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Disruption of the middle class


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3 minutes ago, Bozo_Casanova said:

I do, but is that a bet you want to win?

I hope and pray for a turnaround, and I buy green tips in bulk.

I've wanted to be all wrong for YEARS now.  I desperately want to be wrong about all this shit.

I'm sick of being more right than wrong about this shit.  But the vast majority of Americans insist that we're super awesome, and any criticism or suggestion of change must be resisted with all possible might, because that's hatin' on 'murica, and why are you a socialist corporate communist?  We're committing suicide, and we're fucking PROUD of it.

So, fuck it....hook me up with more of them green tips.

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14 minutes ago, immamac said:

What? You are saying someone else can't get on twitter and blatantly lie and manipulate their stock price? 

Not as successfully.  Cult of personality. You think Jr. can pick up the mic where daddy dropped it off?  Hell no, imo...

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2 hours ago, David Dennison said:

We have got to divorce self-esteem from work. We just have to. Until one's worth as a human being is separated from what they do for a living, we are going to be stuck in this mess.

I actually agree with you here, but I don't see it happening. For one, to be able to separate your self-worth from the work you are capable to do, in any line of work or skill, is higher order thinking which involves wisdom and a love of self that is nurtured at an early age from parents/community (which America sorely lacks for the majority of children) and, I would argue, an identity rooted in something outside of yourself even (for me, it's Christ, for others, it can be whatever, but the point is Americans are too married to this idea of self-centeredness and even those who aren't are obviously imperfect).

Secondly, the way the American Capitalism system defines work, the psychological and emotional fulfillment resides not in just expending labor to get on to the next part of your life schedule, but IMHO, in Pink's AMP, (Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose):

People have to feel like there is a purpose for the work they are doing (building their self-esteem of worth), feel like they are good at what they are doing (building self-esteem) and have some autonomy in doing it (self-driven, self-esteem). This is the way people are intrinsically motivated. Which is to say nothing of extrinsic motivation; prestige, money, comfort/convenience, etc.

In the meantime, I think the Yang UBI for the poor and middle class is the only answer to prop up the poor and will help to artificially prop up an artificially created in the first place middle class. Long term, UBI is the only way. I think the stimulus was a good example-- give all the poors and middle-feeders that qualified for the $1400, give them that monthly after working out the financials on how to pay $2T every month.

Edited by DonkeyCigars
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39 minutes ago, GW Hayduke said:

Technology is surely playing a role in wealth disparity, and I agree market efficiencies can leave folks out of a job. We have always had changing technologies.  IMO our current problem is bigger and is a result of the boomer generation.

We used to heavily tax the rich and invest in future generations. Boomers benefited from all of that.  When the boomers came along and due to their large population held a lot of political power (which they still wield), those trends shifted. 

Higher education was much more affordable for boomers when compared to current college kids.  Pell grants have been replaced with our current student loan system.  At one point, the cost of college was growing eight times faster than wages.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/College_tuition_in_the_United_States#/media/File:InflationTuitionMedicalGeneral1978to2008.png

Boomers were able to support a family on a single income. That is no longer the case.  

From the 1930s to the 1980s, the top annual tax rate never dropped below 63%.  When the boomers came of age, the top annual tax rate dropped to 28% and has virtually remained below 40% for top earners.    

Since boomers came of age, government investment in future generations have decreased. 

Totally agree with the comments about lack of investment in higher education. However, the pre-1986 tax rates are misleading. Prior to the 1986 tax act, all personal interest expense and passive losses were deductible. So yes marginal tax rates were higher but few paid them because of the massive amounts of legal deductions available.

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I don't think we need a UBI. I think we need a jobs guarantee. It's not enough to pay people. You have to give them something to do, and there's plenty that needs to be done. bring back the CCC and WPA. We also need fewer people in the workforce and a return to the single income household. 

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1 hour ago, DonkeyCigars said:

I actually agree with you here, but I don't see it happening. For one, to be able to separate your self-worth from the work you are capable to do, in any line of work or skill, is higher order thinking which involves wisdom and a love of self that is nurtured at an early age from parents/community (which America sorely lacks for the majority of children) and, I would argue, an identity rooted in something outside of yourself even (for me, it's Christ, for others, it can be whatever, but the point is Americans are too married to this idea of self-centeredness and even those who aren't are obviously imperfect).

Secondly, the way the American Capitalism system defines work, the psychological and emotional fulfillment resides not in just expending labor to get on to the next part of your life schedule, but IMHO, in Pink's AMP, (Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose):

People have to feel like there is a purpose for the work they are doing (building their self-esteem of worth), feel like they are good at what they are doing (building self-esteem) and have some autonomy in doing it (self-driven, self-esteem). This is the way people are intrinsically motivated. Which is to say nothing of extrinsic motivation; prestige, money, comfort/convenience, etc.

In the meantime, I think the Yang UBI for the poor and middle class is the only answer to prop up the poor and will help to artificially prop up an artificially created in the first place middle class. Long term, UBI is the only way. I think the stimulus was a good example-- give all the poors and middle-feeders that qualified for the $1400, give them that monthly after working out the financials on how to pay $2T every month.

This is a good post.  

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11 minutes ago, hornmpa96 said:

Totally agree with the comments about lack of investment in higher education. However, the pre-1986 tax rates are misleading. Prior to the 1986 tax act, all personal interest expense and passive losses were deductible. So yes marginal tax rates were higher but few paid them because of the massive amounts of legal deductions available.

Sure. But the point is that the wealthy used to pay a much higher share of their income as taxes, which is very true.  Especially since the 80s tax act, capital gains rates were decoupled from ordinary income rates. And since the wealthy gain much of their income from capital gains, this resulted in:

Quote

Between 1985 and 2008, the wealthiest 400 Americans saw the percentage of their income paid in federal income taxes drop from 29 percent to 18 percent, according to data from the Internal Revenue Service.

  

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2 minutes ago, Bozo_Casanova said:

I don't think we need a UBI. I think we need a jobs guarantee. It's not enough to pay people. You have to give them something to do, and there's plenty that needs to be done. bring back the CCC and WPA. We also need fewer people in the workforce and a return to the single income household. 

I would be for a targeted CCC and WPA program designed to get our infrastructure and public spaces back on track (bonus points if the legislation required it all be in Art Deco). 
 

I do not like the idea of make work, jobs to match workers.  That ends up being seriously shoddy and even more demoralizing than doing nothing, this is what late-stage Sovietism devolved into (and in many ways, still is what China is up to).

 

I still want people to be able to be stupid rich in this country. Just not as stupid rich as they are now.  Implement a death tax for hundred millionaires. Tax heavily above your first 50 million. Always and everywhere, an aristocracy devolves into corrupt, irresponsible dilettantes who are either chained to reactionary politics or idly fanning the flames of a revolution whose consequences they will not bear.  See our megadonors in action on both sides of the aisle to observe this iron law in star spangled guise.
 

Give everyone under a certain income a choice‚ÄĒ UBI at a fixed rate to allow the working poor to live normally. ¬†Universal health care for all so starting your business doesn‚Äôt mean losing your coverage.¬†Or you can apply for grants up to a set cap. ¬†The grants are competitive and can be used for starting a business, a non-profit, art, creativity‚ÄĒ whatever. This is what technology is supposed to be good for, allowing us to be unshackled from wage slavery and subsistence labor and to allow for actual flourishing.¬†

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21 minutes ago, hornmpa96 said:

Totally agree with the comments about lack of investment in higher education. However, the pre-1986 tax rates are misleading. Prior to the 1986 tax act, all personal interest expense and passive losses were deductible. So yes marginal tax rates were higher but few paid them because of the massive amounts of legal deductions available.

and now you hold all your wealth as your corporation which doesn't pay any taxes because it all runs through a mailbox in dublin

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17 minutes ago, Bozo_Casanova said:

I don't think we need a UBI. I think we need a jobs guarantee. It's not enough to pay people. You have to give them something to do, and there's plenty that needs to be done. bring back the CCC and WPA. We also need fewer people in the workforce and a return to the single income household. 

UBI and jobs guarantee aren't mutually exclusive.  they're somewhat complementary. 

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If some motherfuckers could just get over themselves and pass universal healthcare, to pay for my medical insurance, I would retire tomorrow at 55 and make way for someone to take my place.  Hell 3 people at $50k each can take my place.  That alone should tell you how fucked up this system is.  I could retire and live frugally on my savings, and 3 others could earn middle class wages, but I can’t do that, because of healthcare. 

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1 hour ago, Bozo_Casanova said:

I don't think we need a UBI. I think we need a jobs guarantee. It's not enough to pay people. You have to give them something to do, and there's plenty that needs to be done. bring back the CCC and WPA. We also need fewer people in the workforce and a return to the single income household. 

Oh?

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3 hours ago, Brisketexan said:

Another huge mistake people make is presuming that billionaires are actually that much smarter and make better decisions than average schlubs.  They're not.  They make just as stupid long-term decisions as most anyone else.

There are plenty of billionaires sounding this exact alarm -- maybe 5% of them.  The remaining 95% give zero shits.  They continue on the path of accumulating as much money as possible today, who cares about the long-term health of the economy.

We are a species with a handful of very smart members.  But as a whole....we are not a smart species, at any level.

celebratedsnarlingjumpingbean-size_restr

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On 4/6/2021 at 12:05 PM, Bozo_Casanova said:

Once upon a time automation and innovation were understood to benefit everyone in the form of abundant living and more leisure time, and while those norms were destroyed in the 1980s we've seen revolutions of values before and very well could again. Hope it not a strategy, but that's no reason not to have some. Like Eddie Izzard said, this can be the last century for humanity, or it can be the first. 
 

 

On 4/6/2021 at 1:04 PM, Bateshorn said:

I took an excellent course on Germany between the World Wars.  This was one of the big take aways.

 

In some ways, I think we may be relying to much on history for explaining the current political environment.  It's the standard narrative that the "white working class" is pushed towards Trumpism because of "economic uncertainty".  I think that narrative is pretty shaky.  

A couple of points.

1. The typical analysis on the rise of Nazism is usually paired with severe economic distress in Germany.  While I understand there has been a growth in wealth inequities in the US, we are not seeing massive unemployment or inflation.  To the contrary, we are/were near record lows on both. Uneven growth has perhaps priced some people out of population centers - like San Francisco or New York - but those are still heavily blue areas.  

2. To Bozo's point, certainly there have been folks that have been displaced by technology, but I believe there are more people with free time and luxuries compared to 20 years ago.  I'm not sure how to quantify that, but I think the rise of paid sports for kids would support that.  The percentage of dual income families peaked around 1990, and has slightly tapered since [Pew].  Average home sizes have increased, by nearly 1000 ft in 40 years, and with smaller families, that has mean nearly doubling the sf per person [ok... AEI sucks, but not sure if they are gaming the numbers.]  Number of cars per person has increased [DOE] .  

Maybe my perception on comparative wealth is skewed by growing up poor, and now being upper-middle class.  But I believe people are generally better off today than they were 30 years ago.  

So, if I am right, what the fuck is happening?

Some other potential explanations:

A. Environmental concerns are a greater threat to middle class life style than job security. 

Certainly there are a lot of people who can afford to buy $50k trucks.  But, they are continually told that in order to address climate change, they should scale back the size of their truck, or scale back how much they drive it.   If they own a big house, they are told about the environmental impacts of it.  Travel causes emissions.  Eating meat causes emissions. (insert fart joke here). Don't water that your grass too much.  Don't dump your oil down the storm sewer. In the Dem bubble, we rightly identify that many in the middle and lower class vote against their own interests on tax code or health care, but do we recognize the resistance to actually following progressive efforts regarding environmentalism?

The problem is that environmental issues are too important to just back off because it costs votes.  I think Dems/progressives need to recognize the hill that needs to be overcome. While we are telling folks that they need to by with less - not because they can't afford it, but because the Earth can't - the Republicans are telling them that climate change is a hoax.  It's a pretty little lie.  And once they are hostile to progressives, it's easy to dismiss basic analysis of the tax code or health care disfunction.   

B. The internet has made it too easy to compare yourself to others, and 50% of the people out there are below average.  

Maybe in absolute terms, things have gotten better for middle class and certainly I don't believe there is want of 1930s Germany.  But, on a day to day, constant barrage of information demonstrating what you lack, is the psychological damage the same.  That's from the internet.  That's from a well tuned marketing machine, that includes social media plants.  It's reality shows focused on the wealthy.  Does this create a sense of want?

On a subset of the internet, I am curious how porn might play into this.  You get a lot of older white guys, many with fat wives, and they are regularly watching something they will never, ever have.  Sure, they might be able to hire a couple of pros to recreate the scenario, but they are still part of it, which will leave the experience a little...short.  You get the "cuck" rhetoric, which really highlights an insecurity around sex. More obviously, you have the incels.  Only some of them have been radicalized to violence, but many others have found solidarity in hating women for their lack of success.   

 

 

 

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On 4/6/2021 at 1:16 PM, ChiTownDoc said:

They don't.  You see, the playbook is to vilify browns/blacks... then even though Jimmy and BettySue are in the same bucket of shit - you tell them, look, you're much better than those pieces of shit over there.  And I'm here in office, to make sure it stays that way.  Now give me some of the little money you have...

And this is where the disruption comes in.  The Jimmys and BettySues thought their bleak little existences, brightened by cellphones, pickups on seven year notes, and financed jetskis were pretty good then that started to erode to the point they could not easily differentiate themselves from Tyrone, Shaniqua, and Heriberto down the block.  That's when the shit started to hit the fan.

And their anger is misdirected because they have no idea how shit works.

And we get politics by grievance entertainment rather than actual governance or policy.

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If some motherfuckers could just get over themselves and pass universal healthcare, to pay for my medical insurance, I would retire tomorrow at 55 and make way for someone to take my place.  Hell 3 people at $50k each can take my place.  That alone should tell you how fucked up this system is.  I could retire and live frugally on my savings, and 3 others could earn middle class wages, but I can’t do that, because of healthcare. 

This is one of my biggest selling points on healthcare, how many people are handcuffed to a job bc the insurance factor? Remove that hurdle and I believe we‚Äôd see a significant boost to the ‚Äėgood old entrepreneur American spirit‚Äô
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2 hours ago, Tuco said:

 

 

 

In some ways, I think we may be relying to much on history for explaining the current political environment.  It's the standard narrative that the "white working class" is pushed towards Trumpism because of "economic uncertainty".  I think that narrative is pretty shaky.  

A couple of points.

1. The typical analysis on the rise of Nazism is usually paired with severe economic distress in Germany.  While I understand there has been a growth in wealth inequities in the US, we are not seeing massive unemployment or inflation.  To the contrary, we are/were near record lows on both. Uneven growth has perhaps priced some people out of population centers - like San Francisco or New York - but those are still heavily blue areas.  

2. To Bozo's point, certainly there have been folks that have been displaced by technology, but I believe there are more people with free time and luxuries compared to 20 years ago.  I'm not sure how to quantify that, but I think the rise of paid sports for kids would support that.  The percentage of dual income families peaked around 1990, and has slightly tapered since [Pew].  Average home sizes have increased, by nearly 1000 ft in 40 years, and with smaller families, that has mean nearly doubling the sf per person [ok... AEI sucks, but not sure if they are gaming the numbers.]  Number of cars per person has increased [DOE] .  

Maybe my perception on comparative wealth is skewed by growing up poor, and now being upper-middle class.  But I believe people are generally better off today than they were 30 years ago.  

So, if I am right, what the fuck is happening?

Some other potential explanations:

A. Environmental concerns are a greater threat to middle class life style than job security. 

Certainly there are a lot of people who can afford to buy $50k trucks.  But, they are continually told that in order to address climate change, they should scale back the size of their truck, or scale back how much they drive it.   If they own a big house, they are told about the environmental impacts of it.  Travel causes emissions.  Eating meat causes emissions. (insert fart joke here). Don't water that your grass too much.  Don't dump your oil down the storm sewer. In the Dem bubble, we rightly identify that many in the middle and lower class vote against their own interests on tax code or health care, but do we recognize the resistance to actually following progressive efforts regarding environmentalism?

The problem is that environmental issues are too important to just back off because it costs votes.  I think Dems/progressives need to recognize the hill that needs to be overcome. While we are telling folks that they need to by with less - not because they can't afford it, but because the Earth can't - the Republicans are telling them that climate change is a hoax.  It's a pretty little lie.  And once they are hostile to progressives, it's easy to dismiss basic analysis of the tax code or health care disfunction.   

B. The internet has made it too easy to compare yourself to others, and 50% of the people out there are below average.  

Maybe in absolute terms, things have gotten better for middle class and certainly I don't believe there is want of 1930s Germany.  But, on a day to day, constant barrage of information demonstrating what you lack, is the psychological damage the same.  That's from the internet.  That's from a well tuned marketing machine, that includes social media plants.  It's reality shows focused on the wealthy.  Does this create a sense of want?

On a subset of the internet, I am curious how porn might play into this.  You get a lot of older white guys, many with fat wives, and they are regularly watching something they will never, ever have.  Sure, they might be able to hire a couple of pros to recreate the scenario, but they are still part of it, which will leave the experience a little...short.  You get the "cuck" rhetoric, which really highlights an insecurity around sex. More obviously, you have the incels.  Only some of them have been radicalized to violence, but many others have found solidarity in hating women for their lack of success.   

 

 

 

 

1 hour ago, TwiceHorn said:

And this is where the disruption comes in.  The Jimmys and BettySues thought their bleak little existences, brightened by cellphones, pickups on seven year notes, and financed jetskis were pretty good then that started to erode to the point they could not easily differentiate themselves from Tyrone, Shaniqua, and Heriberto down the block.  That's when the shit started to hit the fan.

And their anger is misdirected because they have no idea how shit works.

And we get politics by grievance entertainment rather than actual governance or policy.

 

12 minutes ago, bluto said:


This is one of my biggest selling points on healthcare, how many people are handcuffed to a job bc the insurance factor? Remove that hurdle and I believe we‚Äôd see a significant boost to the ‚Äėgood old entrepreneur American spirit‚Äô

Three really good, thought-provoking posts.  Got a few more thoughts on them, but wanted to quote for emphasis.  Thanks for these.

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1 hour ago, TwiceHorn said:

And this is where the disruption comes in.  The Jimmys and BettySues thought their bleak little existences, brightened by cellphones, pickups on seven year notes, and financed jetskis were pretty good then that started to erode to the point they could not easily differentiate themselves from Tyrone, Shaniqua, and Heriberto down the block.  That's when the shit started to hit the fan.

And their anger is misdirected because they have no idea how shit works.

And we get politics by grievance entertainment rather than actual governance or policy.

Oh, and I forgot that the Wus and the Gopalans up the block have kids going to college on full scholarships and it's look-the-fuck out.

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2 hours ago, Tuco said:

 

 

 

In some ways, I think we may be relying to much on history for explaining the current political environment.  It's the standard narrative that the "white working class" is pushed towards Trumpism because of "economic uncertainty".  I think that narrative is pretty shaky.  

A couple of points.

1. The typical analysis on the rise of Nazism is usually paired with severe economic distress in Germany.  While I understand there has been a growth in wealth inequities in the US, we are not seeing massive unemployment or inflation.  To the contrary, we are/were near record lows on both. Uneven growth has perhaps priced some people out of population centers - like San Francisco or New York - but those are still heavily blue areas.  

2. To Bozo's point, certainly there have been folks that have been displaced by technology, but I believe there are more people with free time and luxuries compared to 20 years ago.  I'm not sure how to quantify that, but I think the rise of paid sports for kids would support that.  The percentage of dual income families peaked around 1990, and has slightly tapered since [Pew].  Average home sizes have increased, by nearly 1000 ft in 40 years, and with smaller families, that has mean nearly doubling the sf per person [ok... AEI sucks, but not sure if they are gaming the numbers.]  Number of cars per person has increased [DOE] .  

Maybe my perception on comparative wealth is skewed by growing up poor, and now being upper-middle class.  But I believe people are generally better off today than they were 30 years ago.  

So, if I am right, what the fuck is happening?

Some other potential explanations:

A. Environmental concerns are a greater threat to middle class life style than job security. 

Certainly there are a lot of people who can afford to buy $50k trucks.  But, they are continually told that in order to address climate change, they should scale back the size of their truck, or scale back how much they drive it.   If they own a big house, they are told about the environmental impacts of it.  Travel causes emissions.  Eating meat causes emissions. (insert fart joke here). Don't water that your grass too much.  Don't dump your oil down the storm sewer. In the Dem bubble, we rightly identify that many in the middle and lower class vote against their own interests on tax code or health care, but do we recognize the resistance to actually following progressive efforts regarding environmentalism?

The problem is that environmental issues are too important to just back off because it costs votes.  I think Dems/progressives need to recognize the hill that needs to be overcome. While we are telling folks that they need to by with less - not because they can't afford it, but because the Earth can't - the Republicans are telling them that climate change is a hoax.  It's a pretty little lie.  And once they are hostile to progressives, it's easy to dismiss basic analysis of the tax code or health care disfunction.   

B. The internet has made it too easy to compare yourself to others, and 50% of the people out there are below average.  

Maybe in absolute terms, things have gotten better for middle class and certainly I don't believe there is want of 1930s Germany.  But, on a day to day, constant barrage of information demonstrating what you lack, is the psychological damage the same.  That's from the internet.  That's from a well tuned marketing machine, that includes social media plants.  It's reality shows focused on the wealthy.  Does this create a sense of want?

On a subset of the internet, I am curious how porn might play into this.  You get a lot of older white guys, many with fat wives, and they are regularly watching something they will never, ever have.  Sure, they might be able to hire a couple of pros to recreate the scenario, but they are still part of it, which will leave the experience a little...short.  You get the "cuck" rhetoric, which really highlights an insecurity around sex. More obviously, you have the incels.  Only some of them have been radicalized to violence, but many others have found solidarity in hating women for their lack of success.   

 

 

 

Related to your part B is also notifications. A lot of adults are absolutely tied to their phones. We can complain about our children and their games and phones, but people we need to have a talk. Those notifications pinging pinging pinging the latest thing we need to read so we can either be aggrieved or elated are really like a laser pointer to a cat.

 

 

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20 minutes ago, Mrs Whiggins said:

Related to your part B is also notifications. Those notifications pinging pinging pinging the latest thing we need to read so we can either be aggrieved or elated are really like a laser pointer to a cat.

Turn those things all off. I would fly to Hawaii just to throw my phone into a pool of lava if I could not control the notifications and pings.

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1 minute ago, pantone159 said:

Turn those things all off. I would fly to Hawaii just to throw my phone into a pool of lava if I could not control the notifications and pings.

I do, myself. That includes email. But I admit to spending too much time doomscrolling twitter.

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3 hours ago, Tuco said:

 

 

 

In some ways, I think we may be relying to much on history for explaining the current political environment.  It's the standard narrative that the "white working class" is pushed towards Trumpism because of "economic uncertainty".  I think that narrative is pretty shaky.  

A couple of points.

1. The typical analysis on the rise of Nazism is usually paired with severe economic distress in Germany.  While I understand there has been a growth in wealth inequities in the US, we are not seeing massive unemployment or inflation.  To the contrary, we are/were near record lows on both. Uneven growth has perhaps priced some people out of population centers - like San Francisco or New York - but those are still heavily blue areas.  

2. To Bozo's point, certainly there have been folks that have been displaced by technology, but I believe there are more people with free time and luxuries compared to 20 years ago.  I'm not sure how to quantify that, but I think the rise of paid sports for kids would support that.  The percentage of dual income families peaked around 1990, and has slightly tapered since [Pew].  Average home sizes have increased, by nearly 1000 ft in 40 years, and with smaller families, that has mean nearly doubling the sf per person [ok... AEI sucks, but not sure if they are gaming the numbers.]  Number of cars per person has increased [DOE] .  

Maybe my perception on comparative wealth is skewed by growing up poor, and now being upper-middle class.  But I believe people are generally better off today than they were 30 years ago.  

So, if I am right, what the fuck is happening?

Some other potential explanations:

A. Environmental concerns are a greater threat to middle class life style than job security. 

Certainly there are a lot of people who can afford to buy $50k trucks.  But, they are continually told that in order to address climate change, they should scale back the size of their truck, or scale back how much they drive it.   If they own a big house, they are told about the environmental impacts of it.  Travel causes emissions.  Eating meat causes emissions. (insert fart joke here). Don't water that your grass too much.  Don't dump your oil down the storm sewer. In the Dem bubble, we rightly identify that many in the middle and lower class vote against their own interests on tax code or health care, but do we recognize the resistance to actually following progressive efforts regarding environmentalism?

The problem is that environmental issues are too important to just back off because it costs votes.  I think Dems/progressives need to recognize the hill that needs to be overcome. While we are telling folks that they need to by with less - not because they can't afford it, but because the Earth can't - the Republicans are telling them that climate change is a hoax.  It's a pretty little lie.  And once they are hostile to progressives, it's easy to dismiss basic analysis of the tax code or health care disfunction.   

B. The internet has made it too easy to compare yourself to others, and 50% of the people out there are below average.  

Maybe in absolute terms, things have gotten better for middle class and certainly I don't believe there is want of 1930s Germany.  But, on a day to day, constant barrage of information demonstrating what you lack, is the psychological damage the same.  That's from the internet.  That's from a well tuned marketing machine, that includes social media plants.  It's reality shows focused on the wealthy.  Does this create a sense of want?

On a subset of the internet, I am curious how porn might play into this.  You get a lot of older white guys, many with fat wives, and they are regularly watching something they will never, ever have.  Sure, they might be able to hire a couple of pros to recreate the scenario, but they are still part of it, which will leave the experience a little...short.  You get the "cuck" rhetoric, which really highlights an insecurity around sex. More obviously, you have the incels.  Only some of them have been radicalized to violence, but many others have found solidarity in hating women for their lack of success.   

 

 

 

This is the post right here!

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2 hours ago, bluto said:


This is one of my biggest selling points on healthcare, how many people are handcuffed to a job bc the insurance factor? Remove that hurdle and I believe we‚Äôd see a significant boost to the ‚Äėgood old entrepreneur American spirit‚Äô

Won't it just lead to an explosion of Realtors?

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On 4/6/2021 at 10:52 AM, Walden Ponderer said:

Universal Basic Income is on its way. But we'll get to witness new and exciting variants of self-destructive stupidity before it finally gets here, because Murica.

No it isn't. They won't even entertain universal healthcare & it took a pandemic & trillions in corporate welfare to give people a few crumbs of stimulus.

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There is still upward mobility in the US. But the middle class American dream is pretty much dead. That dream was secure - work hard, go to college, get a good job, start a small/micro business and make enough to keep a smile on your and your families faces, vacations, a few toys, a house, time for little league, no one stretched too thin. That’s gone. 
 

but if you want to move up you still can - irs just not a secure bet. It means either (1) taking enormous risks - our current version of capitalism rewards high risk behavior, or (2) end up in the C-suite. That’s really how you move up and become really wealthy. Once you know those rules you can learn them, you can play by them and you can win and become very rich building a company, selling it, Wall Street jobs, plaintiffs work, putting all your life savings into a business to grow it, climbing the corporate ladder, etc.  Plenty of people do it, it’s not just VC and PE folks, it’s business owners betting on themselves and folks burning it on both ends for that promotion or new job opportunity as they climb the ladder.  
 

That’s the current equation for upward mobility. It’s there and it remains a question whether this is enough.  I think it’s not.  I think having a path to a comfortable life without that risk taking requirement needs to remain viable.  

I also think we need the same kind of opportunities for tradesmen and skilled labor. If we lose those jobs we will have to do something.  Expecting risk takers to share with non risk takers isn’t a reliable plan.  

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Posted (edited)
52 minutes ago, troph said:

There is still upward mobility in the US. But the middle class American dream is pretty much dead. That dream was secure - work hard, go to college, get a good job, start a small/micro business and make enough to keep a smile on your and your families faces, vacations, a few toys, a house, time for little league, no one stretched too thin. That’s gone. 
 

but if you want to move up you still can - irs just not a secure bet. It means either (1) taking enormous risks - our current version of capitalism rewards high risk behavior, or (2) end up in the C-suite. That’s really how you move up and become really wealthy. Once you know those rules you can learn them, you can play by them and you can win and become very rich building a company, selling it, Wall Street jobs, plaintiffs work, putting all your life savings into a business to grow it, climbing the corporate ladder, etc.  Plenty of people do it, it’s not just VC and PE folks, it’s business owners betting on themselves and folks burning it on both ends for that promotion or new job opportunity as they climb the ladder.  
 

That’s the current equation for upward mobility. It’s there and it remains a question whether this is enough.  I think it’s not.  I think having a path to a comfortable life without that risk taking requirement needs to remain viable.  

I also think we need the same kind of opportunities for tradesmen and skilled labor. If we lose those jobs we will have to do something.  Expecting risk takers to share with non risk takers isn’t a reliable plan.  

Middle class American dream was never sustainable. It was a construct propped up by artificial post-war boom and not scalable. In my opinion at least.

Edited by DonkeyCigars
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Posted (edited)
4 minutes ago, DonkeyCigars said:

Middle class American dream was never sustainable. It was a construct propped up by artificial post-war boom and not scalable. In my opinion at least.

I agree about the post war expansion creating the dream though I will quibble about saying it’s artificial or a construct. It was real, and it took over a generation for the rest of the world to rebuild. Globalization is the real culprit for the decline and whether that was avoidable is for another discussion, I do think as dangerous as the world seems, it’s a lot more stable with interdependencies. The question about whether a college degree should be enough to lead one to a good job and a comfortable life is one worth exploring, because if we are adding latent risk to labor (which we have) then labor isn’t paid enough of the spoils. 

Edited by troph
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Middle class American dream was never sustainable. It was a construct propped up by artificial post-war boom and not scalable. In my opinion at least.

I posted about this long ago. 1945-75 was an outlier, a product of a particular, unique circumstance. That mode couldn’t be sustained.

That said....we could have done a shit load better at preserving elements of it. As well as adapting to changing circumstances to offer different but similar paths.

We still have similar AVERAGE wealth and economic activity/growth compared to that period. But the distribution is all fucked up now.
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On 4/6/2021 at 3:35 PM, Bozo_Casanova said:

I don't think we need a UBI. I think we need a jobs guarantee. It's not enough to pay people. You have to give them something to do, and there's plenty that needs to be done. bring back the CCC and WPA. We also need fewer people in the workforce and a return to the single income household. 

So guarantee people jobs, but tell half of them to stay home?

 

 

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Posted (edited)

I’m somehow less hopeful about America’s future than I was over the previous four years.  Many good posts on this page but the consolidation of wealth and power continues to go unaddressed in a serious manner while our government remains paralyzed to behave in a responsible or even democratic way, these events are directly related.  

One could argue this has led to increased uncertainty/volatility, higher costs of living, and for many, a poorer quality of life.  

Edited by Hugo Stiglitz
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On 4/6/2021 at 10:30 AM, immamac said:

Real talk. There has never been a better time to start a company that resembles something that a business used to. 

No one is interested in investing in real businesses, just corporate entities or financial products that allow them to dodge taxes and actually enrich themselves on the back end while letting you suck s little off the teet in the meanwhile. 

 

On 4/6/2021 at 10:38 AM, GW Hayduke said:

Technology is a part of the story. Technology does influence the disparity in wealth between the upper and the middle/lower classes.  IMO technology plays a minor role when compared to our policies related to taxation, education, social safety nets, worker protections, minimum wage, health care, etc. etc.

 

On 4/6/2021 at 12:05 PM, Bozo_Casanova said:

Once upon a time automation and innovation were understood to benefit everyone in the form of abundant living and more leisure time, and while those norms were destroyed in the 1980s we've seen revolutions of values before and very well could again. Hope it not a strategy, but that's no reason not to have some. Like Eddie Izzard said, this can be the last century for humanity, or it can be the first. 
 

 

On 4/6/2021 at 2:45 PM, GW Hayduke said:

Technology is surely playing a role in wealth disparity, and I agree market efficiencies can leave folks out of a job. We have always had changing technologies.  IMO our current problem is bigger and is a result of the boomer generation.

We used to heavily tax the rich and invest in future generations. Boomers benefited from all of that.  When the boomers came along and due to their large population held a lot of political power (which they still wield), those trends shifted. 

Higher education was much more affordable for boomers when compared to current college kids.  Pell grants have been replaced with our current student loan system.  At one point, the cost of college was growing eight times faster than wages.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/College_tuition_in_the_United_States#/media/File:InflationTuitionMedicalGeneral1978to2008.png

Boomers were able to support a family on a single income. That is no longer the case.  

From the 1930s to the 1980s, the top annual tax rate never dropped below 63%.  When the boomers came of age, the top annual tax rate dropped to 28% and has virtually remained below 40% for top earners.    

Since boomers came of age, government investment in future generations have decreased.  RDGDP.png

 

The solution to our growing wealth disparity IMO is reversing the boomer trends.  We need to greatly raise taxes on the rich and heavily invest in workers and future generations (like prior generations invested in the boomer generation).  

Listen to Hayduke. He’s pre-med 

Technology is not the issue. Technology drives GDP growth, and thus the overall well being of our society. Slow and steady GDP growth is a good thing. Every year, our quality of life is better because of innovation. In more simpler terms, new shit gets invented to replace the old shit, and we buy it, thus propelling the growth further, at the same time lowering our mortality rates and increasing quality of life. If we stopped innovating, we become Cuba and watch the world fly past. 

Technology wipes out jobs and creates new jobs. It’s a never ending cycle. The real problem, as Hayduke pointed out is we cut taxes by a shit ton and stopped investment in education, programs to help people, infrastructure, safety nets. The top tax bracket was over 60% for 50 years from 1931 to 1981. The Reagan dropped it to 28% Why are taxes good? Taxes pay for training workers who transition between industries, education, safety nets, infrastructure, etc. 

As someone said, people should not be making 30-100 million a year, when their workers make 85K. It’s absurd. They used to pay 60%-70% of that to the government, because when people live like Kings, all the peasants start to revolt. The problem, like most problems in our country, because of lobbying laws, and the rich own the media, they use propaganda and laws to convince Johnny Hayseed that taxes are evil. They take a simple concept, like higher taxes take money out of your pocket, and say that is bad, and while technically true, it’s actually a lie when all variables are considered. Don’t you want more money in your pocket you dumb poor? What Johnny Hayseed doesn’t see is that by keeping that 2K, which is nice, might take the wife to Wally World, the 200 million the other rich guy keeps just cut funding to poor guys education and medical expenses, and clean water systems. 

So Hayseed takes that extra 2K, and spends it, but when that big storm comes along and blows his home away, or OPEC has supply cuts, he has no safety net to pay for medical or afford new training for a new job, but damn wasn’t that one trip to Wally World worth it? 

If you reduce it all down to it’s basic form. It’s the same struggle since the beginning of time. The people with resources don’t want to share the resources. 

 

 

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Posted (edited)
38 minutes ago, Sawbonz said:

So guarantee people jobs, but tell half of them to stay home?

 

 

Why would you tell anybody what to do? It’s good that women aren’t economic prisoners in unhappy marriages. 
 I’m just saying that the cultural shift towards the dual income household has not resulted in a net benefit in real dollar take home pay increase or increased happiness or better child rearing  for the middle class. It’s resulted in -marginally- higher family household income more than offset by much higher costs and much slower per capita wage growth since 70s. 
a higher LPR is great for the people at the top but not an unalloyed good for those in the middle.

Edited by Bozo_Casanova
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8 minutes ago, Bozo_Casanova said:

Why would you tell anybody what to do? 


“We also need fewer people in the workforce and a return to the single income household“

You think these things need to happen but aren’t going to recommend anyone do it?

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Posted (edited)
3 minutes ago, Sawbonz said:


“We also need fewer people in the workforce and a return to the single income household“

You think these things need to happen but aren’t going to recommend anyone do it?

I said something earlier about a revolution of values and I meant it. I’ll be very surprised if people don’t start dropping out of the workforce like they did for the first few years after the Great Recession. It’s just not worth it for a lot of folks and they aren’t doing themselves much good. 
But yeah, for at least for most middle class people in high cost cities, I would recommend they pick up a higher wage trade, move someplace cheap, and whoever makes less should stay home and run the house. It just doesn’t pencil out in most places anymore. 

Edited by Bozo_Casanova
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22 minutes ago, Bozo_Casanova said:

Why would you tell anybody what to do? It’s good that women aren’t economic prisoners in unhappy marriages. 
 I’m just saying that the cultural shift towards the dual income household has not resulted in a net benefit in real dollar take home pay increase or increased happiness or better child rearing  for the middle class. It’s resulted in -marginally- higher family household income more than offset by much higher costs and much slower per capita wage growth since 70s. 
a higher LPR is great for the people at the top but not an unalloyed good for those in the middle.

This guy gets it.

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Posted (edited)

Many like to draw parallels to pre WW2 but in some instances, pre WW1 might be better.  You had the rise of a global labor movement coupled with rapid advancements in technology and an oligarchy of monarchs that were stubbornly resistant to needed reforms. The battlefield might have changed but the struggle is all too familiar. 

Edited by Hugo Stiglitz
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4 hours ago, troph said:

but if you want to move up you still can - irs just not a secure bet. It means either (1) taking enormous risks - our current version of capitalism rewards high risk behavior, or (2) end up in the C-suite. That’s really how you move up and become really wealthy. Once you know those rules you can learn them, you can play by them and you can win and become very rich building a company, selling it, Wall Street jobs, plaintiffs work, putting all your life savings into a business to grow it, climbing the corporate ladder, etc.  Plenty of people do it, it’s not just VC and PE folks, it’s business owners betting on themselves and folks burning it on both ends for that promotion or new job opportunity as they climb the ladder. 

All that for what?

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6 hours ago, Brisketexan said:


I posted about this long ago. 1945-75 was an outlier, a product of a particular, unique circumstance. That mode couldn’t be sustained.

That said....we could have done a shit load better at preserving elements of it. As well as adapting to changing circumstances to offer different but similar paths.

We still have similar AVERAGE wealth and economic activity/growth compared to that period. But the distribution is all fucked up now.

yep. absolutely agree on it being an outlier. And I remember that/those posts

Threads like these are hard. Lots to attribute x,y, and z too. I would add that IMO you have value the middle class in your culture. America doesn't have that as a core value. We have the dream of making it big instead. 

Has America ever had to govern to have a middle class? 

The government now is just a vehicle for the rich to get richer, as we all know. So long as that is there and the people are divided over culture and world view - the middle class will continue to shrink. 

debbie downer. 

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Bozo_Casanova said:

Usually failure, burnout, and misery. But if you win the game you can live like a Mughal Nawab.

And that "goal of the extreme" is where it's broken down.

To go with a food metaphor, for the longest time, most societies had a large group of people who were food-insecure, a smaller group of people that was food secure and could even treat themselves sometimes (historically that was often the "merchant class") and a tiny group that could have sumptuous feasts with swans and peacocks and shit.  America was no different.  We were a largely agrarian society, and even when our lower classes weren't food-insecure, their economic level kept things plain: bread, eggs, vegetables from your farm garden, meat when you slaughtered a hog.  The growing middle class could eat a bit better -- meat more frequently, vegetables from the market.  And of course, there was always a tip top eating swans and caviar.

Post-war, families that historically would have been eating mostly things they grew themselves were eating hamburgers and on special occasions, steak.  Families that might have had a single shitty farm truck had two cars.  Families that never would have taken a vacation were spending a week at the shore.  

Post-war, we had a society where some folks still were hand-to-mouth, a lot of folks could eat hamburgers and even steak sometimes, and a few who ate caviar.  The "American Dream" was the burgers and steak class, not the caviar class.

Today, the "American Dream" is defined as the caviar class.  And the burgers and steak class is becoming more difficult to achieve.  And that sucks, because a secure middle class life of burgers and steak and a week at the shore is a goddamned good life.  It makes large numbers of people happy.  When people point to Norway and Finland and such for the "happiness" model, that's what we're pointing at.  Norway and Finland may not be as good as the US for giving you a shot at the caviar class.  But they are GREAT for making sure most people have a good shot at the hamburger and steak class.  And as a result, people are happy.

Wealth distribution/inequality makes a difference.  From looking at our per capita GDP starting in the post-war period, with obvious fluctuations at times, the growth rate has been steady.  In terms of real dollars, we haven't lost ground in terms of total GDP.  BUT, in terms of who sees the benefits/yield of that GDP, we sure as hell have.  We continue to make a lot of money.  A declining share of  that is going to the middle and working classes.  That creates insecurity and unhappiness.

We can choose to address that reality, or we can declare that what we have now is BETTER, because instead of a 1 in 5,000 chance of becoming super-rich, you now have a 1 in 3,000 chance of becoming super rich.  I don't think that's a good idea, but there sure as shit seems to be some strong opposition to my take.

Edited by Brisketexan
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Posted (edited)
22 minutes ago, Brisketexan said:

Post-war, families that historically would have been eating mostly things they grew themselves were eating hamburgers and on special occasions, steak.  Families that might have had a single shitty farm truck had two cars.  Families that never would have taken a vacation were spending a week at the shore.  

Essentially this is the argument I’m making for most people, and remote work has made this viable:

Live someplace where you can have a home and a road trip vacation on one income. Be happy with hamburgers. Divide your labor. Work 8 hours a day, five days a week, 49 weeks a year and no more. Learn the joy of cooking and grow some tomatoes. Buy good used instead of mediocre new, wear your clothes out, don’t use credit for what you can buy today with cash  and drive your cars until the wheels fall off. By all means send the kids to college but only pay for degrees that pay for themselves. 
In other words: STOP BUYING OTHER PEOPLE CAVIAR.

thank you for listening to my Ted Talk.

Edited by Bozo_Casanova
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2 minutes ago, Bozo_Casanova said:

Essentially this is the argument I’m making for most people, and remote work has made this viable:

Live someplace where you can have a home and a road trip vacation on one income. Be happy with hamburgers. Divide your labor. Learn the joy of cooking and grow some tomatoes. Buy good used instead of mediocre new, wear your clothes out, don’t use credit for what you can buy today with cash  and drive your cars until the wheels fall off. 
In other words: STOP BUYING OTHER PEOPLE CAVIAR.

Good stuff.  Kind of connects with the conversations we've had with our kids about their futures.  As my daughter looked around our house and realized "wait....so I'm probably living in the wealthiest household I'll ever live in, right now?", I answered "yes, but understand that there's a whole lot of good living at a wealth level below ours.  You like to travel and experience things.  So live a life where you get to do that, where your bills are paid and you have a safe roof over your head.  And don't get caught up in fancy material things [I think we've modeled that reasonably well for them -- those of you who have seen our vehicles can agree]."

We've made gods out of materialism (which leaves us on edge) and the very unlikely-to-achieve goal of super wealth (which mathematically, ain't gonna happen for 99% of us).  We've chosen the wrong gods.  And we've done so in part because we've been convinced to do so by the folks who already occupy that top tier.

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8 minutes ago, Brisketexan said:

We've made gods out of materialism (which leaves us on edge) and the very unlikely-to-achieve goal of super wealth (which mathematically, ain't gonna happen for 99% of us).  We've chosen the wrong gods.  And we've done so in part because we've been convinced to do so by the folks who already occupy that top tier.

‚ÄúYou cannot serve both God and Mammon.‚ÄĚ

- Big Cigar

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54 minutes ago, Brisketexan said:

And that "goal of the extreme" is where it's broken down.

To go with a food metaphor, for the longest time, most societies had a large group of people who were food-insecure, a smaller group of people that was food secure and could even treat themselves sometimes (historically that was often the "merchant class") and a tiny group that could have sumptuous feasts with swans and peacocks and shit.  America was no different.  We were a largely agrarian society, and even when our lower classes weren't food-insecure, their economic level kept things plain: bread, eggs, vegetables from your farm garden, meat when you slaughtered a hog.  The growing middle class could eat a bit better -- meat more frequently, vegetables from the market.  And of course, there was always a tip top eating swans and caviar.

Post-war, families that historically would have been eating mostly things they grew themselves were eating hamburgers and on special occasions, steak.  Families that might have had a single shitty farm truck had two cars.  Families that never would have taken a vacation were spending a week at the shore.  

Post-war, we had a society where some folks still were hand-to-mouth, a lot of folks could eat hamburgers and even steak sometimes, and a few who ate caviar.  The "American Dream" was the burgers and steak class, not the caviar class.

Today, the "American Dream" is defined as the caviar class.  And the burgers and steak class is becoming more difficult to achieve.  And that sucks, because a secure middle class life of burgers and steak and a week at the shore is a goddamned good life.  It makes large numbers of people happy.  When people point to Norway and Finland and such for the "happiness" model, that's what we're pointing at.  Norway and Finland may not be as good as the US for giving you a shot at the caviar class.  But they are GREAT for making sure most people have a good shot at the hamburger and steak class.  And as a result, people are happy.

Wealth distribution/inequality makes a difference.  From looking at our per capita GDP starting in the post-war period, with obvious fluctuations at times, the growth rate has been steady.  In terms of real dollars, we haven't lost ground in terms of total GDP.  BUT, in terms of who sees the benefits/yield of that GDP, we sure as hell have.  We continue to make a lot of money.  A declining share of  that is going to the middle and working classes.  That creates insecurity and unhappiness.

We can choose to address that reality, or we can declare that what we have now is BETTER, because instead of a 1 in 5,000 chance of becoming super-rich, you now have a 1 in 3,000 chance of becoming super rich.  I don't think that's a good idea, but there sure as shit seems to be some strong opposition to my take.

And this is where I have always anchored my argument to the lightspeed advancement of technology, especially social media and instant interconnectedness, as bad.

You need a hearts and mind change, to view the middle class as an aspiration and goal instead of a mediocre stepping stone to the good life. Social Media/Technology has distorted reality and expectations and goals for a life the same way instant hardcore porn on demand has psychologically distorted the reality of sex for people. There is a real analogy there; people who are 5's who should be mating with other 5's become incel's because they think they should have 10's. People who by education and skill and value should be happy with a middle class life, yearn for more because of social media constantly feeding them what the high life looks like.

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