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Old 02-22-2013, 10:12 AM #1
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Income inequality

Took this off a friend's facebook:
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This isn't inevitable, but it won't change until we decide we've had enough and are willing to sacrifice our temporary comfort to make the systemic changes that justice requires. We can't wait for a benevolent elected leader to make everything happen for us, it's never worked that way. The only way real change is achieved is when the people get off their seats and into the streets. Don't expect something different this time around. Progress is inherently inconvenient.

Some highlights from the article:

In 2010, the top hedge fund manager earned as much in one HOUR as the average (median) family earned in 47 YEARS.

The top 25 hedge fund managers in 2010 earned as much as 658,000 entry level teachers.

In 1970 the top 100 CEOs made $40 for every dollar earned by the average worker. By 2006, the CEOs received $1,723 for every worker dollar.

The richest 400 Americans, for example, increased their wealth by 54 percent between 2005 and 2010, while the median middle-class family saw its wealth decline by 35 percent.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/les-le...b_2633191.html
Pretty good article on the subject, and it made me curious to what the general attitude on the matter is on these boards. Is this issue fixable? Do you even consider this a problem worth tackling? If so, how best would you approach it?

My ideas, off the top of my head, are to raise the capital gains tax, increase the minimum wage, close corporate loopholes, take big banks to trial at least one time, and have a miniscule tax on stock trades.

I'm not trying to turn this into an occupy discussion, or an "attack on success." I'd just like to hear everyone's thoughts on this.
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Old 02-22-2013, 10:24 AM #2
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Old 02-22-2013, 10:35 AM #3
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Inequality is a fact of life. That said I'm all for capital gains taxes. No on minimum wage. Not sure how I feel about stock trading. Generally pretty ignorant in that department. Maybe one day I'll care enough.

Edit.
Admittedly, I'm out of my element.

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Old 02-22-2013, 11:02 AM #4
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I think it's a fact of our economy. Cap gains tax is low because it's already taxed income that the person has earned that they are investing. Minimal wage should only increase with inflation, but I'd rather get rid of it all together. We already have the highest corporate tax rate.
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Old 02-22-2013, 11:10 AM #5
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I don't care so much about income inequality. It's things like tax inequality that drives me up the wall.

Would it be so incredibly difficult to tax everyone the same? Think what we could save in accounting firms and the IRS alone.
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Old 02-22-2013, 12:22 PM #6
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Originally Posted by spracks21 View Post
Took this off a friend's facebook:

Pretty good article on the subject, and it made me curious to what the general attitude on the matter is on these boards. Is this issue fixable? Do you even consider this a problem worth tackling? If so, how best would you approach it?

My ideas, off the top of my head, are to raise the capital gains tax, increase the minimum wage, close corporate loopholes, take big banks to trial at least one time, and have a miniscule tax on stock trades.

I'm not trying to turn this into an occupy discussion, or an "attack on success." I'd just like to hear everyone's thoughts on this.
capital gains taxes and taxing people for just making a stock trade......are you kidding me?

You're 14 or 15 years old right?

Guess what? I'm middle class and i have investment properties, capital gains, and stocks. In fact i'm playing dividends more now than ever because the interest rates are TOO DAMN LOW!

Any stupid policy like this will affect the middle class a hell of a lot more than some 1%er. Less people would invest because the risk wouldn't be worth the reward which means less jobs would be created which means more people unemployeed.
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Old 02-22-2013, 03:22 PM #7
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Implement a charge per stock trade. If you are a typical middle class investor you buy and sit on the stock. Day traders make multiple moves daily. Fund managers etc use algorithmic derived programs for trading that trade hundreds if not thousands of times a day. wouldn't hurt the middle class but rack up some serious change from wall street and that would be just fine with me. That and take gas and oil commodity trading off the market as all it does is eventually cost the average consumers lots of money thru speculation.
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Old 02-22-2013, 05:58 PM #8
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For those who believe income inequality is just something inherent in our economic system, or something we can't successfully combat, do you think that the current trends will lead to a sustainable economy? The middle class is continuing to get smaller and smaller while the top of the top in this country continue to get more and more of the total wealth. This just doesn't seem to me like something that can go on forever without seriously hurting the majority of the populous, at which point there likely won't be anything that can be done. Meaning we would have to act soon if we want meaningful change.

In addition to likely being fatal to the economy long term (Or at least the average Americans), this will also continue to change the political arena more and more. Money is power, and thanks to citizens united, it is also "speech."

As for solutions, I'm not real stuck on raising the minimum wage, but I do agree with the President that someone who works 40 hours a week should be able to have a fighting chance to escape poverty. That said, there are likely other ways to go about fighting income inequality.

A very small tax on stock trades, say even .3% per trade, would have hardly any negative effects on the middle class, but it would help stop wall street big wigs from manipulating the market, and provide much needed added revenue for the US.

It's actually a Ralph Nadar proposal for stopping the fiscal cliff back in November, and here's a decent article on this, "Speculation tax."
http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2...h-era-tax-cuts

As for capital gains tax, this would probably be the best way to fight income inequality, by slightly raising the tax on this sort of unearned income. This chart is a good representation of the problem:


Lastly, as my friend put it in his post on FB, combating this will not be 100% convenient for everyone at first, and there will likely be some short term effects we would need to take into consideration of course. But with the rapid rate at which income inequality is being driven, I feel it is absolute paramount that some kind of action be taken, or at least have the issue addressed more seriously than it has been.

Thanks for the responses so far, keep the ideas and comments coming please. Consider long term implications of the current trends, how it might change the economic/political landscape, and if the old "rich get richer and poor get poorer" saying is something to be weary of. It seems to be common knowledge as a "fact of life," and maybe nothing can be done about it, but I myself can't help but want to try to thwart this before it's too late, if it isn't already.
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Old 02-22-2013, 09:10 PM #9
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Why do we need to combat inequality? Can't we just strive for a better balance (among classes) instead?

Working 40 hours a week means nothing. What are they doing for those 40 hours? That is the real gravy.
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Old 02-22-2013, 09:17 PM #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tsbalr120 View Post
I think it's a fact of our economy. Cap gains tax is low because it's already taxed income that the person has earned that they are investing. Minimal wage should only increase with inflation, but I'd rather get rid of it all together. We already have the highest corporate tax rate.
We do not have the highest corporate tax rates.
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Old 02-22-2013, 10:01 PM #11
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Originally Posted by xTheirOut2GetUx View Post
We do not have the highest corporate tax rates.
I thought we were because Japan lowered theres.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mobile...n_1392310.html

Or am I missing something?
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Old 02-22-2013, 10:27 PM #12
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Originally Posted by spracks21 View Post
...it won't change until we decide we've had enough and are willing to sacrifice our temporary comfort to make the systemic changes that justice requires.
Nothing wrong with a little righteous indignation. However, the "sacrifice" he's proposing seems to be to mass protests. How about the old-fashioned kinds of sacrifice - work hard, educate yourself, and never give up. This will eliminate any gross income disparity.

It is true that there is income inequality, but I see that as a necessary and desirable end. Private capital that can be invested and grow economies is good. The rich have a purpose and function in our society, so I don't hate them or belittle them with cheap demagoguery like Obama does - "you didn't build that." Certainly, I aspire to increase my lot in life, but I don't have the desire to do it off the backs of others, even if it is from someone fabulously wealthy like Warren Buffet. My self-esteem and self-worth is tied directly to achieving and earning my way in this world. The day I'm required to lower myself to crying, pleading, and begging that someone else take care of my needs is the day when my entire sense of self dissolves. One's self-respect is worth more than the few dollars you might gain from holding a gun to someone's head, demanding they redistribute their income into your pockets.

Is it really a problem? I've travelled extensively around the world and anyone that thinks we have a problem should visit some of the third-world ****holes that are all too common in this world. Anecdotally, all you have to do is step into any one of thousands of Starbucks littered across this nation and you'll find people, young and old, rich and poor, managing to scrape up $5.00 for a premium coffee. If the middle-class has it so bad, why do I see so many of my middle-class peers throwing away their money on Frappuccinos? This isn't one of the symptoms you find within a society teetering on the edge of some kind of class rebellion. Once I see Starbucks going bankrupt and no longer witness so many fat, poor people, in McDonalds, then I might be willing to admit there's a problem.

As for solutions, I reject the notion that we have to turn to government for every perceived and, sometimes, imaginary problem. Why does every problem have to be rooted in monetary and fiscal policy? It's not that these aren't important, but the true underlying problem is a crisis of individual character. To fix this nation, you have to fix the individual. Before we became largely secular, religion used to promote the ideas of virtue, self-sacrifice, frugality, and hard work. What institution does that now or are those values even important to us? You can continue to look for solutions with the bureaucrats on Pennsylvania Avenue, but you're only grasping at thin air. The problem isn't in Washington, it's within you.
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Old 02-22-2013, 10:33 PM #13
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The article has some interesting points, but it seems like some of these people wanting Income equality are damn commies (not all obviously). I had a girl in a college class of mine say that her mom who work(s)(ed) at a burger king should make as much as my dad who is a commodities broker. Stuff like that just seems ridiculous, and the saying is true and always will be true...
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Old 02-22-2013, 11:42 PM #14
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Originally Posted by Seahawk6060 View Post
Nothing wrong with a little righteous indignation. However, the "sacrifice" he's proposing seems to be to mass protests. How about the old-fashioned kinds of sacrifice - work hard, educate yourself, and never give up. This will eliminate any gross income disparity.

It is true that there is income inequality, but I see that as a necessary and desirable end. Private capital that can be invested and grow economies is good. The rich have a purpose and function in our society, so I don't hate them or belittle them with cheap demagoguery like Obama does - "you didn't build that." Certainly, I aspire to increase my lot in life, but I don't have the desire to do it off the backs of others, even if it is from someone fabulously wealthy like Warren Buffet. My self-esteem and self-worth is tied directly to achieving and earning my way in this world. The day I'm required to lower myself to crying, pleading, and begging that someone else take care of my needs is the day when my entire sense of self dissolves. One's self-respect is worth more than the few dollars you might gain from holding a gun to someone's head, demanding they redistribute their income into your pockets.

Is it really a problem? I've travelled extensively around the world and anyone that thinks we have a problem should visit some of the third-world ****holes that are all too common in this world. Anecdotally, all you have to do is step into any one of thousands of Starbucks littered across this nation and you'll find people, young and old, rich and poor, managing to scrape up $5.00 for a premium coffee. If the middle-class has it so bad, why do I see so many of my middle-class peers throwing away their money on Frappuccinos? This isn't one of the symptoms you find within a society teetering on the edge of some kind of class rebellion. Once I see Starbucks going bankrupt and no longer witness so many fat, poor people, in McDonalds, then I might be willing to admit there's a problem.

As for solutions, I reject the notion that we have to turn to government for every perceived and, sometimes, imaginary problem. Why does every problem have to be rooted in monetary and fiscal policy? It's not that these aren't important, but the true underlying problem is a crisis of individual character. To fix this nation, you have to fix the individual. Before we became largely secular, religion used to promote the ideas of virtue, self-sacrifice, frugality, and hard work. What institution does that now or are those values even important to us? You can continue to look for solutions with the bureaucrats on Pennsylvania Avenue, but you're only grasping at thin air. The problem isn't in Washington, it's within you.
This has to be a joke. I cannot believe you are really trying to attribute the international and cross cultural issue of capitalistic-driven income inequality to poor work ethic and secularism...

Thought experiment: Find me a relatively laissez-faire developed capitalistic country that hasn't seen a drastic rise in income inequality in the past 60 years.
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Old 02-23-2013, 05:30 AM #15
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Originally Posted by Seahawk6060 View Post
Nothing wrong with a little righteous indignation. However, the "sacrifice" he's proposing seems to be to mass protests. How about the old-fashioned kinds of sacrifice - work hard, educate yourself, and never give up. This will eliminate any gross income disparity.

It is true that there is income inequality, but I see that as a necessary and desirable end. Private capital that can be invested and grow economies is good. The rich have a purpose and function in our society, so I don't hate them or belittle them with cheap demagoguery like Obama does - "you didn't build that." Certainly, I aspire to increase my lot in life, but I don't have the desire to do it off the backs of others, even if it is from someone fabulously wealthy like Warren Buffet. My self-esteem and self-worth is tied directly to achieving and earning my way in this world. The day I'm required to lower myself to crying, pleading, and begging that someone else take care of my needs is the day when my entire sense of self dissolves. One's self-respect is worth more than the few dollars you might gain from holding a gun to someone's head, demanding they redistribute their income into your pockets.

Is it really a problem? I've travelled extensively around the world and anyone that thinks we have a problem should visit some of the third-world ****holes that are all too common in this world. Anecdotally, all you have to do is step into any one of thousands of Starbucks littered across this nation and you'll find people, young and old, rich and poor, managing to scrape up $5.00 for a premium coffee. If the middle-class has it so bad, why do I see so many of my middle-class peers throwing away their money on Frappuccinos? This isn't one of the symptoms you find within a society teetering on the edge of some kind of class rebellion. Once I see Starbucks going bankrupt and no longer witness so many fat, poor people, in McDonalds, then I might be willing to admit there's a problem.

As for solutions, I reject the notion that we have to turn to government for every perceived and, sometimes, imaginary problem. Why does every problem have to be rooted in monetary and fiscal policy? It's not that these aren't important, but the true underlying problem is a crisis of individual character. To fix this nation, you have to fix the individual. Before we became largely secular, religion used to promote the ideas of virtue, self-sacrifice, frugality, and hard work. What institution does that now or are those values even important to us? You can continue to look for solutions with the bureaucrats on Pennsylvania Avenue, but you're only grasping at thin air. The problem isn't in Washington, it's within you.
You're missing the point of this, it isn't the old idea "poor people can't raise their status". Its that people doing good jobs that would have provided a middle class income 40 years ago now can't get by on the same work. Real wages for middle class Americans have been falling consistently since the 70s and it is a real problem, everyone can't be rich, we need the middle class to exist.
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Old 02-23-2013, 09:49 AM #16
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Move to where it is cheaper to live. Stop trying to cram everyone into the urban utopias. The price of living is going up in those areas, why stay there?
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Old 02-23-2013, 11:31 AM #17
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Move to where it is cheaper to live. Stop trying to cram everyone into the urban utopias. The price of living is going up in those areas, why stay there?
Because that's where jobs are available. At least for some job markets.
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Old 02-23-2013, 08:01 PM #18
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Move to where it is cheaper to live. Stop trying to cram everyone into the urban utopias. The price of living is going up in those areas, why stay there?
Closer to services for the poor, plus the reduced cost/access to public transportation. Zoning is a barrier to continued outward rural/suburban expansion. The rural to urban migration pattern will only continue for at least several decades.

Growth in the manufacturing sector as opposed to service industries will allow for a larger middle class. The inter-dependencies of the existing international markets and the lack of the ability of companies to produce competitively in the United States is what is keeping any conducive growth from happening. The expansive financial derivatives and the insane amount of leveraging are also contributing factors. How many people will be burned with the next bubble bursts? (my bet is student loans)
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Old 02-23-2013, 09:09 PM #19
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This has to be a joke. I cannot believe you are really trying to attribute the international and cross cultural issue of capitalistic-driven income inequality to poor work ethic and secularism...
No joke. I wasn't addressing the issue at the macro level, rather I think it's more relevant to address it at the individual level. If you find yourself coveting the wealth that someone else has earned, don't be so hasty in calling for immediate "redistribution" and reprisals on the rich. Rather, reflect on how you can set yourself up for success and stop whining about how other people have more than you.

Again, I don't see a problem with income inequality. I'm open to the idea that if income disparities continue to grow unabated, then we could be in for some problems, but I'm not convinced that people need to take to the streets like the entitlement-minded Greeks. My point is that instead of buying into this whole "class envy" tripe, why don't we stop and look at ourselves and ask why we're so eager to take money from the job creators and wealthy without ever having earned it ourselves in the first place.

There are people all around the world that would love to move to America and take advantage of all its opportunities, yet we see a large number of our population complain like spoiled adolescents. Find me someone, living in America, who complains about income inequality and the imagined injustice of it and I'll show you someone who has given up and is more likely to play a victim than a winner.
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Old 02-23-2013, 09:10 PM #20
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You're missing the point of this, it isn't the old idea "poor people can't raise their status". Its that people doing good jobs that would have provided a middle class income 40 years ago now can't get by on the same work. Real wages for middle class Americans have been falling consistently since the 70s and it is a real problem, everyone can't be rich, we need the middle class to exist.
I do see the point, but I don't see it as a "real problem." The fact is that a couple of generations ago, a man was supposed to support a wife and family on his income. Back then, he could. A family can't support itself on a single income today, but has this translated into an impoverished society? Quite the contrary, we live in abundance. No one is starving; people have cell phones, flat-screen TVs, and computers. Life is good. You say it's a problem, but I don't really see it. Walk into Wallmart on any given weekend and you'll see the great unwashed middle-class, clutching a frozen Cappuccino in one hand and a baby in the other, loading their cart full of $20 DVDs and frozen pizzas. These aren't the faces of quiet desperation.

As I said earlier, it might become a real problem in the future, but I don't think the issue is worthy of mass protests and civil disobedience today, which was suggested in the OP.
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Old 02-23-2013, 09:26 PM #21
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I thought we were because Japan lowered theres.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mobile...n_1392310.html

Or am I missing something?
Stated tax rates and the rate that gets paid is so drastically different in America. That clearly states that its also only considering first world nations. I know for a fact a few 2nd and third world nations have higher corporate taxes.

Most other countries don't have the loopholes we do and the fact that we have a high stated rate doesn't mean anything really. Look at GE, they don't typically pay taxes... So yes we have the highest tax rate on paper. Until you crunch the real world numbers.
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