Saturday, July 24, 2010

Where do you fit?

     I know that I promised that I wouldn't post until Monday, but "Off Topic", who I suspect is Olmanriver, just included the following list in a comment. I have always identified with the working class person because most of what I own came from hard labor. There are some around here that were smarter, and perhaps braver, than me, and have made small fortunes. Some have made small fortunes, lost everything when they got busted by "the man", now they don't know how to earn a legitimate living. The chance to become wealthy through honest labor has gone away.

     Many of us are in the same boat. It's darn hard to create personal opportunity nowadays. The following list only points out that we need a revolution in America. We are all faced with the same problems of, where do we start the revolution, how much blood must be shed, if any, and how do we join and work together to bring about change? And, the really big one, what do we do if we win the revolution?

     Many people that I know have just plain said to heck with it. They have retired early, they don’t vote, They are just waiting to die, and feel sorry for our kids that are going to end up with the mess that we are in. What are you going to do? Do you think we need change???


• 83 percent of all U.S. stocks are in the hands of 1 percent of the people.

• 61 percent of Americans "always or usually" live paycheck to paycheck, which was up from 49 percent in 2008 and 43 percent in 2007.

• 66 percent of the income growth between 2001 and 2007 went to the top 1% of all Americans.

• 36 percent of Americans say that they don't contribute anything to retirement savings.

• A staggering 43 percent of Americans have less than $10,000 saved up for retirement.

• 24 percent of American workers say that they have postponed their planned retirement age in the past year.

• Over 1.4 million Americans filed for personal bankruptcy in 2009, which represented a 32 percent increase over 2008.

• Only the top 5 percent of U.S. households have earned enough additional income to match the rise in housing costs since 1975.

• For the first time in U.S. history, banks own a greater share of residential housing net worth in the United States than all individual Americans put together.

• In 1950, the ratio of the average executive's paycheck to the average worker's paycheck was about 30 to 1. Since the year 2000, that ratio has exploded to between 300 to 500 to one.

• As of 2007, the bottom 80 percent of American households held about 7% of the liquid financial assets.

• The bottom 50 percent of income earners in the United States now collectively own less than 1 percent of the nation’s wealth.

• Average Wall Street bonuses for 2009 were up 17 percent when compared with 2008.

• In the United States, the average federal worker now earns 60% MORE than the average worker in the private sector.

• The top 1 percent of U.S. households own nearly twice as much of America's corporate wealth as they did just 15 years ago.

• In America today, the average time needed to find a job has risen to a record 35.2 weeks.

• More than 40 percent of Americans who actually are employed are now working in service jobs, which are often very low paying.

• or the first time in U.S. history, more than 40 million Americans are on food stamps, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture projects that number will go up to 43 million Americans in 2011.

• This is what American workers now must compete against: in China a garment worker makes approximately 86 cents an hour and in Cambodia a garment worker makes approximately 22 cents an hour.

• Approximately 21 percent of all children in the United States are living below the poverty line in 2010 - the highest rate in 20 years.

• Despite the financial crisis, the number of millionaires in the United States rose a whopping 16 percent to 7.8 million in 2009.

• The top 10 percent of Americans now earn around 50 percent of our national income.



Greg said...

Thirty years ago we thought retirement could happen at age 55. A lot of people now plan to simply keep on working.

Retirement? What's that?

Rose said...

First of all, pretty much no matter what kind of house you live in - you live better than most of the world, You live better than the kings and queens of old.

You have light at the touch of a fingertip. You have hot and cold running water. The kings of old would have bankrupted their kingdoms for such marvels, such luxury.

People spend too much time worrying about what other people have.

Not only do you not have to go down to the river to scrub your clothes, not have to carry water on your shoulders to cook or fill a tub, not have to get up at the crack of dawn to hunt or till the fields in order to survive the week or the winter, you have fruit all year long, every kind of meet perfectly preserved available to you at every store in the nation. You have instant communication with friends all over the world. You have medicines and life-saving technology the likes of which the world has never seen.

And instead of building on our successes, we pick at hangnails and bemoan our fate. Woe is us.

Take the amazing base that you have been given and go do something marvelous. Look what mankind created with far less in the way of tools than we now have in the hands of children with their video games.

If you chose a counterculture lifestyle that did not include planning for your retirement, it is not the fault of corporations. There was a generation that chose to give up material things and turned their backs on all things traditional. Can't blame others now.

Rose said...

errr - meet = meat (dang typos)

Greg said...

Rose, I disagree: we surely can blame others, it's just not going to help much. The idea that the poor are to blame for poverty doesn't fly, either. I plan to keep working because retirement would mean instant poverty, not because being a middle-aged insurance broker is some kind of counter-culture lifestyle.

ol'not said...

The Retirement Nightmare: Half of Americans Have Less Than $2,000 Banked for Their Golden Years.

Ya got your free lick in on the counter-culture Rose, but the lack of savings is a whole culture phenomena.

ol'not-Anon said...

The Retirement Nightmare: Half of Americans Have Less Than $2,000 Banked for Their Golden Years.

Ya got your free lick in on the counter-culture Rose, but the lack of savings is a whole culture phenomena.

ol'not-Anon said...

word verification said my first post didn't clear... clean it up if you will Ernie.

Bunny said...

Yes Rose we are the luckiest of all the peoples of the world if we are even on this blog. That is for sure. But I find it scary that we get closer and closer to the rich having it over all the real hardworking people that we are. Power corrupts and corporations are not benevolent. I have enough imagination to see the future and when they have all the cards in their hands they will be able to control the whole game. They are practically there. And I feel helpless to change it. I'm glad I'm old....again.

Anonymous said...

If I knew I was going to live this long I would have saved some money.


Rose said...

I am not slamming the counter culture movement. Make no mistake. I LIKE (d) the counterculture movement. It was a great thing, back to the land, less materialism, high ideals, brought down by the drug culture... All I am saying is choices were made. The choices were made for good reasons, and unfortunately, in the end, they have repercussions. You can't blame others for it.

It was a good thing, and you can be proud of it, but don't let it devolve into self pity and blame.

Previous generations had no expectation of an easy Disney life just because they turned a certain age - you worked the fields as long as you could, and if you were lucky, going further back, your tribe adopted a respect and care for your elders tenet.

(funny captcha word this time: unifyin)

suzy blah blah said...

Take the amazing base that you have been given and go do something marvelous.

-that's the good news :)

Ernie Branscomb said...

First off, I agree with Rose, to a certain degree. We are some of the most advantaged people in the world… BUT… There’s always a but, isn’t there? There are honest hard working people that have worked all of their lives, that, for reasons not altogether their fault, have lost everything, and they have no safety nets. If they don’t already have a home, they never will have one.

Many people end up with health problems, that use up their life savings. I know that Obama-care says that they will take care of America’s health problems, but I can absolutely guarantee you that if anybody has any money at all in the bank that it will disappear as soon as you have any health problem under Obama care. I’m not saying that to be mean, nor am I saying it to be disparaging of Obama. It’s just that any clear thinking person will know that I’m right.

You must be intelligent, and educated, to make-it in the modern world. Just being willing to work hard won’t get it anymore. I don’t mind people becoming wealthy through hard work and a good education, but too many people make their money by using unfair advantages, like large campaign donations, and owning the news services. Then they are not happy with just becoming wealthy, they go on to amass huge amounts of money, way more than a person really needs.
The capitalistic system is supposed to work by reinvesting that money back into the system. America’s wealthy no longer do that, they invest it offshore, where there are no business rules to play by. They hire child, and slave, labor to take jobs that should belong to Americans. If that sounds too racist to you, it’s not. I wouldn’t mind competing with anybody, any country, or any person, on a level playing field. America is getting screwed by our very own political representatives, that allow unfair trade practices.

We just bailed-out Wall Street, and the Banks. Americans did that, nobody else, it will come out of our pockets, and those of our children. 80 % of that bail-out money left the American economy and was used to buy banks and businesses offshore. In no stretch of the imagination should that be considered to be fair.

I don’t deserve to be treated like a fool, and told that “We live in a world economy now”, and that I’m just going to have to lower my standards, get a good education and invest in the stock market. That is far, far beyond the average American to do so. I’m not complaining for myself, I have advantages that not many have, but a lot of people are not as capable as me and Rose, and Greg and many others that have been blessed with the ability to thrive and stay alive.

Dave Kirby said...

I find it ironic that the Republicans who are always accusing the Democrats of schemes to redistribute wealth did a hell of a good job of concentrating obscene amounts of money in the top few percent during Bush's 8 years of letting the wolves in the henhouse. But then I recall Bush standing before an audience of fat cats and smugly reminding them that after all "you are my base". What did you expect?

Bunny said...

I'm not sure why the counter culture is even being brought up because what's going on is going to effect everybody. The middle class living in populated areas won't even be middle class pretty soon. OMG! Things are really gonna change in the next 20 years as the population gets older and older.

Anonymous said...

Is there anyone here who thinks giving tax breaks to the rich did anything good for us.?

Anonymous said...

Ha! You might have messed up Bunny. Taking care of yourself so you have to live through the next 20 or 30 years. Dang!
I just hope to make till January 2013 so I can see what happens in December 2012.


Ben said...

I'm with Oregon. Dec. 12th 2012....
i'll be 70 and only have two more years to pay off my car. The Credit Union is going to be pissed if the world ends. My mother taught me to buy real estate to take care of my retirement. She was a Federal employee (Indian Service) during the depression and lived relatively well. I certainly agree that the huge gulf between the rich and popr in our country is turning us into a third word culture. The unspoken (so far) mirror we see for the good life in retirement is the European social welfare system which gives a secure retirement at the cost of high income taxes. My State income taxes this year were zero. Something is wrong here. How the hell is the State going to get a balanced budget with that going on? I should send a contribution.

Rose said...

Maybe if we take the Republicans and the Democrats and anyone else with a star on their belly and none upon thars, and run them through the Star Bellied Sneetches Star Removal/Star Applicator about 50 times until we realize it isn't the damn labels that matter we can finally have this discussion.

It's the people in power, of all and any parties who have bankrupted a state and a nation, and shackled all future generations - and it isn't just the big moves, it is a countless myriad of small incremental moves that waste money and abscond with money that has led to this. And we all have been asleep at the wheel, believing it would all be alright all the time because we live lives of ease.

Right now - tucked into the "healthcare" bill that you "had to pass to know what was in it" - is a provision that all businesses, including small businesses, have to file 1099's on EVERY single person and entity that they pay out more than $600 to. Many small business will close. Your costs for bookkeeping and tax preparation will go up - you will have to 1099 PG&E and AT&T and a million others. What's more, if you sell an old chair to an antique shop, they will have to take all of your personal information, including your social security number because you MIGHT come back and sell them something else that rises you above the $600 threshold. (For example) Business and prosperity are coming to a screeching halt. This kind of thing sucks money out of what could be a thriving economy.

You can blame it on Republicans and Corporations if you want. You're going to have to decide what kind of life you want. Going for the nanny state has it's repercussions. Stagnation is one of them. And government is not interested in your prosperity.

Ernie Branscomb said...

I really don't think that we were "asleep at the wheel", I think that the average person knows that America is being poorly managed. The frustrating part is that we are powerless to do any thing about it. When we vote, we get to chose between Tweedle-dee and Tweedle-dum, both of which belong to the wealthy and unscrupulous.

I really don’t think that to vote for a bill that NOBODY had read was wise. Why bother electing people who are just going to randomly let things happen? Or is it really random? Hummmm….

Dave Kirby said...

Rose maybe you can answer the question "What good did Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy do for anyone but them?

Bunny said...

OFF TOPIC~ I just heard on the techie podcast called Buzz Out Loud (trying to stay current) that the last roll of Kodachrome was recently developed in Parsons Kansas at the last developer to process Kodachrome. Then they closed. Wow. Those were the days.

spyrock said...

i just watched a video of my mother at 84 giving an interview to a class of 4th graders when they were going to change the name of the school in honor of her 40 years as a teacher. she told them that she never went to the 1st grade because her parents were afraid that a mountain lion or bear might get her on the way to the spyrock school. so she had to wait until her younger brother was old enough to go with her. they rode a white mule every school day to school and on the weekends they would ride the mule to post office to pick up the mail by the railroad except the mule wouldn't go any further than the school so they had to walk the last mile to the river to pick up the mail at the spyrock depot. when she went to college where ernie went, she rode the train to sausalito and rode the ferry to san francisco and a street car to school for $8 a semester. when she got married, she lost her job as a teacher because there was a law that only one person in a family could work because jobs were scarce. somehow, she has a school named after her. the moral of the story is, the mule will get you half way, you have to do the rest yourself.

Rose said...

Well, Dave, I guess you will get a chance to find out. As the tax cuts are about to be revoked, which amounts to the biggest tax increase in history, maybe. And if you think they only benefitted the rich, I guess we'll see. It's going to hit everyone. One commonly overlooked part of the tax cuts was the removal of a large chunk of lower income people from paying any taxes.

I guess we can all invest in popcorn futures and sit back and enjoy the show. Business, under attack, will not thrive. The economy is already in trouble. More taxation is only going to cripple the economy further.

Do you honestly believe that, even if you gave your representatives 90% of your income that they would stop overspending?

Do you honestly believe that the money you earn, or that someone else earns, belongs to the government? Or should be transferred to you because you don't have as much?

And when they take $1,000 out of your community in taxes, run it through all their governmental middle men and then dole it back in the form of some grant, how much of that $1,000 really makes it back? A couple hundred bucks? Is that efficient?

And, you're going to need silos full of popcorn, because legalizing pot is going to mean everyone who has been cheating the system dealing pot under the table is going to have to pay taxes. Lo and behold, if the six figure incomes hold, guess what, by golly, they are the RICH. Not only will they pay 50% of their incomes in taxes, they will lose the child tuition tax credit and a whole host of other breaks.

So, I don't know. I hear the rhetoric. I guess we will just see. If pot is legalized, I expect we will see a tax revolt the likes of which no one has ever seen before. I say "good."

Unk John said...

Rose- You are absolutely correct when you point out that we have a lifestyle that is much better than that which most people 100 to 200 years ago had.

So what? We all know that. It has nothing to do with the problems that Ernie pointed out. You openly state that he is thinking only that other people have more than he does.

Did you and I read the same post? I saw no whining about his place in the socio-economic system. He pointed out some statistics that have historical significance.

Yes, he seems concerned. Why shouldn't he be? If the statistics he quotes are true (I, for one, believe them to be), then he is right to be concerned for the future of his progeny. When the conditions he points out have happened in other societies, there were probably people who pointed out that people who lived before them had it worse. That didn't change the fact that the situation was becoming dangerous.

You may not be blaming the counterculture, but you have to admit it sounded that way in your first post. On the other hand, you seem to be blaming all the people who don't have the savings for choices they made. That's one huge group we're talking about. I would love to discuss that, but this post is already too long.

Anonymous said...

I don't usually turn my computer on until I have been up for a couple of hours but today I was all excited to see the two new posts that were said to be here on Monday.


Anonymous said...

98 days since the oil spill started and 99 days till the elections. Is that like some kind of equinox?


Rose said...

No, I don't think Ernie is whining. I don't think he is a whiner at all. In fact, oddly, I think we agree, it's just that how we get there comes from two wildly divergent places.

We agree that it is grotesquely wrong to pass a bill that no one has read, and to saddle coming generations with unimaginable debt.

All I am saying is, blame those who have done this - your legislators. It's easy to blame Arnold in California for example, he is the figurehead therefore it must be his fault. Why not put the blame where it belongs? On those politicians who have played musical chairs to stay in office, and who have passed bill after bill after bill that has put you in this position? For a decade or more. The same on the federal level.

It's not the corporations who are overspending. It's the people we elect. And giving them more of your money or anyone else's money will not solve that fundamental problem.

I am also saying you will be surprised to find out who the government considers to be "RICH." Despite the figures Ernie lays out.

Anyway, Ernie, sorry, I'm not arguing. Or wasn't intending to.

spyrock said...

i'm not sure what y'all are talkin about. i've heard this same rap back in the 60's. i stayed in school and got my degree. i saw all kinds of people drop out of school, quit their day job, and find anyway they could to live off government money including pretend they were crazy. other people who didn't want to live off the government were living off a 50 lb sack of brown rice or peanut butter. people lived in communes all over the city and many of these drop outs headed up your way. the back to the landers. well you can't have your cake and eat it to. why aren't you self sufficient? you are 40years down the road. growing pot makes you a small business owner.
pot growers work. just because its illegal doesn't qualify it as counterculture. there are hundreds of self sufficient communities out there and many people are planning more. you just haven't heard about them. because they don't want all you guys on welfare or old children living off their parents social security crashing down their door. the next thing is community and there are still some around since the sixties. you just don't know about them. i'm going to hear a presentation about one at the end of august because my gal wants me to. but that option has always been there for me. instead, i've worked all my life, raised a family, buried my parents and done my own thing, but in my old age, community might come in handy. or not. but this is just a rehash of the same crap the politicos from bezerkly were spouting 40 years ago. today i was thinking the same thing. i should have quit school and played drums in a rock and roll band then people would remember me. but my highschool friends that were doing that looked like death warmed over at the time. the other thing about rich people somehow being better off simply isn't true. the most unhappy people i know are rich people. and i don't think there is anything wrong with money. it just doesn't buy real happiness.
so this is all relative bullpucky to me. i can't tell if you are braging or complaining.

Ernie Branscomb said...

"i can't tell if you are braging or complaining."

Yes Spyrock, we are. Leave it to Spyrock to find a third perspective.

I like the way that people can present ideas on this blog without becoming disrespectful. Rose is right, we agree a lot. It seems like she thinks the politicians are rich. I think that the corporations make them that way because they expect to find politcal favor in the business world, but both Rose and I would agree that there is enought corruption to go around.

Bunny said... a provision that all businesses, including small businesses, have to file 1099's on EVERY single person and entity that they pay out more than $600 to.

We do that right now to some degree. I cannot believe that will really happen. It's a waste of time for everybody and I don't see the sense in it. Would that be so the IRS can compare what we claim as income to what everyone says they gave us and visa versa?
Hopefully they won't implement that bit.

Mr. Nice said...

On the 1099 thing, I'm planning on using credit cards for every significant business transaction and let the card issuer do all these piddly 1099s. Visa stock will probably surge when this goes into effect as no small business owner will use a check to purchase goods again.

Rose said...

Wow. Mr. Nice, you are giving up control to corporations then.

Anonymous said...

I see Jane Fonda is campaigning for Barbara Boxer. Interesting.


Ernie Branscomb said...

Jane Fonda and Barbara boxer… Why not, they are birds of a feather.

If you don’t mind “call me Senator Barbara”, Hanoi Jane Shouldn’t bother you at all. I don’t expect that Brigadier General Michael Walsh will be offering them a tank to ride to town in though.

spyrock said...

i remember something about a hanoi jane 50 years ago, oh well, i guess some people never forgive or forget. guess who's dad worked for nixon as assistant attorney general during that time. little carly ufigeritout. who is currently a member of the usa china board of trade. why? china is where your computer is made now. listen to this ex employee.
diogeneeze "I worked for HP for almost 30 yrs and Carly came in with smiles and promises. What she delivered was to almost destroy HP, completely destroy moral, and yes, she did increase jobs; by BUYING Compaq, then LAYING OFF 18K people. She ruined two companies, now wants to do the same to CA. Carly was fired, but the damage was done because she made HP "hell" to work for and created a bureocratic & political mess like Lucient before, leaving them in shambles and stock at $1. CA needs help, but not hers."
diogeneeze 2 weeks ago.
she majored in medieval history at stanford dropped out of ucla law school after one year and married an at&t retired executive who engineered her rise up through at&t before she landed the job at hp starting out as a secretary.
sounds like from the frying pan into the fire.
i'm not no fortunate son like carly and y'all who are retired and still live in the past so i'm going to vote for boxer as the lesser of two evils. in 4 more years i will be retired like you and then i don't care if you and carly ufigureitout how to send my job to china.

Ernie Branscomb said...

But are you really happy to vote for Boxer? Would you like another choice?

All we get to choose frome is tweedle-dee or tweedle-dum. Boxer or Fiorina, Jerry Brown or Meg Whitman.

I will hold my nose and vote, but I'm not happy at all with politics nowadays.

spyrock said...

i agree with you ernie. we haven't been given much of a choice. i don't own my own business like yourself and you might be better off with carly and meg because they are both promising to cut taxes on rich people and corporations. that ole piss on the working man economics that reagan invented., i've been working for a lady ceo for the last 6 years so i sort of know what would happen, the working people of california will get pissed on big time. i don't mean to piss anyone off, i'm just tired of being pissed on.

spyrock said...

you know.
trickle down economics.
all the way to china.

kenteroo said...

I think it's interesting that 10 billion dollars over 10 years was "too expensive" to fund health care reform and yet 2 billion dollars A DAY to fund the military gets rubber stamped without any comment at all.

Those that rail against "Big Government" apparently don't count the US military as part of the government.

I recently had dinner with some very hardworking friends who badly want to be wealthy. I commented that I didn't want to be wealthy, just be able to educate my kids and retire when I was 65. The wife turned to me and said, with a straight face, that I was "a communist".

That's our choice now. If you don't want to be obscenely wealthy you are labeled a communist.

Good thing that things aren't polarized nowadays...

humboldturtle said...

Better pissed off than pissed on.

At least, that's what I have heard.

Bunny said...

I say raise the California state tax. Nobody I know pays more than $100-200 and in fact I just looked and we got all money we put in back, we paid no Ca taxes. That's ridiculous.

Bunny said...

Since I wrote that I have heard two times on TV that California has a high income tax. What do I know?

Anonymous said...

Bunny, I lived in Calif. from Feb. 2003 through April 2006 and I have my tax records for those years and can tell you I paid an obscene amount of state taxes. That does not include the nasty amount of money I had to pay for truck registration. I was paying $650 for my truck in Calif. and $54 in Oregon. I bought a Corvette and the registration for my truck AND Corvette was a whopping $108 a year. However I did not see any difference in the income tax in Oregon at my level.
Now I have to admit I was paying income taxes in Calif. but I did live in Plumas County and not in Humboldt, Mendocino or Trinity Counties where paying income tax ( state or federal )seems to be optional.
For the folks that do pay taxes you should know Alaska and Washington do not have a state income tax.


Bunny said...

I just looked and Cali has an 8.75% sales tax on adjusted gross earnings. I'm happy to know you are a wealthy man or at least you were when you lived here. Incidentally, it's gorgeous here today. Please come and visit Ernie so we can all meet you.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Bunny I should put this a different way. I always had to pay income taxes in Calif. and at times it may not have been a large amount but I think all income taxes are obscene.
I think I would like a flat tax or a fair tax better. Just think how much money the U.S. Government would save without all the IRS folks being on the payroll.


Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, when I stop in Garverville Ernie doesn't let me out into the public.