General Question

LDRSHIP's avatar

Is it true overall the middle class is making less every decade?

Asked by LDRSHIP (1088 points ) March 15th, 2014

Title.

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65 Answers

SQUEEKY2's avatar

SSSHHHHH your not supposed to notice that the middle class is doing with less and the rich just keep getting richer, but don’t worry the rich are blaming the middle class for wanting to much and lets not forget about those evil trade unions.
To answer your question yes it’s true.

Cruiser's avatar

Not true in my world. My non union employees are making more in wages they were 4 years ago and they are smiling ear to ear in the bonuses and 401 K contributions that have been made to their accounts.

GloPro's avatar

Making less may not be an accurate way of wording what I believe is going on. I don’t see the wages keeping up with inflation and the general cost of living. Every year things like groceries and gasoline are costing more, health insurance increases, and the working class gets bigger. Every employee does not receive a pay increase to correlate with those costs of living. Money must be spread thinner. In that regard, if your money isn’t getting you as far then yes, you are essentially “making less.”

hearkat's avatar

@Cruiser – They may be making more than 4 years ago (as we all should be), but what is their salary proportionate to the cost of living as compared to 40 years ago? That is what I read the OP as.

jca's avatar

I know that the richest of the rich are paying less taxes. Under Eisenhower, the richest paid 70% in taxes, and that rate went down starting with Reagan. Now they pay 15%. That’s why Warren Buffett’s secretary paid a higher tax percentage than Warren Buffett.

Cruiser's avatar

@hearkat “making” is what I view as overall compensation that so few use a the true measuring stick of “income” or pay. I pay hourly and salary workers their agreed wages…then they get 75% of their medical health insurance paid for, then they get bonuses on top of that, 401K contributions AND profit sharing contributions that all together almost double their hourly salary. Plus almost monthly I slip them a “C” note cash. No union or Government involvement or outside opinion needed where we work.

hearkat's avatar

@Cruiser: Then that is distorted by the obscenely inflated premiums that for-profit health insurance companies are currently raping us for, as compared with 40 years ago. Also, can I come work for you?

Cruiser's avatar

Sigh…you hit a raw nerve as I have not adjusted the amount the employee should pay and now for the rising health care cost and is probably closer to a 85/15 benefit. I am looking for a customer care/front office employee

Jaxk's avatar

No that doesn’t seem to be the case. Here is a chart showing the median household income since 1980. Nor surprising, the median income slips during recessions and climbs during economic expansion. The chart is adjusted for inflation so it is real dollars. It is apparent that we have a ways to go to get back what we lost in the 2008 recession but that is primarily a function of jobs. We get back the jobs and we get back the median income. That’s the way it works.

hearkat's avatar

@Jaxk – “Median” is simply the number that is halfway between the lowest and highest in the set, therefore, that graph is a poor representative of the “average” because it is skewed by the outrageously wealthy. Do you have a link to the actual discussion of the values used to plot the graph, and not just the image itself?

LDRSHIP's avatar

@Jaxk I’d be more interested to look at middle class jobs, and haven they fallen out of that “middle” class pay in past decades. How has pay changed for specific types of skills,labor etc. I’d be interested in following a “middle” class person from a certain point far back as possible till now. If this makes sense, not sure if that is the best way. I need suggestions.

Not to mention it is household income which by definition is much different to me for finding the middle class.

“Household income is a measure commonly used by the United States government and private institutions. Each household is measured by the income of every resident over the age of 15. Income includes wages and salaries, unemployment insurance, disability payments, child support payments received, regular rental receipts, as well as any personal business, investment, or other kinds of income received routinely.”

“The combined gross income of all the members of a household who are 15 years old and older. Individuals do not have to be related in any way to be considered members of the same household. Alternatively, household income is the combined income of all members of a household who jointly apply for credit. Household income is an important risk measure used by lenders for underwriting loans”

Unless this definition is wrong, then correct me. But it really does not paint the right picture in my opinion.

GloPro's avatar

@Jaxk Your chart is too simple. It does simple math of 3% inflation. Let me give you a few examples.
Here is a list of taxes imposed on most Americans above and beyond Federal and State taxes. These, and many more, have been created within the last 100 years (most are much newer than that).
Accounting for inflation, a gallon of gasoline, as compared to 1918 prices, should only be $2.60. Where I live a gallon of 89 octane is $3.75 today. It never drops below $3.40.
An average family insurance cost is $13,000 before co-pay or deductibles. Last year rose a reasonable 5%. Thanks to new healthcare regulations, many small businesses cannot be as generous as @Cruiser, and some are electing to drop employee coverage all together. That $13k is now squarely on the shoulders of the family, and not a shared cost.
Food costs rose an average of 3.5% last year, with seafood rising a whopping 6%.
I’ll stop there, but it is safe to say that my income is not getting me as far as it used to.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Only a blind man living in a cave would not agree that the middle class has been under relentless assault for decades. There are those who will tell you that the end of the era when a man with a middle class job could support a family and retire with a pension was due to the “invisible hand” “market forces”, “globalization” etc. No one seems ready to accept the fact that it is NECESSARY that the middle class decline if wealth is to continue to accumulate at the top

SQUEEKY2's avatar

@stanleybmanly like always spot on, good answer.

Cruiser's avatar

@stanleybmanly Only someone in denial would characterize the middle class as being under relentless assault. Please provide evidence that the middle class is any more a target that the lower class or the upper class?? Can I ask ever you which class is getting the most attention??? Which class has a bullseye on it’s back??? Which class is being targeted to give back more??? Is it the low class?? Is it the middle class??? Nope….it is the upper class and has been for a long time now. Quit yer bitchin and start pulling your own weight and show your fellow man that you can do more than wave your hands and complain.

jerv's avatar

First off, medians and averages don’t take disparity into account, and thus are misleading when your data points are more towards the extremes leaving the middle empty. Thus, I have to disagree with @Jaxk in the strongest possible terms simply based on obfuscatory math.

Regarding disparity, notice here that incomes for those in teh 50th percentile have barely risen, those in the 10th and 20th percentiles are flat or declining, and only those at the 80th percentile or above have shown any real increase. Something you won’t notice if you just look at the overall median or average.

Second, that income graph fails to take into account the actual cost of living, as well as disregarding non-income compensation like insurance. Note also that the number of incomes per household has risen, making individual incomes less of a factor in household income than you would lead people to believe.

I view things less in terms of how many dollars I make and more in how many hours both my wife and I need to work to pay our rent rent, fill our gas tanks, or buy groceries. In those terms, most middle-class people really are worse off. This is especially true for those that have any sort of medical expenses as healthcare costs have risen to the point where they are a leading cause of bankruptcy.

Then there is the fact that the middle-class pays more taxes so that we can keep the long-term capital gains tax low, subsidize corporate welfare, and otherwise let the rich keep their money. The poor can’t pay, the rich won’t pay, so who does pay? Both the average worker like me, and the small business owners like @Jaxk and @Cruiser. Keeping Bank of America tax-free and lowering the effective tax rate on top individual earners comes at a cost; one paid by the middle class.

@Cruiser When you do do half the work to make a profit and your boss takes 90% of the gains made as a result of your efforts, is that fair? That is why the upper class has a target on their back; they aren’t actually earning their loot. You (personally) are the type of person who rewards your workers fairly, but that makes you vastly different than many employers. I think the issue you have is that you don’t realize that there are many that are unlike you; that actually do exploit those under them.

Once you realize that, once you understand that you are actually a better man than many, you might understand why there is all this animosity towards the upper class… even from members of the upper class such as Warren Buffet and Bill Gates.

Cruiser's avatar

@jerv If you are willingly working at a job and getting compensated for your time with wages you agree to, then it is indeed fair. Slavery was abolished long ago and any US citizen is free to choose to work for a wage they deem fair.

jerv's avatar

@Cruiser If someone holds a gun to your head and you hand them your wallet, then that is fair. You made a choice and have no right to complain about being robbed. If you get into a car accident, it’s always your fault because you chose to drive instead of walk despite knowing the risks.

I work because I don’t like to starve in the streets. Like many Conservatives, you assume that jobs are far more plentiful than they are, and that it’s easy to make one if you can’t find one you like. You have some very weird definitions of “choice”, “willingly” and such.

GloPro's avatar

I do agree that if I can’t find a job I want that I will work at any job that will take me if I need to provide for myself. That, in essence, means I am working ‘willingly’ for an agreed on pay and benefits (or no benefits, as the case may be). That doesn’t mean that I have to be satisfied with the job or the pay, but I have agreed to those terms, and it is therefore fair.

Not all jobs are worth any more than the pay offered. It’s still a job if you need one, and having one doesn’t prevent you from continuing to look up the ladder.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

@Cruiser It’s not so much as willing to work for a crap wage ,as to having to work for a crap wage to pay rent and put food on the table,It’s good that you treat and pay your employees fair, but your one in a few, I am not good at puting links on Fluther but will try and find the one I think it was either in the last twenty or fifteen years the working joes wage has gone up 4% while the top has gone up 87% that seem fair to you?

jerv's avatar

@GloPro Agreeing under duress has nothing to do with choice or will.

Looking elsewhere for better opportunities but not having any doesn’t either. People choose to have better-paying employers not have openings? People choose to be denied better employment due to a flood of other qualified applicants for those jobs?

GloPro's avatar

I agree. I don’t find it “under duress” because I have bills to pay and a company has work to be done. Hell, I’ll wash dishes – I don’t give a shit. It isn’t worth more than minimum wage, but most places throw in a free meal and a shift beer, so it isn’t all bad. The employer doesn’t owe me any more and isn’t responsible for paying my bills. Bet your ass I’ll keep working my way up and hunting for something more satisfying… Maybe from dishes to server to bar back to bartender to assistant manager to manager and so on. Each willingly, each not good enough to have the life I want, and each helping me get there. I want to work in emergency medicine, but I’m not willing or able to sit on my ass until a job in emergency medicine comes along. That isn’t duress. Thinking anyone owes you is foolish. I’m surprised to hear you say foolish things, @jerv.
And yes, I am WILLING to take a job, any job, that will help me pay my way. I think it was @rojo that pointed out the world isn’t cruel, it’s indifferent. I am WILLING to work my ass off and still constantly look for better along the way.

jerv's avatar

@GloPro But it’s perfectly fair when the reason that you get minimum wage is that your efforts allowed your boss to get the optional $6000 stereo package for their new Benz.

It’s not about getting the life you want as it is about getting paid for your contribution to the total profit. Thinking it’s acceptable for others to profit from your labors while you get jack is foolish. People are owed what they earn, but some get less than that because others take more than that while trying to make us feel privileged for living off of their table scraps.

GloPro's avatar

Oh again with the foolish comments. The choice is looking elsewhere. You don’t always get everything you want. What you do is evaluate, or hell, even ask, why you weren’t chosen for a better job and CHOOSE to improve your skill sets, your personal skills, your communication skills, whatever, so that next time you CHOOSE to apply for another job maybe you’ll get it. In the meantime, you CHOOSE to continue to work for an employer that is willing to have you for a price they are willing to pay. If you don’t agree? It is your CHOICE to not work there and your CHOICE to be under unnecessary duress by not taking a job offered to you.

YES, @jerv, it is fair if your boss buys whatever his salary affords him. You don’t have his job, or his salary. You have yours, which is agreed on as a condition of employment. Honestly, who gives a shit what the boss makes when you aren’t in a position to change something that has nothing to do with you. If the owner is rich then washing dishes should pay more? Whatever. That’s not realistic, that’s foolish socialism. Again, HE DOESN’T OWE YOU. He is offering you a position to do a job he has available for a fair market value. His pay or wealth does not have anything to do with the fact that dish washing is a menial job worth minimum wage and a free meal. If you don’t agree with the pay scale for the position, don’t take the job. I am positive someone else will.

jerv's avatar

@GloPro “It is your CHOICE to not work there and your CHOICE to be under unnecessary duress by not taking a job offered to you.”

du·ress
d(y)o͝oˈres/
noun
noun: duress

1. Threats, violence, constraints, or other action brought to bear on someone to do something against their will or better judgment.

.

Take the job offered or starve… that IS duress. In good times, there really are enough offers out there to pick and choose, but if you were even remotely correct then we wouldn’t even be having this conversation.

BTW, saying that people choose their communication skills is a grave insult. I chose to be a machinist, but autism was not my decision the same way that you decided to buy the ignorant ”Everything is a choice!” fallacy. You probably make fun of people in wheelchairs too, don’t you?

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stanleybmanly's avatar

@Cruiser I’m having difficulty understanding your contention that the rich are being persecuted. If it is indeed the case that the upper classes are sporting bullseyes, it would appear that they are well compensated for the trouble. It is neither denial or illusion to state that the race on the hamster wheel for those in the middle is ever more strenuous while those at the top walk away with an ever greater share of the nation’s assets. So I ask you, if the rich are getting richer while everyone else loses ground, which class DESERVES a bullseye on its back? Which class is NOT pulling its own weight, and has successfully shifted the load to the “unwashed”? I agree that the upper crust should not be asked to give back more. It would be more efficient if they were COMPELLED to take less!

jerv's avatar

@stanleybmanly That would be the efficient way to do it, but it would also be the way that other countries do things, and therefore must be inherently wrong.

Some say that the best way to create wealth is to have a strong investor class, and there is some truth to that. However, we invest in investors who in turn invest in themselves without letting any of the wealth they create do what wealth is supposed to do. Why create jobs when you could take that money to make more money in order to turn around and make yourself richer so that you can make more money? In fact, why even give fair compensation to those that implement your ideas when you could use that money to invest in yourself instead?

To be fair, that attitude can help turn a mom-and-pop into a real business, so it’s not an entirely evil trait to have. A couple of guys in a garage managed to make a multi-billion-dollar corporation; you may have heard of a little company called Apple.

The problem is, many don’t see that that solution is non-scalar, cause problems by trying solutions that work well on the smaller scale on a scale where they won’t work, then giving those bad policies steroids when they fail. These are the people that put out fires with gasoline, and we let them make national policy. After becoming the most affluent nations in history, we started giving those people power, went full circle, and started doing what is normally done in the poorest nations. We not only made corruption and inequality part of our culture, but we went beyond that to consider exploitation of others to be virtuous.

You are entirely correct that we wouldn’t be calling for the rich to give more if they had taken less in the first place. But that sort of sustainability reduces profitability, and why invest in stability when you can invest in profit?

@GloPro Reap what you sow; you attack me and I will swing back. I wasn’t referring to myself there anyways, but to those afflicted worse than I am. I personally have managed to improve my written communication skills to a reasonable level, but my verbal skills are still barely enough to get through a job interview; they would never allow me to advance to a managerial position. I just come across better here since text can be edited before you ever read it. yet that is far better than many people I know… and (if you are being truthful) some of your own family too.
You say that that limitation is a choice, just as Dr Hawking chose to be paralyzed, and that offends me. You offended your family as well. And you gave such offense by choice.

Cruiser's avatar

@stanleybmanly I never said the rich are being persecuted. When over 50% of the American workers don’t pay any income tax at all there is something terribly wrong with that picture. When anything is free people take advantage of it and in the long run make it even more costly. Free health care? People will now run to the doctor for the slightest ailment and the cost to cover hang nails will drive up the cost of health care. When I grew up and we did not have health insurance and we toughed it out and healed at home with a couple 1 cent aspirins. People that don’t pay taxes don’t care what the jokers in Washington do because they don’t feel the pain of poor policy decisions. They don’t give a shit what Washington does with the taxes it collects because it ain’t their money!

I am not ignorant to the fact that low income and middle class people struggle….I spent 50 years of my 54 years right along side of them and know just what it is like to wonder how I will pay for this or that. Now that I have a successful business and pay LOTS in taxes….truthfully I would not complain one bit IF the bozos in Washington managed the taxes I pay better. 3 years ago The Feds and my state raised my taxes to the tune of 6%...Are things any better for the lower and middle class? From where I am sitting I just hear more screaming about how difficult things are for them. And all we have to show for it is a bigger government that is making bigger mistakes.

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ashfaque's avatar

this class better called always struggling class, they want alot but it remains only in their dreams

jerv's avatar

@Jaxk It’s not that simplistic. But if the multinational companies that pay zero taxes started paying even half the percentage that small businesses do, small business would have more money to expand with. If we expanded the tax tiering to cover those that make enough to hit the top tax bracket in a month, then we could ease the tax burden on the middle class enough to increase consumer spending and give the $50–250k/yr crowd a little money to do their own investing, which would spread prosperity the was “horse and sparrow“economics promises to.

But if you want to keep doing things that raise your oen tax rate and strangle small businesses, then you’re entitled to shoot yourself in the foot. Of course, that leads to being considered short-sighted, irrational, and hypocritical, but facts don’t matter if your faith in flawed ideology is strong enough.

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Cruiser's avatar

@jerv Can you explain to me how “if the multinational companies that pay zero taxes started paying even half the percentage that small businesses do, small business would have more money to expand with”??? How does their new taxes have any beneficial effect on my small business? I have been trying to see this connection since you made this statement and see how them paying taxes will give me more money to expand with? ((scratches head))

jerv's avatar

@Jaxk @Cruiser I consider small businesses to be in the same boat as the middle class. You two also pay more than you need to in order for those above you to pay less. I want you two to get your just rewards as well.

@Jaxk I know more than you think, but I really know math. And even the math I learned in third grade is enough to poke holes in the current tax code. You and I may disagree on details, but last I checked, we did agree that the tax code was superbly flawed. Add in common sense and a little knowledge of history, and it’s so easy to find flaws in many of your arguments that it’s actually boring.

@Cruiser Simple. To oversimplify, if one megacorporation pays $10m, that’s 100 small businesses that save $100k while remaining revenue neutral. What could your company do with $100k? Now, I know it’s a bit more complicated, but I’m just trying to convey the general principle.

Cruiser's avatar

@jerv Just to be as clear as I can…I am smart and savvy enough to endure whatever the Federal and State level megalomaniacs throw my way. I just wish we had some more effective ways to hold these people in power more accountable for their actions.

jerv's avatar

@Cruiser I want that too. But I also want Uncle Sam to stop taking more money out of your pocket than they need to just so some executives can get an 8-figure bonus instead of a 7-figure one. Unnecessary expenses are unnecessary.

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Cruiser's avatar

@jerv The last thing you want is for the Feds to not take me to the cleaners….your bitterness towards the 1% precedes you.

FYI I agree unnecessary expenses are unnecessary but that is all because of fiscal policies of the current administration and all the ones before. The whole reason I expense anything in my business is so I have less to pay in taxes. It is all legal and I expect you would do the same if you were faced with the challenge of giving the Government more of your hard earned money to waste the way they have for the last decade.

jerv's avatar

@Cruiser I’d rather they take dirtier people than you to the cleaners. The part that baffles me is how those opposed to helping the poor under the “no free rides” mantra are not only willing but eager to give free rides. You should be concerned about that as well since those expenses make up a large percentage of the taxes you’re expensing your way out of.

But I prefer solving problems at the roots rather than mitigating the symptoms. That’s why I favor tax reform, healthcare reform, and a living wage. Cost-cutting is good, right? So the latter two are a no-brainer unless you’re totally myopic. As for tax reform, my views there are a bit much to type out during my smoke break.

Cruiser's avatar

@jerv Very noble of you but the real problem is not taxes and who they target but too much taxes and not enough incentives towards job creation and job training. The landscape of jobs has changed dramatically in recent times and is going to change even more as more jobs are replaced by robots and even more will evaporate by off shore options. The blunt hammer approach of taxation does nothing to address these more pressing issues.

jca's avatar

For more interesting views on this topic, I strongly suggest the Robert Reich documentary, “Inequality for All.” Here’s the site and you can view trailer.

http://inequalityforall.com/

jerv's avatar

@Cruiser Zero is not “too much taxes”, so I respectfully disagree on the targeting, especially since it also affects the overhead of companies like your’s. Looking at who actually does most of the job creation though, I think merely altering incentives as part of the tax reform would handle much of the targeting anyways. In fact, many of the reforms I would like to see come in the form of incentives; the notable exceptions being adding a few tax brackets, and making Capital Gains taxes progressive for individuals (which, in a way, would incentivize companies keeping the money for expansion).

But the cost of healthcare is part of why you pay so much to insure your employees, and why they need such high wages. We pay the highest medical costs by a wide margin for care worse than some third-world nations that pay one-tenth as much. Enough of that cost falls back onto government (who pass it on to taxpayers), so I still place healthcare reform high on the list of needs as it really does affect our taxes.

As for training, part of why I chose the trade I did was demand. There are fewer people getting into machining than there are retiring out, yet the number of machinists needed isn’t falling. For a trade that can earn $80k/yr without needing 4–10 years of college, that isn’t bad. But looking at just my field, I can say that we do need more training. Many people are just taking the easy route and going into the service sector (unskilled, and while demand is high, supply is outgrowing demand), and I’m not convinced that that’s entirely by choice.

LDRSHIP's avatar

@jca That is hilarious, the documentary you suggested I watched on Netflix which sparked me to ask this question and a few others. I purposely do not like to reference or add details I feel there is a method to the madness. By leaving it open there is more to see and discuss. There is another I’m was watching on voting in America.

PS Just wanted to add thanks for input on the question from everyone. I did not anticipate the amount friction it would cause.

Unfortunately I am currently at WLC so my focus is on that for time being.

stanleybmanly's avatar

@Cruiser Okay, I accept that our government is doing a bad job on several fronts. And I agree that businesses (including my own) are swamped with fees and taxed nearly to extinction. But in the face of all of this bungling ineptitude and rampant incompetence, somehow THE RICH CONTINUE TO GET RICHER. There are only 2 conclusions to be drawn from this FACT. The rich either OWN the government, or have DESIGNED ineptitude and incompetence into the workings to favor themselves.

stanleybmanly's avatar

@jerv No, I don’t mean that investment should be eliminated or even that profit should be limited. What I’m saying is that it should not be possible to accumulate a fortune in the billions by building a workforce of employees on food stamps. It is unfortunately those “other countries” in Northern Europe that are the working models for how such behavior can be eliminated.

Cruiser's avatar

@stanleybmanly “The rich either OWN the government”....BINGO!

Part of the dynamic though is our ability to participate in this global economy that is so much bigger than it was 50 years ago. There are more developed and developing countries that US companies are selling to overseas and the thousands of many tech startups are that is where our new Rockefellors are making enormous fortunes. When people think of rich people they think of the obvious ones like Bill Gates but under him there are a lot more….The windows IPO in 1986 created an estimated three billionaires and 12,000 millionaires from Microsoft employees and that was in 1986, I cannot even begin to think what some of those employees are worth today and that is just one tech company.

jca's avatar

@stanleybmanly: Much of the government is becoming privatized (“outsourced”) which means that although it appears to be government, the profits are going to large corporations, who pay little or no tax and are now considered like private citizens.

Jaxk's avatar

I can see we have consensus that rich people and corporations are evil, wicked, mean, and bad and nasty. But somehow I don’t see how raising their taxes affects the income of the middle class. Even if you want to take it from the rich and give it to the poor (the stated goal, even though it never really works that way) it doesn’t affect the paygrade of the middle class.

In fact if you take all the money from the wealthy you would actually lower the average wage of the middle class.

jerv's avatar

@stanleybmanly Passing costs on to the government then complaining about taxes is foolishness.

@Jaxk Way to miss a point. You misunderstand motives, make up goals, and just plain divorce yourself from reality in order to justify being more dismissive than even me. Tone it down a notch!

Cruiser's avatar

@jerv I know my responses to you would be toned down a bit more if you also toned down your own comments and provided better real examples to justify comment like this…

“But I also want Uncle Sam to stop taking more money out of your pocket than they need to just so some executives can get an 8-figure bonus instead of a 7-figure one. Unnecessary expenses are unnecessary.”

Think about that…what the Government takes from me in taxes has ZERO cause and effect on whether or not some corporate big wig gets a 7, 8, 9 or 10 figure bonus. You are very correct in attesting to the fact that taxes do directly and significantly affect what a small company like mine can and cannot do. The reality is I am smart and I have options and I am not afraid to adapt and work harder to compensate under changing conditions. But reacting to these dynamics with irreverent comments to real and often painful events by thinking shaving hide off the super rich is the answer is truly missing out on what is really going on with this slow dance between big Government and Mega Corporations. You have wisely noted..

“Now, I know it’s a bit more complicated, but I’m just trying to convey the general principle.”

The reality is general principals are what got us into this deep hot mess we are in.

jerv's avatar

@Cruiser Moderation really is the key, but every dollar they (as a class) pay is one less dollar Uncle Sam comes after you and I for.

In an ideal world, there would be enough incentives for getting people off of the government dime that companieswwould reevaluate where they put their money so that the income disparity issues, unemployment, and underemployment problems would be lessened while simultaneously shrinking government spending and the number of bureaucrats government pays to handle things. Of course, I’m not naive enough to think it’s a cure-all, but anything that has even a small improvement over the unsustainable self-destructive trajectory we’re on is worth at least investigating.

My own general principles when it comes to financial matters are that sustainability is good, pay your bills before you buy luxuries, false savings save nothing, and bigger numbers are always bigger than smaller numbers (and vice versa) no matter what your political views are. Rising tides should lift all ships since everybody who made increased profits possible deserves a share, every human deserves a lifestyle compliant with the UDHR, the working class deserves self-sufficiency (as opposed to still requiring heavy taxpayer subsidies just to make rent), and that there is a middle ground between Communism and Oligarchic Capitalism.

Cruiser's avatar

@jerv You touched on the element of what IMO is our weakest in terms of economic growth and that is as you said..“incentives for getting people off of the government dime”. I am all for providing support where support is needed. It is certainly not the fault of the needy that an economy fails and strips them clean of most if not all opportunity to support themselves.

Instead of a bigger and bigger cushion to support the unemployed, I would like to see better retraining and re-education programs in place to help the unemployed and underemployed find better jobs. This does not have to be a fully supported program by the government either. It could be run as a partnership with the centers who provide the training, the Gov and private corporations who need trained employees. Then the Gov offers hiring incentives (tax breaks) to companies that hire these trained employees.

To really get to the meat and potatoes of how all this works and to illustrate the fixes that will be needed will take a brain much bigger than mine. I just know taking an ax to the 1%‘rs is not the easy solution to our economic and financial woes many think it is.

jerv's avatar

@Cruiser I wouldn’t argue with that. But wouldn’t either offering training programs for your own positions or pooling the resources of several companies and creating a program for general occupational training (preferably run by non-government entities, as they seem to do better at spending efficiently than the government) be one possible way to get people off of public assistance? I think that it would, and it’d be helpful enough to warrant a nice tax write-off. If only business were interested in doing more things that earned a tax write-off….

As for taking an axe to the 1%, I really don’t think that expanding the tax scale to cover that earn 10–100x the minimum for the current top bracket is really taking an axe to anyone, merely fixing a flawed mathematical model to better handle reality. And even if we did, it wouln’t help much; they are more of a symptom of systemic flaws than an actual cause.

I think you and I are in close enough agreement that we could probably find a compromise. Sadly, we’re not policy-makers, and those that do make policy are more like @Jaxk than us; more interested in fighting than in doing anything even minimally effective (unless you count pouring gas on the fire as “effective”).

Cruiser's avatar

First @jerv I do not see as you some how do that @jaxk comes here to fight at all…I read his comments and they are fairly informed and even better…concise. Perhaps he could expound more but when required he does provide sources and his comments do address the question and further the discussion albeit more often in a direction different that yours.

I did some digging and their appears to be a dearth of programs both Gov and private that are out there for the asking. The problem I sense and see is that it is a Catch 22 in that people need to work to put food on the tables and pay bills and then do not have the time needed to go to school and take classes. Often those in need are single parents and trying to take classes at night after work is difficult at best when youngins are involved and need supervision and care. Lots of good intentions abound it seems with no easy solution to the problems at hand.

Cruiser's avatar

@jerv Here is a Link I forgot to post in my answer above about some programs that are available for job retraining I found informative.

Jaxk's avatar

@Cruiser

The retraining is definitely a step in the right direction but it won’t solve the problem. We need good jobs to be created. Over the past 5 years we continually here the bragging about positive job creation every month since 2009 but they have been low pay low skill jobs. In a few places like N. Dakota we are creating high skill high pay jobs for the oil and gas industry. Those jobs not only increase the average wage for those jobs but every other job in the area. Hell fast food workers in N. Dakota make $15/hr. It might be wise to shed our hatred of oil and gas and go ahead and exploit our own resources. If we were to open the federal lands for fracking not only would we be able to create thousands of high paying jobs and improve the wages for existing jobs but it would also have a bigger impact on our relationship with Russia than the trivial sanctions we have implemented. It would also damned near eliminate our trade deficit and pump hundreds of billions dollars back into our own economy. Our problems are not insurmountable if we would get out of our own way and stop dwelling on the old tax the rich montra.

PS – Thanks for the support.

Cruiser's avatar

(I wrote a really long reply and an errant pinky back paged me and it is forever gone….sigh)
@Jaxk I totally agree. Though I am not a fan of wholesale fracking and expect the law of unintended consequences to rear it’s ugly hand down the road. Sure it creates lots of great jobs and lessens our dependence on Russian oil and gas and on the surface is sticking it to Mr. Meany Putin. Most people are very familiar with the Chest Thumping and Cold War Saber rattling show cased in the media…but there is so much more to our relationship with Russia and the EU that very few are intimate with.

Russia needs us more than they will publicly admit and we need Russia to need us in order to not fall back into a total Cold War stalemate. There is a very delicate dance we dance with Russia that affects not only both our economies but many other countries over there in the EU and beyond.

I wish I knew more about it all…it all intrigues me but so does this pile of checks and bills I must now open.

jerv's avatar

@Cruiser Easy solutions are a fantasy. Anything that works will either be complex, merely a small step in the right direction, or (most likely) both.

As for the retraining programs, I know first-hand about some of the actual problems with them. Without going into a long digression, lets just say that those programs need expansion. (”...can pay up to $5,350 (per year) for their education.”…. considering the cost of tuition these days, that’s barely helpful.). Yet, even then, @Jaxk is correct that it won’t actually solve the problem; we need the jobs high-skill, high-pay jobs to put those trained people into.

@Jaxk Until the bottom 90% see obvious, tangible benefits from the gains we have made over the last few years, that mantra will continue. As it stands, all many people see is the rich getting all the profits that everybody had a hand in earning, employers paying wages that won’t even cover rent let alone other expenses (food, medical….), and derision from the “The poor choose to be poor!” crowd, so I don’t see an end to targeting the rich any time soon. In fact, I see a repeat of the French revolution as far more likely.

Jaxk's avatar

@jerv

I can’t help but wonder if you realize what the French Revolution was really like. They didn’t just kill the aristocracy, they killed everybody. Hell they even broke into the prison and killed all the prisoners. In two years they killed 40,000 people, 17,000 guillotined. The main architect of the revolution Robespierre, was himself guillotined along with 40 of his most loyal followers. And the whole thing was a failure. 26 years after the “Declaration of the Rights of Man” was written up, a Bourbon once more sat on the throne as the King of France. Yes, that’s what we need to solve the problem.

stanleybmanly's avatar

@Jaxk The French Revolution was indeed a horrific and rather barbaric event. That doesn’t render the lessons regarding it, and specifically the causes unworthy of consideration. The current “let them eat cake” and “the poor never had it so good” proclivities of the right generated by such stalwarts as FOX illustrate the point. Once again, Paul Ryan, a man championed for being a “light less dim” than what passes for conservative intellect, has managed to insert his foot into an orifice less frequented by a spoon or fork. Just as with late 18th century French aristocracy, the right is MISSING the point. The conservative claim that the poor in America are pampered and spoiled when compared with poverty elsewhere or in bygone ages is CORRECT. It is is absolutely right, and completely irrelevant. The hard fought struggle (bitterly resisted from the right) to improve the social safety net has improved the lives of those at the bottom. But conservatives have with few exceptions consistently drawn the wrong conclusions from the French debacle and so continue to gallop willy-nilly toward the destiny of Marie Antoinette. Poor Marie failed to appreciate even with her head on the block that it wasn’t the grinding poverty defining French citizenship that required her demise. It was the CONTRAST between all that misery and the obscene wealth of her privileged class..

Jaxk's avatar

@stanleybmanly

Good rant and appropriate for all the wrong reasons. Just as the quote “Let them eat cake”, was never uttered by Marie Antoinette, most of your assertions for the GOP are a construct of the liberal imagination. And just as Robespierre radicalized the populace into a mob based on false accusations, the left is screaming down the same path. Unfortunately mobs can not be controlled and turn as easily on their creators as anybody else. We can only hope for a smidgeon of common sense lest we all go down the path of Robespierre and have the mob behead us all.

It is amazing to me that some would encourage and even hope for a French revolution style Reign of Terror.

stanleybmanly's avatar

If you truly believe that either the upheavals of 1789 or current observations on the workings within our own society to be based on “constructions” of liberal imagination, then there is little to be gained from further discussion. I would only point out that I not only do not wish to see the horrors possible in a nation with an estimated 280 to 300,000,000 firearms distributed throughout its civilian population, I don’t intend to be here when it happens. And I didn’t attribute “the quote” to Marie, but rather to Fox.

jerv's avatar

@Jaxk I never claimed it was rational or successful, only that it is a historical fact. And I have little faith that humanity has become more rational since then, so I cannot help but allow for the distinct possibility of history repeating itself. Once again, you underestimate my cynicism, and misjudge my motives. I neither hope for it nor support it, merely extrapolate the likelihood based on historical precedent.

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