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Helping Americans understand just how rich we are

 
 
Reply Thu 6 May, 2010 11:11 am
Americans largely don't begin to understand how filthy rich we are as a nation, so here's a thread for some helpful comparisons to illustrate it.

I'll start with a graphic of all the world's aircraft carriers:

http://img534.imageshack.us/img534/6842/carriers2010.gif

The first two columns are the USA's carriers, the last column is the rest of the world's carriers. We just spent $6.2 billion on our last one, the USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) and we are going to spend $14 billion on the next one (a Ford-class carrier).

You get numb to numbers like that in America, so I'll give you some context: That is twice the GDP of the whole country of Haiti.

Would you miss one of our aircraft carriers if we just made one less? Probably not, but why do Americans complain about others "taking our jobs" instead of just making one less aircraft carrier?

You could triple the economy of Haiti with what we are going to spend on our next aircraft carrier, but Americans complain about some Mexican getting a couple of bucks an hour out of our economy? Americans need perspective. We spend more money than the whole economy of Haiti on a boat to boost military superiority that is already completely dominant but complain about a guy making an honest buck out of our economy. That. Is. Not. Toward.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 37 • Views: 20,407 • Replies: 356

 
eoe
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 May, 2010 11:57 am
Being referred to as "The Richest Country in the World" makes it pretty clear, Robert.
Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 May, 2010 12:09 pm
@Robert Gentel,
What gets me is that you seem surprised or shocked by people's attitudes towards money or jobs flowing out of the country, as if this is somehow incompatible with the behavior of those who are rich.

I posit that the exact opposite is true: that the richer one is, the more focused and concerned they become with maintaining that status, both in terms of comfort and in terms of relative success as compared to your partners.

It is without a doubt that the US could afford to feed every starving person on the planet for simply a section of the money that we spend on national defense. But we don't do this, because our citizens do not see a compelling reason to do so, sadly enough.

Have you not found this to be the case in your life - that the richer one gets, the more concerned they are with money and their share of the pie?

Cycloptichorn
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 May, 2010 12:16 pm
@Cycloptichorn,
Cycloptichorn wrote:
What gets me is that you seem surprised or shocked by people's attitudes towards money or jobs flowing out of the country, as if this is somehow incompatible with the behavior of those who are rich.


I express no surprise, or shock, I express dismay and frustration.

Quote:
I posit that the exact opposite is true: that the richer one is, the more focused and concerned they become with maintaining that status, both in terms of comfort and in terms of relative success as compared to your partners.


As a general trend this is true. Which is just one reason why young people tend to be liberal and older people (with more wealth accumulated) conservative.

Quote:
It is without a doubt that the US could afford to feed every starving person on the planet for simply a section of the money that we spend on national defense. But we don't do this, because our citizens do not see a compelling reason to do so, sadly enough.


That's fine, but when people complain about other countries taking from us on the basis of poverty in America I'll keep pointing out that we have the resources to address this a million times over and do not do so.

Quote:
Have you not found this to be the case in your life - that the richer one gets, the more concerned they are with money and their share of the pie?


Not really, I wanted out of corporate life more than anything else and wanted freedom. That doesn't mean I don't want to make money, but I care more about how I make it (I want to make it on my own terms, how I want from where I want) than how much I make. So now I do things I love with people I love working with and make less than I did in a corporate gig.
Robert Gentel
 
  4  
Reply Thu 6 May, 2010 12:23 pm
@eoe,
eoe wrote:
Being referred to as "The Richest Country in the World" makes it pretty clear, Robert.


Not clear enough. Saying "has the most aircraft carriers in the world" doesn't have to mean that we have more than the rest put together. And saying we are the richest of around 200 countries doesn't hammer home that we represent about a full quarter of the whole world's economy.

How can we justify protectionism when we have such an inordinately large slice of the global pie?
Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 May, 2010 12:27 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Quote:

Not really, I wanted out of corporate life more than anything else and wanted freedom. That doesn't mean I don't want to make money, but I care more about how I make it (I want to make it on my own terms, how I want from where I want) than how much I make. So now I do things I love with people I love working with and make less than I did in a corporate gig.


Oh, I dunno about that. I swear I've heard you complain about high taxes as being obscene. But taxes only get that high on the highest tax brackets. I don't understand how you complaining about your personal, hard-earned money being taken to finance governmental affairs which may or may not benefit you is materially different then US citizens complaining about our hard-earned wealth and jobs being given to people who may or may not benefit us.

If you are doing what you want (which you say you are) and you are rich anyway (which you will be if you fall into these highest tax brackets, no matter what is taken from you) then why complain? I see direct analogies between that belief and the belief that shipping jobs and money overseas is harmful to our nation.

Cycloptichorn
Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 May, 2010 12:28 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Robert Gentel wrote:

eoe wrote:
Being referred to as "The Richest Country in the World" makes it pretty clear, Robert.


Not clear enough. Saying "has the most aircraft carriers in the world" doesn't have to mean that we have more than the rest put together. And saying we are the richest of around 200 countries doesn't hammer home that we represent about a full quarter of the whole world's economy.

How can we justify protectionism when we have such an inordinately large slice of the global pie?


A question: did protectionist policies help us get such a large slice of the pie?

Cycloptichorn
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 May, 2010 12:38 pm
@Cycloptichorn,
Quote:
It is without a doubt that the US could afford to feed every starving person on the planet for simply a section of the money that we spend on national defense. But we don't do this, because our citizens do not see a compelling reason to do so, sadly enough.


If I'm not mistaken, the USA could feed every starving person on the planet just with what is wasted in the food system.
OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 May, 2010 12:41 pm
@Robert Gentel,
That 's very interesting, for perspective.





David
Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 May, 2010 12:43 pm
@JTT,
JTT wrote:

Quote:
It is without a doubt that the US could afford to feed every starving person on the planet for simply a section of the money that we spend on national defense. But we don't do this, because our citizens do not see a compelling reason to do so, sadly enough.


If I'm not mistaken, the USA could feed every starving person on the planet just with what is wasted in the food system.


Possibly true but realistically not true; much of our 'waste' is food which cannot be reasonably stored for re-dispersal to people who need it.

For example, a friend of mine works in catering. They regularly have 10-20% more food then necessary for an event, because the organizers want a safety cushion so they don't run out. Often there is enough for the whole catering crew to eat their fill, take some home and then there is STILL a lot left over; but that CANNOT be given away to the homeless!

Why not? Because there's no way to control the temperatures long enough to ensure that you don't kill someone. The same problem would exist on a global scale.

Cycloptichorn
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 May, 2010 12:45 pm
@Cycloptichorn,
Quote:
A question: did protectionist policies help us get such a large slice of the pie?


They did. Still do.
0 Replies
 
JTT
 
  4  
Reply Thu 6 May, 2010 12:47 pm
@Cycloptichorn,
I wasn't suggesting the wasted food be used to feed the world's starving, Cy. I was merely pointing out the profligate waste.
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 May, 2010 01:19 pm
@Cycloptichorn,
Cycloptichorn wrote:
I swear I've heard you complain about high taxes as being obscene. But taxes only get that high on the highest tax brackets.


Yeah, I do find it obscene. I value freedom and don't think the government should have that big a piece of anyone.

Quote:
I don't understand how you complaining about your personal, hard-earned money being taken to finance governmental affairs which may or may not benefit you is materially different then US citizens complaining about our hard-earned wealth and jobs being given to people who may or may not benefit us.


My objection to those taxes is not personal, I'm certainly not paying those rates. I object to taxation at rates I consider obscene. The analogy doesn't make any sense, however (except that they are both sentiments that are usually on the same end of the political spectrum).

Quote:
If you are doing what you want (which you say you are) and you are rich anyway (which you will be if you fall into these highest tax brackets, no matter what is taken from you) then why complain? I see direct analogies between that belief and the belief that shipping jobs and money overseas is harmful to our nation.


But you "see" this due to pulling out my motivations from your imagination and the comparison itself is patently absurd. In one situation the government simply takes your money away from you, in the other it's a fair competition that Americans want to erect protectionist rules about to disproportionately benefit them. I'm not arguing for there to be a law that redistributes wealth, I'm arguing that there should be less protectionist barriers to letting others compete in our economy. As the richest people on earth we don't need the rules to be stacked in our favor in this competition.

And there's nothing similar at all about me wanting freer enterprise for the rest of the world in America's economy and your desire to tax people till they are majority owned by government.
Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 May, 2010 01:35 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Quote:
In one situation the government simply takes your money away from you, in the other it's a fair competition that Americans want to erect protectionist rules about to disproportionately benefit them.


This is the American way, and once again I'm surprised you don't realize it. Every single group in America works as hard as they can to protect their own interests. It is part of our competitive nature.

Quote:
And there's nothing similar at all about me wanting freer enterprise for the rest of the world in America's economy and your desire to tax people till they are majority owned by government.


This is merely exaggeration on your part. A rich man who pays 60% taxes is still rich and is not 'owned' by the government in any way, shape or fashion.

Cycloptichorn
OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 May, 2010 01:43 pm

I earnestly wish that all government operations
federal, state n local were funded by SALES TAXES & import tarriffs.

That way, everyone pays at the same rate
(without discrimination against the more financialy successful)
and everyone can and will determine how much tax he will contribute.

THAT is a free country.





David
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 May, 2010 01:52 pm
@Cycloptichorn,
Cycloptichorn wrote:
This is merely exaggeration on your part. A rich man who pays 60% taxes is still rich and is not 'owned' by the government in any way, shape or fashion.


If the majority of your labor goes to your government you are not a free man. In that situation I would leave.

But what does your desired tax rates have to do with this thread?
Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 May, 2010 01:55 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Robert Gentel wrote:

Cycloptichorn wrote:
This is merely exaggeration on your part. A rich man who pays 60% taxes is still rich and is not 'owned' by the government in any way, shape or fashion.


If the majority of your labor goes to your government you are not a free man.


Yes, you are. More exaggeration. Levels of taxation have very little to do with freedom.

Quote:
In that situation I would leave.


Remember to renounce your citizenship, or as you've pointed out you'll pay taxes anyway. And how are you not a free man, if you're free to leave? Traditional definitions of non-free men usually don't include this right.

Quote:
But what does your desired tax rates have to do with this thread?


Nothing at all, other than the fact that it represents a parallel between private attitudes towards earned wealth and public attitudes towards earned wealth on a larger scale. They are identical in many ways.

Cycloptichorn
Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Thu 6 May, 2010 02:07 pm
@Cycloptichorn,
Cycloptichorn wrote:
Yes, you are. More exaggeration. Levels of taxation have very little to do with freedom.


It isn't "exaggeration" it is a fundamental difference of opinion about what constitutes freedom. I think America is one of the least free places I have been and for me working the majority of my time for taxes is not something I consider free.


Quote:
Nothing at all, other than the fact that it represents a parallel between private attitudes towards earned wealth and public attitudes towards earned wealth on a larger scale. They are identical in many ways.


Nonsense, your wish is to take money away from those richer than you. Mine is for free enterprise without unfair protectionism. These are wholly dissimilar wishes. Why don't you go start a "Helping Americans understand why Cyclo should tax them 60%" thread?
Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 May, 2010 02:17 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Quote:

Nonsense, your wish is to take money away from those richer than you. Mine is for free enterprise without unfair protectionism. These are wholly dissimilar wishes. Why don't you go start a "Helping Americans understand why Cyclo should tax them 60%" thread?


Not necessary, those threads already exist. I would say that I am not looking to 'take' money from anyone richer than me, personally; I am not seeking personal gain from advocating higher taxes on all citizens, but instead a return to fiscal sanity and the paying down of our debt and deficit. My reasons for wanting high taxes are practical in nature. If we were doing much better financially, I would agree that low taxes are in fact appropriate. But we're not, so it's worth discussing our actual situation as it is, wouldn't you say?

Anyway, I was just pointing out the similarities between your beliefs regarding keeping your OWN wealth and our country's general beliefs about keeping THEIR OWN wealth. I've made my point, and if you don't want to admit the similarities, that's fine with me.

Cycloptichorn
Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Thu 6 May, 2010 04:04 pm
@Cycloptichorn,
I don't mind if anyone competes with me for my wealth cyclo. But I don't want others passing laws to take it away from me, there is a world of difference here that you don't see only if you aren't willing to.
 

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