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Forum » Chew The Fat » Things you don't like about this era.
LOL! Those wouldn't be so funny if they didn't ring so true PastGarden.
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Mr Magic
One thing I can appreciate about this era is a good meme, and those were entertaining, PastGarden.
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Stepping into hot button territory here, but I just can't stand the sheer volume of EBT cardholders nowadays, and the brazen abuse of the system.

I can't count the number of times I have stood in line at the gas station down the road, waiting to pay for my morning Mt. Dew fix, and watching as someone lays down their 5 pounds of pork rinds and 20 Frostop Orange Sodas (that they shouldn't be permitted to purchase to begin with) that they are paying a premium price for there (instead of going to Walmart and getting them much cheaper). That's MY tax money they are wasting on being fat and lazy.

Sorry. It just drives me nuts.

And I get so tired of hearing that these types of programs would garner the approval of Jesus. Basically saying that if Jesus were alive today (walking among us, that is), he would find himself on the side of progressives with regard to entitlement programs.


Did Jesus say that we should care for one another? Yup. Did he say it was okay to force us to at the tip of a Roman spear? NO! This stuff should be what we do voluntarily, out of concern for our fellow man. Not forced upon us by the government.

--steps down off soapbox--

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shakin steak
1. I'd rather they buy their junk at the gas station than WalMart. They are getting less of it and giving the money to a small business owner. WalMart is bad, mmkay?

2. If it were not a govt program, I doubt there would be enough support. However, I would agree that the system definitely needs to be completely reworked.

It should be time limited. Able-bodied adults should not need this assistance for over twelve years.

Type of food should be restricted as well. I understand freedom and so on but it makes me sick to see sustenance funding used on cases of single serve blue juice and flamin' hots. Food education should be available with the program.

Drug testing. It doesn't have to be expensive. There are new methods that are very cheap and very fast. Do it at pickup, if somebody tests bad they don't get money next month. And the test doesn't have to run on every person. Say 25%, so each person is only tested once every four months.

Last but also most, end corporate welfare. What pisses me off more than any poor person demanding govt money and not trying to eat right or contribute to society, is a giant corporation demanding govt resources (such as new roads built, water and electric access, and tax subsidies) without contributing to society (paying wages so low that people with jobs still need food stamps; refusing full time permanent employment and benefits; firing people when they can't come in because they got sick; offering low prices by destroying suppliers and competition including job creators who might actually respect employees; et cetera.)
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I think if you're going to end subsidies for one group, you need to end them for everyone.

The government should not be in the business of picking and choosing which areas of business need a boost, and which ones do not.

I certainly agree with you that what happens with regard to "corporate welfare" is a sham. There are corporations out there that likely are guilty of every sin you list in that last paragraph.

The problem is that we now live in a global market. It's not simply a matter of saying "this is wrong" and then going cold turkey. If you do that, then what benefit that actually exists as a result of the corporation operating here in America will be packed up and shipped to China, Taiwan, Korea, or some other country (what parts aren't already there, that is).

So while it is true that these mammoth corporations are destroying smaller competitors and not paying fair wages and such, it's also true that these corporations are being coerced into leaving the country, and leaving our economy worse off.

I'm no fan of big business (though in the propane business, it's not the big guys you have to worry about, it's the other guy down the street), but the sad fact is that we need them. And we need them to stay here in America. I hate that this is true, but it is.

It's a balancing act with government trying to keep the corporations honest and not exploiting people, and allowing them leeway to operate at a significant profit. If the balance shifts too far one way or the other, the effects are bad for us all.

On a side note: I'm no fan of Ayn Rand's views on altruism or religion, but I think she was spot on regarding pure capitalism. Yes, we need regulation and we need accountability, but we have to be VERY careful with these things, and not be passing 70,000 new regulations every year. It's crazy.
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shakin steak
This is stuff I think about a lot. I'm not an economist, so I could be very wrong. But I base this on looking at history and what's been going on. I try to be pragmatic. The role of govt as I see it, in a nice non-totalitarian country, is to make life as good as possible for as many people as possible.

So here's my ideas to fixing quality of life, income inequality, unemployment, a lot of environmental issues, and the economy. I should preface by saying these are long range plans, none cold turkey. They are also not necessarily in order of priority, because I might not be smart enough to figure out exactly how all these pieces fit together, even though I know they do.

1. No more importing. If you do business in this country, your goods come from this country. This leads to more jobs. This also leads to higher prices, but also higher wages. As I said elsewhere, when you don't want to pay $2 for a roll of toilet paper, you don't get to complain when your job goes overseas. Let's bring them home. It'll be difficult to pay $10,000 for a new computer, or $20 for a McDonald's hamburger, I know. We as a society need to start understanding the true cost of things. And when a McD burger costs $20, the person flipping that burger will be making $20 an hour, so they will be able to afford it.

Our consumer habits as they are, are built entirely on false premises. It is inconvenient to jack up the walls of a house one section at a time, but when you need a brand new, solid foundation, it's that or tear down the whole thing and start from scratch. If we do not do the former, I see the latter coming within our lifetimes. The current govt shutdown is very significant step towards destroying everything.

I do understand that at the very least, it will be difficult to figure out how to obtain materials, since we have stripped and mined so much away already. Again this is not a cold turkey process. We can start with "no more importing whole computers", move on to "no more importing components" and then eventually "no more anything" as we find solutions. America the home of innovation and exceptionalism, if it truly deserves those words, can find a way. I believe this is possible within one hundred years. "Free trade" is freedom for people who already have lots of money and power and does nothing long-term good for ordinary citizens. If no more importing means no exporting because other countries get pissy that we won't buy from them, I'm OK with that. Where are we now, and why should we continue on that path?

I'm all for capitalism and people being able to profit from their good ideas. I am not for that profit giving the power of price-fixing to destroy the little guy. And I think titans of industry should know that, while their empire might provide jobs, it could not exist without employees who should be valued, suppliers who should not be screwed, and taxes that allow the infrastructure needed for it to all come together.

2. Condense. With all the open land in this country, we should not need to import food. Some areas will need to be cleared of residents to make more room for farming. Perhaps a policy of "no new residents" to allow people to stay where they are if they wish.

Farming must be done intelligently, with crop diversity and rotation. Monoculture ruins soil.

City planning also needs a boost around here. We need to admit European urban and building planning have a lot of good ideas, and start using some of them.

3. Rework taxes. I know it's hard for a small business to pay more taxes. I don't want to raise theirs. But somebody's gotta pay more. There's a pretty easy correlation between high taxes and good economy all across the 20th century. When was our economy the best? World War 2. At that time the very richest people were paying upwards of 90% income tax. The greatest generation: Gotta take all parts of that. Also including where govt was heavily investing in infrastructure. Austerity does. Not. Work. And the "job creators" have been paying some of the lowest taxes in history for their class for quite some time now; where are the jobs?? Stop kowtowing to their threats to leave, to close, etc. If you want to do business and therefore reap the benefits of society, you have to contribute to society as well and not just take take take. All the time here in Chicago we get businesses opening a new office because we give them some huge tax break, and what we get out of it is short term, that is if there's even any benefit at all.

4. In areas of dense population, incentivize 24 hours a day operation. This will create more jobs and more profit to support those jobs. This is probably the easiest thing to do.

5. Living wages. I'm sorry if Joe's Pizza feels like it's BS to take care of their employees, but let's be responsible here. It's the same as people who don't want their tax dollars going to schools, because THEY don't have any kids so school isn't something they should worry about. But education of people around you does affect your life. (And I do say that as someone who decided, twenty years ago, to never have children.) The health and happiness of your employees does affect your business. Can we just get everybody to agree that we're all human beings here? I don't even care if a company doesn't want to provide health insurance, but it should be possible for everybody to get it somewhere else then.
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There is a lot of sense in what you've mentioned.

Some things I just can't agree with include:

-Soaking the rich: I'm not rich. And, I probably never will be. But I could never ask anyone, EVER, to pay our government any more than 35% of their income. And to me, 35% (or 37%) is too much. Our government was never founded to get it's financial support from an income tax. That is something that came about as a temporary measure that, unfortunately, never ceased.

If you want to make taxes fair, then you need a "Fair Tax". Tax consumables. That's what I'm for. Get rid of progressive income taxes altogether. Yes, the Fair Tax is also progressive in scale, but it's also on what you CHOOSE to buy. Yes, things will be far pricier, but we'll also have more expendable income. The benefits are clear, but we're too afraid of what we don't understand.

-Condensing: I agree with most of this. But I DO NOT agree with imminent domain at ANY time, no matter the benefit. What is mine should be mine until I choose for it not to be.
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Vaporman87 wrote :

I could never ask anyone, EVER, to pay our government any more than 35% of their income. And to me, 35% (or 37%) is too much. Our government was never founded to get it's financial support from an income tax.

I'm reminded of a quote. It doesn't apply to you per se but I really like it. The main reason I bring it up is you should watch the movie because it's awesome.
"Don't forget that most men with nothing would rather protect the possibility of becoming rich than face the reality of being poor." Donald Madden as John Dickinson, 1776

Anyway. It costs money to run a country no matter how you slice it. I think we have to have taxes. I like the fair tax idea, although it feels problematic to me within our current system. I wrote a lot more about fees, privatization, and investment as options to replace taxes (and the inherent problems of such), but I'll leave it at that for now.

As for taxing over 35%, I will definitely not say at this point that it's impossible to make things good without doing that. Some real economic modeling and analysis is required to figure out what could really happen.

Eminent domain, I am also against which I did touch on above. The only problem is with the end of the existing residents passing away; they would need some support but I'm sure something can be worked out. In any case we should start farming on land that is truly vacant first. Oh, and inspections/rules against heinous methods practiced by some of our current big factory farmers.

To touch on something else, I don't know if this is something that could (should) be regulated, but it makes me very happy. The Dr. Bronner's soap company has structured its wages such that "total compensation of executives is capped at five times that of [the] lowest-paid position." Excess money goes to social and environmental causes and charities. How nice life would be in this country if every company operated that way. More from Bronner: 1. CONSTRUCTIVE CAPITALISM IS WHERE YOU SHARE THE PROFIT WITH THE WORKERS AND THE EARTH FROM WHICH YOU MADE IT! <--- I cannot praise this view enough.

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shakin steak wrote :

Agreed. The salaries that some execs pull in on the backs of their laborers and office help is, at times, disgusting. It's nice to know that not all of them simply overlook it, but take action to make it better.

With regard to your quote from 1776: This is the American dream, is it not? To rise from nothing to become great? To overcome adversity, hardship, struggle? It would be a different world if every citizen in our history simply accepted the cards they were dealt and just hoped a benevolent government would take away a few more crumbs to give to them? To accept the reality of being poor is fine, but what a person does with that (or votes for others to do for them), can determine the fate of nations... for better or worse.

Speaking of quotes, this reminded me of a quote I had once heard from Thomas Jefferson, but could not recall in detail. I found it online though:

"A wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities."
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Vaporman87 wrote :

This is the American dream, is it not? To rise from nothing to become great? To overcome adversity, hardship, struggle?

It is. I see that line as being about working class people who are not disgusted by the salaries that some execs pull in. Who would prefer that they continue to pay 20+% income tax and have no problem with the ultra-rich being taxed at 10% or less because "they earned it". I think the Jefferson line sounds good, but did not anticipate the hunger for constant growth that drives a lot of board rooms today. We presently try to restrain men from injuring each other physically, but long-running financial injury to whole classes of people and to the country itself is perfectly acceptable, even a participatory sport for some govt officials (such as the mayor of Chicago). Leading to lack of restraint on physical attack, such as when the police force gets budget cuts while $55 million of public money is allocated to buying taxable land, exempting it, and building a stadium on it for a private university with a mediocre team.
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