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Debates Forum

  1. Donation rwingett
    Ming the Merciless
    12 Mar '11 02:21 / 1 edit
    The richest 400 Americans have a greater combined wealth than the bottom 50% of the country. Depending on what statistics you use, the top 400 Americans have a net worth of $1.27 trillion compared to a net worth of $1.22 trillion for the bottom 155 million Americans. Does anyone really think that 400 individuals having roughly the same net worth as the bottom 155 million can possibly be construed as a good thing? Is it possible to build a just and healthy society with such grotesque disparities in wealth? I'm at a loss to see how that can possibly be rationalized.

    http://www.politifact.com/wisconsin/statements/2011/mar/10/michael-moore/michael-moore-says-400-americans-have-more-wealth-/
  2. Subscriber Wajoma
    Die Cheeseburger
    12 Mar '11 02:55
    Originally posted by rwingett
    The richest 400 Americans have a greater combined wealth than the bottom 50% of the country. Depending on what statistics you use, the top 400 Americans have a net worth of $1.27 trillion compared to a net worth of $1.22 trillion for the bottom 155 million Americans. Does anyone really think that 400 individuals having roughly the same net worth as the bott ...[text shortened]... consin/statements/2011/mar/10/michael-moore/michael-moore-says-400-americans-have-more-wealth-/
    It's a good thing.
    It's a 'correct' thing.
    It's a none of your business thing.
  3. Standard member wittywonka
    Chocolate Expert
    12 Mar '11 03:24
    Originally posted by rwingett
    The richest 400 Americans have a greater combined wealth than the bottom 50% of the country. Depending on what statistics you use, the top 400 Americans have a net worth of $1.27 trillion compared to a net worth of $1.22 trillion for the bottom 155 million Americans. Does anyone really think that 400 individuals having roughly the same net worth as the bott ...[text shortened]... consin/statements/2011/mar/10/michael-moore/michael-moore-says-400-americans-have-more-wealth-/
    Clearly they all pulled themselves up by their bootstraps, and likewise should be extolled as the true American heroes. The government is bullying them out of their hard-earned money with every cent they take in taxes.
  4. Subscriber AThousandYoung
    It's only business
    12 Mar '11 03:55
    Originally posted by Wajoma
    It's a good thing.
    It's a 'correct' thing.
    It's a none of your business thing.
    Of course it's his business. People who are that rich are doing business with everyone. You can't have business without capital (or as they call it now, "financial wealth" and they have all the capital.
  5. Standard member wittywonka
    Chocolate Expert
    12 Mar '11 04:26
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gini_coefficient#Gini_coefficient_of_income_distributions
  6. Subscriber Wajoma
    Die Cheeseburger
    12 Mar '11 04:31
    Originally posted by AThousandYoung
    Of course it's his business. People who are that rich are doing business with everyone. You can't have business without capital (or as they call it now, "financial wealth" and they have all the capital.
    Excuse me;

    "doing business with everyone"

    ?

    "they have all the capital"

    ?

    Why don't you edit those while you have the chance. Calling them gross exagerations would be no exageration.
  7. Subscriber AThousandYoung
    It's only business
    12 Mar '11 04:53
    You're the one who called bums in cardboard boxes capitalists. Don't be giving me this crap about gross exaggeration.
  8. Subscriber Wajoma
    Die Cheeseburger
    12 Mar '11 05:01
    Originally posted by AThousandYoung
    You're the one who called bums in cardboard boxes capitalists. Don't be giving me this crap about gross exaggeration.
    Correct: There is no reputable definition of capitalism that includes the stipulation that a capitalist must hold x dollars of wealth, or any wealth at all.
  9. Subscriber AThousandYoung
    It's only business
    12 Mar '11 05:13
    Originally posted by Wajoma
    Correct: There is no reputable definition of capitalism that includes the stipulation that a capitalist must hold x dollars of wealth, or any wealth at all.
    You're also the one who whines about "airy fairy definitions".
  10. 12 Mar '11 05:29
    Sure - empower the rich, disenfranchise all else. Republican motto.
  11. Subscriber Wajoma
    Die Cheeseburger
    12 Mar '11 05:30
    Originally posted by AThousandYoung
    You're also the one who whines about "airy fairy definitions".
    Correct again, so why don't you find a good definition of capitalism and stop making stuff up.
  12. Subscriber Sleepyguy
    Reepy Rastardly Guy
    12 Mar '11 07:04 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by rwingett
    The richest 400 Americans have a greater combined wealth than the bottom 50% of the country. Depending on what statistics you use, the top 400 Americans have a net worth of $1.27 trillion compared to a net worth of $1.22 trillion for the bottom 155 million Americans. Does anyone really think that 400 individuals having roughly the same net worth as the bott consin/statements/2011/mar/10/michael-moore/michael-moore-says-400-americans-have-more-wealth-/
    Ugh, more of this.

    Just stop for a moment and look around you. Look at that thingy you're typing on. Look at the screen in front of you. Think of all the inventions, technology, labour and industry that it has taken so that you and I can have this discussion on this (fantastic) website. You know it hasn't always been like this, right?

    Lots and lots of people got rich dreaming those things up, producing them, and selling them in the market. Countless others have been employed in the process. Much wealth has come from it, and though your life has been improved by all this prosperity, no wealth was stolen from you. This wealth was created from people's ideas and labour, which have value to others because they improve people's lives.

    That is where wealth comes from, ideas and labour. Not from any government, and certainly not by bitching about the rich while you are sitting there typing on the now very affordable device one of them invented long ago.

    Here's a case in point. I bought my daughter her first cell phone today. Nothing fancy. No camera, bells or whistles. Just something she can call home and text her cousins with. It's a sleek, shiny, tiny little thing though. Fits right in your pocket, good long battery life. It cost $14.95.

    $14.95!

    You know how much the first cell phone cost back in 1980 or so? About $4000, and it was about as portable as a bowling ball. You know who could afford that cell phone back then? Not you or I, pal. Just those evil rich bastards you like to hate on.

    Now, dwell on that for a moment. In 1980, no way was any middle class Amehrikun laying out a cool 4 grand for the convenience of a cell phone. Today, $14.95. No problem.

    Or, let's put it another way - the best cell phone on the market costs what, about $400? That means that middle class Amerikhuns AND Bill Gates can afford the best cell phone on the market. You and I have shared in the prosperity bud, even in the unfortunate event that it leaves us with no one to be mad at.

    So who got stolen from? Sure, a lot of people got very rich off of inventing, designing, manufacturing, and selling cell phones. Many more got jobs off the industries it created. Other schlubs like me just got these amazingly affordable, portable, telecommunication devices. But who got stolen from?

    The way I see it today's transaction was a win-win. I won because I would rather have the cell phone than the $14.95, and AT&T won because they would rather have the $14.95 than the cell phone. Who got ripped off?
  13. Donation rwingett
    Ming the Merciless
    12 Mar '11 12:30
    Originally posted by Sleepyguy
    Ugh, more of this.

    Just stop for a moment and look around you. Look at that thingy you're typing on. Look at the screen in front of you. Think of all the inventions, technology, labour and industry that it has taken so that you and I can have this discussion on this (fantastic) website. You know it hasn't always been like this, right?

    Lots and lo ...[text shortened]... won because they would rather have the $14.95 than the cell phone. Who got ripped off?
    This is a ridiculous argument. Because capitalism spurs innovation, you assume that it is the only mechanism by which innovation could possibly happen. As if people would never invent anything if they didn't have the chance to become a billionaire.

    Not only do I dispute your allegation that capitalism is the only way to spur innovation, but I don't even think it's the best way to do so.
  14. Subscriber Wajoma
    Die Cheeseburger
    12 Mar '11 12:45
    Originally posted by rwingett
    This is a ridiculous argument. Because capitalism spurs innovation, you assume that it is the only mechanism by which innovation could possibly happen. As if people would never invent anything if they didn't have the chance to become a billionaire.

    Not only do I dispute your allegation that capitalism is the only way to spur innovation, but I don't even think it's the best way to do so.
    Go ahead guy, break it out, what is the best way to spur innovation other than by free people acting on their own volition, and having some claim on what they have produced with their hands and their minds.
  15. Subscriber Sleepyguy
    Reepy Rastardly Guy
    12 Mar '11 14:21 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by rwingett
    This is a ridiculous argument. Because capitalism spurs innovation, you assume that it is the only mechanism by which innovation could possibly happen. As if people would never invent anything if they didn't have the chance to become a billionaire.

    Not only do I dispute your allegation that capitalism is the only way to spur innovation, but I don't even think it's the best way to do so.
    Look, don't put words in my mouth.

    I did not make the argument (or assumption) that "people would never invent anything if they didn't have the chance to become a billionaire." Nor did I allege that "capitalism is the only way to spur innovation." (The Linux operating system, and the documentation that supports it, are fine examples that would dispute both those claims, had I made them, BTW. I myself have contributed to the effort, never made a dime, and do not feel ripped off).

    So scroll up and read it again.

    You have made the claim that because x percentage of people have x percentage more wealth than other people, that an injustice has occurred. Your thinking seems to be very Michael Moore-ish, i.e., that there is a finite amount of wealth out there, and because some people have more of it, they must have somehow stolen it from everybody else and should now give some portion of it back. I merely disputed that zero-sum game view, and asked you where the injustice has occurred.

    Why don't use this website as an example. The creators of this site are deriving wealth from their innovation. I don't know if they are rich from it (I hope they are), but let's assume they are filthy stinking rich from creating a site where thousands of people send them money every year for the privilege of being a member. Please describe how and/or why they have done an injustice to you.