that it's much more difficult for them than for their parents.

In my case, like you, I grew up in what many would consider the upper-middle class. After some military service (in which I remain a Reserve Officer) to "break free" from my parents I went to school (eventually earned a degree in Management of Information Systems and then an MBA), and actively pursued jobs that built my resume. Yet - after all of that, I still don't own a home even though my wife and I make just over $250,000 per year - which even in Orange County is in the top 2-3% of household incomes according to irs.gov. Why? Because the price of a home compared to average income is SO FAR out of whack I refuse to pay it (even though my wife REALLY wants us to buy). But I do have a neighbor that somehow bought a million dollar home next to us working as a maintenance man at COSTCO.

Now, I'm not saying I deserve the house more than my neighbor. What I'm saying is that he used a credit scheme to get into his first home and "traded up" when he got some equity from the boom like so many others. The problem is - with everyone using funky credit schemes to get an asset, that asset will artificially inflate (just like college). If/when we return to conventional measures of price to income - I should be able to "afford" a home priced in the top 2-3% of my area (of course I'm conservative and would still choose something more modest than the top 2-3%, but I don't have that choice).

And here'e the thing - let's say I just bite the bullet and buy something well within my means based on my income - let's say a $500,000 house - I just know it will tank 50% when prices return to the historical baseline - which would be 1999 prices plus inflation adjustment.

Happy wife or not - I just can't afford to throw $250,000 away...hence, I'm a "2 percenter" that can't "afford" a home.

If I am an upper-middle class employed citizen with a post-graduate degree and 20 years of solid professional experience having these complaints - it must be horrendously difficult for a young person with that newly minted degree expecting to step right into the middle class life that was promised. Of course - if they're willing to take on a mountain of debt and pay double the price - then they can actually "finance the dream" - at least for awhile.
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Old 09-26-2013, 03:22 PM   #694
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If what you've seen are numbers showing that most fortunes in the US are self-made rather than inherited, that is (to my knowledge) true. But there are massively important advantages that a wealthy upbringing brings to future wealth, other than directly inherited fortunes. I, for instance, don't expect to inherit buckets of money from my parents. But they could afford to live in areas with strong schools that really helped to foster a strong motivation in me that I might not have gotten otherwise. I am just theorizing here, but I think that growing up in an area where people grow up and make money, rather than being continually trapped in poverty, helps to demonstrate what can be done to make money, and incentivize doing those things. So I absolutely think that the upper-middle class lifestyle that my parents are able to afford will help me "inherit" in a less direct sense. And it's kind of sad that things work that way.

this is absolutely true.

there's no question that people from all sorts of circumstance can and do succeed. however, it's false to say that "anyone" can succeed, or even that smart, ambitious people always do succeed. often, they don't.

and taking it one step further, we'd all like to believe in a just world. we want to believe the good are rewarded and the bad are punished. we want to believe that if we make good decisions and work hard that things will work out for us. sometimes, that isn't the case. and when we repeat the mantra that people rise and fall solely on their own merit we're really alleviating our own insecurities and attempting to exert some sort of control on a universe that has no interest in fairness or justice.

so it's up to use to make it a little bit more fair, a little bit more just, and to remind ourselves of our common humanity, and common vulnerability.
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Old 09-26-2013, 03:29 PM   #695
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And here'e the thing - let's say I just bite the bullet and buy something well within my means based on my income - let's say a $500,000 house - I just know it will tank 50% when prices return to the historical baseline - which would be 1999 prices plus inflation adjustment.

Happy wife or not - I just can't afford to throw $250,000 away...hence, I'm a "2 percenter" that can't "afford" a home.


i certainly don't know any more than the info you've given us, but i can't think that California real estate, particularly in the OC, is a bad investment. i can't imagine it's going to crash again to that extent.
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Old 09-26-2013, 04:09 PM   #696
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i certainly don't know any more than the info you've given us, but i can't think that California real estate, particularly in the OC, is a bad investment. i can't imagine it's going to crash again to that extent.
I don't see how it can sustain these levels with such high unemployment and low wages. This isn't exactly Silicon Valley (as far as employment goes...)

Maybe everything will ride the inflation wave - and incomes and prices will return to their normal ratio.

I do understand that CA will always cost more than most places, especially OC. But it is still way off the historical trend.

In the end, my wife may win...I'm just ticked that that I have to pay almost 10 times more than my dad did if I wanted to live in the same house in Irvine (or equivalent) - even though he made about 1/2 what I make now.
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Old 09-26-2013, 04:32 PM   #697
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there's no question that people from all sorts of circumstance can and do succeed. however, it's false to say that "anyone" can succeed, or even that smart, ambitious people always do succeed. often, they don't.
Sometimes success can really be about luck and knowing the right people, especially today when networking is more vital than ever. This could be why older generations can't grasp the idea of not anyone can succeed, because they had it easier
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Old 09-26-2013, 04:45 PM   #698
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This could be why older generations can't grasp the idea of not anyone can succeed, because they had it easier
Right on the money there. Just like it said in the "blue collar aristocracy" article...
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Old 09-26-2013, 04:58 PM   #699
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Right on the money there. Just like it said in the "blue collar aristocracy" article...
Hey, even I had it easier when I graduated college in 2004. I got my first real world job simply by submitting my resume. When I tried to do the same when I got my MA in 2008, I got nowhere because the way you go about getting even an interview has completely changed. Some of it is technology, some of it economical, and others. I'm still trying to adjust to the whole networking, social media, innovation methods that are needed to have anyone glance at your resume. When people ask me how I got my first job (which was at a major news outlet), I literally say, "the old fashioned way".
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Old 09-26-2013, 06:32 PM   #700
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Perhaps this is where much of the anger is coming from - especially those that grew up in the middle class and checked off all the "middle class" requirements to at least stay in the middle class (if not move up into the upper middle class) - only to find that it's much more difficult for them than for their parents.
That's definitely true.

Regarding real estate, I do think that your situation is either somewhat of an anomaly, or perhaps the worst example exemplifying a pattern. I do share your fear that real estate prices are getting questionably high given economic fundamentals at the moment.

And college... good God, that's insane. I am incredibly lucky to be going to a school with inexpensive tuition, and to be paying for the vast majority of my expenses with scholarship money, and to be getting a worthwhile degree from it. But so many have none of those three blessings, and that is part of what scares me about what economic shape my generation is getting stuck in.
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