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JOEBIALEK
June 21st, 2005, 10:02 PM
I had the opportunity the other day to watch a most enlightening program broadcast by UCTV. The one-hour program was called "How Unequal Can America Get Before We Snap?" presented by President Clinton's former labor secretary Robert Reich.

"Inequality of income, wealth, and opportunity in America is wider now than it's been since the 1920s, and by some measures since the late 19th century. Yet the nation seems unable or unwilling to do much of anything to reverse these trends. What happens if we allow the trends to continue? Will they "naturally" reverse themselves? Or will we get to a point where disparities are so wide that we finally find the political will to take action? Alternatively, will the disparities themselves grow so wide as to discourage action, by fostering resignation among the losers and indifference among the winners? And if the latter, where will it all lead?" SOURCE: Goldman School of Public Policy UC, Berkley

The presentation made excellent use of economic graphs to demonstrate how large of a gap has developed between the upper class and the middle class (not to mention the lower class) with regards to income, wealth, and opportunity in the United States between the years 1962 to the present. The trends are alarming to say the least. The speaker correctly points to birthright as the beginning of the disparity that allows for advantages in everything from diet and healthcare to education and connections. Being born into a middle-class family myself, I have truly benefited from my birthright in terms of these advantages right from the starting gate. Some people would argue that many a poor person has risen up by their "own boot straps" but I would argue that in today's society, most (not all) poor people can only rise up with a good pair of athletic shoes or a willingness to sell drugs. Otherwise they have to remain content with working in the service industry for comparatively lower wages than their upper-class counterparts. Mr. Reich further points out that one of the elements keeping our society glued together is the belief or perception by the lower class that opportunity in this country still exists and that if one is willing to work hard, they can be successful.

The speaker talks of two potential outcomes for this growing disparity. He uses the metaphor of the rubber band to illustrate his point. Our society will either "snap back" with a series of reforms supported by all three classes and the government to regain a sense of fairness when it comes to income, wealth, and opportunity in the United States. This has occurred at least once before in the history of our country during a time referred to as the progressive movement. The other potential outcome is for our society to "snap break" whereby this country exists with two entirely different societies. The problem with the latter outcome is that it often leads to the arrival of a demagogue who plays upon the emotions of the middle and lower classes all for the hidden intention of personal gain. We have seen this all too often in history with the likes of Napoleon, Mussolini, Hitler, Lenin etcetera. Mr. Reich suggests somehow that the upper class are not a group with malicious intent but rather are nothing more than a naive self-indulgent class of people who don't know any better. Here I beg to differ. I believe the upper class is guilty of a careless disregard for their fellow countrymen. They have the arrogance to believe they are superior and deserving of extravagance regardless of how they attained it and regardless of how it affects the rest of society. Once again, history shows us what happened to those monarchs who behaved the same way. Do I think there will be a violent revolution in this country? I hope not. Do I prefer a new progressive movement over even a peaceful revolution? Absolutely. My fear however, is that we are already rapidly approaching the point of "critical mass" beyond which there is no turning back. The question today before the American people is what are YOU prepared to do?

Edward
June 22nd, 2005, 10:20 AM
Revolution? Critical Mass? Where this coming from? Did I miss barricades on the way to work? Proletariat is sitting at home watching American Idol.

The middle-class of USA would be considered filthy rich in 99% of the rest of the world, and poor simply well off.

The inequality of income could be the indicator of the economic opportunity, there is nothing inherently wrong with it.

alex ballard
June 22nd, 2005, 10:39 AM
Point taken Edward, but here's the issue:

Wouldn't you want stablilty? Good schools for the kids? A nice place to live? A steady job?

Africa-style poverty is inhumane. That doesn't mean American poverty is acceptable. Is everyone going to be rich? No. Middle class? No. But should decent services and a good quality of life be afforded to everyone? Yes.

Hey, I can chill making $30,000 a year. If that got me a small house in a neighborhood with good schools/parks/transit/services and a little left over to LIVE life...sure. But that's not even possible at 50 or 70,000. That's the problem.

Edward
June 22nd, 2005, 11:05 AM
The salary increase from $30,000 to $50,000 will not happen by means of the revolution.

ryan
June 22nd, 2005, 11:30 AM
Marxist revolution is an outdated model that doesn't apply to the US. The population that would need to be angry enough to revolt is fat, ignorant and happy - and voting for our current government at a high rate and waving flags as fast as they can be manufactured (or actually, sticking magnets on their gas-guzzling cars, which is a lot easier than waving a flag). Our military is bigger, better funded and more powerful than any that has ever been. Government power is becoming more centralized and more homogeneous, which makes it harder to chip away at - or reform.

To continue your metaphor, that rubber band has a lot of slack to go...

alex ballard
June 22nd, 2005, 11:58 AM
Marxist revolution is an outdated model that doesn't apply to the US. The population that would need to be angry enough to revolt is fat, ignorant and happy - and voting for our current government at a high rate and waving flags as fast as they can be manufactured (or actually, sticking magnets on their gas-guzzling cars, which is a lot easier than waving a flag). Our military is bigger, better funded and more powerful than any that has ever been. Government power is becoming more centralized and more homogeneous, which makes it harder to chip away at - or reform.

To continue your metaphor, that rubber band has a lot of slack to go...


Yup. No democratic reforms. Just totalitarian ones.

Many people have simply too much vested in poverty. From Music companies (rap for white kids), fast food(gotta eat cheap), racists(if they're poor, they can't move into my neighborhood), home buidliers(Flee the cities or we'll go bankrupt!), auto-makers(gotta get to Wal-Mart), media(What will we report?), Retailers(Wal-Mart needs you!) and government itself.


Our economy is built on poverty. For this reason, people will never let poverty go away. Income disapraity is not horrible. But poverty is.


But I'm happy to report that this will all end soon. You see, it's a domino affect:



The Uber-rich contine floating along as the thrid world slowly rises to middle class status. As we sit back and watch China, India and someday Africa bypass us, we still chug along. We will become a nation of 10% Uber-rich and 90% poor as shit. The uber rich will fund our military and government and eventually, we lose democratic status.



But when social services and everything else becomes to much of a hassle for the rich, they leave, and we're right along with the Soivet Union in the "asheap of history". :::sigh:::

Ninjahedge
June 22nd, 2005, 12:17 PM
Alex, you are exaggerating here.

The examples such as Wal Mart are not fitted to your model very well, as middle class America is the one guilty of making that such a success. The 99 store would be more along the lines of "poverty" and you usually only see them in areas where being seen in it would not be an embarassment...


I think the statement (OT) is right in the fact that we are getting more and more stretched as time goes by, but it is not like the lower class is being left behind.

I TOTALLY disagree with the OT closing statment calling all the rich careless and inhumane. Funny how if you work hard and earn a lot, it is your responsibility to give back what you have earned to a lot of people who did not succeed like you did.


While some magnanimousity is to be expected and almost demanded, requiring a tithe to the poor based on your own level of success is rediculous.

So where is the middle on this? And how do you make it so that the economic model we have constructed is not forced to destroy itself in the name of humanity? The arguing pont with that being, is it fair to make it so that if you know someone personally, and have a relationship with them, that you should have the same chance as a total stranger at getting a job from them?

We can blindly say "yes", but sometimes knowing someoneactually DOES promote a more productive workforce. There are companies that have children of CEO's that actually know what they are doing and willing to work for it. There are good buisness relationships that are built more on the fact that the leaders of them are friends with each other than the fact that they are both most qualified to do their own jobs.


How can we seperate the socio from the economic w/o killing the very healthy beast that has enabled even the poorest of our very young country to consider themselves lucky compared to the average citizen elsewhere in the world?

ryan
June 22nd, 2005, 01:04 PM
How can we seperate the socio from the economic w/o killing the very healthy beast that has enabled even the poorest of our very young country to consider themselves lucky compared to the average citizen elsewhere in the world?

Ninjahedge, I think you're guilty of a bit of hyperbole. We hardly take care of our poor as well as we could, and I'm not sure a "poor" person would ever "consider themselves lucky" compared to REAL average people in other parts of the world. Many of the images of the "third world" especially are of poverty that is extreme even for those areas - due to war or famine or some other solvable problem.

Also, separately, your "very healthy beast" of global capitalism creates our wealth at the expense of those suffering in other parts of the world.

alex ballard
June 22nd, 2005, 02:08 PM
Alex, you are exaggerating here.

The examples such as Wal Mart are not fitted to your model very well, as middle class America is the one guilty of making that such a success. The 99 store would be more along the lines of "poverty" and you usually only see them in areas where being seen in it would not be an embarassment...


I think the statement (OT) is right in the fact that we are getting more and more stretched as time goes by, but it is not like the lower class is being left behind.

I TOTALLY disagree with the OT closing statment calling all the rich careless and inhumane. Funny how if you work hard and earn a lot, it is your responsibility to give back what you have earned to a lot of people who did not succeed like you did.


While some magnanimousity is to be expected and almost demanded, requiring a tithe to the poor based on your own level of success is rediculous.

So where is the middle on this? And how do you make it so that the economic model we have constructed is not forced to destroy itself in the name of humanity? The arguing pont with that being, is it fair to make it so that if you know someone personally, and have a relationship with them, that you should have the same chance as a total stranger at getting a job from them?

We can blindly say "yes", but sometimes knowing someoneactually DOES promote a more productive workforce. There are companies that have children of CEO's that actually know what they are doing and willing to work for it. There are good buisness relationships that are built more on the fact that the leaders of them are friends with each other than the fact that they are both most qualified to do their own jobs.





How can we seperate the socio from the economic w/o killing the very healthy beast that has enabled even the poorest of our very young country to consider themselves lucky compared to the average citizen elsewhere in the world?






First, all we're asking for is Good Public Transit, Education and Healthcare worthy of a first world nation, a good economic base, and decent communties.

That's not leftist, that's common sense.


Also, you're argument of "Well, it could be worse" is not correct nor very moral [no offense]. That's like saying if someone murders one person, they're better than Ted Bundy and therefore a good person. Wrong. Both of them deserve to die.


Same with poverty.

As for your assertion about how the American system is built on poverty, I built that case for you. True, we can't have burger flippers making 50k a year. But should they get healthcare like everyone else? Yes.




People are fond of saying "Wealth is the reward for hard work". What work did Paris Hilton do? Nothing. And does a garbage man not do hard work? Wrong, he does.



As for your assertions about buisness and friends, that in and of itself is wrong. It's whoever is most qualified. Not who's gonna be my buddy.


Anyway, Many people, espeaclly in America, think this is okay. Poverty is okay. Keeping people down is okay. As long as it makes money.

I really don't know what to say. Except that I do believe in a heaven and a hell. Let's leave it at that...

Edward
June 22nd, 2005, 02:18 PM
Alex, you hit that quote button one more time and I will ban you

Ninjahedge
June 22nd, 2005, 03:03 PM
First, all we're asking for is Good Public Transit, Education and Healthcare worthy of a first world nation, a good economic base, and decent communties.

What do you mean "we"? Are you doing an "Us vs. Them" thing again? Be careful, the easiest way to be manipulated it to segregate and striate the people you are talking about into easily seperatable categories.

You even mentioned the "uber rich" as if they were a seperate species bent on world domination.

Well they are bent on world domination, but they are not a seperate species. There are many of us that would do the same if we were in the same situation.

human nature can be so "un-natural" sometimes.


That's not leftist, that's common sense.

??

Are you referring to my arguement, or someone elses?


Also, you're argument of "Well, it could be worse" is not correct nor very moral [no offense]. That's like saying if someone murders one person, they're better than Ted Bundy and therefore a good person. Wrong. Both of them deserve to die.

Um, did I say that?

I don't remember it that way.

My bent was more on the line that if we get rid of capitolisim as we have it today, would our lives be any better, or would we just have less difference between the haves and the have nots?

Would the richest be only 10 times richer than the poorest, but the poorest be living in the fields working all day to fee their families (as in some nations)?

So I was not arguing "it could be worse" but that trying to force people who earn to support those that do not does not make for a viable system.



Same with poverty.

As for your assertion about how the American system is built on poverty, I built that case for you. True, we can't have burger flippers making 50k a year. But should they get healthcare like everyone else? Yes.

Now I know you are talking about someone elses post.

We were not built on poverty, but we did do a lot BECAUSE of it. If people were happy with what they had, they would do little to change things. The current welfare system is testament to that.

While programs like Housing for Humanity encourages people to work for something they need and will value, Welfare has grown into a sloth that simply gives more the worse off you are. Definitely not encouraging to have your benefits cutt off when you are working harder to get your family up and out of the situation you are in...


People are fond of saying "Wealth is the reward for hard work". What work did Paris Hilton do? Nothing. And does a garbage man not do hard work? Wrong, he does.

Now you are crying jealousy.

Is it fair that if you were to work hard and establish a fortune through your intelligence and hard work that you be forced to give it all away to people you do not know when you die?

Are you saying that your children, the things that most people work for, should not get any of what you worked for?

I do not like Paris, and as such, I do not watch her shows, talk about her, or buy anything that has her name or picture in/on/near it. but that does not mean I think that she should not have anything just because my father was poorer than hers.


As for your assertions about buisness and friends, that in and of itself is wrong. It's whoever is most qualified. Not who's gonna be my buddy.

Now you are getting back to subject.

Just wait until you get into the buisness world and you will realize that friends not only are the ones that are hired, but they are the ones that earn more for the company.

If I can befriend a client and bring him in, that in and of itself means more than if I can actually do the work that would be needed for it (in a lot of cases).

This is something that burns me a little, but it is true. Sometimes the people that can do the work the best are not the best suited for management due to the simple fact that they are more valuable DOING THE WORK. Add to it that a lot of managers and salespeople are simply better with people than others.


My stance on this is not a hard one, and there are PLENTY of individual exceptions to the things I have stated, but the basic fact remains:

Ability alone is not the primary moneymaker. Social networks do more to earn money than just about anything else. Therefore, someone you know could help your company more than someone with a higher GRE score out of college.



Anyway, Many people, espeaclly in America, think this is okay. Poverty is okay. Keeping people down is okay. As long as it makes money.

I really don't know what to say. Except that I do believe in a heaven and a hell. Let's leave it at that...

"Keeping people down", as if they are personally keeping them down. As if they have a whip and chair and are forcing all of us to turn the giand grindstone that makes their flour.

And the fact that you believe in heaven and hell is a nonsequitor implying devine precedence and favor of your view over others. It is not a good arguing point and will only turn the conversation to a more personal note.

I really do not know what to say. Except that I believe in Gravity. Let's leave it at that...

alex ballard
June 22nd, 2005, 03:50 PM
/\ Wow. That was some fun ride. I never experienced so much spin in my whole life!


For the first post, that was simply a "go ahead and flame me" answer.

For the second, read the other posts.

For the third, my respose to the response is this:

The Rich owe their richness to poor people. First here and now in China. If everyone got paid middle class wages, then they wouldn't be rich. So, yes, it is owed. But not a "YOU OWE ME!!!" owe, but a "Can ya help a brother out?" owe.

For the fourth:

I guess that's understandable. I mean, it's all this world is built on. But that doesn't make it right.

This is a personal reason for me. I'm not popular with ANYONE so I guess I'm dommed to fail. :::sigh:::. I guess it'll be working the bottom for me. While Tom the hot jock gets the promotion. Right.


And 5th:

I wasn't talking to you. I was making a statement on American attitudes. And yes, they are contrary to what I believe "The Golden Rule" is.

Ninjahedge
June 22nd, 2005, 05:13 PM
OK, in response to #5, that is why you do not quote someone and reply to everyone without making it clear who you are responding to.

It only makes you seem like you are not paying attension to the person you quoted. (Quoting someone is like responding to them directly. If you talk to them like they were someone else, and refute that other persons post as if the one you quoted said them, it can be taken as condescending).

As for popularity, I can't say it does not matter, because it does.

The "jock" will not get the lead position in 90% of what is happening unless his dad is the boss. The Brown Noser will though.

Just learn the routines, including ones for when you do not know what to do, and you will do much better.


And do not take everything so personally.


trust me on that one.

JOEBIALEK
July 4th, 2005, 02:09 PM
good points...

Ninjahedge
July 5th, 2005, 09:22 AM
Ninjahedge, I think you're guilty of a bit of hyperbole. We hardly take care of our poor as well as we could, and I'm not sure a "poor" person would ever "consider themselves lucky" compared to REAL average people in other parts of the world. Many of the images of the "third world" especially are of poverty that is extreme even for those areas - due to war or famine or some other solvable problem.

Also, separately, your "very healthy beast" of global capitalism creates our wealth at the expense of those suffering in other parts of the world.


My healthy beast?

Are you personalizing the arguement ryan?


All I am saying is that we DO have it much better. My GF's family came across a long time ago from much harsher conditions than what we see today. She has FAMILY still overseas that sees more poverty than a family that is struggling in the US.


I am not saying that any struggle or suffering is really right, but for a country much larger than most, the imperfect "beast" of capitolisim has done fairly well.

While talking about Mass Transit and Universal Medical Assistance is a fair request that would work wonders in some countries, the US is just too large for something like that to work.

That, combined with the fact that however many CEO's are out there trying to take what they can from others, there are similar percentages of people that will, and do do the same in regards to taking benefits away from others.

Humans are much too much an opportunistic bunch to try to give freely to.


On a second point.... How would we be able to help the people who need help without making it feel like that was something entitled to them and therefore something that does not require work to help go further? How do we give without the generosity being expected as "normal" instead of generosity?

How do we encourage areas to develop rather that to develop dependancies?