Letters to the Editor

American greed

March 5, 2011


To the editor:

Why is it that the poor people and the middle class in this country always have to pay for the greed of the rich people? Three years ago, a handful of greedy bankers on Wall Street brought down the entire U.S. economy. Millions of good, hard-working Americans, who have played by the rules all their lives have lost their jobs, their homes, their savings, retirement plans and even their health care for what? Why do school teachers in Wisconsin have to pay for these billionaires’ insatiable greed?

This is not right! Why aren’t the greedy Wall Street bankers in prison like Bernie Madoff? Why do they continue to receive their outlandish salaries and bonuses, while the very taxpayers who bailed them out have lost everything?

Now that the greed of these people has brought the entire country down, our new Republican governors are kicking them when they are down. This will not be forgotten! I applaud the Journal-World for bringing to light how the billionaire Koch brothers contributed heavily to the Wisconsin governor’s race and now are in the process of extinguishing the last glimmer of hope and dignity that the school teachers of that state have.

It will not be communism or terrorism that brings this great country down; it will be the insatiable greed of a handful of extremely rich and powerful men who will not rest until they own everything. Will we stand by and allow this to happen? As one person, I feel helpless. Perhaps if we all stand up together, we can do something.


Abdu Omar 7 years, 3 months ago

Your comments are pretty accurate and I support you. But until we stop special intererst groups and lobbyists from paying off congressmen we won't get any where. Lets stop that practice.

SinoHawk 7 years, 3 months ago

You are awfully quick to blame Republican governors and Wall Street, but the core of the economic crisis was brought on by policy, not only the actions of Wall Street. Folks like Bernie Madoff (D-NY) are despicable, and Wall Street (63% of donations to Democrats according to OpenSecrets) played a part, but the losses from those two are a drop in the bucket compared to the damages done by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and government policy in general. The simple fact is that the government privatized gains while taking on significant risk at Fannie and Freddie (while Rahm Emanuel was on the board of Fannie, nonetheless), while trying to pressure lenders to issue more credit to undeserving persons. For that, we are all currently suffering.

As for the people that caused this mess--they should be hanging from the trees, imho. It makes me sick that there is such a tight circle between regulators, politicians, and the boards of so many of these companies.

Madison, WI teachers have an AVERAGE compensation package of >$102,000 per year. Asking teachers to contribute a small percentage of income to their health benefits does not seem too extreme to me. From my perspective, when the taxpayers are hurting and losing their jobs, those being supported by the taxpayers will probably need to feel some pain, too. There just isn't enough tax-revenue at present to keep compensation where is is for so many public-sector employees, and raising taxes would be insane.

jafs 7 years, 3 months ago

The recent investigation into the meltdown concluded that private misbehavior combined with lack of government regulation and oversight were the major causes of the financial crisis.

Fannie and Freddie were not found to have been significant causes.

tomatogrower 7 years, 3 months ago

"Asking teachers to contribute a small percentage of income to their health benefits does not seem too extreme to me." And the teachers think so too. They agreed to contribute. They didn't agree to the theft of their bargaining rights. That's what this mess is all about.

Scott Drummond 7 years, 3 months ago

Your citation of 63% Wall Street support for the Democrats is certainly misleading. In an election on the heels of the horrifying george w. bush Presidency, Wall Street flooded Democratic candidates with money. (It worked as the Democrats produced only mealy mouthed reforms) Over the long haul there is no doubt as to which party the Wall Street banksters back.

Your citation of an average compensation package of greater than $102K per year is meaningless without a comparable average for the state's non teacher, college degree holding professionals.

And the reason there is not enough tax revenue to support teachers? republican tax cuts which still have not trickled down to benefit the middle class.

SinoHawk 7 years, 3 months ago

Those were 2010 numbers, not 2008 numbers.

Madison, WI Salary Data: Average Teacher Base Salary: 45k Average Accountant Base Salary: 51k Accountants don't have a pension.

The reason that there is not enough revenue is because spending increases during the "good" times, yet government refuses to contract during the "bad" times. WI has been under Dem management for quite some time, so don't even try to pin this on tax cuts.

jafs 7 years, 3 months ago

According to my father-in-law, the current governor had a surplus when he entered office, and immediately gave tax breaks which gave it back.

Without that, the current budget problem wouldn't exist.

gudpoynt 7 years, 3 months ago

not exactly. Maddow alluded to this too.

The governors tax breaks aren't factored into this year's budget, but rather next years (i think). Regardless, said tax breaks did not contribute to the budget shortfall this year.

That being said, the purported budget shortfall is nearly equal the amount of tax breaks he granted. Crying "we're broke" and then trying hard to render public worker unions impotent, while cutting revenues by nearly the same amount for the following year is just as glaringly hypocritical.

We_pay_why_cant_they 7 years, 3 months ago

There would be plenty of tax revenue if the too-big-to-fail banks and corporations and the richest of the rich would pay their taxes. Bank of America, for example, paid ZIP, ZERO, NADA taxes in 2009. But wait, there's more! B of A even got a tax refund of 2.3 BILLION dollars last year. Here is a quote from US Uncut (usuncut dot org):

"Despite ruining the economy with their reckless greed, Bank of America has consistently avoided any form of accountability to the American taxpayer. In fact, in 2009, Bank of America actually received a net tax benefit. Yes, last year, the federal government gave Bank of America $2.3 billion. That money alone could almost completely cover the proposed $2.5 billion cuts to the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which helps low-income families pay their heating and cooling bills and affects 34 million households. Bank of America is the largest bank and 5th largest corporation in the country, holding over $2.2 trillion in assets, and yet it pays less in taxes than the average American household, which made between $35,400 and $52,100 and had an effective tax rate of 14.2%. "

Why should teachers, policemen, firemen, and other people important to this society have to lose their jobs (or even their right to collective bargaining) because of budget cuts, when organizations such as B of A pay less in taxes than an everyday person? Why should the Arts Council be in danger of dismantling because of budget cuts when B of A and others like it can get a refund of 2.3 billion dollars? Why should our schools suffer in any way when the rich and powerful are allowed to benefit from the resources of our society without contributing to its well-being by paying taxes like the rest of us? I wonder how any corporation that shelters profits in tax havens would feel if suddenly the streets in front of their businesses stopped being plowed in the winter, or the potholes filled in. How would they feel if the police stopped responding to break ins or robberies. How would they feel if their trash was not picked up. You get the picture. So I ask you:

We pay, why can't they?

parrothead8 7 years, 3 months ago

You cite an "average compensation package" of $102k per year for teachers in Madison WI. Seeing as the average teachers salary in Madison WI is $51,000, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, I'm curious as to where your figure came from.

Also, teachers in WI already provide a large part of their own retirement...it is part of their "total compensation package." They agree to lower take-home salaries in return for part of their compensation to be taken off the top and set aside for their retirement. On top of that, they have agreed to fund a larger portion of their own health insurance and retirement, but the governor has rejected this idea because he wants to bust their union.

Wisconsin has no financial problem. As of right now, they are projected to end their year with a fiscal surplus. What is happening in Wisconsin is, pure and simple, a political power grab and has nothing to do with their budget.

SinoHawk 7 years, 3 months ago

Base salary is $51k, but you (like most) are omitting the extremely generous pension and medical benefits. From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

In announcing the $100,000 figure, the institute produced a video that included brief clips of an MPS administrator reciting salary and fringe benefit numbers during a school board meeting the previous day. The average total compensation figure for teachers exceeded $100,000....

The posting quoted MPS’ budget manager as saying that in 2011-2012 (the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2011), the average MPS teacher would receive total compensation of $101,091 -- $59,500 in salary and $41,591 in benefits.

barlowtl 7 years, 3 months ago

The average pay for Kansas Public emplyees is 44,803 including benefits, $3,000 less than comparable jobs in private sector. Part of that is deferred compensation, that means "they hold it & invest it for you so you will have a retirement nestegg" All of those benefits were paid for by the worker. There was a guarantee return of 8% but investments were not as wise as hoped. So after 30 years the worker is accused of greed when he expects his money. The pay scale for Kansas employees ranks 49th. Considering that many in that group have Bachelor's & Masters degrees in order to qualifiy for their positions & therefore spent a good part of their career paying off loans I just don't think greedy is a proper word to use. Those who caused all this pain are hoping we will all turn on each other instead of going after the real greedy ones. Yes, we are all going to sacrifice but pls don't use the word greed on your fellow workers. Your public sector workers are tax payers too, now big business & millionaires, that's a different story. A tax break is a subsidy, take a hard look at who we are subsidizing.

Maddy Griffin 7 years, 3 months ago

"t will not be communism or terrorism that brings this great country down; it will be the insatiable greed of a handful of extremely rich and powerful men who will not rest until they own everything. Will we stand by and allow this to happen? As one person, I feel helpless. Perhaps if we all stand up together, we can do something." AMEN!!!

Scott Drummond 7 years, 3 months ago

New Deal policies certainly favored the middle class.

Government policy certainly helped to reduce racial discrimination.

Government policy certainly helped provide access to disabled individuals.

voevoda 7 years, 3 months ago

Liberty_One, Your argument in favor of capitalism helping the poor has not materialized in fact. Why? Because rather than pay higher wages and reduce profits for the corporate bosses, the corporations have hired kids who are picking up pocket money while being subsidized by their parents, or illegal workers who take slave wages, or they ship jobs abroad. Some American workers reached the middle class because they could form unions, collectively forcing improvements in wages (and benefits, and working conditions), and because the government established safety nets for those who were unemployed and/or unable to work.
"Great leveler"? No. The rich can give their children wealth and contacts to begin with. Under your system, Liberty_One, ordinary working folk wouldn't even be able to provide their children with education, because (as you have often said) you'd close down the public schools. Ideology has blinded you to historical evidence, Liberty_One.

voevoda 7 years, 3 months ago

Liberty_One, You confuse industrialization and scientific advancement with capitalism. Capitalists sometimes advanced scientific knowledge and industrialization, and sometimes they impeded it. The same has been true of government.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 3 months ago

It's one thing to recognize the positive aspects of capitalism-- it's quite another to completely ignore its negative aspects, of which there are many.

jafs 7 years, 3 months ago

Of course - that's the common sense view.

Just as one can recognize positive and negative aspects of government.

madameX 7 years, 3 months ago

Interesting how you apparently jump to the conclusion that "stand up together" is meant to convey an opinion that more government is the only solution to the problems the letter writer sees.

Standing together can mean lots of things. For example, we can "stand together" by making a collective effort be aware of which companies we choose to purchase goods and services from, choosing those that treat their workers in a fair manner. Personally I believe that government has a role to play, it doesn't necessarily mean government should have the only role.

madameX 7 years, 3 months ago

Your comment seems to imply that you did. There's a pull quote from the letter, and then a rebuttal of that quote that basically boils down to "Dumbass! Government won't solve anything!" even though the quote makes no mention of govenrment.

If you didn't make the conclusion that the letter writer's intent was to support some government solution then explain to me the reasoning behind giving that specific response to that specific quote.

Cait McKnelly 7 years, 3 months ago

You have to be kidding me, LO. You honestly believe this horse puckey?

jafs 7 years, 3 months ago

He is a true believer, and completely sincere, as far as I can tell.

grandnanny 7 years, 3 months ago

"Competition is the best friend of the poor..." Wow, when was the last time we had competition in this country. Try to buy toilet paper, for instance. Quilted Northern, Charmin, Angel Soft all made by the same company - owned by the Koch Brothers. If a big corporation has any competition, it will just buy the other company. Since monopoly laws are basically non-existent, the number of different companies just keeps getting smaller. WalMart doesn't have low prices because of competition - they just control most of the Chinese production. If a Chinese company doesn't make a product cheaply enough, WalMart will just find another Chinese company to make it cheaper. Oh, that's the competition you were talking about.

RoeDapple 7 years, 3 months ago

Here we go crying that the rich won't share his millions with us again. If you were to have a local craftsman build you a custom "widget" and he charged you enough to clear a decent profit, let's say 50% 0r $25, you would gladly pay it to get just the widget you wanted. If, however he got such a high demand for his widgets that he invested hundreds of thousands of dollars, created 50 jobs, sold 3 million widgets per year with a net profit to him of $2.50 each, then he would border being among the "filthy rich", all the while offering the same widget at the same quality as the original. Taken a step further, demand for widgets now exceeds 50 million per year, the original builder of widgets has long retired but his company still pays him $1 for every widget manufactured on three different continents world wide. Disgusting is it?$50 million annually for widgets? Make your own d@mn widget. Or Corolla. Or laptop.Greed is not an affliction of the very rich. It's an affliction of those who envy him.

RoeDapple 7 years, 3 months ago

Or not live as well. Wheel chair? Contact lenses? Portable oxygen machine? None of which I use, but a friend would have a hard time living without his widgets.

jafs 7 years, 3 months ago

Greed is not located in one particular group of people - it is a common human problem.

There are plenty of greedy rich folks.

And, your example is faulty because the original quality would undoubtedly lessen when the production increases, and the original craftsman is now a business owner.

That's one of the problems with the idea that things should continually expand - if more folks felt that simply making a living while providing quality goods and services was a good thing, our system could work much better. That craftsman would continue being a craftsman, the things he builds would be higher quality, he could make a living, consumers would be able to support a small local business, etc.

jafs 7 years, 3 months ago

I never said expansion was wrong per se.

I questioned the idea that it is always a desired goal.

Some of your examples seem reasonable to me.

But I stick by my sense that our society generally contains an inherent and mostly unexamined belief that "bigger is better", and that people should always strive to have more, and make more money.

That belief does not serve many people well, in my opinion.

tomatogrower 7 years, 3 months ago

And in the beginning that widget maker has factories in his own country that provide a decent living for several thousand people, but the widget maker wants more money, because he wants a trophy wife and a nanny for every one of his children, and he doesn't want to spend money to dispose of his industrial waste. So he moves his factories to a country where he can actually hire children for pennies to work, and he can throw his pollution into their drinking water.

Scott Drummond 7 years, 3 months ago

Who educated the workforce that allowed for the expansion of production?

Who provides the court system to enforce contracts?


Is it really "his" millions? Perhaps he should educate his own darned workers, not rely on the government to do so. Maybe should be left without our government courts to enforce his own contracts.

Cait McKnelly 7 years, 3 months ago

I like this. It's a big part of the reason that people like Bill Gates and George Soros actually work to share their billions. They invest in education and R&D of things like sustainable energy. Capitalists like LO absolutely hate Gates and Soros because they share their money and actually take responsibility for their wealth; something that very very few corporate hogs do.

RoeDapple 7 years, 3 months ago

Yeah I see that now. Pre-coffee overreaction on a topic that winds my clock. Thanks thuja for snapping me out of it.

Scott Drummond 7 years, 3 months ago

"has not fared well the past couple years and O/P/R's socialist agenda has been torpedoed and sunk...."

....by the millions in advertising spent by those hoarding the wealth that once resided in our Middle Class to elect right wing class warrior politicians.

There, fixed it for you.

Cait McKnelly 7 years, 3 months ago

I have a feeling that after the recent debacles in Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio, the sleeping giant, aka the American Middle Class, has awoken, Tom. The middle class is in the process of forming it's own "Tea party" and I'm not sure even the current Dems, much less the Republicans, will survive it. As Obama has said in response to the recent events, "Elections have consequences." Many many people are waking up to that and there is every possibility that you and your ilk are going to go the way of the dodo bird.

homechanger 7 years, 3 months ago

Michael Moore has millions of dollars profit from his movies. Thinking of helping myself to some of that.

Flap Doodle 7 years, 3 months ago

Speaking of greed: "... National Education Association. Membership: 3.2 million; assets: $216 million. The NEA, representing most of the nation's teachers, has 31 headquarters officers and employees who earn more than $200,000 in pay and benefits. The president, Dennis Van Roekel, received $397,721 in salary and benefits. Of the $3.7 million NEA spent on political activities in the last election cycle, 98% went to Democratic candidates. The NEA has 98,000 members in Wisconsin.

Service Employees International Union. Membership: 1.8 million; assets: $187 million. The SEIU, whose membership has increased in recent years, has been organizing hospital, home care and nursing home workers, along with local and state government employees, janitors and security officers. The union has nine headquarters officers and employees who earn more than $200,000. The former president, Andy Stern, was paid $306,388 in salary and benefits from the union in 2009. Stern resigned in 2010 and was replaced by Mary Kay Henry, formerly the executive vice president. Over the past two years, SEIU gave almost $2 million to Democratic candidates and $8,500 to Republicans. It has 18,000 members in Wisconsin.

United Food & Commercial Workers. Membership: 1.3 million; assets: $157 million. The UFCW, whose members work in meatpacking, food processing and retail grocery stores, has 17 headquarters officers and employees who earn more than $200,000. The president, Joseph T. Hansen, received $360,737 in compensation in 2009. Of the $1.9 million the union donated to political candidates over the past two years, 99% of it went to Democrats....."


tomatogrower 7 years, 3 months ago

So what's your point? Gun owners have a right to influence representatives, and workers don't? NRA assets $247, 976, 782 revenue, $1,281, 635 in assets, leader paid over half a million dollars/year, with probably plenty of perks. NEA director gets a little over a quarter of a million dollars/year.

rtwngr 7 years, 3 months ago

Bad analogy. The NRA doesn't represent anyone at a bargaining table now, do they?

jafs 7 years, 3 months ago


They represent their constituents in other ways, and influence politicians that way.

Scott Drummond 7 years, 3 months ago

Sure they do: gun manufacturers. The bargaining table is just the Supreme Court and the Congress. NRA members are well represented in each forum.

booyalab 7 years, 3 months ago

Yeah, what tomatogrower said: when private employees want to make money it's greed. When public employees want the taxpayers to give them money it's "a right to influence". See the difference?

Brock Masters 7 years, 3 months ago

Rose, let me address your sincere, but misguided points.

1.Why is it that the poor people and the middle class in this country always have to pay for the greed of the rich people?

How are the poor people paying for the greed of rich people? They do not pay or pay very little in income taxes and receive government benefits - money, food and healthcare. And, it isn't the rich that made them poor, it is often their poor choices - didn't take advantage of a free public education, had children without the means to provide for them and so on. Are there exceptions? Of course, but travel the country and go into the inner cities and you'll see able bodied people that are sucking this country dry.

2,. Millions of good, hard-working Americans, who have played by the rules all their lives have lost their jobs, their homes, their savings, retirement plans and even their health care for what?

Did the rich somehow go out and kill jobs that these hardworking people created themselves? No, these are jobs that the evil rich created. You condemn the rich but want the jobs they provide.

3.Now that the greed of these people has brought the entire country down,

I would not have bailed out these companies with taxpayer dollars. Let them fail. But you cannot put the blame entirely on the companies. Congress deserves part of the blame for enacting laws that required banks to loosen their lending requirements so that more people wouid qualify for home loans.

The people who took out loans to buy homes that they could not afford deserve the blame too. No one makes you take out a mortgage you can't afford.

  1. It will not be communism or terrorism that brings this great country down; it will be the insatiable greed of a handful of extremely rich and powerful men who will not rest until they own everything.

So, who decides how much wealth is enough? Does Bill Gates have too much wealth? How about Michael Moore or Barney Frank? Should there be laws to limit wealth? Once you reach a certain level you have to keep working but distribute your earnings to Rose and her ilk?

  1. Will we stand by and allow this to happen? As one person, I feel helpless. Perhaps if we all stand up together, we can do something.

You're right - if you don't like it you need to organize and do something about it just like the majority of the American people did last November. They said we don't agree with Rose and we will kick out those politicians that agree with her and Obama and elect ones that agree with us.

What you see happening today, like it or not, is the voice of the American people.

And for the record, I am not rich nor will I ever be.

jafs 7 years, 3 months ago

It is not the "voice of the American people" - it is the voice of the majority of Americans who choose to vote. Given the low voter turnout rates, I'd say the voice of about 1/2 of Americans is saying they don't care enough to vote, or don't think it makes a difference one way or the other.

In the 1950's, when our economy was much better, CEO/average salary ratios were about 30-1. Today they are more like 300-1. That shows the increasing accumulation at the top, to the detriment of those in the middle - middle class wages have essentially stagnated, while top wages have skyrocketed.

The "create jobs" rhetoric gets tiresome - businesses employ people, who provide labor, in order for the business to thrive. When things work as they should, this benefits everybody.

And, what do you call it when businesses, due to no fault of the employees, lay off massive numbers of employees in order to keep profits and top salaries high?

Brock Masters 7 years, 3 months ago

To your response -" it is not the voice of the American people"

You're right, it is the voice of the American people that cared enough to vote, but if you choose not to vote then you choose not to have a voice to be heard.

The business does not create jobs, but the individual or corporation that decides to take a risk with their financial resources to make a profit creates jobs. Yes, it is a symbiotic relationship between the business owner and the employees, but the business belongs to the individual or corporation and they can choose to run it (within certain limits) as they see fit including laying off people just because they choose to do so. The owner of the company controls it and can decide what is in his/her or shareholder's best interest.

Now, in my opinion, a smart business owner treats his/her employees well, but they don't have to do it. It is their choice as it is their business.

I don't want a country where the government controls how business runs its business (again within limits).

jafs 7 years, 3 months ago


But those who call results of elections with such low turnouts the voice of the people or mandates are making absurdly exaggerated claims.

Nothing about the runaway salaries at the top, combined with middle class wage stagnation?

Of course they can - I asked what you would call it?

I don't want a country where business controls government.

Brock Masters 7 years, 3 months ago

Who is to say what are runaway salaries other than the business owner or shareholders. Not my company so while I might have an opinion, I have no real say nor should I.

I don't want a country where it is controlled by business other, but it is then it is your fault and my fault because we let it happen.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 3 months ago

With a truly progressive tax policy, there doesn't need to be any judgement on the scale of salaries, especially if coupled with minimum/living wage laws.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 3 months ago

Let me respond to your responses.

  1. "They do not pay or pay very little in income taxes and receive government benefits"

Since 1980, the very wealthy, and the corporations they own, have paid less and less in the way of taxes, which goes a long way to explaining why their share of wealth and income has risen dramatically, while wealth and income for everyone else had fallen or remained stagnant. They have systematically restructured their accounting so that nearly all profits are shown as having been made overseas, often in shell corporations in places like the Cayman Islands, while their US-based corporations show no income, meaning they avoid paying any income taxes whatsoever.

And making the overgeneralization that poor people are poor because they are lazy and shiftless is downright lazy itself. It's a mostly baseless assertion, and does little to advance any understanding of where we are, and where we should go from here. At any rate, the social safety net actually makes up a very small part of the overall federal budget. The deficit will not be eliminated by making life at the bottom even more miserable than it is already.

  1. "Did the rich somehow go out and kill jobs that these hardworking people created themselves?"

Yes, as a matter of fact, they did. Nearly 3 million jobs have been shifted overseas in just the last 10 years, and that trend is accelerating.

"You condemn the rich but want the jobs they provide."

People want jobs. They don't care who creates them. But in this economy, only the rich can do it, because only they have the capital to do it with. And right now, they are sitting on well over $1 trillion in cash because they believe that serves the maintenance of their wealth.


Brock Masters 7 years, 3 months ago

I am not a fan of corporate welfare, unreasonable tax breaks, but the rich pay a lot in taxes, but perhaps not in terms of percentage of income. My point was, which you didn't comment on, was the poor contribute to the economic woes states are facing.

People, regardless of how hard they work, do not create jobs unless they actually start a business. I may not like it, you may not like it, but we didn't take the risk and invest in a business and therefore have no say if they shift the jobs oversees. Don't like the corporate practices then do not purchase from them. But the jobs were created by the business owner and can be killed by them - end of story.

You sound like Moore now with the idea that if I have cash that I am doing something wrong if I am not investing it. So what if they have cash it is theres and they should be able to choose whether to invest it or not. Do you want government telling you when and how you have to spend your money? Maybe you do, but I don't.

I can't believe that you say there was not an organized movement this past election to get conservative politicans elected. You may not like the tea party, but they are indeed grassroots. And there was a grassroots movement in Kansas called cleansweep that indeed have a clean sweep of all statewide elected positions. Not one democrat, including incumbents won a statewide office and it was indeed because of a grassroots movement.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think the GOP is pure and innocent nor are they our saviour. We, the people, are the only ones that can save ourselves. The problem is we are not united.

I am sure you are a good and intelligent person and I like to think the same about myself, but ideologically, we are very different. Although I might like to think I am right and you're wrong, in truth, neither is really right or wrong. We just think and view the world differently.

Unless somehow I can convince you I am right or vice versa or find a middle ground something will break. This country is in big trouble, not because of our economic woes - they are just a symptom, but because we are a nation divided.

Common ground between you and me? Probably that we both agree that as a country we need to care for our poor and weak. But I suspect we disagree on how to do it.

We must end, to the degree possible, poverty. To do this, we must provide a first rate education for those willing to be educated. To provide a first rate education, we must make sure that children have an early head start, proper nutrition and health care. We must break the cycle of poverty.

But, you can only help some people so much.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 3 months ago

" My point was, which you didn't comment on, was the poor contribute to the economic woes states are facing."

Poor people did NOT create the current economic collapse. That was created on Wall Street. And that is what is creating the current budget crises, federally, state-wise and locally.

But you buy into the scapegoating of poor people and people who work for the government.

Yea, we're different, alright. But don't try to "equate' us, OK?

Brock Masters 7 years, 3 months ago

I don't buy into scapegoating the poor, but I don't live lala land where the poor don't contribute to the problems we are having. Why do you think CA is in the problem it is while other states are not in the dire straits that CA is? Other states don't have the same high population of poor and the same high services provided to them.

I guess i overestimated your ability to discuss an issue without being nasty. Wont make that mistake again.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 3 months ago

"To do this, we must provide a first rate education for those willing to be educated. To provide a first rate education, we must make sure that children have an early head start, proper nutrition and health care. We must break the cycle of poverty."

But the sum-total of the Republican agenda these days is that we can't, and won't, do any of these things, because this is unfair to rich people.

Brock Masters 7 years, 3 months ago

I am a republican and just wrote and believe this so why generalize?

jafs 7 years, 3 months ago

Then I take it you're very upset with Brownback, who promised to protect education funding, and immediately wanted to cut it instead?

Brock Masters 7 years, 3 months ago

I am not a huge Brownback fan. I am Christian, but I can separate my religion from government - he can't. And, while I believe there is waste in education, I think some of his cuts hurt programs that truly helped kids.

jafs 7 years, 3 months ago

Glad to hear it.

Did you vote for him?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 3 months ago

  1. "I would not have bailed out these companies with taxpayer dollars. Let them fail."

On a purely philosophical level, I wholly agree. But the problem with our top-heavy economy in which is rooted in these few very large corporations, if they fail, the whole think collapses. This is precisely why so much concentration of wealth into the hands of so few people, and the corporations they control, is so dangerous to all of us, and why they hold the rest of us hostage.

" Congress deserves part of the blame for enacting laws that required banks to loosen their lending requirements so that more people wouid qualify for home loans. The people who took out loans to buy homes that they could not afford deserve the blame too. No one makes you take out a mortgage you can't afford."

Congress did not make any laws requiring banks to make bad loans. Quite the contrary, actually. For most of the truly qualified low-income borrowers, there were much better, federally backed loans available, but they had tighter borrowing restrictions, and the private lenders could make much more money on bad loans with much worse terms for the borrowers.

Does that mean there wasn't a good deal of irresponsibility from some borrowers? Of course not. But quite simply, the lenders were easily 99% responsible for all the liar loans that were made, and they did it because they knew they were going to package them up and sell them off, so they didn't care if they ever got repaid. This was corporate fraud of they highest level, and poor people were just among the scammed, not the scammers.

  1. "So, who decides how much wealth is enough? Does Bill Gates have too much wealth?"

Of course Bill Gates has too much wealth. He even says as much, which is why he's giving so much of it away.

But we really don't have to decide it on those terms. Simple measures like minimum/living-wage laws, progressive income taxes (without all the loopholes) and social welfare programs allow capitalism to do its thing without crushing those at the bottom.

  1. "You're right - if you don't like it you need to organize and do something about it just like the majority of the American people did last November."

There was no "organizing" last November. At least not on a grassroots level. There was a well-financed campaign of demagoguery, including the tea-party, that spread a good deal of mis- and disinformation, with heavy doses of fear-mongering and xenophobia. Because Obama and the Democrats chose to play the same corporate game that Republicans do, which of course doesn't fix anything for working folks, it was very effective.

"What you see happening today, like it or not, is the voice of the American people."

A few of them. And they are very, very wealthy, but they've managed to prop up a few non-rich folks as their puppets-- this forum is a perfect example of how well that works.

Ann Hamil 7 years, 3 months ago

The big banks don't make widgets, they move money around, dice up debt, repackage it, repeat, rinse, defraud. And it was deregulation that let them do it. The banking reform just passed is so full of holes it will do little to keep them from doing it again. They are no better than the 3 card monty artists standing on the street corner. Move your money to small (really small not co-opted greenwashed) banks and credit unions. Divest (as much as you can) from corporations that don't actually make anything of value to the common good or actually harm the common good. Information is key, but of course the fraudsters realized this a long time ago, so really educating yourself is difficult, but not impossible. For instance: http://www.indeed.com/salary?q1=Teacher&l1=WI
Do you think paying a PROFESSIONAL with a Master's degree and experience, who is responsible for educating the next generation of scientist, doctor, lawyer, engineer, president, executive, policeperson, fire fighter, etc. 50K a year plus access to health care and a chance to retire in dignity is excessive, but a 20million dollar "bonus" to a crook is just "honoring a contract"? (BTW If we had actually reformed health care, the total compensation would not be over 100k.--but corporate profits in the health care insurance industry must be maintained at all costs, right?) We (the people and our elected officials--ie the government) let WallStreet demand roll backs on hard fought worker rights and compensation in the private sector, the raiding of pensions, all in the name of "competitiveness"--which apparently means endlessly increasing profits to woo shareholders. Surprise! endlessly increasing profits is not sustainable. It used to be earning an honest living and rate of return on investment was enough. But now investors just chase the big fast score at the crap table that is Wall Street.

Ann Hamil 7 years, 3 months ago

Seriously? When you take the refs out of the game so the players can now be the both the bankers and the insurance agents on the loans??? Ok, if the free market is so great, can we have our 170 Billion back from AIG then?

Bill Getz 7 years, 3 months ago

Here, with the writer of the rather panicky letter, you join the chorus of reductionists from both sides who single out the Kochs and/or George Soros as if they were the sole perpetrators of excessive political contributions to their respective favorites. Campaign contributions and influence peddling are a structural problem which transcends these flagship individuals.

tomatogrower 7 years, 3 months ago

Yes, Tommy would just love it if the workers in America would just shut up and let the rich people throw them scraps and beg them to be allowed to lick their boots, like the poor people in other countries do. I mean the leader of Lybia must be their hero. For years he has made money hand over fist, while his people were poor and did without. But he always tried to claim he was just one of the guys, just like the rich funding the Tea Party movement. He played them for fools, but their eyes are open now. What's going to happen when the American people finally open their eyes?

tomatogrower 7 years, 3 months ago

No, Tom. The Tea Party people have just been handed some sunglasses by the people who fund the Tea Party. They have just been told to worry about Death Panels and that they should be concerned about millionaire football players arguing with billionaire owners, or spoiled egotistical actors. They are still watching reality TV shows about rich white trash people, and think that's what they would like to do. Their eyes aren't closed, they just are looking through distorted glasses provided by the people who don't want to be noticed. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

true_patriot 7 years, 3 months ago

George Washington gave America the same sentiment and warning in his farewell address at Mount Vernon back at the dawn of this nation's statehood. It rings more true than ever today.

The relative handful of have's in the world are stepping up the class warfare on the have-not's - it is essentially out in the open now in places like Wisconsin where it's easier than ever to follow the dollars from the richest men in the world to elections, government, legislation, lobbyists, the formation of the Tea Party and so forth.

But the amount of wealth that is being redistributed up the chain from blue collar families and the middle class in general is severely tipping the scales towards plutocracy and aristocracy (what our Founding Fathers were trying to avoid at all costs, having seen how ruinous it was in the Old World) and the rate at which that wealth is being redistributed up the chain from the many to the few at the top has been growing for decades, and absolutely skyrocketing over the past ten years.

As so many American families are losing their homes and their jobs, services for the mentally ill and basic state functions are being slashed, more children are going to bed hungry in many states, people are literally dying because of the death panels that are insurance company bean-counters and the Arizona state government, real wages continue to plummet for most of the populace - while this is life for many Americans, the casino for the rich otherwise known as the stock market is soaring and CEO compensation in general jumped a solid 7% this year.

I'd like to think it's not too late, but I fear George Washington's warning has already gone unheeded for too long and we could be past the tipping point.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 3 months ago

Rose Thomas this is not the first time. Reagan/Bush were involved in much the same type of offense. In fact it appears to be policy of republican administrations. AND they are still trying to steal OUR Social Security Insurance dollars and give it to greedy Wall Street investors. That is simply unacceptable.

It's YOUR money! 6 cases in point to be considered and read completely:

  1. The Reagan/Bush Savings and Loan Heist(Cost taxpayers $1.4 trillion) http://rationalrevolution0.tripod.com/war/bush_family_and_the_s.htm

  2. Wall Street Bank Fraud on Consumers http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2009/0709macewan.html

  3. Bush and Henry Paulson blew the $700 billion of bail out money? http://www.democracynow.org/2009/9/10/good_billions_after_bad_one_year

  4. Social Security Insurance AT Risk for no reason( This would cost taxpayers $4 trillion, add $700 billion to the debt each of the next 20 years, place taxpayers insurance money at risk and wreck the economy) http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2005/0505orr.html

  5. Medical Insurance Insurance is COSTING YOU MORE BUT YOU ARE GETTING LESS How much is the sick U.S.A. Medical Insurance industry costing you? http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2008/0508harrison.html

  6. Billions in Over Charges! Why did the medical insurance industry allow their clients to pay what they should have paid? http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/24/AR2009062401636.html

Congress knows of these over charges but to date nothing has been done. Nobody has gotten their money back!!!

Flap Doodle 7 years, 3 months ago

Woo hoo! Reagan/Bush link sighting! It's been at least a day since you posted this hunk of drivel.

Getaroom 7 years, 3 months ago

Nicely summed up jsthefacts! TS drank the Tea Party poison and he will also get his come-uppins. Capitalism in America is moving toward it's worst expression and that is what we have now and can go by many names: Coporatocracy, Plutocracy, Fascisim. And you thought Socialism was the enemy?
The divide between the wealthy and the poor is growing in leaps and bounds and that is not because the "free market" is working. That is a lie perpetrated by the super wealthy.
Never forget the officials you elected to run your government are all beholden not "us", but rather to the lobbyists(corporations) who paved their way to the White House steps. A balanced free market depends on morality and ethics being in place and who in this world believes that unregulated markets will honestly police themselves based on what we can plainly see demonstrated. Don't fall for the this ruse called Social Darwinism it is no science, but it has become a convenient tool of the upper class to follow their tendencies for greed and to the detriment of others. We have all co created this mess and all of us can turn it around. What are you willing to do? Keep eating the poison - or make a new way? It is up to each of us. Vote!!!!!!!!!!

Bill Getz 7 years, 3 months ago

Something I have always wanted to ask you, Tom. You always refer to your detractors as "far left." Do you recognize a spectrum on which some may pertain to a "center-left" (where I would place Obama) or a "conservative left" (where many labor unionists would fall)? I try to distinguish between "conservatives" on the one hand, and "right-wingers" on the other, when discussing the Republican position. A few, like Bernie Sanders or Dennis Kucinich, may correctly characterized as being to the far left in American politics, just as the likes of Bachmann and Sam Brownback adhere to the far right. The devil's in the details. BG

jhawkinsf 7 years, 3 months ago

Capitalism is the worst form of economics humans have ever devised, except for all the others.

Fossick 7 years, 3 months ago

Capitalism allows ambitious men to build kingdoms without their mercenaries trampling the crops.

Scott Morgan 7 years, 3 months ago

Bankers, regulators, wealthy industrialists, this is what's bringing our great nation to knees.

The main problem with socialism is it doesn't work. Every year which passes, I see more folks riding in the boat and less paddling.

There will come a time when the boat doesn't move. (maybe now)

A great example was the warm and fuzzy boat riding article in the LJW recently about the gentleman getting his high school diploma well into his 50s. The posters for the most part cheered him on. So did I, until I didn't read something.

Motivated by the thought of his granddaughter, Williams persevered through eight English classes, seven social studies courses, six math classes, six science classes, two physical education requirements, two fine arts courses and 15 electives#####. ummmm?

Besides him moving here and winning a disability payment claim I read furtherr

(Williams was always there, working away — sometimes as many as 40 hours each week. on our boat then gaining his diploma I did not see his dreams of honest work.

Wish I saw him with a loving look clutching the classified job ads.

He wanted to babysit his granddaughter (good) he wanted to volunteer (good) he wanted to take college courses (good)

I want to do this too. Work kinda gets in the way. Work including keeping my home up takes a lot of my time. Can you imagine.

Obviously the man is not disabled. He will be another mid 40s- 50s healthy looking man or women cruising the grocery lanes at Dillon's 11 in the morning on a week day. Not a care in the world.

Soon if not now, others will look at the non paddlers more closely. Where do I sign up for his deal?

jafs 7 years, 3 months ago

I suppose you could suffer a debilitating disability.

And, I don't know the specifics of this case, but I'm pretty sure that it's quite hard to win disability claims - the government generally denies all claims the first time, and doesn't easily grant them.

Also, of course, there are many great jobs out there for 50 year old guys with just a high school diploma.

Scott Morgan 7 years, 3 months ago

Jafs, wholly guacamole got any more excuses. How many hardworking families who do pay taxes does it take to pay for one freeloader? 6-10? I look at reality, and reality is the man can do something constructive.

Where did this entitlement class of Americans come from?

All I'm saying is dip the oar a bit and help out.

jafs 7 years, 3 months ago

No excuses.

Your take that he is a freeloader is supported by nothing other than your opinion.

It is very difficult to win a disability claim, so if he managed to do so, I doubt he is freeloading.

Any evidence that he is, in fact?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 3 months ago

This is a good example of what is wrong with the Fox News Cult.

Your post doesn't demonstrate that you know anything about this particular individual.

What it demonstrates is that you'll unload here (and probably elsewhere) with baseless crap on some poor schmuck just to try to legitimize your own hateful prejudices.


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 3 months ago

Damn those disabled folks. They're all dishonest slackers. Tom just proved it.

Scott Morgan 7 years, 3 months ago

some poor schmuck.......??? smart enough to get a free education, food, a place to live and no havii wavii get up in the morning and head to the salt mine. Love his retirement plan.

I do not watch Fox News, I watch reality and read. It's no secret our social welfare system is a massive cost.

One doesn't need to have a PhD to realize one half the population of our nation pays no federal taxes, and the welfare list keeps on growing.

BTW...........the rich do pay taxes already. The thought we can just steal money from the guy who owns a business and on paper makes great money is ludicrous. It's simply true those are the people who make jobs.

Something has to happen, and me thinks it won't be good for either side of the fence we sit.

jafs 7 years, 3 months ago

Here's a suggestion:

You could try to scam the disability system - claim one that isn't true, and then try to get the government to award you money.

Then you could report back to us and let us know how easy and successful that was.

Scott Morgan 7 years, 3 months ago

Jafs, I would take you up on the challenge, but I have a real bad headache, and my knee really really hurts. Hurt it when I was drinking heavy and fell down. Work is really hard and painful.

I got fired last month too because my father and I don't get along. Mom even kicked me out of the house. Been fighting depression over this for years, just can't hold a job.

People used to be ashamed to scam the government.

jafs 7 years, 3 months ago

You really do know how to miss the point completely, don't you?

jhawkinsf 7 years, 3 months ago

It should be made clear that greed does not necessarily mean someone has done something illegal. People who have done something illegal, like Bernie Madoff, should be held accountable in a court of law. Those who have accumulated large amounts of wealth (Koch, Soros, etc.), with no proof of illegal activity, should be given the benefit given to all of us, that their wealth was accumulated in a legal manner. If you believe that an accumulation of large amounts of wealth is morally wrong, and presuming that they do not, then you simply have different values. In this country, having a diversity of values should be applauded. Having read several of the posts here, there seems to be a theme of a presumption of guilt.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 3 months ago

Distribution of wealth doesn't need to be wholly egalitarian. Neither does there need to be the extreme concentration of wealth that currently exists.

If we'd cut war spending by about 80%, and reinstitute truly progressive taxation, there'd be plenty of opportunity to become wealthy without crushing those at the bottom.

jhawkinsf 7 years, 3 months ago

I was talking about assumptions. I see no reason to assume that an accumulation of wealth equates to having done something wrong. That seems to be a common theme with many of the posts.
Cut 80% spending for war sounds good but without details it's hard to respond. I do know that well over half of the defense dept. spending goes to service people in wages and benefits (health care, retirement, etc.). I would be against those cuts. Many Americans are employed in industries that produce weapons and other materials needed for war. Cuts in those areas would cause large increases in unemployment. Unless the government makes a huge commitment to support other industries to pick up the slack caused by that unemployment, our economy will certainly take a huge hit. And as to your suggestion for a progressive tax, well that's what we have in our income tax. It may not be as progressive as you would like, but those at the top pay substantially more than those at the bottom. But caution should be employed when suggesting that the wealthy pay an even greater share. I'm always reminded of the Beatles song "Taxman". When England decided to experiment with socialism and raise the tax rates on the extremely wealthy, they just left. Rock stars, tennis players, industrialists suddenly became citizens of Monaco or places with better tax laws. It helps no one here if that were to happen. I think it's no coincidence that those who pay zero income taxes also vote in very low numbers. With no "skin in the game", there is no motivation to become involved in the electoral process. If you really want to disenfranchise the poor, do not tax them. That's why I believe a flat tax on everyone would be in everyone's best interest. You say there does not need to be an extreme concentration of wealth. I would say that if there is such a concentration that that does not necessarily mean wrongs were committed, wrongs that the government needs to come in and redistribute the wealth.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 3 months ago

"I see no reason to assume that an accumulation of wealth equates to having done something wrong. "

Who's making that blanket assumption? The simple fact is that in this economic system, if you don't have capital, you are at the mercy of those who do. And when the system has been rigged so that capital concentrates in ever greater proportions in ever fewer hands, it's a recipe for disaster-- kinda like the one we are currently experiencing, and appears to be getting worse.

RE: war spending. All your concerns about the jobs that would be lost is rather amusing. All of that spending comes from taxes, and none of it produces anything useful-- it's quite literally money down the toilet. Shifting those exact same tax dollars towards something that is useful and productive would dramatically improve the economy for everyone-- even the defense contractors if they are willing to give up their cash cow and do something useful instead.

"Rock stars, tennis players, industrialists suddenly became citizens of Monaco or places with better tax laws. It helps no one here if that were to happen."

The wealthy in this country did that long ago. For all the pity you want to feel on these poor, poor rich people, they figured out their tax dodges long ago, and they're doing all they can to get out the few taxes they still do pay. And now they're in the final push to kill all unions, especially in the public sector, so that there is absolutely no resistance to their use of the government to redistribute even more wealth their direction.

BTW, the poor do pay taxes-- a much more significant portion of their income than do the wealthy. Paying taxes for them means the difference between being miserable, and being really, really miserable (and it's sometimes even the difference between life and death,) while for the wealthy, it merely means they are slightly less wealthy. And you want to whine on about fairness.

How utterly clueless.

jhawkinsf 7 years, 3 months ago

You're half right, but half wrong. The poor pay substantially less income taxes than do the wealthy. That's because, as you like it, income tax is a progressive tax. Now if you're talking sales tax, that's a regressive tax. The rich can only drink so much milk or eat so much bread. So taxing those products is regressive. But I clearly said income tax. That's a progressive tax with the wealthy paying far more than the poor, unless you're using those terms in a different way that I am. A couple of years ago, while listening that very conservative radio station NPR, a commentator said that the top 50% of tax payers paid 95% of the income tax. I don't know of those numbers are accurate (and if you have other numbers I'd be glad to listen), but if those numbers are even remotely close to accurate, I don't know how you can say that the poor pay more than the rich.
Perhaps for the sake of clarity, when you say things like have a more progressive income tax or a higher minimum wage, maybe you could include what you think those numbers should be. What is a fair minimum wage in Kansas and what do you think it should be in say New York City or Hawaii. If a persons earns 20 million dollars per year, what percentage should be turned over to the government. How about the person earning 200,000. Do you believe a person making say 25,000 should pay anything at all, or do they get a free pass. At what level does the free pass end.
With earned income tax rebates, the working poor now get back more than they paid, literally, they are paying less than zero. I'm not sure how much more progressive that can be.
About the spending on weapons and such, sure I'd be all for spending the money on say green energy or high speed rail. Sounds good to me. But what I'm suggesting is that if we simply shift from one subsidized industry to another, there is no savings to the taxpayers. We all know that if nothing else, government spending is not efficient. Changing from one industry to another will not change that. That's where the money goes down the toilet. If you're O.K. with spending 20 times too much on a bomb and would rather spend 20 times too much on a windmill, fine. (Actually, I too would prefer to spend on windmills, I just hate the price).

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 3 months ago

I fully understand the difference between income tax and sales taxes. That's exactly the point. What's yours?

As far as the top 50% paying 95% of income taxes, (assuming your figures are accurate) that's because they make 95% of the total income, don't you suppose?

The poor don't pay more than the rich. The point is that the poor can barely survive on what they make without any taxes being levied. Why is it so hard for you to understand that what taxes they do pay hurt them much more than the taxes that the wealthy pay, since they remain quite wealthy even after paying taxes.

And you should really inform yourself on the multiplier effects of various economic activity. Those activities that actually make something useful and lasting have rather high multiplier effects, while others, such as military spending, do not. Not all spending, government or otherwise, is the same.

Scott Morgan 7 years, 3 months ago

Only problem, socialism doesn't work.

Hearing the same old begging is getting old. Tax the rich.

The USA is by far the most generous nation in the world, including to it's people. Yet, we still are called names and have demands made on us for more.

As we see in Just_another posts more more more.

Whenever I see shots of some pathetic and horrid scene in Africa there always seems to be burlap food bags with USA stamped on them.

Perhaps we should bill some of these countries for whom are now gouging us with oil prices. A billion or two in payback could build a few schools couldn't it.

Yet the U.N. wants more more more.

When the U.S.A. gets slandered which is pretty much non stop, we still have most of the world wishing they were here.

Yet some want more more more.

kugrad 7 years, 3 months ago

Well said Ms. Thomas, well said! Hear, Hear!

tomatogrower 7 years, 3 months ago

We don't envy these people. You don't understand. Most people want to just take care of their family. I own a business and do quite well, but if I start making more money, I allow it to trickle down to my employees. They share in my bounty. I don't treat them like dirt, so I can push them away, then hire cheaper labor, so I can have more money. I don't expect them to do the work of 2 people, so I can have more money. Most corporations refuse to do this. If their profits don't grow by large amounts every year, they are considered failures. What would be wrong with small growth of profits, and the realization that you are providing jobs for families? But that's not the morals of our country anymore. A CEO owns only 1 vacation home? He needs to lay off a few workers so he can get a bigger bonus and buy 3 vacation homes. People don't want handouts, they want jobs, and to be paid a living wage for those jobs. I'm sorry you consider a family whose parents both work long hard hours to make ends meet lazy. But you admire the rich families, like the Waltons, whose granddaughter paid someone to do her college work? Where are your values?

tomatogrower 7 years, 3 months ago

Years ago, I used to work in a factory. Every once in awhile we would have a meeting and be told what a great job we were doing, and how much profits had risen, then we would get a 5 cent/hr raise and a ham as a Christmas bonus. All the while one of the executives bragged how the company was sponsoring his race car. This was not a company that made car parts or anything that would really appeal to race fans. I left the company before they closed their factories, putting several people out of jobs, but, hey, the owners and big whigs got big severance packages and still live really well. The workers don't want a handout. They just want a job that will allow them to feed their families. I'm sick of people saying that workers want something for nothing. How many workers who have jobs are doing the work of 2 people, because the bosses want their big bonuses, instead of hiring someone? Poor business decisions based on greed will come back and bite them someday. But, hey, look at Madoff, he got to live it up for quite awhile, and now someone else has to foot his bill in retirement.

Brock Masters 7 years, 3 months ago

Well then, start your own successful business and share the profits equally with your workers. Pretty simple.

jafs 7 years, 3 months ago

See tomato's above post.

Sounds like he is doing something very similar to that - my guess is that he has good, loyal employees as a result, and a successful business.

RoeDapple 7 years, 3 months ago

Oh Tom don't play with their fantasy. Clinton taught them if they repeat the lie often enough it becomes fact. Watch them do the same with this.

whats_going_on 7 years, 3 months ago

*raises glass to the letter writer"

Yes....corporate greed and them being allowed to pay off the greedy Congresspeople to do their bidding.

Jimo 7 years, 3 months ago


Privatize the gains and socialize the losses.

jafs 7 years, 3 months ago

I hope you're not serious, but I fear that you are.

Brock Masters 7 years, 3 months ago

It is interesting to listen to those that blame the rich or blame corporations and yet they fail to recognize who is really to blame - they are. They are to blame because they have not held their elected officials accountable and allowed them to be bought by corporations.

They are to blame because they shop at Wal Mart, Target, and other corporations. They are to blame because they buy Toyotas or Chevorlets - the two largest car sellers in the world.

So, you cannot blame anyone else, but yourself unless you can say you have not bought any products from China, do not do buy products from corporations and give a large portion of your wealth to the poor.

jafs 7 years, 3 months ago

How would you hold the officials accountable, given that the corruption is widespread, and exists on both sides of the aisle?

I read recent elections as signs that people are fed up with both parties - whether the tea party folks are immune to corruption or not is not yet clear. I'll be very interested to see what happens there.

It is extremely difficult to buy American, as you know, even for those of us that would like to and are willing to pay a bit more money for the privilege. And, I can't blame it on folks who can't afford to so do.

And, how exactly does it translate that if we object to massive salaries, bonuses, and guaranteed severance packages even if fired that the only other option is for somebody to give most of their money to the poor?

Why not simply distribute the profits of a company more equitably among the workers - that would help prevent the destruction of the middle class. Oh, also, companies could hire more people, thus helping people avoid being drains on the system (poor to middle class transition).

George Lippencott 7 years, 3 months ago

Great, how do we do that. The ciompany is protected from you by laws.

jafs 7 years, 3 months ago

Well, current interpretations of the Interstate Commerce Clause seem to be quite broad - couldn't that be used?

George Lippencott 7 years, 3 months ago

"Three years ago, a handful of greedy bankers on Wall Street brought down the entire U.S. economy"

This comment by the author was followed by a statement of negative impact on the 95% not in the above group.

How did we get to collective greed?

If 95% got had by the 5% it sounds like the villians are clear.

George Lippencott 7 years, 3 months ago

So, All of you think the rich have too much. How do we fix that? Is there a way to cap income? Could we not tax the rich a lot more? Why did we not do so when Mr. Obama and company had total control of the governemnt? Why did Mr. Obama only want to increase the take on the rich by 4%.

Seems like a lot of whining without real focus or real ideas.

Fossick 7 years, 3 months ago

"Seems like a lot of whining without real focus or real ideas."

That's exactly what it is: inarticulate rage based on the fact that many, like the letter writer, "feel helpless." It is an emotional reaction, not a rational one. Obama did not raise taxes on the rich because it would not solve the problem, and he knows it.

The problem is far bigger and is probably insurmountable. Warren Buffet is worth, what? $34 billion dollars? Take every penny and you could cover the government's deficit, not even its spending, for 10 days. Take 100% of Gates' money and you could almost get us to April. Now that the two richest guys in the country need SocSec, Medicare, and/or unemployment, what have you gained? There is also the fact that if you actually tried to sell Gates' Microsoft stock on the market much of the value would disappear - the majority of his wealth is fictional because it is illiquid. This is not a defense of Gates, but an explanation of the fact that much of our wealth - too much in my opinion - is ephemeral.

Every penny the government collected in FY10 was given away to someone else. $707b (20 times Buffet's wealth) to SocSec, $724b to Medicare, $552b to unemployment and other entitlements. Add in the $206b paid for interest on the debt that that's all they brought in - $2.2 trillion, and 90% of it went to not-the-rich. It only gets worse from here, as the boomers are just getting started at the trough.

I know, here's where Bozo jumps in and says, "but the top 1%." Whatever they got, other than the right to cough up the lion's share of that revenue, does not add up to to even close to what the poor and middle class got out of the deal. The Dems are screaming because the GOP wants to cut $61b, 4% of the deficit. It doesn't matter who wins, because neither side is dealing with the real issue: you can't give away enough money to keep people from feeling helpless.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 3 months ago

You're right, merely taxing the most wealthy among us at a more hefty rate will not, by itself, fix the budget mess.

To truly fix it will require several other measures. At the very top of the list is to reduce war spending by at least 80%-- down to a level that would easily support a true "Defense" Dept.

Right there with it should be a true revamping of the healthcare system-- we have by far the most inefficient, and therefore expensive, system in the world. My personal preference would be for a single-payer system, but it could be a combination of reforms, including many which would have a more libertarian approach.

Beyond that, we need a complete revamping of our economy-- away from consumerism that can be fed by goods manufactured by cheap overseas labor, and towards one that will totally revamp our infrastructure towards more sustainable models that don't require as many imported inputs-- and the savings from reduced war spending and a more efficient healthcare system would fund it. The increased salaries of Americans doing all this very necessary work would mean increased tax collections to the government, which could be used to pay down the debt.

tomatogrower 7 years, 3 months ago

How about if we agree to give them tax cuts, when they create jobs. They will get the tax cuts, people will have jobs. Right now we give them tax cuts and hope they will create jobs, but it ain't happening is it? Job, in the US, then tax cuts. Then the unemployed will be paying taxes again, and government revenues will increase, and the rich don't have to pay more taxes. Yes, they will have less money, but maybe then I could at least have some respect for them.

George Lippencott 7 years, 3 months ago

Neat idea but they do not pay much in taxes.

Daniel Dicks 7 years, 3 months ago

One conclusion is clear and obvious: the richest Americans have dramatically lowered their income tax burden since 1945, both absolutely and relative to the tax burdens of the middle income groups and the poor.


BigPrune 7 years, 3 months ago

Those teachers in Wisconsin in the major metropolitan areas, are making the equivalent of $100,000 a year when you throw in their benefits. The state department of revenue collects their union dues then sends that money to the union. The teachers don't pay for squat out of pocket. Give me a break people.

Daniel Dicks 7 years, 3 months ago

Google is not a source. It is a search engine.

BigPrune 7 years, 3 months ago

I am glad you found that link Fossick.

Daniel Dicks 7 years, 3 months ago

And it is worth every penny. Perhaps it is sour apples for not making the proper career choice? Maybe you could be working as a top teacher at inner-city urban schools with the neediest children from the lowest economic- social rung. I know I wouldn't care for that challenge. There are easier ways to make more money with a college degree.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 3 months ago

There appear to be only a few areas where the salaries plus benefits are that high. The average salary and benefits for teachers state-wide is considerably lower than that.

Are they too high? Compared to comparably educated folks in the private sector, they aren't. And besides, when it comes to the wealthiest of the wealthy, conservatives contend that there is no such thing as "too much."

But just because they are teachers and gubmint employees, and therefore undeserving of any respect according to conservative gospel, they need to be beaten down, made to suffer, even though their salaries and benefits are actually rather modest.

Is that about right?

Fossick 7 years, 3 months ago

"But just because they are teachers and gubmint employees...they need to be beaten down..."

No, because they make six figures, their cries of poverty ring hollow. I'm even beginning to suspect that all their signs with pictured of bloated-belly children with flies all over their eyelids are fake.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 3 months ago

If some districts are overpaying their teachers, that's for the local government officials to deal with. They have ample tools to do that with, if they so choose.

But taking away collective bargaining rights indicates that the Republicans don't want a rational and fair process-- they want to punish teachers because they view them as political opponents of the wealthy business interests who are their primary constituency.

BigPrune 7 years, 3 months ago

It sounds like the teachers are being greedy. Plus they work 9 months out of the year. $100,000 / 9 = $11,111.11 per month.

$11,111.11 / 4.3 weeks per month (to be conservative) = $2,583.98 per WEEK !

$2,583.98 / 40 hour work week = $64.59 per HOUR !


tomatogrower 7 years, 3 months ago

If you want to pay them hourly for the job, it would cost you a lot more. I used to work at schools, and most teachers I know are working on Sat. and Sun. grading papers, making plans. There's more to teaching than just standing up in front of your brats.

Scott Morgan 7 years, 3 months ago

A good teacher, and there are many many many more than poor is worth every penny.

JayhawksandHerd 7 years, 3 months ago

I'm assuming you factored in costs of continuing education/purchasing supplies/etc. into your analysis?

BigPrune 7 years, 3 months ago

I doubt that equals 10's of thousands of dollars. The average wage state wide in Wisconsin is over $100,000, so that includes the good, bad and the ugly. I agree a good teacher should be paid accordingly but a bad teacher shouldn't be paid a high wage just because.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 3 months ago

"The average wage state wide in Wisconsin is over $100,000, so that includes the good, bad and the ugly."

No, that is the average in a few districts. Statewide, it's considerably lower. Check the politifacts link above.

Regardless, even if collective bargaining is left fully intact, wages and benefits can still be cut (and teachers have already conceded to substantial cuts.)

Flap Doodle 7 years, 3 months ago

Collectivism worked so well for the Soviet Union in the 1920s! We should try it here!

George Lippencott 7 years, 3 months ago


Let us just give more money to the employees. OK. Wal Mart made $3.6B in profit in 2010. They have 2 M employees. The have about 600 M shares outstanding.
If you return about 5% on the values of the shares to the shareholders that would leave about $300 for each employee. Just maybe Wal Mart might want to reinvest some of that profit in new stores, so it can remain profitable and like anybody else hold some in reserve to cover surprises? I suspect that the situation is about the same in all publicly held corporations. The “rich” owners turn out to be you and me. Got any other great ideas?

jafs 7 years, 3 months ago

Well, I'd have to do some research and don't have time right now.

But, I am absolutely certain that massive top salaries and high profits can be more equitably, and better distributed down the line, and that everybody would benefit as a result.

And, one doesn't need to "reinvest" profits in new stores if the current ones are profitable - that's part of the problem with the idea that things need to constantly expand.

George Lippencott 7 years, 3 months ago


If that is your point, we agree. The distribution of wealth in this country is an abomination. That said, if you do the math, you do not raise the middle much even if you devastate the rich (whoever they are). We already give $18K to 20K each to the poor.

Perhaps our aspirations are exceeding our checkbook.

Scott Morgan 7 years, 3 months ago

I've stated this and several others more progressive than I in different words. Both right and left wings of our government are fouling badly.

If the left forms a party like the Tea Party it could get interesting in a hurry. Remember, Massachusetts elected a Republican to replace Ted Kennedy. Never underestimate this, for there are politicos still looking for flying pigs and signs Hell froze over.

Won't take too much more misery for folks to do more than wake up and see both parties have no guts to change.

jafs 7 years, 3 months ago

There's a software company in NC that has been on the list of the top 10 companies to work for for many years now.

The CEO chooses to make about $500,000/yr., significantly less than many CEO's, treats his employees spectacularly well, offering good wages and excellent benefits, including on-site exercise facilities and health care, and creates a very pleasant work atmosphere.

The (somewhat predictable) result is that he has been CEO for a long time, turnover is extremely low, worker morale and productivity is high, and the company enjoys long-term stable success in the marketplace.

It's such an obvious win-win-win situation, I don't really understand why there are so few places like it to work - and even without going quite as far as he does (not everybody needs on-site exercise and health care, for example), I think it would prove very workable.

George Lippencott 7 years, 3 months ago


Who owns the company? If he owns it than it is his to do with as he wants. If shareholders own it, he has a return to make to keep it going.

To be generous to his employees his company must make money in the market. He must sell something unique or a competitor would eat his lunch. Wonder if China Inc will chose to compete with him??

While many of you on here are very generous with the public purse, I wonder how generous you would be if you had money invested in a business?

Unfortunately, most businesses in this country are publicly held.

Scott Morgan 7 years, 3 months ago

Jafs, a good business mind can do anything they wish with salary. Make it huge, or make it small, look at total compensation if they share. Take a peek at the NPR folks.

Ex: Car allowance. I don't need a car allowance. OK, can we just write you a check each month instead? Bookkeeping enters it as car allowance.

Tax supported businesses have been doing his since fido was a pup.

Flap Doodle 7 years, 3 months ago

Who benefits from the success of the Koch brothers? The employees of the state of Wisconsin, among others. "...According to the State of Wisconsin Investment Board (SWIB), the Wisconsin Retirement System owns $5.5 million in Georgia Pacific corporate bonds. (Georgia Pacific is owned by Koch Industries.) This is the retirement system in which the overwhelming majority of state and local employees participate. These are the pension benefits that public employees are trying so hard to protect. So here’s the challenge: Explain to a Wisconsin state worker that they are the ones helping fund the Koch brothers. Then sit back and watch the fun...." http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/260979/wisconsin-state-employees-should-have-some-koch-and-smile-christian-schneider

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 3 months ago

Pension funds and all kinds of other institutional investors invest in all kinds of stocks. This is hardly news. But there has been pressure in the past for such investors to disinvest from socially regressive/repressive companies-- companies in S. Africa faced such pressure before apartheid was ended. Israeli companies may face such actions in the future. Perhaps the Koch brothers will be next, as well.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 3 months ago

Why employee pensions aren't bankrupting states

By Kevin G. Hall | McClatchy Newspapers

"From state legislatures to Congress to tea party rallies, a vocal backlash is rising against what are perceived as too-generous retirement benefits for state and local government workers. However, that widespread perception doesn't match reality.

A close look at state and local pension plans across the nation, and a comparison of them to those in the private sector, reveals a more complicated story. However, the short answer is that there's simply no evidence that state pensions are the current burden to public finances that their critics claim.

Pension contributions from state and local employers aren't blowing up budgets. They amount to just 2.9 percent of state spending, on average, according to the National Association of State Retirement Administrators. The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College puts the figure a bit higher at 3.8 percent.

Though there's no direct comparison, state and local pension contributions approximate the burden shouldered by private companies. The nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute estimates that retirement funding for private employers amounts to about 3.5 percent of employee compensation.

Nor are state and local government pension funds broke. They're underfunded, in large measure because — like the investments held in 401(k) plans by American private-sector employees — they sunk along with the entire stock market during the Great Recession of 2007-2009. And like 401(k) plans, the investments made by public-sector pension plans are increasingly on firmer footing as the rising tide on Wall Street lifts all boats.

Boston College researchers project that if the assets in state and local pension plans were frozen tomorrow and there was no more growth in investment returns, there'd still be enough money in most state plans to pay benefits for years to come.

"On average, with the assets on hand today, plans are able to pay annual benefits at their current level for another 13 years. This assumes, pessimistically, that plans make no future pension contributions and there is no growth in assets," said Jean-Pierre Aubry, a researcher specializing in state and local pensions for the nonpartisan Center for Retirement Research at Boston College."

Read more: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2011/03/06/109649/why-employee-pensions-arent-bankrupting.html#ixzz1FsLdZGfL

JHOK32 7 years, 3 months ago

What worries me is that when I google ownership of wealth in the U.S. I generally get info that something like 20% of our population owns about 80% of our country's wealth. If this is true it would seem to be very alarming. I don't claim to be the smartest person in the room but I do read the paper everyday & here are some synopsis of articles: 1. The middle class continues to shrink every year in this country & it doesn't seem to matter whether we have Republicans in control or Democrats. 2. Our middle class jobs continue to be outsourced to other countries. 3. Big companies have found ways to not pay U.S. taxes by outsourcing, using Cayman Island, Swiss bank accounts, etc. 3. It appears that the rich are getting richer & the poor are getting poorer. 4. Social Security may be going bankrupt & the baby-boomers are nearing retirement. 5. Even if Social Security remains solvent, it still doesn't pay enough for most people to retire on without some kind of pension supplement. 6. Private pensions are getting rarer all the time as a benefit. 7. Many public retirement systems, such as KPERS, have serious funding problems. 8. Every year the Federal deficit gets larger & larger. 9. The Democrats have a tendency to spend more money, the Republicans have a tendency to cut taxes. Either way we add more to the Federal deficit. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that our future is not looking too bright my friends. I fear this country is headed towards a major train wreck that will make this recession look like a tea party (no pun intended).

mr_right_wing 7 years, 3 months ago

I'm not going to say the disdain directed at this greed is not warranted. We are guilty of a worse greed...we've fiscally neglected, and worse...even abused future generations with the unspeakable debt we're leaving them. At best, each of us who cashed those 'stimulus' checks at our children's children's children's expense are WORSE than the people referred to in this letter.

I cashed those checks too; there is just as much of their blood on my hands as there is yours. We may look upon these people with contempt; it's nothing compared to how future generations are going to look back at us.

Paul R Getto 7 years, 3 months ago

As one of the ancient books of wisdom says,
King James Bible. "For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." 1 Timothy 6:10. Pretty good advice, I'd say.

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