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Author Topic: (NOT) an Optimist ?
Star Pilot 111
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Hello there. I’m new to this site I hope I don’t ruffle any feathers, or maybe it’s good to ruffle some feathers. Sometimes it’s good to be challenged to look at things from another perspective. When I first was thinking about joining this site I read this article ( I think it was an article ) titled
“I’m an Optimist”. Since I have some differing points of view on some of the statements made in the article I’d like to express them and see if anyone out there might have similar thoughts. First let me say , I’m not a journalist, and have not had any schooling in writing.
The writer of the article was asking if anyone was sick of people saying this was no longer the land of opportunity., that the country is divided, that the top 50% wage earners pay 95% of the taxes.
Well I read from a well documented book that the top 2% wage earners make more money than all of the bottom 95%. It seems to me as far as equality goes, if I make more that 95% of all the income in the USA, I should , proportionally, pay that amount in taxes. You see the basic truths of the Constitution are, we are all equal. For the privilege of living here, and being able to do whatever I do to make 95% of all the personal income in the USA, I’d be glad to pay my fair share. I’d still be living better that those financially uneducated 95%. Some of the 2% were born into wealth, if they never had a job in their life, they shouldn’t even count, but I guess they do, because they’re protected by the Constitution.
In the article the author asked if you’re tired of people saying “America sucks and I’ll make it better” Well I don’t think anyone likes to be told they’re not doing something right. But if we are honest with ourselves, we could all use some improvement, and this country would not be the great nation it is if we weren’t allowed to express our opinions for fear of execution. This country would be kind of like Iraq.
Then the article implied that all Americans love John Wayne, the Cowboy/Marine. I don’t love John Wayne. The fixation with John Wayne as the example of how Americans should approach the rest of the world is foolish. John Wayne was an actor, just like Arnold the Gubenator of Caleefornia. The characters they played were pretend. HELLO ! No one knows how they really are except a, close, few. Most of their roles, that people (mostly men) identify with, were male chauvinist, Neanderthal type, thugs, going into battle without a second thought. Hmmm, that kind of reminds me of something that happened recently.
The article implied that the campaign opposing Bush for president is pessimistic. Well there are optimists, pessimists, and realists. A realist is able to have an opinion on a situation, and as the characteristics of the situation changes, so can the opinion. Or is that considered, flip-flopping ? It would be foolish to be stubborn and find out later, you could have done better if only you had listened to other honest, expert opinions.
I am very concerned about this election. My biggest concern is that the voters, myself included aren’t deceived by flim flam TV campaign ads, from both sides, and that the media who reports information, isn‘t deceptively swayed into favoring one side. Every election I’ve voted in it’s been a choice between the lesser of two evils. This election is no different.
I don’t have bad feelings towards the person who wrote that article. I just wanted to show that there are other facts and opinions that don’t necessarily agree. It’s called honest dissent. It’s protected by the constitution.

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Hannibal
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i still havent decided who is better bitween the two candidates.

but as for the tax precentage, i whould like to give you an example of my country

(by the way, i notice that you are new, so welcome to the site, i am hannibal and i am from israel)

in israel, from a relativley medium income of 10,000 shekels you start to pay 59% tax. my family is getting slaughtered by those tax rates, my father returns home every day at 21:00 just so 60% of what he earns return to the country for to help people who are from a lower socio-economical stand. and in my opinion it is an outrage. many of those poor people with all due respect, are parasites of sociaty who know that if they will stay at home they will get more money from the country then by working. and in my family atleast, we want things to be more like in the states when it is concerning tax levels.

(note that i am not a rich SOB, we are not rich, we are simply on the highest tax level)

in israel, the tax levels are one of the highest in the world, if not the highest by the way.

what i am trying to say, is that if the people who earn alot of money will pay so much to the country, it will only encourage more and more paratisism from the rest of the people, and eventually it will ruin the country's economics instead of encouraging it.

[ August 29, 2004, 04:25 PM: Message edited by: Hannibal ]

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WarrsawPact
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When your country is lucky enough to have 220-something billionaires, yeah of course they're going to make more than a LOT of people earning a realtively nice 40-60 thousand dollars a year.

The more money you have to begin with, the easier it is to make more money.

Should we level off all the billionaires so that their efforts get them nothing more than the tens-of-million-aires?

You mgiht say, Hey, sure! Why not? Nobody needs that much personal wealth!

Well, if you're really rich, and the country you're living in jacks up the tax rate, you can do something really easy with all that wealth: you can move. It's an implied threat that both corporations and ridiculously wealthy individuals use: we provide a benefit to your state and country, but we can turn the lights out, move across a border and you'll be screwed if you try to take advantage of us. As long as the climate is healthy for my business, I'll stay and keep providing you with this benefit.

Those rich 2% also pay an insane amount of money to the government. It makes the tax returns of people like you and me look pathetic by comparison. Especially since so many people simply do not pay income tax.

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Naldiin
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Star, the thing about John Wayne isn't mean to be a comprehensive moral analysis. What people fixate on with the charactered they played, is that they are, in my definition, Men.

That's a word I think has become so misused. A Man is not just any adult male, and a Manis not simply a boy who has overextended himself into realms that he is not yet wise enough for (if you don't know what I'm refering to, send me an email, or something, I'll clear it up). A Man is a male who embodies the traits of manhood, who is an adult both in body and in spirit. Men are brave, bold and decisive, they may fear, but they do not cower, and they stand for what they believe in, reguardless of the chances of success. That is not to say that they are reckless, but have the wisdom that comes with time and an open mind, a truly open mind. Men are a source of stability, Men are a source of justice. They are strong both in body, but more importantly, in spirit, in moral fiber. They have the courage of thier own convictions, and will stand alone if need be, not for person gain, but merely because it-is-the-right-thing-to-do.

That's what Americans admire about the characters John Wayne played. In many ways, those are the qualities of the American epic hero.

And I've talked with a lot of people who arn't from this great land I live in, and I've asked them, what they like and dislike about Americans. What they like about Americans are those manly qualities. If we strip away the arrogance, they shine a bit better, in a weary world.

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Jesse
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Ok, troll momment for the month.

John Wayne did three barely acceptable bits of acting in his life, the rest was unmitigated crap.

It's Jimmy Stewarts Jefferson Smith or Gregory Pecks Atticus Finch that exemplify the sort of manhood that the world finds appealing about America, strong simple men who seek recourse to reason instead of violence and don't lack the courage to speak truth to power.

As far as the tax argument goes, those who "don't pay income tax" sure have advanced an immense amount in loans to the Federal government in the form of "Social Security Surpluses".

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Star Pilot 111
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Hannibal, Thanks for the welcome. I usually don’t have a lot of time to be able to be on web sites like this, but I would like to get a feel for thoughts and experiences of other people. The taxes in Israel are high, and it’s sad that people in the lower socio-economical stand take advantage of it. I don’t know how intentional it is that they at 1st want to take advantage of it. After a while, being in the same rut ( so to speak ) gets comfortable if there’s no incentive to get out of that rut. If people are left to feel that there is no hope to get out of the rut, they give up. I once read a quote that said “ The tragedy in life doesn’t lie in not reaching your goal, the tragedy lies in having no goal to reach “ I don’t have the answer to this type of dilemma, but I do feel, strongly there is an answer.
WarrsawPact, Hi . You make a very good point. It’s kind of like extortion. The big money groups, and people, do have too much control, in many cases. This election is an example. I read that tons-o-money was spent on a fake news cast, to make it look as if it was legitimate. Money can be powerful. But, it’s not money that’s evil, it’s the love of money and the misuse of it that’s evil. The reality is, some people have so much potential to make things right ( I don’t mean right wing ), but their weaknesses make them think, that if they have the most money they can be strong. This is wrong when viewed in an eternal perspective.
Hi Naldiin. I still have a tough time with this American epic hero. You made a real good point when you wrote :If we strip away the arrogance,…. . That’s just it. The notion is expressed many times that we are correct and everyone else is wrong. We have all the answers. I think the one word most men are afraid to identify with is humility. Too many people associate humility with weakness, when in reality, humility means to be teachable. Humility means, I may not have all the answers. Maybe the biggest gun and the most bullets isn’t the only answer. Maybe there isn’t just one answer. Maybe I should take more time and listen to other opinions, and weigh them carefully. Humility doesn’t mean to let someone trample all over you, that’s stupidity. Heroes have fear, but they also have the courage to confront the situation in an appropriate way. If it comes to force, sometimes that may be the only answer. Too many people associate these movie action heroes with, action only. It’s not their fault, that’s just the way they have been presented to us, so the movie makers can make tons-o-money. Not many people notice, as you do, that there are noble qualities also that can be associated with these action heroes. You have some good insight. But the real hero is the man, who takes responsibility for his family, who gets up every day and goes to work to support his family, who tries to show his wife and children correct principles, by example. And when he fails in his example, he admits it, and resolves to do better. The true hero struggles in anonymity, to teach his children so they will forgive his faults, and try to do better in his name. No one is perfect, but each generation can be a little more perfect than the last, if they have a true hero in their life.

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Star Pilot 111
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Hey Jesse
You’re right on with the example of
Jimmy Stewarts Jefferson Smith or Gregory Pecks Atticus Finch.
I wish I would have thought of them. I would have saved a lot of time.
With a few words, you made it clear.

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WarrsawPact
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Hey Star Pilot:

What would really help the readability of your posts is if you separated the paragraphs. It's sort of a stylistic thing that makes it easier on the eyes, especially when peopel are siftinbg through a few dozen posts ina short period of time. Just put a full space (hitting enter twice) between different topics and arguments and responses to different people.

Like so:
--------------------------
Hey SoAndSo: blah blah blah, good point, blah blah blah, but I disagree with your philosophy, blah blah, nuke the whales, blah blah. [enter]
[enter]
And as for you, SomebodyGreat: blah blah, neoconservative scum, blah blah, land mine proliferation, blah blah.
--------------------------

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WarrsawPact
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Now, as for my response:
quote:
WarrsawPact, Hi .
You make a very good point. It’s kind of like extortion. The big money groups, and people, do have too much control, in many cases. This election is an example. I read that tons-o-money was spent on a fake news cast, to make it look as if it was legitimate.
Money can be powerful. But, it’s not money that’s evil, it’s the love of money and the misuse of it that’s evil. The reality is, some people have so much potential to make things right ( I don’t mean right wing ), but their weaknesses make them think, that if they have the most money they can be strong. This is wrong when viewed in an eternal perspective.

Let's say you're one of the, say, 222 billionaires living in the United States. You run a massive corporation that literally millions of people invest in direectly or indirectly.
You run a plant in Washington state. This plant preoduces some hardware or machinery that is used all across the world, and the profits you bring in are staggering.
Your plant employs over 800 people.

Now, let's say the governor of your state decides that he needs more tax revenue to fund some state project, one that doesn't *really* help your business out that much. In fact, the bill is one that would force businesses to increase benefits to your employees.
Now let's say the governor is gonig to bankroll his tax hike by taxing large corporations and plants like yours, organizations thta bring in a lot of dough, because hey, that looks much better for PR than taxing small businesses and raises less hell than other forms of tax hike (you know you don't want to triple the car registration tax, for example).

Now you have a fixed labor cost in this state. When this tax hike goes through, you're no longer in control of your labor costs. The price of your product will go up, which will have effects throughout the world. Your profits are hurt, and all the people who own stock in your corporation are going to take a hit because some people are going to see your business suffer and jump ship.

Now let's say next door in Oregon there are much more relaxed labor laws, especially because, say, their unemployment right now is high. Considering how much the new labor laws in Washington are gonig to cost, you know you have an option.
That option is, on Friday night you shut off the lights and you pull your entire business over to Oregon, and by Monday morning you're taking applications for labor. Anyone who had a more important management position in your plant, you offer them the chance to either move (hey, the workforce is increasingly mobile these days) or they can quit and apply for another job. It takes you a few weeks to settle in, maybe two months before all your people are familiar with how to do their job efficiently.

Now your labor cost drops, you take a capital hit on moving your business, but in the lnog run you're gonig to make more money. your investors are going to know it and your stock is going to go up. With the moeny you save your corporation cna keep donig the R&D that keeps it on top of the market and the stock you've invested so heavily in, stays healthy.

Do you take the option of moving to Oregon, or do you suck it up and take the hit? Which is more economically sensible?
Did you do what you did for "love of money," because you thought money made you a better person? Technically what you did hurt a few hundred workers in labor-friendly Washington but *really* helped out a lot of people who might have otherwise been out of a job completely in Oregon. Your product stays cheap, your stock keeps investors from worrying about retirement, and people all over the globe still have access to your product at affordable prices.

I wouldn't consider myself weak for telling the governor of Washington where he can stick that tax hike. If the state doesn't stay in the competition for a healthy business climate, they don't deserve to have billionaires investing in their real estate. He should *expect* the businesses who invest in Washington to be assessing at all times their reasons for being in Washington as opposed to other states, and to jump ship when the climate gets unhealthy. The free market is about as close as you get to economic religion here in the states; we preach it all over the world when people like Germany can't figure out why they have a HUGE unemployment rate or when we have to bail France out of a currency crisis.

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ljohnson
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Why be an optimist . . .
A couple of good books on this: Greg Easterbrook has a book called "The Progress Paradox - why everything is getting better and people feel worse." Excellent stuff. We can and should feel great about our world, and especially if you are in the USA, about our country. We don't. I wonder if that is because the opinion makers in this country are pessimists. They cry 'I am a REALIST' but that is not really a tenable position. Interpretation is what makes our world possible, so we must interpret things as optimistic or pessimistic.

Second book: Authentic Happiness, by Marty Seligman. Seligman is one of the greatest living psychologists, and has embraced positive psychology in a big way. He argues we are smarter and much more creative when we are happy, and than despair and anger reduce our ability to think clearly. So it is in our best interest to celebrate life and be grateful. A follow on is his earlier book, Learned Optimism.

A good friend lost a job with a large (you would recognize the name) consulting firm. He had to write a monthly column and he was criticized for the low FUD factor. Each article had to focus on Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt. That is how you make money from their business model. He couldn't do it. He is an optimist. He now makes more money working independently.

So, how about a cheerful challenge? Abandon fear and doubt and embrace the general philosophy that things are working out pretty darn well.

PS: As for the argument that it is somehow bad that some people make a lot of money, go back to Easterbook's book and notice that this 'unfair' country has the greatest opportunities of any on earth. Ponder this: Liberty and Equality are polar opposites. If I am free, I am free to make a ton of money. (I haven't, but that is beside the point). If I am equal (our overtaxed friend Hannibal from Israel), I am not free. The heavy, dead hand of government suppresses me.

That is why some people are so concerned with liberty. Our liberty makes people more free and gives more opportunities. Enforced equality undermines that. What happened to the French revolution? Equality rose above Liberty, and there was no Fraternity left. Blood bath, Napolean, and European war. Careful of enforcing equality!
lj

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Star Pilot 111
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I wasn't trying to say it was bad to make a lot of money.Even though everyone has the right to do what they want with their money.It's the misuse of the wealth that is the problem. The country isn't unfair. This country is the best by far. The principles upon which it was founded are the best by far. But when greed comes into the mix, and when people work to take unfair advantage of other's, that's when we fall short.

I work for a utility in California. Deregulation of the Power industry was initiated by greedy companies like Enron. Everyone I worked with knew it was just opening the door for price gouging and manipulation.

It was no surprise, to me and the people I work with, what Enron did, and other companies yet to be named, did. And it was no surprise to the California legislature either. Freedom in business is great. But not that kind of freedom. Most of the people guilty will get off free with millions, because the whole system is to complicated to find out who all the crooks were. The type of corporate crime goes on quit often, but is just as hard to prove.

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Star Pilot 111
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I wasn't trying to say it was bad to make a lot of money.Even though everyone has the right to do what they want with their money.It's the misuse of the wealth that is the problem. The country isn't unfair. This country is the best by far. The principles upon which it was founded are the best by far. But when greed comes into the mix, and when people work to take unfair advantage of other's, that's when we fall short.

I work for a utility in California. Deregulation of the Power industry was initiated by greedy companies like Enron. Everyone I worked with knew it was just opening the door for price gouging and manipulation.

It was no surprise, to me and the people I work with, what Enron did, and other companies yet to be named, did. And it was no surprise to the California legislature either. Freedom in business is great. But not that kind of freedom. Most of the people guilty will get off free with millions, because the whole system is to complicated to find out who all the crooks were. The type of corporate crime goes on quit often, but is just as hard to prove.

Two well documented books to look into are
" REASON " by former secretary of labor Robert Reich, and "All the Presidents Spin" by the creators of Spinsanity.com

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Star Pilot 111
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Oops I goofed

Two well documented books to look into are
" REASON " by former secretary of labor Robert Reich, and "All the Presidents Spin" by the creators of Spinsanity.com

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