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  1. #1
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    Default Extreme Wealth Division; A Good or Bad Thing?

    It's no surprise that the division between the super wealthy and everyone else in the U.S. is tremendous. I've seen reports saying how the top 1% earn 17-25% of the nation's total income. My question is: is such a large division of wealth beneficial or harmful to the country as a whole? Do the super rich help the economy of the U.S. by giving back to it? Or is their accumulated riches a detriment to the common people?

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    Senior Member redcheerio's Avatar
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    Everything I've ever read about it suggests it's really bad. Third world countries have the highest difference, while countries with the highest standard of living and the highest quality of life ratings have the smallest difference.

    The wealth spread stats for the US are starting to make it look like a third world country. I think it was @INA who posted a link with info about that in the OWS thread.

    <*goes back into hiding*>

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    On a mission Usehername's Avatar
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    http://www.ted.com/talks/richard_wilkinson.html

    TED talk in a nutshell: based on metadata, disparity harms society, including measures of trust, health, etc.
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    A Virtuous Circle

    The West is based on two values - freedom and equality.

    And in a liberal democratic society, freedom limits equality, and equality limits freedom.

    In a bourgeois society freedom dominates; and in a proletarian society equality dominates.

    A liberal democratic society limits power by limiting both freedom and equality. And the genius of liberal democracy is that freedom and equality limit each other and form a virtuous circle.

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    Senior Member ZPowers's Avatar
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    As the others mentioned: studies and trends regarding national well-being both here and elsewhere almost universally suggest it's negative, and that the idea that people with very high incomes are job creators (or, in particular, the people at the top making more money results in more jobs) or have any real trickle-down effects is false.
    Does he want a pillow for his head?

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    It's detrimental when the trickle turns to a dribble.

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    Disparity of wealth demonstrably contributes to discontent, to a degree, but the motivation for that discontent is not well-considered. Wealth distribution often follows a power law, which means that within a given society, disparity in wealth is lower when the economy is bad, and higher when the economy is good. (Because the disparity is measured linearly, but the wealth is distributed exponentially.)

    Quantitatively, "the rich" were hit hardest by the current recession in the US, making the disparity much less than it was in 2007 and prior. Qualitatively, the poor are hit hardest, because when an economy goes bad, the poor are the ones who lose the jobs, the wealthy merely lose assets.

    Envy in good times makes it rather difficult to convince people that the disparity is a non-problem. One finds it easy to forget that if the wealthy lose 20% of their assets, the result will be about 10-20% unemployment (depending on how one measures it), mostly among the poor. That marginal extra wealth, so lamented as going only to the rich, is proportional to how quickly the economy grows.
    An argument is two people sharing their ignorance.

    A discussion is two people sharing their understanding, even when they disagree.

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    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Savage Idealist View Post
    It's no surprise that the division between the super wealthy and everyone else in the U.S. is tremendous. I've seen reports saying how the top 1% earn 17-25% of the nation's total income. My question is: is such a large division of wealth beneficial or harmful to the country as a whole? Do the super rich help the economy of the U.S. by giving back to it? Or is their accumulated riches a detriment to the common people?
    The uber rich are trans-global, they've no allegiance to any state, often they'll go to elaborate lengths to avoid taxation and are as liable to spend their money in ways which dont circulate the cash in their home states at all. This is no joke, I've read about Russian oligarchs who spend their time sailing around the world so they can claim non-domicile status and never pay taxes to anyone, there's other services being pitched to that exact same market, in the UK plans I think are still on the drawing board for a giant non-domicile ship for richer pensioners and others who want to dodge taxes but who cant afford their own boats.

    I'm sure that they are dramatised but the people trafficking in films like Shuttle or Taken probably exist and are reflection of the lack of legal sanctions which the uber rich and globally footloose experience. For every sensationalised case of a celebrity caught behaving as a peadophile or lunatic, like Gary Glitter or Michael Jackson I'm sure there's lots of others which never pick up the same momentum because there's not the same interest and therefore not the same pressure.

    The thing about the one percent problem, why it is a problem, isnt even, at least in my opinion, about these sorts of obscene examples of wealth purchasing power but the fact that this wealth doesnt have to be productive, it can simply sustain and even increase its possessors prosperity because of how interest and finance operate.

    It is a modern day aristocracy and most of the reforms in the UK have effectively recognised this, such as privatisation of schools, universities and other sources of accreditation and adoption of price strategies which effectively exclude the majority from ever changing their status. For the time being the majority of the population is more concerned about benefits fraud or abuse of the welfare system but eventually it will hit home what all the conservative reforms amount to, there will then be a real crisis of incentives which will really put talk about taxation of the uber rich effecting their motivation in the shade.

    The future of welfare and warfare, both of which I consider legitimate, spending will be jeopardised by their dependence for funding upon a smaller and shrinking number of elites who consider taxation as subscription or sponsorship rather than an obligation or duty shared with others, some less well able to pay than they are.

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    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jenaphor View Post
    It's detrimental when the trickle turns to a dribble.


    What trickle? What dribble?

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    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ZPowers View Post
    As the others mentioned: studies and trends regarding national well-being both here and elsewhere almost universally suggest it's negative, and that the idea that people with very high incomes are job creators (or, in particular, the people at the top making more money results in more jobs) or have any real trickle-down effects is false.
    Forget studies, its been a known fact since the beginning of the written word, some of the most arresting stories in the old and new testaments are all about this.

    The earliest story which I remember of "conspicious wealth" is from the new testament when Jesus tells people that a rich person and poor person making the same contribution to temple taxes do not sacrifice the same, since one can easily afford it and the other can ill afford it. Jesus would hate a flat tax and he certainly knew it wasnt fair.

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