Sorry, everybody, but I have been off OKC Talk for several months. But because it is getting close to the national election, I just wanted to vent.
My conservative friends are so myopic, they can't see the forest for the trees! Some notes:
I can't believe that some state legislators and our governor want to decrease taxes on the very wealthy before fixing our state Capitol building!
Our nation and the world would be better off if we taxed the rich a lot more (since the top 2% of the wealthy NOW own half of America's wealth), and spent more money investing in the American people like we did in the 1950's when we built America's Interstate Highways, built Tinker AFB, started the space program, paid for humongous World War II debts, the Korean War, the MacArthur Plan to rebuild Europe, the GI bill to pay for college and homes for returning Veterans and BALANCED the federal budget. The inequality of our current tax system (where the rich are paying proportionally less than ever) is really screwing up America's goal of a strong middle class. The wealthy's opulence is not trickling down. We need to bring back the economy and truly graduated taxation of the 1950's and 1960's. If we reversed our idiotic tax structure, America could start reinvesting in itself and our middle class. Like in the 50's and 60's, there would be a lot more good government jobs and businesses would have to pay more to get good workers, thus raising the average salary of all middle class workers. Instead of paying top management exorbitant salaries, middle class workers would get some of that money.
When I was young in the 1950's almost NONE of my middle class friends' mothers went to work outside of the home. They were raising postwar children (us baby boomers) at home. Tax rates were 90% on the very wealthy, who could use capital gains to halve that heavy burden.
The supply side (trickle down) economics of today has resulted in a society where 2% of the richest Americans own half of the US wealth. Our American GDP continues to grow, but the middle class share of GDP keeps decreasing. A Keynesian economic algorithm (calculus formula) proved to me and most Americans in the 1920's through the 1960's that our middle class was dependent upon the passage of the 16th Amendment allowing the graduated (progressive) collection of national income taxes. The rich paid higher income taxes than the middle class and the poor often paid no income taxes. Therefore the middle class could afford the Model T's that Henry Ford wanted to build, electricity that Edison made available, the phones that Alexander Bell invented, and the newfangled radios sold by RCA. The middle class had enough money to hire the poor for housework and yard work, if they wanted. (This is what trickle down economics SHOULD be.) We had a welfare system that kept the poor from starving or panhandling.
Those of you who hate welfare should remember that some American citizens are unemployable - convicted criminals and sex offenders often cannot find jobs & must turn back to crime or panhandling in order to survive. Some Americans have disabilities making it impossible to function at a job and because of regulatory rules don't qualify for any state or federal aid (e.g. some diabetics, all drug users.).
Flat taxes proposed by radio talking heads and most Republicans is just a ruse for the rich to get richer. Americans -- please listen to the old-school sage economists who REALLY knew how to grow a nation. It is VERY important to our economy to bring sanity to our tax system & restore a higher tax rate on the very richest among us.
In spite of my graduated (progressive) taxation advocacy, I'm a big supporter of ALL the MAPS programs that are dedicated to making OKC's infrastructure so much more aesthetic & useful and is our gift to future generations. (Sales tax is always regressive.) I am really proud that my city of birth is setting an example to be emulated by many other of our nation's cities. (Note: In exchange, our wealthiest Oklahomans & their companies are funding the wonderful events and sports teams making Oklahoma City the great city it has become.)
John Hite, retired, Oklahoma City
This makes perfect sense to so many of us, the problem is that uneducated people have become so detached that they cannot understand how they are voting against there own self interest; and when you try to point out the hypocrisy they scream socialism. Regardless that the very rich control more wealth and pay less than ever before in the history of our nation while the middle class is being dismantled.
I don't see how any significant reform happens until the 2nd Great Depression comes and economic conditons get so bad that the government tries to borrow money to pay interest on its debt but is denied.
Let me help you out JohnH_in_OKC
If you don't want a small percentage of people holding a large portion of wealth stop taxing income and start taxing wealth. The uber wealthy are already uber wealthy. Taxing income doesn't matter to people who have no income.
Estate tax in the United States - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
I know there are a lot of caveats built into the estate tax law which include proceeds of insurance policies, trusts, life estates and spousal exemptions. There are a lot of tax attorneys and accountants who specialize in helping the rich keep their wealth in their families instead of leaving a large portion of it to the US Treasury.
People who build wealth, in my opinion, should be able to use it while living. When people die, only a portion should be passed on (unless a spouse exists). Everyone has a responsibility to contribute to society and being the beneficiary of inherited wealth shouldn't give people a free pass. Governor Romney inherited much, but used his abilities to build a personal fortune on his own (although his connections and his father's help certainly contributed to Romney's successful career). President Obama and Michelle Obama, Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton have all written books that contributed to building their own personal wealth. All five of them got great educations - including their five law degrees at Harvard (Mitt, Barak, and Michelle) and Yale (Bill and Hillary).
I'd much rather fix the national debt problem like we did in the 1950's.
Note: I am not an economist (although I have a minor in Economics from OU) and my opinions are not always scientifically based, but many so-called economists only regurgitate what they're taught and not do their own independent analyses (which really can be quite difficult without valid data and very sophisticated math and reasoning skills). Also, my memory can be faulty so look at my rants as opinions and not as economic facts. It's been over 40 years since I've had any college classes.
Obama was president in 2010. I agree with Bunty, nothing is going to change any time soon. Give it 8 more year.Rich people usually can't control when they die, but those that died in 2010 apparently didn't have to pay any estate taxes!
I've seen this argument made, many times. In essence, you seem to be suggesting that back in the fifties, when the wealthy were taxed at a much higher rate, the result was that the middle class could live on one income and everything was just swell and fair.When I was young in the 1950's almost NONE of my middle class friends' mothers went to work outside of the home. They were raising postwar children (us baby boomers) at home. Tax rates were 90% on the very wealthy, who could use capital gains to halve that heavy burden.
You are comparing apples to oranges. If we lived the way they did back in the fifties, we could STILL live on one income. If we lived the way we did in the fifties, we'd cut most of our personal expenses in half. I'm not talking about inflation. For example:
Wives frequently didn't drive.
Few people had second cars.
Going to the dentist wasn't routine unless you needed a tooth pulled.
Kids weren't taken the to dentist and hardly anyone went to the orthodonist.
Kids almost all went to free public schools.
Vet bills were practically nonexistent (sounds trivial unless you compare to what people spend on pets, these days)
Holidays and birthdays weren't the extravaganzas they are, today.
Weddings rarely included a meal and generally involved going to the church and the reception usually involved eating mints, peanuts and drinking punch in the meeting room on site. Twenty dollars for the preacher, most wedding gifts were along the lines of a pair of towels, set of sheets, a pot, etc.
No one paid expensive photographers or spent a fortune on flowers.
Commercial Pedicures are a relatively new thing.
Cosmetic surgery didn't happen short of burns or horrible birth defects.
No cell phones, internet, cable/satellite tv.
No fastfood to speak of and eating in a restaurant was a rarity.
Few families took vacations beyond road trips and those were usually camping trips or visiting relatives.
Women typically made at least some of their family's clothes.
Teenagers usually worked for pocket money.
Kids left home and supported themselves at age 18.
Parents rarely footed the bill for college - the kids paid their way.
Smaller homes, fewer bathrooms, lower fuel bills, shared bathrooms, cheaper house payment.
Fewer single parents (other than war widows).
Lower divorce rates and the poverty that often goes with that.
More retirees with pensions because back in the day, people stayed in jobs for the length of a career for the pension - no job hopping the way we do, these days.
Dates - unless they were special occasions, were typically inexpensive and often didn't even involve dinner. Married parents generally didn't have a date night.
Babysitters were rarely used and it was usually a family member or a neighborhood girl for a couple of hours on a special occasion.
Elderly grandparents frequently lived with their grown children.
Don't get me wrong - I am not saying we need to go back to the fifties - what I am saying is that we spend huge portions of our income, these days, on things that weren't even considered, back in the day. Subtract how much we spend on the above and you have an idea of how much it "actually" cost to live back in the fifties. Or better yet, add the above into our fifties' expenditures to get an idea of how impossible it would be to live on one income even if the wealthy paid 90% on income taxes.
PQ - I think you are on target here. We as a society have utterly confused needs with wants. Everyone loves to point fingers at people they claim are "entitled" but they should look in the mirror before pointing those fingers. If people weren't so sure they needed all that crap, how bad would the economy really be for an average family that kept their wants and needs in perspective? There are often far more "entitled" people running around a suburban mall than in lines in the inner city hoping for some assistance during difficult times.
Hey Grand mother, show us your wedding pictures.No one paid expensive photographers or spent a fortune on flowers.
Here they are sweetie...
Hey it's just you and grampa holding the knife to cut the cake and
another of the two of you smiling. Where are the maids of honor?
What did they wear? Where's the entourage? You're holding all of
the flowers? What's a Justice of the Peace?
Today it's all about keeping up with the Joneses. Spend everything
you have on fluff and save nothing.
Good Lord, mark this moment down - I agree with Prune 100% on that last statement.
Today I think it's safe to say that a good part of the US economy is dependent on conspicuous consumption. If everybody started living a life devoid of mass consumerism it would wreak havoc on the economy. Also, considering the high rate of productivity today where basic needs can be met by probably one half (or less) the number of workers than in the 50's if everybody scaled back to the simple life style of days gone by then sans massive public works projects there would be incredible unemployment. We have to consume at ever greater rates to keep people working or radically change our views on the government's role in ensuring employment for everyone.
Stew, I believe you're incorrect.
Scaling back would cause the economy to shift into the efficiency mode.
The keeping up with the Joneses mode would end and practicality would
take over. Unemployment wouldn't increase but would decrease since
those who were working to keep up with the Joneses would no longer
be taking jobs from those who need them. As far as consumption
goes, it would remain about the same simply because of the population.
It would be a better place.
I agree with the tax system comments, its hard to find any democrat or republican who isnt for flat tax approach for everyone. Each and every year we talk about how complicated and unfair the tax system is but people get so distracted by buying chicken nuggets to oppose gay marriage or by watching dancing with the stars to do anything about it.
As a younger person observing baby boomers i do have some concerns. You listed the exact reason why this mess has gotten to the point it has. my.my.my.my.my Your entire life you took out massive amounts of debt to feed an unsustainable amount of growth and at each and every point you refuse to stop consuming. My grand parents still dont have cable and on one side only very recently has upgraded to a flat panel tv after the old one finally gave out. They both still live in houses that they've had since the 60 and 70's and walking into their houses is like walking into a time capsule. Its not that they are poor, they have military pensions, SS, and on one side oil and gas leases - its just that they dont consume like maniacs. While my boomer co workers are constantly building new houses, buying new cars, buying second homes, and electronics even though they are in their 60's and should be focusing everything on saving for retirement.
All while im being patted on the head and being told that SS/ Medicare wont be there for me even though its coming out of my check each month???
Taxing the rich more to give you more benefits wont solve the problem. Stop wasting the money that you have on crap you dont need.
I say that because current generation of kids getting out of college dont have cable tv, arent buying cars and if they are they arent new, arent having kids because they cant afford them, and in a lot of personal cases i know dont have insurance because what their company offers isnt worth it for the price.
Many here keep saying that it will take both increased tax burden (I think across the board) and drastic cuts in spending, but they are somehow labeled as "socialists" for daring to suggest that taxes actually increase. We have somehow been sold a bill of goods that there is some hard math going on here, but it is pretty simple. Until people (and the people we elect) start doing what's right for the country and not necessarily what's right for them (or their district/state/constituents), we (all of us) will be the ones responsible for driving this country over the cliff.
Pogo was right, we have met the enemy...
The approach cant be gutting the social programs while putting in place new tax breaks and INCREASING military spending after 8 years of war..seriously?
How stupid can a person be to buy that B.S. You care so much about the value of my life that you will defend me overseas at any cost (before the wars and tax cuts we had a surplus, now at 16 trillion in debt) while cutting the programs that save peoples lives and allow them to live longer here at home?
Then on the other side you have someone who says they oppose war, but that still really hasnt done anything drastic to stop the wars besides giving us draw down timelines that span from 2008-2014. Then on top of the current spendind levels spooling up some great programs but with out a real definitive way in how to pay them.
We truly need a balance. Like you said, its not rocket science but they try to make it seem like it is.
I encourage everybody to go back and read two of President Eisenhower's speeches - his first to the American people after assuming office (the "Chance for Peace" speech) and his last as President (the "Military Industrial Complex" speech). They are not too long, but offer great insight into what a true warrior/patriot/servant to our Nation should be.
They are both often misquoted, chopped up and removed from context, but they are very nearly prophetic when read today. The bottom line is that yes, there is a need for the US to be militarily strong, but there is also a need to care for our people, and to guard against any special interests from hijacking our decisionmakers.
Please go and read these speeches, and you'll see why so many of us hope for men like Collin Powell or David Petraeus to run for our Nation's highest office. They would not be perfect Presidents, but they do understand that positions of power in service to our country are about service first, and not personal gain/satisfaction.
Well, just to be fair, don't saddle me and many like me with that sort of consumption. I had the benefit of being raised by grandparents who were depression kids and even my great grandmother lived in the home - so I lean to old school. I was having babies with no money in the Carter years and we lived extremely simply - had to. I recall getting our first credit card when I was about twenty and it was a huge deal. I stayed home with my kids and we made tremendous sacrifices to do it. When the second baby was six months old I went to work as a cashier for about six months - it was during that time that we got used to having two incomes and ran up debt assuming my salary would cover it. What a mess that was. After six months, my husband got off the night shift so I quit since child care was so expensive. It took us, literally, years to catch up on the credit card debt and we honestly didn't spend that much other than to buy some new crappy furniture from Mathis Brothers. What were we thinking? New furniture was the last thing we needed with three little kids and it was crap, regardless.As a younger person observing baby boomers i do have some concerns. You listed the exact reason why this mess has gotten to the point it has. Your entire life you took out massive amounts of debt to feed an unsustainable amount of growth and at each and every point you refuse to stop consuming. My grand parents still dont have cable and on one side only very recently has upgraded to a flat panel tv after the old one finally gave out. They both still live in house that they've had since the 70's and walking into their houses is like walking into a time capsle. Its not that they are poor, they have military pensions, SS, and on one side oil and gas leases - its just that they dont consume like maniacs. While my boomer co workers are constantly building new houses, buying new cars, buying second homes, and electronics even though they are in their 60's and should be focusing everything on saving for retirement.
We toyed with credit card debt off and on for years and treated it much the same as a car payment or house payments - just one of those things you pay for. I raised my kids in the same crappy little house in the same crappy little crowded neighborhood full of cars in the streets and converted garages so the families would have enough bedrooms. We weren't extravagant when we used CC - don't get me wrong - but it adds up so quickly and I suspect it is easier to let it get out of control faster on little crappy things - Hobby Lobby comes to mind - than if someone saved the CC for thoughtful, major purchases that really ARE an investment rather than just entertainment or retail therapy.
But in fairness, and you can tell this from my old fogey posts, the younger set has put the older set to shame in terms of consumption. OMG - the consumption of the young is beyond anything "my" generation ever, ever engaged in and they started in the cradle (blame the parents). Putting off going to work for years and years to go to school (considered an investment, yes, but simply not an option for most of my era and before); new furniture on credit; starbucks; constantly evolving electronic gadgets; trips abroad/Disneyworld/Vegas - high dollar vacations; destination weddings; McMansions (private bathrooms/bedrooms for every conceivable family member); child care expenses that would have brought "my" generation to its knees; constant eating out; I could go on. I hear people complain about the boomers but the consumption on just "crap" by the twenty and thirty somethings is utterly mindblowing. And the worst is that they are often buying it on credit. Most of it isn't anything that is going to bring in more income - it is just spending. And spending. And spending.
We Boomers who have been accused - with some justification - of being rabid consumers are simply astounded at what the twenty and thirty somethings spend. It is like they are throwing money into the trash and have no earthy idea of how much they are wasting. For them to accuse the Boomers of being spendthrifts - as if they aren't doing the same and much worse - is a mindset that simply doesn't really understand what it was like when we were their age. And it ignores the reality that their own generation is just as bad. Many in the same generation that are furious at the entitlement programs put in place by the boomers are the loudest advocates for government funded health care; forgiveness of student debt; free birth control for all, regardless of income; publicly sponsored/subsidized childcare; expanded meal programs at schools; expansion of existing social services class to include people not living in poverty, etc. How is this different than what the boomers did? And, more importantly, how are we going to pay for all of our social programs, old and new? And here's a question - if the middle class can afford all these "wants," what is so horrible about having them pay for the social programs that benefit them? And I include the well heeled seniors who still fall within the middle class. But I also include the younger set who have money to burn and are burning it as fast as they can.
Speaking as a fifty something barely boomer, I can't even fathom how the younger set possibly pays its bills since they buy so much crap - no offense but it really is just crap even if it is fun crap. I guess this is what they use their cigarette money for now that cigs have gone quite a bit out of style. I think a lot of people treat their cell phone bill and internet much the same way as previous generations treated a mortgage payment, these days. Cost of living and not much you can do about it if you don't want to look weird. I DO think this business of blaming the boomers is actually being used to justify blackmailing mom and dad into paying for college and I personally think that is a bunch of baloney. When you have parents risking their retirements so junior can stay in school six years, that's ridiculous. Who would ask their parents to do that? Who would allow them to do that?
Not my generation. Wouldn't happen. But it is routine, these days.
Financially, personal debt is like a poison but you don't know that until you get out from under it. If I were starting over, honestly, I'd buy a house but otherwise, I'd stay on a cash basis even if it meant living in a shack. Until I starting consistently paying as I went, I had no idea what a stressful prison that is but I admit it is tons easier once your kids are grown. There is sooooo much additional pressure on young people, especially young parents, to buy and buy and buy. I recall when my kids went to birthday parties and as a gift, you sent pretty much a token gift. These days, sending your five year old to the neighbor's birthday party can set you back fifty bucks. Crazy. Why are we doing this to ourselves? It was hard enough when my kids were kids. I feel awful for parents, these days, who are under so much pressure and likely think there is something wrong with "them" if they can't afford all that. Who could? All that stuff is NOT something the middle class paid for when I was there age - discretionary items were rich folk stuff. The middle class when I was twenty was still able to discern the difference between want and need.
As for me, we live simply, like your grandparents. And most the people my age where I live are the same way. The house is paid for, as are our cars. We just got a "new" mini van made in 2005. Can't recall the last vacation other than day trips or to visit my kids. We don't collect any public assistance but don't need it. With the house and cars paid for, our biggest bill is our fuel bill, including gasoline. I wouldn't trade this peace of mind for anything.
ETA - I meant to include that I appreciate the comments by the previous posters. Nothing I wrote here was intended to be an attack against them. I can see from their postings that they "get" it on spending and while we might not agree on the solution, there is definitely some agreement on what the problem is. And I also don't want this to come across as an attack on young people. I think they were set up by "my generation" to expect more and to think there was something wrong with them if they didn't run as fast as they can, for as long as they can, to keep up on consumption. It is so much harder for them than it was for my generation because we just didn't expect as much. I wish I could stop the merry go round for them for just a short period of time to give them a break. I suspect that once enough of them jumped off the consumption treadmill, they'd never go back and would help each other have a great, happy life even if they didn't spend like there was no tomorrow.
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