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David Brooks's New York Times piece "Capitalism for the Masses" is a blood-boiler. Macroeconomic math is very simple. There is one mathematical fact. If the wealth of the rich is growing at a consistently higher rate than the rate of the economy’s aggregate wealth creation and that rate differential is not completely attributable to sources external to the U.S., then wealth is being transferred from the poor and the middle class to the rich.

If one listens to CNBC or reads the Wall Street Journal, the only thing that matters is growth. If a company does not meet growth expectations, its stock is clobbered. When a company has exhausted its growth potential because of product saturation and the inability to expand to other markets a semblance of continued growth is usually attained on the backs of the workers in the form of lower wages, lower benefits, etc. When that cycle is complete, stock collapse followed by either acquisition or some sort of liquidation is likely.

David Brooks's article was sort of an ode to the president of the American Enterprise Institute, Arthur Brooks. Arthur Brooks and David Brooks are not related. David Brooks was enamored with Arthur Brooks's rather long essay titled "Be Open-Handed Toward Your Brothers." He intimates that Arthur Brooks is providing tough love to conservatives by suggesting they declare a truce on the social safety net. Yet, the tone and ideology of his essay is still based on pointless fallacies.

The 2008 election marked the return of progressive politics in America. For the first time in 16 years, Democrats won both houses of Congress and the White House. They wasted no time in articulating a progressive agenda they claimed would offset the Great Recession and turn America toward greater fairness and compassion. Lifting up the poor, decreasing inequality, and curbing runaway income gains among the wealthiest Americans ranked high among their stated priorities.
More on David Brooks's essay below the fold.

While Democrats took over, the agenda was far from progressive. The stimulus was balanced and tax cuts remained. Inasmuch as the Affordable Care Act was better than the old system, it was a conservative plan. Banks remained private and the "capitalists" that destroyed the economy were bailed out.

In sum, the administration’s ostensibly pro-poor, tough-on-the-wealthy agenda has led us toward a new American Gilded Age. Our putatively progressive president has inadvertently executed a plutocratic tour de force.
This new American Gilded Age is a function of entrenched economic policy that the president, Republicans, nor Democrats are interested in or are willing to address. Only an economic paradigm shift can ultimately solve the steady decline of the poor and middle class in the country. It is basic math.

David Brooks pointed out the perfect example though he came to the wrong conclusion.

But now capitalism faces its greatest moral crisis since the Great Depression. The nature of that crisis can be captured in two statistics. When Facebook entered a deal to buy WhatsApp this week, it agreed to pay a price equal to $345 million per WhatsApp employee. Meanwhile, the share of the economic pie for the middle 60 percent of earners nationally has fallen from 53 percent to 45 percent since 1970.
American taxpayers built the internet. Thousands of marginally paid scientists and engineers designed the chips that allowed other engineers to build computers and servers necessary to support Facebook and WhatsApp. Millions of users provided the community that is Facebook/WhatApps. Yet our form of capitalism allows a few to profit from what was really created by the masses and managed by a few. This story is replicated throughout the economy.

In a fair system, that $19 billion that was paid by capitalists to purchase WhatsApp would take into account the relative value of all those that made Facebook and WhataApp a success. This applies to the masses today. We pay tolls to keep up the roads. We pay taxes to maintain our infrastructure, our military, and our research.

The working man pays up to 39 percent in taxes while those that live off their capital appreciation pay 20 percent or so on realized gains. While the current administration is more progressive than the Bush administration, conservatives have moved so far to the right our current government is viewed as being more progressive than it is.

Too many in our government still believe that the private sector is always more efficient than government, "we the people" in every sector. Others believe that government (not for-profit entities) is best in certain sectors. If it is true that competition creates more efficiency, then the private sector should never fear government as a "competitor" in any sector.

To be specific, some services and products should be considered utilities. All utilities should have a non-profit component. Banking (e.g., Bank of North Dakota), water, fuel, electricity and health insurance (single payer or public option) should at the minimum have non-profit components to compete with for-profits.

America's current form of capitalism kills free enterprise, kills democracy. Real progressive policies ensure that policies are biased towards people as opposed to corporations. They create a more even playing field, a playing field where real free enterprise by the masses will strive.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I'm happy someone reads David Brooks (55+ / 0-)

    so the rest of us don't have to. He vies for the George Will chair of pedantic punditry. He has a way with words but little to actually say. And, most of what he has to say isn't helpful.  

    I'm from the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party

    by voicemail on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 03:04:47 PM PST

  •  maybe only flea enterprise gets killed and (6+ / 0-)

    David Brooks is a character in the Raid bug spray commercial, screaming before he gets liquidated since macroeconomic arguments without microfoundations are much like the success of the Chicago Cubs with George Will rooting for them...

    America’s Form Of Capitalism Kills Free Enterprise And Democracy

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be" - Barack Obama 04/27/2013 (@eState4Column5).

    by annieli on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 03:09:49 PM PST

  •  Public banking. Anything else is vampirism. (15+ / 0-)

    Another emotional outburst on my part, I have no doubt.  :-)

    Hard to have a government when one-third of your representatives are insane and the other two-thirds have been sold to the highest bidder.

    by Rikon Snow on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 03:10:28 PM PST

  •  There'll come a time when arguments for (27+ / 0-)

    the status quo or arguments about putting the system on a bigger set of steroids to obviate the acceleration of the yawning gap between rich and poor won't be met with arguments or "debate" any longer. It'll be met with hordes storming the Bastille.

    And boy, they asked for it.

    "The soil under the grass is dreaming of a young forest, and under the pavement the soil is dreaming of grass."--Wendell Berry

    by Wildthumb on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 03:10:43 PM PST

    •  Well said. (9+ / 0-)

      I believe the smart ones like Warren Buffet realize that. They have studied the history and know an ever widening gap between the poor and the rich will not be sustainable for ever.

    •  you may be right, but (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Wildthumb, thanatokephaloides

      I hope not. It likely won't just be "they" that suffer if that happens.

      Gondwana has always been at war with Laurasia.

      by AaronInSanDiego on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 04:28:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't want a violent revolution either. (9+ / 0-)

        I'd like a rational, sustainable transition to a new society.

        We'll see, won't we?

        "The soil under the grass is dreaming of a young forest, and under the pavement the soil is dreaming of grass."--Wendell Berry

        by Wildthumb on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 04:30:39 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I think what's most likely to happen (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          geez53, Wildthumb

          is what's happened in the past. Partial progress, either in reaction to social unrest or in order to prevent it, but there will still be more to do. And the pendulum will likely swing the other way as well.

          Gondwana has always been at war with Laurasia.

          by AaronInSanDiego on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 04:42:57 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  In other words, the New Deal (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Wildthumb
            •  Another New Deal (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              geez53, joedemocrat, Wildthumb

              would not be so bad, but we might need another one 80 years later.

              Gondwana has always been at war with Laurasia.

              by AaronInSanDiego on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 05:30:25 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  The problem is that the New Deal was at ... (5+ / 0-)

                ...partly meant to stave off something more radical. It worked both to ease the life of the lower economic tiers, build a broad and solid middle class and cement a certain piece of  plutocracy into place: thriving, powerful but circumscribed. We had a chance for a New New Deal in 2009-2010. Some of us talked about it in just those terms in the run-up to the 2008 election and throughout 2009 until it became clear it wasn't happening. Michael Grunwald actually claims we got one in a book of that name.

                What we did get has failed to grow the economy fast enough to keep more radical ideas from bubbling into more minds than such idea usually find an audience for. Those could expand further or be choked off. President Obama could go for expansion. Since Congress is a bastion of naysaying deniers and obstructors who will never work with the president, executive ordering everything New New Dealish that can be legitimately XOed should be the agenda.

                Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

                by Meteor Blades on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 06:35:31 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  If the radical ideas really are (0+ / 0-)

                  bubbling into enough minds to make people take notice, then there is still a chance for a new deal type of response. But that kind of depends on what happens both in Congress and with the economy over the next few years. I suspect both will improve enough that the response will still be dissatisfying, but maybe a little better than now.

                  Gondwana has always been at war with Laurasia.

                  by AaronInSanDiego on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 07:10:40 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  The chronic problems of the economy... (5+ / 0-)

                    ...plus the acute one of long-term unemployment that is becoming chronic include the fact that, since World War II, the maximum time between recessions has been 120 months. We're now at 75 months. Unless the job market improves far faster than it has so far (just talking about jobs in the aggregate not the quality of those jobs), we'll be back in recession before emerging from where we were when the last one struck. Some don't have a lot of years. Neither the president nor we can depend on Congress to act in the direction we want, so in the short run, it has to be presidential moves. If he is willing to make them. It is my belief that the time to do that is now, before the election.

                    Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

                    by Meteor Blades on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 07:30:32 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  True, but recoveries (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      VClib

                      have also tended to be stronger than the one we're in Perhaps the weakness of the recovery takes some pressure off another potential crash. In any case, I'm just talking about what I think is likely to happen, not how I think we should act.

                      Gondwana has always been at war with Laurasia.

                      by AaronInSanDiego on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 07:37:51 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  On second thought (0+ / 0-)

                      the stock market has been doing pretty well over the past year, so maybe the pressure is still there and we will get another recession before unemployment recovers, even if fewer people are feeling the benefits of any boom.

                      Gondwana has always been at war with Laurasia.

                      by AaronInSanDiego on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 07:43:40 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  Even if all the neo-Birchers in congress got on (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Meteor Blades, Calamity Jean

                      board ( i don't know, some water they drank while in NC or VA maybe?), where are we going to produce that much meaningful, sustainable employment? Robotics, out-sourcing, industrialized ag, you name it, we've killed work for the masses. Degrees and Tech certificates are only good for some of the gap and only for those who can handle class rooms AND student loan debt.

                      This nation alone has doubled it's population of workers since you and i where in diapers, while at the same time steadily eliminating the demand for workers.

                      21st Century America: The distracted, superficial perception of a virtual reality. Gettov Milawn

                      by geez53 on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 08:27:01 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                •  Exactly my point, MB (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Calamity Jean, RUNDOWN

                  FDR did not want his friends and relatives to meet with Madame Guillotine. The New Deal saved them from their own greed. But there was no Smedley Butler to hand the rich to Obama over a barrel. And Obama is timid, no FDR he. So now, we are cruising for a violent and bloody revolution. And with all the firearms in this country, it's going to be a whopper. Too bad the wealthy can't see the writing on the wall with their backs against the wall like F.W. de Klerk.

          •  And thats what's scary right now...... (0+ / 0-)
            ...what's happened in the past. Partial progress, either in reaction to social unrest or in order to prevent it.....
            If this pendulum swings any further to the Know-Nothing, corporate sponsored right and austerity, the swing arm will break and the whole clock stops working. What just happened in the Ukraine will just be a first read for a tragic play that doesn't end well for anyone (except the professional-grade survivalists with their ten-year bunkers). End-Timers are mainstream now, not just some blip of Millerites.

            One of the first scenes from that play:
            Sometime between her anointment to the candidacy and the election, Alice Walton is giving HRC a private tour of Crystal Bridges, gloating over the most recent acquisitions.

            Aunt Alice: Dear, WE know you're under some pressure, but WE are a little concerned about this "populist agenda". You know, how it may effect OUR interests.

            HRC: Oh, Aunt Alice, You of all people should know better. Didn't Bill get rid of those pesky Glass–Steagall regulations and push NAFTA for you ALL? But your concern concerns me. I know, let me get you on the inside of a Monet, Secy. Kerry can arrange it next time he's in Paris or London.

            Aunt Alice: Oh thank you dear, that wall could use a little filler. We'll have a chat with Charles and David H., see if we can't relieve a little of that pressure .... they did go a bit too far, ...... That one in White house really set them off y'know.

            HRC: Set them off!?! Bill and I could hardly eat for a month after the nomination. But you have to admit, it all turned out pretty sweet for Your interests and dividends so far [wink].

            Aunt Alice: Oh please don't wink like that Dear, that Palin creature still haunts me.
            [pause then sigh of relief] You're right, WE shouldn't be concerned, break a leg!
            [shorter pause] Which Monet is it?

            21st Century America: The distracted, superficial perception of a virtual reality. Gettov Milawn

            by geez53 on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 07:53:29 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Or maybe Tom Perkins will just shut up. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            geez53

            “Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.” ... Voltaire

            by RUNDOWN on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 07:57:51 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  He's probably recieved one or two sternly worded (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              RUNDOWN

              e-mails from the club membership already. "stop rubbing salt" and such. ;}

              21st Century America: The distracted, superficial perception of a virtual reality. Gettov Milawn

              by geez53 on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 08:02:01 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  There isn't anyone in the Bastille (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      twigg, todamo13, BYw, RUNDOWN

      It's all virtual now on a server somewhere in the cloud. The 1% just fly away to somewhere else. They are untouchable and have the vast power of the State behind them. Did you really think the NSA was hunting terrorists?

      Voting is the means by which the public is distracted from the realities of power and its exercise.

      by Anne Elk on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 05:18:31 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The link that conservatives (27+ / 0-)

    seem incapable of making is that if workers make a living wage, there is less need for a safety net.  On top of stimulating the economy with more disposable income, fewer people will need to access SNAP TANF, etc. and they pay taxes, which can pay for things like infrastructure repair, which also stimulates the economy.

    It makes no sense for Wal-Mart, McDonalds, etc. to pay their employees so little that the taxpayers pick up the slack while the corporations and shareholders collect the benefits.

    Conservatives should stop attacking the safety net, but they should make the next logical step and realize that they would benefit as much or more if it were needed less.

  •  I keep thinking what if... (17+ / 0-)

    the promise of every technological revolution actually came through: that we'd spend less time working to gain the the essentials, and more time developing our interests and talents.

    What if we could follow the "slow food" movement into the "slow goods" movement -- and make paying a middle-class wage to people (like me!) who make incredible beautiful things by hand, with skills developed over years or decades, a sign of having "made it", instead of buying the "right" handbag or shoes or dress that has the "right" designer name on it.

    A few days ago I posted a photo of a Shetland lace shawl I knit; it took @600 hours of work.  My guess is there may be a thousand people in the world who have the ability to do work such as I do.

    But I can't make a living at it; I don't know people who will pay $25,000 for an article of clothing; and the people who can pay that are too busy impressing with their Tom Ford bags or Jimmy Choo shoes.

  •  This is actually the argument for a guaranteed ... (20+ / 0-)

    annual income.

    The citizens should each receive a dividend each year for the continued prosperity of the technology/infrastructure/.... produced by all our forefathers, without which most of everything we do today would not be possible.

    Every business now builds on what has gone before, and it should now start to pay a form of dividend/royalty to the descendants (all of us) of all who made it possible.

    Its the best way to square the circle and provide a rationale for giving every citizen a basic livelihood and a real way of paying for it.

    “If equal affection cannot be, Let the more loving one be me.” W.H. Auden

    by taonow on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 03:19:29 PM PST

  •  Why not Unfttered Capitalism + Govt Redistributin? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Frankenoid

    Allow government rentier Elon Musk to accumulate 15B in wealth.

    And allow the federal government the right to apply a wealth tax so as to ensure the economic integrity of this nation.

    Wealth tax would start at 1% annually, for HHs with net worth of at least 50M.

    The Buffets and Ellisons would contribute 8% of their net worth to the federal government each year.

    Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project. www.hamiltonproject.org

    by PatriciaVa on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 03:21:11 PM PST

    •  One issue with that (6+ / 0-)

      If the Musks and Buffets of society are going to lose 8% of their net worth, no matter what, I think they would simply get tricky about it and move funds into holding companies, trust funds, foreign properties and investments that would be harder for the US to keep track of, etc. Maybe transfer their properties to their relatives and keep a life estate.

      Or maybe they would just find some loophole where they give away all but $50 million of their net worth at the end of every year, then take it back the next.

      My cynicism tells me that there would be some fashion of shielding those assets and making sure they don't lose 8% of their net worth every year.

      Though that said, I would have no problem with extremely punitive tax rates after the first few million, to the point where 100% or close to that kicks in well before anyone has several hundred million. Wealth simply should not be so concentrated, period, especially in a democracy of equals.

      •  Here is a refinement (3+ / 0-)

        because I share your cynicism.

        If you want to do business in a place, you need to pay taxes there. So, FINE. Hide your stuff all you like. But if you want to make money off of Americans, you need to pay for the privilege. You know, a federal sales tax, for starters.

        What does China do? I bet they don't just let multi-nationals just show up and sell stuff and take money out of the system?

        Darling, you didn't use canned salmon, did you?

        by JrCrone on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 04:23:50 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  The simple solution might be a tax (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JrCrone, BYw, tari

      on all financial transactions. In 1970, the financial sector was around 6% of GDP. Now it's over 30%. Most of that is people making money from moving money around. It's essentially a money siphon. If we took a little cut of every transaction, the amount of revenue would be huge, depending on the marginal rate. Ideally the tax would be sufficient to push the financial sector back down closer to where it should be. The real driver of inequality isn't so much the CEO's of this world so much as it is all of the finance people, like Mitt Romney, who make money from money and pay less than 15% tax. So, tax the transactions themselves.

      Voting is the means by which the public is distracted from the realities of power and its exercise.

      by Anne Elk on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 05:27:26 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Anne - most of the people who make money (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        andalusi

        from transactions don't qualify for long term capital gains tax rates. To qualify a capital asset must be held for at least a year. Groups like Bain Capital only have a few sales each year (although they can be for hundreds of millions) and they will have typically held those assets for three to five years. Most (there are some high profile exceptions) of the hedge funds, and other active financial market participants, generate transactions that are taxed at the top earned income rates because they don't keep the appreciated capital assets for a year.

        I support a thoughtful transaction tax, but not one that encourages trading to move offshore.

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 07:54:36 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  PVA - as we have discussed before (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      andalusi

      most scholars think that a wealth tax would require a Constitutional Amendment like the 16th did for a federal income tax.

      Some European countries have a wealth tax, although more had them and found that in the long term it lowered their overall tax revenues. They found that the wealth tax encouraged capital flight, reduced domestic investments, and lowered the long term growth rate of the country. Of those countries who still have them I think the top rate is 3%, with most of them between 1-2%. Part of the problem is what assets are taxed, and who values them on an annual basis? It's easy to value financial assets that are traded in the public markets, but many other items are difficult for governments to value on an annual basis.

      "let's talk about that"

      by VClib on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 08:02:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  You could put all of what David Brooks knows (9+ / 0-)

    about economics into a very, very, very small space . . .  exempla gratia:  David Brooks' brain.

    Fiat justitia ruat caelum "Let justice be done though the heavens fall."

    by bobdevo on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 03:21:44 PM PST

  •  "America's form of capitalism" depends on us ... (19+ / 0-)

    ... taxpayers to bail out banks, suffer huge subsidies to some of the world's most profitable businesses, maintain safety nets  to support low-wage jobs ... the list of bennies depending upon by capitalism and "free enterprise" is quite staggering.

    It makes a mockery of all that Republican talk about smaller government, lower taxes and much less regulation.

    2014 is HERE. Build up the Senate. Win back the House : 17 seats. Plus!

    by TRPChicago on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 03:22:43 PM PST

  •  The post-2008 agenda (8+ / 0-)

    was hardly progressive, but it WAS progressive by comparison.  Right now you essentially have a center-right Democratic Party and a far-right Republican Party.  There are certainly voices for left politics (i.e. Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders) but on economic issues at least the Democrats are center-right for the most part.

    29, white male, TX-07 (current), TN-09 (born), TN-08 (where parents live now)

    by TDDVandy on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 03:23:58 PM PST

  •  Well the profit rate has to be kept high -- (5+ / 0-)

    despite the drift of the global economy into stagnation (through e.g. a global economic growth rate that has been in decline for four decades now).  So the pundits will save capitalism for the rich, while the rest of us are pushed back into the proletariat.

    The only realistic solution is not more capitalism.

    "If you sing a song a day/ You will make a better way" -- Earth, Wind, and Fire

    by Cassiodorus on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 03:26:35 PM PST

  •  Brooks: Big platform, small insight or accuracy (5+ / 0-)

    No need to argue details.

  •  Re (4+ / 0-)
    The working man pays up to 39 percent in taxes while those that live off their capital appreciation pay 20 percent or so on realized gains.
    Is it now site policy that people who make over $406k/year are now "the working man"?

    Even up to $186k/year marginal federal rates are 28%.

    Additionally, those who make $406k don't pay 39.6%, they pay much lower because most of their income is taxed at lower marginal rates.

    Just a nitpick, but if you are going to argue a point it's important that the numbers be right.

    (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
    Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

    by Sparhawk on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 03:30:18 PM PST

    •  Effective tax rates also include payroll taxes (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BYw, annan, Calamity Jean

      and excise taxes which fall much harder on the lower income levels. Income taxes account for only about 40% of federal revenues while payroll taxes account for almost as much. If you include all federal taxes middle and lower income individuals pay far higher rates than upper income individuals especially the top .0001%.

      Really don't mind if you sit this one out. My words but a whisper -- your deafness a SHOUT. I may make you feel but I can't make you think..Jethro Tull

      by RMForbes on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 04:43:40 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Payroll taxes... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        VClib

        ...pay for direct services that the rich don't proportionately use (social security and Medicare). A rich guy pays taxes on the first $113k or so of his income. He also only draws that much in benefits.

        My point is, you can cut SS taxes. You'd just have to cut benefits also.

        (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
        Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

        by Sparhawk on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 05:59:05 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Irrelevent (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jbsoul, Calamity Jean

          Middle and lower income Americans still pay a higher percentage of their income to federal taxes than the very wealthy. It hasn't always been that way and when those that earned the most actually paid higher effective tax rates than the average taxpayer we grew the largest and most affluent middle class in human history. Your libertarian ideals have never worked and never will.

          Really don't mind if you sit this one out. My words but a whisper -- your deafness a SHOUT. I may make you feel but I can't make you think..Jethro Tull

          by RMForbes on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 06:35:16 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Unrealistic to include Social Security in (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sparhawk, VClib

        determining tax payments, as the amount you pay into Social Security determines your benefits (and on average you get back more than you paid in), so it acts more like a saving/pension/annuity than an income tax.

        The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

        by nextstep on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 05:59:57 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I guess you don't understand what effective tax (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Calamity Jean

          rates mean. When the wealthy pay higher effective tax rates our economy grows along with the working/middle class. Since the advent of trickle down tax policy the wealthy have captured almost all of the wealth created by the American worker while their wages lost real value. This has nothing to do with Social Security benefits.

          Really don't mind if you sit this one out. My words but a whisper -- your deafness a SHOUT. I may make you feel but I can't make you think..Jethro Tull

          by RMForbes on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 06:47:34 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I am an economist, who spends time on (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            VClib

            international tax policy, especially how they are structured and country competitiveness.  Marginal and effective tax rates come up quite frequently in my work.

            I have never seen a study by an authoritative source that backs up your claim that higher effective tax rates increases economic growth.  If you have a link to such authoritaive studies please provide them.  Which countries can you name with high growth rates that have high effective tax rates?

            The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

            by nextstep on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 07:14:01 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  BS, if you are truly an economist as you say (0+ / 0-)

              You would know that our economy grew far better during the 40's, 50's, 60's, 70's and early 80's until Reaganomics changed the tax incentives away from reinvestment in our domestic economy. It made no sense during those decades for owners of businesses to take more than $3 million (in today's dollars) a year out of their business because anything over that went mostly to federal taxes. So, instead they grew their business by adding new locations, expanded their product line or even paid their employees that were the ones actually responsible for their success even better.

              I guess your work wouldn't relate to an economy that wasn't eviscerating the working/middle class which has been happening over the last three decades.

              Really don't mind if you sit this one out. My words but a whisper -- your deafness a SHOUT. I may make you feel but I can't make you think..Jethro Tull

              by RMForbes on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 08:16:09 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Where are the authoritative studies showing (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Sparhawk

                higher tax rates lead to higher growth? If what you say is true they would be easy to find.

                Where are the high growth countries today that also have high effective tax rates?  If that policy works so well one would expect to see high growth countries using that policy but they don't exist.

                The economic performance of an economy is not solely a function of the tax rate schedule, many other factors are important.

                The late 1940s, 1950s and early 1960s were a special time in that World War II destroyed the industrial capacity of most of Europe, Japan and elsewhere while these countries also had a massive burden from caring for injured military and civilians, while US production was not destroyed (the US also had a burden from the war injured, but far less than Europe and Japan).  This expanded the demand for US goods and minimized foreign competition.  This was a far larger factor than any tax policy change in this period.

                The 1980s had higher economic growth after the tax cuts went into effect, despite an aggressive reduction in monetary growth to fight high inflation and high interest rates (Keynesian economics sees this decreasing growth).  

                Note that the growth years of the Pres Carter years included the Revenue Act of 1978 ( see http://en.wikipedia.org/... ) that cut tax rates for all and lowered the Capital Gains tax rate to 28% - which was the same rate as Revenue Act of 1986.

                You can find the Chained CPI adjusted GDP data from the US Government's Bureau of Economic Analysis at http://bea.gov/...

                The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

                by nextstep on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 10:34:24 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I'm not the one claiming to be an economist (0+ / 0-)

                  If you honestly looked for evidence in a form you would accept, I'm quite sure you would find it.

                  You obviously don't know the history, after WWII the Marshall Plan helped Europe and Asia rebuild their own manufacturing base. We did not grow our working/middle class to the largest and most affluent in human history through exports. We grew because of the massive domestic demand in our economy. We had pent up demand in a growing and increasingly affluent domestic population. Our exports of finished manufactured goods in the decade after WWII were far more anemic than they are today.

                  In 1978 it was still not legal to compensate corporate officers with stock options to avoid income taxes so dropping the capital gains tax to 28% had little effect on our economy. The average CEO still made about 20 to 30 times more than the company's lowest paid employee and if they made more than $3 million a year (today's dollars) the excess income was taxed at a 76% rate. Post Reaganomics the average CEO is compensated at 300 to 1000 times the lowest paid employee and their is no longer any tax penalty for taking excessive profits out of the business. This has been good for Wall Street but not so much for main street.

                   

                  Really don't mind if you sit this one out. My words but a whisper -- your deafness a SHOUT. I may make you feel but I can't make you think..Jethro Tull

                  by RMForbes on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 09:36:10 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Compensation of CEOs through stock options and (0+ / 0-)

                    such gets taxed at the ordinary income rate, not the lower capital gains rate.  This is a frequently misunderstanding at this website.

                    In California, between Federal and State taxes, the tax rate for highly paid executive compensation is about 50%.

                    The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

                    by nextstep on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 12:32:52 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Stock options are not always taxed (0+ / 0-)

                      as income for top corporate executives, they are deferred compensation and are not taxed until the stocks are sold. The profits realized upon the sale of the stocks are not subject to federal or state income taxes, the profits are taxed at the current 20% capital gains rate. If you are a small business owner and realize profits in the Market you are required to pay normal income tax rates on your additional profits but that is not so for those at the top of the income scale like Mitt Romney that can game the system. You are only right when you are talking about us normal people and not for the elite very wealthy few. We need to eliminate these tax loopholes that unfairly benefit the already very wealthy.

                      Really don't mind if you sit this one out. My words but a whisper -- your deafness a SHOUT. I may make you feel but I can't make you think..Jethro Tull

                      by RMForbes on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 01:07:25 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  So many errors in one comment (0+ / 0-)

                        The taxable event with stock options is when they are exercised, not when the stock is sold (except for highly limited in size "qualified options.")  The difference between option exercise and market price of the stock issued from exercise of the option is reported on the person's W-2 and taxed the same as salary not at the capital gains rate. For a high income person in California the combined taxes to the IRS and state income tax is over 50%.

                        See the IRS publication on this at http://www.irs.gov/...

                        Capital gains taxes are part of the income tax, so there is no avoiding of income taxes.

                        The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

                        by nextstep on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 02:02:53 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Are you really trying to say that there is no such (0+ / 0-)

                          thing as the deferred tax tax loophole on these forms of corporate compensation? I bet you make your living helping these oligarchs avoid paying the same tax rates as us normal Americans.

                          Really don't mind if you sit this one out. My words but a whisper -- your deafness a SHOUT. I may make you feel but I can't make you think..Jethro Tull

                          by RMForbes on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 02:28:20 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

    •  Yeah, there should be no tax preference (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Calamity Jean

      for the source of income. Even Ronald Reagan thought that.

      Voting is the means by which the public is distracted from the realities of power and its exercise.

      by Anne Elk on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 05:28:42 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Anne - Reagan had no argument from the rich (0+ / 0-)

        to tax both earned income and long term capital gains at the same rate when both were capped at 28%. Neither Reagan, or his supports, thought that those two rates should stay in tandem if the rates on earned income went above 28%. To suggest otherwise is disingenuous.

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 08:07:20 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Lecture the Dalai Lama on the spiritual benefits (6+ / 0-)

    Of obscene wealth . . . Capitalism has no shame, no conscience, and no justification.  Wealth, thy name is desperation.

    Hard to have a government when one-third of your representatives are insane and the other two-thirds have been sold to the highest bidder.

    by Rikon Snow on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 03:32:02 PM PST

  •  This Says it ALL, Really: (11+ / 0-)
    If the wealth of the rich is growing at a consistently higher rate than the rate of the economy’s aggregate wealth creation and that rate differential is not completely attributable to sources external to the U.S., then wealth is being transferred from the poor and the middle class to the rich.
    and throw in the birth lottery for some context: studies now show if you're born into a one parent, low income home, the probability you will grow up and enter a higher income bracket is eight percent. hardly great odds.

    the amount of corporate welfare is enormous, I think it's something like $200 Billion per year.

    "We are beyond law, which is not unusual for an empire; unfortunately, we are also beyond common sense." Gore Vidal

    by Superpole on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 03:32:30 PM PST

  •  Can't pay a decent wage? Then we don't need you (10+ / 0-)

    This statement in his piece quoting Arthur Brooks summed things up for me:

    The real moral health of an economic system, he argues, can be measured by how well it helps all people make an enterprise of their life. Whether they work at odd jobs or at a nongovernmental organization or at a big company, do they get to experience the joy of achievement? Do they know that their work amounts to something?
    Businesses represent the expression of capital investment.  The rules we as a people set out in the form of laws that govern corporations guide how we allow capital to be invested and in a macro sense to what end.  If a business cannot generate enough gross profit to pay its workers a decent salary (say like a $10.10/hr minimum wage) then the capital invested in the business has not been invested in a way that best serves society and the economy.  Better that such a business disappear and its capital be invested in one that does.  Our laws and regulations should reflect this.  Minimum wage levels, regulations that require safe and effective products, etc. set the boundaries that we expect businesses to operate in.  Past that the market can figure out the best use of the capital.  But again, if a businesses product or service is not worth enough to its customers that the business can charge enough for what they provide to pay its workers a decent wage as well as a reasonable return on the investment, then by definition we don't need the business.

    We have a democracy.  There is no natural law that requires that we choose to have a capitalist based economy.  We have chosen to do that because we think it is the best of the alternatives out there.  Having chosen that model, we still have the right to make choices about what we allow and what the rules and limits are.   The right seems to think that there is some magic or divine purpose going on.  There isn't.  It is a man made system and should be designed and run in a way that maximizes the benefit for all.  Right now it is failing at that.  The sooner the right and the 1% recognize this, the better.  Otherwise they and the rest of us are in for some really bad times.

    The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones! - John Maynard Keynes

    by Do Something on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 03:39:16 PM PST

  •  I only wonder if David Brooks is dim enough to (6+ / 0-)

    swallow his own drivel. Such a blight on the landscape of American discourse, he is.

    Brooksonomics illustrated:
    If you have five apples and I take all of them, leaving you with half a worm, be happy for the protein from your betterz.

    You show a little grit and you lands in jail.

    by cal2010 on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 03:44:23 PM PST

  •  Shallow, poor writing (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    thanatokephaloides

    This is not worthy of the front page.

  •  Brooks has a history degree from U of Chicago... (9+ / 0-)

    a school well-known, indeed, infamous for it's theories about legal economics, etc.

    Nothing in his education or experience qualifies him to opine on economics, and yet there he is, running his mouth, usually at odds with Krugman (Nobel prize winner, PhD from MIT in economics, a guy who can actually do math) and Stiglitz (Nobel prize winner, PhD from MIT in economics, a guy who can actually do math).

    It would be the equivalent of me arguing about heart disease with the head of Cardiovascular Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic (a guy who just happens to be my cardiologist).

    He talks; I listen.

    Fiat justitia ruat caelum "Let justice be done though the heavens fall."

    by bobdevo on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 03:49:56 PM PST

  •  End the quarterly earnings report (4+ / 0-)

    it is at the heart of the short-sighted policies of publicly traded companies and leads to high CEO pay, cost-cutting of payroll, not caring about the environment and the effort to put growth over sustainability.

    http://blogs.hbr.org/...

    http://economia.icaew.com/...

    To be free and just depends on us. Victor Hugo.

    by dizzydean on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 03:53:53 PM PST

  •  Kudos Egberto! (4+ / 0-)

    But I would make one tiny quibble, and that is in the formulation of "this administration is more progressive than the previous one."

    That implies that this Administration is the least little bit progressive. I would note instead that "this administration is less conservative than the previous one" and continue with your well-noted observation that comparisons resulting from such a frighteningly extreme rightward drift will make it SEEM as though the Obama Administration is progressive. Or "communist." Or whatever else the far right wants to call it to gin up their masses/minions.

    Of course, I know that you are stating this same conclusion that I am here. I also realize that you are following David Brooks' own discursive formulation. I am just saying that even observing those discursive rules of "Obama = more 'progressive'" ends up inadvertently re-ifying parts of the rightwing agenda by using their naming scheme.

    Kind of like when we call a group "Pro-Life" instead of "Pro-Forced Birth."

    Darling, you didn't use canned salmon, did you?

    by JrCrone on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 03:54:14 PM PST

  •  Marginally paid engineers and scientists? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sparhawk, nextstep, VClib

    We must have a different definition.

    At least until recent years, engineers and scientists in industry have been paid pretty well.  The first time I saw a Merceders 300 roadster it was being driven by an engineer. Ditto the first person I know to own a race car.

    I knew a few who became millionaires on company stock options.

    2013 CEO rich? No, but buying homes, taking nice vacations and sending their kids to college.  Not to mention doing a job they liked for well above average compensation.

    Doesn't sound marginal to me.

    LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

    by dinotrac on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 04:00:49 PM PST

    •  What years are you talking about? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NoMoreLies, Egalitare, zane

      In terms of having a different definition as to what is "marginal" for an engineer or a scientist? My father did Satellite Telecommunication. He had an excellent resume, but maybe he didn't know how to play the game.

      When I had to ask him his yearly salary (for a college application) in 1979 I was expecting that it would be somewhere in the neighborhood of 40K. (Not great then, but it would be a decent living).

      He was making $29K. And raising 4 kids on one wage.

      Yep, there were engineers who were smart and making some very nice livings. My dad was universally hailed as brilliant and he did some very important work.

      I'd say that he was "marginally paid" as an engineer. And I bet he wasn't alone.

      Darling, you didn't use canned salmon, did you?

      by JrCrone on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 04:50:32 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  My impression is he was referring to government (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JrCrone, Egalitare, dinotrac, Eric Nelson

      and university scientists/engineers in the 50's/ 60's/70's who did the underlying research that was exploited by others in the following decades at great profit. One of my pet peeves is that government funded research never seems to lead to government owned patents.  Someone besides the government/taxpayers always gets the patents that generate great wealth.

      •  The patents get made alright (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dinotrac, ratcityreprobate

        but the University of California owns whatever you do while on their payroll, for example.

        After that, at least since the 80s, the universities seem to have been whoring themselves to various corporate interests. At least, UC has. For the life of me, I have no idea why, except to assume it has something to do with all those politically appointed Regents.

        Darling, you didn't use canned salmon, did you?

        by JrCrone on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 05:02:13 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I understand that. I earned a couple of patents (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JrCrone, ratcityreprobate

          when I was younger that, last I looked, belong to IBM.

          But I was also paid pretty well in those days.

          LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

          by dinotrac on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 05:51:04 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Most of that Univ. research is done with grants (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Calamity Jean

          from the US Government.  I think that the US Gov. should own or at least partially own those patents and benefit from whatever they earn UC or the researcher.  It would be a good source of further funding for research.

        •  JrCrone - universities license their patents (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JrCrone

          for two reasons. To see the work commercialized and to generate revenue for their endowments. Most university patents need significant additional development work and capital to become commercial products. Licensing the technologies to private industry makes sense.

          Stanford has set a standard for universities in this area, earning hundreds of millions from its patent portfolio.

          "let's talk about that"

          by VClib on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 08:14:06 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  A lot of that research was done in places like (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ratcityreprobate

        Bell Labs, Texas Instruments, IBM,  Intel, etc.

        LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

        by dinotrac on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 05:50:15 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Arthur Brooks & The Dalai Lama (srsly)... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    thanatokephaloides, annan

    I happened to see this on Cspan last week:

    CSPANVL: Free Market Economics & Happiness (Arthur Brooks, The Dalai Lama, Jonathan Haidt, Glenn Hubbard, Dan Loeb) http://is.gd/...

    It follows on some of the topics in Brooks' piece. If the GOP is rethinking capitalism & society's obligations to the poor, it can't be bad.

    BTW, CSPAN's new video archive is totally awesome: 10X better than it was; very searchable. I even managed to make a video clip!

    "All politics is national."

    by Auriandra on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 04:20:59 PM PST

  •  Speaking of folks who should... (5+ / 0-)

    ...experience some real honest-to-goodness unemployment and hopelessness without his personal network, David Brooks leads the list.

    A completely insufferable poster child of privilege.

    50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

    by TarheelDem on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 04:41:33 PM PST

  •  Wall Street/Banks have capitalism w/Bailouts? (2+ / 0-)

    That's not capitalism.

    80 % of Success is Just Showing Up!

    by Churchill on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 04:44:13 PM PST

  •  Neither - why accept competition as the rule? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ratcityreprobate, jbsoul, Egalitare
    free enterprise noun  

    : a system in which private businesses are able to compete with each other with little control by the government beyond regulation necessary to protect public interest and keep the national economy in balance


    While this posted above highlights the flaw in the republican pseudo conservative narrative..
    Too many in our government still believe that the private sector is always more efficient than government, "we the people" in every sector. Others believe that government (not for-profit entities) is best in certain sectors. If it is true that competition creates more efficiency, then the private sector should never fear government as a "competitor" in any sector.
    ..so true and an excellent message which is good to make known, yet "conservatives"/GOP have successfully hammered into the American brain that "government is the problem" - blah blah blah - all the while completely missing that it doesn't address the fact that corporate charters don't exist or function without government.

    And this is also powerful and true:A corporate controlled government is forcing the government to live up to their narrative;

    So arguing which is preferable; capitalism vs free enterprise is already an acceptance of this myth, or rather, this set up/structure of pitting one against another for the prize.

    Government = people; are what matters.

    People should not have to compete for basic needs in any 'market' or 'free enterprise' system or 'capitalistic hierarchy' at all

    Competition should be left for game playing.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    It's not okay to compete for Healthcare, nutrition, warmth, shelter. None of these basics are things we should be some game we win at.

    Striving, achieving the highest social status, beating the completion, winning winning winning -  blech.

    Not, when it comes to living life and the basics needed
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Every successful 1%er or corporation, when they compete in this "free enterprise market" is making use of the entire populations enormous contributions in every way for free; Using financial advantage to extract from the entire peoples land and not coming even close to paying fairly for that advantage.

    An advantage that makes "free enterprise" a myth. The closest could be a situation where one man/woman on an island by them self make their living, but in a society?

    The advantages are ingrained in the old money and power structure developed long before any of the economic terms/words like 'free market' or 'capitalism' were ever spoken - rigged for the powerful

    I don't have the answers but this whole competition thing when it comes to basic needs is where the problem lies and where I would start fixing it.

    And if I had the skills that's how I would tear into the likes of David Brooks and his cohorts on the right

      - end of rant

  •  I appreciate the sentiment, but it is not a fact. (5+ / 0-)

    Diary wrote:

    There is one mathematical fact. If the wealth of the rich is growing at a consistently higher rate than the rate of the economy’s aggregate wealth creation and that rate differential is not completely attributable to sources external to the U.S., then wealth is being transferred from the poor and the middle class to the rich.
    Sorry, but I am an economist.

    The fact that one group's wealth increases while another group's wealth decreases does not mean there must be a transfer of wealth from the group in decline to the rising group.  

    There is no "conservation of wealth" principle in economies as there is conservation of mass, or conservation of energy (or for mass + energy for those applying relativity theory).  If "conservation of wealth" existed, it would be impossible for total wealth to increase or decrease (in a closed system - or after adjustment for international trade as the above quote does ).  Wealth is not "a zero sum game" (for those familiar with Game Theory).

    When government does transfer payment programs (or ends them), such as the ACA's increase in taxes on the wealthy and uses those funds to subsidize those with lower incomes, there is a clearer aspect of wealth transfer that goes along with what the model the diary asserts (ignoring behavior changes in the groups paying and receiving and other effects).

    Wealth gets created, wealth gets destroyed. It is not conserved.

    Consider the wealth created from Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc..  While great wealth went to founders, employees and investors, this creation of wealth did not come from extracting wealth from the poor or middle class.  If anything, they have benefited greatly from what these companies do from the products and from jobs that pay very well, and the strength of their local communities.  

    There is "Creative Destruction", from Schumpeter.  But this is largely from consumers benefiting from new businesses increasing in value, as they take away business from earlier competitors.  A good example of this is the decline of Nokia in cell phones, as Apple redefined what cell phones are, only to have Apple's business upset by Google with Android.

    The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

    by nextstep on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 05:07:07 PM PST

    •  This may be a failing of economics (0+ / 0-)
      There is no "conservation of wealth" principle in economies as there is conservation of mass, or conservation of energy (or for mass + energy for those applying relativity theory).  If "conservation of wealth" existed, it would be impossible for total wealth to increase or decrease (in a closed system - or after adjustment for international trade as the above quote does ).  Wealth is not "a zero sum game" (for those familiar with Game Theory).
      Economics is subservient to physics. Creating new wealth comes at a cost, it just isn't always recognized that way. Perhaps the wealth is just in different forms, as with potential and kinetic energy, and an apparent growth in wealth is often a conversion from potential wealth to something like "kinetic" wealth. Extraction of fossil fuels creates wealth, but at the cost of the reduction of resources. In any case, wealth seems to be somewhat of a construct, so I'm not sure any definitive laws about it can be reliable.

      Gondwana has always been at war with Laurasia.

      by AaronInSanDiego on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 07:33:11 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  nextstep - well stated (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nextstep

      Most wealth in the US has at its core the type of equity appreciation we have seen at Google and Facebook. When Google went public billions of dollars of wealth was created, all of it additive to the total wealth in the US and worldwide. There was no simultaneous reduction in wealth in the US or some other part of the world. That process is repeated thousands of times each year when companies go public or are acquired by another company and the founding shareholders, and investors, are cashed out. All of that wealth creation is additive. However, most here think that wealth is a zero sum game.

      "let's talk about that"

      by VClib on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 08:23:27 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  If indeed we had "free" enterprise, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jan4insight, NoMoreLies

    that would be a sight to behold. Just like a pure socialist utopia, such a beast is a unicorn. As long ago as Adam Smith, it has been observed that business does its best to game the system, to collude to fix prices, to get the government to give it taxpayer money for all kinds of spurious reasons. In fact, the human mind can only marvel at the ingenuity businesses of all kinds employ in order to loot the Treasury. I would happily discuss free enterprise with any conservative if I could find even one who would stand up against the unholy trinity of tax breaks, subsidies and defense contracts. So, by all means, let's see some free enterprise. Hasn't happened yet, but maybe this is the time.

    Voting is the means by which the public is distracted from the realities of power and its exercise.

    by Anne Elk on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 05:16:27 PM PST

  •  Arthur Brooks and Deuteronomy 15:11 (0+ / 0-)

    The verse from Deuteronomy (Deuteronomy 15:11: There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be open-handed toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.) is patronizing and demeaning. The real problem is the redistribution of wealth from those who create it, the laborers, to those who benefit most from the work of laborers, the wealthy.

    Proverbs 14:31: He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker: but he that honoureth him hath mercy on the poor.

    Deuteronomy 24:14: You shall not oppress a hired servant that is poor and needy, whether he be of your brethren, or of your strangers that are in your

    land within your gates:

    1 Timothy 5:18: For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.

    Leviticus 19:13: Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbour, neither rob him: the wages of him that is hired shall not abide with thee all night until the morning.

    James 5:4: Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth.

  •  Pontificating buffon mixing opposites and calling (0+ / 0-)

    it analysis, to wit:

    In sum, the administration’s ostensibly pro-poor, tough-on-the-wealthy agenda has led us toward a new American Gilded Age.
    So, being pro-poor and tough-on-the-wealthy makes a new Gilded Age. Ummm. The guilded age was precisely about robber barons owning everything. So, it would be the opposite of being pro-pro. How would being pro-poor or ostensibly pro-poor have anything to do with causing a Guilded Age? He might as well say that by being ostensibly pro-light it created darkness. Some juxtapositions really just don't work, David. Step back from the non-sequiturs, and above all, quit trying to be clever.

    Just doing my part to piss off right wing nuts, one smart ass comment at a time.

    by tekno2600 on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 05:42:26 PM PST

  •  Egberto, Update diary to mention how average (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    VClib

    people hugely benefit from Whatsapp.

    Average people are already saving $33 Billion/yr by making phone txt messaging nearly free and with better capabilities.  See WhatsApp Shows How Phone Carriers Lost Out on $33 Billion

    Using the typical Federal government cost savings horizon of 10 years, and considering even modest growth in Whatsapp users over the next ten years, average people around the world will save over $400 billion.

    If the founders, employees and investors get $19 billion and the benefit to average consumers is over $400 billion, average people get more than 95% of the total gain (on which no tax is due) while the people of Whatsapp get less than 5% and they will pay over a third of their share in taxes (see below).

    I just don't see how average people are worse of because of Whatsapp.  

    The founders, employees and investors get $19 billion, of which more than 1/3 can ultimately go to Federal and State taxes (23.8% top rate on Federal Long Term Capital gains, plus 13.3% top rate for Californian Income Tax).

    The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

    by nextstep on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 05:44:15 PM PST

  •  In College.... (5+ / 0-)

    ...as an undergrad I was required to read "Wealth of Nations" by Adam Smith. Of course, free marketers see this book as their bible. The problem is that the free marketers failed to read the entire book.

    As Smith laid out the terms for modern day capitalism, he also repeatedly warned us of it's excesses. Adam Smith ; explicitly warned the public to not trust what he labeled as “merchants”, or as we call them nowadays, corporations.  For example:

    "The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order (the corporations), ought always to be listened to with great precaution, and ought never to be adopted till after having been long and carefully examined, not only with the most scrupulous, but with the most suspicious attention.  It comes from an order of men, whose interest is never exactly the same with that of the public, who have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it. "(Smith, Wealth of Nations, page 220)

    Smith repeatedly warned us of the abuses of unfettered capitalism. He also warned us that the fact that industrial capitalism grows primarily through the exploitation of the average worker.  Smith wrote in Wealth of Nations that, while capitalism creates the average worker as perhaps the most important factor in the economy (because their collective labor accounts for nearly all material production occurring in society), capitalistic businessmen will always attempt to control these workers by a combination of overburdening them with work and denying them an educated political voice.

    "But though the interest of the labourer is strictly connected with that of the society, he is incapable either of comprehending that interest, or of understanding its connection with his own.  His condition leaves him no time to receive the necessary information, and his education and habits are commonly such as to render him unfit to judge even though he was fully informed.  In the public deliberations, therefore, his voice is little heard and less regarded, except upon some particular occasions, when his clamor is animated, set on, and supported by his employers, not for his, but for their own particular purposes. "(Smith, Wealth of Nations, page 218)

    Adam Smith warned us of the damages of unchecked capitalism. The free marketers either failed to thoroughly read their bible, or changed their holy book to "Atlas Shrugged".

    •  Absolutely! What Smith understood by capitalism (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mauricio, jbsoul, Calamity Jean

      is not what our bankster and corporate overlords understand by capitalism; Smith warned against potential abuses within the capitalist system.  His kind of capitalism would be a balm compaired to what we've got now, if we're to be stuck with capitalism.

      That's one more thing to add to my long list of small problems. --my son, age 10

      by concernedamerican on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 06:28:53 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Interesting "us" v "them" reaction here. (0+ / 0-)

    A flipped variation on the very thing that Brooks is doing tha makes me once again refer to this Thomas Frank piece in Salon:

    http://www.salon.com/...

    I'll believe progressives are serious when it occurs to them that working people can be enlisted instead of merely spoken about.

    I'll believe it when, instead of having a good time ripping David Brooks a new one, they will recognize that something like this:

    This puts a strain on the essential compact that you can earn your success.
    is true and is key to reaching many of the people you claim to care about. It also echoes Frank's quote from the Populist Party's 1892 platform:
    The fruits of the toil of millions are boldly stolen to build up colossal fortunes for a few, unprecedented in the history of mankind; and the possessors of those, in turn, despise the republic and endanger liberty. From the same prolific womb of governmental injustice we breed the two great classes—tramps and millionaires.
    The Populists, of course, said it much better than Brooks -- and much better than the progressives I've seen comment on the matter.

    That is the wedge point for prying more workers away from the old party line: the Big Boys have broken the bargain.  Most Americans believe that you should be able to work hard, work well, and do well for yourself.  That's supposed to be the deal, and it goes hand-in-hand with suspicion of the safety net and with government intervention.

    It's easy to cheer for corporate titans who are defending the American way.  Not so easy to cheer for those who are tearing it down.  I've seen it happen -- rock-ribbed conservatives shaken by their own misfortunes or those of friends and families.  The fat cats have gone too far.  They're lucky, though. The workers are not, at this point organized and educated, and nobody of consequence in the political understands them well enough to care.

     

    LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

    by dinotrac on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 07:10:08 PM PST

  •  The original Arthur Brooks article (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Calamity Jean

    is interesting nevertheless. All conservative, but at least dealing with American realities. The current GOP is not even dealing with realities. At least it represents some of the compassionate convervatism that is all but gone, replaced by a war against the poor

  •  David Brooks is a doublethinking propagandist (0+ / 0-)

    His columns follow an utterly predicable pattern:

    - Initial, not too disagreeable statement

    - Several successive paragraphs which use actually excellent language to mask an increasing divorce from reality

    - An insane conclusion that he's done his best to make sellable

    Fuck him. Oh, how I long for him to discuss any subject with Paul Krugman. It could be the relative worth of first-day cover stamps.

    "Think. It ain't illegal yet." - George Clinton | http://ideaddicted.blogspot.com

    by jbeach on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 10:19:19 PM PST

  •  Math IS hard. please do not try this at home.. (0+ / 0-)
    American taxpayers built the internet. Thousands of marginally paid scientists and engineers designed the chips that allowed other engineers to build computers and servers necessary to support Facebook and WhatsApp. Millions of users provided the community that is Facebook/WhatApps. Yet our form of capitalism allows a few to profit from what was really created by the masses and managed by a few. This story is replicated throughout the economy.
    WTF?  Egberto.. are you unaware that the American taxpayers did NOT build the internet?  They simply invented it - along with scientists all over the world?

    Are you  ignorant of the fact that we communicate on private webs?  Are you also ignorant that you don't know why Daily Kos has been experiencing such crappy access problems this past week because their private provider is having problems?

    If not, whywouldn't you be railing against the US government, and President Obama for the crappy service?

    The government aids in LOTS of developments.. drugs.. NASA discoveries.. TANG!  the basics of the internet (ARPANET) was but one.  But it was a crude, pitiful link of military and academic sites.  CERN invented the web as we know it today.  But it still took private enterprise to take it to the masses.  Ethernet was a totally privately invented technology.   The US government has nothing to do with my connection that I use to type this screed.  Your ignorance is immense.  Please stop this shit.. you don't know what you are talking about.

  •  "Progressive" point of view (0+ / 0-)

    first elaborated by Lord Hale in 1676.

    "Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will." ~Frederick Douglass

    by ActivistGuy on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 01:34:51 AM PST

  •  Prove it! (0+ / 0-)

    I am totally sympathetic with your point of view, but I want proof.  Your firsts assertion is the key one:  That the wealth accumulated by the one percent has been taken from the 99%   This SOUNDS so plausible, but what makes it true?  I can see the logic of Marx's theory of surplus value, that the difference between wages paid and selling price is profit extracted from the workers,  but how does this work in a post- industrial economy?  I mean, I can see a lot of other things wrong with income inequality, but this is the key one.  Did the 1% take our money, or did it just craeate funny money on top of the economy, so to speak?

  •  Fundamental Conflict B/W Growth and Env. Protectio (0+ / 0-)
    If one listens to CNBC or reads the Wall Street Journal, the only thing that matters is growth.
    Many assume that economic growth will solve all of our problems. This idea is engrained throughout our society. However, economic growth is no longer a good goal in a full world with finite resources. In fact, there is a fundamental conflict between economic growth and environmental protection. Brian Czech's Supply Shock clearly describes how the steady state economy is the alternative to ecoomic growth.

    http://supplyshock.org

  •  Growth (0+ / 0-)

    It's ironic Brooks is echoing the work of noted SOCIALIST economist Thomas Piketty of the Paris School of Economics. He's found that the owners of capital tend to increase their own income over and above the rate of productivity growth. Thus they take money from the middle class, leading to instability in capitalism. But the right ignores this

    Of course

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