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Hiding Behind Barricades of Indifference as Income Disparities Corrode the Social Contract

| May 25, 2014

Income inequalities are distorting the fiber of American society, but the issue has been treated more of a spectator sport than as a problem to be tackled. (Bert Kaufmann)

Income inequalities are distorting the fiber of American society, but the issue has been treated more of a spectator sport than as a problem to be tackled. (Bert Kaufmann)

In the mid-’80s newspapers like The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and The Washington Post began running articles about how much money corporate executives and people who work on Wall Street were earning. The amounts varied, but the tone of the articles was the same: righteous indignation mixed with shock and surprise.

Back then, when the numbers under scrutiny were in the millions of dollars, I had a theory about this sudden interest in the size of other people’s paychecks. The folks who wrote the articles for the nation’s most important dailies went to the same prep schools and the same elite New England colleges as the people they were writing about, who were invariably making gobs more money. To the journalists this seemed terribly unfair as they recalled that, during their school days, these aspiring Masters of the Universe were usually found passed out on the frat-house floor while the future journalists were toiling away in the library.

The newspaper articles were full of complex details from SEC filings about bonuses and stock options, but you got the impression that what the reporter really wanted to write was, “He’s running a company?!?” My reaction to all this income-envy was that no one ever said life is fair, and whether to the manor born or by a combination of luck and drive, some people were going to have more money than others.

Now, when it comes to compensating the captains of commerce and industry, we are talking tens or even hundreds of millions. For those who run hedge funds we are talking billions. Billions. Those used to be numbers that only showed up in news accounts when the topic was state budgets. As for clubs we will never be members of, we learned recently that among America’s billionaires is a lecherous, racist slumlord who is about to lose ownership of his basketball team.

It was a lot easier to be cynical about income disparity back in the ’80s. Sure, there were people who made a ton of money 30 years ago, but it was also possible to raise a family on an average person’s income. Today, the gilded one percent are making sums that rival the wealth accumulated by the robber barons at the turn of the 20th century. Meanwhile millions of Americans are barely making it, living paycheck to paycheck, if they are fortunate to have full-time jobs.

The trickle-down theory of wealth that we were peddled during the Reagan administration is a bunch of nonsense.

To be sure, people like Bill Gates, Sergey Brin, Larry Page and Mark Zuckerberg are entitled to their billions: They changed the world and the way we live in it. Warren Buffett has pledged to give away his entire $50 billion fortune, and even Wall Street sultans like Stephen Schwarzman and Carl Icahn have done their best to emulate the Carnegies and Rockefellers by affixing their names to libraries, hospitals and schools. But the trickle-down theory of wealth that we were peddled during the Reagan administration—and that many on the right still swear by—is a bunch of nonsense. If some of the riches accruing to the Forbes 400 were showing up elsewhere as jobs, bridges and tunnels or better schools, income inequality would not be the incendiary issue it is today.

It’s easy to voice outrage at America’s unequal distribution of wealth. Doing something about it is a lot harder. The problem with regulating income in a free-market society is deciding how much someone is worth and who does the deciding. The salary and bonuses drawn by the CEOs of publicly-traded companies are supposed to be held in check by “independent” boards of directors. But that joke has long been on the rest of us who weren’t lucky enough to hand-pick the very people who determine our income.

America’s giant corporations are expected to do some good for the nation as a whole. But the only real obligation of the CEO of a public company is to increase shareholder value, which means making more money this quarter than last. Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman was hired with a mandate to return the creaky old company to profitability. She succeeded, in part by laying off some 50,000 employees. Whitman earned a package of nearly $18 million last year. HP is healthy, shareholders are happy and Ms. Whitman gets to add to her billion-dollar net worth. That’s the system. That’s the way it works. The travails of 50,000  soon-to-be-former employees and their families are not her problem.

And let’s all agree that the last thing the country needs is a cabinet-level U.S. Department of Enough is Enough. We have something like it now, called the IRS, but its instructions come from legislators who are loath to take even paltry steps to level the income playing field by raising taxes on the rich.

I don’t have the answer to the nation’s crisis of income inequality, and I don’t know anyone who does—certainly not in Washington, D.C., where even raising the minimum wage is a non-starter. What I can offer is a picture of what our country is likely to become if we continue along this same path. The very rich, who are already less and less in touch with the lives of ordinary Americans, will further barricade themselves, not to keep out those who would rob them of their wealth, but to avoid having to witness the decline of a country that is no longer about ensuring a decent standard of living for the greatest number of people. That’s a country that not even the rich would want to live in.

Steve Robinson moved to Flagler County after a 30-year career in New York and Atlanta in print, TV and the Web. Reach him by email here.

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53 Responses for “Hiding Behind Barricades of Indifference as Income Disparities Corrode the Social Contract”

  1. A.S.F. says:

    I agree with everything but your last point, Steve. I believe that some of the super rich couldn’t give a tinker’s you-know-what if the rest of our country went to you-know-where, as long as they continue to sit pretty in the catbird seat with enough cheap labor to clean their mansions, nanny their children and manicure their lawns.

    • Genie says:

      @ ASF: Do you care about them, the people that provide JOBS and incomes for all of us? All I hear is class warfare and resentment.

      Much easier to just sit back, let the government take care of us. I understand there are generations now in cities like New Orleans that take pride in the fact they’ve never had to work.

  2. m&m says:

    I think if the government were to cut out some of the hand outs to people who have kids JUST for the money and reduce the other hand outs they may be forced to go out and get a job and start supporting their own family. I’m tired of supporting 50% of the dead beats that blame me and the rest of you for their lazynest ..

    • Max Awesomeness says:

      Even if you were right about them being deadbeats, which the vast majority are not, you still wouldn’t be addressing the fact that in a few decades there won’t be a middle class in america. So you’ll end up with hard working people in poverty catering to people that don’t work and are billionaires.

      Have fun being a prole.

    • Anon says:

      It looks like you have completely disregarded the article and at the same validated the title of it. The only thing mentioned about jobs was in reference to a living wage and underemployment. The people can only afford what they receive from the jobs that are available. Try talking to a college graduate of 2014.

      • Genie says:

        @ Anon, I am in complete agreement with your statement, yet somehow they all seem to have flat screens, I phones, computers, the latest designer gear.

        We can do better than all this. But we must all participate.

    • Diana L says:

      I am tired of supporting the rich corporations with subsidies and supporting their employees because they don’t pay them enough. While some people complain because the person in line in front of them bought a snickers bar with their food stamps we give corporations millions and billions. Your outrage is directed at the wrong people.

    • barbie says:

      Please explain exactly how “those people” and their kids hurt you, directly.

    • JG says:

      You may be correct, but I’ve hardly seen anyone who has babies just for the check, because if you are a parent (and I am), you know kids, planned or unplanned, are a burden and, often, a pain in the ass.. Maybe we need to just pay bonuses for Norplant implants for all female middle/high school students. If you are white or black or brown and virginal or abstinent it’s money in the pocket. If you are sexually active it saves the taxpayers money. That would be a form of ultimate female empowerment, albeit crudely. Then we could put aside what is or is not “legitimate rape.”

  3. Steve Wolfe says:

    Ah, once again, we get a time out for some of the politics of envy. Economics is just difficult enough of a subject to allow for hatred and jealousy to pass for information, just as the politics based on the hysteria that the sky is falling (aka, gorebull warming) sounds like science to the unschooled. What economics class taught that it is the responsibility of private enterprise to make anyone’s life better? Their sole purpose is to make money, regardless of how soulless that sounds. Without the ambition (aka, profit motive) of the entrepreneurs, the jobs we so covet, with benefits and a decent salary, would not exist. Everyone would be living by their own wits and resources, which these days means more than half of us would starve to death.

    The existence of the “holy government” that provides an inordinate number of high-paying jobs does so on the backs of the wealthy. They are the ones producing the taxable incomes and transactions that feed the beast. If the beast’s appetite could be curbed there would be more jobs available in the far more efficient private sector producing the goods and services that we buy, increasing the tax base, thereby reducing the individual tax burden, which leaves more for us to spend, which revs the economy. There’s one answer, but you still don’t know me.

    Here’s another one just for good measure: drill here, drill now. Cheap energy means more companies will build here and employ more Americans. Homemade stuff is something all of us covet. Forget about the social injustice stories based on income inequality. We are all born equal, but we don’t necessarily stay that way. I wasn’t born into wealth, and I am on fixed income now. I applaud people who make lots of money. Their money buys a lot more stuff and pays a lot more taxes than mine does. That’s a good thing! I’d hate to be on the hook for this stinking government without the wealthier folks kicking in. Those who want more, work more.. No government can take enough from the rich to make everyone else rich.

    • snapperhead says:

      Speaking of the unschooled,drill here drill now is an empty lazy slogan for the uninformed. Oil is a global commodity sold on a worldwide market. Whether it’s produced here or not changes nothing in the cost. We’re actually in an oil boom as we speak….google Bakken oil….while it provides jobs and income it’s done nothing to bring down the cost of oil. Why would a company sell it in the US when more profit can be made selling it overseas? Like you said their motivation is profit, not to do Americans any favors.

      • Steve Wolfe says:

        The point of the slogan is to point out that we can achieve energy independence ourselves while lowering the cost of oil worldwide. Cheaper energy is the path to a robust economy and paying down the national debt, which will not only free us from China’s whim but also drastically reduce their disposable cash, which is endangering our economy with their crappy subsidised products. It’s a win-win, and I will vote for it.

        • snapperhead says:

          Sounds good if you live in a bubble…however we’ve been drilling oil for 100 years in this country and finding, drilling and processing oil is only getting harder and more expensive to do.If oil companies we’re able to find and pump higher grade oil out of the ground then fracking and land stripping for tar sands wouldn’t be necessary. It’s not like a crop you can plant and harvest every year or so.The bubbling crude you saw on Beverly Hillbillies doesn’t exist any more.

          • Steve Wolfe says:

            Exactly. Oil is harder to get, but the supplies are there for the gettin, right here, right now. The bubble is going to burst again if the gov’t just keeps printing monopoly money and pumping it into the stock market. We need real commodities to run an economy. Oil serves both of those purposes. It would also do those other things i said. Wouldn’t you hate to be wrong about this one?

    • Anita says:

      Yes, the responsibility of a corporation is to make money and the stockholders (who are ultimately people) of publicly owned corporations certainly appreciate that. However, I recall “Ma Bell”, before the breakup of the system, offering employees stock options, as well as living wages and benefits, all with the blessings of the unions. Our common goal was keeping the company up and running and we worked together toward that end, That was the America in which I had the good fortune to work, raise and educate my kids and it was a win-win arrangement. I worked my tail off and although today I’m not wealthy I willingly pay my taxes without whining so that our government can provide for those less fortunate and pay its debts. Why is that notion anathema to you and those of your ilk?

      And when you refer to the wealthy, do you write of those who stash their corporate profits in off shore accounts to avoid paying taxes to the very government they seek to rule politically? If you want to call the tune, honesty demands you at least pay the piper. Are you sympathizing with businesses that force us taxpayers to subsidize the low wages they pay, while they reap the profits? Or companies which extort exorbitant tax abatements before deigning to open businesses in areas where people need jobs? Areas supported by business tax bases used to mean an easing of property taxes for residents, but not anymore. Or do you mean those who take their manufacturing overseas to avoid paying Americans living wages and then complain because no one here can afford their goods and services. Are these the “Job Creators” you’re so enamored of? FYI, “trickle down” didn’t. The greedy just got greedier and with the aid of a SCOTUS with an unabashed ideological agenda, now have enough money and balls to buy this “stinking” government, as you put it, outright. These are the people who want to enjoy the freedoms of this country without paying a dime, and we know there’s no such thing as a free lunch, don’t we?

      • Steve Wolfe says:

        Good morning Anita. I will try to address your questions, which are many, and basically cite worst-case scenarios. We do not live in a perfect world full of perfect people. We have laws to make limits for human behaviors, but if everyone heeded those laws we wouldn’t need law enforcement. Some of the succesful people just aren’t going to play by the rules, just as some less-successful people don’t. To find the good in human beings you have to look at averages. So, no, I am not considering the worst, which you can find if you are looking for it. Case in point, Ma Bell had to be broken up because it was a monopoly that was unfairly squeezing out the innovation that would save people money on their phone bills and give them many more options. As a monopoly it could charge whatever it wanted because there was no competition to force the rates down. That’s what afforded the company’s generosity towards employees. You profited off the backs of your greedy company’s excessive rates. Prices should be set according to what the market will bare, and competition assures honesty in pricing.

        By the way, businesses do not pay taxes. Customers pay their taxes because business just rolls their taxes into the cost of doing business, which is part of their product pricing. That’s why it’s good to lower business taxes, not because of corporate greed, but because it encourages them to open business in places with low taxation, and it keeps prices down for us. What would you rather have, no business and none of the jobs it offers as well as fewer shopping options, or more business, more jobs, lower prices and more shopping options? Look at how successful Texas has been at attracting business. What has New York done in response? Advertise themselves as offering NO taxes on business for 10 years. That’s just an acknowledgement of the way it is.

        I hope you will take a look at the pro-business candidates in future elections. Business and commerce made America robust and a great place to live, the bad guys didn’t spoil it for everyone. They provided bad examples. That is true of every walk of life. It’s just easier to see it at the top. It is good to encourage businesses with pro-business policies. That’s what me and my ilk think.

  4. Concerned says:

    My idea for a workable solution: give every citizen $1M, a condition is that all debt must be paid off the top (I’m sure there’d be others, but, brevity…). Once it’s all set to go, suspend all welfare programs – SS is not welfare – for a period to be determined, say 3years. There are appx. 314M citizens, most aid programs total around &60-$80Billion. $314M vs say $100Billion. Mandate that all monies saved the first year must be put into infrastructure and the jobs that entails. The second year is designated to financing single-payer for all and further mandated that all the monies owed the SS fund be returned – right off the top. You could even mandate that anyone who already has a million dollars doesn’t get another million. Review in 3 years to determine when another such payout would be best given again, and again. And when the best time to forego the need for further aid. Ever.

    • Steve Wolfe says:

      I laughed when I read this because of the absurdity of simply “giving” each citizen a mil. Then I cried. How perfect a picture has Concerned just painted of the proportionality of government waste here? The government currently maintains countless programs distributing disturbingly tiny sums to only about half the citizenry receiving some kind of aid, who could never become millionaires from it. But look at the cost of those programs—billions upon billions per year! Where’s all the money? Answer: the government eats it all by itself. Ever heard of government waste and inefficiency? Look no further. O. M. G.

      Cue in the insurance commercial: “That’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works!”

      Folks, the government is supposed to be a servant to the citizenry. What servant bankrupts its master and then plunges the master into immeasurable debt while doing so little for the master? What servant can continue this charade before the master cans him?

      OF the people FOR the people, and BY the people. Government by CONSENT of the governed. How long has it been since you gave your consent to have land taken from private owners? When’s the last time you consented to having your phone tapped? Have you ever given your OK to pay higher taxes? How many times have you been asked if you would like another agency to appear and, like all of its predecessors, grow itself like a whale, all while remaining unanswerable to you or anyone else, with authority to use the force of arms against you to take anything it wants?

      The USA has held the world in awe of its mighty economic engine for over two centuries. That engine produced the strongest military in the world, providing a big enough stick to help ensure peace for mankind (depending, of course, on how the stick is wielded). We were respected all over the world, and millions upon millions have benefited from our might for right. Now we are laughed at. Bullies of the world are emboldened by our lack of resolve and resources. Now we don’t even rush to assist some kidnapped schoolgirls or even exert enough pressure on our immediate neighbor to release a captive Marine. That might costs money, which is being siphoned off to spend on more feedings for the government.

      There is a solution, but time is of the essence. First, VOTE, making it BY the people. Send men and women to Congress who stand for accountable and smaller government, making it OF the people. Make government our servant again, not our master, making it FOR the people. Reject the government constantly building itself outward, adding tentacles that can reach into your life with no recourse, making the government act on our CONSENT.

      A smaller government leaves more responsibility for the private sector (jobs), which can be performed far more efficiently. That efficiency translates to bigger potential salaries. Salaries buy things and provide more resources to families. Buying things raises demand, which is answered by that evil profit motive thingy. To get more jobs we need economic growth. To get growth we have to excise some pretty big tumors from the government and restore it to its proper balance as a servant. The need for welfare shrinks when the private economy thrives, but the self-serving government does not want to shrink. The government has no incentive to let the private economy throttle up. Not as long as they can print money while keeping a boot on our necks.

    • snapperhead says:

      only one problem with your “solution”…the math. $314 million is one dollar for every citizen. $1 million for every citizen would be $314 trillion dollars.

  5. Seminole Pride says:

    I was privileged to work for a Fortune 500 company during the 80’s, and was able to ride on the income and investments that our company made. It was also very satisfying how that company shared it’s wealth with me and other colleges through incentives, bonuses, and employee investments that our company offered to us. It has really paid off for me now in my retirement, Reagan really done a tremendous allowance by keeping government out of corporations business. It certainly allowed corporate America to grow and provide its product and service, and most importantly take care of us hard working employees.

    • A.S.F. says:

      @Seminole Pride–Reagan also tripled the deficit…That’s how fiscally responsible he was. Enjoy Neverland.

  6. 40YROLD Waitress says:

    The lame people of our country are taking down the value of occupations. See, the last couple of generations have become addicted to living the lives of 19 yr olds. If you live in an area that has no industry, and all of its inhabitants are of no real occupational skills, or degree then you slowly take down the need for the lower end. For instance let’s take Palm Coast. No industry! So the women/men of Palm Coast will work as waiters/waitresses/lifeguards into their 50’s. Now, without an industry, they are slowly taking down the value of those fields, because now they are blocking the young kids from their temporary step into the working world. Now you have two generations of 19 yr olds who are blocked by old/lazy people who didn’t get on with life. Now the higher paying jobs are inundated with people who didn’t take that temporary learning step. So, they jump into professions with no understanding of work ethic they were supposed to learn at their “kid” job. In the meantime, you got some old hag at your table, hitting on your husband! There’s where everything went wrong, these generations of no accomplishment. GROW UP

  7. Real Truth says:

    The only truth in this article is that the “obligation of the CEO of a public company is to increase shareholder value.” I have worked for, started, invested in, bought and sold many companies and nowhere in the corporate charter did it say that the company was “expected to do good for the nation as a whole.”

    Ms. Whitman is doing just what she was asked to do by the Board, namely, to save HP and in the process the jobs of over 250,000 people plus, that they continue to employ. If asked, don’t you think that each of those remaining employees would gladly have given her $1,000 to save the company and thus their jobs. In that case her pay would have been $250 million not a meager $18 million.

    The job belongs to the company not the individual, if you don’t agree with that concept start you own company. I suspect many of brightest and most energetic the 50,000 will do just that or find meaningful employment elsewhere. Only in government can you investigate people for their political beliefs (IRS) or allow veterans to die (VA) and still keep you job.

    Reagan was and is correct, government is the problem not the solution! Before we had a “great society” we worked. We worked from 12 & 14 years of age on delivering papers, cutting grass, bagging groceries, you name it. Because of the regulatory environment today many businesses will not hire those under 18 and for those who are hired the government not the employer decide what they are to be paid, so across the nation thousands upon thousands of high school kids graduate each year having never worked for a salary a day in their life.

    • Anon says:

      Once again the allegiance to Reagan has strayed someone from what’s going on today. What few are tackling is the fact that some jobs are being lost due to automation. From the farm to the checkout line, it is going to take less and less people to maintain the production level. At the same time, the population is growing steadily due to our modern healthcare. So the problem is not solely in the people’s control and no amount of child labor will pull us out of this deficit.

  8. karma says:

    QE 3 is nothing more than pumping government money(your tax money) in the stock market. The same people you complain about are always the biggest winners in the stock market. Your beloved President is keeping you down and helping the rich get richer. Government hand outs are not the answer on both sides of the economic scale. But the more money Buffet an Soros make in the market, the more money the DNC has to promote income inequality.Just sayin

  9. Anonymous says:

    remember this, there is a breaking point in life maybe not in our lifetime but it , income inequality, can’t go on forever. they can’t keep lowering orange juice down from 64 ounces to 59 ounces than to 55 ounces and than to 50 ounces. something will kick it by the lowpaid people that will affect the higher paid people. i remember people thought that a basic lot in palm coast would rise to 125,000 . now look

  10. ken says:

    Government “great society” programs are creating a near permanent disadvantaged class. Before these programs started only 6 out of 100 children were born to unwed mothers. Today over 40 out of 100 are born out of wedlock.
    These children are far more likely to fail. They are less likely to speak well, read at an appropriate level, graduate high school and get a decent job. BUT they are more likely to be the recipients of government handouts or as they are now known “entitlements.” They are more likely to be addicted to drugs. They are more likely to end up in jail or prison. And of course they are more likely to vote for whoever gives them the most handouts.
    Over compensating executives may be wrong but it’s not the major cause of our woes.

  11. JtFlagler says:

    Steve, the USA and several other countries, allow an individual with a brain and the desire to use it, the opportunity to make something of themselves without felling guilty for their efforts. Ordinary Americans (as you call them) have changed their status to develop their wealth and make this country the best in the world. Most do contribute to those who don’t do so by donations to charitable organizations albeit through tax deductions. they couldn’t do it without that wealth. Apparently you haven’t traveled to other nations of the world to get a good look at what happens where that doesn’t. Gabillionaire sheiks riding in limos and living in gilded palaces while ordinary folk herd animals and live in tents in Saudi Arabia. In Egypt (supposedly some 5000 years old) the rich provide nothing to the ordinary man. I’ve seen people crapping on the side city streets and men fishing in canals with dead cows for something to eat. I’m happy living in this country that is barely over 200 years old. We wouldn’t be where we are today if many of those fat cats weren’t throwing something back to the mice.

  12. Sherry Epley says:

    Excellent article, as usual, Steve! If I were a religious person, I would write a cautionary tale about how in the rush to worship the new “Golden Calf” AKA the almighty dollar, we have trodden our fellow human beings into the earth.

    From a more pragmatic place, I would pose these questions:

    1. Ours is a “capitalistic” economy. If we deny the need for a middle class, and a job with living wage for the majority of US citizens, who exactly will be able to consume all the goods and services created by US companies? How will they continue to generate larger and larger profits? The engine of our entire economy must be fed! Consumers must be cultivated.

    2. How is it that we could possibly even consider anyone to be the President of our country when they have a history of heading up a company that laid off thousands, and proudly stashing their private billions in “off shore” accounts to avoid paying US taxes. . . just like the rest of us? Where are the billionaires of old who were smart enough to actually INVEST in our country and create jobs for US citizens instead of “maximizing” personal profit at the expense of the jobs/lives/welfare of US citizens and the future well being of our country’s economy?

    3. Why can’t we look beyond the manipulating rhetoric and snappy divisive phrases like “takers and makers” and put HUMAN BEINGS FIRST????

  13. RAKA says:


  14. Genie says:

    This is an odd way to celebrate Memorial Day, but here goes: There are no contracts here, no entitlements. American was founded on the principal that we all work and we work hard.

    The Great Society is only great when we all earn what we have. Nobody promised you anything in this country but the right to succeed, through your own efforts. Too many generations are now proud of never having worked a day in their lives, of collecting government handouts and this is destroying this nation.

    Nobody is going to invest in America until this changes and we all know it. Corporate greed? It exists on BOTH SIDES. The only way you end it is to vote entrenched politicians out of office. Two years is enough for any politician.

  15. Sherry Epley says:

    We need to truly realize that the “right to succeed” is a great sentiment/theory only. It is NOT afforded to ALL US citizens, especially those whose ancestors when brought here as slaves, and those that we currently allow to stay as indentured servants.

    When “ALL” US citizens are given EQUAL OPPORTUNITY, then we can truly say that those who will not work are creating a drain on our country. First we need to do things like :

    1. Create EQUAL educational opportunities for ALL races and ALL income levels. Better lives begin with an educated populace. BUT, we are actually moving in the wrong direction. . . with taking tax dollars from “Public” schools and moving those dollars to “Private” schools.

    2. Create EQUAL job opportunity. Yes, unfortunately, bigotry, racism, and prejudice are still quite alive in the USA. BUT, we are actually moving in the wrong direction by disassembling the very laws that were enacted to help level that playing field.

    3. Completely overhaul and INVEST in the welfare system! STOP handing out checks and food stamps beyond true emergency relief. STOP paying those on benefits even more money if they have more children or their mate leaves them. . . as the more valuable check motivates that unacceptable behavior.

    Instead, create a completely new welfare system that REQUIRES every able bodied person seeking benefits to actively WORK, or participate in education/training services that will then transition into a job that provides a living wage and an opportunity for advancement. One that will lead to self pride, a better life and which sets a good example of “the work ethic” for future generations.

    • Genie says:

      Read this carefully. This is concerning those slaves you spoke of:

      Joseph Hayne Rainey (June 21, 1832 – August 1, 1887) was the first African American to serve in the United States House of Representatives, the second black person to serve in the United States Congress (U.S. Senator Hiram Revels was the first), the first African American to be directly elected to Congress (Revels was appointed), and the first black presiding officer of the United States House of Representatives. Born into slavery, he was freed in the 1840s when his father purchased the freedom of his entire family. Revels and Rainey were both elected on the Republican ticket.

      The only thing holding ANY of our children back is the politicians who continue to tell them how down trodden they are. THIS is how you divide people, win elections fraudulently.

      ALL people have value, worth and we are created equal. Nobody is going to hand you a free lunch. You must earn it.

  16. Ogrethetop says:

    It’s really simple, The pie is only so big. no matter which way you slice it. People won’t go hungry, cut the food stamps crime will rise, then you be paying more for your jails. You can’t tell hungry people not to eat, when your cup is over-flowing. how much more can you push down the poor and uneducated? and if you were in their shoes, how much further would you let them push you?

    • Steve Wolfe says:

      Grow the pie and we can afford even more food stamps. But a great side effect of growing the pie is that jobs will be created, reducing the need for welfare. Nobody seriously proposes to increase suffering. But if we continue on our current course we will increase suffering as the pie continues to shrink.

      • NortonSmitty says:

        But the Pie is cheaper to make in China. That’s Capitalaism, folks.

        • Steve Wolfe says:

          I’m laughing with you on that irony. But we make our own pie here, and it’s better. They stole the recipe from us. They’re imposters. This is the real deal. We need to recover the American backbone to restore the pie. There’s plenty of willing capitalists here. Plenty more would like to return.

    • Genie says:

      @ Ogrethetop: I think if I were poor and uneducated, which I was as a youth, I think I’d sign up for some classes to better my situation and allow me to get a better job. Understanding your concern for the poor and downtrodden, is that too difficult?

      • Rick says:

        Genie, what is difficult is aquiring a quality education while one is, in fact, less well off. Not everyone can afford it as the more important basics, such as food, clothing & housing, are demanded to be purchased before hand.
        To those that can, best wishes.

      • NortonSmitty says:

        That’s a great concept, G Man. So I guess this means you, I and all of us will take care of our Cousin, Nephew or Brother with the 94 IQ forever, because I’m pretty sure they aren’t gonna’ become the next Dot-Com Millionaire. And according to the Conservative commenters everywhere, they should just be allowed to starve to death.
        But the good news is that with the glaciers for some unexplained and mysterious reason breaking up all over the world, maybe we could be like the Eskimo’s and push thousands at a time out to sea on just one floe, seeing as how they can no longer pull their weight.

  17. Lin says:

    Simple to me too
    Moneybags guy/gal moves into a neighborhood
    Opens company
    Hires formerly foodstamp recipients
    Employees have money to spend helps their family & neighborhood businesses
    Creates pride in accomplishments
    Less tax dollars taken from people
    Less necessity to pay for government programs and less government control
    Bigger pie

  18. Concerned says:

    How totally like amerikans this thread has become. I offer an easy, workable solution that would save billions and shrink government, and fix the infrastructure, and create jobs, and most commenters here just go on and on about somehow the trickle-down theory is a solution when it has been proven over and again for over 30 years that it just doesn’t work. What, too simple for ya? This is exactly why we can’t have nice things…


    • Steve Wolfe says:

      I gotcha on that idea. Nice thought. Hard to sell on its simplicity. And no lobbyist money moves to support it. Sad but true.

      But take your idea a little farther. Imagine a million bucks in the hands of criminals that are just itching for the means to do more harm to people. And unearned money often gets pissed away like lottery winnings. It also has a way of messing people up. But there is definitely a better way than the gov’t does it. No doubt.

    • Rick says:


      • Steve Wolfe says:

        Now you can identify with genie’s emphasis on education. People have to find a way, in spite of their financial condition, to get it. “Easier” is relative. Obstacles are for overcoming. We’re born equal, but we aren’t all dealt the same hand.

        BTW, isn’t Concerned”s idea cool? I think it is so beautifully simple. But our gov’t doesn’t do simple. If Concerned amps it up with a complex flow chart and proposes a new gov’t agency that gets about 500 times more budget than the actual benefit that it doles out to recipients, he might get some attention.

  19. Concerned says:

    If everyone was a millionaire the chances are very high that a huge portion of crime would go away. Criminals, for the most part, have about a 10th grade education, were in the foster care system for a large chunk of their life, are mostly unemployable except at minimum wage, manual labor jobs because of their illiteracy, and are alcoholics/drug users because of their frustration on being able to make a living, etc. Give them the ability to pay rent, employ them in rebuilding infrastructure, show them We care, and even educate them and you’ve changed all the reasons they were criminals in the first place. In saving billions every year we could afford free college/trade school for all.

    The People could be their own lobbyists if they really gave a damn about fixing the problems.

    • Steve Wolfe says:

      In all ideal circumstances. But if everyone is a millionaire then who is gonna cut our grass or pick up our trash? Do you realize what things would cost? Everyone wouldn’t stay rich for long.

      • Diana L says:

        Maybe we should mow our own lawn????

        • Steve Wolfe says:

          Rhetorical question to raise the issue of labor drying up if everyone gets a million. I like cutting my grass so much I cut my neighbor’s too. Wouldn’t change for me, but I’d get a new Deere. So who will stock the store shelves if everyone is rich? Who will take your deposit at the bank? What will a million bucks mean if everyone has it? Inflation would eat everyone’s million before you could finish counting it.

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