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Guest Post: Made In U.S.A.: Wealth Inequality

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Submitted by Charles Hugh Smith from Of Two Minds

Made in U.S.A.: Wealth Inequality

Here's the Great Game: mask the nation's rising wealth inequality with Central State spending that keeps the debt-serfs passive--all funded by debt, of course.

While we may not make that much stuff in America any more, we can say that the nation's gigantic wealth inequality is totally Made in the U.S.A. Before we examine the data in some charts, I want to stipulate that great wealth in and of itself does not make a person an "enemy of the people" or threat to democracy. I confess to having generally lumped the top 1% of wealth holders into one category, something I have decided to stop doing, as this misses two critically important distinctions:

1. Not all wealth is created equally. Compare Steve Jobs, who is a billionaire for developing and selling "insanely great" mass-market technologies that people willingly buy because it enhances their lives, with a person who made his $1 billion by insider trading or misrepresenting the risk of his company's stock (basically the same thing). (If you need a hint here, think "Countrywide" or "Enron.")

Clearly, there is a distinction between those two fortunes: one created value, employment for thousands of people, and tremendous technological leverage for millions of ordinary people. The other enriched one crooked insider via trickery and deception.

2. Wealth destroys democracy and free markets when it buys the machinery of governance. Larry Ellison has made billions by developing and selling databases and business services. To the best of my knowledge, he spends his wealth on personal hobbies such as large homes and racing yachts. His lobbying efforts appear to be confined to yachting and the possible purchase of sports franchises. In other words, the political influence of his billions is localized and benign in terms of Federal policy decisions.

Compare that to the millions spent by the "too big to fail" banking industry to buy Congressional approval of their cartel's grip on the nation's throat: Buying Off Washington To Kill Financial "Reform".

Much of the debate about wealth inequality focuses on whether the super-wealthy are "paying their fair share" of the nation's taxes. If we refer to point 2 above, we see that if the super-wealthy are allowed to buy the machinery of governance, then they will never allow themselves to be taxed like regular tax donkeys.

In that sense, the debate over tax rates is pointless, because as long as the super-wealthy own the levers of Federal governance and regulation, then they will buy exclusions, loopholes, rebates, subsidies etc. which relieve them of whatever official tax rates have been passed for public consumption/propaganda purposes.

Let's take a look at wealth in America.

In Who Rules America?, Sociologist G. William Domhoff draws an important distinction between the net worth held by households in "marketable assets" such as homes and vehicles and "financial wealth." Homes and other tangible assets are, in Domhoff's words, "not as readily converted into cash and are more valuable to their owners for use purposes than they are for resale."

Financial wealth such as stocks, bonds and other securities are liquid and therefore easily converted to cash; these assets are what Domhoff describes as "non-home wealth" on his website Wealth, Income, and Power.

As of 2007, the bottom 80% of American households held a mere 7% of these financial assets, while the top 1% held 42.7%, the top 5% holds 72% and the top 10% held fully 83%.


According to the Fed flow of funds data, total assets of households and non-profits (a small slice of the pie) are $71.9 trillion, liabilities are $13.9 trillion and net worth--everything from jet skis to homes to stocks to bonds--is $58 trillion.

Here is a snapshot of total assets by category:


Pension funds and "other assets" include Treasury and corporate bonds, favored holdings of pension funds and the wealthy due to their relative safety and guaranteed yield.

Here is a snapshot of stock ownership:


No surprise there: the top 1% owns roughly 40% of all stocks, and the top 10% own 81%.

Wealth comes from earned and unearned (rent, dividends, etc.) income and capital appreciation, so it's no surprise that the income of the wealthiest segment has also far outpaced the lower 95%:


Meanwhile, the ratio of earned income to GDP is plummeting, which suggests that less of the national income is going to wages and salaries:


Thus it's no surprise that the median income has actually declined during the past decade of bogus debt-based "prosperity":


Here's a snapshot of just how debt-based that phony "prosperity" was:


Private borrowing declined as the home equity extraction ATM was closed, but the Federal government helpfully picked up the slack, borrowing and spending roughly $2 trillion a year so that total debt kept right on rising:


You have to wonder how much of our national wealth is the result of private consumption being transferred to the Federal ledger:


Put these charts together and you get the outlines of the Great Game: to keep the debt-serfs from rebelling, the Financial Elites have OK'd the funding of private spending by Federal debt. The Federal Reserve is a key player in the Game, of course, and its "job" is to suppress interest rates so the true costs of this skyrocketing Federal debt are masked, at least for awhile.

Beneath the happy surface of Federal transfers and spending funded by debt, earned incomes for the bottom 95% are falling and wealth is accumulating in the top 1%. The Federal Reserve's project of goosing stocks and bonds has greatly enriched the holders of those assets, while doing essentially nothing for the bottom 90% except increasing their government's debt load.

It's painfully obvious that the Federal government and the Fed are the handmaidens of the politically powerful Financial Elites. Why spend your own money on bribes, bread and circuses when you can arrange for the Central State to borrow the money? Why, indeed. "Austerity" is of course a modest reduction in the amount of money borrowed and spread around to keep the masses safely passive, but a few trillion trimmed here and there over a decade won't change the Great Game.

Frequent contributor B.C. summarized this reality quite cogently:

The top 1% of US households receive nearly as much income each year as the value of Germany's GDP; and they receive more income than all other nations' GDP (individually, not cumulatively) but the GDPs of Japan, China, and the US.

The financial wealth of the top 1% exceeds the value of the entire GDP of the EU (the world's largest GDP in aggregate).

Moreover, the top 1% could lose 90% of their financial wealth and still collectively have more wealth than all but each of the world's top eight GDPs (US, China, Japan, Germany, France, UK, Brazil, and Italy).

When one hears that wealth and income inequality is extreme in the US, I suspect many do not realize just how extreme it really is.

Peak Oil (falling net energy and available net exports), government "austerity", and the effects of population overshoot imply that wealth and income concentration will become even more extreme, affecting what remains of the professional middle class, who are largely dependent upon the ongoing growth of debt-money and government borrowing and spending.

Thank you, B.C. In other words, the top 15% better keep their eyes on the referee, if you know what I mean.

 

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Fri, 07/15/2011 - 16:54 | 1460914 Bob Sacamano
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So it begs the question, what is the "correct" distribution of wealth and who gets to decide how to re-distribute it?

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 16:58 | 1460924 mayhem_korner
mayhem_korner's picture

Bingo!  (But you actually asked two questions).

Here's a third: beyond being able to sustain one's self, why does wealth matter?

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 17:16 | 1460965 homegr0wn
homegr0wn's picture

If wealth doesn't matter beyond sustaining one's self, then the excess can be given to the government in the form of taxes? I see what you're trying to say but its a horrible argument.

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 17:24 | 1460985 mayhem_korner
mayhem_korner's picture

You missed by a mile. My point is why should someone else care if I have a lot of money?

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 17:33 | 1460999 homegr0wn
homegr0wn's picture

You understand saying "why does wealth matter beyond sustaining one's self," and "why do you care that I am rich," are two different statements? But nice try in changing your "point"

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 17:42 | 1461021 mayhem_korner
mayhem_korner's picture

0 fer 2 Jethro...

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 17:58 | 1461056 homegr0wn
homegr0wn's picture

I don't know why you're calling yourself Jethro, but we'll continue on. Hopefully I'm not intruding on your weekend of mudbogging, Jethro.

Anyway... let's look at your second (modified) point. Why should anyone care that you're rich? I'm assuming you didn't read the article since this point was addressed. The author clearly delineated, in the first few paragraphs nonetheless, the difference between a Steve Jobs and a con job. So, why would anyone care that Con Job got rich from hurting the masses? Why would anyone care that Con Job is rich? We should look the other way?

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 18:16 | 1461088 mayhem_korner
mayhem_korner's picture

Society always has cheaters, that's not the problem. The problem is the enabling govt structure. I don't blame nor envy the con job.

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 18:24 | 1461097 homegr0wn
homegr0wn's picture

So, you're avoiding the question that you proposed. We should not be concerned with how a person gathered their wealth. We shouldn't blame nor question the wealth of people who cheat and hurt society. Good to know. Seems like a solid society.

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 18:29 | 1461105 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

Chase 'em down... Mr Mayhem likes to say stuff and then deny it by obfuscation...

BTW, you nailed him...

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 18:53 | 1461138 mayhem_korner
mayhem_korner's picture

Up from your bogey-hangover nap, Dr. know-nothing?  Nice of you to be a grandstander yet again.  I see I've kept your normal rants down to sentence fragments.

Carry on...

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 19:31 | 1461209 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

Naw, I usually reserve my efforts for worthier game. The way I see it, you are on the run again. No need to pile on.

Sat, 07/16/2011 - 02:53 | 1461784 Hook Line and S...
Hook Line and Sphincter's picture

So it begs the question, WHY DO WE ASSUME THAT THERE ACTUALLY is IS A "correct" distribution of wealth. AND WHY DON'T WE QUESTION THE PREMISE THAT RE-DISTRIBUTION SHOULD BE A VALID CONSIDERATION AT ALL?

Sat, 07/16/2011 - 04:49 | 1461815 D.M.
D.M.'s picture

The issue isn't how do we re-distribute wealth. The problem is some people choose to earn their living in a destructive, dishonest way that, in this day and age, can bring the whole global economy to it's knees. IMO, we need to re-evaluate the way our economy and lives are structured by finding a good medium between a rising standard of living and harmony with life on earth. I suggest we start with the infinite growth paradigm. 

Sat, 07/16/2011 - 17:17 | 1462524 Dburn
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Enforcing the rule of law would be a start with appropriate monetary remedies to those affected.

Sat, 07/16/2011 - 08:30 | 1461889 Flakmeister
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Let's take a more empirical approach, history has shown us that gross inequality presages violent changes and/or massive social upheaval. For example, the French and Russian Revolutions and the conditions leading to the Great Depression. Another way of looking at it is to pose the question "How many countries with an extreme GINI index would I consider living in?"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_Gini_index

I think the answer is pretty obvious.

So while there is no recipe for what a correct wealth distribution should look like, it is very clear that extreme inequality is not a desirable outcome based on historical precedents. The devil is in the details of how this is addressed.

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 18:54 | 1461140 mayhem_korner
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dupe

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 19:11 | 1461170 nmewn
nmewn's picture

"Chase 'em down..."

I shake my tail feathers in your general direction Flakey ;-)

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 19:29 | 1461206 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

Compared to you, this guy is in way over his head....

He has managed to shoot himself in the foot two, maybe three times so far in this thread. You were better than that...

BTW, did you see the latest Swedish growth and deficit numbers? Gotta laugh, IKEA opened a plant in N (or S.) Carolina to take advantage of the labor conditions (or lack there of), I love the irony.

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 19:46 | 1461242 nmewn
nmewn's picture

No I hadn't...no one wants to actually work in Sweden I take it ;-)

But I did see this latest socialist/fascist experiment go down in flames. Half a billion bucks.

"The White House may soon face a congressional subpoena to turn over documents relating to the Department of Energy's $535 million loan guarantee to California solar panel manufacturer Solyndra, as Republicans in the House of Representatives blasted the Office of Management and Budget for failing to provide a witness to an oversight hearing last week."

http://www.wusa9.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=156395

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 20:29 | 1461340 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

IIRC,  6% growth, deficit of 0.3% GDP...  something this country has not seen in a long time. How could that be??

Anyway, love to stay and chat, but gotta run...

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 20:39 | 1461359 nmewn
nmewn's picture

We've been down this road.

Income taxes of 58% combined with a VAT of 25%...I'm shocked His majesty/midgetry allows it...run the taxes up higher on these serfs!!!

TTFN ;-)

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 21:01 | 1461396 AldousHuxley
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Taxes and deaths is fact of life.

If I pay income tax of 58% while getting free everything I need in life, then let's have it. In US, middle class pays high tax while getting jack squat.Thus the dissatisfaction with congress.

But capitalists are no better either. They use capital to grow even richer without having any benefit to society. wall st. vs. scientific research.

 

The issue is who controls redistribution and wealth and who is holding these few elites responsible?  Right now government elites are out of control and finance elites are also out of control.

 

They are both colluding to cheat the rest of us.

 

 

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 21:25 | 1461425 nmewn
nmewn's picture

"If I pay income tax of 58% while getting free everything I need in life, then let's have it."

You forgot the VAT...tack on another 25% = 83%. As you can see, you have now paid for all this "free" stuff haven't you? And I do wonder what is their carrying charge for these wonderful "free" things ;-)

Maybe you can now save that "extra" 17% that Swedens government "allows" you...that you labored 100% for (or not).

Is life just surviving...or is it really about living it?

If you desire to place your body, soul and freedom at the alter of the state be my guest. Its when you try to impose it on me I have a very big problem.

Here, the government is supposed to stand between the thief and the citizen, not become an accomplice to the theft.

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 21:42 | 1461439 AldousHuxley
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I agree there is no free lunch. You either pay the government or a corporation or a person to person services, provide goods etc. Even if you do things yourself, you have opportunity cost.

I've paid VAT before so I know what it is like. And just because you don't pay VAT doesn't mean you are saving in total taxes over life time....there are plenty of other ways to tax you. income, wealth, license fees, real estate. What good is low sales taxes when people abuse that and become blind consumerists buying cheap crap from China? Then low sales means we are encouraging stupid consumers at the cost of disincentivising savers.

Government is good in one thing....common interest for long term interest. Private people would never invest their money in such risky investment such as the internet in 1960s. In fact, private wealth tends to hoard to conserve their standing in society. sometimes taxes are the only way. With internet, government sold it to the rich by saying it is for national defense.

 

 

 

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 22:09 | 1461477 nmewn
nmewn's picture

"I agree there is no free lunch. You either pay the government or a corporation or a person to person services, provide goods etc."

Which is my point exactly. Its my money, earned from my labor, to be spent how I desire...unforced.

But this is fundamental to understand for any society.

If you allow "something" (government in this case but it applies broadly, the Fed and money printing, whatever) to take from another for any reason to give to you, there will come a time when it takes from you, for any reason it wishes.

It can be your home, because it doesn't meet some arcane standard. Or your car, your pet, or your child...now it doesn't need any excuse or a reason because you allowed the degradation of your freedom over time yourself, in order to get to this point.

Government is not your friend and neither are corporations or banks...they all have to be restrained, that falls to us.

Seeya

Sat, 07/16/2011 - 00:02 | 1461646 trav7777
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an assload of honest white people?

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 19:46 | 1461243 mayhem_korner
mayhem_korner's picture

Just a master off mouthing off, interloping, but never adding any substance, Flak. You think you have some kind of status simply by declaring it, but you don't. And your lack of confidence is evident by the fact that you never put any original thought out there. Just respond with pre-packaged points and self-deifying references.

When you bring some substance, you'll get some respect.

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 20:09 | 1461279 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

Au contraire.... you seem very adept at spouting off talking points and constructing flawed arguments, whereas, it is safe the say, I am one of the more respected posters on energy matters here at the Hedge.

Go mentally masturbate elsewhere, preferably your mothers basement.. 

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 22:54 | 1461543 mayhem_korner
mayhem_korner's picture

You're a hero in your own mind.  Proclaiming one's level of respect by others is a pinnacle of narcissism.  Good luck with it, though.

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 23:21 | 1461592 snowball777
snowball777's picture

And how many of us would have to agree with his assessment for you to eat crow?

I'm one of many that respect Doc's knowledge of the energy complex and have learned from his posts on the subject.

And calling him out for narcissism of all things...that's rich.

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 23:39 | 1461606 mayhem_korner
mayhem_korner's picture

And how many of us would have to agree with his assessment for you to eat crow?

A majority of voters in 2008 voted for Obama, according to the election results.  Were they "right"? 

And BTW, I find Flak fun to spar with.  He's articulate and thoughtful.  I just think he's got some fundamental things wrong and he's blind to it.

Sat, 07/16/2011 - 07:00 | 1461849 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

By my count, that's the 4th flawed argument you have constructed. Better brush up on your syllogisms and what not...

Thank you for trying to set me on the straight and narrow, unfortunately, a man who walks a crooked path is rarely the best guide.

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 22:54 | 1461545 mayhem_korner
mayhem_korner's picture

Dupe.

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 23:03 | 1461563 mayhem_korner
mayhem_korner's picture

I am one of the more respected posters on energy matters

How's that jibe with your pumpin' of the global warming hoax?

Sat, 07/16/2011 - 00:33 | 1461671 DaveyJones
DaveyJones's picture

thanks for "simplifying" that complex subject

Sat, 07/16/2011 - 01:42 | 1461735 Rick64
Rick64's picture

Lol

Sat, 07/16/2011 - 08:26 | 1461872 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

Here is an example of a paid GW denier getting nailed for fraudulent science.

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2011/07/how-soon-is-now/

There is no shortage of people that will say anything for $1,000,000 a year...After the above blog was posted, Dr. Soon systematically edited his website (see post #50)

You don't know enough about climate science to say whether it is a hoax or not. You cannot even explain in your own words why you think it is wrong.

Unlike debates about wealth distribution and the role of the state, where possesion of a functioning anus entitles you to comment and hold a opinion, there are some things where a working knowledge of the basics is a prerequisite  to speak out with any authority. So my advice to you is to educate yourself and until then, be an agnostic on the subject, lest you expose yourself as a complete and utter fool.

Now back to the British Open...

Sat, 07/16/2011 - 09:13 | 1461916 i-dog
i-dog's picture

"where possesion of a functioning anus entitles you to comment and hold a opinion, there are some things where a working knowledge of the basics is a prerequisite  to speak out with any authority"

Perhaps you should follow your own advice?!! I'm getting really tired of you hysterical AGW Scaremongers being suckered in by Al Gore's pseudo-scientific dog-and-pony show and blaming all heating, cooling, floods, droughts, tsunamis, flat seas, hurricanes and doldrums on AGW!

Follow the money and it all leads back to the Vampire Squid and the IMF. Or you could try following some evidence:

Bloomberg: Aug 4, 2010: Argentina is importing record amounts of energy as the coldest winter in 40 years drives up demand and causes natural-gas shortages.

BBC: Jul 18, 2010: The unusually cold winter weather in South America follows one of the coldest winters for years in many parts of the northern hemisphere.

Telegraph: Jun 30, 2010: Sydney was blanketed in frost on Wednesday as the city shivered through the coldest June morning in nearly 30 years, with temperatures at just 4C

Australian Bureau of Meteorology: Jul 5, 2011: Some sites had their coldest June day (lowest maximum temperature) on record.

The Sun: Jul 16, 2011: BRITAIN'S soggy summer has so far been the coolest for 20 years - with warnings of more unsettled weather to come.

National Geographic: Feb 28, 2007: Mars Melt Hints at Solar, Not Human, Cause for Warming, Scientist Says.

And then there was Climategate...............

Sat, 07/16/2011 - 12:51 | 1461931 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

Classic denier fallacious argument. You argue that GW means it gets warmer everywhere, what it implies is that the poles get warmer and the mid latitudes exhibit greater extremes. Is this the extent of your understanding? 

While not a proof of anything, I suggest you read the following

http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=1831

How about this from yesterday?

http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2011/20110714_globalstats.html

This past June was the 7th warmest on record....

As for Climategate, get up to speed on the matter:

http://www.scientificamerican.com/search/?q=climategate&x=8&y=3

I notice that your sources of objective scientific analysis somehow forgot to publicize the followup to the hyped story....

 

Sat, 07/16/2011 - 22:11 | 1463000 i-dog
i-dog's picture

Hahahaha. First Al Gore told us that the rainforests would turn to deserts and dogs would cohabit with cats. Now your argument is that the polar ice caps will melt away and the mid-latitudes will get colder (to fit the actual data)?!!

Now have a go at fitting your bizarre and ever-changing theory to this little factlet: Antarctic ice is growing, not melting away

You're a waste of space! Apart from the fact that the AGW "science" is a joke, the very last thing the world needs right now is a new global tax on breathing while the banking system is collapsing and unemployment is at Great Depression levels.

Al Gore started this ridiculous AGW charade in the middle of the dot.com bubble ... expecting that the wealth effect would ensure easy passage of the tax dollars to him and his masters. That no longer applies.

Give it a rest.

Sun, 07/17/2011 - 09:34 | 1463413 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

Re: Antarctic Ice

Please check:

http://www.skepticalscience.com/antarctica-gaining-ice-intermediate.htm

or

http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/20100108_Is_Antarctica_Melting.html

While it is true that locally sea ice is increasing, the Land Ice is decreasing at an accelerating rate.  Overall, the Antarctica is loosing Ice. Melting Sea Ice does not increase ocean levels, whereas Land Ice does.

Typical denier, cherry pick the data.

Sun, 07/17/2011 - 09:42 | 1463421 DaveyJones
DaveyJones's picture

they always do....

Sat, 07/16/2011 - 10:39 | 1461982 Incubus
Incubus's picture

Oh snap, you're not pulling any punches, are ya?  You went straight for the basement.

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 18:56 | 1461146 mayhem_korner
mayhem_korner's picture

So, you're avoiding the question that you proposed. We should not be concerned with how a person gathered their wealth.

I did not ask the question as to how someone gathered wealth - you did.  I just asked if you have what you need, why is it so important what others have?  You're doing the spinnning, not me.

Keep up the bravado.

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 19:07 | 1461165 Bobbyrib
Bobbyrib's picture

You do understand that by trying to make a point you made the other side's point, right? Also a lot of people aren't getting by right now. We have a near 20% real unemployment rate.

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 19:23 | 1461188 Bob Sacamano
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"Aren't getting by."  US bottom quintile is among the top quintile in the world.

Can not have a rational discussion about poverty on a relative basis -- only absolute basis.  Otherwise the only solution is equal outcomes for all - understanding some here prefer such.

And back to my original question -- who decides the "correct" distribtution?? 

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 20:15 | 1461291 blunderdog
blunderdog's picture

Can not have a rational discussion about poverty on a relative basis...

What?  Pull yourself together, man.  You're talking nonsense.

In India, $5/day is a good living--a home, good food, transportation--all covered.  In the USA, you cannot afford the basic necessities of life (food, shelter) on $5/day.

There's clearly no way to have a rational discussion about anything with YOU.

Sat, 07/16/2011 - 05:58 | 1461768 Urban Redneck
Urban Redneck's picture

 

 

In India, $5 a day is not a good living, and will not cover a home, food, and transportation as defined or commonly thought of in the US.  India on $5 a day will cover a hut made of garbage scrap, walking as form of transportation, and "food" that isn't inspected by the FDA or comes in nice packaging. 

 

Incidentally, the wealth disaprity between the richest and poorest is a hell of lot larger in India than in the US.

 

Sat, 07/16/2011 - 11:49 | 1462040 blunderdog
blunderdog's picture

If you don't like the economic conditions of India, that's fine, but its life for 17% of the planet.  "A good living" doesn't have to involve the FDA.  (WTF?)

The top 40% of income earners is "a good living," even if you think the country is a shithole.

Sat, 07/16/2011 - 08:35 | 1461893 Bob Sacamano
Bob Sacamano's picture

If poverty is defined on a relative basis, the ONLY way to eliminate it is for every one to have equal economic outcomes -- otherwise someone is always "poor" relative to someone else. 

If you want to pursue equal wealth distribution on a global basis, everyone in the US (even the US poor) are going to have to significantly divest their assets.

No one wants to touch specifically answering - what is the "correct" distribution of wealth and who gets to decide how to re-distribute it?  

It seems many here want government to actively re-distribute wealth and income -- more than they already do (as those who make 20% of total income pay 37% of all federal income taxes and those who make 47% of total income pay zero federal income taxes), but are very short on specifics.

Instead lots of name calling, rants about presidents, stoking class warfare, etc.  We can't answer the most basic of questions - which produces precisely the government we have -- which is terrible, but may accurately reflect the level of thoughtfulness of the general public as evidenced here.

 

Sat, 07/16/2011 - 11:45 | 1462034 blunderdog
blunderdog's picture

"Poverty" must be discussed on a relative basis, because the defining elements of poverty are determined *locally.*

You're correct about the futility of our conversation here, but your conclusions are unwarranted.

The issue of poverty is not about equalization of "wealth" across all human borders, it's about determining what level of distribution of *resources* a specific society finds unacceptable given what is available.

To wit: if a person in the USA living on an income of $5/day has access to enough to eat, a safe place to sleep, and some socially-accepted level of access to services such as law-enforcement, education, health-care--he is not poor.

Poverty isn't determined by dollar inputs.  It's determined by the decisions we as a society make about *how* those with no dollar inputs should live.

So you want to talk about a productive conversation?  Stop thinking about poverty as having anything to do with dollars.  You realize the tax rate and the bogeyman of "wealth redistribution" is actually totally irrelevant.

Sat, 07/16/2011 - 12:21 | 1462067 Bob Sacamano
Bob Sacamano's picture

"determining what level of distribution of *resources* a specific society finds unacceptable"

So then, what is the correct level of income and wealth distribution?  Whatever 51% want it to be? 

Sat, 07/16/2011 - 13:10 | 1462123 blunderdog
blunderdog's picture

I don't think you're listening.

"Money" is not the issue.  Income and wealth distribution per money flows is COMPLETELY IRRELEVANT. 

The question is what decisions the society makes as to what the "poorest" life should be.  I'm getting the impression you're not able to separate an understanding of "wealth" from the practical definition of "control of dollars."

"Control of dollars" has nothing to do with an understanding of poverty.

To answer your simple-minded question, though: I don't believe in central control-systems, so you're talking to the wrong guy.  I could give a flying fuck at a rolling donut what happens with tax-rates or votes or political parties or whatever.  I have better things to do with my life than piss and moan about people I claim are out to steal from me.

To each his own.

Sat, 07/16/2011 - 15:25 | 1462341 Bob Sacamano
Bob Sacamano's picture

Ok - will try to discuss in your worldview.

So it is not that the "richest" have too much, but that the "poorest" (whoever they are) have far too little (i.e., the lifestyle they live is too low even if they may have the basics of food, shelter and clothing).  So "something" should be done to the richest to level things out more (beyond what is already being done). 

Who is currently in the "poorest" group (what is the condition that makes one a beneficiary in the poorest group)?  And who is in the "richest" group that will be called upon to "contribute" to this leveling?

Since you have no care about the direction of taxes, it is not clear how the government will accomplish the leveling you seem to advocate.  What changes in government are you advocating?

Sat, 07/16/2011 - 16:14 | 1462421 blunderdog
blunderdog's picture

the "poorest" (whoever they are) have far too little

I don't believe that.  Focus on what I'm saying, because seems like you're trying to have an argument with someone who's not here.

What *I* believe is that we're not doing a particularly good job of allocating resources based on our capability, and in fact, on our individual interests.  The fact that you can find hundreds of mentally ill people on the streets of any major city is simple demonstration that mental health-care delivery is failing.

This isn't really about how government tries to move us around--it's just about the fact that people who really appear to need care don't get it, and people who give care, many of whom are actually motivated to try to help the mentally ill, can't deliver it to those people because our institutions currently prevent them from doing so.

For your first question: the "poorest" groups of people are people with little ability to adapt to our current industrial system.  People with poor language skills, bad impulse control, and severe health issues which prevent from being competitive with potentially "high-wage" employees.  Most often they are currently supported by sending them checks, when it would be far more efficient to provide them directly with basic survival resources *and* low-skill tasks to perform.  (This would be very much like traditional practice of family providing room and board to retarded Joey because he tends the lawn.)

Most of the essential resources can be provided by the other beneficiaries, with relatively little shuffling of "money" around.  Volunteers providing minimal time investment can oversee the interests of the individuals and the surrounding community.  (Yes, there are going to be individuals who are sufficiently maladapted and dangerous to require imprisonment--that's a significant expense.)

As for the last question--again, you have the wrong guy.  I don't believe in central control-systems.  I have no interest in either "leveling" or deciding how government has to operate.  This is where the apparent failure of imagination comes in.  I don't respect government's authority to tell us how to live.

Sat, 07/16/2011 - 17:36 | 1462565 Bob Sacamano
Bob Sacamano's picture

It seemed you were agreeing with the gist of the post which is government policy should level the current distribution of wealth / income in the US.  But may be we both aren't agreeing with such. 

Don't get me wrong - I pay lots in taxes AND give away meaningful amounts to charity (on both an absolute and relative to income basis) -- so I don't lack sympathy for the needy.

But I am not a fan of additional government confiscation (for a variety of reasons - ineptness and inefficiency to name just two) and despite the many needy who have issues for reasons not fully their own, there are equal if not more "poor" who are in a bad economic position because of poor decisions and character issues (past and present) that my sympathy abates. Some things need bad consequences to have any hope to correct -- it keeps me pushing forward many days.

Sat, 07/16/2011 - 18:01 | 1462612 blunderdog
blunderdog's picture

I didn't get the same impression of the original article.  The author showed a lot of statistics on our current situation, but I didn't see the demand for additional confiscation.  You might want to read it again.  If you can find the author calling for increased taxation, I'd be really surprised.

The class-warfare meme is overplayed to keep most of the citizens at each others' throats.

*Describing* our failures is not, in itself, a demand for a specific remedy.  Rationally, we should be able to perceive the issue without making assumptions about someone's motivation.

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 21:59 | 1461469 AldousHuxley
AldousHuxley's picture

the working class decides in the long run. Look at past 2000 years of human history. Those who work get more and more than those who simply "own".

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 20:27 | 1461335 homegr0wn
homegr0wn's picture

You've already lost this battle, son. Take your toys and march home.

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 23:01 | 1461560 mayhem_korner
mayhem_korner's picture

Do tell what the lost battle is.  You can't articulate it.

I'll stand by my position, as no one has done anything with it: if you have what you need, why do you get so in a tizzy about how much anyone else has in excess of that?  Why do you care?  I don't and never have, which is why I get such a kick out of these supposed "debates."

I've been both poorer and richer than most at different times, and it's taught me not to be enslaved to money.  But most of the angry "fairness" talk is about wealth that isn't needed by anyone.  Yet you all seem to care that someone else has it.

 

Sat, 07/16/2011 - 00:59 | 1461698 i-dog
i-dog's picture

"I'll stand by my position"

Well done and well articulated throughout. And I'll stand next to you.

Not one of your hecklers/junkers is able to answer why it is any of their business what is in your pocket! As you say, they can only measure their self-worth by how much is in their pocket when compared to yours. Without that relative measure, they have no idea how their life is going for them! Very sad, lost children.

Government is the problem, not the solution ... particularly when these aimless parasites rely on it to give their lives meaning!

Sat, 07/16/2011 - 15:42 | 1462371 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

You and Mayhem seem to travel in pairs.... seems a little suspicious to me. If you want to play multiple personalities, that's sort of ok, but trying not to make the circle jerk too obvious....

Sat, 07/16/2011 - 21:52 | 1462977 i-dog
i-dog's picture

I see you're still avoiding his question and relying solely on innuendo and ad hominem. You're a waste of space.

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 20:30 | 1461337 homegr0wn
homegr0wn's picture

...

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 19:08 | 1461163 Fukushima Sam
Fukushima Sam's picture

We care if you got your money through "unfair" means.  The law is supposed to determine what is "fair".  But the rule of law in America is broken because it is not applied fairly; these days Justice is not blind and her scales have been tipped; she is on the dole.  Because the blindfold removing and the scale tipping seems to have been done by our government at the behest of rich people the social contract has been broken.  Now everyone will suffer and the rich will be blamed.  This is just the way these things work, nothing personal.

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 19:44 | 1461236 DaveyJones
DaveyJones's picture

yes, amazing how there is a relationship between the severe concentration of property and law.  

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 21:57 | 1461451 oldman
oldman's picture

Fukushima,

I thought I would never hear this in the US:

"-----the social contract has been broken."

Bravo!!!!         This how we understand the law in much of the world; especially the places where the US was always admired. Today, these places are going on without us---see us as a failed state and a retarded people.

Whether or not this is true, one can only say that this is little evidence to the contrary. My own observation is that it is everyman/woman for itself; i see no evidence of a social conscience----a point warmly received here at ZH.

I remember another US of A---or maybe it was always a myth here----but that place ceased to exist from 1980 on

Anyway, thanks for those few words                  om

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 23:19 | 1461590 mayhem_korner
mayhem_korner's picture

We care if you got your money through "unfair" means.

And if I got it by working my butt off and being self-employed and giving my clients everything I can and donating 20% to charity every year that I can, does that make a difference?

And if it does, why does it?  Why do you care as long as you have what you need?

Sat, 07/16/2011 - 01:10 | 1461709 AldousHuxley
AldousHuxley's picture

You are what capitalism is supposed to be like. And it is, but a minority. There are too many bad seeds earning the same dollar the unfair way. You have earned the same money Paris Hilton has inherited.

Don't let super rich take you hostage. Banksters will claim, "if you get rid of the status quo, Mayhem Korner is going to lose all he has worked for." Maybe it will take another more severe depression. When you lose your savings too, then you will understand. Revolution is started by the upper middle class who do the most productive work. Idle rich give you enough to save you on their side. They already lost the middle class, poor never had a chance and will always follow. When Doctors, Noble prize winners, Military Generals, Presidents even realize that they have been had, then revolution will erupt. Maybe rich will see and let us share more of the productivity gains. Right now, they are playing chicken. This is the reality in the 3rd world. This is why concentration of capital is dangerous even to the rich.

Sat, 07/16/2011 - 01:23 | 1461715 AldousHuxley
AldousHuxley's picture

You are what capitalism is supposed to be like. And it is, but a minority. There are too many bad seeds earning the same dollar the unfair way. You have earned the same money Paris Hilton has inherited.

Don't let super rich take you hostage. Banksters will claim, "if you get rid of the status quo, Mayhem Korner is going to lose all he has worked for." Maybe it will take another more severe depression. When you lose your savings too, then you will understand. Revolution is started by the upper middle class who do the most productive work. Idle rich give you enough to save you on their side. They already lost the middle class, poor never had a chance and will always follow. When Doctors, Noble prize winners, Military Generals, Presidents even realize that they have been had, then revolution will erupt. Maybe rich will see and let us share more of the productivity gains. Right now, they are playing chicken. This is the reality in the 3rd world. This is why concentration of capital is dangerous even to the rich.

 

Also regarding "Why do you care as long as you have what you need?". We all need to care because if rich get more share of the wallet, as fed prints money, our little wealth is inflated away. Your buying power is relative to other's wealth using the same currency.When rich own the land, supermarkets, colleges, governments, what you little have will be worth even less because they will jack up the price. Monopoly power. They will get greed and use their monopoly power to squeeze every little dime you have until the entire system explodes. Rich are too greedy to see this. Productive labor also loses hope and entire populace gets depressed. Even rich loses out. You dont' live alone. You are dependent on others. Our society is built upon our ancestor's knowledge who have sacrificed for the society. Stop that an you have a society that is deteriorating. US is on the verge of going down that path.

Sat, 07/16/2011 - 11:15 | 1462004 Astrolabe
Astrolabe's picture

"I don't blame nor envy the con job."

and this folks, is what a good old fashioned ideology will do for you. my dog has a greater sense of self-preservation.

you should care enough to stop the con jobs because they WILL EAT YOU THE FUCK ALIVE, and because it's YOUR wealth they're stealing, shit-for-brains.

 

Sat, 07/16/2011 - 11:26 | 1462017 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

just a style comment...

I would have prefaced it by

@mayhem

that was quite a scroll to figure out what was going on

Sat, 07/16/2011 - 12:19 | 1462065 Astrolabe
Astrolabe's picture

good point.

just shows you to never be late for an argument...

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 17:46 | 1461029 JW n FL
JW n FL's picture

You dont have a lot of money..

 

answer these questions and we will see where you sit in the line up..

 

How many 100,000+ square foot homes do you own? with no mortgage of course?

how many Global Expresses do you own.. free and un-emcumbered?

how many yachts beyond 300 feet do you own? do you know what a sister ship is?

 

You answered no to all of the above, you are not even close to rich.. you can not afford the maintenance on what I mentioned above.. so you have NO fucking clue what you are talking about. with regard to wealth.

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 17:57 | 1461054 mayhem_korner
mayhem_korner's picture

Thanks for teeing up my ball, JW. The relevant answer is that I have more wealth than you think I deserve. And that's the problem yopu want to fix.

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 18:48 | 1461126 JW n FL
JW n FL's picture

do you think I am some democrat who wants to tax you?

 

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 21:03 | 1461399 AldousHuxley
AldousHuxley's picture

republicans also want to tax you to pay for wars

Sat, 07/16/2011 - 00:15 | 1461654 sun tzu
sun tzu's picture

You mean like blowing up Libya?

Sat, 07/16/2011 - 01:36 | 1461733 AldousHuxley
AldousHuxley's picture

no paying stupid idiots in the pentagon who are so busy playing politics and talking about lmilitary action that they forgot to protect most vital interests: military technology secrets

 

http://www.businessinsider.com/pentagon-admits-24000-files-were-hacked-d...

Sat, 07/16/2011 - 11:47 | 1462039 sun tzu
sun tzu's picture

I guess democrats don't want to pay anyone to protect military secrets and no files will be stolen.

It looks like the theft happened under 0bozo as the Clown in Chief

Sun, 07/17/2011 - 00:27 | 1463179 AldousHuxley
AldousHuxley's picture

If repubs are going to borrow money to go to war into oil rich country to steal oil, then oil prices sky rocket afterwards, then don't even try to steal. They are like a head mobster's retarded younger brother. Just ends up spoiling the theft.

Obama at least got bin laden. Bush lost Iraq to Iran.

 

 

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 22:23 | 1461501 snowball777
snowball777's picture

No you don't...you're just a slave in a prettier dress, honey; the only difference between you and the people that have been schooling you above is the degree to which you remain deluded about your true condition. Truth be told, the powers that be love your type. You're completely convinced that you've made it which means you'll never be a threat to their power structure...just another lumpenprole wannabe with more ego than sense.

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 23:06 | 1461540 mayhem_korner
mayhem_korner's picture

Know-nothing comment, just like the rest.  You clowns have got it all wrong.  See I don't care about how much wealth I have or taxes I pay.  Give to Caesar what is Caesar's.  You don't understand that because you are in pursuit of a relative status based on wealth.

In all my postings, I have never said that I cared about how much wealth I have.  Only pointing out that others seem to.  That is the point that you assume is the same with me as with the rest of you.

The thing that amazes me is that there is envy about something that I could care less about.  I've been poorer than most and wealthier than most at different times of my life.  So I understand the ends of the spectrum real well.

Point is, I'm not enslaved to anyone because I don't allow myself to be enslaved by the dollar.

So the original, and still unanswered point is that if you have what you need, what does it really matter if you have a surplus?  But that surplus of stuff above what is truly needed is what the fighting is all about.

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 23:14 | 1461583 snowball777
snowball777's picture

For something you "don't care about", you sure go out of your way to mention it. Why is that, skippy?

In order for envy to exist, one would have to be willing to trade places with another and there is no wealth on this planet that would make me want to trade in my brain to be you.

No, "that surplus" would be the issue if and only if people did have their basic needs covered, but many quite obviously don't. Perhaps you just need to get out more.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dO62em6iZag

There is universal law, whether rich or poor
Some say life's a game, to more, life is war
So put them egos to the side and get off them head-trips
'Fore some cats pull out them heaters and make you head-less...

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 23:25 | 1461601 mayhem_korner
mayhem_korner's picture

Sorry, snowy, but you need to go back to my original question, which was why does wealth matter?  Thanks for completing the circle.  I haven't gotten off course, just nudging the conversation a bit.  I have never expressed that my wealth status is important to me (and you don't even know if I'm being truthful about it, do you?).  I'm just prodding a debate.

Tell you what, though, I'd be willing to give up everything I own and start from scratch if I could live free from the encumbrance of government.  Would you?

Sat, 07/16/2011 - 00:35 | 1461675 Oh regional Indian
Oh regional Indian's picture

mayhemK, not sure what past animosities are at play here, but I think the initial question you asked is perfectly valid.

In fact, "Excess" is probably the most important word the whole supply side complex needs to ponder deeply. If excess was dealt with in a balanced way, we would not have 10% of the problems we currently face due to inequity all around. 

So curious about all the other posters failing to address that central question for even a moment.

How do you deal with excess?

And i'll go out on a limb here and say that anyone feeling uncomfortable asking that question (genuinely) is probably carrying a lot of it (Excess something).

I think that is an excellent question that needs dialouge.

ORI

http://aadivaahan.wordpress.com/2011/07/13/dublinmick-shared-this/

 

Sat, 07/16/2011 - 05:57 | 1461779 Urban Redneck
Urban Redneck's picture

 

 

How does one define excess?  If ANYONE in the US wants to whine about being poor and wants to take from someone else to make their own existence more luxurious, or complain about being in the bottom 20% (or whatever %) I think they should be made to suffer the same percentile existence IN INDIA for a year... 

Sat, 07/16/2011 - 06:06 | 1461839 Oh regional Indian
Oh regional Indian's picture

Haaaaah! urban, such expriences would have set a lot of people right, up and down the wealth chain. Not anymore though.

No one has time to savour an experience. I was broke in America, for a year and a bit.

Such a feeling. Such a teacher, lack that is.

ORI

Sat, 07/16/2011 - 02:44 | 1461780 Rick64
Rick64's picture

Tell you what, though, I'd be willing to give up everything I own and start from scratch if I could live free from the encumbrance of government. Would you?

 Yes I would, but the ultra wealthy and corporations wouldn't because its works for them.

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 23:25 | 1461600 Rick64
Rick64's picture

 Americans who earned as little as $500 per year paid income tax at a 23 percent rate, while those who earned more than $1 million per year paid a 94 percent rate. The average income tax rate peaked in 1944 at 20.9 percent ("Fact Sheet: Taxes").

 This was in the 1940s . So I guess we weren't as democratic back then. I mean what were they thinking taxing the rich like that. Or were the rich more patriotic back then?

  Corporations also paid significantly more in taxes back then, but they have passed legislation to reduce this by bribing politicians. Should I care if they are getting disapportionately more for less tax dollars all the while my benefits are in jepoardy and my taxes are increased (even if my taxes stayed the same my income is decreased by dollar devaluation and wage stagnation).  Yes I do care.

Sat, 07/16/2011 - 00:23 | 1461661 sun tzu
sun tzu's picture

In 1916 the top tax rate was 15 percent. Were Americans less patriotic back then?

Only a dummy like Joe Biden or you would equate government confiscation of a private citizen's earnings as patriotic.

Sat, 07/16/2011 - 01:59 | 1461746 Rick64
Rick64's picture

  I was being sarcastic about the patriotism. People always bring up that we are becoming socialist or we don't support our country or troops if we don't pay taxes. I don't want any taxes, but it looks like they aren't going away so at least they could balance it a little. In 1916 they were just getting started with the scam.

 At least this dummy doesn't have a man in a thong as an avatar. But hey to each his own.

Sat, 07/16/2011 - 05:55 | 1461781 Urban Redneck
Urban Redneck's picture

 

 

The rich didn't pay the 94% rate, and the tax code was thousands of pages shorter then (offering fewer loopholes), the disparity in taxes paid within the top 1% isn't a function of the nominal rates. 

 

 

Mon, 07/18/2011 - 15:42 | 1467681 fallout11
fallout11's picture

In 1912 (pre Income Tax Act) the top rate was zero. Smoke that.

Sat, 07/16/2011 - 01:43 | 1461719 i-dog
i-dog's picture

The Income Tax Act of 1913 was the first time in nearly 300 years of American settlement that income taxes were levied AT ALL.

Its sole purpose was to transfer wealth from the newly-prospering middle class to the federal government (thereby keeping the middle class 'in their place') -- while the sole purpose of the accompanying Federal Reserve Act of 1913 was to further channel that stolen wealth from the federal government to the foreign bankstas (whence they could, of course, funnel a small amount back to individual politicians to keep this scam expanding)!!

Prior to those two Acts, the federal government lived comfortably (while the American economy developed and prospered!) off tariffs raised solely on imported goods.

Sat, 07/16/2011 - 02:05 | 1461755 Rick64
Rick64's picture

 I agree with you 100%.  I was just pointing out that the scam was taking more from the rich as well as the corporations than it was taking from the middle and lower classes back during the war. Then corporations and the wealthy started changing that, paying less while common people paid more.

Sat, 07/16/2011 - 03:09 | 1461788 Urban Redneck
Urban Redneck's picture

 

Prior to those two Acts (the Income Tax Act of 1913 and the Federal Reserve Act of 1913), the federal government lived comfortably (while the American economy developed and prospered!) off tariffs raised solely on imported goods.

 

No it didn't, the two tons of gold which the US treasury conveniently and forcibly converted to fiat US currency for one of my forebearers a couple decades before their passage says otherwise.  Bankers and Governments didn't just become evil in 1913, they have been since time immemorial.  The interplay of wealth, influence, and national policy is a global phenomenon as old as human civilization.  1913 was just the US government stepping out of its theretofore redneck backwater existence and joining the first world.

 

Sat, 07/16/2011 - 07:07 | 1461826 i-dog
i-dog's picture

Yes, it did. You are conflating two separate issues here:

1. The US economy grew very successfully throughout the 1800's with a small (relative to post-1913) government. There was no growth at all in the federal deficit in the 54 years from 1863 to 1916 -- during which time the infrastructure of railroads, highways, postal services, policing, gas, electricity, sewage, heating and other amenities were developed--generally with private or local money--to enable an industrial base to flourish (as well as fighting a few wars against Mexicans, Spanish, assorted Central Americans, Chinese, Koreans, Arabs and, of course, even amongst each other from 1861-1865)!

2. It would have been even better with no government at all to grant and enforce monopolies for the robber barons. I agree in general with your points about government "since time immemorial" (I'm an ancap), though it should be remembered that 'Statism' (as opposed to individualism under a monarch, emperor or dictator with only a semblance of democracy) was a new phenomenon that began in Europe only in the very first years of the 1800's and arrived in America in the 1870's via a handful of very influential individuals in the education system.

Sat, 07/16/2011 - 14:57 | 1462271 Urban Redneck
Urban Redneck's picture

Andrew Jackson fucked the bankers and paid off the debt in 1836, and then they fucked the US back with a major banking crisis (on par to what they could do now).  The US debt grew in a linear fashion every year following until the Civil War- when it exploded and peaked in 1866 at 4200% of the the prewar debt.  Over the next 30 years, until the Panic of 1893, the US government was paying down the debt, reducing it by 45%, before reversing course again.  Over the next quarter century until the US entered WWI the US debt increased about 200%.  The period after the Federal Reserve was established actually saw a slower increase than the preceding years since 1893.    The Fed was created to make it easier to for the State to do evil things, but also to reduce in the impact of banking crises.  In the period before the Fed (and the later FDIC), people who had fiat on deposit at the bank regularly lost all their savings in the decennial banking crises.  The Fed has been a diabolical success at fostering the imperial excess of Washington DC and it has been a miserable failure at reducing or eliminating financial crises, and in fact makes them worse.  The Federal Reserve has definitely made many things worse-I just wouldn't characterize 19th century American banking as skittles and unicorns because people who played the fiat game with the pre-Federal Reserve bankers got just as screwed when the shit hit the fan, although the bankers themselves tended to be just as screwed.    

Sat, 07/16/2011 - 06:12 | 1461842 Oh regional Indian
Oh regional Indian's picture

Indeed i-Dog, it was Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms for the longest time in the tax net. Only.

Goods were taxed, not income!!!!!

Such sleight of hand though, using every means to move wealth up and poverty down the pyramid.

ORI

Sat, 07/16/2011 - 08:44 | 1461895 nmewn
nmewn's picture

"Goods were taxed, not income!!!!!

Such sleight of hand though, using every means to move wealth up and poverty down the pyramid."

This is my line of thinking as well.

Surprise ;-)

What better way to keep the people concentrating on each others throats instead of on the throats of those who deserve it, than to have an income tax?

People perpetually arguing amongst themselves about "inequality", as bought and paid for statists manipulate the tax code on a yearly basis according to ever shifting political winds.

And people wonder why, over time, the voluminous tax code could fill an entire warehouse.

But now they have boxed themselves in...in my estimation.

If they tax capital gains as ordinary income the stock market (the elites gauge of prosperity) crashes, as those who issue different "paper coupons" to themselves in exchange for their labor, cease doing it and exit for good.

Every week we are treated to the 3,000 to 1 insider selling here on ZH...no one asks the simple question...where is this seemingly limitless supply of "currency" coming from? Its coming from company compensation commities scattered across the globe.

They were provided a way around onerous taxation.

The normal wage earner (the serfs) are not provided this escape hatch. However, if you are made a pauper by this nonsense, there is something you can turn to...ta daaa...you turn to the same ones who authorized it in the first place. Its like some weird make work project for government workers...LOL!

The way out is clear to me.

Dump the income tax.

Taxing "stuff" makes much more sense. The black market is captured at the point of sale. A rich man buying a "corporate jet" is taxed the same as a poor man buying a bicycle. Statists & lobbyists of all descriptions are neutered of their power to convey privilege on the few at the expense of the many.

Dare I say Fair Tax bitchez?

http://www.fairtax.org/site/PageServer?pagename=news_audiovideo_QA_videoclips

Sat, 07/16/2011 - 10:11 | 1461956 DaveyJones
DaveyJones's picture

yes, the nice thing about taxing stuff is the criminals pay for the roads too

Sat, 07/16/2011 - 11:21 | 1462012 nmewn
nmewn's picture

There ya go!

The more "stuff" of value purhased, cars, trains, jets, yachts the more "revenue" collected.

It doesn't matter where the income comes from, legal or illegal.

Sat, 07/16/2011 - 12:34 | 1462080 Oh regional Indian
Oh regional Indian's picture

Bingo. And I'm not surprised! ;-)

ORI

Sat, 07/16/2011 - 12:42 | 1462089 Rick64
Rick64's picture

 Thanks. good comment.

Sun, 07/17/2011 - 00:46 | 1463190 Prometheus418
Prometheus418's picture

I think you're painting with too broad a brush.  Yes, I enjoy a surplus as much as anyone- but the fight (and by this, I mean the real fight involving the 800-lb gorilla in the room) is not about my personal relative surplus or deficit.

You are right in assuming that there are some people here and elsewhere are simply suffering from class envy based on numbers- but there are others who can actually see that this income disparity is a huge ticking time bomb that will frag us all.  I'm certain that I am personally far less wealthy than most here, so I actually see the living conditions of those who are below the poverty line- many of my extended family members and friends are in that very situation, and they are *not* able to meet thier most basic needs.  By my standards, they actually live the lives of animals, surrounded by filth and eating garbage to survive.  What little extra they get from time to time goes to buy imitations of things that they have been taught to respect as the trappings of a better life.

These are the majority of the people- they are all around, no matter where you live.  They're not smart, they're not ambitious, and they are not natural leaders.  They're people who get up early every day, or stay awake long into the night, steadily working 8, 10, 12 hours a day, 5-6 days a week to turn the cranks and answer the phones.  They scrub the toilets, prepare the food, and haul away the trash.  Your life, and mine, depend on these people remaining properly fed, clothed and housed.  They will perform better if they can go to a free public park, and watch television or movies, and purchase toys for their children.  They will not breed plagues if they have access to proper medical care.

No, I don't care how much wealth you have, but I do care about how much the average person does not have.  When anyone, whether they be a CEO or an employee of a fast-food franchise, gets up and goes to work every day, they should naturally earn enough to meet thier basic human requirements.  Those who will not work shall not eat- but those who do, must be allowed to.

That is where it becomes important to distinguish how a person has earned their wealth.  I think it's a safe assertion to state than any reader here has the intellectual ability to strip-mine the lower 50% of the population with relative ease.  It is not hard to defraud someone who is sub-normal, and stealing a nickel from a million people is actually much easier to do than stealing $50,000 from one person.  If you were to do it correctly, they might even thank you for it.

Let's set aside the producers- I'll never say an ill word about someone who does the work of inventing, producing, marketing and selling a product to the populace at large- as far as I am concerned, they are morally bullet-proof.  I am talking about the conmen, and that does include bankers, politicians, HFT and day traders (a caveat here- you will note that I have not included traditional investors in this,) as far as I am concerned.

The smart and immoral money knows that if you steal a penny from everyone, they're unlikely to notice or care- even if the theft is pointed out.  The problem is that there is not only one smart and immoral person in the world- there are millions, and more are created every day.

When a fraction of a cent is stolen from each of my dollars by one person, I don't actually care- but when 1/2 a cent is stolen from each of my dollars by 176 people, I certainly do care that every buck I have is now only worth twelve cents.  Since I am educated, and had a surplus to begin with, I have the luxury of getting angry in a verbal way.  The crap-hose that has been pointed at my country means that I can only buy a couple pounds of silver, a year's worth of food, a couple thousand rounds, and my forge and cabinet shop- when I would have prefered a thousand ounces of gold, a farm and a factory.  I'll be ok, in a survival sense, but have had my options limited.  But those who do not know, and do not understand, have only violence to fall back on when their children begin to die in their arms because the $200 a week they earned last year is only worth $24 in actual purchasing power this year.  

They will not know why, and they will not be able to rationally choose their targets.  They will kill you and I right alongside the people who actually did this to them.  All they know is that they are hurt and bleeding, and all they can concieve of is making everyone else hurt and bleed as well.  That will not help anyone.  

I am an engineer who grew into the field from the trenches of machine shops and ironworks, so I have some ability to fight and some muscles that can back that up.  But that is a laughably limited distinction- I can fight a man, maybe even three or four, but I can't defeat a hoarde of starving, desperate people.  And neither can you.

So pretty, pretty please, with sugar on top- give a fuck about the people around you.  They cannot be what you are, but they can blow your house down if they have to.  Don't fall into the trap of believing that there is no one who is not getting their basic needs met in Amerika today- I personally know four people who are dying of cancer without any medical treatment, and a number of others who no longer own cars, and do not have enough money to eat.  All they want is a way to work for the little bit they actually need, but the criminals and monsters stripping us all just can't let even one slim dime slip from their fat, stupid fingers.

So yeah, I do care how you got your money.  If you stole it, I want it back.  I don't need it, but my neighbors do- and I will sure as fuck help them out by being the general they can't afford to pay.  We may all die together when you launch your bombs- but so will you, when you discover that spreadsheets and suits won't grow you an ear of corn, or pump your oil from the ground.

Sat, 07/16/2011 - 11:25 | 1462016 Astrolabe
Astrolabe's picture

i think the relevant point is that you have drawn a circle, as we do as humans, and inside that circle is you, and also a bunch of billionaires. you think your interests are aligned. they are not.

they will eat you alive. they will buy the courts, they will buy the governement, they will buy everything. eventually, it will be at your or your descendants expense.

your freedom or your descendants freedom depends upon you seeing that.

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 20:35 | 1461348 darkstar7646
darkstar7646's picture

Wealth matters as an instrument of control.

Sat, 07/16/2011 - 15:32 | 1462356 Lord Koos
Lord Koos's picture

The ability to pass your wealth on to your clan/children.  And because it's cool to be powerful.

Sun, 07/17/2011 - 01:01 | 1463206 Prometheus418
Prometheus418's picture

Wealth is the easy way to become "powerful."  It's also stupid.  Power is not about the ability to purchase stuff, it is about having the undivided attention of those around you, and the ability to change minds and memes.  Wealth can only do that until reality intrudes.

After that, it's the noose.  Moral power is far more valid, though much more volitile.

Mon, 07/18/2011 - 14:11 | 1467169 mayhem_korner
mayhem_korner's picture

+1 

Best answer on the page in my mind.  I will offer that "positive influence" is a preferable moniker than "power" to what you describe.  But thx.

Sat, 07/16/2011 - 21:33 | 1462954 Tsukato
Tsukato's picture

Absolutely correct! And why does anyone believe it is their birthright to prosper beyong their intellect or hard work? Why does a Starbucks worker need to drive an expensive car?!

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 17:11 | 1460951 Michael
Michael's picture

So what will the spoiled housewives of NY and NJ do when their husbands military weapons contracts don't get paid because the government failed to raise the debt ceiling?

What will happen to the price of defense stocks when the government defaults on those contracts?

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 19:11 | 1461169 Bobbyrib
Bobbyrib's picture

I wouldn't worry too much, I think the people arguing that nothing will change are correct.

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 19:26 | 1461198 nodhannum
nodhannum's picture

If nothing changes...everthing changes when we impact.  Then there is no choice.  Mathamatics is not a suggestion just like gravity.  To quote General Cornwallis at the end of the movie patriot "everything will change...everything has changed".

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 20:37 | 1461353 darkstar7646
darkstar7646's picture

The only question now, frankly, is WHEN we impact.

You attempt to balance the budget, you only move the impact point to the point where the attempt is made.

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 17:14 | 1460958 Michael
Michael's picture

So what will the spoiled housewives of NY and NJ do when their husbands military weapons contracts don't get paid because the government failed to raise the debt ceiling? What will happen to the price of defense stocks when the government defaults on those contracts?

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 17:17 | 1460968 Michael
Michael's picture

So what will the spoiled housewives of NY and NJ do when their husbands military weapons contracts don't get paid because the government failed to raise the debt ceiling? What will happen to the price of defense stocks when the government defaults on those contracts?

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 17:23 | 1460983 homegr0wn
homegr0wn's picture

Three consecutive posts makes your point far more convincing.... /sarc

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 18:43 | 1461124 Michael
Michael's picture

You'll have a bunch of housewives of Palm Beach screaming bloody murder cause they can't take Fifi and their hand bag animals to their weekly dog groomig appointments cause their husbands military contract checks didn't clear.

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 19:42 | 1461229 JW n FL
JW n FL's picture

watch your mouth butt munch.

Sat, 07/16/2011 - 05:44 | 1461833 ft65
ft65's picture

Would that put the pay checks from Eglin at risk?

Sat, 07/16/2011 - 00:15 | 1461653 prole
prole's picture

That would be funny. If they made that into a reality show I would get cable to see it. Attention Kmart shoppers: we no longer accept food stamps or any other form of government check. (too bad it will never happen. they will kill you and me and sell our blood before they let the war companies go unpaid)

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 19:06 | 1461161 PaperBugsBurn
PaperBugsBurn's picture

Please shut the fuck up.

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 17:43 | 1461013 Kelley
Kelley's picture

Every dime of wealth created by the Ponzi scheme known as the Federal Reserve should be returned. It is an ongoing criminal activity designed to take money from the vast majority to the benefit of a very select few through a crooked game.

Sat, 07/16/2011 - 00:33 | 1461672 gorillaonyourback
gorillaonyourback's picture

let the guillotine sort it out

Sat, 07/16/2011 - 01:05 | 1461705 Arkadaba
Arkadaba's picture

to me and to me is the logical choice, correct? Though living .... yeah you get it.

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 16:56 | 1460916 mayhem_korner
mayhem_korner's picture

Uh oh...here come the barrage of "re-stealers":

Gotta get what I'm owed...and its gotta come from those 1% that stole it from me!

Think I'll just sit back, take my junks, and watch the wannabes do hand-to-hand with the libertarian stock.

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 17:19 | 1460975 JW n FL
JW n FL's picture

Do you think that JP Morgan has paid their fair share or robbed from "We the People"?

"By accepting the Treasury post, Paulson is poised to take advantage of a tax loophole that allows government officials to defer capital gains taxes on assets they have to sell to avoid a conflict of interest, as long as the proceeds are reinvested in government securities or a broad array of mutual funds approved by the government within 60 days.

Technically, the tax kicks in once these replacement assets are sold, using the purchase price of the original assets as the cost basis, says Tom Ochsenschlager of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. But why sell when you can avoid the tax altogether?

"The idea is never to sell," says Robert Willens, the top tax and accounting analyst at Lehman Brothers. "If you're able to hold onto the replacement assets until your demise, you never have to pay it."

http://www.forbes.com/2006/06/01/paulson-tax-loophole-cx_jh_0602paultax.html

 

I could go on and on..

 

Top 10 corporations which paid no taxes

Here is Sen. Sanders’ list of the 10 worst corporate income tax avoiders:

1) Exxon Mobil made $19 billion in profits in 2009. Exxon not only paid no federal income taxes, it actually received a $156 million rebate from the IRS, according to its SEC filings. (Source: Exxon Mobil’s 2009 shareholder report filed with the SEC here.)

2) Bank of America received a $1.9 billion tax refund from the IRS last year, although it made $4.4 billion in profits and received a bailout from the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department of nearly $1 trillion. (Source: Forbes.com here, ProPublica here and Treasury here.)

3) General Electric made $26 billion in profits in the United States over the past five years and, thanks to clever use of loopholes, paid no taxes.(Source: Citizens for Tax Justice here and The New York Times here. Note: despite rumors to the contrary, the Times has stood by its story.)

4) Chevron received a $19 million refund from the IRS last year after it made $10 billion in profits in 2009. (Source: See 2009 Chevron annual report here. Note 15 on page FS-46 of this report shows a U.S. federal income tax liability of $128 million, but that it was able to defer $147 million for a U.S. federal income tax liability of negative $19 million.)

5) Boeing, which received a $30 billion contract from the Pentagon to build 179 airborne tankers, got a $124 million refund from the IRS last year. (Source: Paul Buchheit, professor, DePaul University, here and Citizens for Tax Justice here.)

6) Valero Energy, the 25th largest company in America with $68 billion in sales last year, received a $157 million tax refund check from the IRS and, over the past three years, received a $134 million tax break from the oil and gas manufacturing tax deduction. (Source: the company’s 2009 annual report, pg. 112, here.)

7) Goldman Sachs in 2008 only paid 1.1 percent of its income in taxes even though it earned a profit of $2.3 billion and received an almost $800 billion from the Federal Reserve and U.S. Treasury Department. (Source: Bloomberg News here, ProPublica here, Treasury Department here.)

8) Citigroup last year made more than $4 billion in profits but paid no federal income taxes. It received a $2.5 trillion bailout from the Federal Reserve and U.S. Treasury. (Source: Paul Buchheit, professor, DePaul University, here, ProPublica here, Treasury Department here.)

9) ConocoPhillips, the fifth largest oil company in the United States, made $16 billion in profits from 2006 through 2009, but received $451 million in tax breaks through the oil and gas manufacturing deduction. (Sources: Profits can be found here. The deduction can be found on the company’s 2010 SEC 10-K report to shareholders on 2009 finances, pg. 127, here.)

10) Carnival Cruise Lines made more than $11 billion in profits over the past five years, but its federal income tax rate during those years was just 1.1 percent. (Source: The New York Times here.)

http://www.greenpartywatch.org/2011/04/30/top-10-corporations-who-paid-no-taxes/

 

and..

 

Microsoft’s purchase of Skype for $8.5 billion provides a perfect illustration of why adopting a true worldwide corporate income tax system is critical to our economic future.  

According to the Wall Street Journal, the cash for Microsoft’s purchase of Skype (a Luxembourg-based company) will come out of its $42 billion in liquid assets held in foreign subsidiaries.

Because it is purchasing a foreign company with its overseas assets, Microsoft can avoid paying any U.S. tax that would be due if it had repatriated foreign earnings in order to purchase a US company for the same amount. Based on the company's effective foreign income tax rate disclosed in their most recent SEC filings, a repatriation of $8.5 billion dollars would cost Microsoft somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.1 billion in U.S. tax.

As a Forbes commentator opines, the Microsoft-Skype deal demonstrates the harmful incentive created in our current system that encourages companies to invest in overseas companies rather than domestic ones. The fear is that this deal may just be “a harbinger of things to come.”

http://www.ctj.org/taxjusticedigest/archive/federal_tax_issues/tax_avoidance_tax_evasion_and/offshore_abuses/

 

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 17:34 | 1461000 zuuuueri
zuuuueri's picture

just think, if income taxes were eliminated in the US, everyone would be tripping over themselves to bring their business and money there.

 

You can tell a socialist parasite when he says 'X is not paying his fair share, we need to tax them more!'

 

 

 

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 17:50 | 1461037 JW n FL
JW n FL's picture

I am the "X" demographic.

 

So I dont understand why what would help you would be a bad thing?

 

It is the brain washing.. even though all the sourced and sited information is made available to you.. you still deny the truth. It is sad, really and truly. 

Sat, 07/16/2011 - 00:38 | 1461680 sun tzu
sun tzu's picture

Maybe he doesn't want handouts from the government. Not everyone wants to be on welfare and dependent on others. 

If you feel you're not paying enough then send in some extra money to the IRS and shut the fuck up. Nobody forces you to take deductions or expenses when you file your taxes.

Sat, 07/16/2011 - 06:12 | 1461843 zuuuueri
zuuuueri's picture

oh my, you need to open your eyes and realize that the state exists for the benefit of the very same elites you are bitching about. they throw some worthless socialist welfare crumbs to you suckers to keep you complacent and stupid, and they put on a little theater about how there's some kind of conflict between the rich and the state, so that you suckers support the state and even help keep other people in line feeding the state.. but every penny of taxes they get out of you goes directly to feed the monster that is fucking you. if you can't understand that.... go back to your tv and big mac, and after the commercial break get back to work, slave!

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 19:03 | 1461156 SamuelMaverick
SamuelMaverick's picture

+1 . JW needs to go over at the huffington post

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 19:12 | 1461172 PaperBugsBurn
PaperBugsBurn's picture

What a bunch of little bitches you and ol korny are.

It is I'll gotten wealth these uber rich have.

Yes, OFF WITH THEIR HEADS

and if you wanna defend them then off with ur heads too bitchez!

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 19:17 | 1461177 JW n FL
JW n FL's picture

well lets not just chop their heads off.. we can stretch some necks.. tie some to rockets launching satellites.. we can use our imagination. their crimes are out of this world so why not allow for some punishment that is more in-line with the crime.. no need to confine ourselves too this or that!

 

But the idea of Prosecuting those Treasonous Scum! I am sooooo with You Brother!

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 20:57 | 1461392 Dugald
Dugald's picture

Don't overlook the old but good one's....Hung Drawn and Quartered....the Rack is most effective...and don't let us forget Vlad the impaler, or, death by a Thousand Cuts is a good standby, if you are the impatient type go straight for the Axe.

Should you wish to be truly nasty...nothing better than placing the balls between two bricks and stamping on the top brick....fair brings tears to one's eye just thinking about it...... 

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 22:33 | 1461511 snowball777
snowball777's picture

How about...work in a sweat shop or Taco Bell for the rest of their lives?

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 22:52 | 1461539 JW n FL
JW n FL's picture

Death is a release Sir snowball777 ! I should have caught on to that myself earlier! Thank You! so slowing us down a tad so that we could over time enjoy the punishment provided for those Treasonous Scum!

 

My Best to You and Yours as Always Fine Sir!

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 23:32 | 1461608 Rick64
Rick64's picture

  I guess the U.S. was more socialist 80 years ago.

  The overall picture is unmistakable. The trend is clear. During the Great Depression federal income tax receipts from individuals and corporations were roughly equal. During World War Two, income tax receipts from corporations were 50 % greater than from individuals. The national crises of depression and war produced successful popular demands for corporations to contribute significant portions of federal tax revenues.

US corporations resented that arrangement, and after the war, they changed it. Corporate profits financed politicians' campaigns and lobbies to make sure that income tax receipts from individuals rose faster than those from corporations and that tax cuts were larger for corporations than for individuals. By the 1980s, individual income taxes regularly yielded four times more than taxes on corporations' profits.

http://www.rdwolff.com/content/corporations-government-give-us-more-tax-us-less

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 17:38 | 1461009 mayhem_korner
mayhem_korner's picture

The honorable Bertnie Sanders??? If you knew him, you wouldn't allow yourself that description.

Anyway, carry on with your envious tirade...

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 17:48 | 1461033 JW n FL
JW n FL's picture

You can not comprehend what it is you discuss, it is not your fault.

 

Wealth is beyond what you can wrap your lil head around.

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 22:16 | 1461491 snowball777
snowball777's picture

It would take a seriously curious sort indeed to have envy of a mentally handicapped schmuck such as yourself.

 

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 23:12 | 1461579 mayhem_korner
mayhem_korner's picture

Go on, snowy, tell me what you know about me.  It's nothing.  So blather on and pat yourself on the back with your ability to string together insults.  No bother here.

Maybe get back to the issue - why do you libs care so much about some imaginary "fairness" that we must implore of the gov't and the tax codes to solve?

Last thing.  With me, you need to be real careful about reading into what I say.  I did not say JW was envious of me, just that he was envious.  If it's not envy, what else would send him into such a long rant...?

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 23:35 | 1461614 snowball777
snowball777's picture

What I know about you...


...care if I have a lot of money?

I've been both poorer and richer than most at different times...

I have more wealth than you think I deserve.

I don't care about how much wealth I have...


Perhaps you're just an incredibly inept communicator, MK.


If it's not envy, what else would send him into such a long rant...?

The unyielding annoyance of the continuous bullshit alarm you set off in his head?

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 23:54 | 1461640 mayhem_korner
mayhem_korner's picture

Nice job of stringing together some things without context - good lib trick.

Seems I'm a very precise communicator based on how carefully you went back and cut/pasted.

So how many of those quotes can you validate as being true?  Or am I just a "working class" person trying to get by that just happens to not care about the top 1%?

zIf you look at the time-stamps on the posts, you'll see that JW went into his rant after just one post from me.  So your guess of "unyielding annoyance" seems to be biting you, but it didn't get JW to go off.

You still know nothing about me.

Sat, 07/16/2011 - 00:47 | 1461693 gorillaonyourback
gorillaonyourback's picture

well, i know you fuckin stupid and retarded for bringing up the liberal--conservative shit. 

LET ME MAKE IT SIMPLE---- there is no difference, they own both parties....

jeeeez fuckin retards,  go take your god guns and gays and shove it up you ass.  theres way more important things out there to be worried about

god, i just got vision of you holding your 44 mag and praying no gay guy comes to your house and forcible fucks u up the ass  ,,,,,, LMAO

Sat, 07/16/2011 - 12:26 | 1462074 Astrolabe
Astrolabe's picture

@mayhem_korner.

"You still know nothing about me."

but i know everything about you, because i was you. i honestly hope you wake up one day, and realize the stuff you spew is a canned product, which you have internalized quite nicely. i hope you one day realize it is not in your interests to do so, and that you are being used by those in whose interest it is.

that is all.

 

 

Sat, 07/16/2011 - 05:51 | 1461802 Urban Redneck
Urban Redneck's picture

Senator Sanders' pinko commie ass needs to fucked gently with a chainsaw for selling out American innovation and intellectual property protection to MIC and TBTF patent trolls. Changing from a First-to-Invent to First-to-File legal basis renders meaningless the distracting "protections" in the bill's text.  The bill passed the Senate 95-5 (S.23, and the five who actually voted against it are hardly upstanding members of the community themselves).  Senator Sanders is a whore of corporate lobby just the rest of his fellow Senators.  Just because he wears a socialist colored dress doesn't make him less of whore to powerful interests than a whore who wears a Democrat or Republican colored dress, which is actually remarkably consistent with the worldwide history of Socialism.

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