Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates stole my money!


I want it back! I want everyone to get their fair share!

This new report explains that the rich have been robbing us blind since the 1970s, at least. That’s 50 years of cash I want in my pocket right now.

Just how far has the working class been left behind by the winner-take-all economy? A new analysis by the RAND Corporation examines what rising inequality has cost Americans in lost income—and the results are stunning.

A full-time worker whose taxable income is at the median—with half the population making more and half making less—now pulls in about $50,000 a year. Yet had the fruits of the nation’s economic output been shared over the past 45 years as broadly as they were from the end of World War II until the early 1970s, that worker would instead be making $92,000 to $102,000. (The exact figures vary slightly depending on how inflation is calculated.)

There was a transfer of $2.5 trillion in wealth from those who could actually use it to the über-rich. You might be wondering who to blame, who engineered this massive heist…I can think of a few crooks who’ve benefitted, but it’s also partly our own fault. We let this happen by electing lazy, greedy looters to high office.

They say the blame lies, in large measure, with decades of failed federal policy decisions—allowing the minimum wage to deteriorate, overtime coverage to dwindle, and the effectiveness of labor law to decline, undermining union power. They also cite a shift in corporate culture that has elevated the interests of shareholders over those of workers, an ethos that took root 50 years ago this week with the publication of an essay by University of Chicago economist Milton Friedman.

Many of these developments, Rolf points out, have been driven by the belief that an unfettered free market would generate wealth for everyone. Thanks to the RAND study, he says, “we now have the proof that this theory was wrong.”

Oh god. Friedman. Advisor to Reagan and Thatcher, libertarian, neo-liberal monster. So much of blame for the decline of the United States can be plopped onto his too-influential shoulders. Where’s his grave? We ought to all go piss on it, at the very least.

After the symbolic desecration party, though, we should pass laws that rip the ill-gotten wealth out of the hands of the 1%.

Comments

  1. Snarki, child of Loki says

    90% tax rate on all “capital gains” in excess of 3x the Treasury Bond rate of return.

    The overall goal should be “low tax on EARNED income, high tax on UNEARNED income”.

  2. profpedant says

    1.) Raise the minimum wage to $50,000/year for a fulltime job (or #2 below).
    2.) Provide a $2000/month dividend to every person who is in the US legally. (Children’s portion either goes to their parent/guardian or goes into a savings account that they get access to after they cast their first vote.)
    3.) Medical Care and Education are to be effectively free/always affordable.
    4.) A 3% annual tax on all wealth (all wealth) above $50 million.
    5.) Housing construction until the number of homeless people drops to effectively zero (‘Supply/Demand’ – render the ‘there isn’t enough affordable housing’ argument blatantly irrelevant).

  3. says

    Wealth tax. It’s the the only way to get the money back out of the vultures’ hands. (And, of course, Biden has already said he will veto it even if it gets through Congress. Thanks again, Blue No Matter Who idiots who enabled his nomination by signaling in advance that you would not hold the party to any standard at all no matter what. You gave us a real winner.)

    Transaction taxes sufficient to render not merely not profitable but actively massively unprofitable any stock or bond market trade which involves resale in less than, oh, let’s say four weeks. (Like: the tax should be a minimum of 200% of the difference between the sale price and the buying price, if the sale price was higher than the buying price.) (This is just common sense anyway, because high-speed automated transactions have already repeatedly caused “inexplicable” stock market slumps through algorithmic negative feedback loops. Playing the stock market should not be a profitable occupation in itself.)

    There is probably some way to phrase this more concisely, but: a 90% tax on all compensation for executives in excess of 5 times the compensation of their lowest-paid employee, unless they can demonstrate that the profits of the company arise directly from patents created by — not merely owned by — said executives. (Looking at you, Bezos and Gates.) Unless you were the one who actually made the business possible and nobody would get a paycheck at all without your brilliance, you should not be able to profit by shortchanging your employees.

    An end to limited liability for shareholders — you own a piece of the company, you are now liable for what it does. Management commits fraud while you held the shares? You pay the victims.

    An end to tax exemptions for personal foundations and trusts. They’re just tax dodges, always have been.

    Empty properties should be taxed at triple normal rates, automatically — either sell it or lower the rent until you get a tenant, you bloodsuckers! Extra homes should be taxed at multiple rates determined by the number of the home, with the lowest-valued ones being calculated first. (So: the cheapest house you own costs the normal tax rate. The second-cheapest one is taxed at double the normal rate. If you have a third one, it’s triple, etc.)

    Any executive of a financial services corporation of any kind who cannot concisely define the makeup of every single “product” the company has available, and describe how each one will react to changes in the economy, should be jailed for fraud and have all their compensation confiscated. (The CEOs of the top 5 stock trading companies all admitted that they had no clue what their companies had traded on the derivatives market after the 2008 meltdown.)

  4. hemidactylus says

    Was that the essay where Friedman argued for a version of fiduciary responsibility that excluded genuine corporate concern for societal ramifications? Damn those third party externalities.

    Fiduciary responsibility in itself isn’t bad. If someone legally appoints a personal representative to act on their behalf for whatever reason, it would behoove that agent to make decisions in best interest of the person represented. Limited liability related to fictitious corporate agency has its upsides too, but sadly corporate charters granted by government as a pseudo birth certificate are not given a lifespan or death penalty. Taken together corporate personhood and the overarching notion of fiduciary responsibility become a Frankenstein monster.

    BTW Friedman also touted a version of basic income. And this should give pause:

    “More recently, in a 2006 book, conservative intellectual Charles Murray proposed eliminating all welfare transfer programs, including Social Security and Medicare, and substituting an annual $10,000 cash grant to everyone 21 years and older.”

    https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/08/why-arent-reformicons-pushing-a-guaranteed-basic-income/375600/

    Basic income sounds good, but not if a means to justify cutting social programs.

  5. Dunc says

    They say the blame lies, in large measure, with decades of failed federal policy decisions

    On the contrary, I’d say those federal policy decisions have been very successful – for the people who made or bought them.

  6. Marissa van Eck says

    Oh yes? Now imagine being a child of the late 80s born into, let’s say, less than ideal financial circumstances which got really, really “less than ideal” by the time she was 10.

    I have a STEM degree. I am a pharmacy technician, a nationally-certified one. Never in my life have I made more than $25,000. BEFORE TAXES. Last year I was fucking homeless for a few months, and yes, I was working full time the whole time. And that’s 25K in modern money, which is something like 60% of the purchasing power of the minimum wage had it kept pace with inflation…and probably under 20% when taking into account the big three of food/fuel/housing, which OF COURSE are the things poor people need most!

    I genuinely do not think our politicians give a shit. At this point I really think they’re all intending to loot the US dry and flee somewhere, leaving us all to perish in misery and hunger. Forget the goddamn guillotine, we need to butcher these people like hogs on international TV. Maybe people will start paying attention when a bunch of these assholes get tied-up, disemboweled, and spend their last moments screaming in horror and pain and fear watching their intestines spill out of their paunchy overfed stomachs. Let us be the dilophosaurus to their Dennis Nedry, as it were…acidic venom spit optional, as it seems I’ve done plenty of that here!

  7. says

    “More recently, in a 2006 book, conservative intellectual Charles Murray proposed eliminating all welfare transfer programs, including Social Security and Medicare, and substituting an annual $10,000 cash grant to everyone 21 years and older.”

    Well, that’s horrifying. Ten grand a year to replace both of those programs? People would die.

    But of course, as we’ve learned the past few months people are expected to die for the good of the economy.

  8. raven says

    Robert Reich* points out that our economic system is set up to transfer most of the income and wealth being produced to the 1% oligarchy.
    This is by the laws and tax rules that were made up by the 1% oligarchy.

    It’s redistribution of income from the poor and working classes to the wealthy class.

    *Reich is a Berkeley economist and Clinton’s Former Secretary of Labor.
    He is a prominent economist.

  9. raven says

    “More recently, in a 2006 book, conservative intellectual Charles Murray proposed eliminating all welfare transfer programs, including Social Security and Medicare, and substituting an annual $10,000 cash grant to everyone 21 years and older.”

    FFS, conservative intellectual is an oxymoron.
    Murray is simply a racist idiot.
    Proof.

    Social Security and Medicare are self funding!!!
    They don’t contribute anything to our sky high Annual Deficit or our National Debt.
    This is a simple fact, known to everybody who has ever thought about it.

    The frequent claim is that Social Security will go into negative territory in 2033. In political terms 2033 is basically infinity. Our political planning horizons are now down to a few weeks when we even bother to pretend to plan anything.
    It’s always been a decade or two from going broke and its always been easy to fix it.

  10. PaulBC says

    This isn’t really surprising. Since the late 70s, the idea has been promoted that the US cannot “afford” any new social policy initiatives and that in fact we are teetering at the edge of insolvency. People believe this, conveniently ignoring that we can “afford” just about any war that comes along and that the spending habits of the rich have become more and more extravagant.

    It’s no accident either. It fits Grover Norquist’s homicidal fantasy of “drowning the government in the bathtub”, which of course runs in contradiction to laughable (Laffable?) claims that tax cuts increase revenue. These guys never wanted to increase revenue, and you should have seen their panic when we ran a couple of surpluses in the late 90s (not so much due to Clinton, but due to a convergence of divided government, misguided austerity, and a booming economy).

    But look, we have automated the bejeezus out of industries, lowered energy consumption relative to production, never really run out of mineral resources so far, and outsourced lower-end manufacturing to other parts of the world. Of course the money is there! I don’t find this surprising at all. Many Americans bought into a lie hook, line, and sinker.

    I’m thrifty by nature, and I admit I like the idea of “paying down the debt”. In practice, though, the key political issue is that Republicans will always say we “can’t afford” anything they don’t like and that it is “wealth redistribution” (which it is, that’s kind of the point) and “class warfare” (which again, is a given, it’s just that the very wealth are the ones winning right now). I used to think that at least it would be possible to fend off these attacks, but Trump finally broke the bank. I am not really sure where any of this goes. A realignment back to people getting paid their share for highly productive work in an insanely productive economy would be nice. It’s unlikely we get there without unions. I have no idea how we get there.

  11. PaulBC says

    Vicar@3

    Thanks again, Blue No Matter Who idiots who enabled his nomination by signaling in advance that you would not hold the party to any standard at all no matter what. You gave us a real winner.

    I am a “Blue No Matter Who” idiot who voted for Sanders in the CA primary because, based on available information in that very unusual and now entirely meaningless political context, it looked like he stood a good chance of becoming the nominee, and I still think he was a stronger candidate than Biden, who is basically a placeholder. In a world where I voted my actual preferences, I’d probably go with Elizabeth Warren (and in my fantasy football alternative reality, I would have loved to see Al Franken actually run for president).

    But I have been “blue no matter who” for my voting lifetime. I cannot think of a single election since my first vote in 1984, where things would have been worse if the Democratic candidate won (and this includes those years when I affectedly claimed not to be a member of any party). Bernie Sanders himself wasn’t holding the party to a standard back then either. He was doing his own thing so to speak. So I’m a little lost trying to figure out what I, caster of a single general election vote, limited in my ability to influence others, was supposed to do. Individuals are powerless in a political context except in a couple of circumstances, such as holding office themselves or being aligned with a party that is capable of putting people in office. The Democratic party is just barely capable in that regard, but I am struggling to see what my alternative is supposed to be here.

  12. hillaryrettig says

    I really, really, really urge people to watch Park Avenue, which really connects the dots on how the inequality and wealth theft was deliberately engineered. It’s an hour long and well done. I thought I was pretty well informed on this topic, but learned lots from it. https://www.filmsforaction.org/watch/park-avenue-money-power-and-the-american-dream-2012/

    For those who are arguing to raise the tax rate I agree BUT the real key is how the taxes are disbursed. The rich are very good at directing taxes back to themselves in the form of subsidies.

  13. F.O. says

    Rich people can use their money to buy both laws (by buying politicians) and the discourse about laws (buy controlling the media).

    Because of that, any legislation or taxation schema that tries to address that can and will be eroded and eventually removed.

  14. jrkrideau says

    @ 7 Tabby Lavalamp
    Charles Murray proposed eliminating all welfare transfer programs, including Social Security and Medicare, and substituting an annual $10,000 cash grant to

    Let,s Hope Jason Kenney never hears about this.

  15. birgerjohansson says

    Priorities:
    1.Burn down the Republican Party.
    2. Burn down corporate Democrats. You can start with primaries.
    Remember, Republicans fear their voters, Democrats despise their voters. Make them fear you.
    No fucking bipartisan crap, we have seen what that means. And every status quo politician must be sent packing, preferably to Fort Leavenworth for whatever shenagians they have failed to conceal.
    If Biden is still around three years from now, the next presidential primary needs to send him packing, too.

  16. numerobis says

    jrkrideau: the fundamental problem that Conservatives have with UBI is that the U, B, and I parts. They love the idea of merging all social programs into a UBI as long as they can target it to just the right poor people and then actually not pay them anything anyway.

    Proposing a $10k annual tax grant in 2006 is proposing a universal income that doesn’t approach the realm of “basic”.

  17. numerobis says

    If there was a UBI that was actually achieving the ‘basic’ bit then it would make many programs obsolete and it wouldn’t be a problem to eliminate them — to the contrary it would save a lot of time and effort wasted by people trying to prove they’re eligible for narrowly targeted programs.

    I don’t really know that overall support would over time be lower with a UBI than with the present combination of targeted social programs and minimum wages. We’re already seeing that benefits and minimum wages don’t keep up with inflation.

    The hope is that by making it universal — not means-tested — then the middle class would demand that it keep track, whereas benefits targeted to the poor have less political support. At which point it might be sustainably better than the current system.

    It’s a hope, no demonstrated yet anywhere.

  18. consciousness razor says

    There was a transfer of $2.5 trillion in wealth from those who could actually use it to the über-rich.

    “A transfer of $2.5 trillion”? You make it sound like it only happened once. But the article said “the bottom 90% of American workers would be bringing home an additional $2.5 trillion in total annual income if economic gains were as equitably divided as they’d been in the past”

    That means $2.5 trillion every year. And of course the past was not free of capitalistic exploitation; things were certainly not divided equitably then. So that annual figure is in addition to the amount that people already lived with in the 1970s.

    You might be wondering who to blame, who engineered this massive heist…I can think of a few crooks who’ve benefitted,

    The top 10% consists of tens of millions of people, not a few people. We have a whole broken society to repair, not a little conspiracy to unravel between the likes of Rich Uncle Pennybags, Mr. Burns and Scrooge McDuck. (Because we’re not in a cartoon, although sometimes it does seem like it.)

  19. PaulBC says

    The transfer to the top 10% and I think even the top 1% pales by comparison to the top 0.1% and beyond. I am not sure if I am relatively richer or poorer than my great grandfather, who was a prominent attorney and politician in Brooklyn way, way back and is actually dressed a lot like Pennybags in an old photo I cherish (he certainly had a higher status position than well-paid software developer like me). If you looked at how I actually live in a post-WWII ranch house in the SF Bay Area, you’d assume I was doing a lot worse. But people with about the same wealth are living in McMansions elsewhere and they cost a lot more than my little slice of Silicon Valley.

    Of course, few in the US except for the undeniably rich or poor wants to call themselves anything but “middle class” and I’m no exception to that rule. I think I have made out OK in the Reagan economy. I don’t know that I’ve made a killing. If I had a defined benefit pension, I might not be quite as concerned with accumulating large retirement savings. It is certainly a screwed up way of life, but there will also be a lot of resistance from those who benefit to a great degree (the super-rich) and others who may or may not benefit, but have made plans that work best for the status quo.

  20. consciousness razor says

    I am not sure if I am relatively richer or poorer than my great grandfather, who was a prominent attorney and politician in Brooklyn way, way back and is actually dressed a lot like Pennybags in an old photo I cherish (he certainly had a higher status position than well-paid software developer like me). If you looked at how I actually live in a post-WWII ranch house in the SF Bay Area, you’d assume I was doing a lot worse. But people with about the same wealth are living in McMansions elsewhere and they cost a lot more than my little slice of Silicon Valley.

    How do you compare to somebody alive today, like a worker making minimum wage in a part-time job? You’re better off. Or people who don’t have a job? Or people who’ve been imprisoned, executed, or gunned down by random cops, who are always erased from these discussions? Or people who were sent to die in our wars, who’ve also got nothing now? Yep, all of them too.

  21. birgerjohansson says

    Rodent migration during nautical emergencies: Lindsey Graham is finally distancing himself from Trump. Because he knows the latest White House racism is counter-productive.
    If even a critter like Lindsey Graham can be pushed into distancing himself from Trump, the Democrat congresscritters can be pushed into distancing themselves from market liberalism.
    And if they won’t, you primary the hell out of them.

  22. PaulBC says

    @20 A lot better off. Clearly. My point is just that I am unsure how I would be all other things equal with a different set of policies over the past 45 years. It’s academic, but I am personally curious which side of the divide I land on.

    It is clear that those in jobs that were unionized 50 years ago would be better off now if unions hadn’t been busted. There would also probably be many fewer billionaires, and there would definitely not be as many serial executives who do nothing but accept a salary far in excess to their contribution and then move on to the next gig as their uselessness is discovered. Both of these would be better outcomes.

  23. consciousness razor says

    My point is just that I am unsure how I would be all other things equal with a different set of policies over the past 45 years.

    Look, if it were up to me, you would be making less than some rich lawyer did a long time ago. No offense to you or your great-grandfather, but I sincerely do not care. I’m sure you’d still be fine as a software developer. But right now it’s some large amount more than what a poor person is paid, and my concern is definitely not that you should be getting even more than that. Making people like you richer or more comfortable than you already are is not the goal for me.

    Frankly, it’s insulting when articles/studies like this lump the poorest people together with those who are anywhere near the top of the pile. Was I supposed to be really worried about somebody who’s in the 70th or 80th percentile, or is that shit just a bad joke? How much worse do things look, when we’re talking about the poorest half of the population?

  24. mailliw says

    Thomas Piketty’s “Capital in the 21st Century” is well worth reading for a very detailed and rigorously researched analysis of the revival of the rentier economy,

  25. PaulBC says

    Look, if it were up to me, you would be making less than some rich lawyer did a long time ago.

    Fair enough, but it’s a problematic political message for anyone who wants my vote.

    Another problem is that even people who really are doing worse can be persuaded that they have the chance to do much better under low-tax, low-service government than if there was a minimal social safety net in place. This was an effective tactic from Reagan through maybe the first dot-com boom. I don’t think it has been very effective since then, but you will still see politicians trying to use it. To the extent that it has been replaced with “white people are under attack from scary people from the Middle East, Latin America, and the inner cities” I’m not sure it’s an improvement.

  26. daulnay says

    The no-growth of income for ordinary people started in 1980. Therefore, some of the causes have to precede that date. There are several things that contributed to the problem – it’s not just squeezing labor and elevating the corporation:

    The overall tax burden has shifted from the wealthy and corporation to ordinary people. Big corporations pay an average of something like 8 percent income tax. Tax avoidance became easy for corporations with the advent of multinationals and free trade, using transfer pricing. Transfer pricing is a major contributor, accounting for lost taxes of around 10 percent of the annual federal budget deficit. In other words, the unequal tax cuts are only a part of the problem. (Not to mention that IRS collection efforts/audits are now mainly directed at poor people, not the wealthy.)
    The trade agreements were very corporation-friendly, even setting up courts that put corporations on the same footing as sovereign governments. The labor and environmental protections in those agreements were aspirations with no teeth, the corporate powers were given teeth. For these, you can blame corporate democrats, including Bill and Hillary. These agreements let corporations go “where the money is”, as Willy Sutton said – moving highly-paid unionized industrial jobs offshore and transferring those middle-class paychecks to their bottom lines.
    Abandonment of the enforcement of anti-monopoly laws. Lets the corporations establish monopolies and rig markets, ’nuff said. (Enforcement has been limited to monopolies in consumer markets.)
    Laws that weakened the already limited power shareholders have over corporate boards and management (in Delaware, where most corporations are chartered). It became harder to sue for harming shareholder interests, for instance. These changes swept away what little power shareholders had to limit executive income and rein in corporate misbehavior.
    Undocumented immigrants put pressure on working-class wages and enforcement of labor laws. Undocumented immigrants are merely 5 percent of the labor force, but in traditionally blue-collar segments of the work force, they are much higher. They’re 1/4 of the agricultural workforce, 15 percent of the construction workforce, and 9 percent of the manufacturing workforce. Anecdotally, a dairy farmer (in the Iowa county where Devin Nunes’s (R-CA )family has their dairy farm) rely on undocumented workers so extensively that they would have to pay 33 percent higher wages if they had to rely on legal workers. Besides the ordinary supply-demand pressure, undocumented immigrants are hired in order to evade labor and safety laws – one study showed that approx 1/3 of documented workers are affected by those breaches per year.
    Extensive de-regulation, especially in the financial sector. The choice to not regulate new financial ‘products’ led directly to the 2008 crash. Even when regulators ‘enforce’ the law, often only enter into a consent decree that 1) requires a large payment as penalty 2) allows the perpetrator to deny that they’d done anything wrong and 3) provides a toothless remedy, as weak as a simple promise to reform (with no oversight). In other words, corporations are allowed to continue in business with only financial consequences, usually small ones. (E.g. the latest settlement w. Daimler over its use of cheat software in emissions tests.)

    Sorry about the length. TL;DR – the real causes are many and some are complex. Both Republicans and Democrats identify and embrace some of the causes, and deny the others.

  27. daulnay says

    Ugh, I post so little that I don’t know how to put in spaces between paragraphs. Apologies for the wall of text.

  28. unclefrogy says

    the one thing that is as clear as it can be from all sides there is a tremendous level of discontent going around. were it will lead and what kind of outcome is hard to predict. 10K is in no way enough not even close to a minimum needed even if you allow for universal health care including dental and free education to at least a masters.
    twice that might be getting close. Milton Freedman was a very smart guy who suffered from severe tunnel vision and specialization of knowledge. I do not understand how the free marketeers those who do not see any problem with monopoly and love contracts and think competition is the be all and end all for prosperity are so against organized labor who just seek to use the same kinds of rules and practices to compete for their own interests. I take from their distaste the thought that they really do not believe what they are saying at all and that they really have in mind a version of feudalism with them in the favored position of course.
    uncle frogy

  29. PaulBC says

    @19 Not that it matters, but I hope it’s clear I meant to say that a McMansion nearly anywhere else costs less than a small single family home of any age or state of decay in the SF Bay Area. I notice I said the opposite.

  30. raven says

    The no-growth of income for ordinary people started in 1980.

    Earlier than that.
    By the time of the 1980’s, people were already noticing and complaining about rising economic inequality.

    In terms of buying power per hour worked, average US incomes peaked in 1973.

  31. PaulBC says

    @28

    Milton Freedman was a very smart guy who suffered from severe tunnel vision and specialization of knowledge.

    I’m not going to try to defend Friedman in particular, and his influence was incredibly damaging, independent of his intent.

    But I think the biggest problem with economics in general is that it starts with the reasonable observation that some public benefits are optimized by market force. Over time this has morphed into a circular argument that anything optimized by the market must actually be good even when it clearly causes human suffering (which is not something you’ll find in the work of Adam Smith). So if the government is providing a service that could be privatized, the question is not whether it’s doing a good job, but why is it denying the “opportunity” for some private entity to take on the same work. By definition, it cannot do a worse job than government, because government is “distorting” the free market outcome which could be, just to pick a random example, subsidized lower prices for mail delivery and uniform, reliable distribution even to those places that probably don’t really “merit” the attention.

    Or, for instance, the suffering of the lowest-income worker is the only reasonable thing to expect, because the market as a whole (or at least it’s claimed) would operate less efficiently if we tried to mitigate this in any way. A corporation that favors its employees over its shareholders has likewise committed a cardinal sin against the all-important market by “stealing” from the true property-holders and giving the proceeds to those undeserving people who just happen to be there producing the goods or services it provides.

    I think some of this amounts to a neutral mistaking the map for the territory by academics. More pernicious is the simple fact that it benefits those who are very rich. So where does the pressure come from to change any of it? BTW, I think Trump for all his failings does not even have this kind of faith in the market but sees money, private and public, as something you swindle some people out of and offer to others out of largesse. I do understand the leftwing criticism of “neoliberalism” since it mostly subscribes to the approach above.

  32. PaulBC says

    Speaking of Friedman, the funniest thing I ever read from from David Brooks (i.e. least self-aware and most pathetic among so many to choose from) was his explanation that he turned conservative after being shot down as a college student by Milton Friedman during some kind of public debate. Had it occurred to Brooks that whatever the merits of his positions, Friedman, one of the world’s most prominent economists and a Nobel laureate, was probably going to outmatch some kid who did not have either the academic chops or debating experience to set himself up for this level of humiliation?

    And if he didn’t know this at age 22, you’d think he’d have figured it out enough by the time he was an NYT columnist. Like, was he expecting Friedman to say “You make a good point young man. I need to think about this.” and then go off scratching his head. I mean, what did he expect?

  33. consciousness razor says

    PaulBC:

    Fair enough, but it’s a problematic political message for anyone who wants my vote.

    Your greed and your privilege are your problems, not mine.

    Meanwhile, maintaining our unjust and undemocratic system, in order to get your vote, is a very serious problem for most people in this country, not just a small minority who are actually doing okay and have little or nothing to complain about. So I can make an honest case that this isn’t a good message.

    If you think it’s better to vote for conservatives of either party who’ll promise you bigger and better trinkets, maybe that is what you’ll do, but you are mistaken. Maybe you could be convinced of the fact that you don’t have a moral leg to stand on, or maybe not.

    But even strategically speaking, it’s a pretty idle threat to suggest that some small fraction of the population who are in your position may not like it because they’re too selfish or oblivious. I will take a loss of such voters any day of the week, because it means bigger gains elsewhere. So do you want to bluff and side with the Trumps and McConnells and Bidens of the world? Okay. I will call that bluff.

    And notice how you’re still whining, even with people like that in power? It doesn’t sound like you’re enthusiastic about what they’ve done. Remember? And they’ve had decades to show you what their bullshit promises actually mean, while their opponents have not. So you seem fairly persuadable to me.

  34. PaulBC says

    @33 It does seem like there should be a large enough group of voters who would benefit from raising taxes for people in my income bracket. You still need a political strategy for mobilizing them. I’m not whining. I’m all for it, but I’m also not holding my breath for it to happen.

    Actually, I think it is far more likely that the US has now so undermined its ability to collect revenue that we’re basically going to wind up selling off public assets at fire sale prices (which was always the longterm goal). As someone who is not rich enough to live in an armed compound and travel by helicopter everywhere, that would actually be a better message directed specifically to people like me for why we need to raise taxes.

  35. unclefrogy says

    what seems to be lacking in economic analysis is any real understanding of what the “holly market” is based on, it is not simply price and value alone it needs a stability not just in numbers but health, needs stable food supply, needs a stable environment as well does not do very well with floods and huge storms or vast wild fires, does not do well while going through social unrest either. none of these issues are addressed by economics in any substantial way. That is what leads me to think that the conservatives mouth pieces do not really want the market to give the benefits they say it can or they are completely deluded and about as honest and competent as Ken Ham either way i am not listening to any more of the pleadings and propaganda or there us vs them BS

    uncle frogy

  36. consciousness razor says

    It does seem like there should be a large enough group of voters who would benefit from raising taxes for people in my income bracket.

    Okay, I guess you misinterpreted what I said. I said nothing about tax increases for people in your income bracket. I don’t know your income anyway. But i can’t explain why I said one thing and you heard something very different.

    Here’s the point: This isn’t about you. You don’t need to be super-wealthy, and you being more wealthy than you currently are now is not something I’m fighting for. What I want is not a get-rich-quick scheme for you, nor it is a make-PaulBC-poor scheme. It is neither of those things. I’m simply not interested in making you even more rich, and a system that I would find acceptable is not aimed at anything like that. Your great-grandfather who reminds you of the Monopoly dude? My agenda has nothing whatsoever to do with making you into that, because that would be a fucking ridiculous goal for me to have (never mind everyone else in the country). Clear enough?

    If you wanted a larger number of very rich people, who can exploit the remaining poor people, that will make it more difficult to end that exploitation, not less difficult. But I don’t think that’s really what you want.

    Tax policy and enforcement is just one aspect of this. Now, I do want richer people paying more than poorer people, who should be paying less (or nothing, or receiving more which is sort of paying less than nothing). But the government prints money and can spend it on anything the people in power want. If that were regular people, instead of the rich ones who actually run things now, it would be a very different place. I don’t think you would mind a whole lot.

    Also, much of this isn’t about dollar amounts as such. It has to do with violating our rights, about how much power our system takes from the poorest people and gives to the wealthiest. It happens in workplaces, voting booths, courtrooms, hospitals, schools, banks, in the media, and in many other contexts. That we’re also being cheated on tax day is bad, of course, but that’s not how I think of our biggest problems or how we need to address them.

  37. DanDare says

    UBI is not supposed to be instead of social welfare. That’s just the reaction of the “make the rich richer and let the poor eat cake” mob.
    UBI goes hand in hand with free essential healthcare just for a start.

  38. DanDare says

    Its interesting how entrenched the “greed is good” message has become. Deciding how things should be and who to vote for is all about how much the voting individual gains or loses?
    No.
    Look to community and civilisation as a cooperative base managing its health as a whole. Within that process look to maximise freedom and allow controlled competition. Don’t allow small scale to harm the large scale.
    Friedmans schtick was that is all individuals with no cooperative concerns.

  39. Owlmirror says

    Come on. How is this shocking? It just shows that trickle-down economics works as designed!

    99% of us are being trickled down on!

  40. ColonelZen says

    There are two issues always left out of these discussions and it bugs me as it all ties together.

    The first has somewhat been discussed, ala Uber et al … too many employers are getting away with classifying employees as “contractors”. That should almost never be valid without a specific and MUTUALLY negotiated contract … meaning that that the contractor can in negotiation require minor changes modification without affecting his likelihood of securing the gig. If a large labor employer should not be able to claim workers are “contractors” if there is no substantial difference in terms among their terms of relationships. A contractor contractee relationship is only so when there is at least some parity among the parties.

    Second, and I haven’t heard this discussed much at all, is that it’s way, way, way too easy – and usually much cheaper – for an employer to hire three people part time rather than one full time employee. We need to change that. Part time wages (including minimum) should be 50% higher than full time … the employee spends more time … plus a surcharge for benefits if only full time workers receive such benefits.

    The part time work is indeed good for students and perhaps some who would choose only part time work … but the economic cost is too much. I see (and know such people) who work three part time jobs, spending sixty or more hours a week working … (plus at least another 10-15 to and from) and still make barely enough to may billls of a barely above poverty lifestyle.

  41. ColonelZen says

    “It’s their money”

    “They earned their money”.

    Here are the two prime issues (contemplation of which, by my thirties, broke me away from my fixation on libertarianism even more than the obvious environmental problems) .

    There’s no such thing as “their” or “your” or even “my” money. Money is a PURE social construct. (So is ownership/property but that’s another rant). It does not exist without a vast and complicated network of social services supporting it, nor without the belief and consent of a large body of individuals wth belief that it’s representation is reality.

    The paper money in my wallet is toilet paper if nobody will give me things I need for it. How real is the money in my account that I never see save that on the intertubies there are some numbers that increase on payday and decrease as I go to other web sites and click buttons (i. e pay my bills online)? The only reality is spots of light and dark and various colors.

    It’s trivially true that nobody “earns” a billion dollars. You can’t work even a thousand times harder than a burger flipper … at the outside I’ll give you ten on a genuinely lazy one … and (knowing something of just how complex otherwise trivial things are) I’m surely not giving you a thousand times smarter. It’s hard to quantify intelligence much less to linearlize it but at the outside there’s probably only a range factor of 10 at the far outside in human intelligence.

    It’s not unreasonable to say that the range of “earnings” for individuals should be (probably well) inside a factor of 100 between the wealthiest and least well compensated workers. All else is a matter of social construction and fortune.

    But again “money” is not real. Yet it is what the plutocrats make. Amazon provides a service, delivering goods, … but I doubt Bezos spends much time driving panel vans. Zukerberg doesn’t do that much. They don’t really provide goods and services. They don’t make things or provide services for people. They just make “money”.

  42. kwc20 says

    unless they can demonstrate that the profits of the company arise directly from patents created by — not merely owned by — said executives. (Looking at you, Bezos and Gates.)

    You might want to add the two Steves (Jobs and Wozniak). It’s true that early versions of Windows (not to mention OS/2) were a low-end ripoff of the Mac, but Apple appropriated that idea from Xerox PARC. Therefore, all those Microsoft and Apple billions belong in the hands of some 1970s Xerox employees.

    You can’t work even a thousand times harder than a burger flipper … at the outside I’ll give you ten on a genuinely lazy one … and (knowing something of just how complex otherwise trivial things are) I’m surely not giving you a thousand times smarter. It’s hard to quantify intelligence much less to linearlize it but at the outside there’s probably only a range factor of 10 at the far outside in human intelligence.

    Absolutely meaningless without a verifiable measuring system. And no, IQ doesn’t cut it, much to the chagrin of MENSA, I’m sure. The reality is that any such yardstick will magically demonstrate that the people who created it are much smarter and harder-working than the rest of us. Remarkable coincidence, that.

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