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  1. #191
    Senior Member captain curmudgeon's Avatar
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    But if we act strictly based on what has worked well in the past, then there is no hope for progress. Besides, the poverty line is something in the low $20k's for a family of four, and roughly half of Americans pay no income tax. Imagine what will happen when the families just around the above cutoff line have to cope with taxes in addition to their current troubles.

  2. #192
    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    what middle class are you talking about? People with jobs and insurance? Or people who employ other people? Or someone with a car, house and front lawn? What?

  3. #193
    Senior Member redcheerio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wanderer View Post
    I suppose the reason I find this hard to believe is because my economics textbook did something interesting; it showed a photo of an average American family with a median income outside their home/property with all their possessions. And did the same for England, France, and so on, all the way down to africa where it was a mud hut and a bunch of people with baskets and one or two metal pots. [Principles of Macroeconomics, Gregory Mankiw, 8th edition]

    We *did* have the largest "pile" of stuff. We also had the nicest stuff.
    But you do recognize how irrelevant and potentially misrepresentative a photo of one family from each country is, right?? Are you familiar with the concept "statistically significant"?

    And beyond all that, does bigger house + lots of stuff = higher standard of living/ more happiness??


    Quote Originally Posted by Wanderer View Post
    And I know the CIA factbook has lots of figures in it; But I also agree with Mark Twain when he said that "There are lies, there are damned lies, and then there are statistics."

    One of my parents is an immigrant, and none of the immigrants I've known (german, canadian, ecuadorian, mexican and filipino) have tried to tell me that America's standard of living is worse than their country's was.. just the opposite. The Canuck's said that their health system was better for checkups and vaccinations etc, but shit for anything major (yay waiting lists)

    America needs reform, yes, but I think the way to reform it lies in reduction of government and changing the tax code - last time we had a public outcry against the greedy rich - we passed the 16th amendment (Federal Income tax) on the slogan "SOAK THE RICH"; and the rich wrote laws with loopholes to save their money, and the middle class still pays the brunt of that income tax. Lawyers work for the rich, and the common man is screwed whenever he gets into a fight with the law. I'd prefer reduction of social programs and switching to something like a flat income tax or a national sales tax.

    To me, it looks a lot like the people at these rallies are chanting "soak the rich"
    Historically speaking, that's never worked out well for us.
    Growing up in Canada, being educated there, coming to the US during your young healthy working years to make money, and then returning to Canada for your old age seems to be pretty much the ideal on this continent.

    That isn't how I planned it, I just happened to stumble on it, although I'll probably end up in the US for my old age. But the reason I say that is because we have a damned good education system that costs a lot less to get a good education than it does here in the US. Then we can come here fairly easily through NAFTA, and we can make a bit more money here because of lower income tax, while living below our means and saving up, because we didn't grow up in such a debt culture. And I'm thinking the ideal place to be for old age is Canada because it seems like they would be less likely to screw people out of the retirement money they were expecting (although that wouldn't apply to someone who spent most of their career in the US), and because the drugs that old people commonly use seem to be cheaper.

    So, if you've met Canadians who argue for the standard of living in the US, keep in mind that they might see it differently if they had to pay the same for their university education as Americans do.

    Also, most of the studies and indexes I've seen that measure standard of living in various ways, do not show the US as close to the top as it should be for its GDP.

    PS - I discovered early on when I came here that saying that anything was better elsewhere than it is in the US is a quick way to make enemies, and to say that things are better here is a quick way to make friends. This is probably partly why you will be unlikely to hear anything different from any other expats. (Hopefully people here are a bit more intellectual than that and won't be offended by anything I wrote.)

    Oh, and another point. If you live in the US, then you are only going to run into people from other countries who prefer it in the US. In the US you aren't going to come across those who would rather live in their home countries, because that's where they are.

    I originally intended to go back to Canada (there a lot of people and things I miss there), but ended up staying here because of my last job, my husband, the friends I made here, and the weather. My husband commented on how much nicer my family's houses are in Canada compared to their salaries, how much they paid for them, and what you would get for the same money here, though.

  4. #194
    Blah Orangey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wanderer View Post
    Lawyers work for the rich, and the common man is screwed whenever he gets into a fight with the law. I'd prefer reduction of social programs and switching to something like a flat income tax or a national sales tax.
    So, soak the poor and middle class?
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  5. #195
    Senior Member Wanderer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by redcheerio View Post
    But you do recognize how irrelevant and potentially misrepresentative a photo of one family from each country is, right?? Are you familiar with the concept "statistically significant"?

    And beyond all that, does bigger house + lots of stuff = higher standard of living/ more happiness??
    I have taken statistics, so yes, I'm familiar - I am also aware that the author is a professor at Harvard and an authority in his field. A position one does not reach through shoddy writing. Textbooks are peer reviewed to avoid inaccuracies, and I daresay if he had misrepresented or chosen extreme outliers it would have been obvious.. Even so, the "facts" concerning median income appear to bear out his point.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of...PP)_per_capita

    Yes, I would submit that a bigger, nicer house and more conveniences does = a higher standard of living.

    Happiness isn't something you measure empirically ^_^


    Quote Originally Posted by Orangey View Post
    So, soak the poor and middle class?
    ...

    I'm not being vitrolic.. .. is it so much to ask for people to be courteous?
    I write my opinions to try to change minds and to hear other opinions - if all we're doing is being rude then we should just close this channel >.>

    We've already established that the middle class is getting soaked. I don't think anyone's arguing that.

    As for the poor, come spend a few weeks in Atlanta and get a good look at the welfare crowd. Should the Gov. make it easier to find employment? Absolutely. But the number of people on straight up welfare with no interest in anything more is rather.. disenheartening.

    A national sales tax wouldn't be the end of the world, why do you assume it would be? It seems to me like it would be a easy way to get the rich to "pay their share" as well as taxing corporations.

  6. #196
    Blah Orangey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wanderer View Post
    I'm not being vitrolic.. .. is it so much to ask for people to be courteous?
    I write my opinions to try to change minds and to hear other opinions - if all we're doing is being rude then we should just close this channel >.>
    I wasn't being vitriolic. Chill out.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wanderer View Post
    We've already established that the middle class is getting soaked. I don't think anyone's arguing that.

    As for the poor, come spend a few weeks in Atlanta and get a good look at the welfare crowd. Should the Gov. make it easier to find employment? Absolutely. But the number of people on straight up welfare with no interest in anything more is rather.. disenheartening.
    1. What is the number of people abusing welfare? I've heard figures as low as 2% and as high as 64%(?), so it's hard to come to a determination (especially because it's all partisan influenced, like the Cato institute study.) I've even read that the majority of abuses come more from welfare employees or service people. This shit was in your Atlanta just last year.

    2. If we're going by anecdotes, most of the people I've known who receive welfare benefits are honest and usually worked for many years before something happened (such as getting in horrific accidents, losing their job because they were injured, going broke because their medical bills are expensive and normal bills are draining what savings they have, and requiring years of recovery) to throw them into poverty. I realize, however, that this is not proof that there are no abuses, nor that the majority do not, in fact, abuse the system. It's simply anecdotal.

    3. There's a tendency to blame the poor when the economy takes a shit, which is unjustified and kind of fucked-up.

    4. Why attack social welfare spending out of all of the other government expenditures, especially considering that we pay much more for corporate welfare (most of which is not helpful to anybody, though sometimes it can be) in the form of grants, subsidization, and tax breaks? It seems like a drop in the bucket compared to some of our bigger expenditure problems.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wanderer View Post
    A national sales tax wouldn't be the end of the world, why do you assume it would be? It seems to me like it would be a easy way to get the rich to "pay their share" as well as taxing corporations.
    I said it would soak the poor and middle class because these groups typically spend a larger proportion of their income than their wealthier counterparts. The burden would be heavier on them. The only way to avoid that would be to exempt stuff like food, housing, and healthcare (things deemed "necessities"), but to do that would render the tax sort of pointless, since those things represent half or more of all consumption.
    Last edited by Orangey; 10-18-2011 at 03:22 PM.
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  7. #197
    ^He pronks, too! Magic Poriferan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wanderer View Post
    I suppose the reason I find this hard to believe is because my economics textbook did something interesting; it showed a photo of an average American family with a median income outside their home/property with all their possessions. And did the same for England, France, and so on, all the way down to africa where it was a mud hut and a bunch of people with baskets and one or two metal pots. [Principles of Macroeconomics, Gregory Mankiw, 8th edition]

    We *did* have the largest "pile" of stuff. We also had the nicest stuff.
    Did it list a figure of personal debt next to those pictures?

    But seriously, there are some big gaps here and there between the first and third world. But saying there is so obvious and linear a physical difference between the quality of life in the USA and Germany, France, the UK. Color me skeptical. I mean, using that as a measure, we would definitely say life in Japan is shitty because they have come to take up a pretty compact way of living. Would that actually mean Japan is a worse place to live?

    I measure higher standards of living by things like poverty rates, crime rates, healthiness, equity, etc.. That kind of stuff. The USA does indeed lag behind the rest of the developed world (and some of the developing world) in that regard.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wanderer View Post
    And I know the CIA factbook has lots of figures in it; But I also agree with Mark Twain when he said that "There are lies, there are damned lies, and then there are statistics."
    Yes. The CIA is pretty straight-forward with its figures, though, and it's often mentions potential flaws in the figures it provides. At any rate, if my choices are between statistics and sheer anecdote, I'm going with statistics.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wanderer View Post
    One of my parents is an immigrant, and none of the immigrants I've known (german, canadian, ecuadorian, mexican and filipino) have tried to tell me that America's standard of living is worse than their country's was.. just the opposite. The Canuck's said that their health system was better for checkups and vaccinations etc, but shit for anything major (yay waiting lists)
    You'll likely hear that from someone that chose to leave their country and stay in this one. I, as it happens, have known Americans who moved to Germany, Japan, France, etc... and talked at length (sometimes incessantly) about how much better life in those countries is than in the USA. This is exactly what I'm talking about when it comes to anecdotes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wanderer View Post
    America needs reform, yes, but I think the way to reform it lies in reduction of government and changing the tax code - last time we had a public outcry against the greedy rich - we passed the 16th amendment (Federal Income tax) on the slogan "SOAK THE RICH"; and the rich wrote laws with loopholes to save their money, and the middle class still pays the brunt of that income tax. Lawyers work for the rich, and the common man is screwed whenever he gets into a fight with the law. I'd prefer reduction of social programs and switching to something like a flat income tax or a national sales tax.

    To me, it looks a lot like the people at these rallies are chanting "soak the rich"
    Historically speaking, that's never worked out well for us.
    Really? We live in two different worlds. I think it worked out a lot better for us than the alternative. And I wouldn't day suggest repealing the income tax, but it looks like you think it's a bad thing. We see that totally differently.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wanderer View Post
    Yes, I would submit that a bigger, nicer house and more conveniences does = a higher standard of living.
    I said what I consider a higher standard of living. On the subject of convenience, though, I think there is a ton of room for debate on whether life is more convenient in the USA or in other developed countries.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wanderer View Post
    As for the poor, come spend a few weeks in Atlanta and get a good look at the welfare crowd. Should the Gov. make it easier to find employment? Absolutely. But the number of people on straight up welfare with no interest in anything more is rather.. disenheartening.
    I've lived in some of the worst poverty the USA has to offer, though it was rural rather than urban. Sure there were some contemptible people who gamed the system, but those people exist at every level and there is always something to game. By and large, people were not like that. My family was on welfare much time, and my father worked a full time job at a lumber mill often working overtime for a salary that couldn't have seemed very rewarding given the difficulty of the work. Again, to take statistics over anecdotes, the phenomenon of "welfare queens" appears to actually be pretty rare, and welfare spending is actually a pretty small part of the budget.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wanderer View Post
    A national sales tax wouldn't be the end of the world, why do you assume it would be? It seems to me like it would be a easy way to get the rich to "pay their share" as well as taxing corporations.
    It would be what they call a regressive tax. Orangey basically got this one.
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  8. #198
    Senior Member lowtech redneck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Magic Poriferan View Post
    I mean, using that as a measure, we would definitely say life in Japan is shitty because they have come to take up a pretty compact way of living. Would that actually mean Japan is a worse place to live?
    Frankly, yes (according to my subjective evaluation of objective measurements-but of course that's part of your point).

  9. #199
    Nerd King Usurper Edgar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by redcheerio View Post
    My husband commented on how much nicer my family's houses are in Canada compared to their salaries, how much they paid for them, and what you would get for the same money here, though.
    You can get a spacious house for a very reasonable price somewhere in the Bumblefuck, Flyover State, USA.
    The point being, housing in places with nice weather and good job opportunities tends to be more expensive.
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  10. #200
    Senior Member redcheerio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Edgar View Post
    You can get a spacious house for a very reasonable price somewhere in the Bumblefuck, Flyover State, USA.
    The point being, housing in places with nice weather and good job opportunities tends to be more expensive.
    That's true. But they live in Canada's capital. You would expect houses to be a bit less expensive there than in LA, but the difference is pretty astounding.

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