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11 March 2013


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Ryan Mount

Dad always said, "you don't get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate." I'm reminded that a frequent tactic these days, when losing an argument or frankly refusing to participate tantrum-style, is to claim victim hood and delegate one's argument into safer, more defensive-able. And those grounds typically occupied by by the thought-police (you know, Politically Correct thinking: you can't say that!) or worse, the some other bully like the government. For some reason, those that wear the victim mantle feel it's appropriate to fight what they perceive as a bully, with another bully.

Not that there's not real victims out there and real bullies. But nowadays, it's *fashionable* to play the role of the victim as a hedge against one's weak or stupid arguments.

Ben Emery

Lets see if George can follow his own insulting post. Every time you use the term collectivists it is meant as a pejorative, thus making a majority of your opinions insulting. That is why I started calling your ideology out more and more because I am on the defensive instead of trying to have a dialogue.

Since this is my lone post until later tonight I will address the entire gamut at one time in a very abbreviated summary.

1. State objective/purpose- We have wealth/ income inequality problem in the US that needs to be addressed

2. Select/define progress measure- Over 90% of economic gains since the 2009 have gone to the top 1% and most likely a vast majority of those gains went to the top 0.5%

3. Constrain solution/outcome alternatives- All income needs to be taxed at a progressive rate. At the moment labor is taxed at a higher rate than capital gains/ dividends, where a vast majority of the top 0.5% receive their income.

4. Generate/present alternatives- To undo the rigged system in place we need to put a 0.25% transaction tax on all Wall St transactions (long term exempt 5 years or longer). Top Marginal Tax Rate above 50% to make the incentive not to screw with cost of living for earned income earners.

5. Crank data for solution(s) through metric- Progressive Taxation

6. Evaluate results- A more wealth/ income equitable society and functional productive economy

George Rebane

BenE 944am - I use no ideological label as a pejorative. Calling you 'collectivist' conveys meaning to the reader as would your calling me a 'conservative' or ... . But you are not the first collectivist on these pages to point out that my labeling someone 'socialist', 'liberal', 'collectivist', ... is meant to be a slur. As noted here, socialist Upton Sinclair was the first to advise his ideological colleagues against the use of 'socialist' or 'socialism' etc in the public forum to identify either themselves or their ideological tenets. That advice has been a leftwing canon ever since. Your generation of collectivists seem to be removed a bit from this history, and have now reverted to receiving the appellation as an insult. Change your tenets, and your label will change.

Now about your attempt to comprehend the proposed rules of a reasoned dialogue - most simply put, you didn't. But I sincerely invite you to make another attempt to understand what 'reason together' means, and then reread the outlined procedure.



Do you see how hypocritical it is to SAY you value equality AND fight for a progressive- by definition unequal- tax system?

The only way to get equality in wealth/income is via slavery.

Joe Koyote

" And, as you may have guessed, I have found the people of various hues of collectivism to be most resistant to this process."-- I have to agree with Ben. On what do you base this statement? Do you consider group communication theory and practice (which says collaboration is the best approach to problem solving) to be collectivist? Even thought you may not mean it some of the time, many of your writings are prefaced with what could be interpreted as a slur toward those who disagree with your statements, which only elicits similar responses from the opposition, and as is often the case in these discussions, the whole thing breaks down into name calling especially with those who have nothing of substance to contribute to the discussion. You might get more folks to read your posts all the way through (rather than shutting down at the first slur) if you tried to remain more neutral in your suppositions about the "liberal mind". It just turns people off to what you are saying and, I think, is counter productive to the flow of information. You make some valid points from time to time but sometimes what could be considered inflammatory rhetoric obscures those gems to a wider audience than the peanut gallery.

George Rebane

JoeK 1106am - Thank you. I am not neutral on very many points; in fact, my approach is to come at you with my considered opinions/tenets in as an unambiguous manner as possible in order to get the kind of pushback or acceptance I'm looking for. Any resulting 'balance' will be up to the reader, and not what I or anyone else seeks to put there. Hope that again settles that.

Re "...resistant to this process" - Well yes, collectivists do have the biggest problem here. We can start with topical repartees by just referring to your and BenE's comments. You two seem to have an equal deficit in understanding the use of ideological labels. But for a broader analysis of the problem that is shared by people of collectivist bent, I refer you back to my report on a piece of recent research done by a liberal academic (among the several entries here comparing and contrasting the intellectual approach to debate adopted in the aggregate by the various camps of ideologues).

Your concern for my readership is touching. But I purposely choose the ideas for discussion and the manner of their exposition in order to force a self-selection of readers. If they are not prepared to enter into the established fray of this forum, then for them there are thousands of blogs delivering a more balanced pabulum. They don't belong here. FYI, a lively and far-ranging email correspondence with RR readers complements the comment streams on these pages. In short, I am not hunting readers, RR's stats already overwhelm me (surprisingly I do have a very busy life outside the confines of this blog.).

But the bottom line on my labels and appellations is that none are intended as slurs or expressions of disrespect. I very much appreciate my readers, and only require them to be strong and expressive champions of their own belief systems, which preferably are not inscribed on stone. Mudball fights on RR are discouraged (and more so with passing time). And I do consider that the attempts by the Left to somehow rehabilitate me into some image of theirs is a waste of time - talk instead about what you understand to be the ideas as presented.


Ben,, I'm certain you have far more money than me. That's NOT FAIR!!!!
Something needs to be done about that. It's time some of that gets redistributed MY way.
And since it's YOUR party that has put me in that position ( killed off jobs in my line of employment)
it's time Progressives fork over that restitution.
You have NO excuses for not sharing your wealth, since that is what you (and others) demand "of others".
Just send me 20% of your total worth annually, and we can call it even.

Bill Tozer

Dear Mr. Ben Emery: I agree it is as plain as the nose on our faces that the extreme wealthy are getting wealthier and the middle class in America is losing ground in real dollars, generally speaking. While that may be "a problem" long before books were written, I see your solutions as wrought with unintended consequences.

1) I do not believe in any progressive tax in principle. Not in the least. It is unequalable. Why should one woman of working age pay a higher or lower rate than any other person of working age in the USofA?

Your solutions make me nervous. Constrain outcome? Government already constrains productivity and opportunity through regulation. The free market decides outcomes (unless you are bidding against an insider on a government contract). This constraint echoes Karl Marx's train of thought.

Consider what a 5% tax on trading would do to Joe Q Public. Every time his mutual fund or pension plan or 401k or ETF bought and sold a share, the value of the investment just took a nose dive. Say you make 5% a year in a conservative blended fund and you just got smacked with a 5% fee for adding to it. Kiss that year good-bye. Little school teachers and maintenance men and unionized domestics would be hurt. Snatch what little they have?

The middle class is being squeezed at every turn. Higher gasoline prices, higher food prices, higher health insurance premiums, higher costs of goods and services while their pay does not keep up with the Governments understated CPI. Plus higher education tuition is roaring above a reasonable rate of inflation. Those are the problems that need to be addressed.

Lets not hang some innocent citizens here who are trying to do their best. If you own one share of a company and that company is sold, then you must take a gain which will now come with a 33% tax hit.
Do not be blinded to the economic effects and unintended consequences in your zeal to constrain outcomes. We are not all equal. Age makes us different and experience as well as God-given talents, strengths, weaknesses, environment, upbringings, etc, etc, etc.

The Constitution lays out Government's role to protect and foster a climate where each can dream their dreams and pursue life, liberty, happiness and whatever he/she can imagine. Your well intended proposals run counter to freedom.

"But a Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever."
John Adams, letter to Abigail Adams, July 17, 1775

Ben Emery

By the points made by the authoritarian fascists, no pejorative intended, they have no idea what they are talking about.

Lets take investments in stocks and bonds for example. The bottom 50% own less than 1% of the total in US. The top 1% own over 50%. Those who pay the lowest rates on their incomes are those who make their money on the market. If that isn't class warfare what is?

Here is where I see the jealousy taking place; unionized workers whether it be public or private having living wages, retirement, and health care. This is working class people who are not wealthy but are earning a living wage/ benefits and they are demonized by the authoritarian fascists all the time. What we are experiencing presently in the US is the decline of average American wages/ benefits to the point they can no longer sustain a functional economy. What we are seeing is the abandonment of infrastructure investment making the US a 20th century developed nation falling behind in a 21st century economy. The federal and state government should be the employer of last resorts to invest and rebuild our infrastructure both physical and intellectual. But what is happening those corporate tyrants/ despots who own both major political parties know they can get more bang for their buck in oppressive developing or third world nations. So they hold the American economy hostage until they get what they want both economically and politically, which is close to the definition of a terrorist.

So why do authoritarian fascists that frequently comment on these pages support economic terrorism?

George Rebane

BenE 715pm - fascism is a brand of collectivism inimical to anyone who holds to the tenets of our Founders and/or, say, the Bastiat Triangle of rights. Who are these authoritarian fascists who believe in government/corporate partnerships that mangle the markets?

Could it be those who support the current administrations (fed and California) that are nationalizing industries and picking corporate winners and losers? (Hitler and Mussolini did that.) I think those are the authoritarian fascists you are probably talking about, and I would agree with you. BTW, 'authoritarian' is a redundant modifier, all fascists by definition are authoritarian.

But I do notice that your comments appended to this post continue proselityzing your ideology, and don't really address the 'rules of engagement' presented here, nor do you suggest their use in discourse. Same ol' same ol'.

Paul Emery

Of course when you have the wealthy control the decisions of government that's not fascism right?

George Rebane

PaulE 817pm - The wealthy ALWAYS control the decisions of the government, no matter what form of governance is in effect. You need a better discriminant than that to single out fascism. This comment thread belongs under 'Ideologies and Governance ...'


Who would have thought that Benn's ideology (based on envy and hypocricy) would have denegrated to name calling, lol.

Benn and I agree that special interest (unions, corporations, foreign countries, lobbyists) have too much influence in Washington (and stat capitals). But we probably disagree on the solution... mine, you guessed it.. limit the power of government (spending and regulations) and you will limit the power mongers.

Benn is too smart to call anyone that favors individual freedom over corporatism or collectivism a facsist, or so I thought.


What? NO response from Ben?? Not willing to live by what he preaches? ( redistribution of said wealth) Funny... Your not so Progressive when it comes to your own wallet. ( come to think of it, none of them do) Interesting how in broad daylight Progressives love the idea of spending other peoples money, and scheming ways of relieving people of that money. But when it come to them personally, They are as conservative a can be.( well,,, most anyway)

Ben Emery

I was making a point. George has nothing but contempt for anyone who has left leaning political views and oozes in every post and most comments he puts up on RR. So denying the use of the labels as pejoratives is intellectually dishonest. I would love to have a dialogue without denigrating remarks about intelligence, intention, or ideas but after being hammered with it over and over I become a bit defensive. As a former fighter and fierce competitor I don't sit back and take punishment without fighting back so I resort to pointing out the similarities between George's positions and authoritarian style governments. I point out that he virtually always sides with power over the powerless.

I have no problem disagreeing, actually I like to disagree so we can find out commonalities coming from different points on the political spectrum.

Paul Emery

So what do you call it George when a smaller and smaller percentage possess the wealth and they use their influence to control the decisions of government? I will repeat that the function of the Republicrats is to act as a collection agency for those who control government through their wealth. Of course government is controlled by the ruling class but somehow we get wrapped up in some kind of nostalgic idealism of freedom based on the founding fathers and the Constitution of those days as a disrction while we get our pockets picked.

George Rebane

PaulE 922pm - I think they call it an oligarchy. Some are more enlightened (as in Singapore), some are less (as in Russia). The rock and hard place are such oligarchies that may or not degenerate into an autocracy, and collectivists who gain power through a manipulated democracy of the dumb, and then set up a destitute economy which still has a wealthy elite controlling the government that is now a full blown autocracy cum totalitarianism. Both end points of governance may have very similar Gini Index values. The center region here seems to be where one can look for a marginally stable 'sweet spot'. But if I had to pick from the two endpoints, I'd always pick the oligarchy under which to live.

Bill Tozer

Mr. Ben, the stock market is open to all investors, be they big or small. There may be a day in the near future where money is taken by the government for each transaction. That will be a boatload of greenbacks considering the hundreds of thousands of trades executed each day by various pension fund managers and investment banks. That in turn will mean less value of the unionized worker's investment. The government would then be like a bookie. Make money when you lose, make money when you win.

California's roads are falling apart. Rural highways too narrow, urban streets full of potholes and urban freeways too congested. In July the 10 cents/gallon tax kicks in that is earmarked for Caltrans. Caltrans gets its funding to build bridges and highways from the state gasoline taxes. Everybody pays the same tax on a gallon of gas, rich and poor alike. Unfortunately the worker who lives in Penn Valley and commutes to Auburn will feel the squeeze even more on his/her daily 70 mile round trip commute. At least they can take comfort in the fact that they are paying for some bridge in San Diego.

Speaking of economic terrorism, the White House tours for school children are closed, as you probably heard. The current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave blames it all on the sequester. Meanwhile the Agriculture Department is spending $400,000 on oil painting for its buildings while cutting meat inspectors, all due to the sequester. The current President in his State of the Union address said he is cutting 2.3 trillion from the deficit. Nary a word of dire predictions was foretasted. But cut 40 billion from the budget in the first installment of the sequester and we will all eat poisoned meat, endure longer waits at airports, and little school children will not be able to visit the Jefferson Memorial this coming Spring Break. Talk about economic terrorism! BTY, that nice lady who gives tours of the White House was making 70k/year when Obama took office. Now she is making 100k/year. I truly hope she can survive this economic terrorism.

Bill Tozer

Here is an interesting article about the SEC and the Illinois pension fund. Yes, we have pounded the pension underfunded crisis to death, yet it sheds some light on how do we get to Utopia?:

OK, more money spent on pensions than education? What do you want if you can't have both? Less of each? Tax the hell out of people? Illinois has already done that, increasing the state income tax 33% and of course the progressive tax on the wealthy.

What about another topic on RR, namely gun control. That little girl killed after attending Obama's Inaugural Address was senselessly gunned down not by children with automatic weapons as Michelle Obama infamously said (and her statements later edited out from her interview). That poor sweet little girl was gunned down by one of the shooters that had been arrested 3 times prior, one of which was for firearms violations. And it was a handgun, not an assault weapon. If the City of Chicago cares so much about guns and the safety of school children, why was the previously arrested man on gun violation charges allowed back on the streets? This is how we get to Utopia?

Punish and constrain the wealthy till hell freezes over. Simply handing over money to people who have not earned it makes a permanent dependent of the state. A modern day plantation if you will.

Don't think Ben and I will ever see things eye to eye. We see the same problems and challenges in our world. What one side sees as an effort to lift a mankind up, I see as an effort to break his spirit and drag him down until he is without dignity. Can me old fashioned, but I see life as a struggle and a rocky road that must be traveled with much effort and all your might at times. The sweat of the brow is the best social program known to man since Cain killed Abel. And of course, charity begins at home.

Todd Juvinall

As perhaps one of the only ones here who was elected to serve the people I can perhaps clear up the fantasies espoused by BenE and PaulE regarding income disparity and its causes..

The pressure to pass rules and regulations to control people's behaviors and force them to spend their money as the "powers that be" want is constant and relentless. For instance, if the "do-gooders" want to force us all to drink a 16 ounce or less soda and only large corporations or the rich can afford that, then the little guy is out of the market and tossed to th sidelines of poverty.

I know this tiny example may be too hard for a "progressive" to understated but this is what has happened over the years and has resulted in only the rich or powerful being able to compete. The rules the left has foisted on the little people, business, family and individuals, and the resulting inability to keep pace by hem is the reason for the demise of the middle class and the herding of them into cattle cars.

Try nd start a business in California and anyone can read from the gitgo that the lefty rules to control prohibit the "little guys" from getting out of the starting gate. Read any "General Plan", CEQA rulings and regulations, licensing requirements and zoning rules. There is the problem for the "little guy" that the has created and sustained the income disparity of America. The left as represented by the BenE's of the country have through their pressure to control other people's behavior and incomes are the problem and we know it.


One's worldview must focus on EITHER the individual OR the collective. Focusing on the individual is the moral, efficient, voluntary way to serve the collective.

Conversely, focusing on the collective (as a means to somehow serve the individual) requires FORCE, fairytale godverment central planning and enslavement of all but the elite.

The means used by the collectivist would not be permitted in a kindergarden classroom. Run any 'solution' out to its logical conclusion and you see the hate inherent in the collectivist toolbox (everything from an unequal tax system, godverment engineered inflation, failed education system, etc)

Equality of wealth or income is a strawman used for propaganda purposes. Inequality of Income/wealth is not a problem. To be (forever) poor in America is a choice.

Joe Koyote

Do people actually choose to be poor? How many poor people would refuse a million bucks if handed to them by their daddies? Do people choose to die young because they can't afford proper healthcare? Do people choose to be hungry or watch their children starve? Do people choose to be homeless and sleep under a tarp in the snow? Do people choose to be miserable? I think not. "Individual choice" is corporate double speak for the freedom to pollute, sell us products that are unsafe, and use our children as cannon fodder to rid the world of leaders and economic systems not to their liking, all in the name of profit. Don't you get that you are being conned?

Bill Tozer

Mr. Todd, the soda ban in NYC is an excellent illustration of how the two philosophies view the same tree. Here is an opinion reaction to the NYC judge overturning the soda ban. Hint: the judge is wrong, dead wrong. Who is this judge anyway? Who made him King? We are saving lives. We (the Health Department) know what is good for the people. We will be back. We are the good guys.

George Rebane

JoeK 939am - Wow! Now there is a 'Workers of World Unite!' homily if I ever heard one - short and to the point. Well done, comrade.

One wonders what then should be done with all those evil corporations.

Ben Emery

Maybe you should think about the soda limits in NYC as a typical regulate at the street level instead of at the corporate level. High Fructose Corn Syrup pretty much a product that came out of the corn subside policies should be banned not the quantities of soda we can drink. Smoking the cigarettes shouldn't be banned or forced into second class citizen zones but the toxic chemicals that cause cancer and allow the stick to remain lit should be banned. Why are we charged $2-4 by banks in a transaction that is retrieving $20 of our own money while Goldman Sachs makes billions of transactions a day without having to pay any fees on the transactions? Regulating the people instead of regulating business practices is backwards and promoted by big industry.

Barry Pruett

Question for Ben re this comment:

"Lets take investments in stocks and bonds for example. The bottom 50% own less than 1% of the total in US. The top 1% own over 50%. Those who pay the lowest rates on their incomes are those who make their money on the market. If that isn't class warfare what is?"

Does not this comment presuppose no mobility in income levels over time? In 1980, I did not own any stocks or bonds, but now I certainly do. Can economic mobility account for what you call class warfare?

Joe Koyote

George 10:15 -- You avoided responding to my post of what people choose or don't choose and instead used one of your subtle "I use no ideological label as a pejorative" answers. As for those evil corporations: How about getting out the good ole trust busters and making conglomerates small enough to fail again, in other words, make them responsible for their actions? How about overturning Citizens United and returning corporations to the paper entities that they are rather than giving them the same rights as people? How about re-regulating media ownership so there is more than a handful of corporations controlling our information system? There are a lot of things we could do with the evil corps to at least make them less evil. But OH NO! that would violate an individual's right to loot and plunder and destroy just because they can. Unlike the poor who don't choose their fate, most wealthy choose to plunder. What does that say about their development as human beings, are they less evolved? Is selfishness and little to no concern for your fellow man a good thing?

Ben Emery

The point of the stocks and bonds comment is our functional economy is floundering despite how the Obama/ White House and Democratic Party want to spin it. We are bombarded all day with the DOW, NASDAQ, ect like it really plays a significant role in the functional economy. So why is it the one area where 90% plus of economic gains are being made is in the area where the top 0.5% make a vast majority of their money and where taxes are the least? Coincidence? I don't think so. I just came in to check messages and need to get back out to the composting and then off to softball. I will try and give a more detailed answer later tonight.


Joe, yes, people in the USA choose to be poor. I entered my adulthood with a negative net worth and nothing but my mind and work ethic as my means to upward mobility.

Healthcare, 'immortality,' or extended life is not a right.

Yes, starving children can blame their parents for poor (pun intended) decisions.

Yes, people choose to be miserable or at the very least make poor decisions as a means to misery. Should I be FORCED to pay for another's poor decisions? I think not.

I should, however, be permitted to help as I see fit.

George Rebane

JoeK 1107am - valid criticism of my not having responded yet to your 939am. That particular comment of yours is such a gem that I decided to expand on its understanding in a new 'Liberal Mind' piece. In my 1015am I tried to give it an extra underline, so rejoice, I will get back on your "people choose" thesis because it is shared by so many of your ideology. Right now I'm fighting a couple of deadlines, so patience is requested.

Don't know where you related my "... ideological label as a pejorative" quote that preceded your 939am. But then, I've never claimed to be very good at tracking your reasoning, but I do continue to work at it.

Scott Obermuller

Thank you, Ben and Joe for the Daily Kos talking points revue.
"So why is it the one area where 90% plus of economic gains are being made is in the area where the top 0.5% make a vast majority of their money and where taxes are the least? Coincidence? I don't think so."
Who said it was a coincidence? Go ahead and tax the crap out those evil folks making money in the stock market. They'll simply go some place else to get returns on their investments that aren't taxed so highly. If the left gets their way and the wealthy see that there is no way to make a lot of money without having most of it confiscated, then they'll just stop making as much as before. Tax receipts will drop and unemployment will go up.
And Joe, please - " How about re-regulating media ownership so there is more than a handful of corporations controlling our information system?"
How do you get your info, Joe? If the evil mass media cabal controls everything, explain all of the differing points of view that saturate the airways and cyber-space.
Best line of the day - "Why are we charged $2-4 by banks in a transaction that is retrieving $20 of our own money..."
Who's we? I don't get charged anything for getting 20 bucks at the ATM. Do you want to just bitch and whine or learn something and change your behavior? Your choice.

Todd Juvinall

Since JoeK, BenE and their ilk compmlian about income disparity here and I suppose all across the planet, I would ask what is the income that is acceptable to you? Since humans really only need the basics for survival, say, food, shelter, maybe clothing. What level of those basics would satisfy your desire for those you call the poor. Could it be "poor" in spirit too? Since most of the criticism you lefty fellows spew is against who has the most buckos, I need you to give us all your top dollar income number for the poor to keep them from being poor. Thanks.

Bill Tozer

Been told once that the only thing I can change is my attitude. I can be as miserable as I want to be. Yes, I am familiar with misery. It was my only companion. Negative to be sure, but is was comfortable because it was familiar. I was a sad sad little man.

Oh, them rich folks are bad. I used to drive my old VW bus down Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills at night and would get stopped. Oh, they are picking on me cause I am poor!! Them rich folk had the police to run my type out of town! Poor me, poor me, pour me another drink.

Its the broken thinker syndrome. Everybody else is to blame. And every second that I cast stones at somebody else with blame for my pitiful condition was a second that I did not have to look at myself and the problems I had caused myself and the damage that I had self inflicted upon my own bitter blaming whining life.

Not until I started focusing own my faults and the ingrained thought patterns that had caused me so much grief did things change. I dropped the word "but" from my vocabulary. Surprise!!!, I did it to myself, not caused by Mommy or Daddy or the US Marine Corps or Nam or rich folks. I put myself exactly in the spot I found myself in at the time. What a rude wake up call.

Does someone choose to be poor? Don't know, don't care. Beyond doubt many choose to be miserable. That is a fact. That is a choice. Some of the most heart warming and uplifting people I have ever met don't have a pot to pee in and have had horrible things happen to them but you would never know it. They don't offer that information and are a breath of fresh air and the poster child for contentment.

Except for children growing up in abusive households and children being molested, there comes a time when there are no more victims. No more victims, just volunteers.

Ben Emery

Walt and Todd,
I will put it to you this way. It hasn't nothing to do with someone being wealthy. It has to do with how the wealth is used. To buy off government political parties thus assuring laws that secure their wealth and power, which is only a few hundred extremely wealthy individuals in America but they have accumulated wealth into the tens of billions. The tens of millions those few hundred individuals spend on corrupting our government is a pittance of what they will receive in return. Basically how it works now is we the tax payer fund the lobbying efforts of the oil and gas industry with over $2 billion in subsides and then tens of millions of that is returned in the form of party/ candidate contributions through lobbyists who are writing around 90% of legislation these days.

We are in a Crony Capitalism Fascist State nightmare. Lefty policies don't work well in this scenario other than giving a straw man opponent to point the finger at by the corporatists.

Todd Juvinall

So BenE, have you ever attended a meeting to object (testify or show non support) to a project at any level of government. Also, have you ever donated any money to an organization that has lobbied the government at any level?

Paul Emery

Todd, Walt

Do you believe that you have equal political clout as Sheldon Adelson or George Soros?

Paul Emery

Also, it's a generally accepted fact that around 94% of the political candidates that raise the most money win their elections. So the real vote is how much money you can raise. Of course that money comes with stipulations that if ellected, they will "know what to do". Elections aren't stolen, they are bought fair and square. I say everyone vote independent for the House in '16 and send the bums home. It's as easy as that. It sure would be fun.

Ben Emery

Yes, I am active participant in our so called "democratic republic". What does that have to do with billionaires monopolizing our government functions for the small few over the many? Our government should be governing in the interests of the masses not the greed of few.

Ben Emery

After thinking about it for a few minutes I want to make once more comment before I sign off for the day.

Here is the great divide exemplified. The lack of understanding of democracy and how it works.

In a democratic republic or representative democracy if I as one person show up with a specific grievance nothing happens but I as one person show up with a specific grievance with a million dollars to dump into a political party or candidate I become a very VIP within the decision making. I have given this personal experience as an example before. I was a guest at a mid high range fundraiser for Jerry Brown. I don't what the cost per plate was but my guess it was at least a $1000. I got five minutes alone and an afternoon with our now governor in a home with about 20 other guests because money bought access. I was appalled at the event and what was said at the event by Governor Brown. He was being honest, which I liked but what he had to say appalled me and the fact he was going to perpetuate it. Jerry Brown told us how he was going to get things done is by skipping the legislatures themselves and go straight to those who can "release" them to vote in their constituent interests. He went on to explain that individual reps don't really have much control over their votes.

I voted for Laura Wells (G) in 2010 for Governor of California. I voted for Boxer (D), Bryant (Lib), myself (independent), and an independent I believe for state senate. At the moment it is our entire system that has been corrupted and the only way to end it is to get big money special interest (yes that includes unions) out of our political parties and elections.

Joe Koyote

Scott 12:29 -- If you want info on media ownership google "media ownership" and also the Telecommunications act of 1996. Prior to Reagan, a person or corp. could only own 7 TV, 7 AM and 7FM broadcast stations. Over the next couple of decades that number went to 12-12-12 under Reagan, 20-20-20 under GHW Bush and finally unlimited under Clinton. TV stations are expensive and the largest owner, Sinclair broadcasting owns 42. Radio is a way different situation, Clear Channel at one time owned over 1400 stations. I don't know the exact number now as they have dumped some small town low profit stations. There is very little local ownership anymore and a resulting loss in local coverage at the expense of canned national and international stories produced in one location and distributed throughout the networks. So while media may seem diverse in the range of ideas and positions on various issues, it is like playing a football game entirely between the 40 yard lines. By today's standards, Nixon was more liberal than Obama and probably would have never been nominated by the Republican party.

Paul Emery

RE Nixon...

Also Reagan would have not made the cut with his support for Social Security and Medicare. And Bush II the "Compassionate Conservative" would not have made it out of the gate with this crowd. Look what they did to Newt when he suggested a little compassion on immigration,

Ian Random

Ben944(sounds like a Bible passage)
That Wall street transaction tax has been on NPR lately, so he repeats it just like a trained animal. I tune to tax payer subsidized radio to avoid the hearing the same news updates at the top and bottom of the hour. Why don't they ever thank the tax payers?

I'm still trying to figure out how someone having more money than me, makes me more likely to be a criminal like Gini index morons. I actually drive through the expensive neighborhoods a lot to see the nice houses and Christmas lights. What about the people that assemble cars for the rich, do they form gangs after work? Maybe this Gini index crap indicates barriers to entry like the idiotic Brazilian Constitution that micromanages everything.

Ben Emery

sorry to burst your bubble but I have been talking about the tobin/ stet/ transaction tax for years.

As for your statement about committing crimes. You cannot be more off base. It has less to do with committing crimes than the enforcement of the law. The poor cannot afford good legal council so someone stealing a loaf of bread or wallet is much more likely to get convicted than a Wall St banker who devastates millions of lives through their risky and illegal behavior because the person with money has an army of lawyers. I would argue the wealthy and middle class commit just as many if not more crimes than the poor. Without the ability to afford good council the poor are targeted and therefore are convicted at much higher rates.

George Rebane

BenE 1027am - that's an interesting thesis about crime rates across the economic spectrum. Where would you seek evidence to back up your argument?

Ben Emery

I have lived it and watched it all around me growing up. Those who were buying the drugs white middle to upper class were rarely targeted or convicted of crimes but those who sold the drugs were targeted all the time. I had friends in both camps. When leaving my very poor friends neighborhoods I would be stopped and harassed within a few minutes just about every time. When I would leave my friends who were smoking the pot, snorting the cocaine, or whatever never a police officer to be found. I am sure there is a great body of evidence and research on the topic.

You can start here
Patterson, Emily, and John Rawls. "The United States Justice System: Cycle of Poverty and Crime through Mass Incarceration."

George Rebane

BenE 1109am - Thanks Ben. I just wanted to know if you had any evidence beyond the anecdotal.

Paul Emery

There's a huge amount of evidence about the enforcement of crack cocaine which is primarily used in black neighborhoods compared to regular cocaine which is a white drug primarily. There are even different levels of retribution. Start here:

"Possession of five grams of crack cocaine -- the weight of two pennies -- triggered a mandatory minimum sentence of five years; possession of 50 grams of crack called for a 10-year mandatory minimum. Defendants arrested on powder cocaine charges would face similar penalties only if they were caught with 100 times those amounts. It soon became apparent that these numerical disparities carried racial implications: Those arrested for crack were largely African American, while those hit with more lenient powder cocaine penalties were usually white or Hispanic. "

This was somewhat rectified by the passing of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010

From wiki for convenience
The Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 (Public Law 111-220) was an Act of Congress signed into law by U.S. President Barack Obama on August 3, 2010. Similar bills were introduced in several U.S. Congresses before its passage in 2010. The law reduced the disparity between the amount of crack cocaine and powder cocaine needed to trigger certain United States federal criminal penalties from a 100:1 weight ratio to an 18:1 weight ratio and eliminated the five-year mandatory minimum sentence for simple possession of crack cocaine, among other provisions.[1] Courts had also acted to reduce the sentencing disparity prior to the bill's passage.

George Rebane

PaulE 222pm - So, given BenE's 1027am and 1109am, where would you go with your dissertation? What do you counsel that we conclude from that?

Paul Emery

It should speak for itself. Sometimes laws are passed that disproportionately affect certain racial groups. In this case it was recognized and corrected.

Ben Emery

Paul and George,
I grew up with many black friends whose older relatives told me the stories of how and why they were targeted. I watched it happen over and over again. An extension of this is the stop and frisk policies in NY.

It is difficult to find studies to prove a negative, crimes not being pursued by justice system due to difficulty of prosecution. The obvious is look at white collar vs blue collar crime convictions.

Here is a good article that looks at why white collar crimes are tough to prosecute.

Ben Emery

All but the first link I gave race attached to them but it is poverty more than race. OJ Simpson murders are a good example. Other examples of two tier justice system is the labor movement. The beatings, set ups, and murders that took place for the simple act of trying to organize a union or a strike.

Here is the scariest part of all this, the US has one of the best justice systems and it is one of the key factors in what makes the US great.

Ben Emery

It was nice to hear the stop and frisk story on the news tonight.

Ben Emery

An academic piece on white collar crime and why it isn't pursued.

Reiman, Jeffrey 1998 The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Prison: Ideology, Class, and Criminal Justice

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