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  #1  
Old 05-09-2002, 07:29 PM
Palo Verde Palo Verde is offline
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Are the poor to blame for their poverty?

I just read this on the CNN website in an interview with Dan Quayle (perhaps not the most reliable source):

"If in fact you don't finish high school, you get married before 20 or you have children before 20, you have an 80 percent chance of living in poverty.

(If you) stay in school, get married, wait until you're after 20 to start having children, you have less than a 5 percent chance of living in poverty."

If these statistics are correct (and I have no idea if they are):

Does this imply that poor people are mostly to blame for their own poverty?

Does it give strong evidence for the American Dream?

Are people poor because they just didn't follow the rules?

A person with a high school diploma who married at 21 and had their first child at 22 has a 95% chance of not beoing poor?
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  #2  
Old 05-09-2002, 07:39 PM
Duck Duck Goose Duck Duck Goose is offline
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Link to the interview in question.

http://www.cnn.com/2002/ALLPOLITICS/...nna/index.html

Dan Quayle--still crazy after all these years...

To address the OP: They aren't "cause and effect". Dropping out of high school, or getting married before age 20, or having children before age 20 don't cause you to become poor. It's just that many people who are already poor also happen to have dropped out of high school, or to have gotten married before age 20, or to have had children before age 20.

Dan's "statistics" were idiotic 10 years ago, and they're still idiotic.
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Old 05-09-2002, 07:40 PM
fluiddruid fluiddruid is offline
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These sorts of statistics don't prove causality. In these sorts of cases, a friend of mine likes to point out that owning a toaster can be linked to better health -- not because toasters actually cause better health, but that those who can afford to buy toasters have better health coverage, better diets, and earn more.
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  #4  
Old 05-09-2002, 07:56 PM
december december is offline
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I agree that correllation doesn't necessarily prove causality, but it may be a good start. There may be both correllation and causality.

It seems to me that an unmarried teen-age girl who hasn't graduated from high school and who spends her days at home raising her children will have a tough time escaping poverty.
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  #5  
Old 05-09-2002, 08:00 PM
Duck Duck Goose Duck Duck Goose is offline
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I would also like to point out that if you read the entire speech, it sounds like Danny's saying that the reason we had the Rodney King riots is because all those black folks are out there having babies without bothering to get married first. He starts out talking about "the breakdown of family structure", segues directly to "race and racism" and the "black middle class", and then brings in a whole truckload of statistics about poor black people.

http://www.mfc.org/pfn/95-12/quayle.html

It was stupid 10 years ago, and it's still stupid.
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  #6  
Old 05-09-2002, 08:11 PM
Demosthenesian Demosthenesian is offline
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Even without the causality issue, "dropping out of school" is hardly an independent factor. The simple question is "why did they drop out of school"? Some people do it because they're lazy or whatnot, but I know others who were hounded out by administrators (due to personality and such) or who left due to unavoidable circumstances.

On the other hand, there remains an excellent argument for the availability of alternate schools.
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  #7  
Old 05-09-2002, 08:37 PM
The Ryan The Ryan is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Duck Duck Goose
[B]To address the OP: They aren't "cause and effect". Dropping out of high school, or getting married before age 20, or having children before age 20 don't cause you to become poor. It's just that many people who are already poor also happen to have dropped out of high school, or to have gotten married before age 20, or to have had children before age 20.
But the fact remains that if you haven't finished high school, are under 20, and have children, there is a very good chance that you will be raising children without the means to support them. I think it's very irresponsible to have children when the odds are overwhelmingly against your being able to support them. Liberals blame the rich for trampling the poor, but most poverty is caused by the poor. Note that I'm not saying that most poor people are poor because of actions they have taken. I'm saying that most poor people are poor because of actions that poor people have taken. Vindictive policies against the rich, such as confiscatory taxes, are not going to solve poverty, because the rich aren't the ones causing poverty.
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  #8  
Old 05-09-2002, 09:05 PM
december december is offline
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Quayle had just given a speech at the National Press Club.
Quote:
He extended his disapproval to some of today's celebrities, but took a gentler approach, describing several performers as happily married, good parents in their real lives who glorify out-of-wedlock sex and unwed pregnancy in their acting roles.

He pointed to movie star and father Warren Beatty; Sarah Jessica Parker of ``Sex and the City,'' who is married and expecting a child; and Jennifer Aniston, who is married but plays an unmarried expectant mother on ``Friends.''

He noted that even ``Murphy Brown'' star Candice Bergen raised her own daughter with her husband of 15 years, Louis Malle, who died in 1995. Malle also had two children from previous marriages to two other actresses.
http://webcenter.newssearch.netscape...2405_aolns.src
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  #9  
Old 05-09-2002, 09:11 PM
jshore jshore is offline
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Vindictive policies against the rich and confiscatory taxes? Which country are you living in, The Ryan?

In the country that I am living in, the richest 1% have been paying a rising fraction of the total individual federal income tax burden over the last few decades only because the income distribution is so skewed that their fraction of the total adjusted gross income has been rising at an even faster rate! It hardly sounds like they have been the victim of vindictive tax policies. Instead, they have been the beneficiaries of an economic and political climate that has allowed them to amass wealth as never before. And, tax rates remain far below anything that could be considered confiscatory.

As for the OP, as others have pointed out, correlation is not causation. Still, I am willing to believe that getting married young, having children young, and dropping out of school are generally self-destructive practices that are likely to continue the cycle of poverty (although it would be nice to see a study on this that compared groups that were otherwise controlled so that they all attended the same type of schools, had the same background, etc.). The questions become, however, why people are making these decisions and what can be done to encourage them to make healthier decisions.
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  #10  
Old 05-09-2002, 09:15 PM
jshore jshore is offline
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Oh, now that I see december's latest posting, it is all starting to make sense. See, poverty is caused by characters on TV having lots of premarital sex and occasionally even kids out of wedlock.

Geez, I am glad we have Dan Quayle to help us figure out how the world works.
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  #11  
Old 05-09-2002, 09:31 PM
Triskadecamus Triskadecamus is offline
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The richest half of the richest nation in the history of the planet are nobody's victim.

Statements to that effect are bizarrely beneath criticism.

Some people are poor because of their own actions. To try to generalize that into a class characteristic is rank. It smells.

Most of the rich are not rich because of their own actions. The richer you are, the more likely it is that your parents, and grandparents were rich. That doesnít mean I have a logically valid reason to assume any person who is successful is so because of his ancestry.

Excuse me, I need to go wipe my feet.

Tris
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  #12  
Old 05-09-2002, 09:44 PM
december december is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Triskadecamus Most of the rich are not rich because of their own actions.
Do you have a cite? Some statistics are skewed because they include widows of self-made rich men as "not rich because of their own actions."

However, if one includes these widows in the "self-made" group, it was my impression that the majority of rich Americans have earned their wealth. The very richest Americans, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, certainly did.
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Old 05-09-2002, 10:07 PM
tomndebb tomndebb is offline
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december, could you please start using examples that actually illustrate yourt point? Buffet certainly ammassed his fortune on his efforts, but he did not start out in poverty, or anything, having a congressman/store owner for a father.

If Gates had not decided to play in the computer industry (employing tactics that are not generally considered examplars of ethical behavior) he could easily have coasted through life on his inheritance with more money than the overwhelming number of the Teeming Millions will ever see.
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Old 05-09-2002, 10:36 PM
Triskadecamus Triskadecamus is offline
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Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are not typical of anything.

The very wealthy are families of wealthy people. The descendents of the Mellons, Rockerfellers, Carnegies, and a hundred other families who made millions when millions were a lot. While it is certainly not the case that none of those descendents acted to improve their status and wealth, it is certainly absurd to pretend that those families do not benefit from the inherited wealth, not to even mention social and business associations.

In small towns all over America there are lesser fortunes shared over generations as well. There are five people in the county where I am now visiting who, among them, own half the commercial real estate in the county. They are all grandchildren of the same man, who made his fortune in the early days of the twentieth century. Their grandchildren are all reasonably wealthy, as well, owning businesses in which their grandparents are partners, and practicing professions learned in fine universities paid for by that same fortune.

I do not claim this is inherently wrong, mind you, but it certainly is not the case that confiscatory taxation has caused any poverty among the thirty or forty descendents of this man. He is not an unusual case. I know similar stories from other places as well.

Yes, people do become wealthy on their own. No doubt about it, America is the best place to do it, too. But the point of the comment by the Ryan was ludicrous. No, I have no statistical cite to back up my claim, and so must admit that I cannot prove that most of the rich fall into the pattern. But certainly many do. I Know that most of the Rich people in this town do. Most of the richest people in the town I was raised in did. For every nuveau riche dot com billionaire out there, there are a whole lot of landed gentry millionaires with fortunes they got by choosing the right parents. (to quote Malcom Forbes)

Even if they did earn it, I donít want to hear them whining about all those people who chose to be poor, and needy.

Tris
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  #15  
Old 05-09-2002, 11:31 PM
dp dp is offline
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leaving dan quayle out of this and getting to the basic question.. are the poor to blame for their poverty, the quick answer is, in most cases , yes. First, to answer the question, do not compare the poor to the rich,those are the two extremes, compare the poor to the middle-class or lower middle class.

(lots of generalizations coming up, i am well aware that there are exceptions to the rule)

what did the middle-class people do that the poor didn't? They work at better jobs! they usually stay with the company , show up every day, dont change jobs regulary, and slowly but surely move up.

How do they get the better jobs? Sometimes by connections, but they also dont screw their chances up by quitting school, having criminal record, drug or alcohol problems. If high school is too tough for you, then what the hell do you think work is going to be like?

having children is a big drain on anyones finances, energy,and time. if you can barely support yourself, dont take on the responsibility of supporting someone else for the next 20 years.

the poor generally make the wrong choices in life. many of them have their priorities wrong.
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Old 05-10-2002, 12:02 AM
Demosthenesian Demosthenesian is offline
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DP: A few problems. First is that income mobility isn't as great as you seem to imply: many of the middle class are middle class because they're the children of middle-class parents, not due to any intrinsic superiority. It's much easier for them to get better education, they can make better connections for later employment or job advancement, their parents are more likely to have contacts in the field that their children are interested in, etc. The claims that there is so much job mobility are often based on a flawed understanding of statistics. Many of those that we call "the poor" don't even qualify as such: they're merely people having a bad year (or whatever) and who will come out of it when times improve. This isn't "the poor climbing out of poverty"... such things are much rarer than those who misunderstand or misrepresent regression towards the mean would have you believe.

Second problem is that, yes, high school is tougher than work. Can anybody who's gone through hell in high school even possibly deny this? You have a horde of people crammed together, largely against their will, who are flooded with hormones and engaged in a rather darwinian exercise of social education and hierarchy establishment. At least you can choose where you go to work and what you want to do; the only choice with high school is either to go, or to leave. For many, high school is hell. The success of Buffy as an allegory was built entirely upon this undeniable truth.

Again, this is barring the existence of alternate schools. One of my best friends couldn't function in a regular high school, but excelled in an alternate school and is one of the most valuable people at the office at which he works.

Third, not everybody chooses to have children. That's a huge debate and I don't want to get into it, but regardless of the circumstances and morality, not everybody chooses to have children. Again, an argument for alternate schools, but not demonizing the poor.

And that's what this is about, isn't it? If you can blame the poor for their own misfortune, all of them, then you don't have to feel responsible. You don't have to do anything, and can feel smug in your own superiority. Even if there's a small minority that fit this qualification, too many times people will fixate on them and say "see! see!" in the hopes that nobody will notice the economic forces and aspects of pure luck that often contribute to chronic poverty. It's so much easier to blame them, and it lets you feel so much better. I can understand the impulse, even if it's nonsense. It must feel so satisfying.
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Old 05-10-2002, 12:27 AM
Demosthenesian Demosthenesian is offline
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DP: A few problems. First is that income mobility isn't as great as you seem to imply: many of the middle class are middle class because they're the children of middle-class parents, not due to any intrinsic superiority. It's much easier for them to get better education, they can make better connections for later employment or job advancement, their parents are more likely to have contacts in the field that their children are interested in, etc. The claims that there is so much job mobility are often based on a flawed understanding of statistics. Many of those that we call "the poor" don't even qualify as such: they're merely people having a bad year (or whatever) and who will come out of it when times improve. This isn't "the poor climbing out of poverty"... such things are much rarer than those who misunderstand or misrepresent regression towards the mean would have you believe.

Second problem is that, yes, high school is tougher than work. Can anybody who's gone through hell in high school even possibly deny this? You have a horde of people crammed together, largely against their will, who are flooded with hormones and engaged in a rather darwinian exercise of social education and hierarchy establishment. At least you can choose where you go to work and what you want to do; the only choice with high school is either to go, or to leave. For many, high school is hell. The success of Buffy as an allegory was built entirely upon this undeniable truth.

Again, this is barring the existence of alternate schools. One of my best friends couldn't function in a regular high school, but excelled in an alternate school and is one of the most valuable people at the office at which he works.

Third, not everybody chooses to have children. That's a huge debate and I don't want to get into it, but regardless of the circumstances and morality, not everybody chooses to have children. Again, an argument for alternate schools, but not demonizing the poor.

And that's what this is about, isn't it? If you can blame the poor for their own misfortune, all of them, then you don't have to feel responsible. You don't have to do anything, and can feel smug in your own superiority. Even if there's a small minority that fit this qualification, too many times people will fixate on them and say "see! see!" in the hopes that nobody will notice the economic forces and aspects of pure luck that often contribute to chronic poverty. It's so much easier to blame them, and it lets you feel so much better. I can understand the impulse, even if it's nonsense. It must feel so satisfying.
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Old 05-10-2002, 02:42 AM
ISiddiqui ISiddiqui is offline
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I also have to agree that there is cause and effect. The only thing that might be a cause and effect there is that finishing high school means that you will be much less likely to live in povery than those that do not finish high school. Then again, the poor tend not to finish high school for other matters.

The problem is, of course, the educational systems in the inner cities. Since a large portion of the poor are in inner cities and the schools there are failing, you can see the causation at work here. Education has usually be linked to poverty. Those poor that get out of their situation are those that go to school, somehow do well, and go to college (and take loans to go).
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Old 05-10-2002, 02:56 AM
kambuckta kambuckta is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by The Ryan

Vindictive policies against the rich, such as confiscatory taxes, are not going to solve poverty, because the rich aren't the ones causing poverty.
The rich aren't the one's causing poverty? The rich and ruling classes are not the one's who create the very conditions that see their wealth increase at the expense of the poorer classes? The condition of many third world countries is not the result of unscrupulous opportunistic corporations milking the human and natural resources of such countries?
Now call me a Marxist if you will, but such stupidly naive comments as that one by The Ryan above make me wanna punch a hole in the wall. The gap between the rich and the poor is ever widening in most Western societies, and the opportunities for the poor to break the cycles of povertyare becoming increasingly difficult. Poor people don't want to be poor, but it is in the interests of the RICH to make sure that scarce resources are reserved for themselves. While they may not actively CAUSE poverty (although I would argue that oftentimes they DO), they certainly help to perpetuate it because it is in their best interests to do so.

Oh, and by the way, the wealthy pay disproportionately less in taxation (loopholes, tax havens etc) than the rest of the population. It's quite obscene really.
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Old 05-10-2002, 06:25 AM
istara istara is offline
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The rich man in his castle,
The poor man at the gate
God made them high and lowly
And settled their estate.


Blame God. But don't blame someone who comes from a poor, disadvantaged background, probably with less educated parents, who probably can't afford college, for growing up with a sense of despair and hopelessness that leads them to give up on school and try and find alternative happiness, albeit with an early marriage and kids.

Yes, it's continuing the "cycle of poverty." But the thing about a vicious circle is that the victim is generally trapped in it to some extent, and it requires far more strength of character, exceptional courage and motivation to snap that cycle than someone from an advantaged background is ever required to show. So expecting someone to do it, and blaming them because they don't, is holding them up to a higher standard than the rest of the world.
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Old 05-10-2002, 06:39 AM
Albert Rose Albert Rose is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by ISiddiqui
...The problem is, of course, the educational systems in the inner cities. Since a large portion of the poor are in inner cities and the schools there are failing, you can see the causation at work here. Education has usually be linked to poverty. Those poor that get out of their situation are those that go to school, somehow do well, and go to college (and take loans to go).
Please explain how the schools are failing.
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Old 05-10-2002, 06:49 AM
RickJay RickJay is offline
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The answer to the OP is "some of both." Really, there's no other reasonable response.

Coming from a poor background obviously has a very heavy influence on future poverty. On the other hand, I think you'd have to be sort of blind to not accept that some people do make themselves poor through their own bad choices. Hell, I know some of them. It's more the former than the latter (you don't think everyone in Mozambique is an irresponsible doofus, do you?) but there are certainly both elements to be considered.
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  #23  
Old 05-10-2002, 06:55 AM
december december is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by tomndebb
december, could you please start using examples that actually illustrate yourt point?
Buffett and Gates came from probably upper middle class families, but they earned their zillions. I know many examples like this. My ex-boss moved to Bermuda and started a reinsurance company, making over $100 million in less than ten years.

It's harder if one is beginning from abject poverty. Still, I know many immigrants who came to this country with nothing at all and would up as multi-millionaires. E.g., an Armenian immigrant who came to Fresno, CA and made tens of millions by recycling used clothing and used cloth.

However, examples don't prove anything. We really ned statistics. I'm afraid I do not have statistics handy.
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Old 05-10-2002, 07:34 AM
jjimm jjimm is offline
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Happy to oblige. Here's a cite from Will Hutton's book "The World We're In", quoted in the Observer: in a comparison of "the mobility of American workers with the four biggest European economies and three Scandinavian economies"
Quote:
They find that the US has the lowest share of workers moving from the bottom fifth of workers into the second fifth, the lowest share moving into the top 60 per cent and the highest share of workers unable to sustain full-time employment. The most exhaustive study by the OECD confirms the poor rates of relative upward mobility for very low-paid American workers; it also found that full-time workers in Britain, Italy and Germany enjoy much more rapid growth in their earnings than those in the US, who rank roughly equal with the French. However, downward mobility was more marked in the US; American workers are more likely to suffer a reduction in their real earnings than workers in Europe - the log cabin to White House effect in reverse.
and
Quote:
Those Americans who do not get to college are pushed into the labour market with a poverty of skills, educational and vocational training. Those who do get to college are overwhelmingly students from the higher socio-economic backgrounds, just as they always have been; a study in 1965 found that two-thirds of the explanation for educational achievement was accounted for by family income; a study 30 years later found exactly the same figure.
Sources for the above are not quoted in the article, though I'm sure they are in the book.
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Old 05-10-2002, 07:37 AM
wring wring is offline
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an attempt to point out the difference to december

tomndeb suggested that you post examples of stuff that actually supported your view.

And you repeated the Gates & Buffet stuff, admitting that they came from middle class or upper middle class beginnings.

now, how on this planet is that any kind of example when the subject is people being poor?

you need to look for people who came from poor beginnings and then went on to achieve wealth. (hint, in most cases if it happens, it happens when the person is a sports figure, entertainer etc.)
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Old 05-10-2002, 08:54 AM
Dangerosa Dangerosa is offline
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There is a good part of luck in the equation.

And a large factor in that luck is what family you happen to be born in.

I have a friend who, if left to his own devices, would be poor. (Or maybe if he was left to his own devices, he'd get a decent job). But he can live, acceptably well, off family money. So he does.

One of my sisters high school friends got pregnant and dropped out of high school. She is doing quite well in a middle class lifestyle, her boyfriends parents let her move in, they got married, his folks supported him through college, networked him into a decent job. Voila, happy ending to a story that usually has a pretty miserable one.

Certainly, the choices people make contribute to their economic status. But poor people get fewer choices. And they often don't have exposure to the range of choices actually available to them.
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Old 05-10-2002, 09:12 AM
december december is offline
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Would you like to know how to make a small fortune in insurance?

Quote:
Originally posted by wring
you need to look for people who came from poor beginnings and then went on to achieve wealth. (hint, in most cases if it happens, it happens when the person is a sports figure, entertainer etc.)
I gave the example of Vahan Chamlian in Fresno. He came to this country at the age of 31. To know how broke he was, he told a story about how he had to gamble in order to win enough money to come here.

After making millions in the cloth business, he made the mistake of starting an insurance company, which is how I got to meet him. It recently went broke. He discovered that the way to make make a small fortune in insurance start with a large fortune.

I personally know others who became millionaires over time by working hard, living prudently, saving money, and investing sensibly in the stock market.

If you save $10,000 per year for 29 years and your money grows at 8%, you will be a millionaire.
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Old 05-10-2002, 09:54 AM
Morgainelf Morgainelf is offline
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I think Dangerosa hit on a very important variable for the cause of poverty - support structure. Yes, someone who drops out of high school is more likely to live in poverty. However, the question is WHY did that individual drop out? Did they come from an impoverished family that really needed the extra income? Did they come from a household where the parent/s were on drugs, so needed to support younger siblings? And thus the cycle of poverty self-perpetuates.

And yes, teenagers get pregnant. The support structure that the teen has around her has alot to do with the outcome. Is there someone to council her as to options (let's not get into that debate....)? If she chooses to have the child, what then? A person with a strong support structure will likely have help with child care and be able to either stay in school or hold down a job. Someone with little or no support may need to rely on the state to support her and her child. In that case, you now have a teenage mother with no high school diploma on welfare, and few prospects to improve the situation. And let's face it, Dan Quayle isn't a big proponent of state-funded programs to lift people like her up by the bootstraps.

Kids from middle-class families have a better chance of finishing high-school and getting help if they make mistakes. Kids from poor backgrounds, regardless of the good intentions of their parents, are more likely to have to fend for themselves.

So are the poor responsible for their own poverty? Probably sometimes, but I think more often not.
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Old 05-10-2002, 10:09 AM
Shodan Shodan is online now
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Quote:
Originally posted by wring
you need to look for people who came from poor beginnings and then went on to achieve wealth. (hint, in most cases if it happens, it happens when the person is a sports figure, entertainer etc.) [/B]
Not in my experience.

Let's see - my grandfather drove a truck. My father is a millionaire.

My father-in-law was a security guard in a bank. My wife went on to earn a salary that put her in the top 20% of income.

Sam Walton's father was a farmer.

Dave Thomas was raised by a single parent.

You want more?

Regards,
Shodan
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Old 05-10-2002, 10:23 AM
wring wring is offline
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sheesh. ya try and help folks out.

Shodan, december
The pertinant part of my post, which both of you neglected to quote was:
Quote:
tomndeb suggested that you post examples of stuff that actually supported your view.

And you repeated the Gates & Buffet stuff, admitting that they came from middle class or upper middle class beginnings.

now, how on this planet is that any kind of example when the subject is people being poor?
Now, as far as being able to demonstrate that certain select few people that you personally knew or were related to, who came from 'poor' beginnings and now are 'well off',
A. this of course does not negate my statement of "most"
B. when you look at a list of the 'wealthiest folk in the US', damn near all of them will fall into one of the categories already mentioned - they were at least middle class to start with (hence the position that a beginning in poverty is an enormous hurdle) or they fall in the class of additional folk that I alluded to (ie, Oprah, Micheal Jordon - tho' I confess that I don't know for certain that either or both came from 'poverty')
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Old 05-10-2002, 10:30 AM
wring wring is offline
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and Shodan neither classification of "single parent" nor "farmer" is indicative of economic situation. Jackie Kennedy was a single parent for a good number of years, and I doubt that anyone would question if her kids were raised in a priveledged environment.
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Old 05-10-2002, 10:35 AM
pldennison pldennison is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by kambuckta
The rich and ruling classes are not the one's who create the very conditions that see their wealth increase at the expense of the poorer classes?
Non sequitur. The fact that someone's wealth has increased does not mean that it has happened at the expense of a poor person. Or even another rich person. Wealth is not a zero-sum game.

Quote:
The gap between the rich and the poor is ever widening in most Western societies,
The focus on "the gap between rich and poor" is, to me, one of the most misplaced priorities of too many liberals. The size of the gap doesn't matter--what matters is whether those on the bottom end of the scale are able to achieve a decent standard of living with what they earn. Unfortunately, too many people are more concerned with whether someone is richer than someone else. If the poorest are able to afford decent housing, services, and food (and I'm not saying they always are, I'm saying if they are), then it really doesn't matter if the richest have an average net worth of $10 billion.
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Old 05-10-2002, 11:09 AM
jjimm jjimm is offline
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Re: Would you like to know how to make a small fortune in insurance?

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Originally posted by december
If you save $10,000 per year for 29 years and your money grows at 8%, you will be a millionaire.
If you can afford to save $10,000 per year, you are nowhere near disadvantaged.
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  #34  
Old 05-10-2002, 11:43 AM
december december is offline
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Quote:
jjimm
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
"If you save $10,000 per year for 29 years and your money grows at 8%, you will be a millionaire. "
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

If you can afford to save $10,000 per year, you are nowhere near disadvantaged.
Therefore, no poor person can ever become rich, because as his wealth increases, he will no longer be poor. Q.E.D.

Seriously, it's quite plausible for a disadvantaged person or couple to eventually attain jobs where they can afford to save $10,000 a year. It wouldn't require exceptional skills.

BTW USA Today http://www.usatoday.com/news/comment...praised Quayle
Quote:
...the discussion he continues to hammer away at is as important now as in 1992. Children raised by their mom and dad have a better chance at life; children raised by single moms face increased risks. Government and private research spanning 20 years overwhelmingly finds that children of single moms are twice as likely to drop out of school and use illegal drugs. They smoke more, drink more and are more likely to live in poverty as adults.

... Quayle's latest point is valid, too. Families are getting healthier. The percentage of U.S. children living in single-parent families has declined, and birth rates outside marriage have fallen.

Laugh at Quayle if you want to, but if he had never blasted Murphy Brown, few would have paid attention to his message. Not only was Quayle right in 1992, it turns out some folks might have been listening.
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Old 05-10-2002, 01:01 PM
Morgainelf Morgainelf is offline
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Have we defined "poor"? What exactly is "living in poverty?" Some of the examples given (a truck driver, a farmer) are certainly working class, and may be low wage earners (though I think truck drivers can actually make a decent living), but do they meet the requirements for poverty?

Here are the US government's 2001 poverty guidelines (from this site http://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty/01poverty.htm :
Quote:
2001 HHS Poverty Guidelines
Income
$8,590 1 person
$11,610 2 people
$14,630 3 people
$17,650 4 people
$20,670 5 people
$23,690 6 people
$26,710 7 people
$29,730 8 people

SOURCE: Federal Register, Vol. 66, No. 33, February 16, 2001, pp. 10695-10697.
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  #36  
Old 05-10-2002, 02:43 PM
Triskadecamus Triskadecamus is offline
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Well, at least we will never have to hear any of the conservatives in this thread complaining about generations on welfare, since they don't believe in that.

Tris
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  #37  
Old 05-10-2002, 02:54 PM
tracer tracer is offline
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The Ryan wrote:

Quote:
I think it's very irresponsible to have children when the odds are overwhelmingly against your being able to support them. Liberals blame the rich for trampling the poor, but most poverty is caused by the poor. Note that I'm not saying that most poor people are poor because of actions they have taken. I'm saying that most poor people are poor because of actions that poor people have taken.
I won't attempt either to support or to argue with this opinion, as I'm not even sure where I sit on this issue myself.

But you've gotta admit, the phrase "Most poverty is caused by the poor" definitely sounds like something Dan Quayle might say.
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Old 05-10-2002, 03:02 PM
Kimstu Kimstu is offline
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ya want statistics? we got statistics!

december: However, examples don't prove anything. We really ned statistics.

Happy to oblige! You challenged Tris's original assertion that "Most of the rich are not rich because of their own actions. The richer you are, the more likely it is that your parents, and grandparents were rich." According to this article on a study of the sources of wealth of the Forbes 400 (richest 400 persons and families in this society, as of 1997 in this case), that assertion is quite justifiable:

- Percentage of the Forbes 400 who inherited enough wealth to become a member of the Forbes 400 on the strength of that inheritance alone (which required a minimum of $475 million in 1997): 42%

- Percentage who inherited wealth in excess of $50 million or a large and thriving company: 6%

- Percentage who (a) inherited wealth in excess of $1 million or (b) inherited a medium-sized business or (c) received significant start-up capital from a family member: 7%

- Percentage who came from wealthy/upper-class background but with less than the above inheritance advantages: 14%

- Percentage whose families were not wealthy and did not own a business with more than a few employees: 31%

So yes, certainly among the very richest people, most were rich to start with. Mind you, this is not intended in any way to denigrate the achievements (if legally and ethically attained, of course) of those who made themselves even richer by their own hard work. Nor is it to deny that there are indeed numerous cases of truly self-made wealthy people whose families were middle-class or even poor. But statistically, yes, the majority of the richest people were already rich before they ever started working at it.

Okay, but that's just the Forbes 400. How about the lesser species of rich people, those who have a lot of money but not the most money in the world? Well, the wealth-market strategists hnw note the following facts:

- 10% of those now counted as millionaires in the US inherited $1 million or more to start with.

- Members of "penta-millionaire" households---those with assets over $5 million---inherited on average 1% of their wealth. It doesn't say what kind of average they're using nor how big the spread is. Still, 1% of $5 million is $50,000, which is not pocket change for the poor, or even the middle class.

So the statistics indicate that as you work your way down from the multibillionaires to the "small millionaires", the percentage of people who owe their wealth completely to inheritance gets smaller, as you might expect. Nonetheless, if 10% of millionaires inherited $1 million or more, then a high proportion of the rest inherited smaller sums. Inheritance is still an important contributing factor on average even in the case of those wealthy people who have "only" a few million dollars.

In other words: most rich people aren't rich solely because of their own actions, and the richer you are, the more likely it is that you inherited wealth. We are definitely not talking about the average poor person and the average rich person (or even the average middle-class person) starting out at the same point, whence the rich person forges ahead because of thrift and hard work and the poor person lags behind because of indolence and stupid choices. Picking the right parents still makes a big difference in your adult economic status.

pld: The focus on "the gap between rich and poor" is, to me, one of the most misplaced priorities of too many liberals. The size of the gap doesn't matter--what matters is whether those on the bottom end of the scale are able to achieve a decent standard of living with what they earn.

On the surface, I think that's fundamentally true. However, I think the real problem most critics have with gross income inequality is the corresponding imbalance of power it creates in a democratic society. When one rich person has economic influence comparable to that of a few hundred or a few thousand average people, the political treatment of different classes can still be pretty even-handed. However, when the rich person's influence outweighs that of millions or even tens of millions of ordinary joes, you're likely to get a profound policy skew in favor of the things that rich people like.

And this often winds up making it harder to maintain a decent standard of living on the bottom. Namely, the advantages that make it easier for rich people to earn more money (lower wage floors, lower social-service expenditures that permit lower taxes, less stringent labor laws, less oversight of companies' financial and environmental practices, etc.) tend to decrease the advantages that make it easier for poor people to earn more money (good-quality, low-cost education, healthcare, and other infrastructure and social services, secure jobs at good wages, protection against exploitation as a worker or consumer, etc.). So no, in theory there is no requirement that wealth be a zero-sum game, but in practice advantages to the wealthy do often come at the expense of advantages to the non-wealthy.
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  #39  
Old 05-10-2002, 04:29 PM
The Ryan The Ryan is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by jshore
In the country that I am living in, the richest 1% have been paying a rising fraction of the total individual federal income tax burden over the last few decades only because the income distribution is so skewed that their fraction of the total adjusted gross income has been rising at an even faster rate! It hardly sounds like they have been the victim of vindictive tax policies.
All that shows is that relative to the past they aaren't vicitms of vindictive tax policies. It says nothing about the absolute level of vindictiveness.

Quote:
And, tax rates remain far below anything that could be considered confiscatory.
As of 11/5/1998, the top marginal rate for the death tax, aka estate tax, was 55%. I consider that confiscatory.

kambuckta
Quote:
The rich aren't the one's causing poverty? The rich and ruling classes are not the one's who create the very conditions that see their wealth increase at the expense of the poorer classes? The condition of many third world countries is not the result of unscrupulous opportunistic corporations milking the human and natural resources of such countries?
No, no, and not exclusively.

Quote:
The gap between the rich and the poor is ever widening in most Western societies, and the opportunities for the poor to break the cycles of povertyare becoming increasingly difficult.
None of this proves that the rich are responsible.

Quote:
Oh, and by the way, the wealthy pay disproportionately less in taxation (loopholes, tax havens etc) than the rest of the population.
Cite?

isatara
Quote:
So expecting someone to do it, and blaming them because they don't, is holding them up to a higher standard than the rest of the world.
No, it's not.

tracer:
Quote:
But you've gotta admit, the phrase "Most poverty is caused by the poor" definitely sounds like something Dan Quayle might say.
Have I mentioned that I think most crime is caused by criminals?
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  #40  
Old 05-10-2002, 04:50 PM
Kimstu Kimstu is offline
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jshore: [...] It hardly sounds like they [the rich] have been the victim of vindictive tax policies.

The Ryan: All that shows is that relative to the past they aaren't vicitms of vindictive tax policies. It says nothing about the absolute level of vindictiveness.

jshore: And, tax rates remain far below anything that could be considered confiscatory.

The Ryan: As of 11/5/1998, the top marginal rate for the death tax, aka estate tax, was 55%. I consider that confiscatory.

Inference: Evaluative terms like "vindictive" or "confiscatory" are very subjective. I do not think you guys are likely to agree on a definition of either of them.
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  #41  
Old 05-10-2002, 05:17 PM
december december is offline
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Quote:
The Ryan:
As of 11/5/1998, the top marginal rate for the death tax, aka estate tax, was 55%. I consider that confiscatory.
Don't forget that when that money was earned, the rich earner paid a combined state and federal income tax of 40% - 50%, depending on the state. So, of every dollar Ms. Bigbucks earned, she can leave only 25 cents to her heirs.

OTOH when I was young, the top federal income tax bracket was 90%, so it was once worse. (Thank you, JFK.)
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  #42  
Old 05-10-2002, 05:33 PM
december december is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by tracer
But you've gotta admit, the phrase "Most poverty is caused by the poor" definitely sounds like something Dan Quayle might say.
This statement sounds like an Irish Bull or Yogi Berra. However, it could be interpreted to mean:

An effective way to fight poverty would be to modify the way the poor live (e.g., getting married, finishing high school, deferring parenthood.)

If one believes that the poor cause poverty, then it follows that the poor could stop causing it, or at least, they could cause less of it.
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  #43  
Old 05-10-2002, 07:28 PM
Guinastasia Guinastasia is offline
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So, in other words-all they have to do is stop being poor!

That's brilliant, why didn't I think of that!

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  #44  
Old 05-11-2002, 09:48 AM
pldennison pldennison is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by The Ryan
As of 11/5/1998, the top marginal rate for the death tax, aka estate tax, was 55%. I consider that confiscatory.
Unfortunately, you brought up the word "confiscatory" in regards to "vindictive tax policies against the rich." The rich are not the only ones to whom the estate tax applies, so your point is invalid. Indeed, much of the debate regarding the so-called "death tax" has centered on its effect on middle-class small business owners.

What's more, the marginal rate for the estate tax is nigh-unto irrelevant in a discussion of "confiscatory taxation" for rich people, since most rich people make their money off a combination of earned income, for which the top marginal rate is 39.6%, paid by less than 1% of taxpayers; and investment income, which is taxed at, what, 28%? On a year-to-year basis, the estate tax plays little or no role, since it is a one-time charge.

Kimstu--I can't argue with your analysis. I was thinking more on a very surface, purely numbers level. Your statements of course are true at the deeper structural levels.
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  #45  
Old 05-11-2002, 09:54 AM
pldennison pldennison is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by The Ryan
As of 11/5/1998, the top marginal rate for the death tax, aka estate tax, was 55%. I consider that confiscatory.
Unfortunately, you brought up the word "confiscatory" in regards to "vindictive tax policies against the rich." The rich are not the only ones to whom the estate tax applies, so your point is invalid. Indeed, much of the debate regarding the so-called "death tax" has centered on its effect on middle-class small business owners.

And the preclude your inevitable objection that, since the top marginal rate is likely to apply only to the rich (or the soon-to-be-rich), therefore justifying your claim of "vindictiveness," consider this the mirror image of your argument with Esprix, et al., on another thread. The fact that the rich might be disproportionately affected by the estate tax rates does not suggest that they are the target of vindictive tax rates; just as you suggest that the fact that gay students might be disproportionately affected by a policy against bringing same-sex dates doesn't mean that the policy is intended to harm gay students.

What's more, the marginal rate for the estate tax is nigh-unto irrelevant in a discussion of "confiscatory taxation" for rich people, since most rich people make their money off a combination of earned income, for which the top marginal rate is 39.6%, paid by less than 1% of taxpayers; and investment income, which is taxed at, what, 28%? On a year-to-year basis, the estate tax plays little or no role, since it is a one-time charge.

Kimstu--I can't argue with your analysis. I was thinking more on a very surface, purely numbers level. Your statements of course are true at the deeper structural levels.
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  #46  
Old 05-11-2002, 10:26 AM
Hazel Hazel is offline
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Quote:
part of a post by istara

...the thing about a vicious circle is that the victim is generally trapped in it to some extent, and it requires far more strength of character, exceptional courage and motivation to snap that cycle than someone from an advantaged background is ever required to show. So expecting someone to do it, and blaming them because they don't, is holding them up to a higher standard than the rest of the world.
Very well put!

And I agree with Demosthesian -- high school is harder then work!
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  #47  
Old 05-11-2002, 02:09 PM
Omnivore Omnivore is offline
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The poverty rate in the nation took a big jump when the gas crunch hit in the 70s and later, when the market bottomed out in the 80s. Now add to the mix the simple fact that, in the 70s, Jimmy Carter slashed the mental health budget which forced many mental institutions to dump thousands of people once institutionalized, out onto the streets if they could minimally care for themselves. (This, by the way, was the beginning of the Crazy Homeless surge that increased even further when out patient programs lost much of their budgets.)

Then, somehow, companies decided that they could increase the price of their stock in the market, and many stupid Americans agreed, by slashing hundreds of thousands of jobs, closing down plants and restructuring. Where prosperity once meant expansion, it now meant dumping millions on the unemployment lines. The banks added to it all by foreclosing readily on homes these folks owned, instead of being patient and giving them a chance to recover.

That was further exerbated (SP) by some genius discovering that people with too much money could buy up old, repossessed homes, work on them and sell them at a profit. The banks, finding cash in this, readily continued to foreclose homes even faster and ads ran on TV about the opportunities of buying up previously owned homes.

The end result is a major amount of poor people living either on the streets or in crappy neighborhoods of high crime and cheap rent. The sharp increase in gas prices has not helped any, for that affects the power bills and the amount of usage the car gets for looking for or going to work. Naturally, the more expensive cars, newer versions, get the better gas mileage while the poor traditionally drive older gas hawgs that are in need of repair, which is too costly for them to afford.

Toss in the sharp increase of minimum wage service jobs, with few benefits, the sharp increase in health and home insurance, restricted working hours, higher profits by businesses, and increasing food costs and you have a major problem on your hands.

I know many people without health insurance because (A) their job offers limited, very expensive plans, (B) their jobs do not offer plans, (C) even a minimal plan is hideously expensive or (D) the HMO is too restrictive, limited and insufficient for their needs. There are people now going without home owners insurance because, as of a couple of years ago, the insurance companies decided that if you have a $50,000 house, insured for $50,000 that you really need to be insured for $75 to $100,000 and pay double premiums. You cannot get, in an increasing area, $50,000 worth of insurance for your $50,000 house. They offer you one option if you cannot afford the increase: no coverage. Great for them, but bad for the millions of minimum wage and below poor.

So, all of this contributes to poverty. There is a great line between the haves and the have-nots and programs for the poor are getting restricted. In my city, a program that will help the poor by paying a power bill or back rent ran out of funds less than a quarter of the way into their fiscal year. They had gotten less in their budget. The local power company will not work with the poor if their power is cut off for nonpayment. They have to not only pay the back due bill, but come up with another security deposit!!

Interestingly enough, if the poor live in the house with no power, trying to save up the needed funds, eventually the city will throw them out as living without power is considered a health hazard. I have never figured out how the city figures that living out in the open, in one's car, without water or shelter from the elements is actually better than living in 4 walls and a roof without power.

Again that contributes to the poor.

My city actively discourages large poor homeless tent cities and even goes to the extent of tearing down abandoned houses or buildings that they might squat in, trying to get some cover from the elements. In actuality, most are gradually forced out of town, to move on to become someone else's problem.

Locally, we had a hiring boom, what with new businesses and all, but then there were more workers than jobs and the business attitude became 'do as I say or get out' and a lot of workers found themselves working long hours for little pay and no compensation or benefits. The favorite thing to do is to work a person hard for 39 hours a week, that way the company does not have to offer them anything in the way of perks or benefits. Working off the clock is fashionable if one wants to keep the job or get a promotion. No over time.

That contributed to the local poverty level.

So, I would say that in the majority of the cases, the poor are not responsible for their poverty but in reality trapped in a system that needs overhauling.
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Old 05-11-2002, 03:10 PM
dal_timgar dal_timgar is offline
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pay me to live on land i stole so you can stay poor, forever!

is a man that inheirets $10 million to blame for being rich?

we almost invariably measure poverty by income and don't talk about net worth. having kids too soon does cause problems, especially for the kids. i would say partially correct but oversimplified.

the private ownership of land could be regarded as a form of slavery since some people must pay other people to live on land they did not create. how did they get the land?

Dal Timgar
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  #49  
Old 05-11-2002, 04:35 PM
The Ryan The Ryan is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by pldennison
Unfortunately, you brought up the word "confiscatory" in regards to "vindictive tax policies against the rich." The rich are not the only ones to whom the estate tax applies, so your point is invalid.
It only applies to people leaving more than $600,000, and does not reach 55% until $3,000,000. I think that it is safe to say that it is confiscatory only for the rich.

Quote:
Indeed, much of the debate regarding the so-called "death tax" has centered on its effect on middle-class small business owners.
That hardly means that that is the most important aspect of it.

Quote:
And the preclude your inevitable objection that, since the top marginal rate is likely to apply only to the rich (or the soon-to-be-rich), therefore justifying your claim of "vindictiveness," consider this the mirror image of your argument with Esprix, et al., on another thread.
1. It is not a mirror image.
2. Esprix and I were not arguing. I was presenting arguments, and he was presenting snippy comments.
3. Even the people that were arguing with me showed little sign of understanding my argument, and frequently misrepresented it. I find it unlikely that you, who weren't even a participant (at least, not enough for me to remember) understand my argument any better.

Quote:
The fact that the rich might be disproportionately affected by the estate tax rates does not suggest that they are the target of vindictive tax rates;
This is a vindictive policy. It disproportionately affects the rich. Those are separate points, both valid. I don't believe I have ever said that one rests entirely on the other.

Quote:
What's more, the marginal rate for the estate tax is nigh-unto irrelevant in a discussion of "confiscatory taxation" for rich people, since most rich people make their money off a combination of earned income,
Whether it is vindictive, whether it is confiscatory, and whether it is effective are three entirely different issues. If you insist on drawing comparisons between this and Marc's case, what if I had responded to that thread saying that the prom constitutes less than .4% of the entire year, and so the school's policies with respect to it were not important?
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Old 05-11-2002, 06:11 PM
jshore jshore is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by december
Don't forget that when that money was earned, the rich earner paid a combined state and federal income tax of 40% - 50%, depending on the state. So, of every dollar Ms. Bigbucks earned, she can leave only 25 cents to her heirs.
Well, actually, much (perhaps most?) of the estate tax falls on unrealized capital gains which have not been previously taxed.

To be honest, I don't consider a 55% marginal rate above some God-awful high amount of wealth to be confiscatory. Bill Gates can still leave tens of billions of dollars to his heirs. That you (The Ryan) call confiscatory?

Quote:
Originally posted by pldennison
Indeed, much of the debate regarding the so-called "death tax" has centered on its effect on middle-class small business owners.
Well, this is kind of true, but only for political reasons. I.e., the small business owners (and farmers) served as the "poster children" but they were never really what the debate was about. They make up only a small part of the revenues from the estate tax and the Republicans turned down an opportunity to even take care most of these cases because they wanted to keep their "poster children" that they could use to eliminate a tax that does, by and large, affect mainly the very wealthy. [See http://www.responsiblewealth.org/tax...ackground.html ]

By the way, an interesting point of fact regarding Gates and Buffet...Both of them (well, Gates' father anyway), to their credit, were among those who opposed the elimination of the estate tax. They don't see it as vindictive at all. They see it as an important way for those that can most afford it to contribute back to the society that they benefitted so handsomely from, and as a way to avoid an aristocracy of wealth. [See, e.g., http://www.pgtoday.com/PGT/Articles/..._interview.htm and http://www.ariannaonline.com/columns/files/021901.html ]
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