Democrats & Liberals Archives

The Booming/Tanking Economy

All the business measurements show a booming economy. Republicans are spreading the good news. So why are people in the Middle Class not cheering? Because they see that the economy is booming only for business but it is tanking for members of the Middle Class who work for a living.

Today the Dow Jones industrial average was up 120.14 points, or 1.02 percent, at 11,847.48. This is an all-time high. The Nasdaq Composite Index, the technology index, was up 43.47 points, or 1.94 percent, at 2,287.12. These are extraordinary results, signifying that business is booming like never before.

Most middle class workers don't see the economy booming. None of the increased income corporations are earning is reaching them. The income of people in the Middle Class is stagnating or decreasing while their expenses are rising. Christian E. Weller, Senior Economist at the Center for American Progress, and Eli Staub, Research Analyst at the Service Employees International Union have written a report, "Middle Class in Turmoil: Economic Risks Up Sharply for Most Families Since 2001," that says:

Middle class families are struggling to pay for a home, health insurance, transportation and their children’s college education due to a weak labor market and sharply higher prices, despite an economic recovery well into its fifth year. To pay for these necessary expenditures, middle class families are borrowing record amounts of money, leaving them unable to put away hardly any cash for a rainy day.

Middle Class families are vulnerable. From their point of view, the economy is tanking. And Republicans bear most of the responsibility. For years and years, Republicans (with some help from renigade Democrats) have been working to reduce the small power workers had accumulated with the aid of unions. One big way they did this is to transform the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) from a neutral agency into an agency favoring business.

So now it's tough to form a union. Many have tried and have been fired. Wal-Mart goes so far as to fold up the entire store in the unlikely circumstance that a union is formed. Each employee is on his or her own when bargaining with an employer. Wages and salaries are headed downward. Health benefits are disappearing. Pension plans are evaporating.

Today I learn that the NLRB has become another arm of the Republican Party:

The Republican-dominated National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) voted along party lines to slash long-time federal labor laws protecting workers’ freedom to form unions and opened the door for employers to classify millions of workers as supervisors. Under federal labor law, supervisors are prohibited from forming unions.

The ruling refers to nurses. However, it is estimated that the NLRB's expanded definition of "supervisor" means that up to 8 million workers will not be allowed to join unions.

Can you visualize what happens in a hospital under these new regulations? The boss calls a nurse to his office and says:

Carol, I am very impressed with how effective you are with patients. Several of them have told me that they appreciate the extra care you provide. You are, indeed, a caring nurse. And you are efficient and professional. You are so good, you deserve a promotion. So I am promoting you to charge nurse. This position does not pay more and most of your duties will be as before. However, you will be the one making nurse assignments and you will supervise the other nurses in your area. I must warn you, though, that as a supervisor you must give up your membership in the union and you will be ineligible for overtime.

The radically renovated NLRB is one reason why the economy of the Middle Class is tanking while the economy of the Business Class is booming. Another reason for throwing Republicans out of office this fall.

Posted by Paul Siegel at October 4, 2006 5:58 PM
Comments
Comment #186322

C’mon, Paul. You can’t get too mad at Republicans for loving trickle-down economics, it just sounds so darn simple. When businesses do better, employees do better. Especially since we’ve seen again and again how the leaders of America’s businesses always put their employees ahead of themselves. Like the way the leaders of America’s government always put their citizens ahead of themselves.

Posted by: David S at October 4, 2006 7:05 PM
Comment #186324

On the nose Paul.

The purchasing power of middle income earners has stagnated, or declined, for the last 20 years.

A large part of that loss is due to the decline of labor unions along with the lack of a rise in the minimum wage. Add in the systematic dumping of traditional pension plans by our S&P corporations (who face rising healthcare costs) and it’s no wonder.

Although the Dow is at a near-record high, many middle income workers are unable to take advantage of its gains as their disposable income is being used for rising costs in health care, fuel, and higher education.

Trapped with company supported 401k’s that offer little in the way of “smart” investment options, the average guy only gets average returns in his investment vehicle.

It’s a vicious cycle, and one only broken by increases in the strength of labor unions and the reintegration of the value of a working man into a company’s bottom line. The workforce must be treated as a corporate asset, not as a liability.

Posted by: Won't Get Fooled Again at October 4, 2006 7:13 PM
Comment #186328
Paul Siegel wrote: All the business measurements show a booming economy. Republicans are spreading the good news. So why are people in the Middle Class not cheering?

Because, median wages have been falling since 1999.

A few cherry-picked statistics don’t show the whole picture.

Ofcourse, the “IN Party” (currently the Rose colored Republican party) has been trying hard, with their Rose colored glasses, to paint a Rosy picture, despite Reality. And, with regard to any bad statistics, they say:

  • It is within historical norms.

  • It has been worse in the past.

  • Nothing is perfect.

  • The tax cuts are working (yeah, for the rich).

  • Growth (a.k.a. money-printing, and massive borrowing) will take care of everything.

What a lot of Americans may not realize is that much of the growth has been achieved by massive borrowing, debt, and printing-money.

It’s easy to look prosperous when you’re maxing out all of your credit cards.

For Republicans to say they are for smaller, less intrusive government is a huge laugh.
That’s hysterical.
There are 6 cases per day of eminent domain abuse.

By the way, has any one noticed how many (former) Republicans have left the party? I personally know a few dozen (most in Texas; where Bush lives). Can you blame them? It’s not just Bush either. It’s really not just Republicans. The “IN Party” is usually worse. It’s all of Congress. They are not only irresponsible, and corrupt. They are incompetent too.

For our lack of loyalty (guess the brain-washing didn’t take well enough), we are now traitors.
You’re with us, or against us.
You’re part of the “party of obstructionists”.
You’re part of the “cut and run obstructionists”.
You’re a coward for not “staying the course”.
Nevermind they never had a course.
Iraq is the front on the war on terror.
The war in Iraq is making us safer.

It’s disgusting.
I’m incredulous as I listen to those lies and spin.

Woodward is right.
Bush and his administration is in denial (B_I_G time).

Posted by: d.a.n at October 4, 2006 7:30 PM
Comment #186330

99% of Americans went backward.
NOTE: the G_A_P between the 1% that has 40% of all the wealth in the U.S., and the remaining 99% of the U.S. population has never been worse since the Great Depression of 1929.

If you include all federal debt (over $22 trillion; $8.5T National debt, $12.8T Social Security debt, $450B PBGC pension debt), the debt has never been worse.

Just the $8.5 trillion National Debt is 67% of GDP (up from 33% of GDP in 1980).

… more …

Posted by: d.a.n at October 4, 2006 7:37 PM
Comment #186332

Excellent posts d.a.n.

Let’s not forget the out-of-control trade deficit with China. You talked about borrowing money…if that system doesn’t right itself, not only will our work force continue to be second class…our whole econmy will become a third-world wanna-be.

Again at the expense of the middle income wage earner.

Posted by: Won't Get Fooled Again at October 4, 2006 7:44 PM
Comment #186340
David S. wrote: C’mon, Paul. You can’t get too mad at Republicans for loving … … Like the way the leaders of America’s government always put their citizens ahead of themselves.

Hhhmmmmmmmm … ahead? That may not be a good place to be (especially for a Page).

Posted by: d.a.n at October 4, 2006 8:15 PM
Comment #186344

Paul:

Good article. Since the beginning of this last recovery in November ‘01, corporate profits have risen over 30%, workers’ pay less than 4%—with inflation factored in, less than 2%. In every other recovery since WWII, when productivity for American business increased, workers went along for the ride. Not this one.

I can see why Wall Street is happy. And hey, inflation is creeping upwards, so they get to increase interest rates to protect their assets and their financial transactions—so another couple million workers are out of work. The Invisible Hand has spoken—with another backhand to the American worker.

Posted by: Tim Crow at October 4, 2006 8:28 PM
Comment #186351

Thanks again Paul. The way we have achieved what economic justice in this country relatively peacfully has been through the labor movement. It is high time to take the handcuffs off. We all need to push our Representitives to repeal the Taft-Harly Amendments to the Wagner Act. This of course will never happen under a Rep president or congress but times are changeing.
Funny how when one listens to free marketers they never apply their magic formula to a free labor market where workers are free to join a union and negotiate collectivly without government interference.

Posted by: BillS at October 4, 2006 8:53 PM
Comment #186355

More than half of all American households own stocks either directly or through self directed IRAs. Most workers are no longer dependent only on wage income. That is why the median income is higher than the median wage.

I know “the poor” mostly do not own stocks. But most people are not poor and few of the poor remain poor their entire lives. Many people have occupied several of the quintiles during their working lives.

Income inequality is growing worldwide and has been growing since about 1972. It grew faster during the 1990s than today. The poor are actually not getting poorer in real terms, but people with skills and education has done RELATIVELY better.

There is always a problem with equality. In 1972 high school dropouts made not that much less than college graduates. In 1973, most of my friends chose not to go to college because they thought they could do better working w/o education. You have to have incentives to good behavior. How much and how it should be done is the question.

Posted by: Jack at October 4, 2006 9:00 PM
Comment #186379

Jack: While education and training are important they are only a part of the picture. A degree means nothing without opportunity. In the Philippines,for example it is not unusual to find college trained vetranarians shoveling manure or people with business degrees selling shirts. Another case closer to home. Highly trained computer programers out of work,their jobs shipped overseas. Bottom line is that people who work for wages are not getting a fair deal right now. If this continues a dangerious instability will follow.The changes needed really are not so painful. Wage earners are the backbone of our consumer economy and when they are doing well we get a “trikle up”. the wealthy do quite nicely also.

Posted by: BillS at October 4, 2006 9:40 PM
Comment #186387
Jack wrote: How much and how it should be done is the question.
  • Voting on pork-barrel, graft, corporate welfare, corpocrisy, corporatism, and waste is not the way.
  • starting unnecessary wars on flawed intelligence (maybe even lies) is not the way.
  • stealing peoples’ land via abuse of eminent domain isn’t the way.
  • gouging people on gasoline, prescription drugs, healthcare, insurance, and property taxes is not the way.
  • giving tax cuts to the rich, who already abuse all the tax loopholes is not the way.
  • refusing to reform a ridiculous tax system is not the way.
  • exporting the best jobs, and importing skilled foreign workers is not the way.
  • losing $21 billion in the Pentagon is not the way.
  • letting Bill Frist’s hospitals bilk Medicare for $1 billion is not he way.
  • refusing to enforce existing immigration laws is not the way.
  • growing government ever larger, to nightmare proporations, while pretending to stand for smaller, less intrusive government, is not the way.
  • growing the $8.5 trillion dollar National Debt ever larger is not the way.
  • plundering the Social Security surpluses, with $12.8 trillion in Social Security debt, is not way.
  • printing too much money (i.e. counterfieting), driving up inflation, is not the way.
  • 83% of all federal campaign donations (totaling $2.4 billion in 2004) from only 0.15% of all 200 million eligible voters is not the way. Government should not be FOR SALE.
  • refusal to pass campaign finance reform is not the way
  • rampant fiscal and moral bankruptcy is not the way.
  • re-electing the irresponsible incumbents, who currently enjoy a 90% re-election rate, many of which have been in Congress for decades, is not the way. Tenure corrupts.

And, 62% of Americans believe the nation is not moving in the right direction.

Posted by: d.a.n at October 4, 2006 9:49 PM
Comment #186392

“Wal-Mart goes so far as to fold up the entire store in the unlikely circumstance that a union is formed”

Hmmm? I may have to rethink my position and start supporting Wal-Mart.
Good for them.

Posted by: kctim at October 4, 2006 10:00 PM
Comment #186399

Jack,

Besides their home, the average savings (other than home equity) of Americans retiring today is less than $50,000. That’s average. How much stock do you think most middle-class citizens actually own? How much individual or family income are they deriving from those stocks? They are a poor substitute for wages.

And what about wages, the real income for the middle-class? Wal-mart is now using its leverage to create a more “flexible” work force. That means less full-time jobs and more part-time jobs than they already have. The policy now includes wage caps and freezes they didn’t have before. It also means getting more workers to work evenings and weekends.

Now that Wal-mart is so efficient, continues union free and grown to replace many small, community-centered businesses I guess they decided it is time to improve the conditions of their employees.

How many of them are there anyway?

Posted by: Chris2x at October 4, 2006 10:33 PM
Comment #186401

“It’s disgusting.
I’m incredulous as I listen to those lies and spin.
Woodward is right.
Bush and his administration is in denial (B_I_G time).”

dan…thanks for taking my hint. Your posts are much more worthwhile now. ;-)

Posted by: Observer at October 4, 2006 10:37 PM
Comment #186404

“More than half of all American households own stocks either directly or through self directed IRAs. Most workers are no longer dependent only on wage income.”

Having a few grand in an IRA hardly makes you a market player. And tell us, what’s the “average” dividend income for those you claim are “no longer dependent only on wage income”? A couple hundred bucks a year?

“You have to have incentives to good behavior. How much and how it should be done is the question. “

Yes, and the problem is the incentives are getting smaller, and less reliable. Average house prices doubled since 2000. Have wages?
At the same time, healthcare costs rose 44%.
Did wages?
Gas, although slightly off peak, has gone up 60%.
Have wages?
Upper managements compensation sure as hell kept up. Problem is, we can’t all be upper management. Pulling that carrot higher and higher, then claiming “hey, the carrots still there”, is ignoring a real, growing problem. The kind of problem that in the past has lead to revolutions. I, personally, wouldn’t have got too upset seeing ken lay’s head on a pike attop the Washington monument.

Posted by: Observer at October 4, 2006 10:44 PM
Comment #186405

“Hmmm? I may have to rethink my position and start supporting Wal-Mart.
Good for them.”

I thought you were a big “individual rights” supporter? What about a workers right to organize and bargain for better compensation? Draw the line there, do we?

Posted by: Observer at October 4, 2006 10:46 PM
Comment #186406

“How much stock do you think most middle-class citizens actually own? How much individual or family income are they deriving from those stocks?”

Ahh, you found the whole in the rhetoric.
The right has been spewing the “most people own stocks” angle for a decade. Yes, its true. Cause lots of people have a couple grand in IRA’s and receive a few bucks in dividends yearly.
Delve into those statistics and you quickly find the bullsh*t.

Posted by: Observer at October 4, 2006 10:49 PM
Comment #186419

Personally I’m skeptical about there being a good economy at all. It’s likely propped up with borrowed money. For instance, people cite tax revenue increases, but the government is giving trillions in Iraq related contracts to businesses, which, in turn pay taxes on that money. Give companies a lot of borrowed money and the amount they pay in taxes will increase, yes, but is that really a sign of a good economy? I think not.

Posted by: Max at October 5, 2006 12:06 AM
Comment #186423

I am glad some people are finally seeing the light. I have been yelling these things for 5 years and no one would listen,
I was not patriotic . I was not a Christian, It was not nice to not follow our president into hell. And that is where this country is headed if people don’t get a back bone and tell our government what we want.We want our country back. Under President Clinton, people had rights.This country was something to be proud of, now big business is telling workers what they can or can’t do, and the republicans are not protecting the citizens of this country.
They are putting the middle class in the ditches.
And the poor on the streets.They are killing and maining our army forces , and setting us up for another depression like back in the 20’s and 30’s.They are shipping business over seas to get cheap labor.That means business do not believe in America any more.
We will have to find out the companies that ship the jobs over seas and not do business with them.
Start to do business only with business that do business within the U.S.People still have power, they just have to learn how to use it.

Posted by: Suzieq at October 5, 2006 12:19 AM
Comment #186428

Observer,

Get ready for the next so called “Rosy Economy” spin point from someone with Rose colored glasses (probably from the Rose colored column):

  • “Americans net worth has increased by $X trillion dollars”.

The problem is:

  • whose networth increased?

  • There are some tricky statistics like that.
    They are cherry-picked, and don’t consider the big picture. And, how did net worths increase (vastly) while median incomes have been falling since 1999?

  • Much of the so called increased net worth is in the over-priced real-estate bubbles, and those bubbles are just beginning to pop.

  • How much are things worth in a recession. Or a depression? So called net worth is relative.

  • Many Americans have a lot of debt. Many have home equity loans (i.e. 2nd mortgages). Nationwide personal debt is about $20 trillion.

  • The tax system is screwed up; Congress and their big-money-donor puppeteers like it the way they have perverted it. If everyone paid a flat 17% on income over the poverty level, and ALL tax loop holes were eliminated, then the wealthy would scream bloody murder.

  • Jobs are being moved overseas where labor is very cheap

  • The ever present inflation is eroding that net worth. Also, with massive borrowing, debt, spending, money-printing, huge unfunded liabilities for Medicare and Medicaid, and future shortfalls in the pay-as-you-go Social Security, the inflation is likely to get worse, because the only way to get the money will be to print and borrow it.

It’s easy to look prosperous when you are borrowing and spending like crazy. What happens when you finally max out your lines of credit?

QUESTION:
With total federal debt of $22 trillion, how long would take to pay it off if the government stopped borrowing $1 billion per day, and started paying back $2.713 billion per day?
ANSWER: 200 years
Total interest paid is $177 trillion.

There’s just one big problem.
The $2.713 billion per day is almost $1 trillion per year.
That’s half of ALL annual federal revenues, and Social Security and Medicare are pay-as-you-go.
Where is the money going to come from?
At the moment, government is borrowing over $1 billion per day ($365 billion per year).

Now, if we only consider the $8.5 trillion National debt alone, it would take $1.0113 billion per day for 139 years.

Again, where is the money going to come from?
Starting to get the picture?
It may be too late already.

There will be some serious consequences eventually for so much debt.
They will only have one choice left, just to pay the growing interest on the $8.5 trillion National Debt (currently over $1 billion per day).
They will print more money.
They will not be able to grow, immigrate, or tax their way out of this debt.
Get ready for double-digit inflation.
Maybe not this year, or next year.
But the probem is SO massive, it’s unlikely Congress and Americans will ever have the discipline to resolve it.

Posted by: d.a.n at October 5, 2006 12:47 AM
Comment #186429

When you look at the B_I_G picture, it ain’t nearly as Rosy as some in the Rose colored column, wearing Rose colored glasses want you to believe.

Just because the economy isn’t currently in recession (or depression), does not mean were are immune to the M_A_S_S_I_V_E (and growing fast) debt.

Our funny-money fiat monetary system is a big problem too, and that will become more evident as government, growing ever more fiscally bankrupt, has no choice but to print money … and a lot of it.

Posted by: d.a.n at October 5, 2006 12:56 AM
Comment #186433

what a coincedence the gas prices go down at this time. i FIND IT VERY SUSPISIOSUS.

Posted by: G.W.Rove at October 5, 2006 2:45 AM
Comment #186435

Ben Bernanke, the Fed head, spoke yesterday and cautioned that time is running out for Congress to find affordable solutions to the baby boom retirement bomb that is fast approaching. Every session that goes by without action, increases the cost and consequences of doing nothing.

Among Bernanke’s alternatives:

Motivate boomers to spend less today and save more so Congress can cut benefits if needed.

Pass the cost of diminished consumerism and productivity against increased productivity of foreign competitors on our children, and allow immigration growth (lower wage workers) to help make up the shortfall of federal revenues lost due to retiring workers. He indicated current immigration only results in about 1 million new workers per year. If immigration were to be the solution, we would have to increase it to over 3 million per year for decades.

Invest in education and technology that will allow workers to compete with lower paying jobs overseas preserving our competitive advantage here at home for our workers.

Or do nothing, and all of the above options will in hindsight appear to be the utopian answers.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 5, 2006 3:08 AM
Comment #186450

Observer
“I thought you were a big “individual rights” supporter? What about a workers right to organize and bargain for better compensation? Draw the line there, do we?”

Nope, I don’t draw the line there at all.
People should be free to form unions where ever they wish and company should have the final say in how their business is ran.

Posted by: kctim at October 5, 2006 9:02 AM
Comment #186455

Oh I love this. Post a thread discussing religion or taxation or pretty much anything else, you have conservative dittoheads coming out of the woodwork to post a bit of vitriol and spin on the subject. Start talking about the economy….. nuthin’ but crickets. Forty-someodd posts and only one half hearted attempt to defend Wal-Mart. Ah, I love being right about being Left.

I gotta agree with GW Rove on this one. All of a sudden, 3 months before an election where the Republicans are looking vulnerable, a magical reserve of oil is found in the Gulf and gas prices fall 20%. A scent is in the air, one that reminds me of lakefronts and spending time in a boat with my dad. How much ya wanna bet that, come the second week of November, the gas prices start to spike again? Especially if the Dems do well in the election. I don’t claim that Dubya has some magical control over pricing. What I am saying is that the energy companies know that they have the GOP in their pocket, and they don’t want to lose that advantage.

L

Posted by: leatherankh at October 5, 2006 9:50 AM
Comment #186461

The U.S. future could be doomed by the way it is treating its children…

U.S. policies were relatively ineffective in supplementing poverty-level incomes to keep children out of poverty. After taking into account the taxes (including refundable taxes) and transfers, the U.S. still led the 16 developed countries in child poverty. On average, government taxes and transfers in the other 15 countries reduced child poverty significantly—by about half—dropping 10.4 percentage points to 10.7%. France had the largest redistributive decline of 20.2 percentage points to a child poverty rate of 7.5%. By contrast, the U.S. rate was reduced by just 4.7 percentage points to 21.9%—by far the highest child poverty rate of all 16 developed countries, even after government assistance.

The contrast between the great wealth in the United States and such appallingly high child poverty rates is quite stark. The United States needs to make a strong commitment to reduce child poverty.”

U.S. not helping its children in poverty

Posted by: Lynne at October 5, 2006 10:31 AM
Comment #186469

Susieq

Your’re absolutely right, during the 8 years if Clinton there were no homeless and there were no poor and all businesses were run in a Utopian way.

Not

It’s amazing how US history began in the year 2001.

It wasn’t that these problems didn’t exist it’s that the people along with the MSM didn’t want to see them. They were too busy fawning over the predator in chief to see that the problems were still there.

Posted by: Keith at October 5, 2006 11:30 AM
Comment #186470

From the Times:

There is fresh evidence, if any more were needed, that excessive borrowing during the Bush years will make the nation poorer.

For most of the past five and a half years, interest rates have been low, allowing the government to borrow more and more — to cut taxes while fighting two expensive wars — without having to shoulder higher interest payments.

That’s over now. For the first time during President Bush’s tenure, the government’s interest bill is expected to rise in 2006, from $184 billion in 2005 to $220 billion this year, up nearly 20 percent. That increase — $36 billion — makes interest the fastest-growing component of federal spending, and continued brisk growth is likely. According to projections by Congress’s budget office, the interest bill will grow to $249 billion in 2007, and $270 billion in 2008.

All of that is money the government won’t have available to spend on other needs and priorities. And much of it won’t even be recycled back into the United States economy. That’s because borrowing from foreign countries has exploded during the Bush years. In 2005, the government paid about $77 billion in interest to foreign creditors in China, Japan and elsewhere.

And that’s not the worst of it. While foreign investors were putting up most of the $1.5 trillion the federal government has borrowed since 2001, they were also snapping up hundreds of billions of dollars in private sector securities, transactions that have been a big source of the easy money that allowed Americans to borrow heavily against their homes.

The result, as The Wall Street Journal reported last week, is that for the first time in at least 90 years, the United States is now paying noticeably more to foreign creditors than it receives from its investments abroad. That is a momentous shift. It means that a growing share of America’s future collective income will flow abroad, leading to a lower standard of living in the United States than would otherwise have been achieved. Americans deserve better than this financial mess.

Posted by: Max at October 5, 2006 11:30 AM
Comment #186471

Here’s a very disturbing trend …

… more …
But Corporate profits are at all-time highs.
Unfortunately, that’s the way some corporations are.
Corporations can always find cheap labor elsewhere, and there’s not much that can be done about it. Also, the fiat funny-money system erodes savings, and creates instability as people scramble to find a place to invest it; to stay ahead of the ever-present, insidious inflation caused by massive borrowing, debt, and money-printing. That instability helps create bubbles, as people flee from stocks, to real-estate, to bonds, to gold, back to stocks, etc., etc., etc.

The Rose-colored glasses group is finding it harder and harder to paint a Rosy picture. Most Americans hear the economy is booming, but they don’t see themselves falling behind in many areas. Who is this booming economy helping?

The numerous causes and who is culpable (which is ALL of us) is one argument, but the Rosy spin, and a few cherry-picked economic statistics are far, far over-shadowed by the bigger picture. That is why, as leatherankh pointed out, there are fewer and fewer trying to spin the myth of a Rosy, “booming economy”.

Lynne,
You are right. The U.S. is not helping children in poverty. The U.S. government does relatively little to lessen child poverty rates. A big part of it is awful parenting, which seems to have grown much worse in the last few decades.

Also, what is very revealing is that Congress can vote on $29 billion (or more) of pork-barrel and corporate welfare (annually), vote themselves cu$hy perk$ and raises in a heart-beat, raise the ceiling on spending by hundreds of billions of dollars, start unnecessary wars, build briges to nowhere, find time to hit on minor Pages, look-the-other-way, etc., etc, etc., BUT can not take care or adequately educate its children.

BUT, WE keep re-electing them, so WE are all culpable. One of the main reasons is because the voters are more worried about retaining or gaining a seat in Congress for THEIR party, wallowing in the petty partisan warfare (which politicians love to fuel), and voters have lost sight of the fact that most (if not all) incumbent politicians are irresponsible, FOR-SALE, bought-and-paid-for, and look-the-ohter-way.

Posted by: d.a.n at October 5, 2006 11:31 AM
Comment #186472
Max wrote: The result, as The Wall Street Journal reported last week, is that for the first time in at least 90 years, the United States is now paying noticeably more to foreign creditors than it receives from its investments abroad. That is a momentous shift.
Thanks Max. Education is required. If the economy is destroyed (and I think it’s on its way), a good many other problems debated here daily won’t matter. Posted by: d.a.n at October 5, 2006 11:34 AM
Comment #186479

Several great posts, many valid points. I caution everyone to be careful when looking at macro economic numbers. Professionals are paid to massage these numbers and they are often be very misleading. Any time I see an average or percentage I look into the detail and often the picture changes dramatically.
For instance, investments in a balanced portfolio will yield somewhere between 6-8%. So, for every $100,000 you have set aside for retirement expect to get between $6,000 to $8,000 worth of income. Now, look at all the statistics about savings, retirement, healthcare and pensions. A retirement crisis looms for boomers, yet they just keep spending.
What happens to our economy when this great consumer engine comes to a halt?
Viv

Posted by: Viv at October 5, 2006 12:10 PM
Comment #186483

Things are just terrible! I’m getting raises. My wife is getting raises. Our jobs are secure. We refinanced to a low fixed rate on the house and reduced our payoff time by 10 years. We own both cars, just bought a new living room (furnishings, window treatments) and flat pannel TV. We both carry our own good health care from work. We both have company matching 401K plans AND company retirement accounts, gas prices are falling dramaticaly, our stocks in the 401k and IRA’s are going up.

Oh the HORROR! The Horror! It’s just like Kerry was talking about…it’s just like the great depression! LAUGH.

Posted by: Stephen at October 5, 2006 12:58 PM
Comment #186488

Stephen
Sounds like you work hard, love your family and are happy.
You enjoy pissing off liberals or what?

Posted by: kctim at October 5, 2006 1:21 PM
Comment #186491

Stephen-

I’m in the same horrible boat as you, and what’s worse, all of the slackers and pot heads from my H.S. are already retired. Seems the guys who started building houses, mowing grass or fixing cars have already cashed in (in their 40’s). My friend Todd was complaing about the $1k/mo fuel outlay for his 36’ Fountain, and that’s before he tools to the marina in his Viper.

This paycheck stuff sucks.

Posted by: George in SC at October 5, 2006 2:00 PM
Comment #186499

Such selfishness. I’ve got mine, so everyone must or they are just lazy and stupid.

Amazing.

Posted by: womanmarine at October 5, 2006 2:48 PM
Comment #186503

Stephen & George,
I’m happy for both of you and your friends that must belong to that elite 12% of boomers that are adequately prepared for retirement.
I hope everything stays on track for you. You do not have to be a liberal to be concerned about the impact of the 78% that are not prepared. There are no easy solutions, quick fixes or much of a time window to address these issues. We can’t find a solutions for problems that we do not acknowledge.

Posted by: v at October 5, 2006 3:14 PM
Comment #186504

kctim, Stephen,

I’m doing great too! I always save and pay myself first. I have a new job and look forward to more growth. My family has their health. However, I don’t make enough to own a home in the S.F. Bay Area. I make more than the median salary in the nation, more in real terms than my father did at my age, but that doesn’t count for much in most parts of California.

Just because I work hard and save to put my family in a better position doesn’t mean I can’t look at what is going on for the majority of people in my country.

Kudos to small businessmen, their intiative, and entrepenuership but how many many businessman can our country’s economy afford. Many of those businessmen make their money on the backs of their employees without creating good jobs. By keeping employees wages low, the top 2-4% continues to reap the rewards.

If you do not think this income gap is dangerous for democracy you or your children or grand children may be up for a rude awakening.

Posted by: Chris2x at October 5, 2006 3:27 PM
Comment #186505

d.a.n.

If everyone paid a flat 17% on income over the poverty level, and ALL tax loop holes were eliminated, then the wealthy would scream bloody murder.

Why? Seems fair to me. Right now the “wealthy” pay the highest amount of the taxes, so 17% should seem like a bargain. I’m in favor of a flat tax, but with some special dispensation at the bottom end of the scale.

womanmarine:

I don’t agree with people who are selfish, but there’s a different point as well. There are many people who don’t delay gratification or who take a shorter route to get something. There’s many a high school graduate who makes more in the first few years than a college graduate (especially considering the college student makes $0 for the first 4 years.)

But the college grad will outpace the high school grad rather quickly. By the time they are both 40, the college grad is making a lot more.

Some don’t have the ability to go to college, but many do and choose not to. Joining the military is one way to pay for a large chunk of college, but many don’t want the delayed gratification and the hard life in the military. But its still possible.

A friend of mine has a good job, but never graduated from college. He has hit the ceiling at this point (makes no diff if there SHOULD be a ceiling for him—-in his company/industry, the reality is that there IS a ceiling). He’s thought often of going back to school, but has never made the committment to do so. While he complains about the inequity, he hasn’t done anything to solve the problem.

But, back to the greed for a moment—its worthwhile for all of us to consider the “there but for the grace of God go I” perspective. I’ve been fortunate and have worked hard. I’ve earned my lifestyle through a mixture of hard work, good timing, luck, and education, among other things. I don’t look down on those with less, because I’m grateful for what I have. But neither do I hold that all inequities should be made equal. Sometimes a person’s lifestyle is a result of the choices they have made in their lives, which is a good thing.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at October 5, 2006 3:34 PM
Comment #186506

womanmarine,

Yes, it is infintile when people can’t see any farther than their own petty little existence. They don’t see the big picture, and don’t want to. Some of them believe anyone that is poor deserves it; brought it on themselves. Some refuse to see the economic trend as long as it doesn’t affect them, and only have concern for themselves only. They only see as far ahead as their own petty little lives and their new living-room furnishings and window-treatments.

But, when there is an economic meltdown, watch them act incredulous and expect someone else to fix it, and watch their interest suddenly change. It’s altogether different when it affects their petty little life, directly.

Things have changed over the last 50 years (or more). While there is progress in some ways, it’s 2 steps foward and 1.999 steps backward (on average). However, we have been going backwards for awhile.

It will be interesting what these same people say when an economic meltdown occurs. They’ll probably be saying:

  • How did the National Debt get so out-of-control?

  • How is a person supposed to support his family without a job?

  • Who can afford health care?

  • I’m having to take care of my mother, father, and brother’s children

  • Who is responsible for this fiscal irresponsibility that caused this recession/depression?

Or, watch them blame the other party. They usually love to wallow in the petty partisan warfare.

Anyone that thinks the fiscal picture is good (or even looks OK) probably doesn’t know much (if anything) about it, economics, market forces, fiat money systems, borrowing, debt, spending, and the federal reserve. Hence, the statements you see above. They think they have nothing to worry about. What they don’t realize is how much they will be affected when the consequences of so much borrowing, debt, spending, and money-printing finally catches up with us. There will be long term effects of $22 trillion in federal debt. Just because politicians (of all people) don’t like to talk about it, does not mean it isn’t a serious problem, and growing, and growing. And that $8.5 trillion doesn’t even include the $12.8 trillion Social Security debt. What do you think 77 million baby boomers will do when government starts cutting their benefits? What do you think working Americans will do when government starts raising their taxes? What do you think will happen when government starts printing more money (and a lot of it) just to keep up with the interest, alone? What do you think will happen as incomes continue to fall (nationwide)? What do you think Americans will do when pensions (already $450 billion in the hole) will do when they’re told their pensions are gone? Where do you think all the money is going to come from? They can’t print all of it, and printing all of it would be distastrous. But defaulting on interest payments will be devastating too. Foreign investors in the U.S. federal debt are already starting to get nervous now. China announced this year that they are going to start reducing their exposure to the falling U.S. dollar (i.e. slow/stop lending to the U.S.). Do the math. Consider how it will affect everyone when the consequences of decades of fiscal and moral irresponsibility finally catch up with all of us.

Posted by: d.a.n at October 5, 2006 3:37 PM
Comment #186507

Stephen and George,

Stop coming over here to tell us how good you have it. I come over here to get my daily dose of doom and gloom. hahahahaha

Posted by: Brian B at October 5, 2006 3:37 PM
Comment #186508

“You do not have to be a liberal to be concerned about the impact of the 78% that are not prepared.”

We have to wonder why this is. It’s a scary statistic, thanks V for putting it out there.

I can tell some people here right now will blame republicans or whomever for this, but really, who do we blame for 78% of boomers not prepared? I tend to think that rampant consumerism and the “keep up with the jonses” principal come into play here, as most boomers (and subsequently their children) are totally oblivious to how to manage their own finances.

The coming boomer retirement saga will be a double whammy. One one hand, you have a good number of these people with absolutely no savings by no other fault than their own. On the other, SS (if not fixed) will start to dip into the trust fund. What is the SS trust fund? US Treasuries!!! Guess who has to pay for these treasuries when they come due? ME!!! I’m in my mid 20’s and my income will be taxed to death because all these boomers weren’t responsible with their money when they were my age. What a good example to set for their kids who are early in their careers now…

As for the income gap- I don’t see how it will correct itself, or how it will play out in the coming years. All i know is that it won’t be good. My gut tells me this issue is less political than it is made out to be…but that’s just me. I say blame the Fed for easy credit…

Posted by: Dizzle at October 5, 2006 3:48 PM
Comment #186513
joebagodonuts wrote: Why? Seems fair to me. Right now the “wealthy” pay the highest amount of the taxes, so 17% should seem like a bargain.

Are you sure about that?
I know where you are going with that.
Effective tax rates are one thing, but actual tax rates (before all deductions is another).

You know how it works.

Effective tax rates in most reports are on ADJUSTED income. Not GROSS income, before all the tax loopholes, deductions, subsidies, etc.

That’s why some wealthy pay very little taxes, and many pay below 17% of their gross income. The average tax rate was 21% in year 2000, and the highest rate was 33%. Very few actually paid the maximum 33% after deductions.

Take capital gains taxes, for instance.
The rate is ONLY 10% to 15% .
That is lower than the average 21% (nationwide).

Why does Congress like the tax system (just the way they have perverted it)?
Why does Congress refuse tax reform?

To say the wealthy pay more doesn’t mean much.
The real question is, do the wealthy pay their fair percentage of income?

joebagodonuts wrote: I’m in favor of a flat tax, but with some special dispensation at the bottom end of the scale.
Yes, there should be a poverty level, and no one should pay any taxes until their annual income exceeds that poverty level, and only the income above the level is taxed. For example.

Ofcourse, no common-sense, no-brainer reforms will ever be passed by Congress. If you look at all of their voting records, few vote for reforms, such as campaign finance reform. They refuse to pass any BILLs that might reduce their power, their own opportunities for self-gain, or reduce the security of their cu$hy, coveted seats.

Posted by: d.a.n at October 5, 2006 4:16 PM
Comment #186516

Stephen & George,
I’m happy for both of you and your friends, it must be comforting to belong to the elite 12% of boomers that are adequately prepared for retirement.
I hope everything stays on track for you. You do not have to be a liberal to be concerned about the impact of the 78% that are not prepared. There are no easy solutions, quick fixes or much of a time window to address these issues. We can’t find solutions for problems that we do not acknowledge.

Posted by: viv at October 5, 2006 4:58 PM
Comment #186517

Whoops! Sorry for the duplicate post.
Viv

Posted by: viv at October 5, 2006 5:13 PM
Comment #186525

“Such selfishness. I’ve got mine, so everyone must or they are just lazy and stupid.”

Who are you to judge who or what is selfishness, Ms Marine?
I work hard to provide for my family and I work hard to plan for our future. I do this for my own peace of mind and also so that you don’t have to do it for me.
Why do you consider that as being selfish?

The Republicans are causing the economy to “tank” and millions are hurting? Well, I’m actually doing alot better than I was ten years ago, but ok, lets look at just how selfish I am being. I work, I plan and I take care of myself so that others don’t have to. Real selfish aren’t I.

So, just who’s really being selfish here?
Those of us who work, plan and do our part so others don’t have to worry about us?
OR
Those who “say” they care but don’t do anything but complain about “us kind of people?”

Like the left, I do care about others.
Unlike the left, I practice what I preach and do the things I say I believe in.

Posted by: kctim at October 5, 2006 5:47 PM
Comment #186536

Dizzle said. “who do we blame for 78% of boomers not prepared? I tend to think that rampant consumerism and the “keep up with the jonses” principal come into play here, as most boomers (and subsequently their children) are totally oblivious to how to manage their own finances.”
One publication of the Federal Reserve seems to agree with you. It discusses the Precautionary Savings Theory which asserts that the perception of risk depresses consumption and increases the accumulation of wealth. Applying this theory, we must assume that the majority of boomers do not perceive the risk of their approaching retirement. Perception of risk varies greatly by demographics including age, education, income and regions of the country. It is an interesting read.
Viv


Posted by: Viv at October 5, 2006 6:27 PM
Comment #186547

I guess we could blame the lack of savings (actually negative savings) on Bush, who told us after 9/11 we could help our country by shopping…he hasn’t told us to slack off buying stuff yet…is it helping the War on Terrorism? Helping rebuild the WTC? Is it helping anyone?

Posted by: Lynne at October 5, 2006 7:24 PM
Comment #186548

“Those of us who work, plan and do our part so others don’t have to worry about us?”

So, did the workers of the several corporations recently that went BK and had their pensions evaporate just not plan things well enough?
What about the wife who’s husband dies and then she finds out the retirement money got spent? Or the late 50’s couple where one gets cancer and it slowly bleeds their savings to nothing?
All their fault?
Better hope fate doesn’t deal you a bad hand. I’d hate to see you applying for SSI with all the irony and shame that would bring.
The problem with “plans” kc, is that they don’t always turn out the way you thought. That’s what safety nets are for.

Posted by: Observer at October 5, 2006 7:25 PM
Comment #186550

“Sounds like you work hard, love your family and are happy.
You enjoy pissing off liberals or what?”

So…you DONT want us to take you seriously anymore??

Posted by: Observer at October 5, 2006 7:31 PM
Comment #186559

kctim said,

Like the left, I do care about others.
Unlike the left, I practice what I preach and do the things I say I believe in.

I practice what I preach just as you and I’m a lefty. I save first and have built my 401k on a tight budget. I have more than the average boomer has in savings and I’m only 38. On the other hand it’s nice to think we lefties all care about people. However, I can recognize a system that is stacked against the majority of Americans no matter which way you slice it. Anyone in theory can rise to the top, but opportunity and structural reasons mandate the large majority will not.

Now, what is fair and just economically for those who work hard but do not compete well, in other words, employees? As those in control of the purse strings slice an ever larger piece of the pie I don’t think you can call it anything but greed.

How many Hummers, yachts, profane ice sculptures, Vipers, houses, bonuses, stock options are enough before we look at extending affordable health coverage to all? The cost of a good education just goes up and up. If you can blow 1k /mo on gas and just gripe about it then maybe you have too much money.

I don’t begrduge anyone the good life, just give people who work hard what is fair.

Posted by: Chris2x at October 5, 2006 8:22 PM
Comment #186567

Straw Man Insensitivity and other liberal BS.

President Bill Clinton came forward with a great plan to save social secuirty that involved private accounts. Democrats loved it, republicans sunk it.

President George Bush came forward with a goal to save social security with a plan that involved private accounts. Republicans loved it, democrats sunk it.

So whoes kidding who? Whoes slinging the BS here pretending we are in a depression and Republicans don’t care about the needy. Pure BS.

My problem is that given a chance, democrats sink social security reform when a Republican is in the Whitehouse. And given a chance, Republicans sink social security reform when Democrats are in the Whitehouse.

Get it? When it comes to FIXING social security, when it comes to FIXING medicare…NEITHER PARTY IS LOOKING OUT FOR US!

Get off this left/right hate and smear fest…the truth is in the middle not on the extremes with the hate mongering, power grabbing lunatics.

Posted by: Stephen at October 5, 2006 9:40 PM
Comment #186569

“My problem is that given a chance, democrats sink social security reform when a Republican is in the Whitehouse. And given a chance, Republicans sink social security reform when Democrats are in the Whitehouse.”

Your comments assume that the plans were equal and fair. What the republican plans usually entail is letting the well off opt out, and then some sort of private accounts that will further enrich corporate interests.
Just look at their perscription drug plan. SOME seniors got SOME benefit, but HUNDREDS of billions get funnelled to Drug companies.
Sorry, this new angle of ‘the left is just as bad’ aint flying with me.

Posted by: Observer at October 5, 2006 9:51 PM
Comment #186571

Obeserver, no, your assumption is that I’m making assumptions.

My point stands. Both parties have proven they are unwilling to let the other party fix social security.

Gee, maybe the need to stop demogoging the issue, like you are right now, compromise, and fix it.

What’s a reall social security fix going to look like? Well for starts, as Both Clinton and Bush know…private accounts. In the end that’s what we need. But that’s not enough and given the politics of the issue it’s going to take higher taxes, means testing so the rich get less thus leaving enough for the truely needy, and it’s going to have to be pushed back for those healthy enough to work longer.

It’s going to be a COMPROMISE. So enough left vs right, we are great they are evil BS. It’s time to force BOTH PARTIES to sit down, compromise, and come up with a good plan.

Hell, social security is easy compared to national health care. How can we ever get national health care if our childish, power hunger sentors and house members can’t get together on Social Security.

Get off your: “I hate the right, the right is wrong and we are right” BS and look for the truth, it’s in the middle.

We are not in a depression. We are not in a recession. The economy IS good. The economy could be better. Yes, we want balanced budgets, etc etc etc. All the things it takes a motivated and grown up congress to deliver. But if you insist on mixing the cultural war in with it, your hate will never allow you to compromise and nothing gets fixed until it’s way too late and maximum pain is felt by all.

Hate, smearing, intollerance…it’s comforting isn’t it? It keeps you from having to think, from having to compromise. It’s easier to call yourself the great caring party who is dedicated to the downtrodden and declare that the other side is selfish, self centered, uncaring, etc. So easy to spout hate and lies. So hard to understand, compromise, meet in the middle and get things accomplished.

Posted by: Stephen at October 5, 2006 10:02 PM
Comment #186579

Observer

I guess you haven’t read the news lately. The seniors are loving the plan and saving 100’s of dollars a month.

Posted by: Keith at October 5, 2006 10:29 PM
Comment #186583

“My point stands. Both parties have proven they are unwilling to let the other party fix social security.”

Yes, I’m unwilling to let bush screw with it, given his track record. His plan was basically designed to pump money into the market and enrich traders and Wall St. houses. I don’t believe for a second that his concern was for mom and pop retiree. I take him for what his record shows.

“maybe the need to stop demogoging the issue, like you are right now, compromise, and fix it.”

The current republican officeholders have shown many times they are not interested in compromising. Period. Funny how you claim were equal, but when Clinton was pres he managed to get quite a bit done with a republican congress. THAT was compromise and cooperation, if not trust.

“So enough left vs right, we are great they are evil BS”

We didn’t start this ‘scorched earth’ political climate were in. And I’ll fight you on that point to the death. We’ll “compromise” AFTER we take back some power. Those without power are ignored.

“Get off your: “I hate the right, the right is wrong and we are right” BS and look for the truth, it’s in the middle.”

I might have agreed with you 10 years ago, not now. Too much obvious evidence that NOTHING will change untill we start splitting power between the parties again. Till then, no prisoners.

“Hate, smearing, intollerance…it’s comforting isn’t it? It keeps you from having to think, from having to compromise.”

I’m not that simple minded. But only a fool, given the last 6 years, would show any sign of weakness. Again, we’ll start cooperating the day after we take back the Leg. branch.
I don’t smear for fun. But I’m tired of being kicked in the ass and taking it. Peace through Mutally Assured Destruction is the only way we get things done in this country.

“So easy to spout hate and lies. So hard to understand, compromise, meet in the middle and get things accomplished.”

I think your beginning to understand human nature. Keep it up.

Posted by: Observer at October 5, 2006 10:38 PM
Comment #186598

So the hate, lies, anger, smears etc etc must continue until you the left wing has more power? Why does your NEED to keep the cultural war alive not surprise me?

And your rewritting of history…not worthy of my time. You should have gone on Fox News with Bill Clinton…he fell apart, maybe the two of you could have come up with some more credible fake history to whitewash the Clinton failed presidency. As hard as Clinton tries, memories of pardons being sold, lying under oath, selling our ports to the chinese, paying blackmail money to N. Korea, and numerous other failures continue to define the Clinton Whitehouse. He just can’t seem to wash those stains off that dress our out of his presidency.

The democrat plan for Social security had major flaws. Clinton could not get it through congress because he worked so well with congress? Get your head out of the ground.

Clinton failed to get Social security through congress and his party controlled it for several years. That’s great leadership? Not in my book.

Clinton Bitched about Newt G forcing him to sign a blanced Budget knowing that the democrats would split on it and override him if he turned it down. Clinton had submitted a deficit budget and complained that the only reason Newt was balancing the budget was to keep him from meeting his campaign spending promises. Later Clinton, despearte for something to define his presidency, took credit for Newts work. Clinton caved in to a tid bit dictator and payed blackmail money to N. Korea and the Koreans kept right on working on their nukes. So please, don’t preach to me about your great white leader.

My point stands. Not until Republicans and Democrats come to the table and compromise can we have a fix for Social Security, Medicare, and National Health Care. It’s time to bury the cultural war, the attempt to socialize america and for congress to stop the add on bills and fix things that are broken.

So you want to make excuses for your hate and cultural war bad behavior. It’s the Republicans that have turned you into such a hate monger. It’s their fault you are the way you are.

Big yawn there buddy. Not believable. You are responsible for your bad behavior. Not me, not your sister, not your brother. You are responsible for the hate you preach.

Posted by: Stephen at October 5, 2006 11:27 PM
Comment #186607

So the economy is doing wonderful, I’d like for some of you that think it is so great to come here and live in my city. I would love to have 100,000 grand to invest, hell I would love to have an extra 100 bucks to invest. No my husband and I don’t try to keep up with the Jones. We own a modest ranch house that we bought for 18,000 did most of the work ourselves. Now our house is worth roughly around 80,000. We have 2 cars make our mortgage, and barely pay our bills, with hardly anything left over. The furniture we have in the house is mostly 2nd hand. The few things we have that was new, we bought with some money that was left over after we refinanced our mortgage. I have had the same washer and dryer for about 15 years, the last time my dryer broke down my repair man said there’s not much more we can do with this, its almost time to send it to dryer heaven. Needless to say with our financial state, to get a new one it will either be rent to own or go out and borrow money to get a new one. We no longer have health care we can’t afford the almost 800 dollars a month to pay for it. Our children do have health care due to our low income it is provided by the state(not welfare). My husband has been employed by the same company for almost 27 years. They are a small company that can’t afford the premimums either. I am going to school to further my education so that hopefully I can find a job with benifits. Of course the last job I worked at that had benifits I basically worked to pay for them. I made 8.50 an hour and worked anywhere between 35 and 38 hours, cause more than that and the company would have to pay more. After I paid for my insurance and paid my taxes I might have brought home 250. every 2 weeks. These people we elect to Congress get a cost of living increase every year, a pay raise for working less than 100 days a year (yes maybe there are a few that do work over their breaks) and make 2 times what my husband and I make combined. Health care paid for, cars paid for gas, etc. I would love to have a pay raise, my husband would love a pay raise. The last one he had was 1 1/2 years ago and that was 50 cents, before that it was 3 years since he had one. How many times has the inflation been raised? As it stands right now I have no heat, I can see it already its going to be another year like last year. We did not use any oil at all just ran our woodburner for our heat. Just to get the minimum delivery for oil in our area is 150 gallons that would cost us around 350 dollars, I would love to be able to afford to write a check for it. It’s not cold enough to run the wood burner, but it’s to chilly not to have something. It’s time for a change across the board. The government needs to take a stand against corporate management pay gouging, that raises the cost of goods more than any raise to the minimum wage would. Stop letting these companies take advantage of the little guy who can’t stand up for themselves, for example this is something Walmart is pulling now.I don’t know to many people who live in my town that can afford to go out and get their kids stuff for Christmas and lay out the cash right then and their. Low and behold we put things in layaway, low and behold Walmart states that after Nov. 19 they will be no longer having a layaway program. So many people have credit cards. What does that tell you? Lets just go more into credit card debt. Lets add more to the growing problem. At least with a layaway there is no debt, only cash. Maybe it’s not all up front at one time, but at least we can purchase something we might not normally be able to.

Posted by: Sherri at October 6, 2006 12:17 AM
Comment #186610

Stephen, your comments utterly lack understanding of the dependence of wealth on those who aren’t. Those who aren’t currently drive the consumer engine which sustains the economy. Wrong moves which put large numbers of the unwealthy out of work, homes, stores, brings the world of the wealthy down into a crash.

It wasn’t the unwealthy who were jumping out of 40 story windows in 1929 when the stock market crashed. It was the wealthy who abruptly ceased to be.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 6, 2006 12:45 AM
Comment #186623

Sherri:

God bless you. From your post, it shows you to be hardworking and trying to improve your financial situation. You are making the effort to improve your education in order to make yourself more marketable.

I agree with you about Congress—they make plenty of money. The issue is not what others make, though. It is about what you can make.

Re layaway: Seems to me that instead of layaway, you just hold the money until you have enough to buy what you were going to lay away. It’s harder for you, since you need to have discipline to not spend it, especially when you have needs, but it essentially works the same way. Don’t fall into the credit card trap—its a short term fix. Buy what you have money to afford, whatever level that is.

I don’t know what got you to where you are now. Sounds like your hubby has had a job for 27 years, but sounds also like its not been a high paying job. Yet holding the job for 27 years shows that he must be a good employee. You might need to look at moving to an area where you have more ability to earn more. Perhaps he needs more education as well.

On the good side, you have a home. You have health coverage through the state. You are getting by. You are showing a perseverence that many simply don’t have.

I hope this doesn’t sound condescending, but you are the type of people that made this country great. You may not have been blessed with educational abilities, family money, etc—-any of the many “luck” factors in life—but you are hardworking and doing the right things. Keep doing them, and you will end up well.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at October 6, 2006 7:28 AM
Comment #186631

David,
You have bought into a myth. The suicide rate during the crash was no higher than any other time. Brokers were not falling from the sky all over wall street. There were no more people plunging to the streets than there usually are. And such is the case when you build your world view on myth and partisan politics.

I have a business degree and spent one career in banking. I understand how the economy works. I still remember my macro and micro economic training. I follow the markets, sectors of the economy, industries in those sectors, and stocks in those industries. I’m well aware of the macro and micro economic picture. So don’t try to bull-shit a bull-shiter!

Why do liberals have to leap to large assumptions to prove the economy is terrible and that those who don’t see it are ignorant? Because they desire more political power than they have and they need to create a bad economy to try to take power. Kerry tried that approach and with the help of the main stream press he got many to beleive that a strong economy putting on millions of jobs was just terrible. Laugh.

The facts dispute the claims. I used myself as an example to use average people everywhere as an example. Unemployement is low, growth is solid, inflation is low, fuel prices are falling, home ownership is high, employment is high, etc etc etc. Don’t tell me we are in a terrible recession, that vast armies of every day people are suffering terribly, the numbers DO NOT back that view up. Even during the hight of the depression years the bulk of Americans remained employed. Your personal situation doesn’t back up things are terrible. My personal situation doesn’t back it up. Most peoples personal situation doesn’t back that view up.

Let me make an ASSumpton. Where you people fail here is that you ASSUME I am a rich,upper class, Republican that doesn’t care for the poor. You can neither comprehend that I am middleclass or that I was once poor myself. The rich are a miniority and yet you beleive the evil enemy you face (Republicans) are made up of nothing but Rich people or ignorant people…not enlightened individuals such as you claim to be.

You have been brainwashed by your own propaganda. You are so caught up in your emotional cultural war that you can’t see things for what they are or discuss an issue as opposed to debating an issue.

I suggest that the only way for Social Security, Medicare, National Health Care to be dealt with is for both parties to put aside their left vs right battle and compromise….I’m greeted with “Hell no. We must battle until we have more power”.

Very sad. Your ASSumptions about me are LAME. But attacking the individual is far better than dealing with the truth they bring to the table.

Posted by: Stephen at October 6, 2006 9:48 AM
Comment #186633

In general I agree with your post. However, one should take a good look at the so-called “middle class” and how they spend their money. When I was growing up (I’m an old fart), “middle class” meant that you had a car (ONE!) Possibly a TV (B&W) and a small house. Now it seems to mean you have 2-3 cars, with at least one gas-hog SUV, A TV in every room, loads of rooms in your 4000-square-foot castle,(developers ain’t building small inexpensive houses any more…everything is bloated huge and labeled “Luxury”), maxed credit cards (we had no credit cards, they hadn’t been invented yet), fancy vacations (My dad never took a vacation in his life)…
What is considered “Middle Class” today was “Upper Class” 50 years ago. Americans don’t get any money but what they will run right out and piss it away on some new shiny piece of junk.
So, our expectations and habits have changed, and NOT for the better.
A lot of people are struggling, true, but look what they are struggling to pay for!! Mounds of garbage.
BTW, I live very nicely, without debt, on about $15,000 a year.

Posted by: capnmike at October 6, 2006 9:57 AM
Comment #186634

capnmike:

Not sure how you live on 15K a year, but I’ll assume that your house is paid for through the years so that you have no mortgage.

Your points and those of Stephen are accurate to a degree. I see poor neighborhoods where cable and satellite tv is rampant. I see people with little money spending it on processed ready-to-eat foods, cigarettes, beer, lottery tickets etc. The choice is theirs, of course, but the consequences should be as well.

There are many folks with little money who guard it wisely, and I applaud them for that. But I fear there are many more who spend it unwisely. Several posts above, Sherri is (presumably) spending her own money to get more education, which will increase her employment qualifications. There is a time lag in that equation, but she is willing to allow for it. Too many people aren’t willing to do that.

I recall a neighbor family who bought everything from the rent-to-own center. They bought furniture, televisions, stereo equipment etc. The amount they were paying was exorbitant, and the product quality was pure crap. Had they shown some restraint and gone to garage or estate sales, they could have gotten good quality products for far less.

My first sofa was a hideous mustard and black contraption. My second sofa looked like it came off the set of Saturday Night Fever (think psychedelic disco couch). The common thread between these couches was that they were castoffs and therefore free. I LOVED that color of couch—-free. By saving money, I was able to do other things. But I lived with crummy ugly couches for almost 8 years.

There are those who simply cannot run the race. We need to help them. There are those who run the race well, and we should be proud of them. And there are those who want the race run for them, under their conditions. If someone else can run faster, they should be made to slow down. If someone runs with better style, they should not do so. These people—we should feel sorry for them, but should not kowtow to their wishes.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at October 6, 2006 10:30 AM
Comment #186635

I have my concerns about the economy. But there is always something to be concerned about in the economy. There is always predicted doom around the corner, a conspiracy theory for everything that is good. Someone who truly believes that it was say, George Bush who blew up the twin towers so he could “destroy the constitution”. Always many nutball theories being spread about as if they are manna from Heaven.

I understand that the growers in California are desperate right now. The growers can’t find enough people to pick the crops. Pickers know this and now show up in an area and use their cell phones to call around and find the farm paying the most money to pickers. Can you imagine it? Illegal aliens have cell phones and are networking to get the best pay in an industry in which their skills are in demand and in short supply! Oh yeah, things are bad ehh?

They say Americans may have to get used to paying more for those great crops because the economy is so good they can’t find pickers unless they pay more money. Just terrible ehh?

In the depression, tens of thousands would-have (and did) swarm crop picking jobs. We aren’t in a depression like the “great” one yet, neither are we in a recession. Are we “vulnerable”? Of course, we are ALWAYS VULNRABLE! what’s new? And do we believe higher taxes are the way to help the economy? Get real. Even John Kennedy lowered taxes because he knew that was good for the economy.

Kerrys “the economy is terrible” campaign continues even though the economy was not in a recession but was strong and put on millions of jobs and he lost the election. They “terrible” economy myth he worked so hard to build continues today. If you can beat the same lie day after day after day into the masses with the support of a liberal and biased press, unfortunately most people will eventually believe the lie. And that was the core of the “economy is terrible” campaign.

Well, here we are, years later, the economy still hasn’t collapsed and we are still hearing from the democrats how ‘bad’ it is. They are beating the same drum that failed in the Kerry campaign.

“Oh it’s just terrible” they say! “You may be ok but everyone else is SUFFERING”! Right. Sorry, don’t believe it. I am not without compassion, I simply prefer to see things for what they are. I realize that many here beleive their POLITICAL success depends on twisting reality…but I oppose twisting reality. Lets admit things are good, but could be better. Meet in the middle and solve problems instead of attacking each other.

If one has to lie to bring about a “good thing” then that “good thing” isn’t worth bringing about. One debases themself when they spread dishonest propaganda to achieve their goals.

Posted by: Stephen at October 6, 2006 10:34 AM
Comment #186657

Joe said, “I hope this doesn’t sound condescending…”
I do not believe your response to Sherry’s scenario was condescending, but it certainly reveals your lack of awareness of the battle she wages everyday to meet the basic needs of her family.
How convenient for you to address the least important issue in her post, lay-away. They do not have health care, cannot afford to heat their home, zero savings and living without a safety net. She probably knows more about discipline and sacrafice than the majority of Americans.

“You might need to look at moving to an area where you have more ability to earn more.”
No offense Joe, but you must be joking. In the real world it cost real money to move. Moving is one of the 5 most stressful life events. Her family would we walking away from their entire support network.
Your right about one thing; “…you are the type of people that made this country great”
Sherry and her family are what the government classifies as working poor. Politicians on both sides have spued rhetoric during elections, but little action in policies or solutions.
For instance, the federal minimum wage. It has not been increased since 1997. In that same period Congress has increased their own wages 9 times. Using an est. inflation of 3.1 %, a ten year period without a wage increase results in a loss of 50% of purchasing power. States are so frustrated with Congress’s inaction that (6) have initiatives on their ballots to establish a state minimum wage and (20) states are increasing their state minimum wage.
A zillion factors are driving many working poor into poverty. This is not a healthy trend for our society. We can do better and we must do better. We need to push our representatives in both parties to stop with the rhetoric and start with the action.
Joe, your heart seems to be in the right place. As a professional and volunteer I’ve had first hand experience counseling the working poor. I was both humbled and educated about the daily challenges of their lives.
Most of my middle class friends and associates are unaware of the working poor. It often seems as if I’m walking between two worlds.

Posted by: Viv at October 6, 2006 11:55 AM
Comment #186659

Stephen,

You are in denial if you think these are nut-ball, doom-and-gloom theories.
Do the math for yourself.

  • $22 trillion (or more) of total federal debt IS serious.

  • Over $42 trillion of total nation-wide debt IS serious.

  • Over $1 billion per day in interest alone on the $8.5 trillion National Debt is IS serious.

  • And that doesn’t even address the $12.8 trillion Social Security debt, $450 billion PBGC debt, and hundreds of billions of unfunded Medicare liabilities, and the ongoing unfunded liabilities of Iraq, Afghanistan, war on terror, etc.

  • Have you been listening carefully to the Federal Reserve lately? They are even getting nervous.

  • Foreign investors in the U.S. National Debt are getting nervous, and starting to reduce exposure to the falling U.S. dollar.

  • Inflation is rising, and it could get a lot worse, as the government and Federal Reserve continue the non-stop borrowing, grow debt, spending, waste, and printing-money

  • Median wages have been fallen since 1999.

  • Friction between 77 million baby boomers (who paid all their life into Social Security and Medicare) wanting their benefits and the younger generations having to pay higher taxes to fund it, is a recipe for disaster.

  • non-stop out-sourcing, importing cheaper labor, corpocrisy, corporatism, unenforced anti-trust laws, pension fraud, non-stop bubbles causes by an irresponsible and dishonest fiat monetary system, and and unfair tax system (full of tax loopholes for the wealthy), while corporation owners are experiencing record high profits, is squeezing the shrinking middle class (it’s not about weatlh redistribution; it’s about abuses and violation of the laws, cooking the books, defrauding investors, and plundering pensions, etc.)

Stephen wrote: I simply prefer to see things for what they are. I realize that many here beleive their POLITICAL success depends on twisting reality…but I oppose twisting reality. Lets admit things are good, but could be better.
You are being fooled (BIG time) by the current illusion of a healthy economy, because it is easy for anyone to look prosperous and wealthy while maxing out all their credit cards … but eventually, there will be consequences that can last a long time.

If you are NOT more than a little concerned, then you are in denial too. Unless you are rich, the potential economic meltdown will hurt you too. Just look at the debt, borrowing, spending, and money-printing. The fiscal picture is disturbing, because that alone has the potential to cause serious long-term problems.

Stephen wrote: Meet in the middle and solve problems instead of attacking each other.
That solution is unrealistic. Congress will most likely never do that, without more pressure and incentives from the voters, and re-electing irresponsible, bought-and-paid-for, look-the-other-way, FOR SALE incumbent politicians won’t accomplish it. In fact, it makes it worse.
  • Posted by: d.a.n at October 6, 2006 11:59 AM
    Comment #186666

    Observer
    “The problem with “plans” kc, is that they don’t always turn out the way you thought. That’s what safety nets are for”

    They are not used as safety nets, they are used as a way of life. Why do anything for yourself when the govt will do it for you? is why people do nothing to make their life better or to prepare for their future.

    Some people believe their own safety net is more important and that they would be better off if they were allowed to create their own safety nets.

    Forcing a belief system onto others is wrong.

    Posted by: kctim at October 6, 2006 12:41 PM
    Comment #186667

    Viv:

    Moving IS stressful. So is not having enough money. I lived in Detroit and was poor—-I moved to a better location and ended up with more money. By the way, I rented the U-Haul, loaded it myself. I’ve done that every time I’ve moved—thankfully I’ve had the health and the help from friends to be able to do so. Moving was the best thing I ever did. It would be easy to sympathize with Sherri, but its much better to offer a suggestion that, while hard, might lead to a solution. YOu assume that her family support network is where she currently is—-might or might not be accurate. In any event, from her post, it doesn’t sound as if the network is capable of the support she needs.

    The only way the minimum wage issue affects Sherri is if it gets raised above the $8.50 she was making. Her hubby has worked at the same place for 27 years—the minimum wage wouldn’t affect his income.

    Seems to me they are in a spiral that they need to get out of. The question is how to do it. I suggested moving—that’s one option. She’s enhancing her education—that might help. Her hubby might need to look for a different job—if after 27 years, its still not paying enough, then it likely never will. Jobs can be hard to come by, and his qualifications might be low, but it sure doesn’t hurt to look. Perhaps he can get more education as well.

    I’m not insensitive and I don’t think even misguided. But I am solution oriented. Sympathy doesn’t solve the problems Sherri has. Solutions do. What solutions do you have in mind? You mentioned minimum wage, but that’s not going to impact her situation. (Whether min wage increases are good or bad overall is an entirely different discussion.) I didn’t see any other concrete suggestions—-but with your counseling experience, I’m sure you have ideas.

    Posted by: joebagodonuts at October 6, 2006 12:41 PM
    Comment #186669

    kctim,

    Could you please quote me the exact First Ammendment to The Constitution?

    It would be a good excercise for you.

    Posted by: RGF at October 6, 2006 12:54 PM
    Comment #186671

    Chris
    “I practice what I preach just as you and I’m a lefty. I save first and have built my 401k on a tight budget. I have more than the average boomer has in savings and I’m only 38.”

    That is not all the left preaches though.
    They “say” the poor need help and they preach that everybody should be forced to believe as they do.
    But when it comes down to it, they won’t sacrifice their own luxury to support their own beliefs, they expect everybody else to pay for it.
    Nothing quit like taking your laptop down to Starbucks, buying a $6 cup of coffee and then complaining how somebody should do something to help the poor get coffee.

    “On the other hand it’s nice to think we lefties all care about people.”

    As long as everybody else also pays for what YOU think is the right thing to do.

    “However, I can recognize a system that is stacked against the majority of Americans no matter which way you slice it. Anyone in theory can rise to the top, but opportunity and structural reasons mandate the large majority will not.”

    BS. Everybody has the opportunity to take care of themselves.

    “Now, what is fair and just economically for those who work hard but do not compete well, in other words, employees? As those in control of the purse strings slice an ever larger piece of the pie I don’t think you can call it anything but greed.”

    It is a two way street, but you choose to see only one side. Employers are just as important as employees and they deserve to be treated fairly too. Its funny how nobody gives a crap about the owner of a company who just went bankrupt.

    “How many Hummers, yachts, profane ice sculptures, Vipers, houses, bonuses, stock options are enough before we look at extending affordable health coverage to all? The cost of a good education just goes up and up. If you can blow 1k /mo on gas and just gripe about it then maybe you have too much money.”

    You shouldn’t care what wealthy people spend their money on and you should not envy what they have. Instead of complaining about what other people have, people should be saving for themselves.
    What about those who can’t save for themselves? Then the people who “say” they care about them, should rethink their own lives, live a more modest life and actually contribute to what they “say” is what needs to be done.

    “I don’t begrduge anyone the good life, just give people who work hard what is fair.”

    I totally agree. But taking from one to give to another is not fair.

    Posted by: kctim at October 6, 2006 1:00 PM
    Comment #186677

    KCTIM said: “Its funny how nobody gives a crap about the owner of a company who just went bankrupt.”

    Perhaps that’s because their going bankrupt just means they have to become a working stiff like the rest of us for an employer like they were. Times like that probably bring wishes to bankrupt company owners that they had observed the golden rule when they were employers. Yuk Yuk!!

    S-C-A-R-Y !

    But you know what? There’s another reason too. Under Republican wisdom, when an employee goes bankrupt, they still have to pay off their debts until the day they die. But, if a CEO takes the corporation into bankruptcy, they get a golden parachute and a percentage of the sale of assets as partial payment for the corporation’s debt to their pension plan.

    Nope, no reason for employees to cry for bankrupt company owners. We don’t have debtor prisons, though having to work for an employer may seem like it to a former company owner if theirs was a small company with no parachute or stock options pension plan.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at October 6, 2006 1:20 PM
    Comment #186680

    RGF
    Is this ok? Its from the Cornell website.

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances”

    So what do we wish for me to learn from this excercise?

    Posted by: kctim at October 6, 2006 1:35 PM
    Comment #186682

    David, individual debt is created by the individuals themselves so of course they should be expected to pay it back.
    And a company handling its own affairs as it see’s fit is wrong?
    You can try and make deals like Enron the norm, but they are the extreme. Most businesses are small and when they go bankrupt there is no golden parachute for anybody.

    Posted by: kctim at October 6, 2006 1:41 PM
    Comment #186731

    kctim,

    I do practice what I preach. I pay my fair share of taxes. I don’t go out of my way to deduct all that I can on income taxes either. And if you include all taxes including payroll then a progressive income tax system is very fair. If I become wealthy, I won’t bitch and moan about taxes either. Warren Buffet, for example, is a stand-up guy who cares more about the big picture than his children inheriting all that money.

    I think business owners and those whose initiative creates wealth are very important and we can’t create disincentives that are too great. America has partly been so successful because of that entrepeneurial spirit. Those are the good things about capitalism and free markets.

    Don’t confuse me with Chairman Mao. I don’t really care what the wealthy spend their money on. What I do care about are people who work hard and get very little. How much more than the average worker should a CEO make? It is a just question. Those five owners of Wal-mart didn’t become so “successful” only because they (or Sam anyway) were so innovative but because they pay their people little, won’t provide health care, and basically create a race to the bottom. A unionized grocery store job is a good job for those with little education but greedy businessmen undercut them and for what? Food is already affordable and takes up a smaller percentage of income for most Americans than decades ago.

    It’s not BS either. Capitalism requires a lot of people at the bottom, that is structural. That you and I can move up and down that structure based on education, opportunity, smarts, hard work, who we know, initiative, discipline, and plain dumb luck is important but still requires many more to work hard and stay at the bottom. You may say “that’s life” but I say it is not necessary. It’s only just that a wealthy society help ameliorate basic inequities in such a system such as poverty with school lunches, social security, and affordable education and health care. FDR isn’t said to have helped save capitalism for nothing.

    And don’t be ridiculous. I don’t buy $6 coffee and I don’t know who does. I watch my money and save as well as you I’m sure. And I do give charitably and often. However, government can be a very successful tool to help make our country better and prosperous. It does say in the constitution to promote the general welfare and taxes have been around since, well… civilization. Limiting the divide between rich and poor has all kind of benefits, especially for capitalists.

    If capitalism was just and fair we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

    Posted by: Chris2x at October 6, 2006 4:33 PM
    Comment #186756

    Chris
    VERY well written, thank you.

    “I do practice what I preach. I pay my fair share of taxes”

    This is where most of our disagreement comes from. I would guess that you believe your fair share includes giving to govt so that it may help others. I do not.
    I don’t have a problem with paying taxes to the govt for govt functions as outlined in the Constitution. But it is not govt job to force beliefs onto the people and it is not govts job to rob from those who have and give to those who do not.

    You mention Warren Buffet and say he is a “stand up guy who cares more about the big picture than his children inheriting all that money.”
    IF he really cares about the “big picture” then why does he have so much money? Should he not be using all of his available resources to support his own beliefs? He could live a modest life and contribute greatly to what he “says” he cares about but he does not. Instead, he partically supports his own beliefs but not at the expense of his own lifestyle.
    So, in order for him to keep his lifestyle and for him to feel good, he expects govt to force others to believe as he does and to support his beliefs.
    That is wrong.

    “How much more than the average worker should a CEO make?”

    Whatever the company who employs them wants to pay.

    “That you and I can move up and down that structure based on education, opportunity, smarts, hard work, who we know, initiative, discipline, and plain dumb luck is important but still requires many more to work hard and stay at the bottom”

    Agreed, but those same people have every opportunity to move up as everybody else does.

    Everybody who shops at Starbucks pays too much for coffee. I wasn’t singling you at, sorry about that.

    “It does say in the constitution to promote the general welfare”

    But at the risk of taking individual rights from the very people the Constitution protects?
    I don’t think so.

    Posted by: kctim at October 6, 2006 5:57 PM
    Comment #186773

    David:

    You’ve certainly shown a high level of ignorance towards business owners. You can try to suggest that all small businesses are corporations with deep pockets, but it just isn’t so in the real world. Most small businesses survive because of the sheer determination of the owners, who often put in long hours—longer than most of their employees.

    Remember that owners of businesses are not just the Sam Waltons, Bill Gates’, or Ken Lay’s. They are the guy who owns the corner shoe repair, the small Detroit tool and die shop, or the cozy restaurant you sometimes go to. The owners put their own money up, along with their sweat equity. Because they have the higher risk, they deserve the higher reward.

    If a small company like that goes out of business, the owner loses his equity along with his income. The employee only loses his income.

    Your post showed a bias towards business owners, and an ignorance by painting them all as corporate entities. It just isnt the way you present it.

    Chris:

    Well written. Based on your comments, its fair to say you agree with capitalism. But you dont want pure capitalism. Nor is socialism or communism workable, since there is no incentive. Incentive is the engine that drives capitalism, but we also need some fairness.

    The hard part is defining fair. If we regulate what CEO’s make, we should also regulate what athletes make….and what doctor’s make…and what movie stars make. A guy named Sean Fanning wrote the code for Napster in a month and made 10’s of millions as a result. Is he entitled to it? In a free market, the answer is yes. Is it fair that he spent only a month making more than most will ever make in a lifetime, or several lifetimes? I’d say its fair, just as its fair that Dan Brown, author of the Davinci Code, is worth millions upon millions simply because many people read his books.

    Posted by: joebagodonuts at October 6, 2006 7:13 PM
    Comment #186780

    kctim and joebagodonuts,

    Thanks for the compliments and for great responses. Now we get to the heart of the matter instead of hurling snippy insults at each other like so many do. I guess it is the nature of blogging and jocking for attention.

    Joe,

    I actually agree with everything you said. I would just add that if you make a million in a month, year, whatever, expect to pay a greater percentage in taxes for the general welfare, or these days warfare. Corporations also exists by government charter as I understand, giving them the privledges of personhood. I think public (as in public stock) corporations should be regulated and a luxury tax for CEO pay wouldn’t be such a bad idea.

    kctim,

    Regarding the Consitution, I would agree that many of the founding fathers, including Jefferson, might be downright appalled at the size and scope of government these days. Of course, Jefferson would be even more appalled at the size of corporations and the power they wield these days. It’s a good thing the Constitution is “a living document”.

    I see government and taxes as a tool to ameliorate capitalism’s weak points. I see government power legitimately used to promote the general welfare as important. The more money you make, the more taxes one can afford.

    The question of course defining today’s liberals and conservatives is where does government cross the line and unduly infringe on individual liberty? Liberals are not anti-liberty. Some conservatives want government in the bedroom or to define marriage and some liberals want government to soak the rich and fund a poor person’s abortion.

    I want justice and responsibility from those in power as well as individuals. I believe in the public good. I see taxes could get out of hand but I also see a weakening social safety net and a ballooning deficit that will hurt our country more and more. Since we did away with debtor’s prisons I think letting tax rates ebb and flow is a good thing.

    Posted by: Chris2x at October 6, 2006 8:40 PM
    Comment #186864

    kctim,

    Word processors apparently enter code or something we can’t see that when cutting and pasting into this board show up. I’d rather see your spelling errors than see that crap. Go ahead, let it all hang out there. I know the progressives are an intollerant and divicive bunch who may attack you for your spelling…but being a crappy speller myself, I’ll never attack you for it.

    Posted by: Stephen at October 7, 2006 10:24 AM
    Comment #186867

    d.a.n.
    The one who is in dinal is you! I said at the top that there are issues about the economy that I am concerned about. Just like before the clinton bubble economy broke there were issues in his economy that I was worried about.

    It is you who wants to pain me with a black brush while you color your own understanding with all the colors in the spectrum. And that’s what I’m talking about….get rid of the “us vs them” attitude. Stop debating and start having conversations. Get rid of those black and white blinders and open up your eyes. The radicalized progressive libs are using you ever bit the same as some Pat Roberts preaching to the radicalized right how they should live and who they should vote for.

    The truth is in the middle buddy. And by the way, conspiracy theories about the economy are a dime a dozen. We all read the same material. We are all concerned about deficit spending. We are all concerned about our jobs and how the US will continue to prosper in an increasingly globalized world.

    You can’t hear me because you are waging a cultural war. You are a preacher with a message you just have to get out. The other guys are bad, dumb, deluded, ignorant, and you have to prove to the world that you are enlightened and they just don’t get it…right?

    You are so far off course with me you just don’t have a clue.

    The economy is good. It’s been good for years. It was good when John Kerry was telling us that we were in a depression. It remains good today. Are there problems that should be dealt with? Of course. Are there ALWAYS problems that should be dealt with? YES! Nothing is new here. Are there “enlightened ones” wandering around saying vote for my party or you are doomed? YES! And that’s always the case.

    But the truth is in the middle. This country continues to do just fine. Most people are doing just fine. There are problems coming down the road we need to deal with. But we don’t have to lie about the present economy to motivate people to vote for this party or that party. What we need is for Reublicans and Democrats to stop fighting and to fix things.

    I think the fellow here who posted “no way, we are going to wage war until we have more power” was the most honest. He knows he’s doing the wrong thing but he thinks he’s doing it for a good cause. And that’s the bases for the cultural war as it’s presently being waged. The ends justify the smears in the minds of those preaching hate, smears, and division.

    Posted by: Stephen at October 7, 2006 10:38 AM
    Comment #186999
    Stephen wrote: Get rid of those black and white blinders and open up your eyes … get rid of the “us vs them” attitude. Stop debating and start having conversations … What we need is for Reublicans and Democrats to stop fighting and to fix things… .

    But, above that, Stephen wrote…

    Stephen wrote:
    Straw Man Insensitivity and other liberal BS.

    Interesting. Engage in partisan warfare. Then criticize it. Then engage in more partisan warfare. Then criticize it, etc., etc., etc.

    Fascinating; contradictions all over the place.

    Stephen wrote: I said at the top that there are issues about the economy that I am concerned about. Just like before the clinton bubble economy broke there were issues in his economy that I was worried about.

    And then follows with …

    Stephen wrote:
    The economy is good. It’s been good for years… It remains good today … This country continues to do just fine. Most people are doing just fine.

    But, Stephen says that I am in denial …

    Stephen wrote:
    d.a.n.
    The one who is in dinal is you!

    Stephen wrote: d.a.n … You are so far off course with me you just don’t have a clue.

    Really?
    It’s merely an analysis of what you’ve writtne above. Your statements keep contradicting each other.

    For instance, this is quite revealing …

    Stephen wrote:
    Things are just terrible! I’m getting raises. My wife is getting raises. Our jobs are secure. We refinanced to a low fixed rate on the house and reduced our payoff time by 10 years. We own both cars, just bought a new living room (furnishings, window treatments) and flat pannel TV. We both carry our own good health care from work. We both have company matching 401K plans AND company retirement accounts, gas prices are falling dramaticaly, our stocks in the 401k and IRA’s are going up. Oh the HORROR! The Horror! It’s just like Kerry was talking about…it’s just like the great depression! LAUGH.

    That speaks volumes.
    No partisan spin there, eh?
    And, is coming from someone who portrays themself as non-partisan, and wants everyone to get along? Now that is what is funny.

    Stephen wrote: And by the way, conspiracy theories about the economy are a dime a dozen. We all read the same material. We are all concerned about deficit spending.

    Another contradiction? Are you saying deficit spending is a conspiracy theory, or something to be concerned about? You seem to want to have it both ways. Which is it? What ever is convenient? If you think the fiscal picture is OK, or “good”, or “very good”, then you are simply wrong, because it is that very deficit spending that you speak of, that is providing an illusion of a healthy economy. Have you done the math, or do you just think having an opinion can substitute? A total of $22 trillion of federal debt (i.e. $8.6 trillion National Debt, $12.8 trillion Social Security Debt, and $450 billion PBGC debt) will have serious problems in decades to come.
    If you don’t think so, then explain how?
    Just saying things are “OK”, “good”, and “very good” (in your esteemed opinion) means nothing. Where’s your data?
    You call into question what others say, but you provide nothing but opinion in rebuttal.
    Are you denying the level of debt?
    Are you denying the excessive money-printing and growth of M3 Money Supply?
    Are you denying the plundering of Social Security surpluses?
    Are you refuting any of these pressing problems?
    Unless you can refute a good many of them, those problems, growing in number and severity, have the potential for an economic meltdown. Even the most prudent person would show substantial concern. But, anyone who says “we have some problems, as usual” but “things are OK”, or “good”, or “very good” is the one who is in denial, BIG time.

    Stephen,
    You seem to want an end to the petty partisan bickering, but there appears to be a bias in your statements. You think the economy is “OK”, “good”, and “just fine”, but fail to see it is an illusion, and the numerous long term effects of debt that has NEVER been larger than now (including after WWII). Only the $8.6 trillion National Debt is 68% of GDP, but that does not even include the $12.8 trillion Social Security Debt, and the $450 billion PBGC debt, and hundreds of billions of unfunded Medicare liabilities, and the drain of Iraq and Afghanistan. Include all federal debt, and it is 200% of GDP! And that will have economic consequences. So will the massive money-printing. Do the math. Look at the all of the facts. Don’t be fooled by the illusion of a good economy. Make sure your statements are based on fact, and not mere opinion. The illusion of a “good” economy is being financed with M_A_S_S_I_V_E debt, borrowing, and money-printing.

    The massive borrowing and money-printing creates inflation, which creates bubbles. The ever present, insidious inflation is what destabilizes the economy, keeping investors off-balance, trying to find some place to keep cash from eroding. Even a mere 4.5% inflation can erode $100 to $63 in 10 years. And, as each bubble bursts, people run from stocks, to real estate, to gold, back to stocks, then real-estate, over and over. Americans lost trillions in the bust in 1999, 1987, … , 1929. Don’t kid yourself. If you think the fiscal outlook is “good” or “just fine”, you’d better take a much closer look. Anyone calling the current fiscal picture mere conspiracy theories, and choosing to overlook the reality of the potential for significant economic impact of massive debt, borrowing, spending, and money-printing, is nothing more than opinion, unsubstantiated by the facts.

    Posted by: d.a.n at October 8, 2006 1:21 PM
    Comment #187078

    D.a.n, the quintessential point you make above, is : “The illusion of a “good” economy is being financed with massive debt, borrowing, and money-printing.”

    This is an undeniable fact. So many folks, from Bernanke, Bush, to the mom and pop business owner who is doing pretty good right now, tries to defend the economy with a present tense snapshot of either the numbers or their financial status.

    But, anyone who is serious about addressing the health of our economy, simply must incorporate into their assessment the state of the Social Security and Medicare liabilities and all of the consequences their failing or continuation engenders, as well as the massive ownership of foreign entities of our debt, and what that could portend.

    Bernanke I noticed, likely for political reasons, talks of the economy today - OK, and the long term challenges - Not Ok. As if one can segregate the economy in that fashion. There is no incentive or motivation to act if one is thinking, everything is fine today, and we have time to deal with tormorrow’s problems tomorrow.

    The fact is we are out of time to deal with tomorrow’s economic problems. As Bernanke said last week, delays in remedying entitlements only limits the remedies available and makes the remaining remedies far more costly and consequential.

    On this, he is absolutely, and unequivocally correct.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at October 9, 2006 7:50 AM
    Comment #187080

    Stephen, your comment’s ignorance of which it speaks is remarkable:

    In 1929: The Year of the Great Crash (1989) historian William K. Klingaman says asphyxiation by gas was the most common method of doing oneself in, although there was considerable variety. He writes:

    The wife of a Long Island broker shot herself in the heart; a utilities executive in Rochester, New York, shut himself in his bathroom and opened a wall jet of illuminating gas; a St. Louis broker swallowed poison; a Philadelphia financier shot himself in his athletic club; a divorcee in Allentown, Pennsylvania, closed the doors and windows of her home and turned on a gas oven. In Milwaukee, one gentleman who took his own life left a note that read, ‘My body should go to science, my soul to Andrew W. Mellon, and sympathy to my creditors.’

    Myth. The only myth is in your comment’s biased perspective trying to make its point through misinformation.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at October 9, 2006 8:02 AM
    Comment #187081

    Stephen said: “Let me make an ASSumpton. Where you people fail here is that you ASSUME I am a rich,upper class, Republican that doesn’t care for the poor.”

    Sounds like your assumption of what other’s assumptions are. Which makes … which makes you the Assumer.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at October 9, 2006 8:04 AM
    Comment #187084

    kctim said: “Most businesses are small and when they go bankrupt there is no golden parachute for anybody.”

    Then you are not very familiar with small business law, S-corporations, and single person incorporation, and all the other mechanisms for shielding a small business owner’s personal assets from his/her business’ failure.

    When I speak of small business, I am not referring to the family owned single entity Chinese restaurant, or the shoe shine student in Manhattan. I thought that would have gone without saying, but, here I am, having to say it. Glad that’s cleared up.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at October 9, 2006 8:10 AM
    Comment #187086

    JBOD said, “Most small businesses survive because of the sheer determination of the owners, who often put in long hours—longer than most of their employees.”

    You assumed an awful lot. I won’t argue that many small business owners put in longer hours than their employees. But, then, they reap a greater share of the net income as well. So, your point is?

    Most small business start ups fail too! Does that mean they didn’t put in enough hours? HaH! Not even.

    See my comment to kctim. There are individual enterprises like the student shoe shiner in Manhattan and then there are restaurant chain owners, small printing businesses and tool and die shops making specialty parts. If such businesses as these don’t avail themselves of the laws available to protect their personal assets, then their knowledge and aptitude for business is probably questionable at the outset.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at October 9, 2006 8:18 AM
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