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September 05, 2012

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I don't think there's anything shameful about being a janitor, either; Been one in my time, and tried to be a good one. No real job that does something productive is something to be ashamed of doing.

But unless you've go severe problems, being a janitor isn't something to aspire to. It's something to settle for, make the best of.

If there's one thing my life has taught me, one incredibly important lesson I could pass on, it's this: You're not going to achieve everything you set out to, so set out to be f'ing awesome, so you've got a shot at coming out great.

Set out to be just ok, and you probably won't quite manage that, either.

What many have forgotten is that how you get there is just as important as getting there. Adding "at any cost" to the drive for "success" is what's killing this country.

Set out to be just ok, and you probably won't quite manage that, either.

I have either disproved this rule or am an exception to it. Mediocrity! Yes!

I sent BCG across to the Chinese restaurant for 2 quarts of Hot & Sour Soup. I ate one quart last night (eked out with rice) and one this morning and *poof!* I was all better. Chinese Penicillin.

That's if you can find a place with even decent hot & sour soup. There used to be a place near me in Orlando (called Jin Sha, IIRC) that had acceptable H&S, but it closed. No other place I know of has H&S that I think is even ok.

I had H&S in a place in Livermore, CA once that absolutely rocked. Never had anything to compare with it since.

It may be because I'm following the adventures of Balloon Juice's Angry Black Lady/Cranky White Guy Road Trip Extravaganza, but the DNC looks a lot livelier and more *fun* than the RNC. How does it look to you guys?

You reading that too? There is such a 'gee, how the hell did you guys end up together' vibe, I find it amazing. If you put it in a novel, people would say 'come off it, try to at least mimic something realistic'

Re hot and sour soup, you want it good, you need to be either very lucky in what restaurants are nearby, or to make it yourself. (It's not hard.) Hot and sour soup is the garbage pail of the Chinese restuarant kitchen.

"But unless you've go severe problems, being a janitor isn't something to aspire to. It's something to settle for, make the best of"


Why? It's a good, solid responsible job. If it's a union position, the janitor will be able to support a family. The man who lived across the street from me when I was a kid was a janitor.

In fact that reminds me of a little episode from my childhood. My dad was a college professor. I was playing with Jody, the girl across the street, and she said something about her family which I took as bragging and as disses of my family. I shared this conversation at the dinner table that night.I also said something to the effect that her dad was "just a janitor." My parents rebuked me. My mother said, and I can still remember the sting of this lesson, "Every little girl has a right to be proud of her daddy."

There really is a basic value judgement contrast here. One view is that human beings are measured by how much money they make, the other by the quality of their character. One assumes inate supperiority of the person who makes lots of money, the other doesn't assume a connection between character and income. One perspective assumes that most working Americans are lacking in those respectworthy qualities that allow the superior people to have their superior positions, the other assumes that people deserve a living wage and access to the basic decencies of life, like health care, because they are people who are contributing in their way to the rest of us.

And of course if one believes in the innate inferiority of most of their fellow citiziens, it's a very short step to supporting efforts to makes sure those inferior people are as miserable as possible and that their children will lack opportunities to do something different for a living than what their parents do.

The irony of course, is that very few of those people who obtain what they consider to be a superior position in society do so through their own superior character or effort. A lot of them get a running start through inheritance, as Rmoney did. Or their sucess is built on a fuondation of opportuinties given to them by society in a multiplicity of ways (like Pell grants). Or maybe their opportuinty for success comes from having good employees such as a successful restaurant that is successful in part because the night janitor is treated like a respected human being, gets a living wage, and does a good job.

I know I'm going on and on, but to hammer the point home: I'm on the Board of a gated community. We employ a staff to keep up the common area, a forest and beach. We hire young men, a whole succession of them, actually. They usually are good workers but every six months or so they get busted for drugs or get jailed for drunk driving or something. We have not been able to find anyone steady.
Why not? Well, the pay is lousy and there's no benefits. It isn't the kind of job a person could get married on. The supervisor, who does exactly the same work, gets a living wage, a house, and benefits. He's been with us for years. There are assholes in this commuity who treat him like a serf (but they only do that once!), but most of us don't think of him as a man who lacks the wherewithal to do a more prestigous job. We're glad to have him felling hazard trees, cleaning up storm debris, and fixing the picnic area plumbing.

My mother-in-law was a janitor in a public school. She got that job because of the health benefits and the pension. She did everything she could before getting that job and after not to lose her house so she could leave it to her kids. When she found out she had lung cancer, she set up her pension for the greatest survivor benefit possible and worked as long as her deteriorating health would allow, maybe a bit longer than that. She also made sure she maintained a decent life insurance policy. She managed to leave her kids a mostly paid-off house, a few years of pension payments and some insurance money when she died. That's what she aspired to - moving out of the city, working her ass off and living frugally so she could give her kids a better life and leave them a bit of money, even though she grew up poor and didn't finish high school, like a lot of other people from her neighborhood - something she didn't want for her kids. Her life was quite aspirational, and she was a janitor.

Brett, read that last comment by hairshirthedonist, then read it again. You're coming across exactly like Mitt Romney does, assuming that everyone's born into life with the same kinds of opportunities that you had. "Don't be a janitor, borrow money from your parents and start a business."

Here's something I never hear so-called conservatives address, ever.

Do they even realize that people with disabilities, people at the bottom of the IQ scale, people who grew up in neighborhoods with crappy schools, people from very poor families and people with a whole host of other disadvantages need to eat too--need to have a place to live?

I know, I know, we should never have done away with slavery--problem solved!

obviously, the issue here is that janitor is an unskilled job. one does not need an advanced degree to do it. so people can use it as a temporary job, just to pay the bills, while waiting for something more ... prestigious to come along. and so for someone who does have different career goals, janitor really isn't something to aspire to; it's something to make some money during lean times.

that certainly doesn't mean other people might not find it a perfectly cromulent job, or even a good career. everybody has their own aspirations and goals.

Laura, it's a good, responsible job, which I did when working my way through college, and was not the least ashamed to be doing. .

There is no job that's actually productive, rather than make work, that one should be ashamed of doing.

I'm just saying that people tend to fall short of their aspirations, and so should set their sights higher than just good enough. You're not necessarily going to win the race, but that's no reason to saunter instead of running.

Man, you guys are missing a lot of open goals. You should be ashamed to call yourselves football players.

"Here's something I never hear so-called conservatives liberals address, ever."
Why do they want to make it illegal for even more people to even have a job?

helping others means more than just getting ahead yourself.... We learned about gratitude and humility – that so many people had a hand in our succes

Do we send our children out in the world with the advice, "Try to do... okay?"

The lessons I've taken away from life are basically what Michelle Obama says here.

Per Ann Romney's comments, what I hope I've passed on to my stepson and any other young people I've had any influence on is to do your best, and don't be a d*ck. How much money they might make in the process has never really come up as part of the conversation.

And for the record, there is in fact nothing wrong with being a janitor, or engaging in any other kind of honest work. Not everyone's aspirations are totally identified with what they do to pay the bills. There are a million reasons why any given person might find a particular job to be the best situation for them.

I have nothing against the Romneys personally but as far as I can tell they are your standard issue entitled rich people. Romney has been running for President for years, apparently because it seems like a neat thing to have on his resume.

His vision of what life in this country should be appears to be "Hey, do what I did!", with no apparent understanding or recognition that he was able to do what he did largely through the remarkable good fortune of being born into the circumstances that he was born into.

Born on third, thought he hit a triple. Zero self-awareness, zero understanding that concern for other people consists of more than giving his excess dollars to charity.

Frankly I have no idea what is going to happen in November, but IMO a Romney presidency will simply be all about making wealthy people much, much wealthier.

Glad you're feeling better LJ.

Janitorial and other non-routine manual jobs is where the job growth is these days.

Why so many jobless recoveries? It’s the robots.

Do they even realize that people with disabilities, people at the bottom of the IQ scale, people who grew up in neighborhoods with crappy schools, people from very poor families and people with a whole host of other disadvantages need to eat too--need to have a place to live?

doretta, let me share with you this, about one of the people I most admire of all those I have met in my life.

In college, I helped pay expenses by working in the dish room of my dorm. The staff their consisted of a variable number of students, plus two full time employees. At one point, we got a replacement full time employee.

Connie was seriously mentally disabled. Just getting herself to work, and mopping the floor and running the dishwasher, was right at extreme edge of what she could manage to do. In fact, she could easily have spent her life in a state institution. But there she was, out doing a job which was seriously challenging for her and supporting herself.

More than that, you can't ask of anyone. I certainly haven't managed to reach that level in my career, well as I have done.

"His vision of what life in this country should be appears to be "Hey, do what I did!", with no apparent understanding or recognition that he was able to do what he did largely through the remarkable good fortune of being born into the circumstances that he was born into."

This is just not even what he says. Mostly he says do what my Dad and GrandDad did so your kids are better off. I am not sure where that goes wrong.

He does throw in that he actually did work hard for his success. Good for him.

Mostly he says do what my Dad and GrandDad did

George Romney (Mitt's father) was a good guy.

IMO, of course.

How many janitors are currently serving in the Congress?

I rest my case.

Fewer than plumbers are working for the White House, I'm guessing from today's news...

CharlesWT, thanks for underscoring my point by not addressing it but instead coming back with something completely divorced from reality.

If evolution is true, why are there still janitors?

One view is that human beings are measured by how much money they make, the other by the quality of their character.

I agree with the latter and there is nothing in what Ann Romney said that should be taken otherwise. Ann was defending the attacks on his success simply because he is successful. And her defense was short. What about the rest of her speech?

A lot of them get a running start through inheritance, as Rmoney did.

No doubt Romney got a head start by his father's prominence (prep school, Harvard). If that is the "inheritance" you refer to you are right. He, however, gave away his inheritance as that term is normally understood.

Born on third, thought he hit a triple. Zero self-awareness, zero understanding that concern for other people consists of more than giving his excess dollars to charity.

Wow, Russell, what do you get this from? I don't doubt he suffers a bit from growing up privileged. But I look at the following: 1) worked 8 years for free as governor and for the Olympics; 2) Gave away his inheritance and extensive charitable donations (unlike Obama only starting to give when he hit the national stage ); 3) many personal stories that flatly contradict your assessment. Look, the guy served for 10+ years in church positions that are exclusively about being concerned for others. You may disagree with Romeny on politics, religion, doctrine, or whatever, but you don't serve in those positions that require at least 20 hours/week for no pay if you don't care about others. That is the job description. I think the few stories that have surfaced are the tip of the iceberg, because, as Ann Romney said, he really doesn't like talking about it. I mean, really, on a purely personal level, what's not to like about a guy who makes Thanksgiving dinner for a family just home from the hospital with a suffering infant? (he can cook?!)

I admit to political concerns about Romney, although not deep. His care about his fellow citizens isn't a concern for me. I do have a bit of an inside scoop, though. A relative (strong Democrat) met Mitt and Ann recently in a personal setting. She was surprised at how likeable and genuine they both were. For me, that was a huge endorsement knowing this relative.

All that being said, that WAS some speechifyin' by Michelle, and by Ann as well. Wouldn't that be something if they were the candidates?

And Dr. Sci, what's up with the link to video of Michelle and a transcript of Ann? Let's give them both their due.

Ann was defending the attacks on his success simply because he is successful.

I'm sure someone has attacked him on that particular basis, but I don't think that's a prominent attack worth defending against. It seems to me that he's mostly being criticized, rightly or wrongly, for making a lot of money in ways that weren't so great for a lot of other people (i.e. vulture capitalism), not simply for making a lot of money (i.e. being successful).

No doubt Romney got a head start by his father's prominence (prep school, Harvard). If that is the "inheritance" you refer to you are right. He, however, gave away his inheritance as that term is normally understood.

He lived, in college, off of American Motors stock that he never had to buy for himself.

If evolution is true, why are there still janitors?

No one who understood what evolution does would ask that question.

HSH: I mostly agree, but the post here is using Ann's defense as somehow a statement putting down janitors. I reject Dr. Sci's comparison.

Ann also said: "Mitt will be the first to tell you that he is the most fortunate man in the world. He had two loving parents who gave him strong values and taught him the value of work. He had the chance to get the education his father never had . . .Mitt doesn't like to talk about how he has helped others because he sees it as a privilege, not a political talking point. And we're no different than the millions of Americans who quietly help their neighbors, their churches and their communities. They don't do it so that others will think more of them. They do it because there is no greater joy." Doesn't sound like a guy who looks down on janitors to me.

I am moved to hear stories like yours about your mother-in-law. That is a success story.

Dr. Sci equates "doing okay" with doing okay financially and that isn't exactly what Ann is saying. She said he was successful at "each" challenge that came along. That includes challenges that had no money attached. Yes, his professional success included making a lot of money. And, when you have investors, that is one major aspect of measuring success. But even then she ties that success into helping others. IMHO, there is a bit of projecting onto Mitt what others want to see in him going on here.

Phil: good point. I assumed his college was paid for by his parents and that is why I acknowledged his "inheritance" included school above. I didn't know it was literally so.

Wow, Russell, what do you get this from?

I get it from public statements about people "getting as much education as they can afford". And about "borrowing money from your parents so you can start a business".

I get it from "hard times" stories about having to sell stock and live off investments while you're going to school.

I'm more than sure that Mitt Romney is an extremely nice guy, it's a lovely gesture that he has waived his salary as Governor of MA and for his work on the Olympics. It's splendid that he donates his time to his church.

All good.

I'm also happy to rescind the "born on third and thought he hit a triple" comment, Romney appears to be a fairly modest guy, that specific comment was IMO unfair.

But "zero self-awareness" is, IMO, more than accurate.

He demonstrates little consciousness of the concrete ways in which his privileged background make his life history not particularly applicable to most other people.

That's got nothing to do with whether he's a nice guy, or a personally generous person, or even a good cook.

It has everything to do with his understanding of what is necessary at this particular point in the nation's history.

"Take a chance! Start a business! Borrow $20K from mom and dad like Jimmy John!" isn't gonna get it done.

His personal history and background and that of his friends and peers are not a useful template for the vast majority of people. He doesn't appear to understand that.

No one who understood what evolution does would ask that question.

Just clumsily attempting to make the point that there's a kind of Helmslian attitude among some that janitors, frex, aspire to be hoteliers in the same way that monkeys aspire to be human (among the set that thinks such things). Seems like that assumes a whole lot of facts not in evidence.

And it seems to run parallel to the on-your-own/all-in-it-together theme. Those who aspire up some perceived hierarchy/those who find their niche in the collective.

Or not. Sorry. I'll re-cloak now.

It took it as obvious sarcasm and to Slarti's response I'd say that that is the very point, i.e. that certain people take that question seriously.

"zero understanding that concern for other people consists of more than giving his excess dollars to charity."

Yup. Back in the days of Dickens, an era the Republican party would gladly recreate, selfish mean clueless powerful people who used their power to enrich and further empower themsleves eased their consciences by giving to charity. Charitable giving has long been the "cover" for people who used power to create the conditions that made the charity necessary.

As for Romeny, describing him this way seems like an act of charity to me. My take on Romney is that he either is so irresponsible that he doesn't know what his own policies are, so stupid that he can't imagine the consequences of those policies on real people, or so evil that he knows but doesn't care.

I think the people who plan to vote for him follow pretty much the same pattern.

I think having nice and fuzzy feelings about janitorial work means squat, if the labor poured into the work cannot pay for food and rent.

Full disclosure, my father is a janitor, and he only works union…because he cannot depend on nice emotional feelings to protect his labor.

Fewer than plumbers are working for the White House, I'm guessing from today's news...

Posted by: Brett Bellmore

Now that's funny.

The difference between employment and exploitation is the wage.

I was a janitor for a while and I liked it. I'd still like it, if I could get such a position for union pay.

I like working alone, unsupervised. I like getting moderate amounts of exercise.

I like dressing casually.


I like having my mind free while I work so I can listen to books on tape or NPR.

Most of all I like going home at the end of the day and leaving the job behind. I want to have the psychic and physical energy at home to live my life: art, creative writing, volunteering at the dog rescue. I do not want my life to be dominated by my job.

I've always had that attitude toward work: it's a means to an end, not an end in itself. The daughter of a friend of mind is a successful lawyer working sixty hour weeks, sometimes more. It is not a lifestyle I would care for. My neice works four nights a week as a server in a bar and makes enough to hold up her end of the family economy. She and her boyfriend and their kid and their dog are always doing somethig fun together. They have a great life.

That's part of why I react so badly to the idea that there's something lacking in a person who has a low status job. People can have all sorts of aspirations and the aspiration to be a happy family is one I admire more than the apsiration to make lots of money.

Sadly, I've never found anyone who was willing to pay me to read, write, draw and take walks.

That's part of why I react so badly to the idea that there's something lacking in a person who has a low status job.

There's something lacking in every person. In my opinion and observation, of course. Janitors are not unique in that, although they do get treated as less than the rest of us sometimes. Even frequently. Janitor is something I would do if I had to, but it's pretty far down the list, if I had a preference. That could just be my aversion to cleaning up.

I've always thought about what I'd do if all of a sudden I could no longer find professional employment, and my answer to myself (which I have not had an occasion to validate, thankfully) is that I'd do what I had to. I'd flip burgers, or dig ditches, or sweep floors. I'd mow lawns or pull weeds. And, doing any of those things, I'd still be the same me that I am at my desk job, only minus the desk, and minus a great deal of pay and benefits.

So, I try to treat the people who do manual labor for a living as if they are not some kind of walking failures. I don't always converse with them, because I am socially not really adept at getting to know people unless there's some kind of shortcut, like common interests that are obvious. Which, by the way, the whole martial arts thing has been kind of cool because I get to/have to meet and get to know lots of people from very disparate backgrounds. One of the most cool guys that I work out with lays flooring for a living. My own instructor and I have very little in common in terms of interests outside of martial arts.

Shorter me, I guess: I don't think janitors are some kind of subspecies of failed humans.

@Laura.

Well said. Thank you.

Well, they're not, of course. For instance, our cleaning lady where I work is a phenomenal artist. Seriously, I've seen work by her, with a pencil and paper, that would not be out of place in a museum of art.

Another thing that is possibly at work, here, is that there are people who place value on ambition as if it were some kind of intrinsic value (How on earth could anyone possibly be content with being a janitor? They must be slackers). As if everyone can be a doctor, so that Jewish mothers everywhere can be happy.

I tend to steer toward the middle: I always want to do better, while making my job a place where I can be satisfied. Those two things are frequently in tension, but I try not to let it bother me.

I've always had that attitude toward work: it's a means to an end, not an end in itself.

right on.

one of my all-time favorite jobs was working at an ice factory. it was minimum wage, hourly, completely repetitive manual labor. but, we found ways to make it entertaining (racing to stack the fastest palette of ice, most palettes in a day, etc.). and when the clock hit 5, it was over, out of sight, out of mind. and nobody went home worrying about how we'd stack the ice tomorrow.

On the topic of working with your hands, this NYTimes article about people who make top of the line hand tailored suits is interesting, especially the observation that they can't be more successful financially because of the inherent limits of the business. A couple of grafs:

Bespoke suits — like expensive couture gowns — are great for building a reputation, but they are lousy for business. And modern clothiers’ profits have long come from establishing a strong brand and then emblazoning it on all sorts of cheaper products, like fragrances, which can be mass-produced. Michael Kors and Ralph Lauren — not to mention Carolina Herrera — began as small studios before spinning off into variegated billion-dollar businesses. Meanwhile, Anderson & Sheppard stuck to its stock in trade and has stayed about the same size.

The only way to make money in the perfectionist craftsperson industry, it seems, is to stop being a perfectionist craftsperson.

and

When I spoke to Frew, Rowland and the Greenfields, they talked about how there is now a large difference between what is monetizable and what is actually valuable. One of the defining attributes of capitalism is that the market determines what succeeds even if it means that the Kardashian Kollection might bring in more money than all the bespoke suits in the world.

The only way to make money in the perfectionist craftsperson industry, it seems, is to stop being a perfectionist craftsperson.

The flip side to the bespoke suit thing, of course, is that if all suits were bespoke suits, very few people would be able to have a suit at all.

But yeah, craft work and craft knowledge are hard to support, financially. Stuff that is not quite as good, but is still good enough for most purposes, can generally be made more cheaply.

There are a number of other externalities the flow from that, as it turns out, but we don't seem to have any good way to account for them in the cost of goods at the point of sale.

Net/net craft work - artisanal work - becomes a luxury good. A way to display that you have enough money to procure it.

Ran into an old friend a couple of weeks ago. He's been a finish carpenter / cabinet maker / woodworker for probably 35 years. He does beautiful work, he's done a couple of small things for my wife and I over the years.

He packed it in a couple of years ago. The only people who could afford his work were wealthy people, and that bugged him. Not a personal thing, they were perfectly good customers, he just didn't like working in a field where he couldn't work for folks who weren't rich.

Now he does some freelance CAD design for a cabinet shop to pay the bills, and is working up a plan for communal goat farming.

One of the defining attributes of capitalism is that the market determines what succeeds

Not quite.

One of the defining attributes of a *market economy* is that the market decides what succeeds.

One of the defining attributes of capitalism is that the metric the market must use to make its decisions is return on investment.

Not the same thing.

One of the defining attributes of capitalism is that the metric the market must use to make its decisions is return on investment.

And that is not always what results in optimal use of resources. Capitalism and markets have their places, to be sure. Good things do come from these economic paradigms, but they are oversold, IMO. The Invisible Hand screws up plenty.

Some of that shows up in externalities, as russell mentions. Other times, it's a matter of the things the market makes available to the consumer not being the things that would be of the greatest value, that would most improve people's lives relative to the resources expended to provide them. That occurs sometimes because consumer preferences aren't always rational, and sometimes because what is in the (short-term?) interests of the producers doesn't line up with maximum value.

Either way, capitalism and the markets that operate under capitalism are flawed, and there are ways to manage those flaws, but there is resistance to implementing them based on an aversion to "distorting the market" and such.

It seems that some people believe there is some pristine natural state under which captialistic markets would exist, such that justice and happiness and health would flow to everyone in a free market nirvana, if only we could wriggle our way out from under the boots of the Central Planners.

Well, it seems that way until some of the capitalists manage to convince the Central Planners to "distort" the market in their favor, at which point distorting the market is a-okay.

But we've been over this before, I think. Haven't we?

It seems that some people believe there is some pristine natural state under which captialistic markets would exist, such that justice and happiness and health would flow to everyone in a free market nirvana

There is such a state, however it is not a natural one. It only exists in theory, and for all intents and purposes *can* only exist in theory.

In other words, a useful mental construct for academics, but otherwise of no practical value.

Shhhhhh!!!! Don't let anyone see this part:

Note that the conditions for Perfect Competition mean that a perfect market cannot be unregulated, since these preconditions for market function cannot at the same time be products of the market, yet must be provided somehow.

I love the stories like russells cabinetmaker friend. How much money do you think he has to just hang it up and work on the communal goat farm? Or the contract price for CAD work is pretty darn good. Yet, this is a story about choosing quality of life over.....working for rich people.

I know a young lady who works 4 nights a week in a restaurant lounge, makes between 80 and 100k a year. Its a tough gig and 4 sometimes turns into 6 but it pays ok.

Of course that's in Boston. I have no idea what a union (or nonunion) janitor makes nowadays.

How much money do you think he has to just hang it up and work on the communal goat farm?

He doesn't have a lot of money, at all. He got some $$$ from the sale of his tools and other equipment, and he moved to a part of the state where the cost of living is lower. And he lives a pretty modest lifestyle.

I don't know what he gets for the CAD work. It's not that much. He doesn't, by design and intent and personal choice, need that much.

He's not working on a communal goat farm, he's doing basic research into what it would take to set up a communal goat farm. His goal is, basically, to roll out something that people can step into and run for themselves, in order to achieve some independence from the f***ing marketplace.

Don't borrow money, and grow your own food. It's not bad advice, for anyone.

He won't get a cent out of it, and has no desire to get a cent out of it. The conclusion he's come to over the last 30 or 40 years is that the institutions and general framework of modern American life is not oriented toward the welfare and well being of people who aren't rich and generally well connected.

So, he's building an alternative. Maybe it will work, maybe it won't. None of your business, either way. Nobody's asking you to raise goats, communally or otherwise. We all make our own choices.

And yeah, his choice was a matter of quality of life, and his personal understanding of a good quality of life was one in which his work product could be accessible to somebody other than rich people. Not excluding rich people, he has no ill will toward rich people, just not excluding everyone *except* rich people.

As above, none of your business either way. His choice.

Goats, BTW, are a really excellent choice for folks who want to bootstrap viable animal husbandry at a grass roots level. Cheap, hardy, good for meat or dairy, they don't need a lot of land, and they'll eat any damned thing. Just in case anyone's interested.

The only people who could afford his work were wealthy people, and that bugged him. Not a personal thing, they were perfectly good customers, he just didn't like working in a field where he couldn't work for folks who weren't rich

Well, couldn't he just charge less?

Anyone can make any choice they want about how to balance work and life. I work 55-60 hours a week, and I do that in 5 days. My day starts at 5:30 at the gym and I'm in office from 7 a.m. until 6:30 or 7 in the evening. My commute is 5 minutes, so I don't have that drag on my day. I don't work weekends or holidays and I take off 4 weeks a year. Because, up until 6 days ago, I was completely self-employed, time off meant money out of my pocket. Fine, that's why when I do work, I work a lot.

I like money, not for its own sake, but because, for example, plane tickets to Europe aren't free nor are the golf courses my wife and I play every Saturday and Sunday nor are the other things we like to do.

Because I have worked hard for 32 years, after college and law school, and because I'm pretty good at what I do, I am part of the disfavored 1%. That was not only my choice, the hard work, but my goal, to do well.

Slarti's 8:09 captures my approach to life. Everyone makes their choices and anyone who works deserves the same respect as anyone else who works.

I do have an issue with people, particularly people with kids to support and get through school, who do not work and earn to within 90-95% of their capacity and subject to available opportunity. Here's why: life isn't always fair. It's rarely completely fair and sometimes very unfair. When things go south in someone's life financially, I'm fine with helping someone who made the most of their opportunities. Folks who didn't, who took the easier way, who were fine making ends meet but no more, well, asking others to be there for them when life turns bad, that, to me, is an issue.

None of my business? Then don't bring it up. If you want to ...... aw forget it.

Well, couldn't he just charge less?

Not and live in eastern MA.

Anyone can make any choice they want about how to balance work and life.

100% correct.

None of my business? Then don't bring it up

You seemed to have some sarcastic point to make about my friend's story. My mistake if I misread that.

If the man wants to raise goats, I don't see that it's anything to you. That's all.

I brought it up because the quote in the NYT piece about the tailor made me think of my buddy. It was nice to see him and catch up, I hadn't seen him in a while.

A nice example is/was the graphic artist M.C.Escher. He wanted that his art would be affordable to anyone. Since he worked primarily in lithography and woodcuts there always could be multiple 'originals' but the number was still limited because each print wore down the block/plate a bit. He took great efforts (e.g. by never using a press) too keep that to a minimum but it really galled him that even during his lifetime the prices shot up far beyond what the common friend of arts could afford. And, of course, it has become much worse since then. From his point of view he had failed, not as an artist or financially but in that his originals would not for the most part end up with those that could really appreciate them but with those whose purse was filled enough and who would use them as status symbols. And Escher was at least as much if not even more a master craftsman than a visionary artist (it's fascinating to see how his ideas got developed and turned into the final designs, esp. considering that he had close to no understanding of math).

I do have an issue with people, particularly people with kids to support and get through school, who do not work and earn to within 90-95% of their capacity and subject to available opportunity.

So my wife shouldn't stay home with the kids? Is it all about money? No one should help us if we fall into misfortune because of it?

I'm not sure what it is you're saying here, Mck, but it sounds pretty sh1tty at first blush.

So my wife shouldn't stay home with the kids? Is it all about money? No one should help us if we fall into misfortune because of it?

I'm not sure what it is you're saying here, Mck, but it sounds pretty sh1tty at first blush.

I consider raising children to be working at 100% of capacity and the return isn't measured in dollars and cents. My expectation is that the wage earner goes the extra mile to stay employed and to advance. Your point is more than fair. If a spouse has to work part time to make ends meet with kids at the house, I consider that to be working at at least 95% of capacity. I could have been clearer.

Shhhhhh!!!! Don't let anyone see this part:

Yes. Much like neoclassical macro that begins, "Assume full employment".

The problem with capitalism is capitalists and their tendency to ignore "perfect competition", conspire amongst themselves, and use their wealth to bend government to their rent-seeking proclivities.

And Tex. Upon first read its almost as if you feel enabled to pass some kind of moral judgement on those who do not have their talents and strivings in perfect alignment. This leads to the all too familiar-"Well if you are poor, most likely you deserved it" attitude common in some self-satisfied quarters.

We all make moral judgements all the time on just about all things. That's what makes life so contentious, I guess. But that particular judgement you seem so willing to make I find particularly contemptible.

I'd ask you to revisit, if you could.

But that particular judgement you seem so willing to make I find particularly contemptible.

Well, either you misread what I wrote, or I am contemptible. Or both.

Just an observation on Brett's peculiar notions about janitors: I'd like to see him get by for a couple of weeks without a set of functioning kidney's. It would be interesting to see whether or not that experience (assuming he survived it) changed his opinions any.

"You seemed to have some sarcastic point to make about my friend's story. My mistake if I misread that.

If the man wants to raise goats, I don't see that it's anything to you. That's all."

I had nothing sarcastic to say, I was pointing out that your friend was probably reasonably well situated before he stepped away.

I am sure he can do fine growing his own food and living in (Western/Central?) MA. He won't be able to live without spending cash. He has to have health insurance, he has to buy staples(flour, sugar, salt, fuel). It is almost impossible to live without any money, so he needs to do pretty well on the CAD stuff or already have money, or both. Maybe he walked away at 65 so he has Medicare, that would help.

I live a very modest lifestyle and there is no way, before I get to Medicare, that I could "step away".

This is very difficult to do was my basic point. Not something one would likely do without being pretty well situated, even if he didn't feel like he was doing what he wanted with his life.

Well, either you misread what I wrote, or I am contemptible. Or both.

Could be. You did say, you "could have been clearer". Just asking for further clarification.

Well, either you misread what I wrote, or I am contemptible. Or both.

I'd just point out that what bobbyp wrote was

But that particular judgement you seem so willing to make I find particularly contemptible.

Hate the game, not the player, as it were.

Speaking for myself, and only myself, I tend to get a bit defensive when notions of how people (which I then take to be 'me') should be working and earning "to within 90-95% of their capacity". I mean (and here, my defensiveness is showing) what the hell does that mean? Some of the things that have made the biggest difference in my work and life have been things that have only come about when I've been able to step away and not work. You might say that this is part of my 'capacity' too, but if that's the case, anything I do is 'working to my capacity' and the concept is meaningless. If there is some refinement for what 'capacity' means, I'd love to hear it, but to me, it seems like 'doing what someone else thinks I should be doing'.

This is very difficult to do was my basic point. Not something one would likely do without being pretty well situated, even if he didn't feel like he was doing what he wanted with his life.

I hear what you're saying here, and my apologies for reading sarcasm into your comment when none was intended.

I don't really know the specifics of how much money my buddy has put away. I suspect it is not all that much. He's not in a position to just live off of his savings, he needs to figure out what's next, income-wise.

He just got tired of dealing with being a one-man owner-operator in an artisanal craft. It's a tough way to make a living. He was making it, he just wanted a change, apparently on a couple of levels.

Folks that do things that aren't amenable to scaling up and/or automation are up against it.

Likewise, folks who do stuff that depend on goods being inherently valuable - shoe repairmen, furniture repair and refinishing, etc. Whole categories of goods have crossed the line where it's cheaper to just throw them out and buy a new one, rather than fix the old one.

Commodification / automated manufacturing / etc definitely make lots of goods less expensive at the point of sale, and increase the efficiency of capital deployment, but they bring lots of other effects as well.

people should be working and earning "to within 90-95% of their capacity"

Oddly enough, perhaps, I'm sympathetic to McK's point here. I agree strongly in the idea that we bear some mutual responsibility toward each other, but "mutual" goes, by definition, two ways.

If one party is responsible to help the other when things are tough, the other is responsible to not abuse that. You have to do your best.

The issues I have with it are:

How do you even measure someone's "capacity to earn"?

How do you account for differences in how different kinds of work are compensated? What about a person who is a great first grade teacher, but a mediocre lawyer? Should they quit teaching first grade so that they can double or triple their salary as an average-at-best attorney?

If you could make 50% more by packing up the practice and throwing in with a big firm, should we all expect you to do so? What if it meant an hour commute, each way, every day? What if it meant having to work Saturdays?

I think folks should be expected to make a good and honest effort, but I have no idea how to make the "90-95%" metric useful in any meaningful way. And, it certainly opens the door to a level of social and governmental intrusion that I can't imagine McK really wanting, in real life.

Piling on, but trying to respect the original statement:

I do have an issue with people, particularly people with kids to support and get through school, who do not work and earn to within 90-95% of their capacity and subject to available opportunity.

I have an issue with this. A big one. When I graduated from college, almost 50 years ago, near the top of my class, I decided to do graduate work in history, which I liked, rather than go to law school or med school, which did not appeal to me. At that time, similar decisions were made by most of my top-ranking peers; it was only the second-echelon performers (at my small college) who went on to become doctors and lawyers. So be it.

This meant - and we knew it at the time - that over the course of our lifetimes as academics, we would rarely be within "90-95%" of the "earning capacity" of those who went to medical and law school. (Business school wasn't a big option in those days/parts).

We accepted this; often we grumbled about it; but we did not expect to get flack (from lawyers) about the ethics of our choice!

As it happens, after a long career - roughly half underpaid, half overpaid - I was fortunate enough to wind up with plenty to retire on, thank you very much. I can't take regular trips to Europe (though I've been there many times) nor do I want to join an expensive golf club (since I don't play golf), but we're doing just fine.

And I don't appreciate criticism from some overpaid lawyer, however hard-working he once was. Your greater wealth does not make you a superior person; your condescension does not betoken higher morality.

I didn't take mcKTx's comments as condescending. But that's likely highly subjective.

I think the problem in these discussions is summarized in russell's:

I think folks should be expected to make a good and honest effort, but I have no idea how to make the "90-95%" metric useful in any meaningful way.

Because i don't know many families that don't have the lazy brother-in-law, or someone, or that don't have the hard working son that just doesn't make as much as others. The daughter or sister that just doesn't work although they could use the money, or the sister that it makes no sense for her to work because child care for three is so expensive.

There are rational lifestyle decisions and then ones that seem questionable. There are people who make them and make the best of it, and people who make them and then blame everything else in the world for their hard lives.

Or, maybe shorter, there isn't a general rule, but everyone knows people of both types.

"He (Romney), however, gave away his inheritance as that term is normally understood."

Well, that's the story he tells, yes, but is there actually any evidence of this? I noticed you had links to the other assertions and I have seen this mentioned in other places, but unless there is real evidence to support this I am going to assume it is total bullsh!t, much like everything else in Romney's resume turns out to be.

Further, even if this were true and I've made perfectly clear that I highly doubt that to be the case, his "inheritance" would also include being the son of a top CEO, Governor and presidential nominee which would absolutely open doors unavailable to regular people, much as leveraging his father's name and access to him allowed Tagg Romney a foot in the door to a business he is otherwise wholly unqualified for.

Well, that's the story he tells, yes, but is there actually any evidence of this?

When George Romney died in '95, he left Mitt about $1M. Mitt donated the entire amount to BYU's business school.

cite.

Romney is, personally, a generous person. He has a truly enormous pot of wealth to work with, but he's also under no obligation to give away a dime.

On a percentage basis, a lot of his charitable giving goes to the LDS, which is arguably obligatory, since he is a Mormon. That said, he is still a very generous charitable contributor, above and beyond his religious obligations.

There are lots of things to criticize in Romney, but IMO his personal generosity and general niceness as a human being are not among them.

Your other points about Mitt benefiting from his father's legacy in a broad number of other ways is IMO right on.

It's very nice that Mitt gives away money that he doesn't need and doesn't even feelthe loss of.

But its easy to be generous when no sacrifice is iinvolved. Such generousity doesn not, i my mind, mitigate one whit the meanness of supporting tax cuts for himslef while kickig the lifesupport right out from under disabled people. Fuck him.

There data somewhere about percent of income devoted to charitable donations from the various Amerrcian income brackets and i think that the lower brackets consistantly give a bigger proportion of income indoonations thatn the uppoer ones.But Ido ot have a cite for this.

Instead I will reiterate a point I made earlier: generous donation to charity has long been the way basically slefish people eased their consciences while they supported policies that harmed other people, enriched themselves, and make the charities necessary. Mitt's just another pig, the bad guy in the story.

Folks who didn't, who took the easier way, who were fine making ends meet but no more, well, asking others to be there for them when life turns bad, that, to me, is an issue.

Wow, in times when around half the people live paycheck to paycheck and around half the people are in debt ... that's rich.

Folks who didn't, who took the easier way, who were fine making ends meet but no more

The other thing I'd say about this is that the choice to simply "make ends meet" is far from always the "easier way".

There are *many* professional paths one can take in life that amount to, basically, a lifetime of "making ends meet". Maybe sometimes a little more, maybe in fact sometimes a little less.

A lot of those professions are, in fact, quite valuable, they just don't pay a whole lot. By "a whole lot" I mean enough that you could readily support the normal course of adult life - establish a home, raise kids, save for retirement, etc - on what they pay.

Sometimes people go into those fields because there's just not that much around and it's their best shot. Sometimes they go into those fields because it's what they are best at. Sometimes they go into those fields because they offer rewards other than money.

But a hell of a lot of people get up and go to work every day and "make ends meet but no more", or barely more, and you wouldn't want to live in a world where they did not do so. And those folks' choice to do what they do is quite often not at all "easy".

My personal solution to this is *pay them more money*. Then they wouldn't need you to subsidize them through public channels. Just pay them more money, period.

That option is not attractive because of how we, in the US, view the proper relationship between the labor market and owners. But if you don't want to fund a robust safety net, it's one of the options.

The other point I'll make here is that, if you work as an attorney, you benefit from not only your own personal hard work, but also from what is essentially a legally sanctioned craft guild.

Virtually all public transactions have to pass through your hands, either by law or by virtue of basic risk management (i.e., to limit the risk of lawsuit), and nobody can act as gatekeeper without the imprimatur of law school sheepskin and bar accreditation.

Attorney is one of many professions in which succeeding in a free market by virtue of your own personal excellence is not the reality.

Nothing against attorneys, I just think there's a significant blind spot in operation here, somewhere.

Don't mean to be picking on McT or ccdg here, I do think people are disappointed when they know someone who isn't making the most of their abilities, but there are two things that come to mind. The first is that I started out as a music major and I cannot count the number of people who had,some real skills but never got even close to that 90-95 percent. The second thing is that if any of the folks here on the liberal side even breathed a hint of trying to have government determine what someone needed to do to reach their potential, the scream would be long and loud...

The comedian LouisCK does a funny bit about how banks charge broke folks with $10 left in their checking accounts a fee of $15 because they ... don't have enough money in their bank accounts.

Then, of course, we're into overdraft territory and here comes (yet another one of the petty abasements and comeuppances salted throughout the system to continally remind those who come up short of their shortness) the opportunity for broke folks who just sold one end to pay the other end to boost the banks' shareholders' return on equity through fees for whom the wolf at the door whops.

Louis doesn't go far enough, of course.

Think about it.

The guy who is charged these "poor taxes" is having his money confiscated ("mooched" it's called in some low-brow literary salons) which ostensibly goes to the banks' balance sheet and then is redistributed in the form of loans and toasters to folks who (commendably) possess the assets and money to qualify for them.

LouisCK, again commendably, because of talent and hard work, even accounting for luck and circumstance, is rich beyond his wildest comedic dreams and unless his agent and money managers have skimmed all of it away from him, I doubt he worries about overdraft fees, or if he does, he consults the guy (who happens to be fine for now making ends meet) who carries his checkbook for him.

But there are thousands of under-earning, but very talented comedians out there who are just making ends meet (Hello. This is my friend "End". I'd like to introduce you to my other friend, "End". Finally, you meet. Perhaps you'll hit it off, having the same names and all) who still get charged the overdraft fees which they turn around and lend to LouisCK, the proceeds, part of which I assume LouisCK then gives to his underachieving buddies because he knows what a big role luck plays in success in his business.

This reminds me though of successful actors and actresses who have kicked the dust of their going-nowhere small farm and factory towns and dead-ended families and friends off their shoes and find commendable success and wealth playing dead-ended family members and friends with sizable overdraft fees in going-nowhere small towns on the silver screen, which the dead-ended friends and family members (hey, no one's forcing them at gunpoint, unless it's a Batman movie) incur further overdraft fees to see at the local multiplex, and how about some $8 popcorn and the super-sized sody pop to tax the insulin-producing pancreas as well.

Odd, the recycling of other's misery without a royalty paid to the miserable for having their misery appropriated.

"Folks who didn't, who took the easier way, who were fine making ends meet but no more .."

We require a rotating cast of surplus, low-cost labor to collect our garbage and wipe our parents' asses in nursing homes, among the myriad other daily, quotidian tasks we require, and otherwise are fine (look up "fine" in the dictionary and see if it means what we think it means) making ends meet but no more.

We should thank our lucky stars for these underachievers.

John Galt will need his ass wiped at some point.

But will there be any altruists left to do it?

It's very nice that Mitt gives away money that he doesn't need and doesn't even feelthe loss of.

I'm sure you felt just the same way about John Kerry, only more so. Given that Kerry is worth $150 million and donates chump change, while Romney donated $4M (~20% of income) last year and $3M the year before. Given that Romney is worth only slightly more than Kerry and donates orders of magnitude more, he is definitely worthy of your scorn.

And, sure, Romney is a member of the Church of LDS and is required to tithe 10%. But that kind of thing is a choice; you can always separate from the church.

Not saying this makes Romney a hero or anything, just noting to approach some sane amount of parity in treatment.

The question is whether both or only one try to make political hay out of their charity. I simply do not know about Kerry. Romney on the other hand tries to have his donations to charity be counted as part of his tax burden in order to parry the attacks on his successful tax avoidance (I deliberately do not use the term evasion since most of it seems to be legal).

Aside from the bizarreness of Slarti both resorting to the tu quoque, and invoking someone who, so far as I know, is not a candidate for President this year (do you have a longer list of people we should also be heaping scorn upon? I want to make sure I'm covered), I believe Laura's point is that Romney gives money to charity while also working hard to create a society in which, in her view, more and more people will be forced to rely on it, rather than the reverse.

Seriously, aside from his convention speech, what does John Kerry have to do with anything at all?

I believe Laura's point is that Romney gives money to charity while also working hard to create a society in which, in her view, more and more people will be forced to rely on it, rather than the reverse.

The specific point of Laura's that I was responding to was the comment about how insignificantly tiny an amount of money those donations were to Romney. If you want to take up that part of the discussion, feel free. I'm going to decline debating the unspoken subtext of Romney's platform with you.

Seriously, aside from his convention speech, what does John Kerry have to do with anything at all?

He was the last really wealthy Democrat to run for President. I would have mentioned it but I thought it was so dead obvious that it wouldn't need mentioning.

russell:

The fact that Romney effectively didn't inherit at his father's death in '95 means nothing. Presumably George, like Mitt after him, provided for his children via gifts and trusts *before* death.

The fact that Mitt could go to college, start a family during college, then get a JD+MBA at Harvard (which must have been very expensive) while having a house, wife, & growing family *without* having a job or being saddled with debt, suggests very strongly that the family gave him financial assistance that today would be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

How do you know how generous Mitt's charitable giving is as a rule, btw? As his father said, "one year could be a fluke."

"I believe Laura's point is that Romney gives money to charity while also working hard to create a society in which, in her view, more and more people will be forced to rely on it, rather than the reverse."

That was my point. After the Republicans succeed in turning Medicare into a voucher program and cut a thrid out of the Medicaid budget, what are people going to do? I suppose they could just die. That would serve the Republican party well. However the elderly and disabled and sick probably won't oblige the Republican party by dying right away. That means they will have to cope with incresed medical expenses by going to charities for things they used to be able to afford, like firewood, electricity, or food.

Of course the loss of Medicaid will mean the loss of careproviders so there won't be anyone to bring the firewood in to the disabled person, to go to the food bank for the diabled person and so on. But maybe Mitt will found a charity that cooordinates volunteers that will show up in homes of the millions of disabled people who lose their care providers due to Mitt's policies.

Or may the people will just die and Mitt and Ryan won't have to pretend to care about them.

Laura, declaring Medicaid unconstitutional is a bullet point in the Republican Party's platform.

Sure, they say they plan to devolve it completely to the States, but if you learn about their whack job candidates at the state and local levels, you'll see that their ideology merely favors murder at the level of government closest to the victims.

It's cheaper and encourages personal responsibility, mostly through ... ahem .... attrition.

However, the advent of personal in-the-home 3-D weapons manufacturing should cause the Republican Party to think twice about following through with their murderous agenda, if in fact gun ownership in self-defense does reduce murder by government.

I wouldn't want to run the public meeting wherein it's announced the frail elderly and the poor will be on their own or at least have to shop for their choice of misery.

You give people a week's notice of their demise and they'll be printing guns 24 hours a day in preparation for their chance to express themselves via the printed weapon on meeting day.

The fact that Romney effectively didn't inherit at his father's death in '95 means nothing.

Perhaps I should clarify my position.

IMVHO Romney demonstrates a general lack of awareness that the policies he recommends, and intends to implement, will cause a huge amount of suffering for, most likely, millions of other people.

I don't think that's due to his being sociopathic, or evil. I think he has a point of view that is fairly typical of folks with his background and life history.

I think he would be a freaking disaster as President. But, as a point of fact, he did give away the money he inherited from his father when his father died.

I don't see the point in trying to paint him as an evil guy, or a selfish guy. At a personal level, he appears to be quite generous.

There are plenty of other things to find troubling about the idea of Mitt as President. I'm not sure folks need to make up any more.

...just noting to approach some sane amount of parity in treatment.

When Mitt is effectively Swift Boated, we'll have parity.

Why not have a go at taking on Laura's main point? Both the current GOP and its presidential candidate advocate public policies that would effectively defenestrate large swaths of the middle and lower classes, impoverish the elderly, hollow out our commons, and otherwise wildly and disastrously skewer our national priorities.

After the Republicans succeed in turning Medicare into a voucher program and cut a thrid out of the Medicaid budget, what are people going to do? I suppose they could just die.

Yes, some folks will just die. Other folks will endure a broad spectrum of other, non-fatal hardships.

That's the reality.

When Mitt is effectively Swift Boated, we'll have parity.

He's a felon; he hasn't paid any taxes in years.

Why not have a go at taking on Laura's main point?

You want me to also pretend that Legislative matters and a candidate for the Executive have something in common? No, thank you.

Effectively!

And, um, what???

That last comment is a bit of a cop out. Of course a President can't pass laws. How ever Mitt has endorsed the legislative agenda of Ryan and the rest of teh Republicans and would certainly sign into law anything they passed including changing Medicare into a voucher system and one of the various optios for destroying Medicaid underconsideration by the Republican party: (halving the federal part of the funding, reducig the federal part by a third , or amking it entirely astate resposponsibility).

It is't swiftboating Mitt to ask him why he hasn't released his taxes. You will be able to make the case they he is bbeing swiftboated when a billionaire pays hundreds of thousands of dollars to an individual so that individual can write a book for of lies charging him with a specific reason for hiding his taxes which a shadow group of gazillionaires then use as a basis for TV ads which they fund separately from the Dems so that the Dems can claim to have nothig to do woith it while the whole party gets behind spreading the lies.

But that hasn't happened. ALl that has happened is Mitt has kept his taxes hidden, Harry Reid passed on gossip and other Democrats have been asking Mitt why he is hiding his taxes.

Not the same thing. Not even close.

That last comment is a bit of a cop out.

Sorry that I am introducing some unhelpful reality into the discussion.

How ever Mitt has endorsed the legislative agenda of Ryan

Vice President has even less to do with legislative success than does the President. As you well know, or should.

would certainly sign into law anything they passed including changing Medicare into a voucher system and one of the various optios for destroying Medicaid underconsideration by the Republican party

Any or all of which is less preferable than donning blinders and pretending that Medicare/aid are in spiffy shape until proven otherwise. And of course it's a simply awful idea to localize control of spending, rather than have the ship of social programs be steered by nameless, faceless bureaucrats half a continent away rather than by nameless faceless bureaucrats within reach of the state legislature.

I happen to think that state and local administration (subject to federal guidelines) of federal programs is preferable to administration at the federal level.

I submit that "destroying Medicaid" is at best a cartoon of what's actually being proposed, and one badly drawn by DNC talking-point mills. I am not going to argue hysterical rhetoric with you.

It is't swiftboating Mitt to ask him why he hasn't released his taxes

That wasn't my claim. My claim was that they've (Harry Reid in particular) slandered him by saying that he hasn't paid any taxes. Also, Obama's own deputy campaign manager claimed that Romney has committed some kind of felony, which (magically!) has resulted in zero arrests.

The point is not whether these claims are true; the point is that the purpose of making them is to slander. And it's not some unconnected group of veterans doing it; it's people who have power and influence in the party.

None of the above is meant to signify much in the way of approval of Mitt Romney. To me, he looks much like a Democrat wearing Republican clothing. If he were a Democrat, he'd be welcomed with open arms, I submit. What you can expect from Mitt are timely budget proposals (which would be a refreshing change, I submit) made to Congress, which may or may not be destructive of Medicare/aid, but will nonetheless be completely & agonizingly revised and haggled over by Congress.

I protest the slander that I'm a Democrat in Republican clothing.

Good God man, have you no shame?

And I haven't the faintest idea why you believe it is a slanderous claim that I have paid no taxes.

When elected President this November, I will make it my first order of business that all Americans can lay claim to the same slander.

Count me among those who view paying no taxes as the highest praise.

My tax accountants look askance at your calumny.


When Governor of Massachusetts, I compromised with my Democratic colleagues on most issues, including taxes.

I see no shame in that.

Yes, Harry Reid is a slanderous cad. I paid 100% of my income in taxes over the past ten years.

I'll have you know that I haven't purchased a new pair of funky underwear in several years due to the paucity of funds in my IRA, for which I take no deductions on my Federal taxes.

When elected President this November, I will raise taxes on myself and Paul Ryan and cut taxes on everyone else.

I view paying taxes as a patriotic duty and a personal pleasure.

If anything, my eagerness to pay taxes keeps my accountants in their jobs, which is what it's all about.

Love, Mitt Romney

P.S. This is a whirlwind campaign and sometimes my harried staff loses track of which audience I'm addressing. In my previous comment here, I was told (note to self: fire someone) that I was commenting at Redstate. Turns out this blog leans slightly left but possesses a creamy nougat conservative center.

Also, I don't know why I called myself Countme-In in that previous comment. Who dat?

I am Everyman. I am a rock. I am woman.

My claim was that they've (Harry Reid in particular) slandered him by saying that he hasn't paid any taxes.

What he actually said was that he was told Romney hadn't paid any income taxes. Which, if Romney's own estimate of an overall 13.9% tax liability is correct, is probably true.

Also, Obama's own deputy campaign manager claimed that Romney has committed some kind of felony, which (magically!) has resulted in zero arrests.

No, he said that if X, then quite likely Y. Which is not the same as saying "Y!" But if you're bucking for an IRS peek into whether X is true, I'm all for it.

If you're going to start drinking Kool-Aid, make sure it's the right flavor.

The point is not whether these claims are true; the point is that the purpose of making them is to slander.

Nobody would have ever said a word about Romney's taxes, in all likelihood, if he weren't running around claiming they were too high. We'll never know, will we?

And of course it's a simply awful idea to localize control of spending, rather than have the ship of social programs be steered by nameless, faceless bureaucrats

Do you want me to Google that for you? I bet I can find their names and pictures within, say, three hours. If it will make you feel better.

Sorry that I am introducing some unhelpful reality into the discussion.

Did Obama play a part in the passage of the ACA?

I submit that "destroying Medicaid" is at best a cartoon of what's actually being proposed

The CBO estimates that, under the Ryan proposals, federal Medicaid spending in 2022 will be 34% lower than it is now.

To my knowledge, there's nothing in the plan that drives costs lower, so that is almost certainly either going to mean states have to come up with many billions more, or the level of services will be significantly lower.

So, "destroying Medicaid" may be a cartoon, but the caricature bears a more than passing resemblance to the original.

The people who receive assistance under Medicaid are pretty much the neediest populations in the US. There isn't really anyplace else for them to go for help.

Medicaid enrollment in 2010 was *50 million* people. Are the churches, community chests, and local Rotary clubs going to step in and make up a 34% gap for 50 million people?

Are the states going to raise taxes to make up the shortfall?

Are the folks currently living in nursing homes, or receiving necessary in-home assistance, somehow going to throw away their crutches, rise up, and walk?

Are all the families who don't make a freaking lot of money, and who now rely on SCHIP for health insurance for their kids, going to pay the doctor in chickens?

No.

What is going to happen is that a lot of those 50 million people are going to be eating a sh*t sandwich. A lot. And for "a lot", you can read both "a lot of people" and "a lot of sh*t".

The cost of medical care is rising much faster than inflation. That's the problem.

IMVHO, all of the Republican plans for addressing that issue amount to "sorry, we can't figure it out, we're giving you an allowance and it's up to you from here on out".

Also IMVHO, that approach is, manifestly, inadequate, and a profound abdication of responsibility.

"Sorry, not my job" is not an inspiring position for a candidate for the highest public office in the country to take.

In my opinion. As always, all y'all's MMV.

Vice President has even less to do with legislative success than does the President.

It's as though the policy preferences of the candidates aren't meaningful or important. Well, that changes things, doesn't it? Who cares what their priorities are or agendas entail? That doesn't matter, you big silly.

What he actually said was that he was told Romney hadn't paid any income taxes.

Oh, that makes a huge difference.

Which, if Romney's own estimate of an overall 13.9% tax liability is correct, is probably true.

Really? You're saying that interest and dividends aren't income?

No, he said that if X, then quite likely Y. Which is not the same as saying "Y!" But if you're bucking for an IRS peek into whether X is true, I'm all for it.

She. Obama's deputy campaign manager is female. And that felony claim has nothing at all to do with the IRS. But yes, the claim was put in an either-felon-or-liar form, which is nicer.

Nobody would have ever said a word about Romney's taxes, in all likelihood, if he weren't running around claiming they were too high. We'll never know, will we?

I would like you to Google that for me.

One view is that human beings are measured by how much money they make, the other by the quality of their character. One assumes inate supperiority of the person who makes lots of money, the other doesn't assume a connection between character and income.

We hire young men, a whole succession of them, actually. They usually are good workers but every six months or so they get busted for drugs or get jailed for drunk driving or something. We have not been able to find anyone steady.
Why not? Well, the pay is lousy and there's no benefits.

I thought the topic was working for a living. Not everyone works at a job--caretakers (children, the elderly, the disabled) being the best example. I also thought I made it clear that I was signing on to Slarti's 8:09 comment regarding the dignity of work, regardless of kind or character.

I am fully aware that many are called to lives of service that are not highly remunerative (teachers, professors, paramedics, firefighters, police, military etc), hence my adoption of Slarti's comment.

My comment re 'work and earn at 90-95%' addresses several classes of people I've observed over the years.

Class One: the young men who work at Laura's gated community for 6 months or so before getting arrested for this or that. No sympathy here.

Class Two: people who don't take advantage of a free public education, who don't acquire a skill or find a job and improve themselves, I have a problem with this. Always have, always will.

Class Three: people who, after obtaining a job, regardless of the field, do just enough to get by. They resent their fellow workers who show initiative, stay late, apply themselves and advance.

Class Four: can encompass elements of the first three classes, but is marked by a general attitude of self-indulgence such that they work just enough to get by, or borrow or whatever, and treat life as a personal recreational undertaking. This class includes the lazy.

None of the above, in my view, are candidates for societal assistance. Anyone is free to make any choice they want; however, they are not free to expect or demand that others subsidize it. Nor are those who choose a path of 'less reward/greater personal job satisfaction' well positioned to criticize those who are financially successful.

And, yes, I agree the '90-95%' metric is somewhat hazy. It's like pornography, hard to define but easy enough to recognize: I know effort when I see, so do most people. Very few can give 100% day in and day out and not burn out. But, with a reasonable degree of self-application, it isn't difficult to come close and to do so consistently.

Questions for Dr. Ngo: how many times have you observed students who you knew were not taking advantage of not just the great opportunity being hand-delivered to them but also not taking advantage of their own talents and abilities? Did it make you want to write them a check, find some source of money so that they could continue to work at half speed? To take this a step further, you worked hard to be at the top of your class: do you think the mediocre student should have had the same shot at grad school and a professorship as you? I'm guessing not.

Here's another guess, Dr. Ngo: that every college you've ever attended or at which you've taught had a minimum GPA and that students who didn't maintain at least that minimum were probated and then suspended.

Slacking off and not taking advantages of opportunity has a price. That's life, not a reason for being supported by others.


treat life as a personal recreational undertaking

. . .

I thought you were an Episcopalian, not a Calvinist? Are those "plane tickets to Europe" to which you referred above work-related? Clearly on some level you believe in "Work to live, don't live to work," so where you get off categorizing and judging others is something of a mystery.

It's like the man said: Nobody ever lay on his or her deathbed and thought, "I wish I had spent more time at the office."

Not everyone works at a job--caretakers (children, the elderly, the disabled) being the best example.

Oh, those are jobs, all right. Full-time jobs. We've just decided as a culture that their economic value is precisely zero, even when they actively interfere with other productive economic activity. (I'm sure my mother would like to not lose her $100 weekly "bonus" for working 40 hours, but my grandmother has to get to the doctor and get bathed and get fed somehow.)

Medicaid is underfunded right now. It is adminstered by the states right now within guidelines. Too much regulation etc is a rightwing stereotype that is dragged out not to solve a real problem but to justify underfunding and therefore creating more problems.

Claims that the Republicans are trying to destroy Medicaid are just as self-indulgent and intellectually dishonest as claims that global warming is a fraud.


This is how it works:

1. state level Republicans put through attacks on basic state revenues. In my state that included removing the inheretance tax, for example.
2. State level Repubicans, having reduced revenues, make it nearly impossible to raise them again. I(n my state this took the form of a ninitative that requires a two thirds majority in both Houses of he legislature.
3. Natiooal Repubicans slash the funding that goes to the states, thus reducing state revenues further
4. All of this is justified by a system of lies believed by the people who want to ratioonnalize thier selfishness: too much bureaucracy, more local choice, lazy bums on welfare, blah,blah,blah.
5. the result is lack of basic services. Whenthis causes a scadal tht gets on teh news the Republicans use it as an excuse to cut revenues further.
Result? Cuts in everything. We have lost our Animal Cogtrol officer, are aboutto lose the municiple dog shelter (because cuts in fuds to states have a ripple efffect and result in cuts ot municiplaities), local law enforcement doesn't even ivestigate burglaries any more, local government which supplied the olny living wage jobs is not hiring, the foster care system is overwhelmed, and Medicaid recepients hava already had cutbacks in services. If Medicaid is cut more people will die.

But we are supposed to believe that Mitt and Ryan's commmitment to cutting any more will have absolutely nothing to do with their preformance as P and VP, and that the additio large cuts the Republicans in COngress want to make aren't a big deal because blah, blah, blah...

Which one of my clients do you want to kill?

And none of this has anything whatsoever to do with supporting slackers. IT has to do with people using the myth of support for slackers to cover up the fact that that are too damn selfish to pay their membership dues to support a civil society.

so where you get off categorizing and judging others is something of a mystery

You're right, I don't respect people who don't pull their own weight even though they can. You're also right that I work to live, not vice versa. But, going forward I will look forward to you not categorizing and judging others.

Romney has told bold faced lies about his taxes at least once where it mattered and added a public 'you have take my word' to it. Details: In order to run for governor of Massachusetts* he had to prove residency either by actually living and/or filing his tax returns there. In the critical time period he was in Utah to save the Olympics but claimed MA residency due to allegedly having payed his taxes there. He refused to prove that claim and publicly demanded to be trusted on that. When through other channels documentary proof became available that he had filed in Utah (for a significantly lower rate), he had to refile in MA and pay the due taxes in order to retroactively fulfill the residency conditions. He should at least have been struck from the ballot if not actually brought to court for election law violation. And it should have destroyed any kind of credibility he had on the topic (iirc he tried to shift the blame to his accountants, saying that he may have signed the documents but not read them).
No, Mr.Romney, for you it can no longer be 'trust and (maybe) verify' but 'no trust only verify'.
Before someone brings that up again: independent of party actual holders of high office should be distrusted more in general. The current administration's secrecy is as shameful as its predecessor's (and that's on political not personal matters).

*in itself a grave maybe unforgivable sin if you ask some people ;-)

Fair enough, McK, I do categorize. Let's put it this way: People make their work/life decisions based on dozens if not hundreds of factors, probably 99% of which are completely invisible to you, to me and to everyone except the individuals themselves. So aside from the most gobsmackingly-obvious cases of slackers and cheats -- which I'm going to WAG comprise a pretty slim percentage of people in need -- your judgments are probably more indicative of your own prejudices and framing than anything those people are doing.

do you think the mediocre student should have had the same shot at grad school and a professorship as you?

I'm not dr ngo, but I've had enough mediocre students who, when something caught their interest, turned into to people who developed skills that were/are enviable. In fact, I'd suggest that one of the main problems with higher education is that it self selects people who are good at school, and then sets in concrete ways of teaching and learning that may work for people who are good at school, but don't really take into account the range of people's potentials and possibilities. Your questions make it seem that the job of an educator is a gatekeeper, whereas I view it as trying to find the factor or factors that have a student become inspired. Envisioning it as a 'shot' that students get to do X makes me wonder why every defendant should get the same shot at proving whether they are innocent or guilty when it is clear that some of them are guilty.

IF anyone actually cares enough about their citizenship to bother knowing what they are voting for and what Mitt and Ryan would work with their colleagues in Congress to legislate if elected, then read this:

thehttp://campaignstops.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/09/edsall-the-ryan-sinkhole/?hpn

That article pretty much says that they don't know what Ryan has planned. Which sounds disturbingly like the healthcare bill.

Our government is getting so complicated that even people who work there don't understand the legislation. Let's continue driving it further in that direction, right?

Envisioning it as a 'shot' that students get to do X makes me wonder why every defendant should get the same shot at proving whether they are innocent or guilty when it is clear that some of them are guilty.

Actually, I was a lot more specific: who gets the limited number of grad school slots, the proven academic or the mediocre student? Why not just draw lots?

LJ, my point isn't obscure. Do you take personal responsibility when a slacker won't respond to your inspiration? Is it really the system's fault that people who volunteer to partake in the system won't apply themselves?

As for the comparison with the presumption of innocence and the requirement, regardless of how compelling guilt may be, that the state prove each element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt, I am simply not tracking. It isn't a crime to be lazy or unmotivated or to be an underachiever by choice or default. It simply doesn't make that person a victim or a candidate for state support.

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