Are The Odds Ever In Our Favor?

Recognizing that unrestrained Capitalism is harmful to our society does not automatically make one a Socialist.

Just as Ted Cruz’s understanding of Green Eggs and Ham was flawed, conservative pundits now have missed the message of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. The headline of one Breitbart article screams “‘Hunger Games’ Sequel: Cautionary Tales Abound in Age of Obama’.”  It then goes on to compare the story’s violent crackdown on dissention to the Senate’s parliamentary move to limit the use of the filibuster and the fictional government’s total control of the media to the preferential access that is given to the official White House photographer. In a Forbes article, the forced poverty depicted in the movie is equated with the requirement to pay any kind of taxes.  Since God is not mentioned in the books, another author sees the story as  “one direction our nation may go, where God, our Creator, has been eliminated.”

Contrary to these interpretations, the fomenting rebellion depicted in the movie is not fed by their government’s attempt to bring better healthcare access to its citizens. If the miners of District 12 are willing to finally stand up to their government, it is not because they think that OSHA is over-regulating their workplace. Acts of rebellion, with the risk of death, are undertaken by those who understand real inequity, not by people who confuse the real horrors of war with different opinions and beliefs. They “want revolutionary change,” not just to “make an adjustment.”

The totalitarianism portrayed in the fictional country of Panem, where the Hunger Games takes place, is not the root of its citizens problems. Instead, this is just one of the tools that is used to keep them from rebelling against the inequality between the haves and the havenots. As one blogger put it, “While those in the outer districts starve, life is luxurious in the Capitol…(and not because of their hard work, but because of the unfair distribution of wealth that takes from the working class and gives to the ruling class). This contrasts sharply with the fundamental American principle that all men are created equal, that no man has more rights than another.”  Ironically, this author was writing in support of the story being used to advance Conservative principles.

Those who work the hardest, have the most talent or take the most risk deserve to be rewarded. Unfortunately, this does not seem to explain the inequities in the current system. In 1973, the top 1% of wage earners in the United States took in 7.7% of the country’s household income. Last year, it was more than 19%. The bottom 90% shared just 51.8% of the country’s income.  40% of our country’s net worth is held by just 1% of the population.  While the average worker earned $34,645 last year, CEOs at the country’s largest companies made that same amount every day from January 1 through December 20.  In 1978, getting paid their employee’s yearly salary on a daily basis would have only paid them through January 27. I am not sure what these executives did to earn a 725% raise between 1978 and 2011, but workers increased their productivity by 93% during this period and only saw their wages increase by 5.7%.

While the income of the top earners was increasing, their tax burden was decreasing. The top federal tax rate for regular income in 1978 was 50% on income of $203,200 or more. Capital gains were taxed at a rate of  39%.  By 2011 the highest income tax tier had increased to $379,300 and the tax rates had decreased to 37.9% for regular income tax and 35% for capital gains.  Joe the Plumber is partially correct when he states that the Democrats have “been legislating redistribution (wealth) at a head-spinning pace.”  In reality, both parties have been complicit as wealth has been steadily redistributed upwards.

There also seems to be a growing lack of empathy towards those on the bottom rungs of the economic ladder. After running the 2012 Presidential campaign based in part on Obama’s inability to sufficiently reduce the stubbornly high unemployment rate, the Republicans have now shifted blame to the unemployed and their perceived lack of personal responsibility. In opposing an extension of emergency unemployment benefits beyond 27 weeks, Rand Paul states:

There was a study that came out a few months ago, and it said, if you have a worker that’s been unemployed for four weeks and on unemployment insurance and one that’s on 99 weeks, which would you hire? Every employer, nearly 100 percent, said they will always hire the person who’s been out of work four weeks.

When you allow people to be on unemployment insurance for 99 weeks, you’re causing them to become part of this perpetual unemployed group in our economy. And it really -- while it seems good, it actually does a disservice to the people you’re trying to help.

Unfortunately, cutting off benefits is not going to magically employ these displaced workers. The vast majority of the unemployed are not avoiding work so that they can collect their $300 per week in benefits; they are not working because jobs are not available for everyone who wants one.  

Pope Francis recently stated that “as long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world’s problems or, for that matter, to any problems.”  In response, Rush Limbaugh referred to him as a Marxist. If Rush is really concerned about encroachment by a totalitarian form of Socialism, perhaps he should champion ways of reducing the negative effects of unrestrained Capitalism. Alternatively, our economic system could find itself facing the call of the Mockingjay and the real revolution that would bring.


A complete archive of Carl’s weekly blogs can be found here.

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AlwaysPO'd December 27, 2013 at 02:28 PM
Nathan, do you believe that our current system is a socialist system?
Nathan Hofstadter December 27, 2013 at 03:34 PM
Always, have you signed up for the Affordable care act yet?
Nathan Hofstadter December 27, 2013 at 03:35 PM
Philly, do you keep your money you are so proud of in an FDIC bank?
AlwaysPO'd December 27, 2013 at 04:55 PM
You first, Nat. Do you believe that our current system is a socialist system?
Nathan Hofstadter December 27, 2013 at 07:56 PM
I suppose you could make that argument. If you view socialism as somewhere between communism and capitalism, we wobble back and forth between the two. I know we're not 100% capitalism because of a few of the examples I gave, and I'm pretty sure Phillyboy would argue we are not communist. So there is your answer in a nutshell. BTW, I don't feel like being painted into a corner today so you can put away your easel.
Jeremiah December 27, 2013 at 09:30 PM
I might point out that the form of government we most closely fit the description of is democratic socialism (not social democracy, a different animal). It is under attack from the financial interests whose profits and control are being threatened, and those interests are using our government to move towards fascism (not Nazi style, classical fascism). **** The part of the ACA that requires a person to sign up or pay a penalty is an example - the government, instead of providing equal healthcare, has used it's power to mandate that private citizens MUST pay corporate entities as if they were the governmment. You are now a criminal if you don't. Your choice is gone - legislated away with no concern for your wishes and failed representation. That is neither a democracy nor is it socialism. It is fascism and it is growing in response to the threat by democratic socialism to the profits of the "haves". This is only the start - already those who speak against such things are being characterized as "unpatriotic" at best and terrorists and criminals at worst. A little known fact (most people couldn't define fascism if it bit them) is that fascism is generally considered ultra liberal and right wing - thus promulgating the unknowing support of those who hold that view. **** I could go on, but I won't. I have purposefully stayed off this thread today because the comments have been pointless and accusatory rather than shared opinion and thought offered for the benefit of all. This topic appears to have been answered to death. I wish you all a good evening and great weekend and thank each of you for the opinions you offered in this entire thread. hopefully we have all come away more knowledgeable! **** Jeremiah
Cynthia Curran December 28, 2013 at 06:10 PM
Well, what about the overcrowding of Santa Ana. Didn't business people keep wages low by hiring illegal immigrants that came up from Mexico because they would work cheaper. The free market I found does have some flaws with the business class that wants to cut corners to get a buck. In fact Orange County was only 6 percent foreign born in 1970 and had only 6 percent poverty in 1970. Most of the jobs were because of the government contracts in aerospace even if were done by private companies. Too many folks in the OC are romantic about the market. I don't believe in the state running all business but OC needs to get over the libertarian thinking that the government can't do anything right, it certainly did defense right since private firms can't do that on a large scale.
Cynthia Curran December 28, 2013 at 06:15 PM
Jeremiah, that bircher or Ron Paul nonsense. In fact the US economy is much better than the Byzantine economy which ran on a gold standard. The Byzantines were basically a rural economy. In fact they came out of the Roman empire and were the eastern half, if Von Mises ideas that the Roman empire fell because of high taxes for military expenditures or metal standard between silver and gold is correct then Constantinople should have not lasted another 1,000 years after Rome.
Jeremiah December 28, 2013 at 09:11 PM
Cynthia - I appreciate your thoughts and personal views. You and Spooner have read my comments too superficially and arrived at a false conclusion that my thoughts are based on someone else's influence. They are not. They are based on the reality of what I see as compared with what I am being told. I did not even mention a gold standard - what my point was is that our money is based on the wealth of America (largely commodities) and behind our backs those commodities are being procured and sold for profit by large multi-national corporations with no appreciable return to the citizens of the United States to which they belong. Each barrel of oil which is pumped out of the ground and sold to another country takes that much out of the worth of America - and puts an equivalent amount in the pocket of a corporation. **** You, as well as most here, appear to be unaware that we would be energy independent if we did not export our oil. But the oil companies export oil pumped here and make a profit - then turn around and replace it with oil imported from other countries, making another profit. The government taxes it in both directions as well as taxing you when you buy it - thus making an income center out of it. Then your financial interests invest in the futures game, creating profit for themselves. The only ones not receiving any benefit for the oil under our public lands is us as citizens - the true owners. And this is happening with every commodity. **** This doesn't look like a capitalism that is working well for all citizens - it looks like capitalism gone wild with greed and robbing and financially enslaving the people it is supposed to be benefiting. And when did you as a citizen get to vote on any of this? **** Jeremiah
Fortified- AKA Carlos Danger December 29, 2013 at 10:48 PM
Jeremiah, the 1 1/2 hour video. The first part ..OK, they are talking about the constitutionality of Federal income tax. As I clicked forward it looks like things I have read, and seen before. My brother is deep in the subject. Do you have a cliff notes version of the vid? Are you in the income taxes are not legal camp? The Federal reserve is not legal? The "Illuminati", or others secretly pull the strings?--------When it comes to the Federal reserve, and FIAT currency, I have a different idea than most. We know from history that all FIAT currencies eventually go to zero. The United States is the biggest debtor in history...well maybe. ---(When you look at as a percentage of wealth, or GDP, it might be different. Germany after world war 1, and 2 is an example. )---We have been living off money borrowed, and added to the debt, and future earnings. This bubble has been accumulating for 100 years. The Bubble also includes the dollar being the world reserve, and the oil trading currency. When the dollar collapses, as it will in the near future, The rest of the world will pay for most of that bubble expansion. Our 100 year party will be paid for by others more than by us, U.S. So, in my opinion Capitalism, accompanied by FIAT currency is the greatest system ever...with one giant collapse at the end, thus the re-set. The ending is well worth the much better way of life for 95% of the time. Yes, even the lower class. Their will be different levels of class no matter what. But a rising tide lifts all boats-------NOW IS THE TIME TO PREPARE FOR THE DOLLAR COLLAPSE. Tangibles, gold, silver one ounce pc. to buy things, and maybe a little land to grow food in case it gets bad. OH! And yes, a gun. You know, the kind the government wants to take away, while they are arming the gov. agencies with army level tanks, and billions of hollow pt. bullets.....
Jeremiah December 30, 2013 at 12:05 AM
Fortified - Thank you for watching the video and commenting. You are possibly the only one on Carl's blogs who I know cares enough about being objective to view both sides of an issue. **** Yes, I believe the facts presented in the documentary are correct. That is because I rejected that theory out of hand until I examined it thoroughly. I do pay income taxes, though, even believing as I do - because there should be fair trade for the cost of running a country's infrastructure. So I have nothing ethically against an income tax that is fair and equal across the board and not exorbitant and used for things other than the benefit of the citizens. Do you feel that it does that? **** Where my problem lies is in the imposition of the tax without proper ratification and the misleading of the people concerning that. I have greater issues with the Federal Reserve and fiat currency, which are also spoken of in the video. Again, it is not the surface issues I was attempting to illustrate, but the underlying slide from true capitalism in a republican democracy to a capitalism controlled by democratic socialism in recent times to uncontrolled capitalism gone wild with greed run by the financial interests and imposed on the citizens through a slide into fascism. **** I doubt we agree on everything here, but we have both presented our views and they are not exclusive. It will be interesting to note which way we go as a country in the next few years. We both appear to agree that the way we are going is a dead end with a fall off the cliff at the end. Have a great week - I don't often come on during work days. I have truly enjoyed our conversations! **** Jeremiah
Fortified- AKA Carlos Danger December 30, 2013 at 12:40 AM
Jeremiah, If you are still around...you stated, "uncontrolled capitalism gone wild with greed run by the financial interests and imposed on the citizens through a slide into fascism". This is where I also state it is not a left or right issue. The powers are the party of money, and control....The right used to be the ones more controlling of people. This has shifted to the left side. In my view, this is why Global warming, and agenda 21, is used. The environmental ideas, civil rights gender rights, and such. The left in general are moved to group, and protest quicker. I believe the issues stated are hijacked, and being used for control. These things can't be discussed without polarization. I will say the internet and blogs are fun for that. Do you have anything deeper than the federal reserve video? Thanks-----Note to liberals...Having an issue hijacked does not mean the issue is void. It means an issue, a movement, that is originally good may have been shifted for other larger goals. If that is true it would actually put the left and right more in the same camp, and the hijackers the "enemy". Also my wildest idea ever...If the 99% protesters, and the Tea Party ever got together, then action would happen. Some if the ideas do overlap.
Fortified- AKA Carlos Danger December 30, 2013 at 12:42 AM
that's "some OF the ideas overlap...
Spooner December 30, 2013 at 11:18 AM
...last comment: told yous a while back to read the history of US from after the war to 1913. The FR wasn't pulled out of a magician's hat, and I'm not going to waste my time like I did once a while back as to how the Federal Reserve came about and provide a synopsis, because it won't do any good. So believe what you will... ___________________________________________________ PS Jeremiah:I detest personal characterizations. . .stick too the subject!
Lorna D. Rudnikas December 30, 2013 at 02:15 PM
Ahhh, Philly Boy...your story brings a breath of fresh air to this thread. Opportunity for whatever level of success you wish...opportunity a very big key! We are currently being hit from all angles to test our survivability as a great country. As opposed to capitalism.....In a socialistic/communistic theatre of operation one gets so very tired of towing the line of robotic servitude, your story could never exist because there... all incentive is destroyed, bit, by bit, sting by sting ....and slowly but surely the true purpose of far left wing rule by a very few takes place. But don't worry...it is not you, me or other middle class folks they are interested in...it is our grandchildren that are their future...yikes!!! Sends a chill to the spine honey child! Hope the fog clears for the majority of our folks in this country...because these particular darlings are clearly focused on their agenda and unfortunately, that agenda ain't in favor of your thought process Philly Boy.
Edith Murcer December 30, 2013 at 06:06 PM
I tell the grand kids, never put your destiny and ambitions in control by another taxpayer. Or else you end up in a life sentence in poverty
Lorna D. Rudnikas December 30, 2013 at 11:02 PM
The far left agenda must be successful in reaching your grand children from kindergarten up....and they are so dutifully putting their nose to the ground to make very, very sure they succeed. It is their obsession....and to do so while the "fog" endures. Just the perception of a dedicated patriotic citizen and retired workerbee!
Jeremiah December 30, 2013 at 11:19 PM
Nice exit, Spooner, when you can't keep up with the debate. Smooth! I'm impressed! **** Jeremiah
Carl Petersen III December 31, 2013 at 02:27 AM
Lorna D. Rudnikas December 30, 2013 at 02:15 PM "In a socialistic/communistic theatre of operation one gets so very tired of towing the line of robotic servitude, your story could never exist because there... all incentive is destroyed, bit, by bit, sting by sting ....and slowly but surely the true purpose of far left wing rule by a very few takes place." _______________________________________________________ Wake up, the Cold War is over. Look at the statistics. In Socialism the wealth would be evenly distributed. In today's America wealth is being concentrated at the top. We are moving in the opposite direction of Socialism!
Carl Petersen III December 31, 2013 at 02:28 AM
Edith Murcer December 30, 2013 at 06:06 PM "never put your destiny and ambitions in control by another taxpayer." _______________________________________________________ I assume then that you are forgoing Medicare and your Social Security benefits.
Edith Murcer December 31, 2013 at 05:15 AM
Carl you are a fool to think govt will take care of you cradle to grave. Anyone who relies on govt gets rewarded with poverty. Take control of your own life and stop using up resources that are needed by people that really need our help in society. A capable person like yourself should stop being a taxpayer mooch
Edith Murcer December 31, 2013 at 05:22 AM
Obama is the greatest socialist Pres ever and wealth gaps, poverty , food stamps all at record levels. All socialism does is spread misery
Carl Petersen III December 31, 2013 at 11:43 AM
Edith Murcer December 31, 2013 at 05:15 AM "A capable person like yourself should stop being a taxpayer mooch" ___________________________________________________ Would you care to detail for me exactly how the government is supporting me?
Carl Petersen III December 31, 2013 at 11:44 AM
Edith Murcer December 31, 2013 at 05:22 AM "Obama is the greatest socialist Pres ever and wealth gaps, poverty , food stamps all at record levels. All socialism does is spread misery" ___________________________________________________ Edith, you really are a complete genius. Did you really just say that the increasing wealth gap is proof of Socialism?
Edith Murcer December 31, 2013 at 12:02 PM
Dependence on big government rarely improves your life yet so often as the black population proves, can destroy lives with poverty. Best bet is get a job and independence.
Edith Murcer December 31, 2013 at 12:17 PM
More lows after Alec Baldwin and Martin Bashir on State run msnbc. Now Melissa Harris Perry apologizes for her blunt cold racism in regards to a Romney.
Fortified- AKA Carlos Danger December 31, 2013 at 06:58 PM
But Edith, one part doesn't make sense. Mr Ed, who has said much worse, and many times is still there.....unless...Perhaps the employment contract stipulates that if they get fired for saying things they did means no pay-offs to leave, thus they take advantage of getting rid of the lower rated shows.....
Charlie B February 09, 2014 at 12:34 PM
Frankie say relax. Fort say "The right used to be the ones more controlling of people. This has shifted to the left side. In my view, this is why Global warming, and agenda 21, is used. The environmental ideas, civil rights gender rights, and such." >>>>> YIKES! And night is day, up is down, and the Dems are still the racist party --> So say the vaginal probing, vote denying, clean water destroying, authoritarian leaders of the GOP and their willing authoritarian followers--still pushing against "environmental ideas, civil rights, gender rights, and such." Pretty sad. And the reference to Agenda 21 is a clear indicator of today's level of right wing paranoia (and the title of another book by the con man known as Glenn Beck).
Charlie B February 09, 2014 at 02:02 PM
Kept up nights by personal demons? Worried that everyone might someday achieve equality? Suffer from visions the UN may succeed in addressing poverty? Try Exorcism by Skype! http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/02/06/a-failed-televangelist-exorcised-my-demons-over-skype.html
Charlie B April 19, 2014 at 10:47 AM
The Triggers of Economic Inequality Pasted from <http://billmoyers.com/content/the-triggers-of-economic-inequality/> JP Morgan Admits Trickle Down Economics Has Completely Failed Pasted from <http://www.addictinginfo.org/2014/04/18/jp-morgan-admits-trickle-down-economics-has-completely-failed/>


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