1
   

Instinctive anger at the wealthy and/or wealth contrasts

 
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Wed 18 Apr, 2007 08:13 am
Eorl wrote:
Imagine if nimh had first wandered past a rundown house with hungry kids begging on the steps, and then saw this same drunk, arguing couple arriving home at this very house.

I dont think my feelings would have changed at all. In fact, that is - if a bit overdramatised - roughly what I expect their home to be like.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Wed 18 Apr, 2007 08:14 am
Eorl wrote:
Perhaps the most interesting thing is the "obliviousness" of the wealthier couple. Is this a case of the Kuleshov effect?

Quote:
The Kuleshov Effect is a montage effect demonstrated by Russian filmmaker Lev Kuleshov in about 1918.

Kuleshov edited a short film in which shots of the face of Ivan Mozzhukhin (a Tsarist matinee idol) are alternated with various other shots (a plate of soup, a girl, an old woman's coffin). The film was shown to an audience who believed that the expression on Mozzhukhin's face was different each time he appeared, depending on whether he was "looking at" the plate of soup, the girl, or the coffin, showing an expression of hunger, desire or grief respectively. Actually the footage of Mozzhukhin was identical, and rather expressionless, every time it appeared. Vsevolod Pudovkin (who later claimed to have been the co-creator of the experiment) described in 1929 how the audience "raved about the acting.... the heavy pensiveness of his mood over the forgotten soup, were touched and moved by the deep sorrow with which he looked on the dead woman, and admired the light, happy smile with which he surveyed the penguin at play. But we knew that in all three cases the face was exactly the same." [Pudovkin, "Naturshchik vmesto aktera", in Sobranie sochinenii, volume I, Moscow: 1974, p.184].

Kuleshov used the experiment to indicate the usefulness and effectiveness of film editing. The implication is that viewers brought their own emotional reactions to this sequence of images, and then moreover attributed those reactions to the actor, investing his impassive face with their own feelings.

Thats definitely an interesting point though!
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 18 Apr, 2007 08:19 am
It really is!

So it could seem like the happy laughing couple were laughing AT the poor couple -- which of course they weren't, but in editing terms the brain could read it that way before rational processes caught up.

That's definitely happened to me, too. Like, being mad at people (of any economic strata) for laughing and being happy after I found out that someone dear to me died. They didn't know -- but it's the same category of reaction.

(Do I need to say at this point no, I know they don't deserve it if they didn't even know, and I didn't do anything about the anger, just felt it for a few seconds and then moved on...?)
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 18 Apr, 2007 08:21 am
So maybe the key here is quick juxtaposition. That those of us who are more likely to have experienced both extremes within a short time are the ones who are more likely to identify.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Wed 18 Apr, 2007 08:36 am
nimh wrote:
Eorl wrote:
Imagine if nimh had first wandered past a rundown house with hungry kids begging on the steps, and then saw this same drunk, arguing couple arriving home at this very house.

I dont think my feelings would have changed at all. In fact, that is - if a bit overdramatised - roughly what I expect their home to be like.

I should explain that the reason for this is that I know and have seen how daunting conditions can literally bleed you dry of either the motivation or the sheer sanity needed to tackle your situation in a rational and planned manner.

That doesnt mean that I'd tell 'em, "sure yeah, go drink your little money away, whatever", of course. It doesnt make it right. But it does mean that I dont necessarily see them as bad people just because they're failing. I just cant feel anger at people just because they are failing, however drastically - alcoholic, drug addicts, wasting their life away. I've checked, and I just dont.

If you get to know 'em better and they turn out to actually simply be venal a$$holes - because those you find among the poor as much as among the rich - it's a different story, but at the point you describe we dont know anything like that yet.
0 Replies
 
jpinMilwaukee
 
  1  
Reply Wed 18 Apr, 2007 08:39 am
Thomas wrote:
JP -- how does anything in your latest post bring the rich down to the level of the poor? Diane's claim was that nobody here wants to bring the rich down to the level of the poor, and you called this bullshît. If her statement was so wrong, why aren't you refuting what she actually said? Why are you making up a strawman and refute that one instead?


Lets see... a 70% tax rate. Taxing people more even though lower tax rates have shown to increase tax revenue (which is the supposed goal... more tax revenue to help the less fortunate)... if that isn't making the more fortunate less fortunate, I don't know what is.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Wed 18 Apr, 2007 08:42 am
Chai wrote:
So, a proposal of a rich person paying 70% of their income in taxes isn't bringing them down to the level of the poor? Confused

No it isn't. In the 1970s, America's top marginal income tax rate was 70%. I can remember seeing rich Americans and poor Americans during those years. The rich were less wealthy than they are today, but the weren't even close to having been brought down to the level of the poor.

This is almost funny. In any other thread, nimh and I would have a big argument right now. I like America's top marginal tax rate of 35% much better than the 70% Nimh prefers. But JP's claim was that nimh's preferred tax rates would bring rich people down to the level of the poor. That, in my opinion, just isn't true.
0 Replies
 
jpinMilwaukee
 
  1  
Reply Wed 18 Apr, 2007 08:43 am
gustavratzenhofer wrote:
I gave more than you could imagine, jpin.

Quit trying to project. Not everyone thinks like you.


Well good for you, gus. I hope your money goes to those who truely need it.
0 Replies
 
jpinMilwaukee
 
  1  
Reply Wed 18 Apr, 2007 09:03 am
Thomas wrote:
Chai wrote:
But JP's claim was that nimh's preferred tax rates would bring rich people down to the level of the poor. That, in my opinion, just isn't true.


What I said was:

It amazes me that more people here have suggested bringing the yuppie couple down to a level closer to the poor drunk arguing couple than bringing the poor drunk arguing couple up to the level of the yuppies.

I did not claim it would make them poor.
0 Replies
 
CalamityJane
 
  1  
Reply Wed 18 Apr, 2007 09:05 am
Everyone should be taxed proportional to their income. To overtax the
rich just to appease the poor is not the answer. Why should a hard working
person that accumulated wealth through hard work be punished for it?
That's pure social envy!

The ones who are so angered or whose conscience is tainted
by the injustice should opt for a missionary position (no pun intended Very Happy)
in a third world country.

In all of my years doing volunteer work for the underprivileged, I rarely
found lower income recipients who helped others, it was always the
ones in the higher income brackets and the rich who helped either with
monetary donations or time.
0 Replies
 
Chai
 
  1  
Reply Wed 18 Apr, 2007 09:07 am
Thomas wrote:
Chai wrote:
So, a proposal of a rich person paying 70% of their income in taxes isn't bringing them down to the level of the poor? Confused

No it isn't. In the 1970s, America's top marginal income tax rate was 70%. I can remember seeing rich Americans and poor Americans during those years. The rich were less wealthy than they are today, but the weren't even close to having been brought down to the level of the poor.

This is almost funny. In any other thread, nimh and I would have a big argument right now. I like America's top marginal tax rate of 35% much better than the 70% Nimh prefers. But JP's claim was that nimh's preferred tax rates would bring rich people down to the level of the poor. That, in my opinion, just isn't true.


So, what level of income would incur this 70% rate? What level would incur 45%, 50%,55% and so on?

It's not like every time you turn around you are bumping into someone that makes 7 plus figures a year. How many would this tax effect, and how much change would that make in a poor persons life?

I'm finding this similar to the thread from a while back about estate taxes.
Everyone was going hot and heavy about the fairness of it, when (in this country) the reality is that it's an extremely small # of people who leave estates large enough to tax at all.


A separate thought here...maybe I'm being dense, but over the last several pages, it feels, at least to me, that the same points regarding gut reaction, perception, the reality behind it, etc...has been made over and over again. There's been talk of people who "get it" and people that don't.

Me, I think everyone total "gets" what nimh first said, and what others have said. I guess I keep coming back to see if any new ideas are being brought up, but I guess this is where my denseness comes in. Like I quasi jokingly said before...what next?

We all have a gut reaction as to the unfairness of it all, and it's sometimes expressed against the people, not the actual condition. Isn't that it in a nutshell?

How many different ways can that be said?
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 18 Apr, 2007 09:11 am
CalamityJane wrote:
In all of my years doing volunteer work for the underprivileged, I rarely found lower income recipients who helped others, it was always the ones in the higher income brackets and the rich who helped either with monetary donations or time.


This was emphatically not my experience.

I saw people with no money helping other people with no money all the time, in ways large and small.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Wed 18 Apr, 2007 09:11 am
sozobe wrote:
That's definitely happened to me, too. Like, being mad at people (of any economic strata) for laughing and being happy after I found out that someone dear to me died. They didn't know -- but it's the same category of reaction.

Yep. <nods>

In re: to JpinMilwaukee as well, meanwhile:

Chai wrote:
So, a proposal of a rich person paying 70% of their income in taxes isn't bringing them down to the level of the poor? Confused

Um, no. Because the whole point about having that kind of taxes - or rather, note: having these taxes again, because let me go on a digression first here: they were there before, you know, back under such notoriously liberal presidents like Eisenhower... under Eisenhower, the top tax rate was 91%! It was 70% or higher all the way up till Reagan was elected.

So, the whole point would be that there are people, in our world of rapidly increasing income differences, whom you could tax for 70% and they'd still be, to any average-income person's standard, swimming in money. So, no - just literally addressing your point here, making them do so doesnt "bring them down to the level of the poor".

What I see happening in the conversation on this particular count, and I hope that starting out with what may be felt as an insult I'm not immediately making you all stop listening, is a staggering state of denial. It's not specifically you - its endemic. There is seemingly no historical awareness about this. But people. The difference between the richest 10% and the poorest 10% has, over the past 30 years, multiplied. It has not been stable. The kind of difference we now see between richest and poorest, both within the US or Europe and between parts of the world, is not the same as there always was. It's not some kind of natural balance that will appear in any human society. It has staggered up, rapidly and drastically, over the past two, three decades.

Any increase of taxes, even to 70% for the top rate, would at the very most bring the difference back partly to what it actually used to be like. In, say, the fifties. There were also rich people then, and poor people - so its not about wanting to bring everyone down to the same level.

Instead, ask yourself this: back in Eisenhower's times, were the richest people grossly underpaid? Were they not enough rewarded for their special merits and skills and efforts? Allow yourself to leave aside the point about "how the system just works", and think freely for the moment about just your personal compass on virtue or fairness or whatever. Back then, too, some of the rich got where they were by working hard, self-discipline, special talents and/or keen planning and insight. And back then, that meant that they ended up, say, five times as rich as the poorest people. Were those proportions, to your personal feeling, unfair? Because they only earned five times as much as the poor, rather than twenty times as much?

If not, then what would be so especially punitive and unfair, in the moral terms of fairness etc that we are talking about here, about bringing today's differences back to that point, or at least partially?

The economical argument - that it might be fairer, but it just wouldnt work, production and prosperity would collapse, etc, are not at discussion here, though I'd point out that in the fifties too, despite such a high top tax rate, the economy was growing at a healthy speed. But thats not the subject of discussion here. What I want to address here is just the notion that it would be greatly unfair to the rich to increase taxes back up to the point where they'd only earn as much more as the poor as they did back in the 60s or 70s.

My preference for a 70% top tax rate is not about wanting to make everyone as poor as the poorest - obviously, a 70% tax on the top category would still leave them far richer than anyone remotely poor. It is about some correction, at least, to a system that is very good in optimising production, but as side effect has an ever spiralling increase in difference, in which top incomes just stagger up in some vortex. With no remaining rational relation to any proportional difference in effort, merit or virtue. (No relation unless you do believe that today's top earners, compared to the bottom earners, do work ten or twenty times as hard as those of thirty years ago).

Yes, the law of demand and supply, thats just how the market works. But there is nothing inherently wrong with us, as society, noticing that the economic system that is good, technically, at boosting production and profits, has this side-effect of spiralling contrasts in wealth out of any control, and deciding to check that side-effect and keep it in bounds. It was done all the time, to at least as great an extent as I'm proposing, for decades of Republican as well as Democratic rule, from Roosevelt up until Reagan came into power. Not to "bring down the rich to the level of the poor", but to at least stop the contrast from further chasming out in as rapid a fashion as it is doing now, more than ever.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Wed 18 Apr, 2007 09:14 am
CalamityJane wrote:
In all of my years doing volunteer work for the underprivileged, I rarely found lower income recipients who helped others, it was always the ones in the higher income brackets and the rich who helped either with monetary donations or time.

Then your personal experience was most atypical. The data show that the poor give a larger proportion of their income to charity than the rich.

Individuals differ in all kinds of ways of course, but in overall data there's pretty much a steadily climbing scale throughout - the poorer, the more % of their income they give away.

I dont have a link at hand - saw these data some time ago. Could probably be found back online.
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 18 Apr, 2007 09:15 am
I read something *yesterday* that I'm trying to find back and haven't been able to yet -- thought of posting it here at the time but things had kind of died down at that point. It would've been either Yahoo/ AP or the New York Times I think. It was something about how economic disparity in America is at a point that hasn't been seen since the 1920's.
0 Replies
 
jpinMilwaukee
 
  1  
Reply Wed 18 Apr, 2007 09:18 am
How does Bill Gates making billions of dollars make somebody else poor?
0 Replies
 
JPB
 
  1  
Reply Wed 18 Apr, 2007 09:20 am
nimh wrote:
I should explain that the reason for this is that I know and have seen how daunting conditions can literally bleed you dry of either the motivation or the sheer sanity needed to tackle your situation in a rational and planned manner.

That doesnt mean that I'd tell 'em, "sure yeah, go drink your little money away, whatever", of course. It doesnt make it right. But it does mean that I dont necessarily see them as bad people just because they're failing. I just cant feel anger at people just because they are failing, however drastically - alcoholic, drug addicts, wasting their life away. I've checked, and I just dont.

If you get to know 'em better and they turn out to actually simply be venal a$$holes - because those you find among the poor as much as among the rich - it's a different story, but at the point you describe we dont know anything like that yet.


You can't find anger at people just because they are failing unless they somehow demonstrate themselves to be a venal a$$hole. You don't necessarily see them as bad people just because they are failing. And yet, you instinctively want to slap the face of someone who is well dressed without any knowledge of their situation and need to allow time to let the unreasonableness of that action wash over you.

Do I have that right?
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Wed 18 Apr, 2007 09:37 am
Ah, I see that Thomas made one of my points already and more concisely. (Strange bedfellows indeed! Razz )

jpinMilwaukee wrote:
What I said was:

It amazes me that more people here have suggested bringing the yuppie couple down to a level closer to the poor drunk arguing couple than bringing the poor drunk arguing couple up to the level of the yuppies.

But thats not true either. Using taxes for some degree of income redistribution would both bring a yuppie couple a little closer to the poor couple and a poor couple a little closer to that of the yuppies.

Underlying this part of the discussion is what to me seems an ahistoric concept of reward. For example, you write:

jpinMilwaukee wrote:
It has been suggested that tax rates should be as high as 70%. 70% freaking percent. That means one person doing 100% of the work only gets to keep 30% of the reward.

That suggests that 100% of the salary that is dished out to the top-earners in question is their proper "reward". But the salary in question is not informed by any concept of just reward, deserving recipients or anything like that. Thats not how the market works.

Its just a reflection of supply and demand. How hard someone works or how much he deserves it hardly comes into it. I certainly dont work 5 times harder than the streetsweepers, yet I get 5 times as much because I happen to have some skills that they dont have (social skills that I got free when growing up as much as any particular professional training I invested in). Does that really mean that I deserve a five times higher "reward"? And that it would be tantamount to stealing from me if the state moderated the difference a bit?

In fact, they already do - taxes here in Hungary are very high. If they were as low as in the States, I would earn not five, but seven or eight times as much as the streetsweeper. Does that mean I am now not getting my just reward? That whole concept is just alien to me.

Moreover, with "ahistoric" I mean this: top income earners now, in the West, earn X times as much as their predecessor top income earners did thirty years ago. Why? Its how the system works (when left alone). Do they work X times as hard as the top earners before? Hardly. Somewhat more, perhaps, but not X times as hard. Are they X times as talented as the talents from thirty years ago? Nope, obviously not. So whence this feeling that they deserve the X times higher reward that the technical development of the market system, left unattended, has yielded them, and that giving them only as much as their predecessors, or just two times as much as their predecessors, say, would be akin to stealing from them?
0 Replies
 
jpinMilwaukee
 
  1  
Reply Wed 18 Apr, 2007 09:45 am
nimh wrote:

That suggests that 100% of the salary that is dished out to the top-earners in question is their proper "reward". But the salary in question is not informed by any concept of just reward, deserving recipients or anything like that. Thats not how the market works.


But that doesn't really matter, nihm. A 70% tax rate hits everybodies salary at 70%. Sure it would effect Bill Gates a lot less than it would affect you or I, but each of us is still living on 30% of our salary. I can tell you now that I could not live on 30% of my salary. I am not poor, you may even want to slap me if you saw me walking down the street, but a 70% tax rate would break my back. I would be in line right behind the guy my 70% was supposed to help. And I'm sure I wouldn't be the only one. So is this really solving the problem or is it just making it seem less unfair?
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Wed 18 Apr, 2007 09:56 am
JPB wrote:
You can't find anger at people just because they are failing unless they somehow demonstrate themselves to be a venal a$$hole. You don't necessarily see them as bad people just because they are failing. And yet, you instinctively want to slap the face of someone who is well dressed without any knowledge of their situation and need to allow time to let the unreasonableness of that action wash over you.

Do I have that right?

"Need to allow time to let the unreasonableness of that action wash over you" - yeah, the whole of "a split minute", a "passing moment", a "split second", or however else I've specified it here. I know, I know, I'm awful.

But seriously though, fair cop - you did catch me in something here.

I described my instinctive, gut reaction to the wealthy couple, but when prodded about how I'd feel about the poor couple if I'd seen them in the circumstances Eorl described, I responded by outlining how my reasoned, deliberate thinking would be about it.

Thats not an equal or fair comparison.

And yet its true - I would not have the negative gut reaction Eorl presupposed when seeing the situation he described. I wouldnt feel the stab of anger that I instinctively felt now. All I'd feel would be pity.

So how come? Why, as you say, get an unfair gut reaction to that rich couple, and not have an arguably fairer negative gut reaction to Eorl's version of the couple?

We've been here before though. I've explained exactly why, to you directly, before. I dont know whether you had the chance to read it because shortly after you had to leave the thread, but this is my answer to that exact question. I even added a question of my own to you that you never answered, not that time obviously, but not the time I asked it before either.

My anger that was momentarily projected on the happy young couple was not about them, obviously, as admitted many times - the anger was about the screamingly unjust chasm between the fate that they had the luck to face and the one that the poor couple was pretty much born into. Anger about that phenomenon was momentarily projected on them, as they are its involuntary beneficiaries.

OK, now why would I feel instinctive anger at the poorer couple, even in Eorl's situation? Anger about what phenomenon, about what injustice, would I project on them?

Thats more or less the question I asked before, too. Until it's answered, I really dont see what the suggested equivalence is?
0 Replies
 
 

Related Topics

You? Me? or All of Us? - Question by mark noble
The PLAN - Discussion by GorDie
Fanfiction Writing Tips? - Question by spacesword16
how to write a good essay - Question by maivanthai94
Writing - Question by anonymously99
NaNoWriMo - Discussion by jespah
What is the value of obscure academic text? - Discussion by The Pentacle Queen
The A2K Bulwer-Lytton Contest - Discussion by Mame
Page to Fame - New way to publish? - Discussion by GoshisDead
 
Copyright © 2021 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.04 seconds on 12/06/2021 at 03:55:17