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April 03, 2017

Comments

Yes, I agree with the article. Bernie is a very recognizable type from the early days. I liked him too - the good ObWi searchers can probably find me waxing ecstatically about the first debates, how much I admired both candidates.

But something happened when he started echoing something that was also a Trump mantra. "Crooked Hillary." "Wall Street Hillary." "Greedy Hillary." "Rigged." This was partly Putin's gift, and Bernie played right along. (Putin's role is one that the article doesn't mention.) I linked to this before, because it describes so well the misogyny that was this campaign.

Most women my age were Hillary supporters, although some were adamantly for Bernie. It was interesting to me to consider what I knew about their own personal histories to see how that could have affected their views. I have some theories, but obviously not based on anything but anecdote. Will share if the conversation goes in that direction.

The real damage to Hilary came 8 years ago. The Wall Street and establishment labels were the foundation of Obamas primary run. I don't think that bringing her in as SOS did much to fix the damage done and Bernie just hurt her more.

As clearly the most pragmatic candidate she was caught in a crossfire of not being enough anything and no amount of policy made her likable.

Most women my age were devoutly anti-Hilary for reasons that had more to do with her relationship to Bill than with her competence.

As an impartial observer, ahem, I think the article made so ok points, but it was, as these articles typically are, the most charitable view of her changing views over time.

Couple that with the intensely untrue that she has been treated differently because she is a woman across thirty or more years in the public arena and I am not too swayed by this article.

I would like one article to start with: she got as good as she gave over the last thirty years of carrying the torch for her side and it wore on her image, as it would for anyone who so aggressively took on all comers as aggressively as she has over that extended a period of time.

Then we could talk about what she deserved or didn't in a context that I would be happy to have the discussion.

Most women my age were devoutly anti-Hilary for reasons that had more to do with her relationship to Bill than with her competence.

You're talking about white women? Because most women your age, and most women generally, voted for Clinton.

Some numbers.

she got as good as she gave over the last thirty years of carrying the torch for her side and it wore on her image, as it would for anyone who so aggressively took on all comers as aggressively as she has over that extended a period of time.

This sounds right to me though.

Play nice? Only if I post once and then stay away.

I thought the article made a few valid points, but was in most places condescending and one sided. If I stated everything I thought I would have to argue on several fronts. This would inevitably get heated. Also, I think there is a pro Hillary mythology that has sprung up as a reaction to the anti Hillary mythology. Some of us dislike the Clintons for reasons that include their personal failings and the failings of the mainstream Demicratic Party more generally. The author ignored those failings, reducing it to a convenient morality play where sexism, old lefty nostalgia and youthful ignorance united to bring down the most qualified political leader in the history of this or any other universe.

I feel the writer's pain. It is deeply upsetting when people are duped into disagreeing with me.

Also, I think there is a pro Hillary mythology that has sprung up as a reaction to the anti Hillary mythology. Some of us dislike the Clintons for reasons that include their personal failings and the failings of the mainstream Demicratic Party more generally. The author ignored those failings, reducing it to a convenient morality play where sexism, old lefty nostalgia and youthful ignorance united to bring down the most qualified political leader in the history of this or any other universe.

That's vague enough. Kind of like "hypocrisy".

Donald, it's an excerpt, so I don't know if it is fair to make blanket claims on what the author does or does not ignore. I can agree that the things you point out are not on display here. I tend to see this as the double standard: Hillary has to prepare more than any man would and by preparing, she proves herself to be inauthentic.

I'm not sure how we can separate their failings from what has been reported. It seems to me that the only way someone can carry a liberal flag is if they are someone who has no detailed background or history. This also plugs into the cult of youth that we have in the States.

Given the dysfunction that we see in the Trump administration, the snark about her qualifications seems to be misplaced as well.

Sec. Clinton was flawed, but so has been every other person ever to run for President. I personally have never liked WJC; apparently I'm blind to his legendary charm. And I thought the DLC era went on for a decade after it became actively harmful to the Democratic Party.

IMHO Sen. Sanders would have been a disastrous candidate in the general (voters of color would have stayed home), and, had he won, a worse President (the Presidency is unkind to one-trick ponies and outsiders).

It is sad that the merely good so often gets rejected because it's not perfect, leaving an opening in which the actively bad can flourish.

Well, the contradictions have been heightened to an extraordinary degree: we have a damned fool in the White House, advised by a fascist, and we've lost SCOTUS for a generation. Perhaps something good will grow from the ashes, but I expect the enormous price of this great national mistake will continue to make me sad for the rest of my life.

I can agree that the things you point out are not on display here.

What things? I think that if we're going to be talking about people's failings, we should do so one by one.

I'll name a few things:

Bill Clinton was attracted to women in a way that didn't serve him well.

Hillary Clinton tolerated this to the extent that she remained married to him. Death do us part, and all.

They paid a huge amount of money defending themselves over mostly frivolous lawsuits, resulting in their not having much extra cash at the end of Bill's presidency. They learned from that: money is useful.

Maybe they liked money all along. So did Bernie. Tax returns? Many houses? Hypocrisy anyone?

Let's state what we're innuendoing here, and discuss that, not "the article left out something, just as Samantha Power is a scumbag because she didn't take on Chomsky's book on East Timor".

It is sad that the merely good so often gets rejected because it's not perfect, leaving an opening in which the actively bad can flourish.

Thank you, joel. This seems to be the story (intermittently) of my lifetime. Thank goodness for the Clinton and Obama years. Hope we see something reasonably as good again.

It is sad that the merely good so often gets rejected because it's not perfect, leaving an opening in which the actively bad can flourish.

This hits both sides. I bet you can find a bunch of folks on the right who would look at last year's Republican primaries and say much the same: We got so focused on who would be the perfect conservative candidate that we let this noxious reprobate get the nomination. Worse, he shows no sign of at least managing to rubber stamp our agenda.

I bet you can find a bunch of folks on the right who would look at last year's Republican primaries and say much the same: We got so focused on who would be the perfect conservative candidate that we let this noxious reprobate get the nomination.

Who?

I know you love your Republicans, wj. Keep the faith.

By the way, folks, have you seen anyone trying to move Trump to the left? There's plenty of room! The "movers to the left" aren't saying much lately. Nor are the hypocrisy pointer outers. (Except for the Hillary hypocrisy pointer outers, who have accomplished their mission pretty well.)

Pretty much anyone right of Republican Party center. (Not, mind, to be confused with the national political center.)

Personally, I think Trump will end up doing the country less damage than someone like Cruz would have. (Whether Cruz could have beaten Clinton is a separate question.) Simply because he is incapable of working with others to do what I see as damage.

Personally, I think Trump will end up doing the country less damage than someone like Cruz would have.

Who knows?

Republicans seem to be letting it all transpire, so I'm not convinced of their dismay.

I think the same thing I always think about Hilary.

a dedicated, tough, and largely successful career politician and public policy wonk. she's had a career that most in her field would envy.

her biggest liabilities have been (a) the name clinton and (b) being an openly and unapologetically ambitious woman, in her generation.

yeah, she hangs out with bankers, and that smells. welcome to america.

yeah, she hangs out with bankers, and that smells. welcome to america.

At least they were American bankers.

i've never been crazy about Hillary Clinton as a retail politician. but, she was by far the best of the left, this time around. and she would've been 24.7x10^365 times better than the lethal embarrassment of the sexual predator and serial bankrupter, Trump (looks down and spits on the ground every time his name gets mentioned).

especially when delivered to a generation that knew very little about her beyond what Bernie told them.

a generation grew up hearing the GOP's ridiculous mythology about the Clintons. long before Bernie grabbed their attention, they already knew the ghost stories about the evil Hillary and her horrible devil of a husband. of course it was 99.4% horseshit but after 25 years of working the refs, there weren't many left to defend them.

plus, the press had been whipped into believing they had to make it hard for her. so they made up stories to make it look like they were being hard on her. and so did Comey.

she wasn't perfect!

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

and we're fucked.

enjoy your Trumptopia, kiddies.

don't say we didn't warn ya.

"being an openly and unapologetically ambitious woman, in her generation."

I don't understand this, you just said she had a career most would envy. I think this was probably her greatest asset. How has being this limited her? Because she didn't get to be President? Really? One job?. There has only been 44 of those in history. The high quality people who've missed out on that is a pretty long list.

The high quality people who've missed out on that is a pretty long list.

True. Kind o' weird though that no representative of over half the country (women) haven't been President yet. Nothing discriminatory about that at all. Has only to do with those particular men deserved it. Obviously.

No sapient, it was onvioysmy discriminatory for the first 40 or 41 maybe 42. Just not necessarily what made her lose.

"I don't understand this, you just said she had a career most would envy. I think this was probably her greatest asset"

me, too. or, among them.

I think what you said here is so:

"she got as good as she gave over the last thirty years of carrying the torch for her side and it wore on her image, as it would for anyone who so aggressively took on all comers as aggressively as she has over that extended a period of time."

but I also think it's something that would be less likely said of a man. certainly, a man of clinton's generation.

that's what i'm referring to.

and yes, you personally might be equally likely to say it of a man. many others would not.

Let's try for a little longer comments. Sapient, you asked me what I meant (I hope you realized that it was me writing and not Donald)

I can agree that the things you point out are not on display here.

Donald mentioned

'failings of the Democratic Party more generally'

Which I agree with. Of course, I think Al Gore got a similar treatment to Hillary and Howard Dean and 'the scream' was something, but I do agree that the Dems have been a too cozy with various groups that should have been kept at arm's length, including Big Pharma and Ag interests.

Donald also said "I think there is a pro Hillary mythology that has sprung up as a reaction to the anti Hillary mythology." As I said, it is an excerpt, but I think the author might take up this a bit. As I said earlier, we like our heroes dead or in some glass case with their best features magnified and their worst hidden. No disagreement there.

I don't know how a short excerpt will take all this on so, as I said, the points Donald makes aren't in this excerpt. So that's my point.

Nope. Can't play nice. If class matters so little that HRC's 100s of millions or Obama's 60 million dollar payoff is irrelevant, if being in the top 0.000001 however many zeros doesn't make you Establishment, untrustworthy, and an enemy then we have little to talk about, we do not share a reality. That is spitting on intersectionality, as bad as accepting KKK and MRA's into the coalition.

Read the article before I came here. It infuriated me. As a socialist I have to have limits, and I don't think 9 zeros of net wealth being one makes me a sexist racist monster.

personally, i don't give a crap if the President is a pauper or a billionaire. i want someone with the brains to do the job correctly.

if being in the top 0.000001 however many zeros doesn't make you Establishment, untrustworthy, and an enemy then we have little to talk about

prejudice is silly, no matter what criteria you're sorting by.

From the excerpt that lj quoted:

Like progressive, establishment is a pretty meaningless term, particularly when lobbed at one Washington politician by another.

I would like to know what people, especially people who are "anti-establishment" want. I'm going to write this comment as though it were still pre-election, because I'm very worried that the nature of our "establishment" will have changed very soon by our anti-establishment President.

The country has huge institutions that are part of the "establishment". There are industries: lj mentioned big pharma and ag. There's also energy, manufacturing, finance, information technology, and a host of others that are powerful, wealthy, important to our economy, influential in the political process, and contribute to our standard of living. Our political institutions could be improved, but does anyone really want to replace them completely? Do we trust that we could do better in our current political climate?

Wealth is more important than it should be in politics, for sure, but the only way to change that, without a constitutional convention or a civil war, is through a more liberal Supreme Court. That is now likely lost to us for a very long time.

I don't think 9 zeros of net wealth being one makes me a sexist racist monster.

How many zeros is your limit? Other than taxation, how do you plan to diminish wealth inequality? Even after you burn the current system down, you need to have a plan to replace it, right? Is there some kind of plan for that, something that hasn't already been shown to fail miserably when tried elsewhere? How will we get there from here?

i'm close to McManus on this one.

median household income is something like $50k+. 8 figure personal wealth puts you multiple orders of magnitude beyond that.

that level of wealth places you in a world where the basic assumptions of life are not the same as they are for others. your vegetables, as capote noted, are better. smaller, more tender, perfectly formed.

it distorts your understanding of things, just as poverty does.

I think it's beyond obvious that public life in the US suffers from being governed by people who, as a group, are orders of magnitude wealthier than 99% of the people they govern.

congress people are exempt from rules against insider trading. does more need to be said?

lots of countries, similar to ours, have laws and policies that moderate the concentration of wealth. they have not failed miserably, their economies are robust, their people are at least as free and happy as we are.

so, somehow, it's achievable. we choose not to do it, and that is a political choice.

great personal wealth is an impediment to engaging with the rest of the world on it's own terms. that is not ideal for people who are responsible for public life,

it distorts your understanding of things

so much that you become "untrustworthy and an enemy" ?

so much that you become "untrustworthy and an enemy" ?

no

lots of countries, similar to ours, have laws and policies that moderate the concentration of wealth. they have not failed miserably, their economies are robust, their people are at least as free and happy as we are.

When we talk about other countries and their successes, we should be specific, because there are varying degrees of wealth, income inequality, prosperity in general, etc. We should also look at data about our own citizenry, and the specifics of their income level. Also, we need to be careful in figuring out the reasons for poverty that exists.

Everyone here probably knows that I favor more taxation and regulation towards greater equality. Everyone who's been reading ObWi is also probably aware of my constantly placing articles up showing that the policies under Obama addressed income inequality in a way that had not been done for decades. Hillary Clinton ran on maintaining that trend, which was a real, demonstrable success.

What bothers me about Sanders "socialists" is that they weren't bothered by the fact that Sanders's number didn't add up. There was a lot of rhetoric about trade agreements and the plight of the White Working Class, but very little evidence of how limiting trade would address the problem.

Basically, the easiest and least disruptive (to people who might be affected by unintended effects of policy) way to address wealth inequality is by raising taxes on wealth, and addressing basic needs such as health care, housing and food. This is what Democrats have always done, and have always stood for. The numbers prove their success, this despite the fact that both of our most recent Democratic presidents have worked with uncooperative legislatures.

I find the "socialist" argument unconvincing, except to the extent that Democrats are already on it.

I think there is a vast difference between inherited wealth like Trump and DeVos, and Bill Clinton and Obama: It is not like they forget what being middle class was like, or worse. Plus, both of them became wealthy after leaving office.

it distorts your understanding of things

Again, specifics are important. No matter how wealthy you are, you have to deal with sickness, aging parents, loneliness, people who prey on you, boredom and loss.

If people can have basic food, shelter, health care, time for themselves, and opportunities for meaningful work, who cares whether some people have more expensive stuff?

I think there is a vast difference between inherited wealth like Trump and DeVos, and Bill Clinton and Obama: It is not like they forget what being middle class was like, or worse. Plus, both of them became wealthy after leaving office.

Although I like the idea that my politicians know what it's like to be middle class (or poor), FDR certainly never had the experience. I'm not sure that the personal wealth of a person is a determinative factor.

FDR had the experience of polio, and a wheelchair. Wealth makes that better, but not easy.

lots of countries, similar to ours, have laws and policies that moderate the concentration of wealth. they have not failed miserably, their economies are robust, their people are at least as free and happy as we are.

I'm not sure this is the case. More importantly, your position--and others', I'm just using you as an example--is fundamentally "I have decided that X is too much for one person to have."

I'm a one per-center but our total net worth is a less-than-five, single digit percentage point of the Clinton's. I don't care how much money they have. I care how they got it, up to a point and I want them to pay tax on it. My "up to a point" maintains that they have to earn it legally, pay taxes on it and, if they choose--as they have done--to go into politics, I want to know where they got their money.

Confiscatory tax regimes are feel good policies for people who just don't approve of the uber wealthy. I know some uber wealthy: a few are pretty regular, down to earth, others are fuckheads of the highest order with precisely the jaded, skewed view that Russell identified.

So, they are rich assholes. Granted. What's the moral/ethical case for taking someone's money if it was earned legally?

This question goes to one of the fundamental characteristics of the progressive left: the sense that they (progressives) have the right and the insight to determine what others should and should not have.

Basically, the easiest and least disruptive (to people who might be affected by unintended effects of policy) way to address wealth inequality is by raising taxes on wealth, and addressing basic needs such as health care, housing and food.

Or, in shorthand: transfer payments to produce free or subsidized food, shelter and health care. Not sustainable, period full stop. Of all of the bedtime stories the left tells itself, this is one of the most persistent. No country of over 100M in population has ever been able to pull something like this off and those between 50 and 100M have huge debt and administrative problems that underscore the unsustainability problem.

Moreover, the demand for free and/or subsidized goods is limitless, the wealth to tax and pay for it is not. If you want the endgame of what socialism looks like, look at Cuba or Venezuela.

I think there is a vast difference between inherited wealth like Trump and DeVos, and Bill Clinton and Obama: It is not like they forget what being middle class was like, or worse. Plus, both of them became wealthy after leaving office.

Maybe Clinton and Obama remember how hard it was to make their living as politicians, but I doubt it. However, your larger point is valid. Trust fund babies--never having worked for what they get feel and act entitled. What puzzles me is why lefties think that same sense of entitlement won't become common at the other end of the spectrum when and if gov't subsidies become a matter of right.

My take on people in general is that they work out of necessity and because they feel better about themselves if they pay their own way. But, there is a not insignificant number of people who are seemingly ok with subsistence level living and would rather not work than work. I have a close family member who falls in this category. Particularly in a country as large as ours, there is no way to distinguish between the permanent subsidy consumers and those who need a short term hand.

the federal government is an enormous entity. the bureaucracy is nothing like anything most people will ever be in charge of. and the political aspects are completely out of the experience of people who aren't politicians - and even then, they're on a level you're not going to get from a city planning board or whatever.

and the pool of people who have serious political experience, experience with the oversight of huge organizations, and a deep knowledge of our laws is going to be pretty small. and the people in that pool aren't likely to be people who haven't managed to accumulate a lot of money - it's probably impossible to get the skills we want in a President from people who have never held jobs that paid a lot of money. managing large organizations, being good at the kind of politics that happens at the top of the Federal govt, knowing how government and law and regulations work - those are simply valuable skills. if you have them, people will pay you to work on their behalf.

and just to be clear: money isn't the controlling factor, skills are. Trump's a rich bastard, to be sure. but his election was a fluke of celebrity, a shitty media, and the vile EC. and despite his money, he's clearly struggling with the job.

if the US was smaller, poorer, less powerful maybe we could get away with being lead by citizens of average means and skills. but we're not.

which isn't to say i like it this way.

IMO

Observation tells me that if you grow up rich it takes more effort to understand or care what life is like for people who haven't than most rich people are willing to expend. That doesn't mean there aren't exceptional people who take the trouble to pay enough attention to the evidence to figure it out.

Mr. McKinney

"What's the moral/ethical case for taking someone's money if it was earned legally? "

I've encountered this idea before and I have some thoughts about it.

Money is a fiction. In the developed world money has value because we agree it has value.

Markets exist because governments create them by ruling certain competitive practices out of bounds.

Property itself is just an idea. A useful one granted, but people haven't always recognized the idea one could own land for example.

When setting up the rules for how people can conduct themselves in the economic realm it makes sense to consider the well being of everyone involved, otherwise you are likely to have a lot of people with an interest in overthrowing your system. Letting a few people own almost everything runs counter to that.

What's the moral/ethical case for taking someone's money if it was earned legally?

Because there's no such thing as "legally" without taxation.

What's "confiscatory"?

How is the tax on the last dollar any more confiscatory than the tax on the first dollar?

When setting up the rules for how people can conduct themselves in the economic realm it makes sense to consider the well being of everyone involved, otherwise you are likely to have a lot of people with an interest in overthrowing your system.

This, absolutely. Our system allows for wealth, and protects it. It should also allow for a minimum level of comfort. I disagree with McKinney that such a thing is impossible. We've made progress towards achieving it, and can do better.

those are simply valuable skills. if you have them, people will pay you to work on their behalf.

... which also isn't to say that those skills are necessarily aligned with being able to do what's best for society. good leaders are those rare few who can manage to make the machine do the right things. bad leaders are those who either can't manage the machine, or who can manage it but who use it to do evil.

It's like Groundhog Day when this stuff comes up. The same arguments over and over again, so long as we stick to the generalities and don't get into the specifics of income brackets and percentages. Once that happens, McKinney and I, at least, are within arm's length of each other - I, the commie, and McKinney, the anarcho-capitalist.

Observation tells me that if you grow up rich it takes more effort to understand or care what life is like for people who haven't than most rich people are willing to expend.

I guess it doesn't matter to me whether wealthy people are empathetic or nice. I can choose to be friends with them or not.

What matters is that they should not have political power that matches their wealth. Our attempts to legislate an electoral system that mitigates out-sized wealth have failed because of the Supreme Court.

The fact that there is Supreme Court vacancy, and we blew the opportunity to change the dynamics there, is horrifying.

McManus makes a good point. I've wondered if one of the reasons that Japan has ridden out these economic rodeo ride better than western economies is because they have a different idea of wealth. It seems clear, at least to me, that the Clintons were driven to bascially do a scarlett o'hara impersonation. McKinney throws Obama in, but I think that is typical McKinney risability, Obama has never pursued wealth (and influence) in the way the Clintons did. Rich Japanese have lots of influence, but the necessity to make money doesn't seem to be that evident. Because of this, everyone is confident that there isn't a yawning gap between us and them.

To the extent that such pursuit of wealth disqualifies Clinton (and of course, that was one of Bernie's charm points), yes, I can see that. But I see Corbyn getting hauled over the coals for screwing up on his taxes, while Tories like Cameron take advantage of offshore shelters and George Osborne getting £650,000 from Blackrock, Or here, Michael Flynn getting payments from a foreign f**king government, it seems that going after Hillary's wealth seems like the typical pattern of Democratic circular firing squads.

What matters is that they should not have political power that matches their wealth.

This is what might be called a positive feedback loop. Money begets power (or influence). Power (or influence) begets money. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

And I see that McManus actually brought up Obama. apologies McT

This is what might be called a positive feedback loop. Money begets power (or influence). Power (or influence) begets money. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

It doesn't have to be that way, to the extent that we've allowed it to be. Citizens United and related decisions were 5-4. "Money equals speech" matters a lot to the amount of power money wields in the electoral system.

Rich Japanese have lots of influence, but the necessity to make money doesn't seem to be that evident. Because of this, everyone is confident that there isn't a yawning gap between us and them.

I don't know enough about Japan to comment, but I googled, and found this interesting, short article.

If anything, it provides a different "wealth inequality" issue. It's always something!


Several things:

1. I agree with pretty much everything in the Hillary excerpt, but agree there's plenty that isn't covered which I would like to read about.

2. On the specific subject of the appallingness of the rich (not the concept of how they should be taxed) I have a real problem. I have personally known rich people (and even in one or two cases stratospherically rich people) who have done more to benefit the bottom 1% or 5% in the societies in which they have lived than any socialist I ever met. In some cases benefitting thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of people. I adduce this not as evidence that the rich should not be heavily taxed (they should), or that the poor should have to rely on charity (they shouldn't), but as evidence that the fact that people are born rich, or become rich, does not say anything about whether they are monsters or even just bad people. In particular, prejudice about people who have no control of the circumstances into which they are born is the same as any other prejudice against people because of race, colour etc. Today on the radio I happened to hear He Aint Heavy, He's My Brother, and I thought to myself "That is the real difference. Certain people only think that way about their family members and loved ones, and other people think that way about people in general. You might call the latter Social Justice Warriors, but I call them proper people, with decent values".

3. Have you all read today about Erik Prince meeting secretly with a Putin person just before the inauguration to establish back-channel communications between Trump and Putin? Somebody copied it in to an email to me in case I have used up my allocation of WashPo articles, and I haven't read the whole thing yet, but thought I should mention it in case anybody is interested.

NB, to be perfectly clear, I don't think tons of money should equal political power, or any greater influence on policy than anybody else might have, although I quite see that there is a tendency for this to be so in our societies which needs to be resisted and indeed fought.

Basically, the easiest and least disruptive (to people who might be affected by unintended effects of policy) way to address wealth inequality is by raising taxes on wealth, and addressing basic needs such as health care, housing and food.

Perhaps. But when you allow a few to accumulate vast wealth, they use that wealth to influence the political realm. I think somebody just above has pointed that out.

It is, by a way, an accurate observation from what I see.

What we need is an array of pubic policies that do not allow such concentrated wealth accumulation to take place to begin with....such as actually enforcing our anti-trust laws or repealing Taft-Hartley.

Just for starters.

Then we would not have silly arguments about what constitutes "confiscatory levels" of taxation to begin with.

actually enforcing our anti-trust laws or repealing Taft-Hartley.

I agree with both of those things, but I don't know that doing so would reduce executive compensation or other ways in which individuals acquire great wealth.

Also, I agree with GftNC about wealthy people, generally. Some are incredibly generous and civic-minded. Others are selfish and greedy. One thing they have in common is that they don't have to worry about financial struggle (except maybe what to do with all of it). They do have other human struggles, though, just like we all do.

Also, not all wealthy people are interested in power. These kinds of generalizations just foster a culture of resentment, which fits in very well with the dynamics of the election.

I don't care how much money they have. I care how they got it, up to a point and I want them to pay tax on it. My "up to a point" maintains that they have to earn it legally, pay taxes on it and, if they choose--as they have done--to go into politics, I want to know where they got their money.

I'd endorse that, with one caveat. I also care about how much money they pull in, and how, while in office. I'm not opposed to someone being able to make smart investments while in office, just not the kind of insider trading that is illegal for those not in office. Likewise not the kind of "consulting" (including getting paid to give speeches) that is blatant conflict of interest in non-elected government employees.

Likewise, I'm OK (not thrilled, but OK) with someone becoming a lobbyist eventually after leaving office. I'd like a year or two gap, but eventually is OK. But there are way too many ways for officeholders to get rich off of being in office.

your larger point is valid. Trust fund babies--never having worked for what they get feel and act entitled. What puzzles me is why lefties think that same sense of entitlement won't become common at the other end of the spectrum when and if gov't subsidies become a matter of right.

I'd say that this is one of those cases where a difference in degree becomes a difference in kind. Don't you see a difference between feeling entitled not to live in grinding poverty (however we decide to define that), and feeling entitled to live in luxury?

I have observed one difference between those who are born rich and are decent human beings, and those who are "fuckheads of the highest order." The former generally have parents who did NOT teach them that they were special and the world owed them deference. More likely, they got the same sort of "you've got chores and are expected to do them" rearing (in whatever form of obligation) that the rest of us saw.

I have observed one difference between those who are born rich and are decent human beings, and those who are "fuckheads of the highest order." The former generally have parents who did NOT teach them that they were special and the world owed them deference. More likely, they got the same sort of "you've got chores and are expected to do them" rearing (in whatever form of obligation) that the rest of us saw.

Exactly right, in my experience.

It doesn't have to be that way...

I agree, Sapient. The point I was making about positive feedback loops is that they are, at least generally speaking, undesirable. They lead to system instability.

Something has to attenuate the feedback to keep it from becoming a problem.

...but as evidence that the fact that people are born rich, or become rich, does not say anything about whether they are monsters or even just bad people.

This was probably aimed, at least mostly, at bob mcmanus. In any case, I'd say others here are making the point that being very wealthy tends to isolate one from the concerns of most people (most people not being very wealthy). That's not even to say very wealthy people shouldn't hold high office. It is to say that, as it stands, more do than is good for our politics.

Agreed, hsh, I saw and see that.

but I don't know that doing so would reduce executive compensation or other ways in which individuals acquire great wealth.

there are public policies that could possibly address that issue as well. Remember, corporations are express creations of the government.

This was probably aimed, at least mostly, at bob mcmanus.

I cannot claim to speak for mcmanus, but I would say that regardless of the moral attributes of its individual members, the wealthy as a group and/or (dare I utter the word) class act collectively to protect their interests, and under our current system, do so quite effectively.

bobbyp, I cannot disagree with that either, but this can and should be addressed by, for example, taxation and limits on political contribution, not by maligning a whole group all of whom had no control over the circumstances into which they were born, and some of whom are stand-up people. I just dislike certain sorts of generalisation, when (although of course it is by definition anecdotal) I have direct personal experience of the opposite qualities. No doubt I am as guilty as the next person of generalising about groups with whom I have no experience!

the wealthy as a group and/or (dare I utter the word) class act collectively to protect their interests, and under our current system, do so quite effectively.

Again, about that Japan article I found (rather randomly), I think we should look at other countries, and learn what we can, not only about reducing the gap between the very wealthy and the poor, but also about what actually affects people's standard of living and sense of satisfaction. If certain economic policies bring equality, but also reduce the general standard of living for most people, they aren't necessarily desirable.

This was one of the comments under that article: "Most software company CEOs in America probably get payed 10x to 20x their Japanese counterparts. But they pay their employees 2x to 3x what their Japanese CEOs pay their employees. So, at least from my POV I'm better off under the overpaid American CEO than the more "equal" Japanese CEO."

To attempt to be completely clear about what I'm saying:

I'm not hostile to people with money. I know a lot, probably more than average, of people who have money. Lots and lots of money. 7 and 8 and even some 9 figure personal wealth.

I don't hate these people, I don't wish any harm to them. I don't want to take everything they have and give it away to somebody else.

What I'm saying is that, when you have that much money, your understanding of the tangible realities of life is different as compared to someone who doesn't.

As doretta says, so simply and accurately:

Observation tells me that if you grow up rich it takes more effort to understand or care what life is like for people who haven't than most rich people are willing to expend. That doesn't mean there aren't exceptional people who take the trouble to pay enough attention to the evidence to figure it out.

There are public policies in this country that favor the concentration of wealth. I think that is harmful.

I personally am not interested in taking rich people's money and giving to other people, I'm interesting in *more people having a level of personal wealth sufficient to elevate them above a risk of personal financial calamity*.

All of you rich people, keep your freaking money. Fine with me. But make it possible for people who aren't spectacularly wealthy to achieve financial security and even a degree of ease.

What's the problem with that?

But public policy in this country isn't oriented toward making that happen.

And I would argue that that is in no small part related to the fact that, by and large, the people who make the laws and set the policies are unusually, often extraordinarily, wealthy. And find the concerns of people who are, likewise, wealthy, to be of interest, and something they can relate to and be sympathetic to.

everyone works to protect their own interests.

what should matter is not whether a rich person protects her own interests, it's whether an elected official works for the interests of the general public.

What russell said, in all respects.

p.s. In the interests of clarity, and FWIW, I am not a rich person.

And I would argue that that is in no small part related to the fact that, by and large, the people who make the laws and set the policies are unusually, often extraordinarily, wealthy. And find the concerns of people who are, likewise, wealthy, to be of interest, and something they can relate to and be sympathetic to.

I think it's more about them being Republicans. The facts and economic trends show that Democratic policies (addressing issues involving the safety net and healthcare) have both lessened wealth inequality and raised the standard of living.

It has nothing at all to do with Hillary Clinton having made money on speeches or books. It has nothing to do with resenting wealthy people. It does have to do with taxing them.

It has nothing to do with resenting wealthy people. It does have to do with taxing them.

It has been my observation that those who loudly object to taxing wealthy people are, overwhelmingly, unable to see any reason why they are being taxed except resentment.

"Most software company CEOs in America probably get payed 10x to 20x their Japanese counterparts. But they pay their employees 2x to 3x what their Japanese CEOs pay their employees. So, at least from my POV I'm better off under the overpaid American CEO than the more "equal" Japanese CEO."

haha....if even remotely true, there is obviously something else going on here. Competitive firm A that pays its executives and its employees less should have a competitive advantage over firm B that pays all employees at a higher level of compensation, all else equal.

Something to do with patents or exchange rates perhaps?

Something to do with patents or exchange rates perhaps?

I have no idea whether it's even true, but I do think that it's worth exploring the possibility that wealth inequality itself might not be the only measure of the success of economic policies.

I'll simply note that for large areas of the country, Democratic candidates from the NE urban corridor do not do particularly well in the general election. This seems to be changing in the West, although my personal opinion is that this is not so much tolerance for NE urban corridor Democrats as it is opposition to Southern/Midwestern Republicans.

Not that this is something I normally discuss, but I just went and looked it up.

In terms of household net worth, my wife and I are in the 90+ percentile. About 95 if you include the equity in our home.

In terms of household income, probably around 97th.

So, by any reasonable measure, I am wealthy. I drive a Mazda V, I live in a little ranch house on 1/8 of an acre and we have no garage. But I am wealthy, and the way that shows up is that I will head into retirement without a lot of debt, reasonably healthy, and with some confidence that what my wife and I have put away is enough to carry us through.

Everyone should be able to have that.

I am not a tech genius, I am frankly a semi-dumbass mostly self-taught pragmatic code plumber. I work pretty hard, and I deliver the goods, but so do lots of other folks, in lots of fields.

The reason I find myself in this happy position is (a) my wife is really smart and frugal, and (b) I've worked in an industry where the normal practice is to share value with the employees. Whether through base pay, bonuses, profit sharing, stock options, people in my industry are paid better than people who do what are, to my eye, tasks of comparable difficulty or level of responsibility in other industries.

Lucky me!

The US economy is and has been an astoundingly productive and resilient engine for creating value. At various times, our public policies have been oriented toward making sure more of that value goes to the people who, hands-on, create it. And, at other times, they have not.

For the last 30 or 40 years, they have not.

So a lot of people are getting hosed. And a lot of people in the position of making public policies are kind of oblivious about it. They either want all of those slackers to shape up and get busy (those would be the (R)'s) or they want to throw money and programs at symptoms (those would be the (D)'s)).

I give the (D)'s extreme points for good will, but the issue is that *people need to get paid more*. Not just money, people need access to services and institutions to let them do and achieve the things they want to do and achieve in life.

Transportation, education, infrastructure. A place to live that doesn't bankrupt you. The ability to go to the freaking doctor if you're ill. Help in caring for their kids, for folks who cannot afford to only have one adult working. Help in dealing with the kinds of calamitous life events - unexpected illness, death of family member, parent with dementia, etc - that we all experience at some point.

And, treatment by employers as respected partners in the enterprises they work in, fully deserving of their share of the fruit of whatever value they create.

Not just the smallest possible wage they can be compelled to accept.

This is all extremely within the realm of possibility. The impediments are cultural and political. To the degree that they are political, they amount to choices that we, as a nation, make.

We can make other choices.

"It has been my observation that those who loudly object to taxing wealthy people are, overwhelmingly, unable to see any reason why they are being taxed except resentment."

The projection is stong in those Obamaphone-haters, it's true.

Why exactly should the USG tax *anyone*? After all, they can print as much money as they want, which is now just bits on computers and doesn't even require the bother of paper and ink.

Yes, in Ye Olden Days, there was only so much shiny metal to go around, so the government had to collect it from the people. But that hasn't been the case for a long, long time.

And yes, yes yes: inflation. But if your "reason for taxation" is "macroeconomic stability" rather than "fund the government", you might approach it a bit differently.

Why exactly should the USG tax *anyone*? After all, they can print as much money as they want, which is now just bits on computers and doesn't even require the bother of paper and ink.

And, further, why do they bother to borrow money?

Transportation, education, infrastructure. A place to live that doesn't bankrupt you. The ability to go to the freaking doctor if you're ill. Help in caring for their kids, for folks who cannot afford to only have one adult working. Help in dealing with the kinds of calamitous life events - unexpected illness, death of family member, parent with dementia, etc - that we all experience at some point.

reminds me of a meme i saw floating around my FB feed yesterday. it's two sets of two pictures, first two taken in 1945 and the other two taken in 2010.

the 1945 pix show:
1. downtown Detroit hustling and bustling
2. an aerial view of Hiroshima immediately after The Bomb

the 2010 pix show:
1. a bunch of buildings crumbling on a carefully selected Detroit street
2. the glittering modern city that Hiroshima is today.

and the caption is "It's easier to come back from being nuked than it is to survive under five decades of liberal government."

HAWHAWHAW.

of course. if we spent as much money on improving Detroit as the Japanese and the US governments spent on rebuilding Hiroshima from rubble, Detroit would probably look like the Emerald City today.

but no.

Why exactly should the USG tax *anyone*? After all, they can print as much money as they want

There is a caveat. When you pay the tax, you have to pay it with the money, not chickens or shiny bits of metalstuff.

Give it some thought.

But if your "reason for taxation" is "macroeconomic stability" rather than "fund the government", you might approach it a bit differently.

Couldn't agree more!

russell, I think what you have said in your 2:36 p.m. is very valuable, and I agree with most of it.

Except I don't agree with this, and that's why it's important to talk about specifics:

they want to throw money and programs at symptoms (those would be the (D)'s)).

This is simply not true. Democrats work hard on policy using real data, and their policies work to attain just what you have described. They haven't been getting elected in large enough numbers. Part of the reason IMO (especially in the last election) is because "socialists" don't find their rhetoric sexy enough. See also the original post leading to these comments.

Bernie Sanders had delicious ideas but, when asked about them, was very unsuccessful at explaining how they would all actually work.

Policy is hard, and sometimes it requires trial and error, and tweaking and follow-up. That's not going to happen unless we have a sustained Democratic-led government. That's why we have to stop getting bored with their incremental success. Democrats make progress every time they hold national office, even for a little while. Why can't we keep that going?

Let's not join Republicans in claiming that they just "throw money". That's simply not true.

Wealth is being happy and healthy, with loving family and friends, and opportunity to create.

I have 5 children born and raised in very similar circumstances, and 4 are awesome. One is a lazy, racist, dishonest, likely criminal.

This child thinks that the success of his parents means he is special. He was not raised that way, and his older and younger siblings are not that way, but you can be sure if he had material wealth, he would think of the poor as ants.

All of my kids can assume they can go to college without debt, and they will have all the opportunity in the world to be all they can be. But they will have to work to create their own lives.

My one difficult child has never been happy, and will never be wealthy. But he had the same opportunity as the rest.

So when we talk about wealth, my kids are wealthy. One has squandered that.

And frankly I feel wealthy that my kids have that opportunity. My kids lives will (hopefully) be better than FDR,even though he was President.

I think I started this with the idea that wealth in America is not understood. Wealth is happiness, health, and opportunity, with a community. Shitty people will never be wealthy.

I have no idea whether it's even true, but I do think that it's worth exploring the possibility that wealth inequality itself might not be the only measure of the success of economic policies.

I'm not sure who is using (in)equality alone as a measure of success. I think it's more a matter of one indicator of potential failure (for a lot of the reasons mentioned above).

The 'establishment' (see what I did there) measure of economic success has been and continues to be GDP/GNP growth, or sometimes mean per capita GDP.

If large inequalities are allowed (and inevitably, encouraged), though, that's a terrible of how things are going for the average person, and terribly useful for covering up bad policy. Which is pretty much the story in the US for the last few decades.

So measuring and talking about income and wealth inequality is an important check on that.

But this all makes me think of Goodhart's law.

Because if people do start to care only about inequality measures, you'd get a different failure mode. There can never one set of measures - the only actual solution is to continually evolve as different measures are successively overtaken by their corresponding manipulations. Otherwise you'll just be playing catchup.

That's the Japanese story too if you squint hard enough: Historically, there was a tendency there to prioritize job security and employer/employee loyalty relationships. At some point, maybe people start to worry that that approach is holding back performance and/or competitive adaptability. So maybe they start pushing for more flexible employment contracts and try to cut back salaries to encourage performance.

But, for institutional reasons, a lot of the existing terms can't be changed. So they probably overcompensate on the ones that can be changed. And then you end up with a weird hybrid system that's kind of the worst of both worlds. Now you have people pointing out that there's this weird inequality of wages and employment security. So you need a metric for that...

I'm not sure who is using (in)equality alone as a measure of success.

I'm not sure, either. But that is how Sapient tends to roll....might be a lawyer thing :)

Nonetheless, we live in a society that produces vast wealth, but appears (to hear everybody talk) to be a bit unhappy. We are not a lost tribe in the Amazon forest.

I would offer that poor societies can be happy societies, and rich societies can be happy societies, but in neither case will that happiness be observed if a very tiny few get to enjoy all the goodies.

Good post, btw.

I have 5 children born and raised in very similar circumstances, and 4 are awesome. One is a lazy, racist, dishonest, likely criminal.

Way to keep it real! (I mean that. It's not sarcasm.)

HSH, I think that is the point: most people will take the advantage they are given and be great people. Some will take it and be shit.

Unfortunately, the accumulation of wealth probably favors the shitty. Good people want to help others.

I never did trust your youngest. ;^)

I think that is the point: most people will take the advantage they are given and be great people. Some will take it and be shit.

Sadly, some will not turn out well, no matter how good their parenting is. But it is pretty sure that bad parenting will result in far more turning out badly. Not all, but more.

As anyone who has had (or just dealt with) children can tell you, they do not arrive as blank slates. They come with personalities; you can modify those to some extent, but you are stuck working with the raw material you have.

It's an interesting question, but I'm not sure one with an answer: what is the source of that initial personality? Is it somehow genetic? Or prenatal environment? Or is it the soul they got? Or some mix?

I'm not sure I want to know the answer, even if it exists -- for the simple reason that, if we know why, the temptation to try to "improve" things immediately crops up. But that doesn't keep me from finding the question interesting.

Not all, but more.

I agree.

wj: my guess, and it's an only somewhat informed guess, is that it's a matter of "VERY early brain development".

The same as 'handedness' and 'sexual orientation'. Not really genetic, not really environment, certainly nothing that can be controlled by parents or the individual themselves.

Lots of neurons, gotta wire 'em up fast, four and twenty ways to construct the tribal lays, etc.

That's why we have to stop getting bored with their (Democrats) incremental success.

ABSOLUTELY NO!

I am not bored with Dem trade policies (Dems Carter to present), financial policies (under Clinton), criminal justice policies (Clinton), foreign policies (both parties), and social safety net policies (Clinton for the trifecta). I also see way too much influence of the "austerity/fiscal pain caucus" in both parties.

I am in more or less never-ending disagreement. I believe they can do better.

Right now, the Dems are the best of the lot, and I'm with them. But there is no way I am going to get down on my knees and kiss their ass and pronounce their policies "the best" under any and/or all circumstances. Some are very good. Some are pretty shitty.

We need to keep the pressure on, pushing them from the left.

bobbyp, I take it you mean to the left (not from). :-)

Maybe pulling.

Pulling beats pushing, especially on a rope.

Pulling beats pushing, especially on a rope.

or you could try twice as hard (oops!)

Just don't let go of it.

what is the source of that initial personality? Is it somehow genetic? Or prenatal environment? Or is it the soul they got? Or some mix?

My experiment of 5 indicates to me that no matter how crappy the parents, 4 would be good people, with varying degrees of success. None of those 4 could become bad people.

I believe that without the resources we could bring, 1 would never have been mainstreamed, not because of ability, but temperament. He has all the resources in the world, and he has the opportunity to still be successful, but seems likely to be a menace.

I used to be an environment vs genetics guy. I learned my lesson.

You may well be dealing with a statistical outlier.

jrudkis, I don't know, and don't need to know, the details, but I can tell you that you never can tell how things will turn out.

it ain't over til it's over.

it can, however, surely be a wild ride along the way.

best of luck, don't give up.

"Why should Bernie Sanders even be a Democratic candidate? Up until recently, he wasn't even a member of the Democratic Party!"

"Eh, Bernie Sanders is just as establishment as Hillary Clinton if you really think about it, I mean, they're both politicians."

Looks like my rant got eaten. Here it is again. In case the former attempt returns, feel free to remove one copy.

To be cynical again, imo FDR was just an intelligent aristocrat fearing to suffer the same fate as Nicholas II or Louis XVI, if nothing got done to alleviate the pressure on the masses. Bismarck without a crowned head serving under him (but a similar parliament).
Both were seen as class traitors (FDR still is in some circles*, Bismarck found ways to get around that in the long run).
The current GOP seems hell-bent to retry that experiment, the 'centrist' Dems do a three monkeys impersonation and the 'left' does what the Left does, i.e. infighting between the Judean People's Front and the People's Front of Judea.
And Mussolini would do a better job than The Donald (hey, cheap imitations have a long American tradition, haven't they?)
Btw, how much of the debts are due to borrowing the tax cuts back from the recipients?

*I guess it's the same guys that confuse Bismarck with Karl Marx (no joke, I have read claims that O.v.B. was a commie and his ideas would turn the US into Stalin's Russia and not because he was an authoritarian SOB but because any form of a social safety net inevitably leads to that and with THOSE! people in charge instead of the proper ones.

FDR also had a bad example to avoid (Hoover) and a wife who was able to push him to do things that he might not have done. By taking basically symbolic steps, FDR able to solidify the African-American vote for the Democratic party.

We've talked a bit about this before on the blog, but Herbert Hoover, who was in charge of the relief efforts for the Greenville Flood of 1927 that resulted in African Americans complaints, and Hoover made promises that got him the Republican nomination in 28, but broke them, with the result that he lost the AA vote in the North in the re-election, and basically moved African Americans to the Democratic party.

Wasn't it also Hoover who denied that the general welfare was in the government's job description? (the St.Hieronymous of the Constitution, so to speak).

I'm not sure, but I wouldn't be surprised.

...transfer payments to produce free or subsidized food, shelter and health care. Not sustainable, period full stop. Of all of the bedtime stories the left tells itself, this is one of the most persistent. No country of over 100M in population has ever been able to pull something like this off...

That's ridiculous. According to wp, there are 13 countries with populations over 100M - China, India, USA, Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Russia, Mexico, Japan, Philippines, Ethiopa. The only one remotely comparable with the USA is Japan. Japan spends about 10% of GDP on healthcare and has a life expectancy of 84 years. The USA spends about 18% of GDP on healthcare and has a life expectancy of 79 years. Which one is not sustainable?

Every developed country in the world but one has a healthcare system with compulsory cost pooling - the young, rich, and healthy subsidise the poor, old, and sick. The exception is the USA, which spends much more than anyone else, but fails to provide adequate healthcare to millions.

Bizarrely, the USA seems perfectly happy with cost pooling within employer-provided schemes. The cost incidence of those schemes is, of course, on employees, but no one demands that it be distributed according to their expected healthcare costs. It just doesn't make sense not to extend the principle to the whole population.

No sane and informed person could look at the way healthcare works around the world and conclude that the US system is anything but a horrible mistake. The Republican Party is batshit insane on the issue.

McKinney appears to have some distorted ideas about what "the left" thinks. Even the idea that "the left" is well defined and homogeneous enough to "think" anything is a distortion of reality.

One of the reasons to support basic welfare and safety nets is that it allows people to be more productive than they would otherwise be. I don't think many are suggesting giving people whatever they might desire, rather providing the basics so they don't expend all their energy and sanity just trying not to die.

Ours is the wealthiest and most powerful nation-state in the history of mankind ... for now, anyway.

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