Thursday, December 15, 2011

"Im am 53%"

There's a website with postings from people who oppose the various socialist schemes that are destroying our economy and our moral fiber.

Only 53% of Americans pay federal income tax. The rest get the benefits of federal largesse, but contribute none of their income to it, or at least not through federal taxes. Of course the near-half of Americans have no disincentive and every incentive to vote for politicians who will burden hard-working Americans with even more federal taxes.

Here's one post I really like:


48 comments:

  1. Bwahaha, the "moral fiber" of the USA. Is that a sick joke?

    The country where health insurance Chief Embezzlement Officers walk away with $100+ million "compensation" packages while the poor can't afford health care.

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  2. I’d be curious to look at stats, but my guess is that most of the 47 % who don’t pay taxes form the religious backbone of American society – the un-educated, the ignorant, creationists who complain of public money going to science and most probably ardent fans of Ann Coulthard too.

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  3. "The country where health insurance Chief Embezzlement Officers walk away with $100+ million "compensation" packages while the poor can't afford health care."

    And thats not only health insurance companies, troy. Just about every large company works that way. As the people who actually make the company run get let go, the fat cats in charge keep raking in millions in stock options in addition to their inflated salaries. How rich is too rich?

    As for that cartoon above - 53% of the country is 'mocked' for their belief in god? I thought believers were the majority, egnor. I think you liked it because it represents some odd persecution complex that christians seem to have. Plus, the girl's tits are crooked.

    I for one, am not afraid of hard work. I got laid off in '09, have been working part time where i can, to put myself through school. Which includes doing something i normally don't do for my white-collar career-- back-breaking masonry work. I wonder when the last time (if ever) egnor has ever worked hard like that?

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  4. Dr Egnor,
    I believe the stats for Canada are 33% of the population do NOT pay Federal income taxes, leaving us with 67% that actually contribute.
    Our taxation system is a 'progressive' one.
    Earn more, pay more - but recent studies have shown the richest 5% pay the lowest percentages, due to the means by which they earn: Capital gains. This helps keep some of the big wigs and their investment dollars in country.
    The system is by no means perfect, and I still see the correlation.
    Here the non tax paying, benefits collecting, urbanites vote for the left wing tax and spend folks. It is in their best interest, and they are always promised something new and free. Migrants are also used in this way. They are promised less strict entry requirements for their folks abroad.
    The clear 'downtown vs the rest of the nation' divide is a real and growing one.
    The big cities are losing their connections to the nation around them and, with that, their grasp on political reality.
    There is also a very clear difference on how such governments have dealt with recessionary issues. The conservative provinces, counties, and cities have weathered the storm well..while the liberal ones have need a hand out from the the Feds (Tories/Conservative).
    So, Mike...
    While the numbers may not be the same, the effect is. People who do not invest in a thing see less value in it.

    @Iko,
    Actually almost the reverse is true. With the exception of a few highly (over - usually federally) paid academic minds most of the hard workers in North America actually believe in something. They have what has been dubbed in the media as a 'purpose driven' life. They may or may not like Anne Coulter.
    FYI: many (most) conservatives I know do NOT like MS Coulter, even if they agree with some of her points. The same CANNOT be said of my progressive friends who ALL love Bill Maher, her opposite number.
    Another factor - one you seem to hint at - is the urban/rural one. People who face nature in all it's glory and wrath each day seem to be naturally more conservative and religious than folks who spend all their time in the artificial world of the city. The exception to this rule is the industrial worker who more resembles his rural counterpart socially, even if he must 'tow the line' for his union and vote left.
    So no. No correlation between low tax brackets and faith (or lack of) that I can see.
    Broken homes, drugs, gangs, mental illness, poor social upbringings (ie lack of routine, morality), poor education, and lack of training - these are the issues that plague the lower classes.
    These folks may indeed pray for these issues to be solved.
    I pray with them.

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  5. @CrusadRex

    Indeed I love Bill Maher.


    “Another factor - one you seem to hint at - is the urban/rural one. »

    When one looks at the US states that are most religious, they invariable are ‘country folks’. One would never imagine, say, NY, try to establish creationism in public schools like Louisiana or Kansas.

    “The exception to this rule is the industrial worker who more resembles his rural counterpart socially, even if he must 'tow the line' for his union and vote left. »

    I don’t think they tow the line. They really are what they are.

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  6. @Iko,

    "Indeed I love Bill Maher."
    LOL See? My record is still perfect on this side of the ledger.
    For the record, I (personally) cannot STAND political talking heads...with very few and very specific/limited exceptions. That means ANY and ALL - both sides of the divide etc etc.

    "When one looks at the US states that are most religious, they invariable are ‘country folks’."
    This may be true of some areas of the USA, but I would say there is also strong traditional factor in this country. I suspect that may also play a big part the general American equation.
    What I mean is that the traditions of this style of life include moral and religious ones. Traditions that have worked VERY well against a beautiful but often harsh natural reality.
    These traditions have given us an 'edge' like no other civilization before. An infectious zeal that has invaded and may YET reinvigorate the old world. (Fingers crossed)

    "One would never imagine, say, NY, try to establish creationism in public schools like Louisiana or Kansas."
    It would be hard to imagine Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras in New York City, too!
    Anyway, I know what you mean Iko. There is a difference on the view of what progress and tolerance mean in these two places. A different model - in the URBAN. But if you were to speak to the people close to the earth? They will have much in common. The people who work in the open spaces, or out on the water. Those who work in agriculture and industry actually MAKING things and providing for the cities... these people have a lot more in common, despite the differences in the lands they inhabit.
    I think you would find they are fair and honest for the most part. That they have a deep respect for the place they live in. I think you would also find that most would be open to hearing your beliefs out in the schools and places of learning.
    Where they would differ with their urban counter parts is the exclusivity of one set of beliefs, or in the presenting of such systems or world views as relative or equally realistic. Simply put they do/would not put a new set of beliefs over their fully functional and advantageous traditional ones. There is no need to.

    "I don’t think they tow the line. They really are what they are."
    Hey, Iko - I don't mean they are dishonest.
    I mean they vote for their interests. Their interests are tied up with organized labour.
    They have no real choice, is what I mean.
    Do they think they are doing the right thing by their families etc? You bet.
    Do I? That is a complicated question.

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  7. Like most statistics of this sort, the "54%" is fairly misleading. While the bulk of the households that make up this number do indeed make below the median income ($46,000 a year, and if you make less than $46,000 a year, you very well might fall into the supposedly shiftless "47%"), about 4.3 million households that made between $50,000 and $100,000 a year paid no income taxes in 2010.

    Further, about 485,000 households that made between $100,000 and $550,000 paid no income taxes in 2010. About 1,000 households that made more than one million dollars in income paid no income taxes in 2010.

    So that "47%" that is supposedly made up entirely of lazy bums? Not so much.

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  8. @Dr. Egnor: Please don't reduce the economic shell games going on in America to a right-vs.-left issue. I am a socially conservative and orthodox Catholic who is part of the 47%. My family struggles to do right and make ends meet - we just didn't happen to have the foresight to get the right kinds of credentials or connections to get into the right fields to make us top earners. I tithe 10% of what God gives us, pay another 7% or so in sales tax, and pay FICA. We don't directly pay income tax (when all is said and done) but we indirectly pay all kinds of other taxes - our landlord's property taxes, for instance.

    Health insurance premiums (at least the portion I pay) for my family costs over a third of my income. I don't know a lot about the industry, but my understanding is that doctors and lawyers and Congressmen and health insurance officials are pocketing a lot of that money, and that health care costs are being inflated by insurance companies' billing practices (they get discounts individuals can't) and malpractice suits.

    In addition, I and my children are eyeball-deep in the collective debt owed by America to foreign bond holders - money that my government borrowed in my name and then gave to (you guessed it) one-percenters.

    I and my family, while we don't earn as much money as a mortgage lender or a hedge fund manager, contribute more productive labor and actual value to the American economy than either.

    The right-vs.-left, Christian-vs.-atheist, hawk-vs.-dove, hard-working-vs.-layabout, racist-vs.-civil rights protester spectrum may have been adequate to describe American politics in the 60s (though I have my doubts) but (media misrepresentations aside) it is wholly inadequate to describe the political and social realities of the 21st century.

    I know quite a few people who are very willing to work but can't get hired. They're not lazy; they're unemployed. Most of them are older, and suspect their difficulty is that employers don't want to see their health insurance costs go up or are afraid that they will be more difficult to train than a younger applicant. I thank God at least once every day that I have a job, and I guarantee you that, at least for those of us who don't have specialized marketable skills, the job market is more difficult than it was five years ago.

    Those of us who feel ourselves being squeezed out of the shrinking middle class by this recession are frequently sympathetic with the more vocal OWS folks, regardless of (or perhaps because of) our faith affiliations. Christ talked a lot more about the spiritual dangers of wealth than he did the spiritual benefits of working hard and looking down your nose at those whose incomes keep them out of the top half of society.

    When I get my $3,000 check next year (for a net tax credit somewhere north of two grand) I will not consider it federal largesse - I will consider it a small recompense for the fact that the lower wages I and my wife earn are the direct result of federal corporate welfare in the form of free trade agreements, offshoring policies, tax loopholes, and so on.

    If you want to better understand why people like me sympathize with OWS, check out Rolling Stone's editorial: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/owss-beef-wall-street-isnt-winning-its-cheating-20111025.

    In short, I *am* hard-working American, and have been all my life. There are people who take advantage of the system and don't really provide value for the money they get, but the ones I resent the most are not the "welfare queens" I hear about on talk radio; they're the bankers who ran off with fat profits while the American economy crumbled and the Congresspeople who helped them do it. I will never understand the penny-wise-and-pound-foolish attitude of American "conservatives" when it comes to individual-vs.-corporate welfare.

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  9. @Iko: Your bigotry is showing. When I shared your point of view (15 years ago) I didn't personally know any rural, Christian Americans from flyover country, and my feeling of superiority was based on stereotypes I'd learned in my enlightened hometown of San Francisco. Things started to change for me when I actually met the human beings I'd been deriding. I suggest you take a trip, meet some real rural Americans, and get to know them as people. Broaden your horizons a bit, and lose some of your prejudices.

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  10. The rest get the benefits of federal largesse, but contribute none of their income to it, or at least not through federal taxes.
    Yeah! Take that, the unemployed, students, the working poor and the elderly! (Remember, kiddies, class warfare is only when it's bottom-up, with the filthy, shiftless and lazy lining up for their "free" gruel. When it's top-down, it's America and Freedom and Liberty!)

    crusadeREX "The same CANNOT be said of my progressive friends who ALL love Bill Maher, her opposite number."
    I find him to be insufferably smug.

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  11. Very touched by your input John Henry.

    I agree the ‘right-vs-left’, ‘Christian-v-atheist’, seem outdated.

    The reality we live in is indeed scary. Wish it was otherwise.

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  12. Modus,
    Would you consider yourself 'liberal' or 'progressive' in the popular sense of those terms?

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  13. In the middle of the "libertarian Left" box in political compass.

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  14. "[M]y understanding is that doctors and lawyers and Congressmen and health insurance officials are pocketing a lot of that money, and that health care costs are being inflated by insurance companies' billing practices (they get discounts individuals can't) and malpractice suits."

    Malpractice costs are a trivial portion of the cost of health care.

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  15. Interesting post Dr. Egnor, and ditto for the comments. In the few weeks I've been accessing this blog and adding a comment or three of my own, this is the first time I've noticed a largely civil exchange of ideas. There are some strong opinions expressed, to be sure, but it is a welcome change to see most of the comments directed to the issues at hand instead of personal attacks and character assassination.

    As a Canadian, I am somewhat isolated from a lot of the turmoil that presently grips the U.S., but because of our economic interdependency, my country will most certainly be impacted by whatever happens to yours over the next couple of years.

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  16. Hear hear for John Henry

    The main socialist scheme operating in the USA is corporate socialism. Big companies pay almost no tax due to loop holes introduced into law by corrupt politicians (mainly Republicans of course). Hedge fund managers pay lower marginal rates than the cleaners of their offices.

    Here in the Netherlands the tax on income over $80,000 is 52%. I happily pay that rate myself. It's considerably lower than it used to be, but still enough to allow us good universal health care, a decent minimum wage, decent pensions and unemployment benefits that don't expire. It's probably no coincidence that the people here are among the happiest and healthiest in the world. How can you consider a result like bad for the "moral fiber" of a society?

    Selfish sanctimonious people like Egnor would prefer poor people to come begging at the church doors and jump through religious hoops in order to get some charity.

    By the way, what's up with so many Canadians here?

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  17. @John Henry:

    I agree with much of what you've said, and I certainly don't have any critique of honest working people (or unemployed or disabled people)who are part of the 47%. You're quite right that many of the 47% contribute enormously to our society,and that there are too many among the 53% who don't.

    However, the OWS crowd and the left have stoked class envy, and there are many millions in the 53% who work very hard and contribute enormously. I was on welfare for a while when I was a kid, and needed the GI bill to get through college. I had enormous educational debt after med school, and worked hard to pay it off. I was not able to earn a living much above the poverty line until I was in my late 30's. I now do fairly well, but I pay half of my income in taxes, which means that from January to June I work for free. I've got 4 kids to put through college and grad school, and I get no financial aid of course. I won't be retiring anytime soon. I make a good income, but I work like a dog for it, and I give up an obscenely high portion of it to the government.

    It's a dangerous scenario when a substantial portion of the populace pays no federal income tax, because obviously politicians can play to that group to get benefits from the government.

    I despise the OWS jerks and the left because they use poverty and envy to advance their own slimy agendas.

    I think that much lower taxes all around, much smaller government, and a flat tax, is the best option. A brisk free market economy is best for all of us, except for the politicians and the relatively small segment of our population who really don't contribute and live off others.

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  18. @anon:

    [Malpractice costs are a trivial portion of the cost of health care.]

    Trivial,huh? Care to pay mine? It'll be $250,000 for this year alone (and I'm a surgeon with a good record who has rarely been sued), which only gives me limited coverage and in practically any neurosurgical lawsuit leaves my house, my savings, my retirement and all of my property at risk.

    I'll take money order or check.

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  19. @troy:

    [Selfish sanctimonious people like Egnor would prefer poor people to come begging at the church doors and jump through religious hoops in order to get some charity.]

    You're an asshole. I save lives of poor people on a daily basis, and get paid nothing for it. (what medicaid pays doesn't cover my expenses). I get out of bed at 2:00 am regularly to operate on people who can't pay me a cent. I'm priveleged to do so. I operate on AIDS patients often, exposing myself to risk, because they would die if I didn't. I usually don't have an assistant, to minimize the risk to others.

    How dare you call me selfish. I have plenty of faults and am quite a sinner, but I do more to help the poor in an afternoon than you've done in a lifetime.

    Asshole.

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  20. Egnor, it's great that you save lives of poor people as a medical doctor, and I applaud you for it, but that's your fucking job and you get paid very well for it. Saving lives as a doctor doesn't make you a good person. No doubt you worked very hard to get where you are now, but you were also lucky to have the gifts that you have. Yet you support a type of society that lets the unlucky rot away and that makes you a selfish asshole.

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  21. @troy:

    You're a great example of leftist arrogance. I have yet to hear of anything that you personally do to help the poor. You have gifts too. How do you use them? It's well established that atheists and lefties are much less charitable than conservatives and Christians.

    Socialism is a faux-religion. It is catastrophic economics, obviously (Europe), but it makes lefties feel superior and serves the interests of elites allied with the left.

    Traditional Christian culture has been the greatest source of help for the poor in history. It's hard to think of a sector of society that does less to help others than the atheist left.

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  22. Trivial,huh?

    Yep. Did you even bother to check the link?

    How much does your practice gross? A simple number, without context, is an irrelevant factoid.

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  23. "Trivial" was the word.

    Do you want to pay by check or money order?

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  24. Mike Egnor "...I certainly don't have any critique of honest working people (or unemployed or disabled people)who are part of the 47%. You're quite right that many of the 47% contribute enormously to our society,and that there are too many among the 53% who don't."
    Compare and contrast this with first couple of paragraphs at the top. Discuss.

    "However, the OWS crowd and the left have stoked class envy..."
    I know, right? They're all "Why have tuition costs doubled or tripled in the last couple of decades, with more huge jumps coming?", "Why is student debt the only debt that can't be washed away, should bankruptcy be required (heaven forbid)?", "I was told that if I worked hard and was honest, I'd be okay. Well, I've been honest, I've worked hard, so what the hell happened to my retirement?", "Main Street, not Wall Street!" and "Why isn't Goldman Sachs in jail?"

    "I now do fairly well, but I pay half of my income in taxes, which means that from January to June I work for free."
    You don't work for free. Taxes are the thing we pay to keep those below us comfortable enough so that we get to maintain the benefits of having our head on our shoulders. The last time the economy went this sideways for this long, those at the top were scared enough to push through the New Deal. This time they're daft enough to push through its dissolution.

    "It's a dangerous scenario when a substantial portion of the populace pays no federal income tax, because obviously politicians can play to that group to get benefits from the government."
    Balderpucky!
    1. Poor people don't vote.
    2. Politicians listen to their funders and talk to their voters, not the other way around.

    "I despise the OWS jerks and the left because they use poverty and envy to advance their own slimy agendas."
    "Only 53% of Americans pay federal income tax. The rest get the benefits of federal largesse, but contribute none of their income to it, or at least not through federal taxes. Of course the near-half of Americans have no disincentive and every incentive to vote for politicians who will burden hard-working Americans with even more federal taxes." (quoted for irony)

    "I think that much lower taxes all around..."
    I think that taxes are a minor inconvenience, compared to the alternative. I like police, fire department, schools and roads. I even like Defense.

    "...much smaller government..."
    I agree, except that I think that it should consist of the same number of people, just smaller ones.

    "...and a flat tax..."
    Flat tax is regressive. Flat taxes that aren't regressive aren't flat taxes. Discuss.

    "A brisk free market economy is best for all of us..."
    A true free market economy is a theoretical abstraction. In reality, everyone tries to bend the rules in their favor. Guess who's been winning?

    "...except for the politicians and the relatively small segment of our population who really don't contribute and live off others."
    "Only 53% of Americans pay federal income tax. The rest get the benefits of federal largesse, but contribute none of their income to it, or at least not through federal taxes. Of course the near-half of Americans have no disincentive and every incentive to vote for politicians who will burden hard-working Americans with even more federal taxes." (quoted for irony. Again)

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  25. "Socialism is a faux-religion. It is catastrophic economics, obviously (Europe), but it makes lefties feel superior and serves the interests of elites allied with the left."
    Social Security and the rest of the Welfare State vs elderly poverty and the poor house. Unemployment insurance vs one job for every five-to-seven people.
    Also, Germany has a strong, soft socialism. It's issues are mostly related other areas of the Euro (like Greece, which spent decades mired in graft and corruption. Also, nobody their pays their taxes, and Ireland, which stopped making stuff and ran happily towards the same bubble that broke the US economy, to the point that they made entire suburbs for people who were expected to buy them, but that didn't actually exist)

    "Traditional Christian culture has been the greatest source of help for the poor in history."
    Oh, tosh! It's not one or the other. Two levels of safety net will catch more falling people than one.

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  26. @megnor
    Traditional Christian culture has been the greatest source of help for the poor in history.

    You are absolutely right, Dr. Egnor!

    Christianity at work.

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  27. "You're a great example of leftist arrogance. I have yet to hear of anything that you personally do to help the poor. You have gifts too. How do you use them? It's well established that atheists and lefties are much less charitable than conservatives and Christians."

    My wife and I have adopted a child from a poor country, after we had one of our own. We donate plenty to charitable causes. So do all of our atheist friends. It's bullshit that Christians and conservatives give more.

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  28. @modus:

    Yea. Socialism has such a great record of prosperity and integrity, who could even question it?

    Greece is socialism, in the form of a country. A cesspool of greed, envy, indolence, corruption, and economic free-fall demanding that others pay the bill.

    Socialism collapses when you run out of other people's money.

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  29. @troy:

    Adopting a child is a wonderful thing, and is to be commended.

    On the matter of atheist/Christian charity, learn something:

    http://freerepublic.com/focus/f-chat/2819987/posts


    http://atheism-analyzed.blogspot.com/2011/05/atheist-charitable-giving.html

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  30. @modus:

    [You don't work for free. Taxes are the thing we pay to keep those below us comfortable enough so that we get to maintain the benefits of having our head on our shoulders.]

    What do you mean by "having our head on our shoulders."? Do you mean that we pay taxes to keep people who don't pay taxes from killing taxpayers?

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  31. mregnor "Yea. Socialism has such a great record of prosperity and integrity, who could even question it?"
    Exactly. Ignore the Nordic countries. Socialism is Greece. Socialism is everything I've been told not to like. Also, again, ignore Germany which, even with fairly strong labour and social net is Europe's powerhouse. But it's easier focusing on the remarkable buffoonery of Greece, and ignore that three decades of supply-side economics in the US has only succeeded in making the already rich much, much richer. Trickle Down hasn't trickled. 80% of the population is treading water. And you react with the class warfare you're so quick to accuse others of, by poor-baiting. Shame on you.

    "What do you mean by 'having our head on our shoulders.'? Do you mean that we pay taxes to keep people who don't pay taxes from killing taxpayers?"
    I mean that, when the economy sours, rushing to blame those below you for basking in the perks of being broke indicates a neurosurgeon who needs his own head examined.

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  32. @modus:

    [I mean that, when the economy sours, rushing to blame those below you for basking in the perks of being broke indicates a neurosurgeon who needs his own head examined.]

    Are you nuts? I'm not blaming people "below me" for anything. Any more than I blamed people "above me" when I was poor.

    Here's what I blame:

    The economic collapse was the proximate result of the collapse of the subprime mortgage industry. The industry was created in the 1970's by liberal democrats (socialists) who demanded that people be given mortgages that by standard measures they could not afford in order to increase home ownership among the poor. Fake noble intent, utterly asinine method (socialism). The scam was continued into the 90's, with big support from the Clinton administration. It was a Democrat program, although some stupid Republicans supported it too. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac grew to enormous size to keep the scam/gravy train going, and FM/FM became a nice retirement home for Democrat (socialist) politicians and bureaucrats (Franklin Raines, Jamie Gorelick, good lefties all) who made tens of millions in bonuses while FM/FM went under. Unless you forgot, these Dem assholes are on your side.

    Republicans tried to warn of the impending implosion in the mid-2000's, and were voted down by Dems (your guys). Barney Frank (Dem) (lived with boyfriend (http://americaswatchtower.com/2011/05/26/barney-frank-admits-he-got-his-boyfriend-a-job-at-fanny-mae/) at FM who made millions and Chris Dodd (Dem) who got all kinds of donations and perks from Countrywide Mortgage protected the scam in congress and the senate as long as they could.

    You socialist bastards destroyed this economy. Gordon Gecko is a saint compared to you.

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  33. Michael,

    'You socialist bastards destroyed this economy. Gordon Gecko is a saint compared to you'.

    Stop pussyfooting around. What is your real opinion? (That's irony if you don't know ...)

    I think the GFC was multifactorial. Australia was fortunate in largely avoiding it, partly because so much of our trade is resources to China, which has a high rate of growth in GDP, even if 'only' domestically.

    Property values have fallen perhaps 20%, and because unemployment didn't reach the catastrophic levels as America, foreclosures were few.

    Other countries have been affected worse than America so it isn't just the Democrats to blame, if indeed they were culpable. Ireland is a basket case and appears to be returning to its traditional export of Irish, because its economy isn't capable of providing jobs for the young. At one time, its economy was doing very well, it was referred to as a Celtic tiger, property values were increasing at enormous rates, and owing to optimism (no matter how high the prices are now, they'll be much higher in the future, so a loss is out of the question...) and fear (for much the same reasons, the fear that if they can't afford a house now, then they'd definitely not be able to afford one later), people were borrowing 100% of the value of the property. And when values dropped 50% or they lost their jobs, they still had to make 100% of the mortgage repayments.

    I've noted before that the GFC was partly due to the spike in oil prices in 2007, owing to market forces, resulting in an enormous increase in gasoline prices in America (incidentally, to prices similar to that we 'enjoy' in Australia, our prices also went up, but as a lower percentage increase, so it wasn't as painful). This had a severe impact on the economy as it meant that people had less money to spend on incidentals and it was more expensive to get to work, particularly if you had a house with a large mortgage in the suburbs.

    Our prosperity depends on having cheap abundant energy. This will eventually come to an end. Regardless of what you think, oil is a finite resource. Market forces won't create oil reserves where there are none. We have tapped the most accessible oil reserves and are busy using up the remainder, which are more expensive, both in money and energy, to acquire. So energy prices must increase, particularly with the growing global population and economic development in countries such as China and India.

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  34. Egnor: I operate on AIDS patients often, exposing myself to risk, because they would die if I didn't. I usually don't have an assistant, to minimize the risk to others.

    I had no idea neurosurgery is an effective cure for AIDS.

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  35. mregnor, FM/FM worked pretty well from their creation until '99 (1970+ for Freddie and 1938+ for Fannie).
    What happened in that year to change things, anyway?
    And obviously the GOP tried to stop them. They really did, but all they controlled was pretty much everything after '95 except the White House until 2001 and from then until Jan 2007, everything.
    Keep in mind, as well, that during the hump of the bubble, Fannie Mae lost market share. They only came back in at the end in a foolish and naive attempt to slow and stabilize a rotten market.

    "You socialist bastards destroyed this economy. Gordon Gecko is a saint compared to you."
    Oh, you. Privatizing the profits and socializing the losses isn't socialism, you silly goose. I highly recommend you start reading Taibbi's stuff (like this, linked earlier).

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  36. bachfiend "...particularly if you had a house with a large mortgage in the suburbs."
    Large or not, that's an odd place to keep a mortgage.

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  37. This kind of snarky exchange is a big part of the problem. You people act like you're on different sides, but you're not. Our economy, our nation, our society - heck, our world - is a big tangled mess; we feel and act as if our lives and fates are insulated from others', but they can't be.

    Class warfare (top-down, or bottom-up) makes about as much sense as gender warfare. The question isn't who wins and who loses, but why there's a fight in the first place. A big part of the reason there's a fight is because you're being sold a bill of goods. There are (on the "right" just as much as on the "left") plenty of people pushing this idea of class warfare. The author of the cartoon above is as guilty of it as the loudest Commie agitator at an OWS camp.

    An example: Ted owns a market and Joe stocks and sells his vegetables; they both need each other. If one takes more money home every month, well, that's the way things are, and for the most part we Americans are fine with that. Ted might own a bigger house and wear nicer clothes, but Joe makes a living wage and as long as he can afford a roof and clothes of his own, things are working properly. Maybe Ted made sacrifices Joe didn't make to be able to save up and buy and furnish the store, or maybe he just inherited the money. It doesn't really matter; without people like Ted we wouldn't have stores, and people like Joe wouldn't have work. Without people like Joe, Ted's store would not be able to function, much less turn a profit. Like I said, they need each other.

    But this scenario is not the problem. If most of the folks at OWS were demanding we seize Ted's store and give the title to Joe, yes, that would be Socialism, and most of us would oppose it.

    The problem is AIG. The problem is Bear Stearns. The problem is mounting public debt while our representatives in Congress and the Oval Office give billions away - largely to foreign investors in these banks and insurance companies that caused the problem by inflating their money packages. It wasn't just that the poor banks were forced to give loans to shiftless opportunists who couldn't pay them back; they made big profits off those loans. Plenty of people made a lot of money off of packaging bad investments.

    The problem is that we have people in charge in business and in politics who can't be trusted. They've been stealing from us, and we are all now feeling the pinch. The Tea Party and OWS may disagree about the best methods for addressing this problem (more on that in a minute) but both groups are agreed on the diagnosis: corruption. Both groups see it, and both groups are pissed. The media machine saw this coming, and has done its best to pit these groups (with so much in common) against each other: first they painted the Tea Partiers as rabid, racist, gun-toting rural fascists, and party-line Democrats ate it up, for the most part. Now they're painting the OWS folks as lazy, opportunistic, entitled, smelly, whiny hippies, and party-line Republicans are eating it up.

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  38. Why do we Americans allow this to happen? The media hands out red and blue banners and then tells us to go fight one another, and we just fall in line! I really don't get it. The lines they've drawn are bogus; we are being divided so that we can remain conquered.

    Fifty-three-percenters against ninety-nine percenters, and a hundred percent of us lose.

    It's not a simple choice between laissez-faire Capitalism and pure Socialism; that's a false dichotomy. The market needs some regulation; if we can't see that from the current mess, we should at least be able to see it from the mess caused by bogus investment packages that were sold in the 20s. You can't just let bankers make up money instruments and sell them however they feel like; that always ends poorly. It's what caused the first Great Depression, and it's what caused our recent, er, economic woes.

    Personally, I'd like to see us make some radical changes; nationalize the Fed (coining money is <a href="http://www.usconstitution.net/xconst_A1Sec8.html>Congress' job</a>, not that of an independently-owned bank)and reinstitute some medieval usury laws, for instance. Neither of these changes are either Socialist or Libertarian, but guess what? When we stop taking our marching orders from the media, we're no longer constrained by false dichotomies.

    Now, quit fighting and start working together. You're smart people, and if you put your heads together, I bet you'll come up with better solutions than those being handed to us by the powers that be.

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  39. "Trivial" was the word.

    And trivial it is. Did you even look to see what percentage of health care costs malpractice amounts to?

    The NASA budget in FY 2011 was about $21 billion. The total federal budget in 2011 in FY 2011 was about $3.7 trillion. As a percentage of the Federal budget, the NASA budget was about 0.6% (that is, just over half a percent). That's trivial.

    Saying "the NASA budget was $21 billion dollars!" is meaningless without context. As is your pearl clutching over your malpractice costs.

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  40. John Henry:
    "There are people who take advantage of the system and don't really provide value for the money they get, but the ones I resent the most are not the "welfare queens" I hear about on talk radio; they're the bankers who ran off with fat profits while the American economy crumbled and the Congresspeople who helped them do it. I will never understand the penny-wise-and-pound-foolish attitude of American "conservatives" when it comes to individual-vs.-corporate welfare. "

    Nicely said, sir.

    "Why do we Americans allow this to happen? The media hands out red and blue banners and then tells us to go fight one another, and we just fall in line! I really don't get it. The lines they've drawn are bogus; we are being divided so that we can remain conquered."

    Again, well said. You're one of the few on here that makes sense!

    I dont know if its really the media thats pitting people against each other. Humans are a tribal race. It's in our nature to take sides, to search for the controversy, the debate.

    And for everyone like egnor, who is ALWAYS screaming about socialism this, socialism that... is capitalism the perfect economic model for a country? It's sure as hell not perfect.

    @Egnor:

    First of all, you're not gaining ANY sympathy when you say that you're putting 4 kids through college and grad school, that you risk losing ALL of your property, etc. etc.

    Nobody forced you to have 4 kids. Nobody said you HAVE to pay for all their college tuition. Let them get a student loan!! Like most of us poor schlubs. All your property? Let's see, a neurosurgeon.. depending on how long you've been doing it, where you live, you probably make upwards of $300k per year, and correct me if i'm wrong, maybe have a country club membership, possibly a boat, maybe even a summer home somewhere. Yes, you SHOULD pay a lot of taxes.

    The richest of the rich live off of dividends, which are taxed at a lower rate than salary. It's pretty sad when Warren Buffet admits that the wealthy should pay much more, and that his own secretary is taxed higher than he is.

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  41. @Mulder:

    You show your envy with such assertions, and you should be ashamed.

    I do well, but I'm not the least bit rich.

    I have no boat, no country club membership, and no second home. My wife and I will soon pay off our mortgage on our only home, and that money will immediately begin paying my youngest daughter's tuition.

    Warren Buffet can pay as much money to the government as he chooses-- they won't say no. He's a fraud.

    I have no truck with the bankers and businessmen who took advantage of so many in this scandal. Those who broke laws should go to jail-- and I'm astonished and angry that more of them haven't been prosecuted.

    What you fail to see is that this economic catastrophe is the proximate consequence of crony capitalism-- capitalists buying favors from the government-- which is really the inevitable consequence of socialism. When the government grows to excess and intercedes excessively in the private sector, corruption runs rampant.

    It is the Democratic party today and the left who most strongly enable crony capitalism. Solyndra is the clearest example, but there are countless others. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are emblematic of the problem, and they are the problem that leftists like you caused.

    The only solution is to shrink government and limit its opportunities for corruption.

    As for your insinuations about my personal finances and personal life, you're wrong and you can shove it.

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  42. Michael,

    Are you sure that the Republicans don't have similar dirt on their hands? The Solyndra fiasco started under George W Bush, although it was foolishly approved under Obama's administration.

    If you go through all bills passed, you'll undoubtedly find a lot of bills with pork barreling projects added so as to get support from the politicians. Projects that don't make the slightest economic sense.

    From the outside, the American system of government is bizarre. Only one country has seen fit to replicate the American system, and that's the Phillipines.

    Fancy having a system where head of state and government has to seek approval from Congress and the Senate for any legislative program with no guarantee of support. And if he or she doesn't have at least 60 senate seats, the minority party can filibuster and stop any program.

    Changing to a parliamentary system of government is the best thing America can do.

    It's little wonder that the American population has so little trust in Congress (which the Republicans control by the way). I read a figure of 9% approval yesterday. If so, it's amazing. It should have been 0%.

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  43. @bach:

    Republicans are almost as corrupt as Democrats. But there are a few Republicans trying to do the right thing (Rand Paul, Paul Ryan). The Democratic party is corrupt to the core.

    Big Government is the problem, and the solution is to cut it down to size and to limit its power. That was the original intent of our Constitution, and that intent has been perverted.

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  44. ...and now we see the other side of the Ugly Coin: what I can only call Envy. There's nothing inherently wrong with someone else having something I can't, whether it's wealth or health or height or looks or time or love or fame or a yacht or even a really tasty sandwich. If they have these things, great. I hope they enjoy them without worshiping them.

    The least idiotic defense of Envy is that those who have have a moral duty to share with those who have not. That's actually true, although it's true about *everything* you have - not just the contents of your wallet. Are you handsome and charming? Share your light with those who live in a prison or a nursing home. Are you intelligent? Donate your free time tutoring kids with learning disabilities. Are you strong and healthy? Give your free time to the sick and bedridden.

    What's that you say? You want to enjoy the fruits of these talents for yourself a little bit too? Well, I suppose you're entitled to do so. Even Christ rebuked Judas for criticizing the woman who anointed him. Maybe it is okay to just enjoy good things sometimes without always thinking about those in need.

    After all, how many of you who complain about Dr. Egnor's imaginary boat and summer house are willing to sell your own possessions and send the money to the starving in Africa or even in the town next door? Can anyone tell me the exact point at which Just Enough For Me to Have a Nice Life becomes Way Too Much That I Must Give Away or Be a Bad Person. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

    And what's with being unwilling to respect and appreciate someone for doing his or her job? Sure, a doctor (or a janitor or a soldier or a fireman or a carpenter or a priest or a waiter) may only be doing the job he's paid to do, but that doesn't mean he isn't doing it with love, and it doesn't man he shouldn't be thanked. Work is the gift God gave us after the Fall so that we could learn to sacrifice for, rely on, and appreciate one another. Don't miss that opportunity.

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  45. @oleg:

    [I had no idea neurosurgery is an effective cure for AIDS.]

    People with AIDS get brain tumors, brain hemorrhages, herniated discs, hydrocephalus, etc just like everyone else. Actually, moreso for some disorders. When they do, they need surgery.

    I've had two colleagues get stuck with needles contaminated with blood from AIDS patients. One was pregnant and had to get anti-viral meds during her pregnancy (the baby is ok).

    I have a protocol to diminish the risk-- I don't use an assistant if I don't absolutely need one, and we pass instruments in a pan instead of hand-to-hand. We double-glove, and minimize sharp instruments as much as possible (use cautery rather than scalpel, etc).

    The greatest risk probably isn't the known cases, but the anonymous emergency patient who needs radical surgery who has AIDS (or hepatitis etc) and we don't know it.

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  46. OK, i said MAYBE you had these things - boat, country club membership, etc.

    Am i envious of people who do? I am a little, i admit. In my field of work, i know i'll never get to the financial level of some, but that's ok. Egnor, i wasnt trying to put you down for doing well, i was just trying to make a point - that it seemed like you were complaining about how much taxes you pay, all the while having the money to put 4 kids through college, which we all know is insanely expensive these days.

    I'll say this to you though, i applaud you for what you do - especially operating on people without insurance, if thats true.

    And you know something else, Mike Henry and Egnor - envy in and of itself is NOT a bad thing.
    At its very best, it has the power to encourage people to strive for something better in life, and to possibly show someone that maybe they CAN achieve what they didnt think they could before. But, like any human emotion, it can be perverted and cause ill will. Even love has the power to be perverted into something foul.

    @Mike Henry
    I think you read a bit too much into my post. Are you saying that I dont respect or appreciate him for being a doctor? Thats just silly.

    And you ask is there this imaginary line of wealth... i would say that line is very broad. I'll say this though - i applaud someone like Bill Gates, who, after years of building an empire, steps down and completely devotes his time and money to his own charity organization. A full-time philanthropist. Then there are people who are CEO's, athletes, celebrities...whomever. That are multimillionaires, spending their money on garages full of cars that they'll never drive, jewelery, yachts, frivolous items that could feed a family for a year, i think that is the line: When you go way above and beyond being very comfortable and frankly just don't know what to do with all your money. Can you hear me, Kardashians, and many more various celebs?

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  47. @Mulder: I was responding to several comments, not just yours. If something I said does not apply to what you wrote, feel free to ignore it or reply as you wish.

    I do agree with you that there is a line, but I'm not entirely sure I an competent to draw it, and I think it depends on factors, like the intent of the purchaser, that I have no way of knowing. I'm even inclined to think that we all fall short in charity in one way or another. I'm not sure how useful it is to go around pointing fingers like that.

    As for envy serving a good purpose and love serving evil purposes... I think you and I might disagree as to the definitions of those words. I would agree that God can and does draw good out of evil (he is the living God who makes strawberries from manure!) and that a man may do evil out of motives he calls love.

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