Occupy what? Does lack of clear leadership discount a protest?

I’m tired of people armchair quarterbacking the entire “Occupy Wall Street” movement.

You can’t protest without knowing exactly what you are protesting? You must have a clear vision statement. Without a mission we need to form a panel to come up with recommendations that are acceptable to a majority, and of course, politically correct.

I can’t join them because my job depends on Wall Street.

The list goes on.

The media, not quite sure of what the hell this is, has discounted “the movement” and given it short mention. A favorite thing to do is grab on to the most odd demands to try to marginalize the whole- I’ve heard more people run their mouths about the PETA sounding parts of the manifesto- complaining that animals don’t deserve a part in the discussion- much the way industrialists like to call environmental science poppycock if it means they actually have to spend some money to make sure they don’t dump toxic waste into the land/air/seas.

To be truthful, the whole thing reminds me of the 1984 (how appropriate) movie “Footloose“- where a young Kevin Bacon (later to be known for only being 6 degrees from everyone) comes to a town where dancing and listening to rock music is illegal, and proceeds to teach them to dance. Does it really take a leader to show you how to do something that most people can manage to do pretty naturally? Must we be able to  dance  only like “Dancing with the Stars” in order to shake our groove thing? Do we have to have approval to be able to stand up and say “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore” (as long as we’re using movie metaphors).

It’s time to talk about what politics in the United States has devolved to (and as an active participant- having run for office, or tried to, more times than any of you will ever dream to) I feel qualified to tell you: the “2 party system” isn’t the democrats vs the republicans anymore- it’s purely just the rich vs the rest of us. Why does it cost a million to run for Congress and Presidential campaigns cost billions? Our elections are more like auctions, our laws are written by lobbyists who get paid much more that the people we supposedly select to do our lobbying for us (that’s what we elect people for).

Yes, we have too much government, and yes it’s become to complex, and our laws aren’t even ours anymore, but who cares? The Occupy Wall Street movement doesn’t have a soundbite speaking head that looks like he’s from central casting. Nope, they look like us (well at least some do).

Even the President sort of is getting it, in his press conference yesterday:

“These days, a lot of folks who are doing the right thing aren’t rewarded, and a lot of folks who aren’t doing the right thing are rewarded,”

via ‘Occupy Wall Street’ Protests Offer Obama Opportunity and Threats – NYTimes.com.

Does that sum it up for you? Does that explain the part about 1% of the country having the ability to control the other 99%

When the limits on corporations donating to political campaigns were lifted by the Supreme Court, it should have been the last straw, the people of this country should have risen up instantly and demanded an overthrow of the government, but, no, we’ve been beaten down for so long that most didn’t see it as the final straw, they just took it in stride like the other sinful screwings of the people who are subsisting on the scraps the rich don’t care about.

Somehow, “The American Dream” now includes wealth and riches beyond compare. We all may not be able to make millions playing basketball like Michael Jordan, but we can all be Steve Jobs and sell our VW microbus and rise to the top of Apple and be worth a paltry $7 billion (one Wall Street hedge fund guy took home $5 Billion in one year- and Delphi retiree’s have no clue where their pension fund went, really?)

My American dream was always different. As a first generation American, it was the freedom to speak freely, the right to protest, the right to be equal under the laws that made this country great.

Think about who buys elections these days, think about who provides your “news” and think about how equal is it when you go bankrupt and lose everything, but when Goldman Sach’s does it- your tax dollars prop them up?

Do you really need a leader to tell you that this isn’t the same country anymore?

It’s time to learn how to dance to your own interpretation of this mess- by joining the “occupy” movement. It’s OK to just shake your fist without having someone tell you why or how. Just know that if you aren’t just a little mad at the way things have turned out, you’re either stinking rich, sucking on their teat, in denial or too tired to do anything about it.

You shouldn’t need me, or anyone else to tell you that our democracy died.

Let’s bring it back.

Occupy Dayton, Courthouse Square, 2:30 to 4:30 Saturday Oct. 8, 2011. You are invited.

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29 Responses

  1. Carl October 7, 2011 / 9:14 am
    Okay, so to start a Super PAC called “The 99% PAC”. Use the anonymous donations in aggregate to fund populist politics?
  2. Greg Hunter October 7, 2011 / 10:11 am
    Sorry I tire of the Jobs metaphor as he was quintessential American businessman…..Design it in America, use cheap chinese labor and sell it at a huge markup to the first world and make a shit ton on the stock….Carnegie did it in America and then felt guilty and built libraries….Carnegie could have paid his workers more money just like Jobs could have….Jobs worked perfectly in the system he never upset the apple cart and kept his eyes on the prize….I suspect Mr. Brin will have more influence in the future of the world system than jobs ever attempted…..Jobs was a hell of inventor and team builder
  3. Pat Offenberger October 8, 2011 / 1:51 am
    OK, so let me get this straight. The Tea Party starts, gets called racists and terrorist for protesting, and we don’t hear a word of support from you, and they had a defined message, they were mad as hell at being taxed to death. This starts, with the usual suspects from the WTO and G-8 Summit protests, with no defined message, and a HUGE sense of entitlement, and they’re good? PLEASE?
     
    David, you claim to detest either party, yet you’re gushing about this? What this is to this old truck driver is the start of Obama’s re-election campaign. He’s succeeded in mobilizing a part of his core support from 2008, and convince them his policies have not been the cause of their not having jobs. He’s pitting the voters who helped elect him against the people who contributed HUGE dollars to elect him. New York City is hardly a bastion of conservatives.
     
    I’ve read through some of the tripe being offered as their goals, a college education is now a “human right?” I’m guessing that’s a FREE college education?
     
    I’ve read some of your recent blogs about crime in your neighborhood, and thefts of property from you. It seems to me the criminals who helped themselves to your property are simply using the direct method of obtaining your property, rather than waiting till you give it to them, as the core group who started this “occupy” movement seem to be suggesting. That’s a “slippery slope” problem, should these people succeed in extorting money from their current “enemy”, what stops them from lowering the annual income standard of people they want their wealth from? Much like the initial “tax the rich’ mantra of Obama, first it was Billionaires, then Millionaires, now it’s dropped to 200K for a single taxpayer.
     
    Yes, I endorse the Democrats hopping on this ill fated band wagon, this idiocy will convince most everyone except the most indoctrinated Obama supporter that these people leading this country are insane, and we’ll see Barry return to Chicago (and the lucrative speaking tour circuit) instead of killing our economy completely.
  4. Emily Weaver October 8, 2011 / 12:47 pm
    PAT – you are my new best friend!  My personal favorite in this whole “occupy Wall Street” has been how all these “occupiers” have really expensive lap tops/smart phone/ while they B-ch about not having a job.  Then there was the occupier who was mad that food stamps don’t cover her cat food.  So she had to give the cat away.  If you cant feed yourslef how on earth are you going to feed a cat?!  David (psst, I case you missed the memo…) you are THE MAN that these occupiers are crying about.  You are a business owner and that $200K limit is gonna get YOUR taxes (and I mean really hard).  My accountant has advised me (as a small biz owner) to “Try to make less”.  Not to mention the fact that I work every single day (self employed you never leave your job).  Yes 1% is at the top and they do pay alot but what about the other 53% who pay for the other 46% who pay ZERO?  How much longer can you hold on to the idea that welfare is a hand up?  It has crippled the poor into staying POOR.  Section 8 housing which now can be anywhere in the City has to offer a class to receipients on how to (and I’m not kidding) Be a GOOD neighbor.  Why would Sec 8 folk care about the home they are in – they DON”T own it and haven’t a clue how/what goes into homeownership. DE you are PO b/c you can’t refi your home.  Why weren’t you bitchin back in 2004-2007 when the values in South Park were up?  Way up?
  5. David Esrati October 8, 2011 / 5:19 pm

    @pat & @Emily I’ve been to dinner with the kids of a man in the top 300 wealthiest in the world. Have you ever seen a “bedazzled” cell phone- covered in diamonds? That’s an expensive phone.

    As a small business owner, I must be doing something very wrong, because taxes on incomes over $200K a year won’t do a thing to me.

    But- to me, this movement is less about lowering taxes, raising taxes, or “free college”- it’s about returning sanity to the global financial “system” that now has entire countries going bankrupt.

    Money is for barter- not to play monopoly. After you have all the property and all the money- who is left to play?

    My number one hope for this movement is that we stop holding auctions for office- and move to a taxpayer financed political campaign system. No more lobbyists- no more corporations buying legislation- no more spending $5 billion with the mass media to tell us soundbites that mean nothing.

    If we have true campaign finance reform – we may be able to push other reforms- like no more corporate welfare.

    That GE moved into Dayton with a $15 million tax abatement (donation) is criminal.

  6. Ice Bandit October 12, 2011 / 10:05 pm
    …does a lack of clear leadership discount a protest, dear David? No, but a collection of incoherent demands ranging from free tuition to demonizing hamburgers sure the hell does…
  7. joe_mamma October 14, 2011 / 7:48 am
    “@pat & @Emily I’ve been to dinner with the kids of a man in the top 300 wealthiest in the world. Have you ever seen a “bedazzled” cell phone- covered in diamonds? That’s an expensive phone.” – DE

    That’s not an expensive phone…those are expensive diamonds.  Their phones are essentially the same as yours or mine.  Flash back 25 years.  The wealthiest 300 could have diamond encrusted cell phones, albeit very large cell phones.  Those of us in the middle class would have likely forgone even just the cell phone luxury due to the $9,000 price tag.  The standard of living for the vast majority of middle and low income Americans is closer to the wealthiest 300 than it was 25 years ago. 

  8. David Lauri October 16, 2011 / 7:37 pm
    joe_mamma says, “The standard of living for the vast majority of middle and low income Americans is closer to the wealthiest 300 than it was 25 years ago.”
     
    In 2003 Mars was 35 million miles from Earth, the closest it will be until 2287. When Mars and Earth are farthest apart from one another they are 249 million miles apart. Compare that to the moon, which at its farthest from Earth is about about 250,000 miles away. At its closest Mars’ distance from Earth is 140 times the distance between Earth and the moon; at its farthest, Mars’ distance from Earth is 996 times the distance between Earth and the moon. So, sure, in 2003, Mars was closer to Earth than it had been, but it wasn’t exactly close.
     
    Similarly, joe_mamma is correct that most people these days have cell phones, something that when first available only wealthy people could afford. Middle and low income Americans’ standard of living is closer to that of the wealthiest 300 Americans, much in the same way that Mars was closer to Earth in 2003 than it had been for a while.
     
    Just as Mars, even when it is closer to Earth, is not close to Earth, so too is the standard of living of middle and low income Americans not close to that of the wealthiest 300.
     
    According to Forbes’ 2011 list of billionaires, the richest billionaire in the United States, Bill Gates, has a net worth of $56 billion. The 300th richest billionaires in the United States (it’s a tie amongst S. Daniel Abraham, Edward Bass, Drayton McLane, Phoebe Hearst Cooke and several more) each have net worths of $1.5 billion.
     
    According to a Pew Research Center report from July 2011, in 2009 the median net worth of white households was $113,149, the median net worth of Hispanic households was $6,325 and the median net worth of black households was $5,677.
     
    Doing some comparison of median net worth of households with even the poorest of America’s top 300 rich people (each of whom has a net worth of $1.5 billion), that means that S. Daniel Abraham has 13,257 times as much net worth as the median white household, 237,154 times as the median Hispanic household, and 264,224 times as much as the median black household.
     
    Remember, at its farthest, Mars’ distance from Earth is 996 times the distance between Earth and the moon. Saying “[t]he standard of living for the vast majority of middle and low income Americans is closer to the wealthiest 300 than it was 25 years ago” is about, at best, 13 times as stupid and at worst, 264 times as stupid as saying that Mars was close to Earth in 2003.
     
    What does having $1.5 billion in net worth mean?  It means you never have to worry about roaming charges on your cell phone.  It means you never have to worry about losing and replacing your cell phone.  It means you never have to worry about having health insurance.  It means you don’t have to worry about paying for your kids’ college tuition.  It means you never have to worry about losing your job.  It means you never have to worry about money at all, ever.
     
    I’ve read some ludicrous things on Esrati.com but joe_mamma’s comparison of the standard of living of the average American to that of the wealthiest 300 really takes the cake.
  9. David Esrati October 16, 2011 / 8:50 pm

    Bravo David Lauri!

    #joe mama- I don’t think you are even in the same solar system with your hypocrisy.

    Alan Grayson- former D state rep gets it in less than a minute: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AcjeUFodYfQ&sns=fb

  10. Shortwest Rick October 16, 2011 / 11:51 pm
    @joe_mamma ‘The standard of living for the vast majority of middle and low income Americans is closer to the wealthiest 300 than it was 25 years ago. ‘

    If you believe that you must be a billionaire, let’s talk . Give me some pointers on how to get filthy rich extracting tax money from the system intended for services to benefit the people paying the taxes. 

  11. John Ise October 17, 2011 / 9:25 am
    Alan Grayson is my hero!
  12. bobby October 17, 2011 / 10:25 am
     The US govenment budget deficit for 2011 is 1.3 trillion. The entire net worth of the richest 400 people in the US is 1.5 trillion.  Increasing taxes on the super rich without significant decreases in government spending solves nothing. 
     
  13. bobby October 17, 2011 / 11:40 am
      Alan Grayson’s antagonist in the you tube clip is PJ O’Rourke. O’Rourke wrote “Parliment of Whores” in 1991. His disdain for politicians pointing the blame at others could be found in book’s the table of contents, ‘The three branches of government: Money, television and bullshit’, and ‘Setting the chickens to watch the henhouse’.  Grayson’s ommission of the government’s complicity and failure in the issues he champions is worthy of O’Roark’s cynicism. He has seen it before.
     
  14. Pat Offenberger October 17, 2011 / 5:12 pm
    Still, the question remains, how is it these protesters are seen as a noble cause, while the Tea Party was/is seen as terrorists?
  15. joe_mamma October 17, 2011 / 5:50 pm
    “Similarly, joe_mamma is correct that most people these days have cell phones, something that when first available only wealthy people could afford. Middle and low income Americans’ standard of living is closer to that of the wealthiest 300 Americans, much in the same way that Mars was closer to Earth in 2003 than it had been for a while.” DL
    Not just cellphones…most things we take for granted every day…
    In 1975 the avg. non-supervisory wage was $4.87 per hour.  That’s $20.16 per hour  in 2011 dollars.  The avg non-supervisory wage in 2011 is about $19.00 per hour.
    1975 price for a dozen eggs $3.19 (2011 dollars).  Hours needed to work 0.16 hrs
    2011 – $1.58 or 0.08 hrs worked
    Gallon of milk – 1975 price $6.50 (2011 dollars) Hours needed to work  0.32 hrs
    2011 – $3.62 or  0.19 hours
    Whole Chicken/lb –  1975 price $3.35 (2011 dollars) – hours need to work 0.18 hrs
    2011  $1.31  or 0.07 hours
    1975 – 42 inch Console TV $3,103.97 (2011 dollars) – hours needed to work 154 hrs
    2011 – 55 inch Sony Bravia $1,600 —hours needed to work   84 hours
    1975 – Small tv 12in  $405.41 (2011 dollars) – hours need to work 20 hours
    2011 – Samsung 19in $179.99 —hours needed to work  9.5 hours
    1975 – Portable cassette player $246.27 (2011 dollars) – hours needed to work 12.2 hours
    2011 – 8 Gig iPod nano $179 or 7.8 hours
    1975 –Cartridge loading electric typewriter $1,054.73 (2011 dollars)  or  57.3 hours
    2011 – Mac Air Book $999 or  52.6hours
    1975 – Side by Side Fridge n Freezer  $2,814.28 (2011 dollars) or 139.6 hours
    2011—GE Side by Side Fridge n Freezer $1,124.10 or 59.2 hours
    1975 –Stylish hound’s tooth flat front men’s slacks $41.35 (2011 dollars) or 2.1 hours
    2011 – Men’s flat front Docker’s  $29.99 or 1.6 hours
    You can play the class warfare card all you like, but it does not change the facts.  25 years ago much of what you consider to part of your everyday life was not as affordable to the middle class where as it was very affordable for the wealthy.
    “#joe mama- I don’t think you are even in the same solar system with your hypocrisy.” –
    Seriously….what was hypocritical? 
    “What does having $1.5 billion in net worth mean?  It means you never have to worry about roaming charges on your cell phone.  It means you never have to worry about losing and replacing your cell phone.  It means you never have to worry about having health insurance.  It means you don’t have to worry about paying for your kids’ college tuition.  It means you never have to worry about losing your job.  It means you never have to worry about money at all, ever.”  DL
    Very true.  The key word is “ever”.  It has always been that way.  The uber rich has always had diamond encrusted thingamajigs.  But the rest of us have not always been able to afford those thingamajigs let alone the diamonds.
    “If you believe that you must be a billionaire, let’s talk . Give me some pointers on how to get filthy rich extracting tax money from the system intended for services to benefit the people paying the taxes.” SR 
    Not a billionaire.  Just a working class Joe with a mortgage just like you I suppose.  
  16. Ice Bandit October 17, 2011 / 10:42 pm
    …yessir joe_mamma, when the Davids (Lauri and Esrati) wax this indignant it can only mean one thing; someone is getting awfully close to the truth…
  17. David Lauri October 17, 2011 / 11:16 pm
    You should give the source of your price comparisons, joe_mamma.  They come from a presentation given by Don Boudreaux on July 25, 2011 at Cato University. See http://cafehayek.com/2011/07/stagnating-middle-class.html for Boudreaux’s post about his presentation and a link to his PowerPoint with the examples you quote (as well as a lively discussion in the comments).
     
    So sure, the “[t]he standard of living for the vast majority of middle and low income Americans is closer to the wealthiest 300 than it was 25 years ago” but “closer” is most definitely nowhere near “close.”
     
    Go watch the TV show The Big C.  It tells about what happens to a family when the wife gets diagnosed with terminal cancer.  For the middle class family depicted in this show, managing the bills they incur because of the wife’s cancer is a big deal.  The husband’s losing his job, perhaps because the company for which he works wants to eliminate the expense of covering his wife on their insurance, is a big deal.  Having access to health insurance was a big deal for the average American in 1975 and it’s still a big deal in 2011.  It’s no big deal whatsoever for people who have a net worth of $1.5 billion — they don’t need insurance, don’t have to worry about deductibles or co-pays and can pay out of pocket for state of the art treatment.  You want to come back and tell me how much better things have gotten for low and middle income Americans when it comes to that?
     
    Or consider that the average American spends 30% of income on housing.  Lose your job, and you’re likely to be unable to make your mortgage payments, which given the high unemployment we now have is part of why so many people are in foreclosure and in danger of losing their homes.  Do you suppose that Bill Gates is ever going to have to worry about losing his home (nicknamed “Xanadu 2.0” and appraised for taxes at a value of $147.5 million)?  The standard of living for the richest Americans is that they don’t have to worry about making mortgage payments or losing their homes; the standard of living for low and middle income Americans is nowhere close to that.
     
    Focusing on the couple inches “closer” that middle and low income Americans have gotten to the rich is a distraction and ignores the real issues that middle and low income Americans face.  Nice try, joe_mamma.
  18. Pat Offenberger October 17, 2011 / 11:37 pm
    Oh come on, “The Big C” represents real life to you? The wife is a teacher, why would her husband’s insurance plan matter? Yeah, I know how it’s depicted on the show, amazing, TV and movie producers and directors make their story line match what “reality” they want to show.
     
    I’ll agree, the uber rich don’t worry about interest rates on mortgages, or car loans, or insurance co-pays. So? Tell me that we don’t have hospitals where people are treated regardless of whether they show an insurance card or not. Gee, with the Obama team in place, we see income levels to qualify for food stamps raised to $50,000.00. So tell me again how horribly we treat those in our society that have less. Hell, based on current income levels for food stamps, my wife and I would qualify. The difference is, we were raised to deal with our bills versus income without accepting government assistance.
  19. joe_mamma October 18, 2011 / 7:40 am
    David L…I purposely left out healthcare costs, education and housing.  Why?  Because they are the products with a heavy government influence in their markets.    Ironically the more the government sticks their nose into them directly and indirectly the more expensive and/or screwed up they get.”
     
    “Go watch the TV show The Big C.  It tells about what happens to a family when the wife gets diagnosed with terminal cancer.  For the middle class family depicted in this show, managing the bills they incur because of the wife’s cancer is a big deal.  The husband’s losing his job, perhaps because the company for which he works wants to eliminate the expense of covering his wife on their insurance, is a big deal.  Having access to health insurance was a big deal for the average American in 1975 and it’s still a big deal in 2011.  It’s no big deal whatsoever for people who have a net worth of $1.5 billion — they don’t need insurance, don’t have to worry about deductibles or co-pays and can pay out of pocket for state of the art treatment.  You want to come back and tell me how much better things have gotten for low and middle income Americans when it comes to that?”  DL
    It is better. By most accounts cancer survival rates have doubled the last 30 years.
    Or consider that the average American spends 30% of income on housing.”  DL
    No doubt.  But the average American doesn’t have to spend 30% of their income in housing.  The average cost per square foot in the US has been relatively stable the last 30 years or so.  The average size of houses has increased dramatically, so people are spending more on their houses by choice.
    Lose your job, and you’re likely to be unable to make your mortgage payments, which given the high unemployment we now have is part of why so many people are in foreclosure and in danger of losing their homes.   DL
    It’s always been that way.  This isn’t a new phenomenon.   The only way to ensure that doesn’t happen is for the government to own all houses and to allocate them to people to use.  But that’s….{insert “B.S. Scare Word”}.
    “Focusing on the couple inches “closer” that middle and low income Americans have gotten to the rich is a distraction and ignores the real issues that middle and low income Americans face.  Nice try, joe_mamma.”  DL
    I would hardly call a standard of living that is the envy of most of the world a “couple” of inches.  The real distraction is having a slew of ne’er do wells unaware of reality acting like this is the worst it has ever been and lamenting how hard it is to actually pay your mortgage and student loans all the while tweeting it to the world on their new iPhone4.   Gee no time in the past have people ever had problems finding jobs, paying mortgages etc…heck they didn’t even have iPhones with or without diamonds.

     

  20. Shortwest Rick October 18, 2011 / 1:00 pm
    @j_m “Not just cellphones…most things we take for granted every day…
    In 1975 the avg. non-supervisory wage was $4.87 per hour.  That’s $20.16 per hour  in 2011 dollars.  The avg non-supervisory wage in 2011 is about $19.00 per hour.1975 price for a dozen eggs $3.19 (2011 dollars).  Hours needed to work 0.16 hrs2011 – $1.58 or 0.08 hrs worked…”

    I have a slight problem with this presentation. Although it shows that through technological advances every day items cost less to produce in 2011 than they did in 1975, it in no way addresses the difference in buying power of the top 300 and the average Joe relevant to 1975 and 2011.  Can you say smoke screen?

  21. joe_mamma October 18, 2011 / 4:10 pm
    “I have a slight problem with this presentation. Although it shows that through technological advances every day items cost less to produce in 2011 than they did in 1975, it in no way addresses the difference in buying power of the top 300 and the average Joe relevant to 1975 and 2011.  Can you say smoke screen?’ SR

    Not really.  Unlike the average American, it doesn’t matter for the analysis because the top 300 wealthiest have never had an issue acquiring these things.   That’s why DE’s example of the bedazzled cell phone is so perfect.  15-20 years ago a cell phone by itself was a status symbol.  Now the wealthy need to decorate them with diamonds, because  even the highest end cell phone is within reach of the average American. 

    BTW these things aren’t just cheaper because of technology, it is also because of increased trade.

  22. Shortwest Rick October 18, 2011 / 10:45 pm
    Well sir, I have to give you points and a thumbs up check mark on that but… you still haven’t convinced me that  ‘The standard of living for the vast majority of middle and low income Americans is closer to the wealthiest 300 than it was 25 years ago. ‘
  23. Ice Bandit October 19, 2011 / 7:05 am
    …well Shortwest Rick, if you still need convincing that joe_momma is 100 percent correct (as usual) please consider the following; it wasn’t that long ago that the diagnosis of polycystic kidney failure was a death sentence. Today, hundreds of thousands receive life-extending dialysis with no consideration of the patient’s financial situation. And when JFK was President, he and Jackie had a son named Patrick, the first baby born of a First Lady since “Baby Ruth” Cleveland. Several weeks premature, Patrick died within 30 days leaving an entire nation in mourning. Today, even the poorest mother need not lose a child due to premature birth. Perhaps most significantly, the recent US Census Bureau report on low-income Americans confirms that there is no difference in protein and mineral consumption in the diets of Americans regardless of income. Gone are the rickets, bow-legs, discolored teeth, stunted growth and other banes that poverty-diets once inflicted. This change is on display every Friday night on the high-school football fields and basketball courts when the athletes from inner city schools flash toned bodies and perfect smiles. The left was mysteriously silent about the aforementioned Census report released several weeks ago, for it revealed that most low income Americans have air-conditioning (a luxury only afforded the wealthy in the 1970s) as well as cable television, cars, computers and internet access. Methinks it is the relative youth of many posting here who have never seen first-hand the impact that real poverty can have on a populus. The Old Bandito is only scratching the surface here, and finds it strange that folks using computers, a device available only to the government and Universities’ in this writer’s lifetime, can complain about a gap not being closed…
  24. David Lauri October 20, 2011 / 9:30 pm
    In an article yesterday entitled “The American Dream moves to Denmark,” David Frum says:

    America, however, is a society of widening inequality, hardening class lines, and stagnating living standards for most people. And all of these trends rely on numbers from before the economic crisis and before the election of Barack Obama.

    In that same article, Frum quotes Rick Santorum, who in Tuesday’s GOP debate said:

    Believe it or not, studies have been done that show that in Western Europe, people at the lower parts of the income scale actually have a better mobility going up the ladder now than in America.

     
    Check out Frum’s article for a link to to a study conducted at the Brookings Institution, “Getting Ahead or Losing Ground: Economic Mobility in America,” that reports on how many Americans manage to move up the economic ladder, compared to people in other countries. As Frum points out, if you go to page 39 of the Brookings report, you’ll see that people in France, Germany, Sweden, Canada, Finland, Norway and Denmark have more economic mobility than do people in the United States.
     
    Also, in an article today entitled “McArdle: Inequality Is So Five Minutes Ago,” Timothy Noah pushes back against claims by Megan McArdle that the financial crisis has stopped the growth of income inequality:

    Barring major changes in government policy (changes I would welcome even at the expense of book sales!) I see no reason to believe that the 32-year trend in income inequality will end anytime soon, and every reason to believe the precise opposite: It will get worse.

     
    Yes, many consumer good are cheaper than in the past (but they’re cheaper not just for poor and middle income people but for rich people as well), but the fact that lower and middle income people today can now afford goods that were formerly affordable only by the wealthy does not mean that there aren’t new luxuries now affordable only by the wealthy.
     
    Joe_mamma’s claim that “The standard of living for the vast majority of middle and low income Americans is closer to the wealthiest 300 than it was 25 years ago” is not borne out by the evidence of the widening income gap between poor and rich.

  25. David Esrati October 21, 2011 / 12:07 pm

    @David Lauri- Frum is the alternate commentator on Marketplace to Robert Reich. Very rarely do I agree with his positions- mostly sounding like more “trickle down” voodoo economics- so when he agrees that the split is getting larger and causing issue, lookout.

    I think the reeling in of salary ratio’s with every company that does business with the Federal Government would be an instant wakeup call- no one gets paid more than 20x the median company pay- or no government work.

    That would mean the CEO of Caresource wouldn’t make $3 mill a year- on medicaid dollars, that GE wouldn’t pay their C-suite 20 million a year- while taking tax abatement from local school districts etc.

  26. Jesse October 21, 2011 / 12:11 pm
    “Standard of living” and income are not the same thing.  “Standard of living” is about how well you live.  Compare the poorest 10 % of Americans to 70% the population on Earth.  Advantage bottom 10% of Americans.  Compare the poorest 10% of Americans to the top 1% 100 years ago.  Advantage bottom 10% of Americans.

    Moving between income classes is a very complex issue that is much more dependent on age and education than is being represented here.  It is also true that if the top 20% are stretching the bounds of what it means to accumulate wealth that the gap is wider and the ability to move between brackets is harder not because of some devious method but because of the nature of math.  This doesn’t mean that people who don’t attain that income level are living worse.

    This data is also always taken in terms of household incomes.  The biggest single difference between the income brackets is number of workers per household.  The bottom 20% on this scale have less than 1 income earner per household.  The low middle 20% on this scale have 1 income earner per household (the Median household income is also in this bracket and has 1.3 income earners per household).  The middle 20% have an average of over 1.65 income earners per household.  The top middle 20% have 2 income earners per household.  The top 20% (who only earn $100,000 per year as a household…not exactly rich) have an average of over 2 income earners per household.  The two largest reasons for movement between ranges are: 1) change in marital status and 2) a change in job status.  

    I agree with the underlying point that the ability to be successful in America is going the wrong way.  I disagree emphatically with the analysis that government growth and “better regulation” will help this.  We have seen exactly the opposite in example after example (Hong Kong, South Korea, Vietnam, etc.) and in our own history.  Less regulation and smaller government is necessary to increase wealth, standard of living and income mobility.

     

  27. joe_mamma October 21, 2011 / 3:40 pm
    Joe_mamma’s claim that “The standard of living for the vast majority of middle and low income Americans is closer to the wealthiest 300 than it was 25 years ago” is not borne out by the evidence of the widening income gap between poor and rich. DL
    Income and standard of living are not  the same thing and they are not proportional to each other.  If the government raises the minimum wage to $100,000 will standards of living rise? No.
    If a wealthy family’s income all of the sudden rises and they buy  a fifth Bentley (instead of their normal four)  has their standard of living risen more than a middle class family that all of the sudden can buy a second car? No.  The middle class family’s standard of living rose more.
    “Yes, many consumer good are cheaper than in the past (but they’re cheaper not just for poor and middle income people but for rich people as well), but the fact that lower and middle income people today can now afford goods that were formerly affordable only by the wealthy does not mean that there aren’t new luxuries now affordable only by the wealthy.” – DL
    But that has always been the case and always will be the case.   There are two ways to fix that…
    1.       Somehow suspend the law of supply and demand so that a low supply and high demand for these new luxuries does not  generate a price premium.
    2.       Have the government force equalized incomes through (insert “B.S.” scare word).  Of course then why would the person invent the luxury or a company  produce it at that point if their reward is going to be mostly taken from them.    
    I think the reeling in of salary ratio’s with every company that does business with the Federal Government would be an instant wakeup call- no one gets paid more than 20x the median company pay- or no government work.
    That would mean the CEO of Caresource wouldn’t make $3 mill a year- on medicaid dollars, that GE wouldn’t pay their C-suite 20 million a year- while taking tax abatement from local school districts etc. DE
    “The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.” – Friedrich Hayek
  28. David Lauri November 2, 2011 / 11:29 am
    On October 17, Pat Offenberger said, “Tell me that we don’t have hospitals where people are treated regardless of whether they show an insurance card or not.”

    Today on Facebook I saw an interesting photo that tells Pat exactly that.  It’s one of the 99%, a cancer survivor, holding up a sign summarizing his struggles to get treatment. From his sign:

    Minimum wage and part-time insurance meant I needed Arizona’s welfare, AHCCCS (Access), or I needed to gather my affairs.
    Minimum wage meant I made too much money, according to Arizona, and I was denied Access.
    Cancer solved the problem and removed my ability to work.
    Access approved.

     
    There, Pat, you’ve been granted your wish.  Someone has told you “that we don’t have hospitals where people are treated regardless of whether they show an insurance card or not.”

  29. J Dziwulski November 2, 2011 / 8:28 pm
    I think the Occupy movement here in Dayton is pretty amazing on how something just snowballed from just a few folks to probably around 30 to 50 people showing up (fairly consistently).  I dont think its true to say there is NO leadership, sort of a group of people who show up most of the time.  There are also committees that meet that look into things or handle things, like the the finances, etc.  I’m on one (just joined last Saturday) that is looking into doing direction action around foreclosures and evictions, similar to what’s being done in Minneapolis and Des Moines.

    Here’s an article on it

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/28/midwest-occupy-wall-street-foreclosure-mess_n_1064148.html

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