Mike Colera

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Why should there be wealth distribution or redistribution?

A recent TED talk by Ms. C. Freeland discusses wealth inequality. It seems, she is against it. I don't quite understand her concerns. If people acquire wealth....legally, people got wealthy legally. A newly elected senator from Massechuses laments how American bankers have gotten wealthy and the American middle class is falling behind. Americans should do spmething about that. Again, if people acquire wealth...legally, people got wealthy legally. I think what I am hearing is that wealth should be redistributed from the wealthy to the... not so wealthy. That seems to be the new chorus being sung.
I am at a loss as to why. Why would some seemingly considerate people talk about taking property of one person to give to another. Let's go past any moral issues or legal ones.... how would it be done? Well, that isn't clear to me. It seems to be said it should be done. Now, if a wealthy person wanted to redistribute his wealth... OK, it is his wealth. But, what if the wealth person wants to keep it all. OK, it is his wealth.
Could someone explain why legally acquired wealth should be redistributed by anyone other then the owner of the wealth?
Of course governments take wealth from people in the form of taxes supposedly to provide the services deemed to be provided by the government. Sometimes, governments have used tax money to provide wealth to some of it's citizens the government has determined needs this wealth. Is it any more moral or legal for the government to take wealth and redistribute it? By passing laws to legalize the redistribution of wealth, could it be inferred that elected officials are currying favor and subsequent votes by redistributing wealth? Are elected officials above such actions? Many questions, so few answers

  • Apr 24 2014: Mike: This conversation is a non-starter! Chrystia Freeland is a well-known left wing Canadian politician whose perennial hobby horse has been the 'unfairness' of the divide between the haves and the have-nots. Everything she says and writes tends to be about this topic and 'redistribution', she is a past master at selecting factoids that support her position, and she seems to be deaf to any counter arguments. Similarly on Ted Conversations, you have the majority of people who lean to the left and a small minority who lean right, and despite endless "conversations" about capitalism, wealth, poverty, money, fairness, property rights, and all their associated sub-topics, I can't recall a single instance of anybody's mind being changed by anything anyone else wrote. To this day, nobody has managed to explain to me how "rich" people are all evil, selfish, antisocial, money-grubbing Scrooges while "poor" people (which seems to include the way most TED posters see themselves) are enlightened, caring, sharing, saints.

    So good on you for sticking up for the sensible side, but don't expect to change any minds!
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      Apr 24 2014: Thank you for the information. I didn't know all about Ms. Freeland, all though her talk did concern me, it was convincing.... We have a senator here who is like minded and her credentials are similar. I don't think I will change minds, I hope that a few readers might give pause to consider the full ramifications of what they are saying.
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    Apr 24 2014: Before trying to figure out the redistribution question, we need to first consider the whole wealth accumulation paradigm. The basis for our economy thus far has been unfair, immoral and unsustainable and we are rapidly trending towards economic and social disaster.

    A few people have gained control over the resources of the Earth while the vast majority have had little or no control over these resources. As citizens of Earth, all people together should have control over all the resources. No one person or group has any natural right to control of any resources over any other person or group.

    When it comes to processing resources and manufacturing goods with them, everyone involved in this should be justly compensated for their contributions. "Justly compensated" means that no one should receive an extraordinarily large compensation, far beyond actual needs, and no one should receive a paltry amount that does not allow them to at least satisfy their basic needs. Unfortunately, the trend for decades has been towards gross overcompensation of a few, while the many have been somewhat to grossly under compensated.

    The way our economic system has been functioning, a few have commandeered most of Earth's resources and a few have extorted unreasonable and uncompassionate amounts of wealth, while the vast majority have struggled, barely making it or, increasingly, not making it at all. At the same time a vast amount of Earth's resources - our resources - have been wasted, polluted or otherwise despoiled.

    This is an ultimately unsustainable way to try to operate. One step towards rectifying this intolerable and potentially disastrous pattern is to begin redistributing the vast amounts of money and material wealth more equitably. But what really needs to happen is to re-think and re-structure our overall economic system to operate more equitably and more sustainably.
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      Apr 24 2014: I read your nearly 4000 character response, and I am not sure of your point.
      It seems you are troubled by a few who have taken every thing for themselves and left the rest of us in dire need.... Vast quantities of resources squandered....all people should have control over all resources..... our (US?) economy is unfair, immoral or unsustainable.... and then compensation, a lot or a little.... or that we have laws, et el because we are not enlighten to our natural behavior...
      I don't know how to respond or where to begin.... so I will take the low road out.
      First of all, man is not some enlightened creature, he is on top of the earth's food chain and he got there by domination of all the other animals. Further, man has dominated other men, subjugating them and taking from them... often destroying them. So, I can only conclude that you are speaking of a future being not homo sapiens sapiens.

      So, " this " species has, begrudgingly at times, agreed to some rules over the last few thousand years.... there were codes of behavior written and enforced by consensus. One of these is the recognition of personal property including wealth. Property gained according to the law is retained by the property holder.
      There is nothing in common law that refutes that position. My question is why do people challenge that position while holding a straight face....
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        Apr 24 2014: Mike,

        I concluded my first comment with "This is an ultimately unsustainable way to try to operate. One step towards rectifying this intolerable and potentially disastrous pattern is to begin redistributing the vast amounts of money and material wealth more equitably."

        In that comment, "This" refers to the way things have been done and are still being done. And it is "ultimately unsustainable." Yes, we have had laws that provide justification for the self-delusional "I did it myself" gain and retention of property. My point is that those laws are ill advised because they are based on a mis-perception of who we really are. But judging by your summary, you seem to have missed my point about who we really are: that we are all one, and that the Golden Rule should apply; that we should treat each other as we ourselves would like to be treated; that we should treat Mother Earth with great respect.

        Man may not be "some enlightened creature," but he could and should be. The Law of Reciprocity has been around in various forms for a few millennia - including the "Golden Rule" for a couple thousand years. All the domination and subjugation is based on mis-perception and mis-understanding of who we are in the essence of our being. But our essential self is buried beneath the superficial persona - the "mask" we all wear - beneath the self-centered and selfish ego.

        "We have met the enemy and he is us," and we have also met the future and s/he is us. We have the potential to do things differently. We can change our ways. If we do not, we will exterminate ourselves, and the "lower" forms of life and Mother Earth will go on without us.

        Repeating myself: "One step towards rectifying this intolerable and potentially disastrous pattern is to begin redistributing the vast amounts of money and material wealth more equitably. But what really needs to happen is to re-think and re-structure our overall economic system to operate more equitably and more sustainably."
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        Apr 26 2014: Why should there be wealth distribution or redistribution?

        Which is a happier and healthier society?
        - A country with a huge majority of its citizens extremely poor and a small minority owning most of the wealth, like what we see in third world countries?
        - A country with a small minority who are poor, majority are middle class, a small minority are extremely rich, like what we see among first world countries?
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          Apr 26 2014: Is that true? Are societies in first world countries that much happier? Are there countries where the huge majority are poor and a few with all the wealth? How would you measure that happiness? A measure of property? Smiles on faces? .....
  • Apr 29 2014: "Is it any more moral or legal for the government to take wealth and redistribute it? By passing laws to legalize the redistribution of wealth, could it be inferred that elected officials are currying favor and subsequent votes by redistributing wealth? Are elected officials above such actions?"
    You've found the issue yourself. There's no crime in acquiring wealth. The crime occurs when that money is then used to change the laws to benefit the wealthy and theres the wealth redistribution you were just saying is morally unsupportable and we agree and want to correct it. Wealth hoarding puts a tourniquet on the economy. If the "99%" had 10 times as much, the "1%" would only be out 10%, which they would get back a 1000 times since the economy would be roaring.
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      Apr 29 2014: Bradley,
      Ok, I agree that there are crony capitalists who have found corrupted politicians and have ill gotten gains. There should be more aggressive prosecution of these criminals and the politicians voted out of office.
      We need term limits and changes in the bribery laws addressing lobbyists.
      But what I don't understand is the comment that you and a number of others have made concerning wealth hoarding.
      There are a few wealthy who have stored a percentage of wealth into precious metals or gems and art works. A member of the Walton family has put her billions into a public museum of fine art, Others have established foundations that support charities and social causes. Donations to hospitals or Universities, are these the "Hoarders"?
      I guess you could make the point that the money involved is not moving in the economy.
      I guess we are talking about wealth, but what wealth? Of the very wealthy, the 1%ers, wealth is fixed as in real estate, or liquid as in investments in working capital or cash. I can find no 1%er who has pile of dollar bills in their swimming pools to jump into.
      So, let's expose the hoarders.
      • Apr 29 2014: Hoarding occurs in several ways. Most are various means of tax evasion and a great many of those are "legal" in that they conform to the laws they paid good money to have enacted for them. Or consider a wealthy individual donates a large sum to create a non-profit foundation, which seems so generous until you consider their close friend who got the construction contract, and those who have paid jobs in the foundation and that the whole thing was a tax write-off that houses in-part a large personal art colection also donated making the original purchase also a tax write-off. Insurance companies that keep money in off shore accounts and have a practice of denying all first claims and paying most appeals until their total outlay exceeds their monthly income, then the coverage reverts to the government. And by the law the insurance companies themselves are the judge-arbitor of all appeal claims. Now the insurance companies in turn are the victums of a lot of fraud, but it's the middle class tax payer who is picking up the ticket, anyway you look at it and the law says you have to have insurance. Now that's organized crime to put Atlantic city, Las Vegas and Chicago to shame. And the list of "busuness opportunities" with the little guy squeezed out goes on and on...
        • Apr 29 2014: "A license to print money."
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          Apr 29 2014: Bradley,
          I am at a loss. A wealthy hoarder donated a large sum to form a non profit, construct a museum to house donated art work. And this no goodnik paid his friends to do the construction and operate the non profit. Of course, the non profit would typically have a dozen paid employees and a construction company that built a museum could have 100 tradesmen: carpenters, plumbers, electricians, concrete workers, etc. all I am going to assume got paid. You call this hoarding, I call it redistribution avoidance. The wealthy individual made a choice to determine how his money and his art work were going to be used.

          As far as insurance companies delaying to paying claims.... yes, they will try. However, most states have insurance regulators who live for the day that they can get a reluctant insurer to pay off including penalties for delays.
  • Apr 28 2014: Yes, thanks for your Dummies Guide to Capitalism. It is abundantly clear what happens when there is no profit in the company. Now explain why when there *is* profit that ALL of it goes to just the shareholders? Is there some magical profit % that causes them to say 'Hey, we've made enough. Let's reward the workers more?' No, there is not. Therefore all the profit flows in one direction only, reducing the workers to mere cogs in a machine. That's my beef with Captialism.

    I submit that our current form of Capitalism has invalidated the owner-worker contract. There used to be a measure of responsibility for worker wellbeing. That disappeared around the time 'Personel' became 'Human Resources.' When we were reduced from being People to another exploitable Resource. The contract must be renegoatiated, otherwise the logical conclusion is 85 people at the top and the rest of Humanity enslaved.
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      Apr 28 2014: Martin, you are welcome.
      Ok, your question about all profits.... most profits for most companies are barely more then interest on savings for their shareholders. But, there are and have been companies that "share the profits" Many companies including one I worked for gave performance bonuses, USAA, a large Insurance company near where I live gave out $ thousands for Christmas bonuses to all their employees. Companies give out perks to keep employees, Microsoft is said to have almost free gourmet lunches, all the vending machines are free or a dime. child care services, on and on.
      Most every big company has perks. Medical Insurance is a perk most employee like. Paid vacations,
      a frozen turkey at Thanksgiving. These perks are all in before profits.
      Why,
      Most companies want happy employees, they try to keep them being productive and loyal to the company.
      One ticked off employee can literally ruin a company.
      Here is the story. Profits are a function of sales and costs. Companies try to fix costs and hope their sales cover the costs to make the profits... bad sales, little or no profit. So, it is easier to price in employee perks and give the workers at least something. And, when a winfall profit occurs. then companies can share the wealth.
      If you look carefully at company filings, you will find that most big companies have net profits in the 5% range. Many are 1 - 2% in some industries. If you look at those big oil companies, you will be so.... unimpressed.... and those companies even get breaks from the government.

      If you look at many of these companies carefully, you would come to think their employees should be offering to take pay cuts.
      • Apr 29 2014: I cannot understand how you can defend the current structure when companies are sitting on record amounts of cash, corporate profits are among the highest ever, productivity of the American worker increased 4x in the 90's alone and employee wages have remained stagnant for almost 30 years while the top incomes have skyrocketted. Quite simply, your entire post is a lie.

        Since the appeal to logic and facts does not seem to work with you, let's try another tactic: The current social system is unsustainable. It will lead to collapse and revolution. It has happened many times before, just read a little history. I would like to avoid this boom-and-bust cycle and attempt to create a stable environment. Doing so will require that work and reward are balanced better than they are today. For 30 years the income residtribution has flowed one way only: to the Rich. It is time for a readjustment. Failure to fix the problem will cause violent social instability, where bothe the Rich and Poor will suffer. Would you like to try to avoid that collapse, or are you just planning on holding up in your gated suburb and shooting the starving hordes at the gate?

        Oh, and you don't 'get' sarcasm either.
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          Apr 29 2014: You? Sarcastic? I am shocked.

          OK, All the points you make in your first paragraph are "sound bites" that may be valid as stated
          But....
          Multinational companies of American origin have cash reserves from foreign sales and operations. A few companies have record profits and more then a few are recording losses or not so good profits. American workers are more productive due to newer technologies since the nineties, but there are fewer jobs and one of the lowest rates of employment at 60+%. And yes, the highest average salary in 2012 dollars was paid in 1973. As far as top incomes go... there has been some I question.... is Tom Cruise worth $20 million a picture?
          My post was not a lie, to paraphrase a movie line.... "You can't handle the truth"

          As far as your second paragraph.... again to parrot the old line about wealth redistribution is for the rich. All I have seen is the rich trying to mitigate the rip off they have been suffering. Progressive income taxes, inheritance tax, earned income credits, etc,,, none of these make distributions to the rich.
          I read a little history, It's my avocation... the current social system has been under greater strains.
          However, if the rabble-rousers keep whipping up the crowds.... the USA in 2020 could be France of 1800.

          PS. I don't live in a gated community, however, if I become staving, I know where a few are.... and since I am in a chair, I don't think I'll get shot. Texans are generous.
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    Apr 26 2014: "The objectives of income redistribution are varied and almost always include the funding of public services. Supporters of redistributive policies argue that less stratified economies are more socially just.

    One basis for redistribution is the concept of distributive justice, whose premise is that money and resources ought to be distributed in such a way as to lead to a socially just, and possibly more financially egalitarian society. Another argument is that a larger middle class benefits an economy by enabling more people to be consumers, while providing equal opportunities for individuals to reach a better standard of living. Seen for example in the work of John Rawls, another argument is that a truly fair society would be organized in a manner benefiting the least advantaged, and any inequality would be permissible only to the extent that it benefits the least advantaged.

    Some proponents of redistribution argue that capitalism results in an externality that creates unequal wealth distribution. Studies show that a lower rate of redistribution in a given society increases the inequality found among future incomes, due to restraints on wealth investments in both human and physical capital.

    Some argue that wealth and income inequality are a cause of economic crises, and that reducing these inequalities is one way to prevent or ameliorate economic crises, with redistribution thus benefiting the economy overall. This view was associated with the underconsumptionism school in the 19th century, now considered an aspect of some schools of Keynesian economics; it has also been advanced, for different reasons, by Marxian economics. It was particularly advanced in the US in the 1920s by Waddill Catchings and William Trufant Foster." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Redistribution_of_wealth
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      Apr 27 2014: Rodrigo,
      Please don't think me unkind but I would rather hear your thoughts then to read a cut and paste from the internet. There are a lot of comments made about the disparity of poor and rich. I personally find it unsettling that one could make the argument to commit an immoral act.

      But, I find it also amusing on the solemnity all the comments supporting wealth redistribution...
      Let's see how that's working.... In the USA, we have more methods of wealth redistribution... Progressive income tax, inheritance tax, housing subsidies, earned income credit, food stamps , etc. ad nauseum.
      You would think that all that wealth redistribution in the USA, we would have no poverty and a very dynamic social order as you copied and pasted. But we don't and we've tried. We have passed laws, created huge bureaucracies, commissions, et el. Why is that? Crooked banks? Corrupt politicians? Capitalists?
      Great scapegoats.... I have one more. REDISTRIBUTION DOESN'T WORK !!! For 100 years, there was a concerted effort by the US federal government to redistribute wealth for all the reasons we still hear today. WW 1, The Depression, WW 2, defined a poverty class in America, with a great economic expansion in the 60s. Then came all the Great Society plans and programs to resolve the poverty problem.
      Here we are today, more money then ever is being redistributed and more people then ever are poor.
      So, after all is said and done, It is not only wrong, it doesn't even work. In fact, a case can be made that redistributed wealth creates more poverty.
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        Apr 29 2014: My thoughts, Mike:

        There are basically four kinds of people: 1) the exceptionally smart, hardworking, entrepreneurial, and, sometimes, lucky who become big business owners accumulating millions and billions worth of assets - one-tenth percent of the population, 2) the few who become our leaders - generally well-educated presenting themselves as those who care about the will of the majority and the interests of the country - nine-tenths percent of the population, 3) the majority who are average citizens who study hard, work hard, and follow the rules and the law, and 4) the ones who are neither the first, second, and third type who represents the rest of the population.

        We, humans, are endowed, gifted, and motivated in various ways. So during the course of living our lives and doing our business: 1) a small number of us become millionaires and billionaires; 2) a few of us become our leaders, generally doing very well; 3) vast majority of us become average citizens, generally living on paycheck to paycheck; and 4) some, for various reasons, become the destitute, the downtrodden, among us.

        This may seem the normal course of life. But when more than a third of the wealth of a country is controlled by less than 1% of the population and the perception is that the type 1 and type 2 connive to control and enslave the rest of the population , this kind of situation is unsustainable and becomes a fertile ground for discontent and - God forbid - ultimately unrest, "the USA in 2020 could be France of 1800 (Mike Colera)."
        http://www2.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/wealth.html

        "One step towards rectifying this intolerable and potentially disastrous pattern is to begin redistributing the vast amounts of money and material wealth more equitably. But what really needs to happen is to re-think and re-structure our overall economic system to operate more equitably and more sustainably." Carl Karasti
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          Apr 29 2014: When you quote me, it sounds important.....

          Seriously.

          As I have said, I don't believe the American Society is near any breaking point, at best, we are annoyed. We have had a number programs for redistribution of wealth even since the 60's. The wealthy have tried to deflect this redistribution and have only been some what successful. For the most part, the beneficiaries of the redistribution: the poor, the homeless, the sick, and since the 60s that I know of, we have more sick, poor and homeless then ever. And that is my point... with all the misery out there, why do we keep on doing the same thing. We take money from the "rich" and give it to the poor and all we are getting are more poor.
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        Apr 30 2014: "When you quote me, it sounds important.....

        Seriously.

        As I have said, I don't believe the American Society is near any breaking point, at best, we are annoyed. We have had a number programs for redistribution of wealth even since the 60's. The wealthy have tried to deflect this redistribution and have only been some what successful. For the most part, the beneficiaries of the redistribution: the poor, the homeless, the sick, and since the 60s that I know of, we have more sick, poor and homeless then ever. And that is my point... with all the misery out there, why do we keep on doing the same thing. We take money from the "rich" and give it to the poor and all we are getting are more poor." Mike Colera

        The answer to the problem of inequality - the misery of the poor, the sick, and the homeless - is the efficient and equitable allocation of the nation's resources. When we genuinely care for each other, there will much less human suffering. This is easier said than done, human nature being the way it is.

        "Would you spend nearly $300 million on a blimp? More than $300,000 to study angry wives? Or $5 million for crystal stemware?

        These are some of the examples cited by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., in his annual look at what he considers wasteful and "low-priority" spending by the federal government. The 100 examples Coburn singles out in his Wastebook 2013, released Tuesday, total nearly $30 billion.

        Coburn, the top Republican on Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Commitee, said it's just a fraction of more than $200 billion that the government throws away as a result of fraud, waste, duplication and mismanagement.

        There is more than enough stupidity and incompetence in government to allow us to live well below the budget caps," Coburn said. "What's lacking is the common sense and courage in Washington to make those choices — and passage of fiscally responsible bills — possible."
        http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2013/12/17/coburn-wast
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          Apr 30 2014: Thank you for making my point. This same government is taking all the revenues it can get to "help" the poor and hungry. However, with the establishment of huge bureaucracies, and the replication of efforts among them, If I was to learn that those welfare bureaucracies where continuing poverty to sustain their existence... would I be surprised?
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    Apr 26 2014: I believe I have made clear that I believe wealth distribution in any form is an immoral and illegal act. For those who are amoral, I'll address illegal. Common law that has been recorded from the beginning has shown that property rights were the primary points of law and violation was a capital offense. In the laws of Moses, to "steal" is addressed directly and to "covet" ( just thinking of stealing) twice.
    But, let's say I am wrong. All my points of contention are flawed and fallacious.
    Ok, I have been wrong before. I'll get over it. It won't be easy....

    But, (you saw this coming) how would you redistribute wealth.

    Ok, you have taken all the wealth from the wealthy. Now what?
    How do you distribute it? Send everyone an equal amount? Well, some are so poor a fair share won't carry them more then a short time. And what about those who were not wealthy but ok, they could have gotten by even without it.
    Maybe distribution according to need. Good. The extremes are easy, but where do you draw the line in the middle, a person who has $10000 gets one amount and the person with $10001 gets less? A person may loose out on a hundred dollars because of one? Wow!
    Maybe we can establish a large bureaucracy and develop complex computer programs to resolve these problems, but this will cost money... we can use the funds we got from the wealthy. Less for the poor, but...
    Well, we have it all worked out. Wait a minute there is a tribe living deep in the African Congo are among the poorest. We will mount an expedition to find these people and give them their share.
    I can see it now, a self satisfied bureaucrat handing a check to tribal native, knowing he has complete his mission of redistribution of wealth.
    I am just choked up....
  • Apr 25 2014: Your keyword is 'legally' and there is an undercurrent of 'earned'. The first thing you should realize is that 'legal' is an absolutely meaningless concept when applied to the accumulation of wealth. The very existence of wealth allows the Wealthy to purchase Legality, through influencing the Authorities with their money. The more wealth you have the easier it is to accumulate more 'legally' by getting laws written to your advantage.

    'Earned' undercurrents imply that the Rich have done something special which grants them rights to the lion's share of the profits. The reverse is usually true; a business is indeed started by an individual with an idea but it quickly morhphs into profiteering off of the backs of the workers who create the good. While there are exceptional individuals who certainly deserve a greater-than-normal share of the pie, there is no justifcation for paying a CEO 640 times the rate of the average worker, which is what is happening today. How can one individual contribute, in ONE SINGLE DAY, as much to the company as an average worker does in TWO FULL YEARS? And give that same value EVERY SINGLE DAY? Yet that is what the CEO is paid. That money is 'legally' paid to them, but I cannot say that they have 'earned' it.

    Income Inequality is bad because of the disproportionate cost burdens placed on those who earn less. A worker will spend half their work day making money to pay for food, housing and getting to work. A CEO will spend about 20 seconds 'earning' the same. That same worker will spend every penny they make on essential goods and services, whereas the CEO stashes money in offshore bank accounts and buys another Pony. The worker's money re-enters the economy; the CEO's does not.

    The biggest crime of the Wealthy is the creation of laws which promote 'the Rich get Richer' concept. Capital Gains, for example, should be taxed at or above labor income. But the Rich get that benefit, through laws they wrote, for them only.
    • Apr 25 2014: Martin:

      How can a Ferrari POSSIBLY be worth as much as ten Toyotas? It won't go ten times as fast. It doesn't get ten times the mileage. It isn't ten times as comfortable. How can a neurosurgeon POSSIBLY earn 50 times as much as someone who cleans floors? He doesn't work 50 times as hard. He doesn't have 50 times as many mouths to feed. And so on, and so on.

      The answer, of course, is because that is what the market judges the person/product/service to be worth relative to others. And you and I are "the market". If I don't like the CEO of BigCo earning 640 times what his lowest paid workers earn, I am free not to buy anything from BigCo. So are you.

      I have run two businesses. Let me assure you that, except in a small handful of jurisdictions, the laws that protect workers in business are FAR more stringent than those that protect the employer.

      You rail against wealth. And yet you have wealth. Maybe not as much as your neighbor, maybe more. But wealth is always relative. And whatever wealth I may have, I cannot recollect ever influencing any law, anywhere!

      And finally, what on earth do you mean by "The worker's money re-enters the economy; the CEO's does not"? Do CEOs stash all their pay under the mattress? Most CEOs that I know put it in the bank, where it becomes available for people like you to borrow as a mortgage or a car loan, or they invest it in companies that make products and services that people want, because if people didn't want the goods the company wouldn't be around long. Or they spend it on those darned Ferraris, which keeps a bunch of people working at building the things, transporting them, selling them, and servicing them. Or they go on expensive vacations, which maintains all kinds of jobs in the airlines and hotel business and restaurants. Or they build McMansions to live in, which creates construction jobs, and jobs building and selling appliances, and bloody great real estate tax assessments. And so on.

      You are wrong.
      • Apr 25 2014: A Ferrari does not carry as many people as 10 toyotas. A McMansion does not house 10 times the people a 3-bed house does, nor does it have 10 refrigerators and 10 washing machines. And putting the money in banks does not help the Teller anywhere near what the bank CEO gets out of it. I submit that your and my wealth are nothing compared to the truly wealthy.

        Yes, profits reinvested via bank loans create companies that produce goods that workers want. The problem is that our Unbridled Capitalism has reduced the wages of the workers so much that they cannot AFFORD those goods. That is the point that Capitalism collapses.

        I have no problem with 10x the income, nor 50x. I do have problems with 640x. The wealthy will NEVER have enough and they feel they 'earned' every penny in increased profits. Thus the need to limit/regulate their income, and the need for redistribution. If not forced it will not happen. In the 90's American worker productivity increased 4x due to computers, yet very little of that money went to the workers. Why? Because the Rich took it, as they alway do.

        Read about civilizations that have collapsed. There are 2 reasons: one is depletion of resources, such as happend when the Easter Islander cut down the last tree. Societal collapse was inevitible after that. The other reason is Inequality of Wealth. When the Rich have taken so much of the profits of the Workers that the workers starve to death, no more Ferraris are created either.

        85 people own as much wealth as the lowest 3.5 Billion. *85* PEOPLE - not Countires, Companies or families...INDIVIDUAL PEOPLE. That is not a sustainable system. It will collapse. Those 85 people do not care if it does. Why should I care about them? I will shed no tear when they are dragged to the gillotine. In fact, I'll be selling Pitchforks and Torches on their front lawn...just being a Good Capitalist, right?
        • Apr 25 2014: I find it interesting that you have no problem with 10x the income or 50x, but you don't like 640x. Would you mind letting us know exactly where the crossover point is that you both don't mind but sorta do? And whatever that number is, do we put it to a vote? Or does each of us have his/her own multiplier to work with? If not, who makes the final decision and how much wealth then gets confiscated? And who then decides how we should distribute it?

          I submit to you that there is nothing wrong with being disgustingly rich. There is a lot wrong with being disgustingly rich and abusive and uncaring and selfish. But the few disgustingly rich people I know are neither abusive nor uncaring nor selfish, just normal people who happen to have obscene amounts of money. I fail to see how their wealth negatively impacts the wellbeing of those lower on the totem pole.

          How do you rate people like Bill Gates, who is spending BILLIONS of his own dollars doing good work in Africa?
        • Apr 25 2014: Martin

          Obviously Capitalism and Individual Freedom is not something you support. What form of government would you support and why?
          From the history of America, not perfect, we can see the great benefits to society in general; what is the history of your favorite political structure?
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          Apr 26 2014: Martin,
          I hate to pile on, but just because a CEO makes 640 times a workers salary seems a little... out of your ball park as the old saying goes....
          You are angry? Why? Are you paying the CEO?
          Here is my problem when people use this argument. Who cares what other people earn.
          It is none of my business. I hear people say that this footballer or that is paid a barrel of money. so what? The only salary I am concerned about is mine, Yes, it is never enough. Yes,, It seems hard to get more. Why have you not expressed anger about my salary.
          You complain that 85 billionaires earn more the 3 billion people.... again, so what?
          You can take, steal, rob, tax those 85 and give all the money to the 3 billion... now what?
          You can only do that once. What do you do for an encore?
  • Apr 25 2014: Mike

    There should be wealth redistribution if the mindset or political agenda is predicated on a Marxist Socialist ideology.Class warfare (income inequality) is one of the cornerstones of this thought process. Individual freedom (capitalism) and private property are considered, as evil obstacles blocking the promise of a Utopian society where the masses hold hands around a camp fire and sing songs of unity, diversity and tolerance. providing, of course, if they have paid the government for a fire permit, a singing permit, and a hand holding permit and have paid for a study on the environmental impact of song singing and camp fires..

    "The theory of Communism may be summed up in one sentence: Abolish all private property.
    "The meaning of peace is the absence of opposition to socialism." Karl Marx

    The redistribution of wealth (private property), for the Marxist is an excuse to remove the means of oppression of the oppressed and place all wealth in the hands and wallets of the elite. Wealth is synonymous with power and freedom. Therefore the less the masses have the more dependent they are on government, consequently the greater the control of government.

    Marxism is an appeal to the greedy who want what they have not earned or deserve and to those who feast on power over other human beings. These personalities can be best associated with the Blackshirts of Mussolini and the Brownshirts of Hitler. These are the ideologues of the current Left, Progressives and Greens and Others.
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      Apr 25 2014: What scares me is when I look around thinking about our constitution and trying to understand how our federation of states is currently functioning, I see a huge disconnect. Some very smart people have said that the USA is no longer a constitutional republic but an oligarchy run by entrenched bureaucracy supported by crony capitalists . This oligarchy over the last 50 years have tainted our education process, have provided "incentives" to insure the garnishment of voters in elections, and created a nation where a federation was to be. Worse, this new nation is being downgraded in economics, security and in the spirit of confidence that made the federation of the USA the best place to be.
      At first, I thought this was... one of those cries of " wolf, wolf." Now, I am beginning to wonder, I find myself saying...." yeah, but"..... How long will it be before I say "Oh S**t , what has happened?"
      • Apr 25 2014: Mike
        'To your, "How long will it be---" Yesterday. For a specific date, June 26, 1945, San Francisco CA.
        What we have witnessed is democracy at work, not a Constitutional Republic.

        It is now understood by this Administration and some previous that a duly ratified treaty supersedes the Constitution. For our new Constitution look to the UN Charter and the Declaration on Human Rights.
        The first words of the Declaration, "All human beings---" that means us, as well as third world countries. Look then to Art 29, sec #3. Contrast this to, "When in the course of human events---"

        The redefinition of America, immigration, family, marriage, health care, education and more can be found here .http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml#a30
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          Apr 26 2014: Charles, I hadn't thought of that situation. As I had understood treaties, they effect actions between nations and could not effect national law. Am I wrong. I better not be or we are in real trouble.
          I have said that the best foreign policy for our government would be to buy the UN building and have everyone move to a more central, a more neutral location in the world.... Switzerland? Then I would have our dues reduced to a more appropriate level, say $1 per American, that seems fair. Of course, instead of a cabinet level ambassador I would assign a low level civil servant grade 5. My appreciation for the UN is falling, I guess.
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    Apr 24 2014: Unless one finds himself on the very extreme left end of the political spectrum, wealth distribution makes no sense.
    In any case, even with wealth inequality there always will be a redistribution of that wealth to some degree because the very wealthy spend more money, hence they purchase more products and services which, in return leads to people being employed (and making money) producing and delivering those services and products.
    Wealth only would be something bad, if the person just sits on the money without letting it circulate.
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      Apr 24 2014: The thousands of people in the business of constructing and selling those million dollar yachts, thank you for your comments.
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    Apr 24 2014: Hi Mike, I enjoyed a recent convo about lessening disparity. I once had a nice home and car but through no fault of my own, got very ill and lost it all. Now is that some rich guys fault? Of course not. So why should he have to replace my money?-He doesn't. .Now if I made a baby or two out of wedlock and did drugs, that would be my fault, but you (through taxes) would pay me - why? There is a saying that you don't cure money problems with money - and to a certain extent this is true. For example, if you spread the wealth evenly for those who have nothing, (the homeless unemployed and dead broke) - just throwing out a number here - and everybody gets $500,000 check to "even things out.". If I take my check and purchase a $125,000 home (plenty big enough my husband and myself), then furnish it and prepay the taxes for a year - now we're at about $150,000. I could then go out and carefully choose a reliable used vehicle and have it checked out by a mechanic and prepay the insurance for a year. Now I'm at $175,000. I could then invest $5,000 into some classes in order to prepare myself to apply for a job that would start putting the money back in so that the numbers start going in to plus direction. Now, I have a home, a vehicle some useful knowledge, and insurance to protect it - Sounds like a wonderful plan to me. However, the plan has a flaw- and that flaw would be the people that took their $500,000, rented a penthouse at $32,000 per month and then took a two month trip over seas for a hundred grand to see the pretty sights of Paris, then returned home and purchased a Ferrari, but saved money by skipping a call to insure it. A week later they wrap the car around a telephone pole and now they have two months rent in the bank, and no plan after that. What do we do, give him another $500,000. I truly think the poor need help. However, when people make bad choices and are careless, should we cover them, or help the good and honest guys and who decides which is which?
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      Apr 24 2014: Amy, this is not about helping those who need help. What had concerned me was that too many people even "well meaning" TED speakers were proposing that there should be a redistribution of wealth. They implied it should be a "democratic" governmental program to give it some legitimacy. I say that these proponents are speaking of an illegal and immoral activity and the guise of "helping the poor" is tenuous at best.
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        Apr 24 2014: Mike, I completely agree with your position on this. This country has a wonderful history of work more and get more, for the most part, and that is a value that should not be thrown away. Of course some are born with silver spoons and others have hurdles to overcome. But this country has always been and still remains a land of opportunity for those that truly want it. There are so many programs which provide training and education and I personally feel that if I studied hard and worked my ass off I would be very angry to have to share it evenly with those who sit on their asses all day and play x box. I also fear that any such "democratic" government program would be sending a message to our children that it matters not what they learn in school or how hard they try, as they will end up in the same place no matter what. Nothing about that "plan" makes sense.
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          Apr 24 2014: Thank you. I was beginning to think I was writing in some foreign language no one understood.
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    W. Ying

    • +1
    Apr 24 2014: .
    Simple!

    Wealth inequality hurts bio-evolution.
    Bio-evolution lets us survive.
    Our instincts drive so.
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      Apr 24 2014: So, Mr. Ying
      You would steal to survive?
      Not so noble but once you have stolen from me, who will steal from thee?
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        Apr 25 2014: .

        Never!

        People survive easily
        by symbiosis
        without invalid happiness.

        (Symbiosis comes from bio-evolution)
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          Apr 25 2014: Mr Ying,

          Bio evolution is a relatively new science and the proponents are in the exploration and organizational phase. From what I understand the work is focused on the molecular level.
          Will those scientist eventually find correlation to the human organism? Probably no time soon. Will they find that survival is instinctively programmed? It would make sense.
          Will they find that survival will be acceptable? Not when political fanatics put human survival below trees, whales, polar bears, et, el. ....
        • Apr 26 2014: Mr Ying

          What is invalid happiness? Who decides whats invalid? With what you said I don't think that you have a valid understanding of human nature. Correct me if I am wrong.
  • Apr 24 2014: I believe there should be a wealth redistribution to a certain extent. In order for society to function, there should not be a wide stratification between the rich and the poor. The difference in wealth between the poor and the rich will sure make the poor sometimes infuriating or depressed. Society is like a pyramid. The poor is at the bottom while the minority of rich is at the top. Pyramid cannot stand if the basis of the pyramid collapses, which is the poor in this case.
    Yes, the rich accumulated that wealth through hard work. However, if the poor is unable to function within the society, the rich will cease being rich. In my opinion, this is just how a society works.
    A complete redistribution is kind of absurd in my opinion, but there should be one to a certain extent so that the poor can get back up their feet and then at least try to make a progress.
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      Apr 24 2014: I don't think there should be wealth distribution. If the "poor" become infuriated or depressed because some other people have acquired more wealth does not say much about the poor. Are they greedy? Self centered? Immoral?
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        Apr 24 2014: Hi Mike, Lets see if I understand this redistribution thing ... You and I go to college and share a room ... you work a part time job and spend every minute studying and get all A's. Your hard work paid off.

        Now me ... I party every night and have to ask directions to my classes and beg food, whacky weed, and drink from everyone .... straight F's.

        However, lucky for me the feds redistribute everything so we should both get a C ... I deserve it right?

        Can't wait for you to start working ... hope it is a good paying job because I'm kinda hungry?

        Is this a great country or what?
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          Apr 24 2014: How come I'm the one that has to be the hardworking studious one?
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        Apr 24 2014: We had a meeting to decide who gets to do what ... you didn't come. I won.

        Next time we will post the time and dates for meetings.
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          Apr 24 2014: The story of my life... a dollar short and an hour late
      • Apr 24 2014: Maybe the poor were born into an unfortunate conditions, they were not given enough chance to show their full ability. Wealth distribution and providing poor with minimal resources required for them to get back on their feet will enable the poor to display their ability in fullest.
        I think it's only fair to give everyone a chance to display their ability in fullest.
        Some might be dissatisfied because we take your money and distribute it to the poor. The society will not last if the base of the pyramid collapses.
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          Apr 24 2014: So, you are the "we" that will take all that wealth and give it to the poor. Finally a name. I had begun to think you didn't exist.... like that "they" people refer to....
          I understand your concerns, but who appointed you to do the collection and the distribution. Maybe you are not the appointed one, just a volunteer. I want to volunteer too! Where do we sign up?.
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          Apr 25 2014: Christopher, I come from dirt poor .. you can not even imagine. We gor lucky and was allow to move into a "project" within a year it was a dump ... Ophra tried to help some families .. it became a dump ... I could tell you many stories ...

          Here is the bottom line. If I give you something for nothing it has no or little value .. the mentality is that you use it and if it goes bad so what ... not mine.

          I can tell you that there are millions of people who are generational welfare that laugh at the bleeding hearts who "give" them stuff. The philosophy is why should I work ... I get housing allowance .. food stamps ... free medical ... WICK ... free cell phone ... and the list goes on ... like the girl on Ophra .. I get $1,500 a month for each of my illgitimate children plus all the goodies ... If I worked I would have to make in excess of $80,000 a year to equal what I get for having kids ... I would be stupid to get married ... I am going to have another baby.

          The type of mentality you propose is a enabler to the "takers". When the "kool aide" stops the cold hard facts come into focus maybe some of them will get off their butts and go to work ... that really sounds cruel to a liberal/socialist I know .. but the difference is that I have been there and most bleeding hearts could not find the area of concern with a map.

          Change happens when you take responsibility and step up to meet the challange.
      • Apr 25 2014: I absolutely do not agree with total wealth distribution. That I think it's pretty stupid and that is in essence communism. However I do agree in certain amount of wealth distribution. The reason lies in that I am concerned that a society might not function at its fullest when there are great levels of stratifications between classes.
        Hm. but maybe some people are taking responsibility and stepping up to meet the challenge but just not being able to climb that wall.
        Also, charity is not always available to everyone.
        To be fair, I am a Canadian where a certain level of wealth distribution deems to work great and I might be influenced by that.

        So I might be really biased in my opinions and such, just hope you guys understand how I think about wealth distribution.
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    Apr 24 2014: Another way to view this is to recognize that we are all in this together; we are all intimately and inextricably interconnected and interdependent. Because of this, we need to treat each other as we ourselves would like to be treated, and we all need to treat Mother Earth with great respect.

    If each and every person realized this, no one would ever be inclined to take more than their fair and reasonable share, and no one would ever have to go without what they need. The inclination to share and share alike would arise naturally, so there would be no need to force and enforce. It would be obvious that no one truly succeeds unless we all succeed together.

    As we currently are, however - unaware of our interdependence - we need guidelines, rules and laws to remind and encourage people how to behave in an understanding and compassionate manner. Our guidelines, rules and laws should serve to encourage/force us to behave as we would naturally behave if we were more enlightened as to our true nature as children of the Earth. Redistribution of wealth would serve to move us towards the distributive justice that we should all naturally want for everyone.

    What the currently wealthy do not realize is that they are entirely dependent upon all who are "below" them economically and socially. They think of themselves as self-made men and women - although mostly men - and they look down upon the less wealthy, and especially the poor, as people who just don't know how to succeed in life, so they don't deserve anything more than they have. If they could only realize the full importance and value of the workers, the consumers, the service providers, they would realize that it is the cumulative contributions of all these people that has created all the wealth that they have managed to accumulate through laws, loopholes and illegalities that are all bent in their favor.
  • Apr 23 2014: The problem is not wealth accumulation it is a change in attitude that has occurred with a great many people now. The reason why the great majority allow such inequality to exist is because the current idea of capitalism allows those poor to become rich as well and then stop caring about anyone else. This is the reason for gated neighbourhoods, a way of separating the wealthy from the ordinary citizens so they do not have to face the inequity. Now, in the past the very wealthy spent much of their money in re-investment and thereby created new jobs which helped others in society to improve their circumstances. This is not being done to the same degree any more. This is a result of extreme capitalism which rewards selfishness and an attitude of business antagonism. This creates an artificial imbalance in society.
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      Apr 24 2014: Frank,
      I am not entirely sure that the accumulation of wealth has changed attitudes all that much. There may be a few that have gone off the deep end, but most wealthy people are constantly working their wealth. I don't know what extreme capitalism is.
      In the city near where I live there are a half dozen billionaires and many more that are nearing that bracket.
      So, they are all over the business section of the newspaper, involved in this project and that. One has just built a resort that caters to handicapped kids. Another was involved with the construction of only Formula One race course in the country. On and on. Contributions to Universities, Museums, I don't see selfishness or business antagonism. I watch a TV show where very wealthy people are approached by new entrepreneurs for investment into their business. Now, it is based on smart product or idea before these wealthy people invest, but they do invest.
      So the question begs, why do people what to take wealth from these people and redistribute it to someone else. Or even if they were mean and selfish and show antagonism, would that be justification?
      Robin Hood may have taken from the rich and given to the poor, noble as it may seem, it was still robbery.
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    May 7 2014: I would like to thank all participants in this conversation. I realize that the subject matter was given to spirited give and take and that is what I believe that these TED conversations are all about. If we are not challenged in our beliefs, we can become complacent and stop learning and we do learn from differing ideas. I have learned much from TED, and I have gained to insight into ideas that I hadn't considered. I found that I was..... maybe not fully informed and my position may have been a touch off center or..... whatever.

    Anyway, when I can think of another provocative conversation, I'll be back.
    Thanks again.
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    May 5 2014: As this conversation comes to an end, I have had many answers to my question. In summation, there are many who are struggling economically and are... envious, angry, unsettled, .... then there are people who have been very successful in accumulating wealth. I would be the first to admit that some of these people are gaining wealth through nefarious means and that illegal activity should be punished severely. But, that is some not all. Others have been extremely lucky or extremely industrious, in any case gathered what can be called great wealth.
    But, here is my concern, based on my observations over the last 50 years. In 1960, there began a large economic expansion in the US, returning soldiers educated under the GI bill of WW2 had graduated and were beginning the expansion, but some people were left behind creating a poverty class. Tax revenues gained through progressive taxing during the war were diverted to new programs to help the poor. Laws were passed, Large bureaucracies were created to help with housing, education, health and welfare for the poor. 50 years later, with more taxes, fees and revenue enhancements then ever, with ever increasing bureaucracies, we have more poor then ever. And the call is out by the government is:
    " if we just raise taxes, we can really help these poor people."
    I don't know how we can help people, everything I could think off has been tried and seemingly fail. But what I have seen is that the more we spend, the more poor people there are.
    There is that old expression " if you are getting in deeper, stop digging"
    What I have seen is that the very wealthy are avoiding the large taxes and finding their own ways of making a difference in helping the poor. So who are the people supporting the redistribution efforts? Everyone from the almost wealthy to those are better off.. also known as the great middle class.... funny thing is as the number of poor and needy increase, the middle class numbers are dropping. Strange!
  • May 1 2014: 'I am all for capital punishment for those who have stolen or embezzled wealth from others for self serving purposes including governments. '

    Me too... we just disagree who should be at the end of the rope. I believe I have presented facts which show that the Rich have been stealing our wages for over 30 years. You have presented no evidence at all for any cause, just a 'feeling' and opinion. Well, you asked a question, and I answered it. Too bad if you don't like the answer. Its staring you right in the face.

    I wonder if your being an apologist for the Rich is similar to being an 'Uncle Tom' or someone suffering from Stockholm Syndrome. I truly cannot fathom why you would defend the actions of the Rich, when you and I are the victims of their crimes.
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      May 1 2014: Here and I thought I was sort of trying to tell it like it is.... Of course, you could be correct.... I am an apologetic, Uncle Tom suffering from Stockholm Syndrome.
      I have seen no facts that the Rich have been stealing wages. You accepted what ever wages you were offered, unless you have been in a Gulag. There is no stealing there. What I do see as stealing is the taking of wealth legally or illegally for purposes that can not be achieved or for self promotion and aggrandizement. Like when politicians and bloated bureaucracies say when they are only there to help poor.
  • Apr 30 2014: "The wealthy individual made a choice to determine how his money and his art work were going to be used. "
    Which is fine except, in the end result, the middle-class tax payer paid for the art, the museum and the jobs...
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      Apr 30 2014: Bradley,
      I see it as the wealthy individual chose how his wealth would be used. Which is fine except, in the end result the redistributed government looked to the over burdened middle-class tax payer for funds to waste on bloated bureaucracies, failed policies, immoral programs, and what seems to be a methodology to keep programs going by increasing client recipients..... that can't be right. That would imply, the more government can generate needy people, the more wealth they can justify to be redistributed.

      No, I am just jumping to conclusions. Sorry, I am beginning to see boogeymen in the closet.
      • Apr 30 2014: Mike - I'm a little worried we might both be right. I'm seeing boogeymen in the closet plotting a vast conspiracy.
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    Apr 30 2014: There have been many comments about those rich big business owners that should have their wealth redistributed.
    These rich CEOs are the ones that should give up more of their wealth. Well, those comments are mostly fallacious.
    There are some rich CEOs making a large salary. They number in the hundreds. There are some big businesses out there valued in the tens of billions, for the most part their owners are large funds, universities, unions, retirement programs. According to the latest numbers I saw, there are less the 500 people in the US that have a $ billion in wealth and some of those are cash poor.... Another words, they would have to sell something to buy a Starbucks
    No, the real payers in the redistribution of wealth are not those super rich... they have loop holes....

    The real payers are wage earners who make from $100,000 to $500,000 per year. A great salary in Comfort, Texas, not so much in New York City. So, who are these people who are being redistributed from... your doctor and dentist, the dry cleaner down the street, The guy that owns the McDonalds franchise.
    So, it is not some faceless entity that is being harangue, it could be your neighbor or the owner of a place you frequent.

    Just wanted to define the players in this conversation.
  • Apr 30 2014: I think TED talks is really useful for all of us as it gives much valuable materials to study. I find the clips with subtitle but i can't.
  • Apr 30 2014: I think you are misunderstanding the concept of wealth distribution, Mike. The big business owners of America and around the world are essentially paying themselves and setting their own wages. What people are talking about when talking about wealth distribution and the economic gap is that the wealthiest elite of America are getting richer and richer and middle class wages are steady. It is the greed of CEOs and presidents of companies that is the reason for economic inequality in America. I suggest you watch "Inequality For All." Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich does a fabulous job explaining inequality in America and the causes of it.
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      Apr 30 2014: Thank You Kevin. I appreciate your input. However, your reference, Mr Reich, has a more specific point of view on wealth redistribution than I.

      I simply think that it is immoral, it hasn't work in 50 years and the federal government keeps on doubling down The outcome of redistribution has created more poor, etc then ever and at a continuing pace, everyone left in America will be poor in the next decade and all the rich people will live in Singapore.

      Mr Riech has said that if we just get more money from the rich it will all be better.
  • Apr 29 2014: It is difficult to keep emotions in check when the basic facts are disputed. For that I'm sorry, as civil discourse is important.

    Below is a link to a very recent article showing how all of the money has been 'redistributed' to the top for 50 years. Please review it and if you find bias in the data then we'll continue to discuss it. Unless the data is a lie, the truth is that redistribution HAS been occurring, just not in the direction you fear. All I know is that I'm being squeezed out of the middle class so that some rich creature can buy his daughter another pony.

    I hope you take note that when I talk about redistribution I'm not advocating taking from the rich to give to the moochers. I want to take back what the Rich have taken from me, the worker, for the last 50 years. I want to address Income Inequality, not Wealth Inequality. In other words, I plan on working for it, and indeed HAVE worked for it, but the Rich have stolen my labor with inadequate rewards and I want it to stop.

    In the article you'll see data that contradicts most of the points you make. One of you must be wrong. If it is the data in the article, please inform me how I am being duped. But if the data is true, then many of the 'facts' you are basing your decisions on should be questioned. Perhaps you will reasses your decisions. If not, Good Luck to you getting compassion from the Gated Communities when it all falls apart. They don't show any concern for their fellow man NOW, why would they suddenly develop a concience when the Rule of Law falls apart?


    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/05/business/economy/corporate-profits-grow-ever-larger-as-slice-of-economy-as-wages-slide.html
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      Apr 29 2014: Martin,
      I can point out issues with your link and we can keep this conversation going indefinitely.
      But, you seem to have a personal issue with wealth.
      I don't know your personal situation, but I believe you have not seen the financial success you had envisioned for your life after you have busted your backside to make it work.
      OK, Let's go back 50 years, I got married in December 63, the beginning of my responsible adulthood.
      Before that any work/income was to fund my party times;
      So, in 64, I had a 54 Studebaker and a 5 year old console TV I bought used and we lived in a 3br house.
      Today, I have 2004 Toyota, a 5 year old TV and live in a 3br house. And my income adjusted for inflation is about the same. So, my economic life has been flat. And I am lucky. Many people have not done so well.
      Some are really hurting, I had seen my life a lot different when I was young... it was entirely different then what it is. All in all, I would be foolish to complain.
      Other people have been hugely successful. I wish them well. I don't envy them, that's my morality. I am all for capital punishment for those who have stolen or embezzled wealth from others for self serving purposes including governments.
  • Apr 28 2014: Revett, your response to my plight is totally lacking in empathy. Congratulations, you're a good Capitalist.

    You point out that someone is only hired if they result in profit. I agree. You point out that it is my responsibility to have skills that benefit the company. I agree. You point out that I have a moral responsibility to the company... I don't agree. Regardless of my desire for moral responsibility, I am powerless to create it. All that power is in the hands of the Owner, who I hope you realise in my example 'owned' nothing. I had to 'create' all he 'owned' by my ethical work, for which I was NOT properly compensated. If I was unethical, I could have easlily taken my work for myself and left him with nothing. His partner did it. Where was his ethical obligations? Only the Workers need to be ethical?

    I fully agree that within current laws he was within his rights to use me as he did. Keeping me on staff while hiring a salesman with borrowed money was a risk he was not willing to take. Firing me eliminated all future growth potential as there was no one to carry on the knowledge and skills, however. I saved his company the first time but he was not able to find anyone gullible enough to do it again. It closed a few years later.

    How would wealth redistribution have helped here? Well, for one, if I had not been paid slave wages then I might have been able to afford buying the company as he suggested. Or I might not have been in such a vulnerable position that I was exploitable to begin with.

    Now if he had tried telling me when hired: 'You have an opportunity to help turn this company around. Your hard work will be rewarded with stock and profit sharing, so you benefit from your work and therefore work harder. Give me 5 years of your labor and I'll share the results with you.' If he had said that I would have been given a choice on the risks and any results would be my own fault/reward.
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    Apr 27 2014: I made the following statement in response to a posted comment. It came to me, so for all to comment. Is continuing failure a reason to keep trying? "If first you do not succeed, try, try again."
    But, "to continue to do the same thing again and again and expecting differing results is a form of insanity"
    I can not speak of situations in other countries only my own. I remember the time of the Great Society. It sounded good. It would end the poverty and many other social ills from the Depression of thirty years before. Firty years later, we are in a worse situation then ever.

    So, for your consideration"
    .
    " it also amusing on the solemnity all the comments supporting wealth redistribution...
    Let's see how that's working.... In the USA, we have more methods of wealth redistribution... Progressive income tax, inheritance tax, housing subsidies, earned income credit, food stamps , etc. ad nauseum.
    You would think that all that wealth redistribution in the USA, we would have no poverty and a very dynamic social order as you copied and pasted. But we don't and we've tried. We have passed laws, created huge bureaucracies, commissions, et el. Why is that? Crooked banks? Corrupt politicians? Capitalists?
    Great scapegoats.... I have one more. REDISTRIBUTION DOESN'T WORK !!! For 100 years, there was a concerted effort by the US federal government to redistribute wealth for all the reasons we still hear today. WW 1, The Depression, WW 2, defined a poverty class in America, with a great economic expansion in the 60s. Then came all the Great Society plans and programs to resolve the poverty problem.
    Here we are today, more money then ever is being redistributed and more people then ever are poor.
    So, after all is said and done, It is not only wrong, it doesn't even work. In fact, a case can be made that redistributed wealth creates more poverty."
    • Apr 27 2014: The standard of living has gone up.
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        Apr 27 2014: Really? Gone up? In the last 50 years?
        Let's look,
        Well, we have legally terminated the lives of nearly 50 million Americans.
        We have more people on welfare then ever.
        We have more poorly educated then ever.
        The value of our dollar today is worth like..... 10 cents of what it was 50 years ago.

        On a personal note, Back then, I lived in a small house, had a 5 year old TV and drove a 10 year old car.
        Today, I live in a small house, have a 5 year old TV and drive a 10 ten old car....my standards are pretty much flat.

        I hope you had better luck
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    Apr 27 2014: Reply to
    Charles Hunsinger 0
    11 hours ago
    .
    Thanks!

    Here is a brief:

    (1) Valid happiness is the short-time feeling of things being a-step-better
    . . for keeping our DNA alive.
    (2) Invalid happiness is the short-time feeling of things being pseudo-a-step-better (actually a-step-“worse”)
    . . for keeping our DNA alive.
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    Apr 26 2014: "Using statistics from 23 developed countries and the 50 states of the US, British researchers Richard G. Wilkinson and Kate Pickett show a correlation between income inequality and higher rates of health and social problems (obesity, mental illness, homicides, teenage births, incarceration, child conflict, drug use), and lower rates of social goods (life expectancy, educational performance, trust among strangers, women's status, social mobility, even numbers of patents issued per capita), on the other. The authors argue inequality leads to the social ills through the psychosocial stress, status anxiety it creates.

    A 2011 report by the International Monetary Fund by Andrew G. Berg and Jonathan D. Ostry found a strong association between lower levels of inequality and sustained periods of economic growth. Developing countries (such as Brazil, Cameroon, Jordan) with high inequality have "succeeded in initiating growth at high rates for a few years" but "longer growth spells are robustly associated with more equality in the income distribution." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Redistribution_of_wealth
  • Apr 26 2014: Mike

    I have a great dislike for link references, but here are a few for consideration.

    http://wdtprs.com/blog/2013/11/attorney-general-eric-holder-un-treaties-trump-the-us-constitution/
    http://www.nraila.org/news-issues/news-from-nra-ila/2013/9/obama-administration-signs-united-nations-arms-trade-treaty.aspx
    http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml#a22
    http://law.onecle.com/constitution/article-2/18-treaties-as-law-of-the-land.html

    I would suggest a thorough reading of the history to The League of Nations, Wilson, and Eleanor Roosevelt.

    You are right in your thinking, but the problem comes in the details. There is Social Security because of Art #22 Dec of HR.Your SS is monitored by the International Labor Union. Gay marriage is now legal because of Art. 16 Sec 2. A Right to an education, not in The Bill of Rights, Art. 26 Sec 1&2. Read carefully to understand what is being taught today. The Right to health care, not in the B of R., but now federal law. The list goes on to include why our borders are not being protected and why illegals are no longer considered illegal. Common Core in our schools, which is essentially a vilification of America. You may have wondered why there is so much call for volunteerism and even that it is now being mandated in our schools and corporations--Article 29. The buzz words, diversity, tolerance and multiculturalism are in the Charter and now serve as fundamental rules of conduct.

    (1) Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.

    The US pledged allegiance to the furtherance of the Charter. The Charter and Dec on HR deals little with international problems, but rather redefines all societies (ours) from family to the work place to achieve the lowest common denominator and a global mindset. Corporations are too, bound by something called a UN Global Compact pledging the corp to the goals and objectives of the UN. Suggested reading.
  • Apr 26 2014: People get bored. Wealth should be distributed or redistributed because it gives us something to do.
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    Apr 26 2014: It's legal to open factories over seas to avoid the high costs of doing business in the USA.

    It's legal to subsidize farm land and stop American farmers from doing any actual farming.

    It's legal to use tax dollars to bail out huge corporations.

    It's legal for state level government to take the pension money of state employees and utilize it elsewhere with the intent to return that money and then never follow through.

    It's legal for companies to send lobbyists to DC and make sure that laws are passed to help the company and prevent competition.

    Maybe the question is not whether these people attained their wealth legally but whether they are making their unethical and immoral business practices legal to acquire their wealth.
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      Apr 26 2014: Good questions. Is it legal? If it is not, where are the prosecutions? If these "illegal activities" are being....covered up or sanctioned .... by corrupt politicians. Why are these politicians being reelected or not removed from office by the voters? Good questions all.
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        Apr 26 2014: Money talks and wealth allows an individual to virtually purchase laws that will work in favor of making those with wealth wealthier.

        A person used to be able to create something out of nothing but because of the current state of things there are fewer and fewer ways for a person who was born in a lower socioeconomic class to raise themselves to a higher socioeconomic class.

        There are those out there who will argue that we have more self made millionaires than ever before but what does that matter when you don't have regular middle class people who live comfortably? A moderate business with a quality product and satisfied staff was once the pride and joy of the US. There were fewer millionaires but more people who could feed, house, and clothe themselves, and afford medical care without assistance.

        I want fewer millionaires and more families able to financially support their college bound child/ren.
        I want more families able to purchase their home and not worry about ending up upside down in their mortgage.
        I want more families able to provide support for their aging family members without feeling as though they are just a burden.
        I want the cost of healthy groceries to be significantly lower than the cost of the junk foods that are causing so many health issues.
        I want jobs available for people to work and have decent benefits offered.

        I don't think I'm alone in these wants, they are typical of the middle and lower socioeconomic classes.

        However we are doomed to live by the whims of those who can afford to force all their decisions down our throats. We live by the laws that were bought and paid for by the same individuals who paid to legally take our wealth from us.

        That kind of financial power is unpredictable and people fear what they do not know. No one knows exactly what that much money and power can buy and there is genuine fear when it comes to actively and publicly opposing it.
        • Apr 26 2014: Ang

          Money can only buy laws from corrupt politicians that you elect or are you speaking of a new species of human.? What is worse, a corrupt politician who seeks bribes or the money who will pay the bribe.
          Your wants are not unreasonable and were a reality, but America no longer exists.
          Capitalism is not to blame however, political corruption and the corruption of the Constitution is what you might want to look at.
          For example the federal reserve is a government entity that is pumping around $70 billion dollars a month into the economy that is primarily going to the big banks. The effects on the stock market and the economy in that the foundation is false and the value of the dollar is less, which in itself raises the cost of goods. This, if you research, was one of the primary causes of the Great depression.
          Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, government entities, exert a great control over the price of a house. Greater bureaucracy and control by the FDA and EPA cause the prices to rise on other goods due to unnecessary regulations.

          Financial power is one thing a political agenda is quite another and that is what you should be angry about.
          Recently a billionaire offered Obama $100 million dollars to stop the new oil pipe line because he was invested in solar, as the report goes. Who is the bad guy here?
        • Apr 26 2014: Ang:

          Re that list of your wants halfway down your post: I totally agree with you -- and I can't imagine anybody not agreeing -- except for one thing. I would like to see more millionaires, not fewer, as well as all the other things you note.

          But the $64,000 question is not whether people agree with your list of wishes, but rather how to accomplish it. Some of us favor a free market capitalist system based on equal OPPORTUNITY, while others seem to favor a centrally controlled socialistic system based on EQUALITY OF OUTCOME.

          I can make one prediction with an absolute guarantee it is correct: The two sides will never agree!
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        Apr 26 2014: Charles -

        What's the difference between our politically corrupt and capitalists? Where is the line drawn between business and government? I argue that there is no line. Business execs. move from their company to a gov. office and back again. The financial gains of their companies get them the seat they desire to change the laws to make doing business easier and then they head right back to do business sans the obstacles that once were there.

        Financial power and political agenda are united and have been for too long.

        A billionaire who offers $100 million dollars as a bribe to the POTUS, the fact that this could even and does happen says more than enough about how politics and capitalism in this country are working to make sure that the winning players continue winning while the rest of us struggle to keep our pieces on the board.
        • Apr 27 2014: Ang

          It would seem that you are convinced that Capitalism is a bad thing and there is not much I can say that will change that thinking.
          Your first question---You do not have to be a capitalist to be corrupt. If you look up the definition, it will not say corrupt people need only apply. Corruption has existed for a long time, long before capitalism. Corrupt politicians, leaders and such were corrupt long before the advent of capitalism. Money and power corrupt, not capitalism.
          The lines are drawn by an un-corrupt government.
          Usually people who pose your argument are lacking in ambition, drive and intellect or simply want a system in place whereby they can have control over others. These people want the benefits of what they cannot or have not earned or do not deserve.
          What has capitalism brought to you?; everything you have from the clothes on your back, the car you drive, the food you eat, the light bulb, TV, radio and if you draw unemployment or other government perks they are mostly paid for by 10% of us capitalists.
          Do not blame capitalism for what this country no longer is. You can blame those who want something for nothing and the politician who will give it to them for a vote. These voters are the people who are giving the 'seats' away for promises of more government perks and songs around a camp fire.
          You are right however, there is no longer a distinction between big business and government and there is a political word for that and it is not capitalism.
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        Apr 27 2014: Charles -

        What is the word??

        "Usually people who pose your argument are lacking in ambition, drive, and intellect or simply want a system in place whereby they can have control over others."

        People who pose the argument that capitalism has been tainted by individuals who misinterpreted how it was supposed to progress and continue to benefit our country are lacking in ambition, drive, and intellect?

        Based on your interpretation of me, I wonder what you think my views are regarding Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged"?
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        Apr 27 2014: Revett -

        "The two sides will never agree" how do you predict each side will attempt to resolve this issue? Will we all agree to disagree? :) Live and let live?

        What kinds of achievements do you believe are conceivable with more millionaires?
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          Apr 27 2014: Ang

          I hope Revett will forgive me for stepping on your question to him and he will forgive me for stepping on his answer. It's a character flaw I try hard to ignore.

          But to your question:
          What kinds of achievements do you believe are conceivable with no millionaires?
          You see this is not a debate about two sides of a valid issue.... it's more like the farmer telling his wife not to kill the golden goose..... just saying.
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        Apr 27 2014: Mike -

        You have the rich and you have the poor, the thing that divides them is wealth.
        The rich achieve things as do the poor, what are the differences between their achievements?
        Will there be more achieved with more millionaires and less with less?
        Does money always have to be the key factor in every societal issue we face?

        We can't feed everyone there's not enough money.
        We can't vaccinate everyone it costs too much.
        Education standards are low because of budget crunches.
        The deficit keeps rising ever higher because we need to borrow more money.
        We have to eliminate jobs in the US because it's too expensive to operate factories here.

        Capitalism and money have both been twisted and distorted into something ugly and far from what either was ever intended to be.
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          Apr 27 2014: Ang...
          I am not sure you are correct.

          There is more then enough food, America waste 40% of our edible food.

          Vaccinations are cheap, People don't want to vaccinate, they are afraid.

          Education standards are low because they are established by bureaucrats, America spends more on schools then anybody.

          The deficit keeps raising because we want not need to borrow more money. Americans already have more money then the rest of the world. We don't 'need' anymore.

          We move jobs too many of them because we don't have people with the skills to do the jobs. Advantages of any overseas lower labor costs are offset by shipping costs.

          Capitalism is an economic process, money is a thing. People make twisted and distorted activities that are ugly.
  • Apr 25 2014: Actually I DO support Capitalism...just not Unbridled Capitalism. I staunchly support Individual Freedom, which is being stolen from the Individual by the Rich. If you do not retain a sufficient portion of the fruits of your labor then you cannot be free.

    America has had an incredible run, but I fear its end may be approaching because we are not tempering Capitalism. Europe seems to have a better handle on it: work hard, pay lots of taxes but cover ALL citizens with healthcare, education and support. Pay a living wage and work few enough hours to actually enjoy life.

    I would like to try a form of governement I call 'Bridled Capitalism'. Introduce a component of societal responsibility to the earning of wealth. Prevent corporations from socializing the costs and privitizing the profits. Introduce Socialist aspects such as universal healthcare and college education - not for Marxist reasons but because its CHEAPER to provide for all than it is to track those who 'should' be excluded. That might gain enough time for another, better form of government to arise.

    What is my personal favorite? Benevolent Dictatorship. Too bad they become corrupt in about 5 minutes. Oh, and the Benevolent One dies someday. In my case, if *I* was Dictator I'm sure I could solve many problems in the first 2 days...then be shot on the 3rd, as I should be.
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      Apr 26 2014: Martin,
      There is only capitalism. There are people who have bastardized capitalism for their own means. I can not accept that as captialism. So, you support capitalism as it was intended or you don't.
      Your comments become tainted when you start with what I call a false premise.
      • Apr 28 2014: You can call it a false premise all you want, that doesn't make it one. Capitalism is the redistribution of wealth to the top at the expense of the laborer. At its heart it relies on taking more from the worker than it gives them in wages. Towards that goal Capitalism will attempt every hook and crook possible. What it manages to steal becomes "Profit" for the Owners. Since there is no limit to the Profit there is no limit to the stealing. That is where the govenrment must step in and create laws to limit the theft and protect the worker and the environment.

        Your statement implies that 'there are a few bad apples, but Capitalism is Good.' I submit that those 'bad apples' are actually Pure Capitalists - no moral restraint in the pursuit of profit. Taken to its logical conclusion Capitalism results in those 85 people with all the wealth and everyone else as disposable slaves.

        Nevertheless, Capitalism has Opportunity built into it and has lifted more people out of poverty than any other economic system so far. Its the unbalanced distribution of the profits which bother me. The current model gives 100% of the profit and rights to the Company Owners, with Labor simply another cost to attempt to reduce or eliminiate. It survives on the false hope that each and every one of us is simply a 'currently displaced millionaire' who will someday wield the whip themselves. Instead of a Reddik-like 'You Keep What You Kill' philosophy I propose Bridiling Capitalism so that profits are shared with the workers more. That *MUST* be forced as Capitalism will never distribute profits willingly.

        That is why Unions exist. That is why we have the EPA and safety laws. That is why Employee-Owned companies exist. That is why Slavery was considered abhorrent. Ask any CEO what he thinks the wages of his workers *should* be, and you'll get an answer of 'as little as possible'.

        That is the true nature of Capitalism. It must be tempered to become a useful social tool.
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          Apr 28 2014: Martin,
          I have no idea where you came to understand what you have written.
          In a Capitalist Economy, There are people who form companies to produce and sell goods and services. These companies are usually composed of shareholders, Managers, and workers, Managers and workers are usually paid salaries. Profits go to the shareholders.
          The goods and services that are produced are sent to a market where they are sold. These markets set the price on these goods and services. So, our company has to produce it's product at a cost that will show a profit to the shareholders. If it doesn't show a profit, the shareholders will sell off the company and the managers and workers are out of a job.
          Follow me on this.
          Sure, CEO's want to pay the employees as little as possible. He also wants to pay the guy who holds the lease on his factory as little as possible. He wants to pay the guys who supply the materials that are made into the product as little as possible He tries to get the guy who sells machinery in the factory to come down on his prices, Then there is the sales force, advertisers, IT company that services the computers and the company that puts paper in the printers.... in other words.... everybody.
          Is he just mean? Maybe, but he has to make a profit and his market is telling him that he can only sell his product of service for just so much. He must keep his cost of product at less then market to show a profit. Otherwise he could be fired, the shareholders could sell off the company or the company could go bankrupt, or, or, or.
          So, who are these shareholders? You can find them listed on the net. But a few are: UAW, California's Teachers Union, Harvard University. Shareholders are ultimately responsible for salaries being as "little as possible".
          Companies doing wrong? There are laws. Cover ups by corrupt politicians? Elections.
          There is no wrong doing in Capitalism, only in people.
          OK Econ 101! Class dismissed!
  • Apr 25 2014: I don't have an answer at to what multiplier is 'correct.' The best I can do is look at history and see that when the multiplier gets out of hand then the society collapses. Of course there needs to be a disparity in income - without it the incentive to work hard and take risks is gone. That's what doomed Communism: nice theory on paper but fails to account for human nature. Unbridled Capitalism is the other extreme: there is no limit to how much the Capitalist can earn and they will gladly lower wages, fire/offshore jobs and cut corners on quality and pollution to 'earn' another penny for themselves.

    This model suggests 6x multiplier, but is simplistic in its modeling: http://www.atmos.umd.edu/~ekalnay/pubs/2014-03-18-handy1-paper-draft-safa-motesharrei-rivas-kalnay.pdf

    This article shows how inequality is perpetuated and how impossible it can be to get social mobility. It also shows how the Rich get 3x the 'welfare' that the Poor do, yet think they 'earned' it.
    http://www.cnn.com/2013/10/29/opinion/sutter-lake-providence-income-inequality/

    I'm glad you brought up Bill Gates. His charity is truly a good model. He's taken care of his children well, but something like 95% of his wealth is slated to go to charities. However, is it really 'his' wealth? Did you ever check on how he 'earned' it? Sure, a new industry owes its existence primarily to him...and the thousands of people who wrote the code. He strongarmed people when he could, made back-room deals, stole Windows from Apple..you know, all that stuff the Rich get to do that normal people do not.

    By contrast, look at his counterpart, Steve Jobs. Offshores construction of the iPad and pays slave wages. Manufacturing in America was estimated to add $64 to the cost of each unit...but that would have cut into Apple's PROFIT of $463/iPad so American jobs died. Meanwhile, workers at the Foxxconn plants were committing suicide 3x/month and their solution was to put up nets to catch them.
    • Apr 26 2014: Just one tiny point in defense of accuracy: Microsoft "stole" Windows from Apple only after Apple had already "stolen" it from Xerox. The entire desktop metaphor with mouse, windows, and icons was developed in Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center. Apple hired some of PARC's engineers. Microsoft later did the same.

      Any examples of Bill Gates "strong arming" people and making "back-room deals"? Gates's mother knew Frank Carey, IBM's CEO, when IBM was developing its original PC and needed an operating system. Mary Gates didn't know what that was but did know that her son did something or other with computer software (he actually sold a BASIC interpreter) and suggested IBM contact him. When they told him they wanted an OS, he had to license one from Seattle Microsystems (Q-DOS, for Quick and Dirty Operating System. Not surprisingly he renamed it.). He tried to sell it to IBM but they insisted he retain ownership -- and hence maintenance -- and they would license it from him. He said OK as long as he could include his BASIC interpreter with each copy. Yada yada, so Gates got to be #1 dollar-wise because he lost an argument with an IBM VP and made some pretty smart decisions after that. Not because he did anything wrong as a businessman.

      Why, in your mind, are all successful people evil, money-hoarding, back-stabbing Scrooges? If you really think that is the only way to become successful, you are living in a sad, bleak, pessimistic world of your own and I'm sorry for you.
      • Apr 28 2014: How is your expansion of Bill Gates' relationship with IBM anything but a 'back room deal'? Mommy hooks you up with her pal and that's worth more than all the work of the thousands of engineers done after?

        Thanks for feeling sorry for me. I need it. The world is a bleak and pessimistic place when you've seen the other side of Capitalism. Where Bill had Good Luck, I've had the Bad Luck to work for some of the evil Scrooges.

        Back in 2005 I was unemployed, the result of a Scrooge changing his mind on the development of new software for his 120-man salesforce. To keep from starving I took a lesser job, at lesser salary, at a small company which wanted to rewrite its school lunchline software in .NET (Thanks Bill's engineers!), but only after 'you fix a few bugs.' Since the .NET experience was in line with my goals, I took the job.

        This new Scrooge had just taken over the company, after his 25-year partner fled when Scrooge's wife divorced him and called the IRS on all the companies Scrooge owned. The result was that ALL the programmers, tech and sales people were gone, along with all their expertiese.

        For the next 4 years I 'fixed a few bugs', brought his 8 suites of programs up to code and introduced biometric scanning, e-commerce, etc. One day he called me for a lunch meeting, where he said 'Thanks for fixing all my programs. I now have something to sell. So I'm firing you and using your salary to hire a salesman to sell the programs you just fixed.'

        THAT is the problem with Capitalism. How was I supposed to protect myself from that? Sabotage the code? I make things that WORK, expecting to be compensated appropriately. Sabotage is not an answer. Do you have one?
        • Apr 28 2014: Business people who fail to treat their staff well tend to go out of business. That's the beauty of the capitalist/free market system. The people who keep score are known as "customers". But no business has a DUTY to hire people. Jobs are only created when a business absolutely must have another person on staff or the business will suffer. In other words, I hire someone when the profit I will make as a result is greater than the cost of employing that person.

          If you are the employee, it is your responsibility to make sure that the company you are considering working for is well managed and ethical, just as it is their responsibility to ensure you have the skills and characteristics that they need.

          As you found out, sometimes it doesn't work out too well. Circumstances change ("his 25-year partner fled... etc.") and, if I follow your logic, the IRS shut the company down. (And that is somehow a fault of capitalism?) And four years later, your boss fired you so he could hire a salesman. OK, his sensitivity may be questionable -- it ain't what you do, it's the way that you do it -- but what is wrong with getting rid of someone the business no longer needs and hiring someone it does? How long would he have stayed in business if he had had to pay both of you?

          You say that is the problem with capitalism. But how would ANY system have made your circumstances better? And, in light of Mike's original question, how would wealth redistribution have helped here?
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    Apr 24 2014: Carl,
    I can appreciate your high opinion of man. Man is capable of great charity and enlightenment. Not so much as my toy poodle, but.... I digress

    The point I make is that we are not and by our basic instincts we can never be. It is a carefully conditioned response that even allows us to be civil to each other.
    But, here is what I find ironic, you speak of these lofty personas and then you find it acceptable that the fruits of one man's labor and efforts be taken and given to others who may or may not have been so laborious.... just because???
    You are sounding like a righteous pick pocket. I am almost sure, that you don't see yourself in that manner, you are looking for a higher goal..... but it is what it is .

    There is an old expression about fish and man, let me rephrase.... give a man my fish and he eats for a day, teach a man to fish and he eats forever....
    What am I saying.... instead of wealth distribution... why are we not showing the poor how they can acquire the fruits of their own labor????
    • Apr 24 2014: Some poor are not able to use that ability and acquire the fruits from labor just because they are born into the pits of abyss. I don't agree with complete wealth distribution, that would be communism. I believe in certain extent of distribution given that the poor will have enough so they could at least attempt to display their abilities to acquire the fruits of wealth.
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        Apr 24 2014: Seriously, Christopher....
        There are many wealthy people that have invested their resources into providing opportunities for the least fortunate to achieve economic goals. Good for them,
        Where I fault wealth redistribution is that a third party collects the money and makes the distribution as they see fit.
        Let me say this simply, a wealthy person gives of his wealth is an act of charity, someone comes and takes wealth from a person, that's an act of robbery. If a government does it under the veil of taxation, that's an act of tyranny.
        • Apr 25 2014: Well given that you live in America and I live in Canada, I would say we probably have great difference in our views towards the wealth distribution.
          One thing that I am concerned with is, when the disparity between the rich and poor is too great society falls out of balance. This can possibly lead to social unrest and eventually civil disturbances, looting and even revolutions.
          Charity is not available for everyone I would presume.
          Humans... cannot survive alone. We need to live in communities and poor people are part of the community. Like I have been saying over and over again, when the base of this society crumbles, there will not be a society.

          I don't know. In Canada, I think a concept of wealth distribution works quite well.
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        Apr 24 2014: I wouldn't want a 3. party (usually govt.) take my hard earned money away and distribute it to others that THEY think should get it.
        There are countless charities where people can voluntarily participate in wealth distribution and that's how it should be.
        On the other hand, I believe people should get equal opportunities, mostly meaning affordable access to quality education.
        Then, it depends on every single person what he makes out of these opportunities.
        • Apr 25 2014: Not everyone has access to charity, not everyone wants to give their money away and distribute to others.
          We live in a society and society only works when everyone in a society can function together.
          I am concerned with a constantly increasing societal stratifications, there will be no more stable society.
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    Apr 24 2014: 'By passing laws to legalize the redistribution of wealth, could it be inferred that elected officials are currying favor and subsequent votes by redistributing wealth?'

    I am not certain if you understood the idea of democracy. Elected officials are not doing favors, their job is to execute the will of the majority.

    'Are elected officials above such actions?'

    The moment elected officials are 'above such actions', democracy ceased out of existence.
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      Apr 24 2014: I kind of know what democracy is.... a democracy says the majority can murder all the minority.... No?
      OK, the majority can take all the wealth of the minority, is that anymore legitimate?

      Moreover, if I was an elected official and could redistribute some wealth to my constituents, could I count on them to return me to elected office?

      Oh, I am sorry Lejan, that has never been done.
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        Apr 24 2014: Yes, both of your given examples could happen in the name of democracy, as democracy itself is only a tool how a group of people arranges its coexistence.

        In terms of legitimacy I rather have a majority take the wealth away from a minority, than the other way around. Don't you?

        What is more likely to happen, that one individual turns nuts or a large group of people?

        If the president of the USA would decide on its own and not democratically backed, to replace the stars and stripes banner by a yellow smiley face on white background, that would be plain stupid. If the majority of US citizens would make the very same decision, it would only look stupid to me, yet if that was their honest decision, I had to accept it.

        The idea of democracy is to ensure that people administer themselves and to protect them not to be administered by single or small groups of like-minded individuals.

        Democracy is no guarantee against cruelty, as it only reflects the major course of its people. So when most people are cruel, so will be that democratic system.

        The good news is, that our species has grown legs for mobility reasons, so that in case we find ourself surrounded by a majority of people whose ideals we don't share, we can go somewhere else.

        Owning land as property can be difficult to relocate, then, I agree.
  • Apr 23 2014: Wealth redistribution: Vote buying.
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    Apr 23 2014: The legal system in Germany a view decades ago allowed for the genocide of Jewish people. Does this help you to gain a new perspective on what 'legally' says about a social value?

    And could you please explain how we could possibly answer your question under your given restriction to ' ... go past any moral issues or legal ones....'? while your question itself is invariably based on both?
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      Apr 24 2014: Fair enough. Having lived in your country for about 25 years, I have a limited understanding of recent German history. What I was speaking of was an individual going past any of his moral issues and any legal restrictions of him taking or professing the removal of someone else's property.
      I am fully aware of governments either by fiat or by "taxing authority" take wealth. I had hoped I had explained it separately from individuals who proclaim the redistribution of wealth usually not their own,
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        Apr 24 2014: It seems you didn't get my point despite my choice for a drastic example. Never mind, I'll try again.

        Moral issues, legal constructions as well as the idea of property are all mental concepts. Not more and also not less. All of them are also not universal and only depend on how a group of people defines and agrees on them.

        Today, most part of humanity agrees on the idea, that all humans are equal in value regardless of their place of birth. Humanity also agreed on certain minimal standards mandatory for a human being to be able to life a life, worth living.

        As parts of those standards are based to have access to resources, the idea of 'property' of those resources can collide with the necessity to make them equally available.

        The mental concept for land as property, for example, will sooner or later cause problems to open accessibility, as with a growing world population yet an constant area of earth surface, some people may not even be able to grow the food they need independently of the good will for sharing of those who claim to own some peace of this planet.

        So from a humanistic standpoint, the concept of ownership as well as the concept of heritage of those privileges is contradictive to the concept that all humans are equal in value and this on a limited planet with limited resources.

        If abundance of everything was given, then property wouldn't be a problem, but only then.

        Imagine a group of people which were thirsty and also imagine a view individuals would have claimed all water resources in that area as their 'property'. Now what would be wrong in order to survive if those thirsty people would not care about the prohibition of this view individuals not to use the resources they claim to own?

        Thats the distilled essence why the mental concept of property is pointless when it does not allow others to gain the same.
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        Lejan .

        • +1
        Apr 24 2014: But as we know, that many crucial resources are naturally limited or going to be in the future, on what valid justification could you base your decision on not to NOT share what would be necessary for others to survive if you would happen to have more than you need for your own survival?
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          Apr 24 2014: All you say may be true, but not now. Our human existence in the world as it is now and as it has been since there has been a record of mankind has had property law and recognized ownership. It is now and therefore is not pointless. There may be a time in some distant future that the world as you see it becoming will come and the mental and physical and legal and actual concept of property will be pointless. Until that time, is it personally moral, responsibly legal to propose that other people's wealth be taken from them and redistributed to others? That is my question.
          If I get a bunch of people around and tell them that we should take money from a bank is considered a conspiracy and is felonious in this country. Yet, it seems I can say we should take money from another person and that is considered righteous and is the subject of a TED talk or a speech made in the halls of congress.
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        Lejan .

        • +2
        Apr 24 2014: Mental concepts only depend on how many people agree on them and how they act upon it, not if they are 'true' or 'not'.

        Before the French Revolution, the majority of the French people resign themselves in being ruled by a self claimed caste of aristocracy, up to the point when they couldn't stand this anymore and acted accordingly by removing those privileges.

        Occupy Wall-Street just recently questioned the ruling economical system in the US, how it performs and who profits from it.

        Usually as more and more people start to question certain regulations or 'realities' surrounding them, it expresses that they tend not to agree with those any more and start to think about alternatives.

        As you seem to have observed increasing numbers of people who question if the given distribution of wealth is fair, it is very likely, that those same people have experienced a change in their former wealth and that for whatever reason they now have less than they used to have before. And if this was no 'crisis of one's own making', it may cause to reflect differently on possessions in general and that of others who still have it.

        I think the whole banking business, which you referred to, has given more than enough reasons to people to question the share its has towards the common good of the society they are part of. And new terms such as 'banksters' may reflect linguistically how much 'trust' and 'agreement' got lost in many people towads this trade

        So no, I don't mind people to question rising gaps in wealth distribution, as this could be the beginning to fix the reasons to that problem, which I consider to be a problem, as it corrodes the social fabric of any society.

        I think there is a reason why we tell children fairy-tales such as Robin Hood to pass on values of fairness to them. Robin stole from the rich to give to the poor, which he would not have had a reason to have done so, if the rich would have shared on their own initiative beforehand.

        Does this answer your question
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          Apr 24 2014: No, not really... my question sort of was... why do some say that there should be wealth redistribution. I see that as unfair....
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        Lejan .

        • +1
        Apr 24 2014: 'No, not really... my question sort of was... why do some say that there should be wealth redistribution. I see that as unfair....'

        So, in other words, you are against the freedom of speech?

        Or are you worried for 'infectious' or even 'revolutionary' thoughts to spread more widely?
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          Apr 24 2014: So, I 'm against freedom of speech. Not really, I am against rabble rousing that could cause others great harm or loss.... like yelling fire in a crowded dark theater...when there is none.
          Such speech can be considered informatory....like the speech that Jews were the bane of all Germans back in the 1920s.... didn't think much of that rhetoric either.
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        Lejan .

        • +1
        Apr 24 2014: So you are not against the freedom of speech, but people who inform about the risks for society by growing inequalities and who question the status quo are racists by definition, right? Or communists, maybe, which in a way was racism if wealth was considered a race, correct?

        In short, you are afraid of a new area in which communist or socialist ideas or ideals could be reconsidered by people for which capitalism didn't work out well? Is this the 'unfairness' you mentioned before?

        Your 'yelling fire' comparison doesn't work here, because if you would check the numbers Ms. Freeland discusses in her talk, you would know, that the fire does exist and rapidly grows.

        Or is she, as all the others sharing her concerns are just another bunch of conspiracy theorists?

        Extrapolating from your line thoughts so far, that would be my best guess for your next argument. Am I guessing right, or did I miss some details?
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          Apr 24 2014: Lejan,
          That hurt...it is not about conspiracies... or about racism... is there a green race? Or in the case of the Euro.... a multicolored race?

          Let me try to say it better.... I am not.... comfortable?, about people who say that it is appropriate for (someone, government, ???) to take value from one person who has that value and give it to someone else.... the argument being that the receiver is more needy or deserving or, or, or.

          Moreover, you seemingly are unfamiliar with some of our history. In the USA, over the years and even today, we have or had communistic governance, theocracies, democracies and socialism. In fact, currently, a US Senator is a socialist. Americans are free to chose their local governance. Where we all come together is at the Federal level, that by constitution is a republic.

          Yes, Ms. Freeland pointed out some problems and her solutions is where I am challenged.
          I may have not listened carefully, did she mention what the next solution would be after the consumption of all the redistributed wealth? And you know there will be an after....
          there is always an after....

          I think it was Aquinas that told us that once greed becomes a sickness, it can not be cured.
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        Lejan .

        • +3
        Apr 24 2014: No conspiracies? Just, comfort? Yet compared to the early formation of fascism in Germany? You seem to oscillate quite vividly between extremes, don't you?

        But of high interest I read your explanation about what discomforts you, namely the part

        '... to take value from one person who has that value and give it to someone else.',

        as this is actually the basic principle how wealth gets concentrated in the first place, Mike, and the name we choose for it is capitalism.

        Profit, or surplus, as it is also called, is exactly created this way by 'taking value from one person' (worker) 'who has this value' (hours of work) 'and give it to someone else' (owner of company).

        When this principle discomforts you, are you proposing that we should choose for a better economical system than capitalism? You are a Marxist, Mike?

        Interesting, very interesting.

        And yes, I am not a specialist on US history, yet it seems to me that during the cold war period no other witch-hunt on communist and socialists parties within the western world was as efficient as it was in the US, from witch it is still recovering to this day, compared to Europe, alongside with the power of workers-unions, which was,and probably still is, on those 'witch lists'.

        You know, when some US media seriously call Obama a socialist, I can only assume, that this term is more stretchy than I ever expected it to be and that there are profound differences of interpretations compared to those of the old world.

        This finishing quote of yours applies much better to me to the disproportional acquisition and hording of wealth, compared to a more equal and fair distribution as its alternative.

        Maybe the imagination of a 'raging mob' eating the rich is a bit exaggerated at the moment, yet if we stop open discussions about the giving trends Ms. Freeland talks about and don't reflect and act upon it early, such gloomy scenarios may form and run uncontrolled later.

        There is no reason not to cap wealth to a certain maximum.
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          Apr 24 2014: Lejan,
          Where do I start.... I'll just throw them out there and you can pick and chose....
          First, there is a difference between the communal communities and the Pre WW2 communist Party that was advocating an over throw of the US and coming under the Soviets.

          Yes, Mr. Obama has been call a socialist, not a flattering tem as it was used.
          Further, most American are not thrilled with the old world socialists, our founding fathers left the old world and it's monarchies. Once the royals were overthrown, the bureaucracy remaining became old world socialism.

          Most employees are given wages for their services in the creation of product or services. There is no taking and if a worker is not satisfied with his remuneration, he has every right to go elsewhere.

          Ok, wealthy people.... Lottery winners.... Inventors of better mouse traps.... Entrepreneurs who risk everything and "win". Which of these is the bad guy?

          One more thing.... modern unions, tens of thousands of workers contributing millions in dues for representation. Union leaders with offices in downtown high rises, using chauffeured cars, private aircraft with teams of administrative assistants and a cadre of lawyers, eating in the best restaurants and meeting with ranking government officials. Here, workers put the equivalent of dues into a bank account and if they find something they don't like about the job, they use the saved money to find another job. Our major unions are public employee unions.... government employees take turns being workers and management.

          Oh, my political bent..... I am a original constitutionalist. We hold that the US constitution be followed.
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        Lejan .

        • +1
        Apr 25 2014: So socialism to you is what bureaucracy transforms into after royalism? A truly a remarkable view to ignore hope and beliefs of vast parts of ordinary people within society at that time.

        So the French were simply following some directives formulated by a view remaining royal servants who happen to have their heads not removed from their shoulders when they tried to rebuild society around their 'Liberté, Égalité and Fraternité'? Are those ideas an socialists manifest to you?

        What is interesting to me in US history is the fact, that your founding fathers escaped suppression of old world monarchies, while bringing suppression to the native Americans who already owned that territory. And as the concept of 'owning' and 'property' seems to be of high importance to you, I wonder, how you can be an constitutionalist towards a constitution, which only came to existence by taking away rightfully owned property in large numbers.

        The only logical explanation I have to understand this contradiction of yours is, that to you it only matters on which side you are to either blame or to tolerate when some people take value from other people. Right?

        'Most employees are given wages for their services in the creation of product or services. There is no taking and if a worker is not satisfied with his remuneration, he has every right to go elsewhere.'

        So you are saying, that any worker receives the whole value s/he produces during work-hours? If that was the case, how do think profits can be made? And when an i-phone sells for $450 in the US, why is then produced in China, if workers get paid the value they create?

        'Ok, wealthy people.... Lottery winners.... Inventors of better mouse traps.... Entrepreneurs who risk everything and "win". Which of these is the bad guy?'

        Did you miss the news on bank-bailout programs? Private banks and investors bailed out by tax-payer money by the billions? So what 'risk' are you talking about here? That baker who runs his bakery in Doeville?
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        Apr 25 2014: Sure ... but do you know of any baker in Doeville - or similar places - who made billions by selling bread to local people in his local bakery? Well, I don't, so where does the big profits come from? Any ideas?

        'Union leaders with offices in downtown high rises, using chauffeured cars, private aircraft with teams of administrative assistants and a cadre of lawyers, eating in the best restaurants and meeting with ranking government officials.'

        And? Why don't you blame the same behavior, and worse, if it is done by large companies, banks, etc.? A bit to much of a one-sided blame-game this is to my liking.
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          Apr 25 2014: Lejan
          I try to keep these replies short. I can appreciate your views of America are from far off position, many are clouded, too many to list.
          But a few....

          Unions are there for the workers, not to become mirrors of the large companies.... Millions come in dues, hundreds go out in strike benefits and no one wants to strike, so the rest is bling for the union bosses.

          Americans of today are not proud and sadden by the history of the Original Americans.

          I am not sure of a baker but a hot dog maker by the name of Roy Kroc did well and then there was Arlan Sanders, he did well with chicken.

          The $450 I phone and the Chinese worker.... Ok, As I read this, my first thought was of the outstanding universities in Germany where you could have learned business but.....
          in short, the value given by the Chinese worker is a small percentage of the selling price.
          The salary the worker receives reflects this value.

          Lejan, you are making broad sweeping generalizations from a political view that is based on one fatal flaw... all the good you propose for all the people requires efforts of others and those efforts have value. You seem to say that those efforts should be given and taken if not. That is my comment in the simplest form.
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        Apr 25 2014: Actually I attended some of those outstanding German universities, but I choose for precise science over believe systems in business and economics. Maybe that is why I don't follow the loudest choirs, and join the cheer-leading team of globalization.

        On top of that, I worked in several industries and earned some inside views on how the game is played, and I can only assume, that someone who claims that 'the salary the worker receives reflects this value' has done nothing of the two stated above.

        You don't even bother to answer solid questions of mine, when it could get out of line with your perception of history or of economic 'truth'. So I like to ask you again:

        - Where is the 'risk' for private banks and investors if benefits are privatized and losses socialized?
        - Where does profit comes from?
        - Did the French revolution created a socialist state?
        - Why is it to blame when Union leader go for luxury, but not when businessmen do the same?

        US American workers union seem to be quite off their original purpose when what you are saying is true. But I don't know them and I am in doubt with your side of their story.

        Anyway, German workers union are far from being perfect, as anything else, but the most common traps some of their leaders run into, is to allow to sell their ideals and moral obligations for money, offered to them by their employers. In other words, they get corrupted. Those who withstand, can have and do have a huge impact on the way a private company is run and this in the interest of their workers and not against them. What would be wrong in this in your view?

        Do you think a workers cooperation could be the new business model of the future?
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          Apr 25 2014: OK.
          1. the risk and reward model is basis of capitalism. When crony capitalist and entrenched politicians form an oligarchy then you will see losses "socialized"
          2 Profit is the difference between cost and price.
          3. I don't think that is was the original intent of the French citizens in 1800, but a good number of the bureaucracy did survive and used the ideas of socialism to secure their
          position in the new country.
          4 Businesses expense cost from shareholders.... Union leaders expense cost from workers. No socialist like shareholders, let them get hosed..... socialist like workers ,
          why is their money being wasted.

          There are a number of employee owned enterprises in the USA including some major financial institutions. There is nothing in the capitalist system that precludes such organizations.

          Most all of what I have posted is available online. If it from my personal experiences I will brag about.

          Corruption is the original sin that the religious speak of. In Genesis, Adam is corrupted by Eve and the serpent to pick the apple. Man has been picking the apple ever since.
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        Apr 25 2014: 'Americans of today are not proud and sadden by the history of the Original Americans.'

        I don't argue with that, but as 'you' took their property illegally, you could give all of it it back again, to the ancestors of the native Americans, which are given only symbolic and ridiculous fractions in their reservations.

        If you don't agree 'to take value from one person who has that value and give it to someone else', than how can you agree to that system, that nation which rose from expropriation?

        The value which was taken is still there, the land, and so are the descendants of those who once legally owned it. And as you stressed the term 'legally' often in your comments before in relation to 'wealth', how would you feel to return the land of your country to those who once legally owned it?

        Would this idea thrive on your believes or rather make you feel not comfortable again?

        Or would you just don't bother, because that was in the past and today is today? Ok, fine, but then it was only a matter of time for expropriation to legalize itself and if you agree with that, then your concerns on the given topic doesn't matter to those who may come to take from you. Right?
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        Lejan .

        • +1
        Apr 26 2014: Thanks for your answers, all of them great to get into detail:

        1) As capitalism thrives exclusively towards profit maximization and welcomes any risk reduction while doing so, oligarchy becomes the most desirable form for any capitalist, right? And as I understand the term 'entrenched politicians' as polite way not to use the term 'corrupted politicians', we could conclude, that any capitalistic economic system will try to corrupt political leadership in its favor to maximize profits at lowest risks possible. Correct? In its highest art, capitalism could also strive to use those corrupted political leaders to pass laws and rules in their favor as well, so that formerly questionable acquisitions and possessions, could be turned to become totally legal. Correct?
        And as it takes a lot of money to corrupt enough politicians, only really wealthy people could have the power to outperform any democratic election, and to buy any officially elected representative to let them do what is in their favor and not in the favor of the people of that country. Correct? As it is impossible for a regular person who is employed to gain enough financial means it would take to manipulate politics, it is to expect, that only successful business owner will ever gain that much wealth it takes to do so. Correct?

        So if we conclude from all of that, disproportionate wealth is a thread to any democratic system based on a capitalistic market economy. Correct?

        So in order to minimize the risk of political corruption, a democracy should for its own sake limit the maximal wealth of each of its citizen, so that no one alone was able to rule by money instead of argument, discussion and compromises. Correct?

        As the capitalistic economy as well as the political systems in Europe and the US failed to prevent the latest oligarchy to establish itself at both places, don't you think it is time for a general makeover and to install effective counter measures for this to never happen again?
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          Apr 26 2014: Wow.... just saying, "all capitalist are rotten to the core" would have saved a lot of typing.
          But, I am not sure that "all capitalist" are....
          I agree, when people don't pay attention or are duped by their leaders any economic system can become toxic to society. If you read Marx, what could be a more ideal system? And then the Bolsheviks did in the children of the Czar and gave us Stalin. I can not confirm, but the best I can learn is the Czar did not kill anywhere near the number of people that Stalin is credited.
          Yes I think that the oligarchy of what I describe as crony capitalists and corrupt politicians
          should be countered.
          I can not describe a solution for other countries but for the USA...

          We need term limits for congress. I would think that most people enter congress with the best of intentions but power corrupts and it is a powerful position.

          We need to make gifts and campaign contributions to politicians come under the bribery laws.

          We need to rescind the 17th amendment which changed our government from two houses of representatives to a single house with an upper and lower chamber. This gave political parties too much control over government and easier for crony capitalist.

          There is more, but you get the idea
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        Apr 26 2014: 2) Profit is the difference between cost and price.

        Not entirely correct, as there is no negative profit, but will do to start my next question: If the price was targeted by competition and all needed materials to make a product bought in addition (which is mostly the case) what is left to maximize the profit?

        a) Increased efficiency within production (get more done in less time)
        b) Waste reduction during production
        c) Using robots instead of people
        d) Paying people less for the same work (they can go if they don't agree)
        e) Transfer production into low-income countries
        f) Transfer production into low-income countries and pay people less for the same work ((they can also go if they don't agree)

        Now, as more and more companies would choose for c, e and f, as more and more jobs would cease out of existence, correct? If that was true, less and less job alternatives would remain for people who would not agree with a drop in payment, correct? And as a reduction in alternatives also reduces the freedom of choice, it could be concluded, that freedom itself gets reduced, correct?

        Considering all this, couldn't we conclude, that profit maximization of capitalism only widens the freedom of markets, yet destroys the freedom of the majority of people who works within it?

        If you don't agree with this conclusion, I would be interested where and why, if you would like to share it here.
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          Apr 26 2014: Well, there have been companies that posted a negative "profit" It's a paper thing, but when cost is greater then sales.... that happens.
          But, you have listed a number of ways that have been used to maximize profit and you could have added a number more... removal of management is also used... but...
          When I said cost and selling price, I maybe over simplified the statement... it is really much more complicated.
          I also see your conclusion as too simple. Profits are limited by markets, markets are limited by those participating. Prices are limited by demand. On and on.
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        Apr 26 2014: 'Wow.... just saying, "all capitalist are rotten to the core" would have saved a lot of typing. But, I am not sure that "all capitalist" are...'

        I was talking about the risks and weaknesses which capitalism as a system carries in its basic principles and I assume you could agree, that in any society we would not need to seek long for individuals who would try to use those for base motives. Don't you think?

        I didn't read Marx, but I heard about some of his criticism on capitalism, which in its formations seems to be observable in our given hype about and around capitalism.

        What Stalin or the Czar could teach us about todays problems I am not certain, yet I am certain that the way capitalism transformed itself over the years is corrosive to our societies.

        A more ideal system to me can only evolve out of trial and error, as we all know that words come cheap in the dozens. What isn't cheap in my view is to identify errors, weaknesses and also cause & effect loops which take longer to unfold than in just one legislative period.

        As we seem to agree, that corruption is a problem, I do not see sufficient enough efforts to counter that.

        What I know is, that wealth or financial means is powerful enough to undermine a democratic political system, which to me is the source of the problem we are facing worldwide, as it allows the tyranny of financial power to break free and to have its way.

        So in order to maintain the idea of 'one man/woman, one vote', which from an humanistic standpoint makes perfect sense, we can not allow in any democracy for other forces than this one to take over.

        So if you have a better idea than to limit the maximum wealth a single person or company is allowed to possess, than please share it with me. I also would like to have some ideas on how it can be avoided, that a single company alone can become 'to big to fail', because those incidences are blackmailing whole societies into decisions which are anti-democratic.

        So please fill me in.
  • Apr 23 2014: There's no dignity in being wealthy amongst poverty or being poor amongst wealth. If you want less redistribution then vote for the less-tax party. If you want more then vote more-tax. If you want the environment to be a beneficiary of redistribution of wealth then vote Green. There's no dignity in being either wealthy or poor in a degraded environment that is not fit for the purpose of "Mother Earth."
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      Apr 23 2014: I think I understand your position. Is dignity a function of wealth? I have met poor but very dignified people and rich, most undignified people.... I can't make that connection. Nor can I associate wealth or lack thereof with the environment or it's current state. But thank you for commenting.