Ineffective Government, an outcome of our definition of "Freedom"?

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Seattle, Jan 28, 2023.

1. SeattleValued Senior Member

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I've said nothing about the wealthy working harder. Everyone not poor, including the middle class does seem to make better decisions if we are talking about poverty in the U.S. (elsewhere corruption may make better decision making less relevant).

My comments, in this regard though aren't just about the wealthy. It's about everyone other than the terminally poor. It's also not an absolute statement. Of course there a valid reasons why some are poor and can do little about it. For most people, in general, what you personally do has more effect on the rest of your life than anything someone else does, wouldn't you agree?

That's the nature of the forum. Don't most posters think that they have the answer? Aren't you sure that "we" need to be more open-minded about UFO's and don't you post that same point over and over?

It's the nature of the beast if you want conversation. Don't you think Tiassa and James are certain that they are right about what they post?

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Most posters have a subject matter that they are more interested in and that's where more of their posts occur.

Your statement (s) are what are largely wrong, IMO. Your mindset is already revealed when you call it "predatory capitalism". No, I don't think most business leaders are committing the crime of insider trading.

The everyday "wage earner" who owns stock and holds it for 10 years is likely to get the same 10% average return as Bezos, Gates and everyone else. If they don't own anything, they don't get any returns of course.

I don't think Bezos is a day trader. Does he have advantages over me in starting a space exploration company? Sure, but that's neither here nor there.

The biggest misconception, IMO, with conversations talking about "tax the rich" or anything about the rich and "fairness" is that there aren't enough "rich" (.01%) to do all the things that some people think they can do.

When taxes are raised in the sense of taxing the billionaires, the people who actually see their taxes go up are in the top 10% to 20% and not the top .01%.

Also, Bezos, Gates, etc make the majority of their initial money not from insider trading, unfair advantages, loopholes, etc. They start a company and if it's one of the ones that do well, they get their wealth because the stock prices goes up.

It's not because they keep the profits at the expense of the wage earners. That view belies a lack of understanding (it seems) of terminology and basic business principles.

Employees accept a job based on a wage offered. That's not a predatory concept. A worker at Google may make "$"300k programming. If Google can pay all of those salaries and other expenses then the company has a profit. Any CEO that has stock benefits as do all of the millions of other people who own Google stock. There seems to be a view that it's just the CEO at Google and a few wealthy investors who profit and who, for some reason, don't deserve what they get as much as "wage earners"? You can buy Google stock. Why would you do so if Google didn't make a profit? If an employee says that they deserve more and that the Google CEO and "wealthy shareholders" should give back some money because a particular employee was laid off or because Covid was tough for them...that makes little sense. If you own Google stock, is it fair to refer to you as just a wealthy shareholder in a predatory system who doesn't really need the money and it's really all about the "worker"? That can be a person's opinion but it's clearly subjective and is mainly a Marxist economics viewpoint where the value of everything is just based on "labor" of the "worker". It's an "us" vs "them" mentality inherent in that type of economics. That's doesn't mean it's "wrong" if there is real world evidence to back it up but that approach hasn't actually turned out that well in reality. Now, in your case, I understand that you feel that you agree with a capitalist system and just want to prevent abuses but a lot of the terms that you are using are loosely based on Marxist economic concepts about "labor" and "workers". As far as specific cases where a company breaks the laws, that's neither here nor there since there are plenty of cases of the poor, middle-class and the "rich" breaking laws. The overwhelming misconception, IMO, that I often see is about shareholders. Their are usually diminished as to what role they play, as if anyone would buy stock with no expectation of returns. Or when returns of a company are sensationalized by reporting profits in absolute terms and when comparing them to something else that is irrelevant such as "Google reports record profits of "$"XXX billion while many poor people can't even buy a house" or "Google profits while the average citizen saw their income go down during Covid" or "The rich became even richer while the average person became poorer during Covid".

This type of reporting isn't intended to be unbiased. You never see "Google reports record profits this year after below average returns in the previous year. Profit per share this year was $1.48 and the overall profit margin was xx% which is average for the industry. That doesn't rile anyone up because it's reasonable. The fact of the matter is that anyone who has any investments will do better while those without investments of course don't do better in an economic downturn. That applies to a billionaire, a millionaire and a "worker" with "$"50k in their 401k.

I'll broaden the conversation even further to say that, IMO, the biggest reason that there is so much division in the country these days is that the nature of the media has changed. It's now 24/7 and that's 24/7 to rile everyone up with sensationalized commentary.

If we just had newspapers and 30 minutes of national news (and I'm not suggesting trying to turn back the hands of time) the nation wouldn't be this divided on every subject, especially subjects where the average person isn't particularly well informed about in the first place.

Now we have someone with no education posting on Sciforums their personal theory of Quantum Physics.

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Last edited: Feb 3, 2023

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3. TiassaLet us not launch the boat ...Staff Member

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Don't go insulting other people like that. Your habit of saying stupid↗, inflammatory things is not admirable.

Just because you're not capable of meeting a standard, don't go trying to drag other people down with you.

You refuse to support your claims. You misrepresent people and make stuff up. That's not everybody's nature, so don't go trying to shit all over them trying to make yourself look clean.

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5. SeattleValued Senior Member

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I find this particularly interesting. As far as I can tell there is no evidence that the CFO "cooked" the books. He did commit suicide.

Bed Bath and Beyond was one of the "meme" stocks (along with Gamestop) that became popular with the Redit "wallstreetbets" sub group. They figured out that their group of small (usually young) retail investors could manipulate smaller stocks.

These were generally companies that weren't doing well and weren't being run particularly well. It started with Gamestop, a company that many of them visited frequently as kids. The company should have been out of business it was doing so poorly. Some hedge funds saw that and took large short positions (basically betting that the stock price would go down).

The Redit group had enough members to counteract that short position so, even though the company was crap, they focused their buying on that stock. It drove the price up way higher than the actual worth of the company but it created "a short squeeze" which just means that the price went up so high that if the hedge funds didn't cover their positions they would lose even more. To cover their positions means that they had to actually buy the shares (rather than short them) so that made the price of the stock go up even more.

The meme stock buyers then sold at that point and made a large profit. They also did the same thing with Bed Bath and Beyond. This manipulation only works with small companies (as opposed to Apple). It's also risky for all parties concerned but doing this during the "meme" stock craze worked for a while for some of them.

This has nothing to do with "cooking" the books and it has nothing to do with employees being laid off. They were laid off because the company was losing money and wasn't viable. The company would have gone bankrupt long ago if not for the manipulation of stock price by the Redit group.

The head of this group was a 20 year old student. So this has nothing to do with "predatory" capitalism, with rich CEO's profiting at the expense of employees.

This particular example isn't an example of thousands of employees losing their jobs while the wealthy are getting even wealthier.

This is a case of employees getting laid off because the company wasn't profitable. What's new? The people getting "wealthy" were college age retail investor kids manipulating the stock of these companies in a battle (in their minds) between them and hedge funds that were shorting a company.

None of this fits into the scenario of some problem with corporate america, the rich getting richer (which would always be the case) and people losing jobs due to corporate misfeasance.

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7. SeattleValued Senior Member

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So you don't think you are right when you post your blog everyday?

8. TiassaLet us not launch the boat ...Staff Member

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Well, I try to support my arguments; you complain when people support their arguments, and don't try to support your own. Don't hide behind other people.

Like I said, it's one thing if you're not up to it, but don't go trying to drag other people down with you.

9. TiassaLet us not launch the boat ...Staff Member

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"They need to grow up and be responsible." (#1↑)

"Why should those who are being responsible have to pay even more in taxes to pay for housing and 'basic income' to someone who chooses to take drugs?" (#7↑)

"The richest tended to get that way by starting a business … If they never started the company no one would be better off so what exactly is 'unfair' about any of this?" (#13↑)

"The more pertinent question should probably be, are 'you' paying your fair share?" (ibid)

It's actually kind of funny when someone says something like Wegs↑, that includes a note like, "I'm paraphrasing, but that's the gist," and then someone else responds as you did by declaring, "I've said nothing about [something specific]".

It's also kind of sad. Reading through your threads, she said, your general opinion seems. And she's paraphrasing. The response that one did not say something specific is one of the most overused fallacies this community knows.

Above are four examples from this thread, and each relies on the moral merit of people who are not homeless, addicted, or noncompetent. While we might be able to agree these aren't the Reagan years, all four are old conservative talking points dating at least to the Reagan administration.

And as you go on about how "everyone" who is "not poor" seems "to make better decisions", you only reinforce what Wegs said in #51↑: "Your posts on these topics sometimes suggest that you think most of the wealthiest people in America are all just smarter or worked harder or do all the things that hourly workers won't do." Or, per #56↑, "your general opinion seems to be that poor people choose to stay that way while the wealthy are harder workers, and plan better."

And let's take a moment for that: "Your general opinion seems to be that poor people choose to stay that way", Wegs said, and, yes, she got the gist of it.

Of course, maybe if we want to talk about poor people making bad decisions, trusting the wealthy about anything is going to top the list of bad decisions. Well, at least since the Reagan years.

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10. SeattleValued Senior Member

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8,397
You mention that I've made you sad. That's unfortunate. Maybe get outside for some fresh air and you'll feel better.

You've brought up my responses regarding drug addicts and paired them with a question about poverty. Some would say that's dishonest on your part, however it doesn't make me sad.

You frequently respond to a post by labeling something a fallacy or a Republican talking point, usually mentioning Reagan as well. That does nothing to strengthen any point you may be trying to make.

I could just refrain from responding to your reply by writing it off as progressive talking points but I don't.

I stand by my comments when taken in context. Drug addicts do need to grow up. Most (not all) poor people in the U.S. have made poor decisions.

Wealthy people aren't (as a class) the source of everyone's day to day problems. I haven't said that they are smarter or that they work harder. Why would I care how smart someone is or how hard they work?

It is true that if you start a company, and it turns out to be successful, that you may become wealthy because the price of your stock will go up. That doesn't take anything away from anyone else.

Starting a new company does expand the economy. Talking about profits vs wages isn't a good way to look at things. Wages are employees "profits".

Who, other than you, is talking about "trusting" the "wealthy"? Is it better to trust the poor, the middle class, drug addicts, the mentally ill? Does the question of trust even apply here?

You can talk about the Marxist economic views of "labor" and "workers" if you want. That's one viewpoint. I wouldn't respond with something like those are just talking points. I would address whatever concept you might bring up.

Are you through lecturing now? Don't be sad, be happy.

11. TiassaLet us not launch the boat ...Staff Member

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That's not quite how the phrase works. Then again, that you might be so easily confused is useful to know.

12. SeattleValued Senior Member

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8,397
That's all that you've gotten out of my long response? That says a lot too.

13. TiassaLet us not launch the boat ...Staff Member

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37,409
Three hundred words?

A'ight, then.

Twenty words for the apparent sake of mocking; no general value.

Thirty words, but you don't explain how that suggestion of dishonesty works, though for the apparent sake of mocking; again, these words are a waste.

Twenty words, though in truth you would denigrate yourself less if that was all you did.

Twenty-eight words. The first nine are obvious; of course you will, regarless of their context. The next seven suggest dangerous ignorance about addiction and behavior. The last twelve are a weird truism: Most people, in general, have made poor decisions in their lifetimes. Some people can afford certain mistakes, and, generally speaking, few of those poor people's poor decisions have created more poor people.

Remember, and especially during this period of increasing economic insecurity, one of the worst decisions poor people can make is to trust the wealthy. Indeed, many of those poor people are poor because, when, as you would have it↑, they were "being responsible", the wealthy went and wrecked the economy, losing trillions, devastating pensions and endowments. And then it happened again. What, did you miss those episodes? They are often referred to by their banner corporate scandal: There was the Enron debacle, and several years later the Bear Stearns collapse.

Meanwhile, go to Austin, Indiana, and tell those folks to grow up. How do you not know how the U.S. ended up in an opioid crisis? How reliable is so uninformed an analysis?

Thirty-nine words relying too much on what you didn't say, and expecting a question mark to carry a disproportionate burden.

Thirty-eight words describing a sterile, isolated, simplified example.

If wages are employee profits, then the workers' share of the profits are way behind.

(Really, did you think through those twenty-five words before you said them?)

Think about the idea that Walmart and McDonald's are long known to prefer public assistance for their employees over paying better wages, so, yeah, if you start a company and it turns out to be successful, the combination of low wages and wage theft won't take anything away from anyone else, or so you would seem to be explaining.

And while McDonald's settled a wage theft suit a couple years ago, it faces a much larger one filed last year. Still, anecdotally and locally, I recall seeing a local franchiser's company car rolling around the area, and thinking, hey, they have a new company car. It's not a large company; looking them up, they have five stores in the area. There are lots of companies like this, all throughout these United States. And they are, in many cases, the ones committing wage theft, the ones that can't afford to pay living wages, such that their full-time hourly employees still need rent assistance and food stamps. If you start a company, and even your full-time employees can't make a living, maybe you could explain what passes for being successful.

Thirty-three words desperately trying to miss the point. In order: You were talking about making better decisions, and I observed a particularly bad decision many people made; false dichotomy; circular inquiry depending on straw fallacy.

Thirty-eight empty words: If you were going to address what points I raise, you would have by now.

Think of it this way: See #28↑ above:

The sarcastic retort about an accountant falls flat because it derives from a pretense of confusion: You asserted↑, "There is no evidence that those with more assets have gotten those assets in any inappropriate or 'unfair' way"; I answered↑ explicitly, "Yes, assets were gained through deceit and impropriety", and offered examples; you, then, pretended confusion.

As a bit of sarcastic trolling, sure, it's worth whatever it's worth to you. But, yes, if you were going to address the points I raise, you would have by now.

Ten words.

Are you through begging for attention, now?

So, yeah, what was that? Was that all I got out of your response? What was I supposed to get?

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14. SeattleValued Senior Member

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Bear Stearns and Enron, do you think most poor people are poor because of Bear Stearns and Enron?
For the obsessed...18 words.

McDonald's and Walmart, like every company, pay market wages. They aren't responsible for matching an employee's needs to the job. That's the employee's responsibility. If you have expensive tastes, improve your skills to the point where you have more options that Walmart and McDonalds.

Is a job at McDonald's supposed to pay for an apartment in Seattle?
I'll let you count the words and write that number in your notebook.

15. gmilamValued Senior Member

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Do you need a human being to do that job? They have to live somewhere... And you would prefer they didn't live in a tent on the street. Correct?

16. SeattleValued Senior Member

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8,397
You probably don't need a human to do that job but the job pays whatever the market dictates, wouldn't you agree? Which means that eventually wages go up if there aren't enough job applicants, or the job is automated or McDonald's closes down in expensive areas.

There are no Walmart's in the city of Seattle, for instance. I'd like to live in Hawaii but I don't because the cost to do that is more than I want to pay. I'd also like to have a house in LaJolla (San Diego) but I don't move for similar reasons.

17. exchemistValued Senior Member

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I am thinking a bit about this issue at the moment because my son is 19 and at university. So he is just "booting up" on all the crap an adult has to learn to do, renewing his passport(s), dealing with the banks, paying tuition fees, driving lessons, finding accommodation for next year at uni...... He's not complaining, but he does comment on how much of it there seem to be.

18. gmilamValued Senior Member

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That's a real scattershot of a response. I'm just saying, if you don't pay enough for people to live in an apartment then they are going to be on the street. I thought that was obvious. Just more "mess to clean up".

19. SeattleValued Senior Member

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They could move just like you would more than likely do...or get roommates. That seems pretty obvious as well.

20. billvonValued Senior Member

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20,987
Yep. And most people are capable of doing that. Some are not, unfortunately. Not because they are lazy, but because that is simply beyond their capabilities.

I once worked as a maintenance worker in a park. One of my jobs was supervising a janitor. He had lost a finger while trying to change a paper towel roll (I could never get the details) and there was a lawsuit, so my job was to follow him around to make sure there were no more lawsuits. He did not have Down Syndrome - "I've been tested!" he once told me - but had about that level of intellectual ability. He could not do simple math, on the order of how much soap he needed to fill the dispensers. He had trouble with mops. He lived with his parents and had a reasonably happy life. And despite the lawsuit, the county really did try to take care of him (i.e. not fire him for all the days he didn't show up.)

If he had not had his parents and a government job that made a lot of allowances for him, he would likely be one of those people who simply could not figure out things like rent. Not because he was lazy, but because much of modern life was beyond his grasp.

21. SeattleValued Senior Member

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I agree that there is some percentage (3%?) that society just has to take care of, whether that's due to mental impairment or physical impairment (blind). When that's the case, we just need to get on with it and that's what early SS, Medicaid, and other forms of "welfare" are for.

I don't think the current situation is acceptable though, whether that's for the people directly involved or for the surrounding community.

There's also a lot of people that aren't part of that 3%. If you take drugs because you know that society will take care of you, that's not a good outcome. I live near a university. There are drop out students living on the streets, using drugs, that don't appear to have any mental or physical limitations. They are just making poor choices.

There are people who could just move somewhere else and get a job. I don't think there is anything wrong with "NIMBY". Do you want to live nextdoor to a drug treatment center for drop out students?

Do you want to live next door to section 8 housing (no matter if it fills a positive function in society)? Crime is always higher in those areas afterall.

People living under bridges where the fire department has to go everyday to put out fires, with the surrounding crime, needles and poop, that's not acceptable, IMO, regardless of the other circumstances.

My position isn't that people who need help shouldn't be helped. My position is that they aren't being helped and the community is going downhill at the same time that nothing effective is being done.

The solution isn't to just jack up property taxes even higher in places where they are already high. If the people are on the street due to high property prices (most aren't) then if makes no sense to make housing even less affordable by doing that.

The disagreements are not on should we have a better society. Most people agree with that. It's whether more discipline and efficiency is required vs just tree hugging well meaning actions that never work, IMO.

There isn't just one "right" way of thinking or of doing things even though that is the sentiment on many places of discussion, media and elsewhere. People tend to group with the like minded and everyone agrees that they are "right" and any other idea is "wrong". That's not reality.

Last edited: Feb 4, 2023
22. billvonValued Senior Member

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20,987
Agreed. I think those programs could use some work, but yes, that's a reasonable avenue.
The current homeless situation, you mean? I agree, but that's nothing new. It has never been acceptable.
Also agreed.
Yes, that's a subset of the homeless as well.
That's another subset, yes.
Well, there is something wrong with it if it means you can't deal with a homeless problem. (Or put in needed infrastructure, or stop wildfires, or secure a supply of water.) Any solution is going to negatively impact someone.
OK. I think in most cases there are effective programs that help the homeless. Seattle has a lot. They are not 100% effective, of course, and can always be improved.
That may be PART of the solution, but of course is not a complete solution. If someone identifies a program that would be significantly more effective/efficient than what we are doing now, then funding that through more taxation would make sense.
Well, given that I can define anything you want to do as a "well meaning tree hugging action that won't work" that's not a very useful division. However, I do agree that more efficiency would be great, and I would be all for such a solution. As I think you now realize, that may be possible - but is neither easy nor obvious.
Exactly! And no solution will be 100% effective, efficient, rapid or complete. It is a very hard problem that we will be working on for centuries; from the times of Jesus the problems of the poor have been seen as intractable. But we are trying, and that's a good sign.

23. SeattleValued Senior Member

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8,397
What do you think about "The Tragedy of the Commons" as it applies to this type of situation?