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Wealth Inequality in America  RSS feed

 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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I just re-watched this video from 2013 about wealth inequality in America.

It's always puzzling to me how the majority of people - no matter what side of the political fence they're on - envision a more equitable distribution of wealth than what we currently have (even if they don't know it!). But at the same time, there is a very vocal group of people - who are not part the uber wealthy - who argue that our current situation is capitalism working as it was envisioned.

So....capitalism was always headed in the direction of corporate oligarchy? Remember when our government used to break up monopolies (remember when "Ma Bell" was broken up into all the "Baby Bells"?) for a healthier economy and to stimulate competition and innovation?

I know we're not going to solve our financial issues here but I'd like to get some of your insights on this video.


 
Robert Ray
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I am still in shock from the "Affuenza" defense used in the DUI accident recently. The Kennedey " I was under the infuence by accident" defense really bothered me as well.
Justice inequaity is a problem, wealthy/connected vs majority bugs the shit out of me.
 
John Elliott
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Even monkeys know what is fair and what is unfair:



I think the wealthy need to go on a diet of cucumbers -- after handing over some of their rocks.
 
Renate Howard
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Keep in mind that 10% of the population has a drug or alcohol addiction problem. IMHO that accounts for a lot of poverty, when they spend their money up on meth or crack then have none left for food and bills, can't hold down a job because they miss work because they're high.

A big problem in our country is that people don't MIX with others in their communities who are different. To the druggies, they mostly only know other druggies, drunks have bar friends, etc. I have a friend who used to pop pills. Her beliefs about the people in my community are so completely different from mine - I know the earthy crunchy farm types and the moms of kids, she knew all the meth labs, drug addicts, etc. And the areas overlap considerably, but the attitudes not at all and the people rarely mix and don't seem to know much about each other.

And that's just an example -there are the vets who only share what they're going through with other vets, farmers hang together to talk cows and crops, etc. parents of deformed kids who stay out of public altogether...

I'm not saying everyone who is poor is to blame, but most people form opinions about poverty without getting to know any actual poor people, and if they do know a few, don't know all the different groups and reasons.

& then there are people who don't want money and choose to live outside the monetary system but don't think of themselves as poor at all, tho they have very little cash.
 
Ann Torrence
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Jennifer Wadsworth wrote:But at the same time, there is a very vocal group of people - who are not part the uber wealthy - who argue that our current situation is capitalism working as it was envisioned.

This is exactly what is predicted by free market economic theory, if it isn't romanticized. As an individual actor in a free market economy, it is in my best interest (and free market capitalism assumes that actors are rational and act in their own best interests) to subvert the competitive market in favor of monopoly. The theory of the market is that another individual will outcompete me, but that doesn't always stay in balance. The free market benefits the aggregate, but not the individual who has an edge, applies force to the edge, and can cut the market to ribbons. Sometimes another actor can come along with a great idea and the capital to reinvigorate the market with innovation, but I think where people pull the blinders down is in acknowledging how hard it is to displace some actors who have gamed the political system as well as the economic market.

Some industries where it is too easy to concentrate control (railways in the 1800s are the classic example of an oligopoly), we attempted to regulate, but the political machine is too easily subverted, all the while maintaining the illusion of competition. And there is no rational reason for an individual to voluntarily relinquish a monopoly advantage, once gained. Altruism is not free market economics.

Don't get me wrong, I think the free market is the best way to allocate goods, labor and resources, but only when the market conditions are truly free. You are not a willing buyer who can walk away from a poor deal when you need an ambulance. When it works, it works better than anything humans have invented, but some people exalt the concept to the point where they can't see that it doesn't fit every situation. Even Adam Smith wasn't the ideologue favoring an unbridled free market that his current admirers assume.

But what do I know? I took Econ 101 from a Marxist economist at a liberal institution of higher learning.
 
David Livingston
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Marx predicted this inequality on Des Capital.
Hé got lots of stuff wrong but for this hé was right on thé button .

David
 
Robert Ray
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I'm not sure how to address it in the private sector. We are a far cry from what happened with breaking up monopolies now. I think you'll see regardless of the political structure there will be an inequity eventually between those wielding power and the masses. North Korea, Libya, Iraq , U.S. those in power and their connections benefit from being in power. Term limits might be or I think might be an answer as far as political power and the money there is in the States.
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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Lots of good stuff here, everyone. Thanks!

Ann Torrence wrote:But what do I know? I took Econ 101 from a Marxist economist at a liberal institution of higher learning.


That made me laugh - I, too, took Econ 101 at a liberal institution. Rush Limbaugh likes to refer to it as "The People's Republic of Madison" (U of WI - Madison). Not sure if my instructor was a Marxist though but good chance he was!

 
John Polk
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As an interesting side note, when Karl Marx was writing Das Kapital, he was living in a cousin's home:
The Phillips Estate. (Of Phillips Electric fame.)

Perhaps it is no coincidence that Phillips has never experienced a labor strike.

 
wayne stephen
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Graphs can be deceptive . This videos portrayal of wealth gives the impression of a finite amount of money being gathered and hoarded at the top . Then , logically , redistribution becomes the solution . If you look at wealth as something that is generated and can be generated further , then the solution could become more available to the bottom percentile . Entrepeneurship , education , frugality , investment are available to almost everyone . It confounds me to see people looking at entry level jobs as a lifetime career option . Of course life will be difficult if you choose to work as a short order cook while you raise a family . If you make $300 a week and you spend $100 a month on smokes you are bound to come up short . I am a fan of government backing away so not to favor the top few but also not to hinder the poor starving artists and entrepeneurs wanting to take a stab at it.
 
David Livingston
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I dont see Any govt helping the poor on anyway at the moment , its about keeping the rich rich And the devil take the hindmost.
And I am pleased that nô one has mentioned the mythical trickle down effect.

David
 
John Polk
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no one has mentioned the mythical trickle down effect.


'Trickle down' is a polite term for 'Golden showers'.

 
Robert Ray
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Until we get the politicians to understand that their role is the role of a servant and not the head of the house the butler will continue to steal the silver.
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