15
   

How do liberals guage success?

 
 
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Jul, 2012 09:47 am
@parados,
parados wrote:
Not a single person on that list made it on their own.


They all used the resources available to them. I think that's part of the difference between successful and unsuccesful people.

In many cases, successful people are that way because they've assessed two things - what they can provide to others - and how they can use what others (individual/corporate/governmental) make available to them.

I don't know about Salk, but I'd consider all of McG's other examples to be savvy - to have a version of street-smarts.
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Jul, 2012 09:58 am
@McGentrix,
McGentrix wrote:
a "typical liberal" would be 80-90% of the participants in the political threads on A2K.


I can't answer your question particularly well then, since I find A2k to be fairly right-wing overall - not right-wing fringe, but definitely conservative and right of centre (and fairly representative of Americans I've met over the decades).

I think financial stability is an indicator of one type of success, and probably one that makes it easier to achieve success in other areas.

I think it's a very personal thing to assess - what each of us values is so different. Some people feel they've reached success when they can live off-grid. Not my thing, but I can't tell them they're wrong.
0 Replies
 
revelette
 
  2  
Reply Tue 24 Jul, 2012 09:58 am
@McGentrix,
Quote:
Obviously wealth does not equal success as most liberals seem to have a healthy disregard for such things as wealth and power


There you go again, as Reagan said once, making sweeping assumptions.

The reason for criticism of Romney is not because he was successful in his business life and has a nice family. It is the businesses practices most object to and the fact that he has not been honest and transparent with his business life.

0 Replies
 
parados
 
  2  
Reply Tue 24 Jul, 2012 10:10 am
@ehBeth,
Quote:
They all used the resources available to them.

Of course they did. But they also had those resources available. Why should we remove those resources for everyone else?


People that climb the ladder should be lending a helping hand to those below, not trying to pull the ladder up after them.
Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Jul, 2012 10:13 am
@McGentrix,
McGentrix wrote:

With all the latest from Obama and people not making their own success and the looking down of ones nose at Romney's venture with Bain Capital; I began to wonder what is it exactly that your typical liberal would consider to qualify as success...

Obviously wealth does not equal success as most liberals seem to have a healthy disregard for such things as wealth and power. So, what is it exactly that you have on your short list of things that make one successful? Is it happiness? How does one gauge happiness? Is it giving to others? How much does one give to be successful? Do you have to go all Mother Theresa, oh wait, she is a religious figure... um, anyways you get the point.

So, what factors do you use to gauge ones success?


Okay, now for a more serious answer.

Success can obviously be defined in several ways, both small and large. Meeting a goal on-time and under-budget is success; hitting the game-winning home-run, or even a single home-run, is success. Cooking a great dinner is a success.

But, what makes a successful person? Who do we look at and say, 'wow, that guy is successful?' I would posit that it's only tangentially related to money. Obviously, there's a minimum level that one needs to make in order to be 'successful,' although that's highly variable depending on one's location and goals; we generally don't look at someone who has money problems as successful. Let us define as successful a person who has enough money to adequately fund their life goals, with extra left over for savings and for enjoyable activities and purchases.

There's a personal element of success: is the person happy? Have they achieved spiritual or emotional fulfillment? Are they in the relationships and have the family they wish to have? Have they been educated (in whatever fashion) and are intellectually curious? Are they physically healthy and active? I would say that all the above elements are key to judging a successful person.

There's a social element of success: is the person well-liked and surrounded by friends? Are the majority of their interactions positive ones? Are they well-received by strangers? Do they have the interpersonal skills necessary to negotiate difficult situations and influence others when it's necessary to do so? Is this person meeting their goals with their family? Is their family happy and able to thrive? A successful person (in the social sense) should be able to say yes to all of those questions.

Building on that, we have a greater societal element of success: is the person an upstanding member of their community? Do they give back? Do they participate in their version of the democratic process (if there is one)? Do they attempt to better the world around themselves, even if just a little?

In terms of looking at a third party, and asking myself 'is this person successful,' I have to consider all the above factors. Monetary success is the least of the factors. There's a lower bound that has to be hit, and once you're over that, it really doesn't matter. Engineer said it correctly above: once you get above a certain point of wealth, you aren't actually any more successful than you were before, as the additional wealth doesn't change anything for you in any material way. Wealth does NOT equal success; but it can be a component of success, for someone who also displays many of the other factors that I discussed.

In terms of a public figure, I believe that massive wealth is usually a sign that other elements of the success equation have been lacking. We all know that you don't get somethin' for nothin', and to amass such a large amount of money usually takes a singular focus, to the point where other considerations fall to the wayside. And indeed, we can see that this is often the case with wealthy folks: they tend to have troubled families, or bad relations with others in their community, or they don't give back to their nation properly (for example, spending tremendous amounts of money to avoid paying taxes one owes on money they don't even need anyway). When wealth acquisition becomes the over-arcing principle in one's life, there's a certain twisting of morality and behavior that is antithetical to maintaining a healthy relationship with outside actors.

In terms of Obama's statement, I would echo Parados: nobody who became successful in America did so on their own. Nobody. Everyone who is successful got their because of their hard work and intelligence, but also because of the people who worked hard for them - and BEFORE them.

I am willing to say that I'm a successful person. I have a good job, a good wife and a good life. I am very happy, volunteer in my community, involve myself in civic organizations and try and better the world around me. I have studied and worked hard for years to achieve my success.

But I didn't build the computer I work on every day. I didn't design it. I didn't design the internet. I didn't build the electrical grid that powers it. I didn't build the building I work in. I didn't build the road I walk on to get to work every day. I didn't lay the sewer pipes that run beneath the ground that carry my **** away. I didn't invent my job. I didn't come up with the philosophy that my job rests on. I didn't invent the social structure that allows my job to exist. I didn't invent and don't maintain a system of coinage and banking that allows me to do my job.

I'm only responsible for a tiny, tiny part of the shared success of our society and species. Just doing my little bit. And even the most special amongst us - those who work very, very hard to come up with new ideas, new products and large works, both public and private - in the grand scheme of things, their bit isn't that much larger than anyone else's.

What Obama was talking about is a return to a proper perspective, about keeping in mind that our lives are transitory - just as the lives of those who were successful before us were - and that it takes hard work by people at all levels to keep the species successful. He's correct that people who are successful today, aren't successful just because THEY are smart or because THEY work hard. They are successful because MANY people were smart and MANY people worked hard.

So, the next time you see someone fluffing themselves or someone else for their success - and claiming that they are a 'self-made man' - just know that they are full of ****. They are NOT a 'self-made man.' They are a hard-working and diligent person who stands on the shoulders of titans and in the shadows of our children.

Cycloptichorn
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Jul, 2012 10:16 am
@parados,
I'm not suggesting removing any resources.

I'm saying that one of the differences between the successful and unsuccessful is the ability to identify and effectively use the resources out there.
0 Replies
 
revelette
 
  2  
Reply Tue 24 Jul, 2012 10:23 am
@Cycloptichorn,



drewdad posted
Quote:
Star of Romney Ad Did Receive Government Assistance


Quote:

In a Mitt Romney ad last week, a stern Jack Gilchrist of Gilchrist Metal Fabricating tells President Obama that his family -- and not the government -- built his company.

But John DiStaso reports Gilchrist "did receive some government help for his business" in 1999 when the company received $800,000 in tax-exempt revenue bonds "to set up a second manufacturing plant and purchase equipment to produce high definition television broadcasting equipment."

In addition, Gilchrist Metal received a U.S. Small Business Administration loan of around $500,000 in the 1980s and has received several sub-contracts from the U.S. Navy.
McGentrix
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Jul, 2012 12:03 pm
@Cycloptichorn,
I agree with most of what you wrote Cyc. Thanks for the insightful, non-combative post.

The grand point Obama was making in his speech that gets overlooked was that he wants to raise taxes on those making too much money. Now, I understand that you are very much in favor of that. No one doubts that we work as a society because we work together and build on each other successes. But, does Obama realize that those roads were paid for by the taxes already paid? They were not paid for by a benevolent benefactor. They were created to better society as a whole paid for through taxing people already.

So, we agree on many of the things that makes a person successful. I am happy about that. We differ on what successful people may or may not be responsible for.
McGentrix
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Jul, 2012 12:04 pm
@revelette,
Not really relevant to this thread...
DrewDad
 
  2  
Reply Tue 24 Jul, 2012 12:41 pm
@McGentrix,
McGentrix wrote:
The grand point Obama was making in his speech that gets overlooked was that he wants to raise taxes on those making too much money.

And there goes the spin....

Please point to where Obama said anything about "too much money."

McGentrix is telling fibs again. Must be a day ending in "y."
0 Replies
 
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Jul, 2012 12:44 pm
@Cycloptichorn,
Cycloptichorn wrote:
I didn't build the computer I work on every day.

What, you don't have a chip lithography fab in your basement?

Amateur.
0 Replies
 
engineer
 
  5  
Reply Tue 24 Jul, 2012 01:02 pm
@McGentrix,
McGentrix wrote:

But, does Obama realize that those roads were paid for by the taxes already paid? They were not paid for by a benevolent benefactor. They were created to better society as a whole paid for through taxing people already.

I'm sure he does realize that as well as realizing that in order to continue to build new infrastructure we must continue to invest. I think the other thing that Obama realizes is that the wealthy benefit much more from public investment than the middle class or the poor and that the wealthy in general pay a much lower overall tax rate than the middle class.

For benefits, Romney can use our legal system much more effectively than I can because he can use his wealth to leverage the law in his favor. I can't afford his tax lawyers, nor take advantage of his tax shelters so I pay more. Since I make my money 8-5 like most Americans, I can't use tax benefits on long term gains to pay an overall lower rate on my income. I generally use national infrastructure for personal use. Romney (and those with similar wealth) can use it to make money. All the taxes used to maintain our financial system help me have a checking account and help my employer give me a job but it helps Romney directly in the bottom line by giving him an avenue where he can put his money to work to make more money. Money is a massive multiplier when it comes to benefits. Not that I'm in any way against any of this. Romney's money is lent out to people who can then go out and create new jobs, helping everyone. It just helps Romney more than me - by a lot.

As for taxes, as a percentage of his income, Romney (again for example) pays 0.0% social security tax and medicare (rounded to the nearest tenth), 0.0% gas tax, 0.0% sales tax, maybe a couple of tenths property tax and ~14% income tax (although I doubt he pays that high every year). I pay 1.7% property tax, ~0.5% gas tax, ~2% sales tax, 4.2% social security and another 1.5% medicare on top of my ~15% federal tax. On a percentage basis, the poorer you are the more you are taxed because just about every tax except income tax is regressive. Romney may use more gas than me but I spend a greater portion of my income on it so it is a bigger impact to me.

Finally you get to the argument of who needs a tax break (and it's corrolary who should pay more). If you make $65k/year (average household income in the US) and you are asked to pay $500/yr more, that is going to hurt some since it comes right off the top and cuts directly into disposible income. If Romney is asked to pay $500K/yr more, one thousand times, he won't even notice it. It will in no way impact his spending. If you want to stimulate the economy, giving more to Romney does nothing because it doesn't change his spending and likewise increasing taxes on his does nothing to hurt the economy. Taking $500/yr out of all those average households making $65k/yr slams the economy because it directly reduces spending. If you believe that we cannot simply cut spending to resolve our current deficit situation and you have to raise taxes, where do you want to raise them?

I think both Obama and Romney understand this just as generations of politicians before them have, I just think only one is willing to say it.
revelette
 
  2  
Reply Tue 24 Jul, 2012 01:07 pm
@McGentrix,
My reply was in response to the one previous, in particular this quote

Quote:
So, the next time you see someone fluffing themselves or someone else for their success - and claiming that they are a 'self-made man' - just know that they are full of ****. They are NOT a 'self-made man.' They are a hard-working and diligent person who stands on the shoulders of titans and in the shadows of our children.

Cycloptichorn


The fellow in the ad in which I posted actually received government money so he didn't do all by himself liked he claimed.
.
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Jul, 2012 01:17 pm
@engineer,
engineer wrote:
If Romney is asked to pay $500K/yr more, one thousand times, he won't even notice it.

I think you intended "one thousand times $500."
0 Replies
 
McGentrix
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Jul, 2012 01:17 pm
@revelette,
You mean his business had the government as a customer? Good for him. Lots of businesses have the govt as a customer. Doesn't change the how the business was made t enable it to get the govt as a customer though. I am also very glad for his business that he was able to get loans and grants to expand and create new jobs. Was probably an earmark from a legislator he gifted through a lobbyist at some point. Doesn't change the fact that he and his dad created the business and got it to a point where he could do those things.

DrewDad
 
  2  
Reply Tue 24 Jul, 2012 01:21 pm
@McGentrix,
The cognitive dissonance is breathtaking.

"Obama says that government helps business, so he's an idiot; businesses that seek and accept help from the government succeed purely on their merits."
0 Replies
 
Cycloptichorn
 
  3  
Reply Tue 24 Jul, 2012 01:21 pm
@McGentrix,
Quote:
The grand point Obama was making in his speech that gets overlooked was that he wants to raise taxes on those making too much money.


Well, I think it's much more accurate to say he wants to let tax cuts that were DESIGNED to expire, to actually expire. When the GOP put these tax cuts in place in the first place, they had an end date on them. We've already extended them once, and didn't see much of any effect of doing so besides bigger deficits. Why do it again?

It's hard to pin this one on Obama when the cuts that were passed in the first place were done so with a sunset date by the GOP.

Quote:
But, does Obama realize that those roads were paid for by the taxes already paid? They were not paid for by a benevolent benefactor. They were created to better society as a whole paid for through taxing people already.


I'm sure he does realize that. But roads aren't just created and then that's the end of the cost. They wear down over time and have to be maintained. That money has to come from somewhere, and that somewhere is from... taxes. Who should pay these taxes? Everyone, but those who benefit the most from the resources should pay more than others. If you own a business and your trucks are using roads every day, you should chip in to maintain those roads at a level that matches your usage. Thus, business taxes and taxes on those who are the primary profiteers from business - the owners and large investors.

Right now we don't have enough money to fulfill even our BASIC obligations to keep our infrastructure up, as a society, let alone build new stuff. We are so low on money, we won't be able to simply cut enough from the budget to balance the budget; there's no other real option than to raise taxes.

And there should be no real objection to doing so, for three reasons:

1, taxes are at historical lows, period. They've never been this low in any of our lifetimes.

2, the amount Obama is asking for them to be raised to is pretty small - 4 percentage points or so. This will not materially affect the wealthy in any fashion whatsoever. They will still be exceedingly wealthy.

3, even the wealthy have kids who will be responsible for the future debt of the country. The longer we go without balancing our budget, the worse hole we put ourselves and our kids in. There's really no such thing as a tax cut in a deficit environment - only tax delays.

To be fair, I (along with any sane economist) believe that taxes need to rise on ALL taxpayers. ALL brackets. We won't earn enough money from raising taxes on the wealthy only to make the sort of budgetary changes we need to make to solve our problems. However, the GOP has been denying this basic reality for my entire life, and the Dems have been pandering to the middle class in order to win elections for the same amount of time, so I have a hard time seeing any meaningful movement on this point.

That's why I am a fan of the 'fiscal cliff' that's headed our direction. I'd like to see gridlock lead to a failure to secure a deal on ANY renewal of tax cuts. Yes, it would mean short-term pain and a cut in growth levels for our country. But it would be the only solution that would allow us to balance the budget any time soon.

In regards to Obama's comment, there's nothing about what he said that is denigrating anyone. The attempt to twist his words to somehow prove that he's 'anti-American' or 'against small businesses' is nothing more than callous politics. I don't think it will be especially effective in the end.

Cycloptichorn
0 Replies
 
Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Jul, 2012 01:35 pm
@engineer,
To build upon this, it's important to look at the record of how Romney and Bain manipulated the US tax code for his personal gain.

Bain made a habit of buying up companies using the value of the company itself as collateral for a large enough loan to purchase the whole thing - the Leveraged Buy-Out. The debt incurred from that loan is then assigned to the company and becomes an obligation for the company to pay every single year. This means that the total amount that is counted on taxes for the company is reduced by the company's need to pay off the loans it owes on itself. So, by purchasing a company using an LBO, Romney is directly reducing the amount of taxes paid into state and federal coffers each year, using what amounts to an accounting trick.

On top of that, profits of the company are further reduced by the large payments to Bain 'management' that occur every year, many times in the neighborhood of millions of dollars. It only takes a year or two of this for Bain to recoup their original investment (which was necessary to secure the LBO loan in the first place from the bank). After that point, they could care less whether the company lives or dies, whether they have to lay everyone off or even if the company fails completely - it's the bank who gave them the loan who is on the hook, not Bain personally.

So, when I look at Romney's career with Bain, and ask 'was he successful?' At making money, he sure was. At running businesses for the gain of the employees or society, not so much. And he relied in LARGE part upon tax strategies and manipulation in order to make his fortune. It's entirely fair to say that he profited off of the backs of the American taxpayer in large part, manipulating the system (using his highly-paid legal team) to reduce the tax burden his companies should have paid using accounting tricks.

Is that honorable behavior? Should he be celebrated for figuring out a way to successfully manipulate the system, to make himself hundreds of millions of dollars? I really don't believe so. I don't believe that his actions are defensible or honorable. In many cases it lead to a lot of damage for his fellow Americans and he doesn't have many examples of working to help the companies Bain invested in via LBO's thrive. I don't think that his 'success' is the sort of success that one looks at and wants to emulate.

Cycloptichorn
0 Replies
 
Cycloptichorn
 
  2  
Reply Tue 24 Jul, 2012 01:38 pm
@McGentrix,
Quote:
You mean his business had the government as a customer? Good for him.


Actually, I don't believe that's what Rev was saying at all -

Quote:
But John DiStaso reports Gilchrist "did receive some government help for his business" in 1999 when the company received $800,000 in tax-exempt revenue bonds "to set up a second manufacturing plant and purchase equipment to produce high definition television broadcasting equipment."

In addition, Gilchrist Metal received a U.S. Small Business Administration loan of around $500,000 in the 1980s and has received several sub-contracts from the U.S. Navy.


The gov't wasn't the guys' customer, it was the guys BENEFACTOR. It gave him tax-free loans and low-interest loans in order to expand his business. He COULDN'T have achieved his level of success without help from the gov't. That's exactly the opposite of the point Romney is trying to make, and directly supports the point Obama is making.

Cycloptichorn
revelette
 
  3  
Reply Tue 24 Jul, 2012 01:38 pm
@McGentrix,
Quote:
You mean his business had the government as a customer? Good for him. Lots of businesses have the govt as a customer. Doesn't change the how the business was made t enable it to get the govt as a customer though. I am also very glad for his business that he was able to get loans and grants to expand and create new jobs. Was probably an earmark from a legislator he gifted through a lobbyist at some point. Doesn't change the fact that he and his dad created the business and got it to a point where he could do those things.


I don't know if you are just confused or just wanting to make a point despite the facts.

The point is that Obama said in his speech that when we succeed, we succeed through our own initiative and help from someone, the government or past teachers. If Gilchrist didn't receive 800,000 in tax-exempt revenue bonds, he might not have been able to build his company "with his own hands".
 

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