General Question

ETpro's avatar

What sort of heart (or soul) should America strive for?

Asked by ETpro (34550points) January 10th, 2013

All the debate about the “Fiscal Cliff” and the “Debt Ceiling” seems to me to really boil down to what sort of country we wish the USA to be. Who should be able to prosper here, and who should be written out of play by the rules of the game—as set by national fiscal policy? Read this article by Senator Bernie Sanders. Do you agree with the statistics he cites. If not, can you show where he is wrong? If the statistics he cites are correct, then do the conclusions he reaches flow from those facts, or has he identified the right problem, yet proposed a wrong solution to it?

If you think the current wealth and income inequality is not enough, how great should it get before things are right? Do you think it’s just right as it is? If so, what actions would you take to stop its continuing climb? If you think it’s too great already, how much should it shrink before we risk demotivating the entrepreneurial spirit that has driven the economic growth since its founding days?

Remember that allowing wealth disparity levels to reach those of banana republics will mean the USA becomes a banana republic economy, with virtually no consumers to drive production and jobs. How many iPads will a small handful of fabulously wealthy people reasonably buy? How many cars? How many houses?

Please read the article and respond with facts, not ad hominem fallacies about who asked the question, who wrote the article, or what media outlet ran the story. If you want to dispute the article’s facts or conclusions, cite specifics and not argument by assertion fallacies, begging the question fallacies, or other fallacious arguments about the article’s premises and conclusions. Rest assured that fallacious argument of any kind will be called out as such, and if unhelpful, flagged, whether they argue in support of or against the cited article. Like Sergeant Joe Friday used to say so often, “All we want are the facts.”

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17 Answers

emeraldisles's avatar

I think a lot of people and mind the pun are sick of “the little guy” always getting taken advantage of with there being no loop holes.

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

Bernie Sanders my my fellow Socialist and kindred spirit, and I couldn’t agree more.

I’d like to offer another saying: “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me.” Someday, you and I might be among the legions of the “least.” Life turns on a dime, and none of us knows what lies ahead.

Linda_Owl's avatar

I think that the inequality in income levels is killing our economy. People without jobs or people who have minimum wage jobs, do not have money to spend, so they do not buy the products that are available – so production levels go down & additional people loose their jobs. Until the wealthiest among us realize that we are all interconnected & take the steps that are indicated (like paying their fair share of taxes & not sending American jobs overseas), we are going to continue to spiral downwards. Quite frankly our government (Congress especially) needs to be jacked up & a new government run under it! America has seemed to lose both its heart & its soul and trying to find them again it going to be very difficult. I am afraid that America is rapidly becoming a third world country, with very little hope, & no real joy, & no trust that things are going to get better

Crashsequence2012's avatar


Way to cover yourself…

@ETpro has WON Fluther.

I give up,

You all would be advised to do the same.

ETpro's avatar

@emeraldisles Thanks for your opinion. If Bernie’s statistics are anything close to right, then I would guess a lot of “little guys” in the bottom 80% are just as you suggest.

@PaulSadieMartin Yes, I have heard that saying. Seems like I ought to be able to catch a break based on that, but waiting is.

@Linda_Owl You probably know I agree. But you should also know that you’re arguing by assertion. Like I have, you have watched as the country changed decade by decade. Can you supply some evidence, even if anecdotal, as to how the plight of the working wo/man in America has changed from 1950 to 2013?

@Crashsequence2012 Oh come on. Where’s that Chashsequence sense of bravado I’d come to know and love. Surely you can mount some assault on my fortress that is free from logical fallacy and at least states your beliefs that we need more of the same. :-)

Jaxk's avatar

I’ve been reluctant to enter the fray here since the article is based on selective statistics and seems to carry the general theme of just raise taxes anytime the government needs or wants more money. A couple of points seem appropriate. First, taxes at the federal level haven’t changed in ten years so if there is a reduction in revenue it is likely dues to the recession. But if you look at total government revenue, are collecting more revenue as a percentage of GDP than we did in the early 90s. If you look at spending however, there is a dramatic spike. We tried the old spend more to recover from the recession and it hasn’t worked. Now we seem to think we can jack up taxes to cover that increase and we’ll be OK. The best answer is to encourage growth in the economy and raising taxes won’t do that.

This article seems to think that there are no consequences to our actions. That we can raise taxes and increase costs and the economy will not suffer as a result. Absolutely no consequences to our actions. That seems very naive. For instance there is no ta incentive to move jobs overseas. There is however a tax penalty for creating jobs here. Bernie seems to think we can fix that by taxing revenues on US corporations that are wholly earned overseas. Manufactured overseas, sold over seas and never touched our shores. The easy fix for that would be to move the corporate headquarters overseas. The result is that we lose even more jobs. Think about it. If you’re a German citizen and open a McDonald’s in Germany, how much of your earnings should you pay in US taxes?

Frankly there is so much partisan crap in that article it is difficult to justify the time to refute it all. You pose a question full of fallacious assumptions, referencing an article equally full of the same and then say no more of those. LoL.

Crashsequence2012's avatar

What kind of soul do I want for my country?

A young and brash one, one still full of grand ideals..

Not an old and lumbering one with it’s increasingly Liberal whimper convalescing behind it’s stone walls, that would cause one to wonder if it’s days of breathing fire ever really happened.

Not the nation version of Sting.

@Jaxk said “You pose a question full of fallacious assumptions.”

This partisan rant masquerading as a question is veiled better that had it been written by me though that isn’t saying much.

Call me lazy.

dabbler's avatar

America for all Americans.
Only natural born persons need apply.
Everyone’s got an opportunity, no one’s got a monopoly.

“Liberal whimper convalescing behind it’s stone walls” couldn’t care less.
Give me a good old fire-breathing progressive movement any day, month, decade.

Crashsequence2012's avatar


What does that even mean?

dabbler's avatar

@Crash You don’t like the word “progressive”? You used the word “Liberal” which has approximately zero consistent meaning, what does that mean? Just stuff you don’t like? Across the Atlantic from the U.S. you’d probably be a “Liberal”.

Just because you don’t know what progressive means isn’t a good reason to dismiss it, or stick your nose up at it.
You could look it up, the issues are pretty much the same as they were a century ago, Trust-busting, worker safety and livable wages, child labor, education, rights of workers to organize and to collective bargaining, ridding government of corruption at all levels, conservation of resources in the public domain, consumer rights to safe products produced safely.
We still have these issues today thanks to jerks who have advocated corporate “business” rights over those of natural born persons. Imagining that corporations need assistance is flat-out ignorance.
The overwhelming evidence proves Friedman and the Chicago School economists are wrong, there is no such thing as a free market, and capitalism doesn’t work without good regulations that keep it competitive and avoid monopoly and fascism.

That’s where governments are the only tools civilized society has found effective historically to balance the ambitions of the merchant class with the rights of natural-born persons to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”—you know, constitutional values.

ETpro's avatar

@Jaxk The article doesn’t actually mention raising taxes every time the government wants more money. It doesn’t even remotely hint at that. It details how wealth inequality and income inequality have risen sharply over the last 30 years. I am saddened but not surprised that your usual tactic of raising off-topic objections rather than confronting the matter at hands is here once more.

The article thinks we can raise taxes and the economy won’t be hurt? No, it documents that when taxes were higher, the economy was NOT hurt. It was actually much stronger, and everyone in it did well, not just a tiny handful at the top end.

Jaxk's avatar


I can’t help but wonder if you’re reading the same article. I’m talking about the one from Bernie Sanders, labeled “The Soul of America”. The one where he suggests we raise taxes by more than $2 trillion over 10 years by implementing 3 new taxes. Hell the funny part is, even if we did that, we would still be running $trillion deficits.And to make it worse, both Obama and this clone would be still trying to expand spending.

I understand that you all love the Clinton tax rates. But the fiscal cliff was all about going back to those rates. Both Democrats and Republicans were predicting that we would go into another recession if they were reimposed. How can you continue to argue that we would be much better off with those rates and scream they will kill us at the same time. You ideology has no bounds nor any logic what-so-ever.

dabbler's avatar

I want pre-Reagan tax rates.

“But the fiscal cliff was all about going back to those rates.” All ? Maybe you forgot about the defense cuts and other features.
But fiscal cliff is mostly about Republican’t grandstanding and their immature approach to negotiation.
The ‘fiscal cliff’ wouldn’t even exist if it weren’t for their assholier-than-thou stand on deficit spending. As if they have any basis in fact for criticizing the practice.

ETpro's avatar

@Jaxk I agree with Democrats and Republicans that raising taxes on those who are currently in the bottom 98% would be a bad idea in this economy. And whether Senator Sanders addresses spending or not, I agree we need to look at the spending side as well as the revenue side.

Jaxk's avatar


I would think that if you and I can agree on this, Washington should be able to. They can’t be any further apart ideologically than we are.

Crashsequence2012's avatar

If the spending side was properly addressed we could in time begin working to get the revenue side back under control.

ETpro's avatar

@Jaxk I’d like to think they could. If recent performance is a guide, though, I don’t think it’s likely to happen till the pain of doing nothing becomes so enormous they will explode if they sit inactive one more day. BTW, My ideal tax plan would be substantially different from Bill Clintons. It would attack tax simplification without abandoning the progressive tax system. It would also lower corporate taxes to a rate that’s competitive with our trading partners, but close loopholes. Currently, ¼ of us corporations pay zero taxes even though they are highly profitable. The corporate tax game is rigged so the big guys can take advantage of tons of loopholes small start-ups can’t access. Bad idea.

@Crashsequence2012 We have a revenue AND a spending problem.

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