Philosophy Weekend: What is Wealth, and Why Shouldn't We Talk About It?

Economics Existential History News Politics

A surprising moment of revelation has taken place within this year's bizarre Republican presidential primary contest. It began after journalists investigated candidate Mitt Romney's claim that he created over a hundred thousand jobs as chief of Bain Capital, a very successful private equity firm. They discovered instead that during Romney's tenure at Bain Capital the firm was just as likely to profit by investing in struggling companies and stripping them for parts, allowing the businesses to die and selling off their assets (all the while charging the companies high management fees), as it was to profit by enabling jobs.

Rick Perry (of all people) made a strong point when he called Bain's practices "vulture capitalism", and it was brave of Perry, an otherwise plodding pro-business Reaganite, to make this statement. Newt Gingrich cleverly baited Romney for a full week with questions about Bain and about his own finances, forcing Romney to reveal that as a venture capital investor he has continued to have a luxurious income every year, but has been paying only 15% in taxes, less than half what a typical American pays. The outrage over this has allowed Gingrich to vault himself over Romney in South Carolina's primary this weekend, a stunning upset victory.

It's gratifying to hear conservatives finally join liberals in criticizing the predatory and hyperactive forms of "extreme capitalism" that Bain represents, which are rooted in the same syndrome of reckless misuse of honest finance that caused the crash of 2007/2008. It has been a conservative basic principle to avoid any criticism of free market capitalism, to blame the crash instead on home ownership initiatives, and to characterize even the slightest critique of economic inequity in the USA as "class warfare". The accusation that critics of Wall Street or tax breaks for the wealthy engage in "class warfare" is intoned repeatedly these days by conservative commentators like Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity. This tends to be a real conversation-killer, since the term carries such ominous historic undertones. It reminds us of the guillotine, the gulag, Mao's terrible starvation farms.

This loaded term has been thrown around wildly, even by Mitt Romney himself. He has previously described the Occupy Wall Street movement as class warfare, and has now used the same incendiary phrase in a weak attempt to defend himself against Gingrich, and against any other Americans who want to know why he pays a lower tax rate than they do.

The hyperbole won't stand. With our government in a terrible budget crisis, we have a right to question the tax breaks that are allowing the wealthy to avoid paying their share. More broadly, we have a right to ponder, pontificate, imagine and philosophize freely about what wealth means in our lives and how it functions within our social fabric, and we do not deserve to be accused of harboring Stalinist or Maoist views for doing so.

The meaning of wealth is a gigantic topic, and we can discuss it on many levels, from the psychological (why are certain people motivated to accumulate and hoard wealth beyond what their families could possibly want or need?) to the functional (can a society remain free and healthy if tax laws and business practices allow the wealthy to keep gathering wealth infinitely, while the living standard of the middle class drops?) to the spiritual (can great wealth actually cause the opposite of happiness? Romney seems to wear his wealth with easy grace, but many others at his level seem to exhibit symptoms of Ebenezer Scrooge syndrome).

In short, this is a job for philosophy. But, as so often occurs when philosophers begin asking truly tough and important questions, we first have to fight for our right to ask the questions. The debate over whether or not we are "allowed" to discuss certain issues is often tougher than the issues themselves.

Class warfare? Nonsense. If you are a professional or amateur ethical philosopher alive today, you'd better be prepared to discuss the meaning and function of wealth in our society at every level. It's a question that matters a lot. The strange television comedy series known as the Republican Presidential Debates has suddenly yielded this big question, and dropped it into the lap of every thinking American. This is a great new trend. I'm sure there are many ways to answer philosophical questions about the meaning of wealth, but the biggest question is whether or not we have the right to discuss it at all. Yes, we do, and we will.

This article is part of the series Philosophy Weekend. The next post in the series is Philosophy Weekend: Where This Is Heading. The previous post in the series is Philosophy Weekend: What Is Empathy?.
25 Responses to "Philosophy Weekend: What is Wealth, and Why Shouldn't We Talk About It?"

by panta rhei on

Hey! Have you postponed your further thoughts on -pathies and -passions?

by Josh Moore on

Malthus is correct and so is Marx. Being literate enough to understand any of this is a privilege.

Kinds of Wealth:

Information wealth: Having access to sufficient unbiased data to make rational informed decisions.

I look to the "Arab Spring" revolutions and reflect that via digital means that whole governments were overthrown. In so much as electing 85% Islamist majorities to the representative bodies of nations like Egypt I doubt if the information presented to the voters was accurate.

My father, a combat decorated veteran, comments that people don't care about politics they care about their lives and their children's lives more then what talking box holds the presidency. Extreme forms of Islam hurt people.

Educational opportunities are limited. Censorship rampant. Choices restrained. If a man knew that the choice he was making at the ballot box would cause his children to have less material and social wealth I believe he'd make better decisions.

by TKG on

"The outrage over this has allowed Gingrich to vault himself over Romney in South Carolina's primary this weekend, a stunning upset victory."

I hardly think this is what put Gingrich over the top there. In fact when he was hammering this, his poll numbers were dropping.

The media attacks on him helped him more.

And, BTW, they do use class warfare rhetoric. It's low and unAmerican. It's envy plain and simple or callous cynical appeal to it.

There are laws we make and people are allowed to follow them. If they break them they should face the penalties.

The vultures do what they do. Sometimes it is exploitation, sometimes it is helpful. Piecing out a company can actually create more jobs long term. It could also simply line the pockets of greedy fat cats.

Obama did the same thing in the GM takeover.

And FYI, I am not a Romney supporter.

by TKG on

I too came here thinking that this weeks entry would be about sympathy and empathy.

And a bit more. Newt's rise came more from Perry dropping out and endorsing him and the Palin's endorsements.

Not to say the anti-crony capitalism had nothing to do with it, and it was Sarah Palin who has said the most about that issue, so it is interesting she endorsed Gingrich in this context.

by Levi Asher on

Panta Rhei and TKG, I definitely will be getting back to the "empathy series" - just a little topical diversion inspired by the day's news.

TKG, if you are saying that I'm reading too much into Gingrich's primary win over Romney - well, I have been watching the race closely, and I really do think the focus on Romney's business history and taxes is making an impact on smart voters of all political persuasions. A blistering popular critique of what Wall Street does to struggling businesses these days has been a long time coming. And don't you find it eye-opening that wealthy bankers like Mitt Romney have been paying only 15% of their income every year in taxes, while you and I have been paying twice that much?

I think this is a case of voters (of all parties, and all persuasions) wising up to what the banking system in this country is really doing to our economy, and the ways our tax laws are enabling the offense. I think we're going to force a change, and it can't come soon enough. Here's a start -- let's stop letting "capital gains" income get taxed at a lower rate than other income. This is a gigantic loophole, and apparently every wealthy banker or private investor in the USA has been leaping through it for years, while the rest of us pay our fair share in taxes.

don't get me started, i rhetorically say, for i've already written 1,358 words in reply, frankly more on power than wealth, and relaying more ostensible history and implicit outrage than cogent original thought or heart.

i did not touch on the 5,000 year old dominator culture or other like tropes of the entheogenic crowd, or on the alcohol so inadvertently ill begot from fermented preservative honey and fueled that bastard culture for all the psychopaths to follow from it's womb, no, and nor did i raise some perverse corollary to all the disembodied heads that would just as so possess us for all their already established presence in the DMT of our physiology or any of that tripe.

...the old trope tripe trap, doncha know... heh.

no, i shelved all such ignoble sage writing here. here is for me uptown, to use a classist word. while politics and related matters -even those tangentally so -are indeed important and *should* be talked about, i want to come from the heart here in address to the heart here -and so come to the real wealth that *is* here.

quite simply what is on my mindheart is the sacred plane and the profane plane.

never mind the axis mundi laying in the balance but to be it, that rupture of plane.

all references to mircea eliade i fear, as i wade in deep, yes, and there's far far more one can go there -one better equipped than i, to be sure -but his 'sacred plane and profane plane' totems serves better here than anything else i can point to to speak of greater perspectives on where we might point our hearts. what all eliade himself may have had to speak on power, class, wealth, et al, i care not. (frankly he generally seems to me a sensitive and gifted -and mightily affected mind -i am almost ignorantly tempted to actually say 'confused' but refrain, knowing not the real details of his time, place, and circumstances. 'mightily affected' served better...)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mircea_Eliade#Symbolism_of_the_Center

no no no, to speak of wealth here, for me, i have to firstly say this *is* wealth.

right here. right now.

as i listen to Spell by Patti Smith [and Allen Ginsberg].

and write these words to you.

...at 3:18am this chilly oklahoma city night 3 floors up at candle lake with my good wife and our sweet cat asleep in the other room...
a veritable embarrassment of riches. i, in the middle between you and her, feel conspicuously lucky. as always, even. that though (pronoia) is another sort of wealth entirely i think. or is it?

first thought, best thought? not this time. i can spare the 'loss' of 1,358 words. they weren't precious.

are these?

:p

they are for me, more so than those others anyway.

I'm amazed at Romney's reaction to the questions about his tax bracket. I'm not a Romney supporter, so I consider it a stroke of luck for the Democrats. I would expect a presidential candidate to remain unflappabale, and say calmly (you can just picture Reagan doing this with a twinkle in his eye), "Sure, I've benefited from being in a low tax bracket. It's totally within the laws enacted by those who came before me, by men who honestly believed it would benefit our country. Now, perhaps we should take another look at some of these tax laws, and I'm not opposed to listening...and... blah, blah, and blah..."

But he apparently wasn't briefed on that.

And just for the record, I think it would be an exciting "Brain Brawl" to see Obama debate Gingrich. I'd be pulling for Obama, but wouldn't that be something to see!

by mtmynd on

Last night on our local PBS station I watched a program about the Edwardian times in the UK and how the wealthy partied hardy while the poor became poorer, The wealthy's extravagant lifestyle, based upon land ownership which due to the enormity of the mansions required infinite number of help, including the keepers of the horses... terribly expensive thoroughbreds that were given stables worth thousands of pounds, while the help were paid 25 pounds yearly.

The discrepancy between the wealthiest and the poor was enormous towards the early 1900s but there were signs that those grandiose times were coming to an end. The beginnings of the 1900s brought electricity which in turn cut down on a large percentage of house helpers, the growth of the transportation industry made the purchasing of foods and products from Australia and foreign countries reduced the need for the large landowner's own agricultural products... include in that the war with Germany which left hundreds of thousands of Englishmen dead or injured. By the time the early years of the 1900s rolled about it was apparent the country needed drastic changes politically to overcome the vast inequalities of wealth amongst the citizens.

Here we are in the early years of the 21st Century, where the internet/PC has drastically changed nearly everything we do. With the readership here it is not necessary to list how invasive the internet has become in our commerce, politics and entertainment. It has weakened the "brick and mortar" businesses; it has proved it's immediacy to inform the public (worldwide!) what is happening in politics, from the U.S. to the Middle East, from Europe to Asia, this speed of knowledge has brought about huge changes to our once treasured Press, which is now digitized and immediate for anyone who has an PC, smartphone or iPad.

I believe because of this revolution we are living thru, the employment situation in part is suffering from it because of lack of need for hu'man labor. Robotics is firmly entrenched in manufacturing of all sorts.

What has this tirade got to with wealth, you may ask? Everything in today's social environment. The wealthiest amongst us have used their wealth to outbid each other to buy their political wills to manipulate the laws to their favor. This is not new. It was happening during the Edwardian times. What is new is this is a new century and one that is a drastic change in our everyday lives, much like the change from the 19th to the 20th Century with electricity, the automobile, the airplane and rocketry, to name but a few.

How the 21st Century is going to develop and change the world as we know nobody can be certain other than the tools for change are available and will be used. The transformation will alter wealth accumulation into new arenas that have yet to be open, but we can be assured it will happen. What may change the amount of wealth an individual can accumulate (and that hopefully will not be infinite), may be more easily and openly tracked by the openness of the internet. Note today how nothing can remain a secret for long without someone somewhere snapping a picture or recording the words that weren't meant for the public. This will continue in our lives where most people's lives will be open books for all to read and evaluate. This may have a positive side - honesty may become the latest vogue where lies are wrong and deception illegal. Where wealth comes from our morals and insistence on fairness in our commercial dealings.

Wealth will always be wealth, only measured with different tools to fit the times.

by Vicki on

Yes, we do have the right to question it.

Also, the starving children all over the world have the right to question why we have so much to eat that we're damaging our own hearts.

by Josh Moore on

Increasing gaps between rich and poor will continue to grow. Unless an existential event occurs (and they never do) we will experience decreasing resources, increasing population, larger gaps from the have and those who do not.

I guess nature corrects itself. The changing environment coupled with shrinking natural resources eventually will reduce our population.

It won't take nuclear war, it will just need capitalism to stay the course.

We built a civilization that only knows how to crack an atom because we needed bigger bombs to use on the European and Asian gooks.

I just remember seeing this facebook clip of Reagan and Gorby in 1986. Ronald address the camera and says something like "We disagree on many things but if those spacemen come we will unite to fight the space Gooks."

Well he didn't use the terms "Space Gooks" but you see my point.

I see great strides in technology. We can travel faster then light apparently. There's really no problem going faster in outer space. We could have made to Alpha Centauri by now.

Perhaps the need to make more money will push to travel in the Stars. Even if faster then light travel is possible in a physical sense the nearer star systems that we've found resembling our own are hundreds of light years away.

Regardless of how wealth is distributed in order to grow as a species things will have to change. It is hard to make money off poverty.

Maybe greed is good. No doubt there is civilizations somewhere out there. Life has given evidence of existing in the strangest ways on the planet and quite possibly in the solar system.

Empirically capitalism has worked the best for society on this planet. I look at America and wonder if our democracy will continue.

It's a hopeful conclusion. That may or may not be possible. It may not even be wise.

The nature of science tells us now that matter, time, and reality exist in complex interlaced level.

Trying to go to the stars now is akin to propelling most of the transportation on the planet with fossil fuels.

The pinnacle is when we will be able to travel the whole universe without using means of physical transport.

That is all centuries away. Within the next few centuries will either need to decrease our population and consumption in order for the Earth to be capable carrying our progress.

by TKG on

Hi Levi,

I don't think you are making too much of Gingrich's win, but I do think you are attributing too much of it to the class warfare anti capitalist sentiments. Romney's profession, I think, does contribute, but not so much in he's too rich or not paying his fair share, but it ties in with the perception that he is not a conservative and his allegiance is first and foremost to Bain, not the country or conservative ideals. He is seen as a say anything do anything empty suit slickster who is not conservative but pretends to be when it suits his purposes and ran and governed liberal liberal when it served him.

As far as capital gains, I think amazingly that the law has it about right. Only long term capital gains (greater than 3 years) are taxed at 15%. Short term have a 35% rate, which as far as I know is the top rate for income.

The vulture approach causes short term higher capital gains tax rate. Holding an investment results in lower taxes if and when it pays off and holding an investment is good for the economy. It allows stability for a company and allows time thus for being successful and providing jobs and creating wealth.

by Levi Asher on

TKG, why shouldn't all capital gains be taxed at the same rate as other income? It appears that more and more of the super-wealthy have been taking advantage of the capital gains tax break to pay less taxes overall. The more money you have, the easier it is to hire tax experts to reconfigure all your taxable income as "capital gains". Apparently this has been an increasing trend in the past three decades, which explains a lot about why the federal government is having a revenue crisis.

by TKG on

Because with capital gains it is not income, but an investment that can be lost. The investor can provide funds that employ many others, but ultimately if the investment fails, the investor makes zero money.

It could be fairly argued this sort of gain should not even be taxed.

by Levi Asher on

That seems like an overly simplistic answer, TKG, for the following reasons:

First, since when do we base the level of federal taxation on the level of risk? According to this, a professional football player should also be able to pay the low rate of 15%, because he risks injury every time he steps on the field. I am a professional software developer, and I face the risk that my skill set will become obsolete or that my company will go out of business. Doesn't every profession, and every method of earning money, involve risk? And, furthermore, the level of risk should be irrelevant to the level of taxation. The purpose of taxation is to provide necessary revenue for the functioning of government. Who ever said that risk has anything to do with taxation? You sure won't find that in the Constitution.

Secondly, when you hear that Mitt Romney paid only 15% taxes on his $20,000,000 income in 2011, do you really feel that he needs to be reimbursed for this "risk"? His investments seem to be working out very, very well for him. Indeed, it's middle-class Americans who have taken a beating from the vagaries of "risk" in the last few years.

Finally, even if we did justify a lower capital gains tax rate due to the level of risk, shouldn't we be concerned about the ability of the super-wealthy to abuse the system, and get the lower 15% tax rate even when it's not justified?

Sure seems to me that this is a topic we need to hear a lot more about. I think Romney's tax statements are amounting to an eye-opening realization for many Americans about exactly how the 1% are managing to keep getting wealthier and wealthier every year. It's not that Romney broke the law ... it's that the law needs to be changed.

by TKG on

Argh. I wrote up a nice long answer with examples of you and I starting a publishing business with our own money with different scenarios where we either lose all our money but employ a lot people over a few years before we tank and not only don't make any money we lose a lot of money that we earned previously and had all ready been taxed on, but we were able to put out books and support people with jobs in a profession they love, or one where we go ten years and finally make a profit and a success, lots of people have been hired and have good jobs and then in other businesses like retail and journalism and support companies, our success has helped create jobs and our books have a non-monetary benefit to society. In the first scenario the government isn't going to give us 15% of what we lost. In the second, 15% is fair but is really nothing compared to all the benefits we have provided to society over those ten years. Boiling all we would have done over those ten years to simply 15% is rather crude and coarse and is chicken feed compared to what was truly accomplished.

In this scenario the Pay Their Fair Share™ is so meaningless and trivial. Petty even.

And I wrote a third scenario where we start a company and it is all hype, we put little money in because we aren't doing anything, but we do sign authors and make a big noise as a cool indie house. We sell in a year to a corporate publisher who just wants a hypeable brand, they renege on all the contracts we signed. We make a bunch of dough on smoke and mirrors. We have to pay 35% gains tax. This third one is unethical, to my mind, but a common business model. It doesnt really benefit society or create any wealth.

by Levi Asher on

TKG, I don't get what you're saying here at all. You seem to believe that taxation is supposed to have a moral purpose, or is supposed to correspond inversely to the societal good that a business or company produces. But this has nothing to do with the purpose of taxation. The purpose of taxation is to fund the government. It's to build roads and hospitals, pay for police and fire departments and schools, pass laws, regulate international commerce, maintain a strong military, etc. The amount of taxes a person or a business should pay has nothing to do with their special characteristics -- it has to do with the fact that the government needs funds to operate. And nothing you're saying here explains why certain types of wealth should be less taxable than others. (It certainly can't explain why the type of wealth that's less taxable is the type that's available only to the ultra-rich.)

So, TKG, please try again to explain what you're saying. I really don't get it.

Also, I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one questioning capital gains tax breaks today -- check out this article at Talking Points Memo!

http://livewire.talkingpointsmemo.com/updates/4624

It's time for a change, man ...

by TKG on

Yes. That is what taxation is for.

What is long term investment for? That is what I am talking about.

Long term investment has arguably greater benefit to society than taxation itself. Taxation revenue becomes possible due to long term investment. There needs to be an economy to tax.

The tax rate at 15% on long term investments vs a lower or higher rate is debatable, but is a relatively trivial issue compared to the greater issue of what benefits society most in terms of creating an environment where tax revenue is but one subset of the benefit.

As far as long term investment tax, we don't want to make it too high that rich guys put there money elsewhere. Then we lose jobs that their investments create and maintain and lose the tax dollars on their returns (or only gain the tax dollars, but don't get the jobs) or too low, because we do need taxes.

In other words, raise the long term rate to 40% and there will be a large pull out of investment in companies that are creating jobs and providing services. We then lose taxes on people who no longer have job income to tax, we also lose the 15% on the rich guy long term gains. We also are stuck with paying unemployment with overall lower tax revenues all because we want some guy we think is too rich to Pay Their Fair Share™

I am talking about the purpose of investment, long term vs short term -- not the purpose of taxes.

Long term investments are encouraged with lower tax rates because they provide benefits to society beyond simply the amount taxed on the gains.

If short term were the same as long term, we would have the rich guys doing the vulture stuff a lot more as well. There would be no incentive to build a long term profitable company that employs people and creates goods and provides a tax base. They would just Engulf and Devour*

*Anybody know the reference for Engulf and Devour?

by TKG on

I want to add, Bill, I liked what you said.

Levi, Current capital gain tax is 35% for short term gains (less than three years) and 15% for long term.

What do you think they should be?

by Levi Asher on

Thanks for the explanation, TKG, that's much clearer this time. I don't agree with your conclusion, but at least I now understand what you're saying: the purpose of the capital gains tax break is to encourage capital investment, because capital investment is (obviously) good for the economy.

Well, there are lots of ways to encourage capital investment. Maybe 20 years ago when our economy was in a different shape than it is now, it made sense to encourage capital investment with a capital gains tax break. But today, we have a crushing budget deficit -- it's gotten so bad that Republican congressman Paul Ryan has seriously proposed devastating cuts to Social Security. The budget deficit is widely considered a poisonous problem for the future of the USA. And meanwhile, statistics clearly show that the rich are getting richer and richer every year, and paying far less taxes than they used to. So, it seems pretty damn clear that the capital gains tax break is no longer doing the job it's supposed to be doing. Instead, it's being abused (which is all too easy to do, since a clever tax lawyer can help any wealthy person reconfigure all his income as long-term capital gains) to allow the wealthy to avoid paying taxes even as the US budget deficit gets worse and worse.

It's time to rethink the capital gains tax breaks. Capital gains income should be taxed at the same percentage as any other income. As Obama once said: it's not class warfare, it's math.

by TKG on

"we have a crushing budget deficit"

The point is that increasing capital gains too much can have the exact opposite effect and cause overall lower tax revenues and more government expense. In others it could lead to a greater deficit.

That's why I asked you how much you think they should be. There could be changes to the rates. Say, increase to 18%. Or make a sliding scale like on income tax -- 12% on long term gains less than a million, up to say, 30% on gains over 10 million -- whatever.

Tax code and budget wonks can work all that out.

I say if you want to rasie taxes, go for it. Elect tax raisers. Others will try to elect tax lowerers. Whomever wins, I'll pay (although I have never ever earned any capital gains -- maybe I will some day).

To me this is like the Dutch boy plugging the dyke. He might plug most are all, but others will then pop up and they have to be plugged.

This tinkering is sisyphean. It's OK with me if Sisyphys wants to push the rock up the hill and let it roll down over and over. Maybe someone has to do it.

In my opinion, long term capital gain tax rate is not the problem and it is in fact one of the few things the government has right.

Rich guys aren't philanthropists. They love their money and they aren't going to invest just to help the economy. They'd be just as happy to tear down a company and send it to China with all the jobs and associated benefits if they have no incentive to keep a company thriving here in the US.

"Capital gains income should be taxed at the same percentage as any other income. As Obama once said: it's not class warfare, it's math."

This is an emotional class warfare reaction that is illogical, but may feel good.

It is also intellectually dishonest in that capital gains are not taxed the same for short term and are taxed at 35%, the highest bracket for short term gains and the 15% for long term is pretty much "the same" in terms of average effective tax burden on income tax.

http://www.unwelcomeguests.net/Ascent_of_Humanity

...i could link to the Ascent of Humanity's site directly, and further to specific pages where the book speaks of wealth and money and alternative views but then they'd be taken out of context, and moreover bypassing unwelcomeguests entirely -and it's a great site. this is their page on AOH...

In the empires of usury the sentimentality of the man with the soft heart calls to us because it speaks of what has been lost.
-- Lewis Hyde

by Bill_Ectric on

Thanks, TKG, for the positive feedback. Regarding the debate on taxing capital gains tax, I think a key point is that it was a good idea in past years, but not so much now, when so many of those investments go to finance companies overseas, where the jobs are created overseas.

In his State of of the Union address last night, Obama put forth an excellent idea. Give tax breaks to corporations who stay in the United States and hire American workers. If an investment results in someone earning a lot of money, that should be its own reward. If somebody says, "I'm not going to invest any more of my money because they took away the 15% tax rate," I say screw 'em. Somebody will fill the gap. Whatever happened to just building businesses that produce things, as opposed to buying businesses and dismantling them just to make money on paper?

by Levi Asher on

TKG, I read the article, but I don't see that it adds anything new. Again, those who are upholding tax breaks for the rich continue to try to frame the movement to fix the broken tax laws as an emotional or visceral movement when it is actually a financial and practical one. For instance, the article says that Obama "disparages" rich people. This reminds me of a recent Rush Limbaugh rant I heard where Limbaugh said that Obama "hates the rich", and that Occupy Wall Street protesters also "hate the rich".

This is pure nonsense, a desperate attempt to change the subject. Nobody hates the rich. We simply want the tax laws to change so that rich people can begin paying their fair share of taxes. Many people who want the tax laws to change, like Warren Buffett, are very rich themselves. This whole "class warfare" thing is an empty argument, a straw man. We need to find a fair tax platform that will pay for American government and infrastructure and military and entitlements, and the current tax laws are not getting the job done. There's no "hate" involved.

I don't even blame Mitt Romney for paying only 15% in taxes. Of course he will only pay what the law asks him to pay. But I do blame him for believing that these tax breaks for the rich should remain. The breaks need to end. And then once the rich start paying their 30% taxes like the rest of the country does, we can throw them a big parade to show them how much we love them, if that makes Republicans and Rush Limbaugh and the Wall Street Journal feel better.

If I missed any valid points in that Wall Street Journal article, please let me know. I didn't see anything but smoke and rhetoric.

deep wealth is what had suprasumed nationality, law, civilization itself entirely -and for all it'd amount to, we certainly may talk about it.

-armed B.P. patrol boats patrolled our beaches with all their authority clear.
-an army battalion is now stationed within U.S. borders with all their authority clear.
-railroad cars laden with military vehicles crossed the U.S. with all their authority clear.
-joint cop-military exercises in L.A. now ensue with all their authority clear.
NAFTA, GATT -these faces of 'deep politics' are not deep at all. we will obviously speak of wealth, and it is ready.
jobs?
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/22/business/apple-america-and-a-squeezed-middle-class.html?pagewanted=all
Apple executives say that going overseas, at this point, is their only option. One former executive described how the company relied upon a Chinese factory to revamp iPhone manufacturing just weeks before the device was due on shelves. Apple had redesigned the iPhone’s screen at the last minute, forcing an assembly line overhaul. New screens began arriving at the plant near midnight.

A foreman immediately roused 8,000 workers inside the company’s dormitories, according to the executive. Each employee was given a biscuit and a cup of tea, guided to a workstation and within half an hour started a 12-hour shift fitting glass screens into beveled frames. Within 96 hours, the plant was producing over 10,000 iPhones a day.

"The speed and flexibility is breathtaking," the executive said. "There's no American plant that can match that."

...

"The entire supply chain is in China now," said another former high-ranking Apple executive. "You need a thousand rubber gaskets? That’s the factory next door. You need a million screws? That factory is a block away. You need that screw made a little bit different? It will take three hours."

there is to be no repealing of NAFTA or GATT any more than Glass-Steagal will be reinstituted, or even fundamental Habeas Corpus for that matter. it does not matter who occupies what political office. if any dare try to make a difference, they go down, like WTC7 or JFK.

with Citizens United TPTB have yet again raised the curtain entirely and to their amused disquiet, the false image persists still too greatly and they're still not quite sure their real authority is being acknowledged. the obliviousness of the sheeple becomes a minor problem in it's own right. neither criminal, victim, or cop, just normal people, they don't fit into the script. they are therefore criminal by default -but can't know it. some problem! time is short for them given peak oil getting ever peakier by the day.

300 of the humans who made this very machine i'm on have threatened mass suicide despite the installed suicide prevention nets. this was a practical threat & worked.

class, law, politics, finance -discuss away. the transnat coup d'etat is a fait accompli and cannot be addressed until *is* addressed -and it apparently cannot be. #OWS cannot speak to them themselves singularly or alone but as one of a global chorus unyielded by any 'demand' or singular grievance against Power.

power is the currency now. 'wealth' is retained by serving it, with actual taxation subverted, diverted to 'campaign contributions' to the two 'parties' together simultaneously, irrespective of supposed differences. that's just how Business is done.

'boiling the frogs' is not unlike Wm Gibson's 'slow ICE'.
time, generational time, was the water. those who grew up with Bush, watching '24' or whatever, simply cannot know what almost near possibility we [thought we] had, or the value of that illusion of freedom as a real idea. even we can't for it goes back back back. picture T.E. Lawrence nailed to a cross. consider george orwell's work and observations in the context of his time -not just '1984' but 'New World Order' as well...
http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks04/0400671h.html

passivity enables what conformity supports, and holders of any considerable wealth are enactors of acquiescence for the necessary conformity perforced to have any such holding.

look at the Nazis as an American project. we lost most when we 'won'.

this is the peculiar synchronicity: arabia was considered a sideshow of a sideshow before Lawrence took Aqaba in 1917.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T._E._Lawrence#Capture_of_Aqaba

bandar bush indeed.

fracking earthquakes will increase in where i live, a constant reminder of the blood i pour into my gastanks -earth's own as well those of the 'troops'... i've never felt the very earth tremble before. it's primal.

and so on. no, these weren't the original 1358 words i penned -i just can't hold my tongue. this is an international situation and we simply cannot grasp anything while adamantly constraining ourselves to any national-only context. it's not political at all at our level, or financial -it's Power, playing the madman card and really meaning it. bleeding us dry meanwhile. ...socialized risk/privatized gain as a high art...

...y'know, the 'smaller' our fed govt is, the actually larger it actually is -privatized. and who ultimately owns such entities?

consider the Lincoln County War when you think of private wealth. it's all about the government contracts. nowadays, those themselves serve supranational contracts -and The Company will always see to that...

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