Comment history

Opinion: America’s social contract is at stake

Mostly dead on, Charles. (Though not sure about the "most important election" point.) Romney has little chance of winning, and he's not ideal, but he's a better choice than Obama .

November 4, 2012 at 7:22 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Opinion: Time to halt the entitlement state

I included one link that provided lots of information about in-demand jobs/future jobs. There's plenty of information about the topic that can be easily accessed. It's a fact of life that something must be in demand for people to want it, including job skills. Those farm workers no doubt went through disruption and probably lots of relocation to adjust to the reduced demand for the kind of work they used to do. Just like the need to repair tractors, as you note, today fields like healthcare and anything to do with seniors (eg devices that make them more mobile or secure, housing for elderly, etc) are growing and companies are hiring. Might some people have to move to places where companies are hiring to improve their prospects? Sure - and that's been true for millennia. I gave my suggestion-- people should adapt, government policy can help in many ways. The enormous expansion of govt control and power you advocate is frightening and would be counterproductive, I have no doubt. "We'd have to do a lot of regulating..." Which wouldn't help, but only empower politicians and ultimately hurt the people who most need help.

October 30, 2012 at 10:55 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Opinion: Time to halt the entitlement state

Couldn't agree more that Americans are, in essence, spoiled. Clearly, people are less conservative with their finances than they were 40 or 50 years ago. Sure hope the downturn has to some degree changed that.

One example of easily accessed advice on trends regarding employment:
If you read it, you'll see a wide variety of job types are mentioned, some skilled, some requiring a college degree, some requiring no college degree, or maybe requiring apprenticeship or technical school. I mentioned earlier the fact that far, far fewer people make their living through agricutlure today than 100 years ago. Those workers ended up taking other types of jobs to earn a living. Do you really think the government should have said to farmers "You cannot buy this new technology called a tractor and reduce the number of people you employ because those workers will have to find other jobs, and that's just too hard."?
The reason the 50's "worked" the way you describe but that way doesn't work now is that globalization has changed the realities of the labor market. Imposing by government fiat what companies pay in wages and benefits and other aspects of running a business along with protectionist policies that drive up the cost of goods will mean that capital will flow out of the US to other parts of the world, our economy will contract drastically, which will lead to lower tax revenues, unemployment and misery, especially for the middle class and low income folks. I believe it would be a recipe for disaster. Even if it were "fair" to take corporate assets (they have too much and they are "sitting on it") and tax the wealthy at much higher rates, that would not solve the problem of underfunded entitlements. The radical, big-government suggestion you make would make the state of our economy and the lives of most Americans far, far worse than they currently are. Everyone feels bad that the loss of manufacturing jobs has hurt so many people. We have to make sure the cure isn't worse than the disease.

October 30, 2012 at 9:52 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Opinion: Time to halt the entitlement state

It takes little effort to find out what jobs are in demand now and what are predicted to be jobs in demand in the future. It isnt magic. Quick google search. Should also be widely discussed in every high school. They do not all require a college or associates degree. The protectionist approach results in higher prices and huge sectors of our economy that can't compete in what is increasingly a global marketplace. That translates into more companies failing (or at least stagnating) and less buying power for everyone which would be disasterous for middle and low income people. I would think people would recoil from that "solution." The magical thinking is that somehow we can tax the wealthy out of our financial mess and that government by fiat can impose an employment/protectionist scheme that won't be far worse than the current situation.
As for regulation of the financial sector, plenty of examples of dumb policies. Ok, let's have better policies.

October 29, 2012 at 4:31 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Opinion: Time to halt the entitlement state

You use the word "toys" -- what makes you think that the goods that may have lower prices for consumers are frivolous toys? How about clothes? Electronics that make peoples' lives easier and better (or are things like basic cell phones just toys that people don't need, so it's perfectly OK to enact policies that make them too expensive for lower income people to afford?). I can't put myself in the shoes of someone arrogant enough to think he ought to have the power to decide what people "need." Or what is just a toy.

Deregulation is such a huge, diverse topic that it's hard to know what you're referring to. Generally, regulation raises the prices people have to pay for goods, and can also reduce job growth. Of course, no one seriously argues that factories ought to be able to pollute freely, for example. Some regulations are clearly in the public interest (prevent companies from harming others through negative externalities, like pollution) and some are very burdensome without a good rationale for protecting the public, and some are huge power-grabs by the government that without question raise prices, reduce consumer choice and degrade service. Airline deregulation was smart and very successul. And as an aside, there are plenty of examples of large corporations that don't argue much if at all against regulations that pertain to their businesses. Why? Because they know that government regulations always hurt smaller competitiors far more than large companies, even driving them out of business. People who decry lack of regulation ought to consider that regulation can be a boon to big business.

I don't want to live in a world where the cost of living rises signficantly for everyone, including those who can least afford it, because of heavy-handed government rules that "protect" workers. The prudent, long-term solution is to adapt to the way the world is changing. In 1900, about 36% of Americans were engaged in agriculture; today, it's about 2% The economic landscape changes, people can and should adapt as it is in the best interest of all concerned. Change can be difficult and as noted eariler, government policies and the education establishment can help. Short-sighted policies that actually hurt consumers is not a good way to face the challenges. You say "if people don't have jobs..." -- that's the point. Take action to help them be marketable so they can get jobs. Keeping our heads in the sand makes no sense.

October 29, 2012 at 1:57 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Opinion: Time to halt the entitlement state

Thank you for pointing out the shocking truth about Will, and all the facts you present to back it up! You do us a great service.

Actually, if you look at the federal budget, SS and Medicare/Medicaid together are roughly double what the military budget is.

October 29, 2012 at 11:13 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Opinion: Time to halt the entitlement state

Consumers are not a monolith and there are costs & benefits to the actions we're talking about. For example, let's say 300 people in Ohio lose their jobs because the company they work for can't compete unless it outsources jobs overseas. But in the end, products that those people AND thousands or millions of other consumers buy may be less expensive. Those thousands or millions of other consumers don't celebrate when they see prices lower. It probably barely registers. But they then have income to spend, save or invest that they would not have otherwise had. Of course, those workers that lost their jobs paid a huge price. It's sad. But the consumers who benefit should not be ignored. That's a boon to them. That help raise their standard of living. That aspect of the scenario is a good thing. What I am saying is let's figure out how to help those 300 workers and the many thousands like them who are affected by the change in the world's economy. Your 3rd paragraph misses the point -- they need to be marketable, and while this may be very tough for older workers, it's irresponsible NOT to sound the alarm for younger workers. Those $50 an hour union jobs with benefits that do not require any degree beyond high school (maybe not even high school) are fast disappearing. It's not your fault, my fault, Mitt Rommey's fault or the Koch brothers fault.
What are they "many things" politicians can do to help employment? Other than soudning the alarm and shifting resources perhaps to subsidizing trianing for workers, what do they do? enact protecitonist policies that end up hurting consumers?
Deregulation is a tangent. I think we're talking more about tax and trade policy here.

October 29, 2012 at 11:05 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Opinion: Time to halt the entitlement state

What entity do you accuse of "destroying the manufacturing sector"? Do you think companies gleefully shut down? Of course they want to succeed and stay afloat, and if the only way to do that is to stay competitive with companies around the globe, they may have to reduce costs, which might include hiring less-expensive labor. What else are they to do? Your comment makes no sense to me.

Your last sentence is completely unsupported. Name one thing I wrote that indicates I support class warfare. If you weren't so embittered about the fact that some wealthy people are smug and greedy, perhaps you could better focus on solutions that might actually help middle and lower class folks (like better preparing them for the realities of our nation's and the world's economy).

October 29, 2012 at 10:53 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Opinion: Time to halt the entitlement state

Companies outsource jobs to stay competitive on price. Which helps keep prices lower, which helps all kinds of people, middle class and others. Would you rather they hire more-expensive US labor and risk going out of business (which wouldn't help much with middle class unemployment)? It's not as though companies are teflon. All other things being equal, the lowest price provider wins (with rare exceptions for luxury goods).
Agree that education (funding and other policy matters) is in need of help. But even if taxes were increased on the rich (a lot), that wouldn't make a real dent in the funding of schools. I suspect you'd find that people who define themselves as middle class would have to be tapped for tax increases to make a real difference. I wish people felt as I do -- Happy to pay more in taxes for better schools.

The frustrating thing (which the linked article makes clear) is that some causes are beyond the control of governments to effectively address. Yes, politicians can do certain things to favor the wealthy less. Bigger issue that could REALLY make a positive difference to Americans: tell people the truth about globalization and what it means for them, especially people who do not (or young people who don't plan to) get a college degree. Stress to them how competitive the global economy has become, and what it takes to succeed long-term. Give younger people a big head's up -- programs like SS and Medicare are not going to exist for them as they've existed for their grandparents. Wishing we were back in the 1950s or mid 1990s won't help. It's a different, more competive world. And we're in dept up to our eyeballs.

October 28, 2012 at 3:12 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Opinion: Time to halt the entitlement state

Familiar with the ratios you cite about CEO compensation vs. workers'. Thoughts:
- Sure, CEO compensation seems crazy.
- Unless there is pressure on members of boards of directors, the status quo will likely continue, i.e. boards will pay CEOs what they think the market will bear, which in recent years seems like enormous sums. Analagous to NBA players or certain Div 1 basketbal program coaches (ah hem) and their salaries ("No way is that guy worth that much!"). He's worth what peope are willing to pay him.
- I am willing to bet that an analysis of compensation for CEOs & very top executives over the last 20 years will not indicate that their compensation has any signficant effect whatsoever on the wealth of the middle class in America.
Article on middle class stagnation :
Excerpt: "The causes of income stagnation are varied and lack the political simplicity of calls to bring down the deficit or avert another Wall Street meltdown. They cannot be quickly remedied through legislation from Washington. The biggest causes, according to interviews with economists over the last several months, are not the issues that dominate the political debate.
At the top of the list are the digital revolution, which has allowed machines to replace many forms of human labor, and the modern wave of globalization, which has allowed millions of low-wage workers around the world to begin competing with Americans.
Not much further down the list is education, probably the country’s most diffuse, localized area of government policy. As skill levels have become even more important for prosperity, the United States has lost its once-large global lead in educational attainment."
The vitriol hurled at the wealthy regarding the plight of the middle class is way out of proportion to the blame they are due. Reform tax policy, make it somewhat more progressive, increase revenues a bit that way. Doesn't begin to fix the problem though. Need an approach like Simpson Bowles (that will make changes to entitlements that will be very unpopular) along with tax reform. "Soak the rich" should not be the rallying cry – it's off-base and won't work.

October 28, 2012 at 2:11 p.m. ( | suggest removal )