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Understanding the Middle Class

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Through all the debates, speeches, and interviews, I had not heard one candidate speak about the middle class in terms that make sense to me until Palin debated against Biden last Thursday.

The political candidates have pulled heartbreaking stories from campaign scripts, depicting the middle class as deprived blue collar workers, hoping to borrow the Visa from big daddy government. Maybe it all comes down to the different mindsets of liberals and conservatives, but I am sick of people talking about the middle class as if we can’t take care of ourselves anymore.

What happened to the America that forged the way through wild and deadly land to make a better home for their families? What happened to the men and women who pulled themselves up by their bootstraps? According to Obama, we lost that ability.

Obama sarcastically attributed the statement, “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps, even if you don’t have boots. You’re on your own,” to the “Republican philosophy.”

Speaking on a purely governmental basis, in the history of America, every citizen, with boots or not, has always been on their own. The constitution guarantees rights — the right to speak, practice religion, vote, carry a gun, etc. People want to argue that the constitution gives us the “right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” which somehow gets converted into free handouts and health care.

What these people usually forget is that, first of all, they’re quoting the Declaration of Independence! And second of all, never anywhere, in any document, are we ever guaranteed the means to obtain those things. You have a right to it. The government cannot take away your life, your liberty, or your happiness, but they are not going to give it to you, either.

However, speaking on a purely humanitarian basis, poor Americans have never been on their own. Every citizen has the responsibility to invoke that forgotten civic virtue and help those in need. If someone doesn’t have boots, you should lift a finger, search through your walk-in closet, and hand them a pair.

My husband and I were far below poverty during our first two years of marriage. We lived without health care, working part-time minimum wage jobs, while eating angel food and deer meat. Believe me, when milk crept past four dollars a gallon, I nearly passed out. But we held on. We took out loans and grants and finished college. We slept on a futon and lived on a budget.

But we were not middle class! Tax cuts wouldn’t have helped us because we weren’t making enough to pay taxes. We were poor. And in most of the debates, speeches, and interviews, we haven’t been discussing America’s poor. We’ve been addressing the needs of the largest percentage of voters.

In Obama’s Manchester speech, he said “what [the American people] do expect is a government that’s fighting for them, that’s looking out for them. And that’s what they’re missing right now.”

Frankly, I don’t understand why any middle class citizen would expect the government to look out for them because that’s not the government’s job. But the thing that disturbs me more is why the middle class expects this.

We’re talking about couples who make $25,000 to $250,000 (apparently according to Obama) a year, not citizens that work a minimum wage job down at Swadley’s Grill, not the unemployed, not the homeless. And yet, even Biden, during the first VP debate, talked about a man who couldn’t afford to fill his car with gas. What was this guy driving? An aircraft carrier?

I agree that we’ve “become a nation of whiners” as former Texas senator Phil Gramm said. We don’t want to pull ourselves up and out of debt. We’ve become greedy and lazy. We take out large loans for new, not used cars, flat-screen TVs, iPhones, and furniture, instead of saving up like our grandparents told us. We buy $300,000 homes when we can only afford $100,000, then pay interest only, hoping a good refinancing down the road will keep us above water.

We want to appear rich instead of living within our means. Then when we’re in the hole, unable to pay for a tank of gas, with credit card companies stalking like zombies for a cut, we whine to the nearest listening ear about how government doesn’t care, boo hoo.

I know there are people who are genuinely sinking with medical bills and job loss. But those stories do not apply to everyone in the middle class. And yet they are the ones candidates cling to and throw in the average citizen’s face as proof that we can’t take care of ourselves, that we need the government to baby-sit. But Palin’s “Joe Sixpack,” a middle-class citizen making the average $40,000 a year, does not need the government constantly in his way.

“Government, you know you’re not always the solution,” Palin said, speaking for the middle class during the VP debate. “In fact, too often you’re the problem. So, government, lessen the tax burden on the private sector and on our families and get out of the way and let the private sector and our families grow and thrive and prosper.”

This is the attitude every middle class citizen should have. We shouldn’t expect the government to bail us out when we mismanage our money. We shouldn’t want the government to give us anything but the freedom to run our lives the way we see fit.

Obama said, “It’s not because John McCain doesn’t care. It’s because John McCain doesn’t get it.”

Maybe McCain doesn’t, but Palin does. Palin is a "living, breathing replica of the middle class,” according to Sara Taylor, former political affairs director for the White House. Palin is "connected with people in a way we haven't seen a national figure do in a long time."

And while Palin’s tax return shows she makes almost four times what my family does (as well as having five more mouths), she knows that I can be more productive with my money than the government can.

However, when you stop talking about the middle class, when you become rightly concerned for the people who are truly hurting, who have lost their jobs, are mentally challenged, have cancer and owe millions, or don’t even own a car to put expensive gas into, don’t be lazy and expect the government to do your dirty work. Donate some money. Be Jesus to the world instead of raising Obama up as the healer of the blind.

But if we’re still talking about the people who make up to $250,000 a year, and we’re saying those people can’t afford bread and gasoline, then what it comes down to is either the “mental regression” that Phil Gramm talked about or presidential candidates pulling sob stories from a fantasy world created by their speech writers.

“We’re going to fight for the middle class, average, every-day American family like mine,” Palin said during the debate. “I’ve been there. I know what the hurts are. I know what the challenges are. And thank God I know what the joys are too of living in America. We are so blessed, and I’ve always been proud to be an American and so has John McCain.”

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About Janica Unruh

  • Doug Hunter

    Nice article, this is much the same way as I grew up viewing the world and most people that believe in the American dream as you laid out vote Republican as I often do. Great preaching to the choir, the problem is that those who don’t agree with you won’t be swayed by your arguments (true as they may be).

    A large percentage of the population has been trained to believe they can’t make it on their own, that the deck is stacked against them. They’ve been told they can’t make it because rich people are out to get them, whites are out to get them, religious people hate them, men won’t allow them to rise to a certain level, etc.

    If you’ve been trained to believe you can’t make it on your own you likely never will. The American dream and victimhood are both self fulfilling prophecies making either true from it’s own vantagepoint. The question is how you can cross that divide and convince someone who believes they are a victim that they are in control of what has happened in their life. Now there’s an article I’d like to read!

  • http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/39420/joanne_huspek.html Joanne Huspek

    Great piece. Unfortunately, the people with their hands out or hoping for a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow aren’t going to listen, much less believe you.

  • http://www.davidlaferney.com/ David LaFerney

    I think that you are right in that the American middle class (and the American working class for that matter) don’t want or need a government hand out – I know that I don’t. I also agree that we’ve been living in a financial orgy of over extension where so many people have used credit to live far beyond their means – including our government.

    My family has lived in the same modest home for almost 25 years despite plenty of chances to step up to a much more lavish lifestyle. Because of that we’ve been able to save money and at least try to secure our own future.

    But if you want to see what a capitalist utopia looks like all you have to do is look at places like the Dubai free enterprise zone where business is largly untaxed and unregulated. The rich live in lavish palaces built by people who are grindingly, hopelessly impoverished. Sure, tremendous numbers of jobs have been created, and opportunity abounds in such an environment if one is able (with money, education, skill, luck)to take advantage of it.

    So, am I (Joe Six pack as it were) for government micromanagement of my life and business? Of course not, very, very few people are. But I am for decent schools, and a clean environment, and a fair playing field so that being born rich isn’t a prerequisite for success – even if it means that I have to pay taxes, and comply with business regulations. BTW, I’ve been self employed for over twenty years.

    I believe that the vast number of Americans, both Democrat and Republican agree on these things.

  • Cindy D

    Have you ever looked at income quintiles and distribution of wealth and its movement over time?

    No, I didn’t think so.

    Your opinion seems to be based on rhetoric rather than actual facts.

    Looking out for the middle class doesn’t mean giving everyone hand outs. When you have a system that continually moves wealth upward accumulating it with those who have the most you begin to starve the bulk of the population. They begin to lose wealth.

    That’s what is happening now. That’s why people are getting pissed off.

    I’m glad you are doing fine now yourself. Carry on with your empty rhetoric.

  • Clavos

    Great article, Janica.

    You are entirely correct that the “can do” spirit of America, the spirit that created the wealthiest society in history out of a vast wilderness, the spirit that stopped the menace of the Axis powers in WW II, and the spirit that defeated the Soviet Union has been overwhelmed.

    Overwhelmed by the quagmire of entitlements and a malaise, endemic in one segment of the population, of helplessness and dependency, while another segment bristles with a determination to mold the role of government into that of everyone’s nanny.

    Caught in the middle: what remains of the storied middle class that built the greatest, if still imperfect, example of freedom and prosperity in the history of humanity.

    Your article is a fitting tribute to that fast dwindling segment of our population. Unfortunately, as others have noted, those who most need to absorb your argument, won’t.

    Whining is easier.

  • bliffle

    While these writers dream their dreams and brag about their individual self-sufficiency the US government has taken sides against them on behalf of the financial behemoths of Wall street by instituting corporate socialism. The poor little corps went whining to their congress-slaves to get hundreds of billions of dollars of welfare entitlements.

    What happened to the willingness of corps to struggle and sacrifice? Is all the struggle and sacrifice reserved for individuals?

  • http://www.futonreport.net/ Matthew T. Sussman

    Theories of fixing wealth distribution and not nannying the middle class – can they not be mutually exclusive?

  • http://marksaleski.com Mark Saleski

    Whining is easier.

    sneering condescension is even easier than that.

  • Clavos

    What happened to the willingness of corps to struggle and sacrifice? Is all the struggle and sacrifice reserved for individuals?

    It followed, as night must day, the loss of individual gumption about which Janica writes.

  • Lee Richards

    Your article makes a good many valid points. It also plays down Bush/McCain policies and beliefs that weaken the middle class, and have led to more government interference in our lives rather than less.

    Where I think you are completely wrong is on Palin. It’s all an act. Like 9 out of 10 politicians, she is a con artist. She has perfected the con game that works best for her in beating the suckers. It worked in Alaska and now she is running the same game on the rest of the country in support of McCain’s con, that he has worked on successfully all these years. If you can fake sincerity, you’ve got it made.

    Are Democrats running their own cons? Of course.

  • http://www.indyboomer46.blogspot.com Baritone

    One thing that many of you state, but seem to ignore is just what Clav states:

    “that fast dwindling segment of our population”

    The so called middle class is indeed “fast dwindling.” Over the past several years hundreds of thousands of “middle class” jobs have disappeared, replaced (if at all) by significantly lower paying service oriented jobs. Thousands of decent paying middle management, and manufacturing jobs have been eliminated – jobs wherein people were making say, $35000 to perhaps $75000 or more (or the equivalent.) The “Would you like fries with that?” or “Welcome to Wal Mart” cliche’s have become a sad reality for a lot of people. A large number of these people feel betrayed. For a variety of reasons, both good and bad, these people have been left behind while a small segment of our society is making hay from other people’s loss.

    If you have a family working and making collectively, say $75000 to a $100000 or more, enabling them to purchase a home, who suddenly find themselves out of work or forced to work for far less due to layoffs, plant closings, outsourcing, etc., they will likely be in serious danger of losing that home. They weren’t greedy. They weren’t living above their means. They simply believed that their economic situation would remain sound, that their jobs and consequently, their incomes would be there for them.

    That is what we are all told to expect in this great land of ours. Unfortunately, it is not always true. In fact, it has become almost expontentially less true over the past 20 to 30 years or so. We want to be positive, to be hopeful for the future, but so often now that hope is dashed so that a small number of people can make huge amounts of money and live lavishly often at the expense of their former employees, sometimes at the expense of the entire company.

    There is a vital role for government in all this. It’s not about becoming a “nanny” state. It is about finding ways to bridge the gap for people suddenly tossed out in the cold as it were. It is about government stepping in and stopping rampant fraud and other abuses by the rich.

    Sadly, there are those in government who are all too often part of that fraud and abuse. The reason why our economy is at the brink of failure is NOT because of greedy mortgagors. It is because of greedy, manipulating and poorly regulated people who grabbed all they could for themselves not giving a rat’s ass about the consequences for everyone else.

    The private sector has proven wholly incapable of monitoring and policing itself. Would that it were, but alas. Government oversite is not a great answer, but it is apparently the ONLY viable answer left to us.

    B

  • Clavos

    @#8:

    sneering condescension is even easier than that.

    @#5:

    Unfortunately, as others have noted, those who most need to absorb your argument, won’t.

    QED

  • http://marksaleski.com Mark Saleski

    it’s official IronyDay here at bc. woo!

  • Clavos

    “Official” irony day.

    Overseen by which overweening government bureaucracy?

  • http://www.republicofdave.com DaveNalle

    Looking out for the middle class doesn’t mean giving everyone hand outs. When you have a system that continually moves wealth upward accumulating it with those who have the most you begin to starve the bulk of the population. They begin to lose wealth.

    When we have that system, do let me know, Cindy. We certainly don’t have it now. What moves up in our current system is people. They move up in wealth and success from one quintile to the next and no more than 14% of them remain in the bottom quintile for more than a decade.

    Dave

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    Clavos, I was a bit surprised by your #5. The USA is not “the wealthiest society in history”, the “spirit that stopped the menace of the Axis powers in WW II” was basically that of a mercenary army (don’t forget the USA very nearly sided with Germany), nor did it in any sense “defeat the Soviet Union”.

    What is this – parallel universe day?

  • Clavos

    Apparently so, Chris. You need to bring yours into coherence with reality.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    In terms of overall standard of living, Chris, and having travelled to places which make do with absurdly less, I am here to tell you that yes, the US is the wealthiest society in history.

    Sure, the extreme loadedness of a handful of Middle Eastern princes may bump up the per capita income of such places a bit higher than America’s, but the disparity between rich and poor is very much greater there.

    Having said that, though… if, as Jessica opines, it is not the government’s job to look out for the people, then what the hell is the government’s job?

  • zingzing

    clavos… the “spirit that stopped the menace of the axis powers?” that would be soviet blood and american bombs. (ok, ok, and the d-day invasion was pretty important.) it certainly wasn’t any “spirit.” how much patriotism do you think there was on those transport boats? and how many sheep?

    and we “defeated” the soviet union by spending them into economic obliteration. what did the american people do other than send their tax dollars? was it the cowering underneath our school desks? i don’t really recall doing much about the soviet threat. the main american victims of the cold war were made victims by whatever “american spirit” you are describing.

    really, clavos. when did you turn into such a patriot? or is it just that you’re getting sentimental in your old age?

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    Clavos, my statements are matters of fact and record, yours are wishful thinking in the extreme.

    Doc D, it isn’t relevant to bring in really poor countries. The claim was that the US is the wealthiest society in history. It may have some very rich individuals but that isn’t the same thing at all. Even the richest man in the world is no longer an American.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    was it the cowering underneath our school desks?

    Heh.

    I grew up way closer to the Soviets than any of you lot. I do remember the sirens going off occasionally when the fire department tested them – which was a bit nerveracking* especially as they never warned us beforehand that they were going to do it – but there were never any drills and no bomb shelters. What would have been the point?

    Buncha wimps…! ;-)

    * Looking at one’s watch and counting four minutes…

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Chris, you’re widely travelled and you’ve visited the US. I’d be interested to hear where in the world you think the overall standard of living is, or was, comparable to that here.

    Don’t you ever wonder why Americans struggle so much when they visit other countries?

  • Clavos

    really, clavos. when did you turn into such a patriot? or is it just that you’re getting sentimental in your old age?

    Point taken, zing, although I meant my paean more in homage to the middle class group that’s been dubbed the “Greatest Generation,” rather than to the nation itself.

    how much patriotism do you think there was on those transport boats?

    I guess I’m not the most cynical guy on these threads after all…by most accounts, zing, there was way more patriotism than I or my fellow suckers in Nam had.

    and we “defeated” the soviet union by spending them into economic obliteration. what did the american people do other than send their tax dollars?

    More or less true, but their productivity post war made those dollars available for the task, and you’re right, that’s exactly how the Soviets were defeated…with remarkably little bloodshed.

    Credit where due, zing.

  • zingzing

    “by most accounts, zing, there was way more patriotism than I or my fellow suckers in Nam had.”

    do you really believe that? i’m not so sure that you can take everything that has been written about ww2 at face value. patriotism may have been high at home, and it may have been high in comparison to vietnam (not that that takes much), but i can guarantee that it wasn’t all john wayne and dan rather (or whoever) over there.

    “Credit where due, zing.”

    well, i thank you. and credit due for credit due. i’m sure i shall return the gesture soon enough.

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    Doc D, I refer you to the following Wikipedia entry, which shows the USA as 4th, 6th or 8th, depending on the source used.

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    And if you want to add happiness in to the mix, check out this article by Financial Jesus. Seven of the Top 10 are in Europe. The USA comes in at 17th and the UK at a lowly 22nd place…

  • Jordan Richardson

    There’s also general standard of living, which if measured by the UN’s Human Development Index, places the United States in 12th place in the world.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    I meant my paean more in homage to the middle class group that’s been dubbed the “Greatest Generation”…

    Ahem…

    “Middle class group”, Clav?

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    My goodness, Jordan. You’ll have to tell me exactly where on that 400-page report you’re looking.

    And Chris, unfortunately the Wikipedia page you linked to decided it would be fun to repeatedly crash my browser.

    I’m not necessarily thinking in terms of happiness. I’m well aware that Americans for example work longer hours and enjoy patchy public services and healthcare, all of which contribute to the overall spirits, if you want to call it that, of a nation.

    But in terms of general comfort and access to wealth, there’s a palpable difference between America and the rest of the world (think of the size of houses and cars, and the personal possessions that are considered fairly normal in the US and luxuries in other countries).

    By those criteria, of the countries I’ve visited only Australia even comes close.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Sorry, Doc. This should do the trick.

  • Clavos

    “Middle class group”, Clav?

    Not really sure of your question here, Doc, but I’ll take a shot:

    Yes, the majority of them. Just as the majority of the country is middle class.

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    Doc, the Wiki site is working fine for me. you’re not using a Mac again are you? :-)

    Compared to Europe, the USA is relatively spacious and underpopulated so land is cheaper and that makes it easier to have bigger houses. Construction techniques are very different too and building in wood is a lot cheaper than brick or stone.

    US cars all suck so they probably make them look swanky to compensate!

    What personal possessions are you referring to? I can’t think of anything that is normal in the US but a luxury here…

  • Jordan Richardson

    If you look at the CIA World Factbook, the United States is 10th in the world in terms of GDP.

  • Cindy D

    RE #15

    Here you go Dave.

    Income Inequality

    “The following chart [please visit the link for the actual chart] shows the effectiveness of a progressive tax system. When the top rates were truly high from 1950 to 1978, American income at all levels grew at about the same pace. But when progressivity was lost in the 80s, the income of the poor began falling, while that of the rich continued growing.”

    Income Growth by Quintile

    1950-1978

    Lowest 20%: 138%
    2nd 20%: 98%
    3rd 20%: 106%
    4th 20%: 111%
    Highest 20%: 99%

    1979-1993

    Lowest 20%: -15%
    2nd 20%: -7%
    3rd 20%: -3%
    4th 20%: 5%
    Highest 20%: 18%

    Oh and a quote from “My Favorite Marxist”: “As I’ve often said… this [increasing income inequality] is not the type of thing which a democratic society—a capitalist democratic society—can really accept without addressing. – Alan Greenspan, June 2005

    Here’s another bit of info from the same page:

    As of 2006, the United States had one of the highest levels of income inequality, as measured through the Gini index, among high income countries, comparable to that of some middle income countries such as Russia or Turkey,[15] being one of only few developed countries where inequality has increased since 1980.[16]

    Second two Quotes from: Income Inequality in the United States

  • zingzing

    posing as dave: “your facts and figures mean nothing to me! i will now show you my set of facts and figures which will contradict yours! and even if they do contradict, mine will be the true facts and figures, while your facts and figures will cease to be facts and figures and will now become lies! terrible lies! liberal lies! socialist lies! communist lies!”

  • bliffle

    IMO, we have lost it in the past 15-20 years. Living, actual living, is much better these days in a number of countries.

    All of the gadgets we couldn’t get in foreign countries are now readily available at about the same price. 15 years ago when I went to Europe I dragged along an immense valise filled with gadgets requested by friends: electronic phones, computer printers, electric shavers, radios, VHS machines. Cripes! As recently as 8 years ago I dragged a big bag full of DeWalt power tools along.

    Now all those things, or quality equivalents, are available everywhere, usually at lower prices.

    And there’s no denying that the quality of life is better in most foreign nations. One of the things that we USA citizens sacrificed in the pursuit of money is good living. Everyday living. We’ll never get it back. In fact, most Americans have trouble adapting to life in a foreign country exactly because they can’t believe things should be easy and pleasurable. They think that pleasure must be accompanied by a display of wealth, or else it makes the pursuit of wealth meaningless, and denigrates the life they live.

    We blew it.

  • Cindy D

    Bwahahahaha!!!

    ROFLOL @ zingzing

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Doc, the Wiki site is working fine for me. you’re not using a Mac again are you? :-)

    Chris, that’s just the problem… if I were using a Mac, I wouldn’t be tearing my hair out!

    Compared to Europe, the USA is relatively spacious and underpopulated so land is cheaper and that makes it easier to have bigger houses. Construction techniques are very different too and building in wood is a lot cheaper than brick or stone.

    All true, but you must admit that those circumstances in themselves allow for a higher standard of living here.

    US cars all suck so they probably make them look swanky to compensate!

    Again true… which is why everyone buys Japanese!

    What personal possessions are you referring to? I can’t think of anything that is normal in the US but a luxury here…

    Boats, swimming pools, > one car per family member, TVs and stereo systems built into the kitchen appliances, chest fridges etc.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    And Jordan, I have to question the methodology of a report which puts Libya, Albania and Mexico in the category of ‘high human development’.

    Not doubting the accuracy of the numbers. But I can tell you for damn certain sure that there’s no way the standard of living in Ireland (#4) is superior to that in the United States (#12).

  • Jordan Richardson

    Doc, I don’t know what to tell you. There are countless pages of information to peruse to discern how the report came up with the numbers. Their explanation of it is as follows:

    The HDI provides a composite measure of three dimensions of human development: living a long and healthy life (measured by life expectancy), being educated (measured by adult literacy and enrolment at the primary, secondary and tertiary level) and having a decent standard of living (measured by purchasing power parity, PPP, income).

    You can click on each country on the list for a more detailed reference and, from there, can cross-reference for more information.

    But there is no question that the United States is most assuredly not the “top drawer” in terms of standard of living.

    The UN’s report is far from the only one to reach that conclusion and I have yet to read a report that has designated America as “number one” in terms of standard of living.

    And I’m sorry, Doc, but did you say in #38 that a boat and a swimming pool are “normal” in America? Perhaps I need you to define the term normal, but I’m having about as much trouble swallowing that notion as you are with the notion that Mexico is in the category of High Human Development.

  • Clavos

    And I know nuthin’ about Libya and Albania, but plenty about Mexico. I won’t bore everyone with a long litany of why the quality of life in Mexico is inferior to the quality of life here.

    I’ll just point out how many millions of us now live here, and how many more keep comin’.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Indeed, there is some interesting information when you click on the United States on the UN Human Development report.

    For instance:

    In the gender-related development index, which measures achievements in the same dimensions using the same indicators as the HDI (human development index) but captures inequalities in achievement between women and men, the United States places at 107th overall. Mexico, by contrast, ranks 90th overall.

    And the GEM (gender empowerment measure) reveals whether women take an active part in economic and political life. In terms of the GEM, the United States ranks 15th out of 93 countries.

  • Clavos

    And I’m sorry, Doc, but did you say in #38 that a boat and a swimming pool are “normal” in America?

    Perhaps boat ownership is a bit of a stretch, although in 2007, according to the “National Marine Manufacturers Association, there were 17 million pleasure boats registered in the US, with an average new cost of $35,810, and 59 million Americans “participated” in boating.

    Although swimming pools are less common in northern states for obvious reasons, they are nearly ubiquitous in the Sun Belt, for equally obvious reasons. The next time you fly into a major southern city, glance down during the approach; you’ll be surprised.

  • http://www.indyboomer46.blogspot.com Baritone

    I suppose if “quality of life” is measured by the number and variety of “toys” available in the market place, I suppose the U.S. wins hands down (although, I presume Japan could give us a run for our money as regards electronic junk.)

    I tend to measure quality of life through a more varied and complex prism. We live in a society in which the mantra “He who dies with the most toys wins.” If that’s all there is to it, then fuck it.
    Life can be and often is far richer than just having and playing with material crap.

    Keep in mind, too, that I’m not religious. I believe that this life is all we get. Yet, I find far more joy in less material things. I won’t get all misty and sloppy here, but I think that list is easily conjured. Oft times, people with practically nothing appear to be generally happier than many with seemingly everything. That may be a cliche’, but then, more often than not, cliche’s are true.

    All you people who are rabid about having guns often are so because you feel you must have them to protect your shit. Think about it. Maybe there’s something wrong with that picture.

    B

  • Baronius

    Cindy, you’re not addressing Dave’s point. The point is that people don’t stay in the same quintile over time. Over the life cycle of earning, an individual will go from the bottom (college) to the top (at age 40-50) back down to near-poverty (in a house that you own, living comfortably off interest). If there was a guy who was The Poor, he’d be stuck in that bottom quintile, but he’s not. Nor are there many people who are The Rich their entire lives.

  • Baronius

    One problem with the Human Development report is that it accepts each country’s reporting. You’ll find that countries without a free press tend to rank higher on the list than you’d expect, because their governments INSIST that things are fine. Albania’s life expectancy is not what the Albanian government declares it to be.

    Purchasing power parity is also a toughie, because it involves weighing what currencies are actually worth (often very different from the exchange rate). That doesn’t mean that the statistic is worthless, only that they’re best used as ranges.

  • Clavos

    In the gender-related development index, which measures achievements in the same dimensions using the same indicators as the HDI (human development index) but captures inequalities in achievement between women and men, the United States places at 107th overall. Mexico, by contrast, ranks 90th overall.

    The UN is full of shit (as I’ve long suspected), plain and simple, on that score. There is NO way that Mexico, the land of machismo, a country where even the idea of feminism is barely taking hold, has less gender inequality than the US.

    Especially among the campesinos (the majority class), women are not equal to men.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Clav, the index refers to the same factors as the HDI but refers to gender differences. There are less differences in terms of life expectancy, knowledge and education, and standard of living, in other words. It has nothing to do with how women are necessarily treated or viewed or even with gender equality in the traditional sense, but rather a direct comparison with those variables.

    Albania’s life expectancy is not what the Albanian government declares it to be.

    I’m curious about this. While I don’t doubt or support your statement, can you support it? Of course, I have to “take your word for it,” which is “one problem I have” with the “system.” Where is the real data hiding?

  • Cindy D

    Baronius,

    Let me say that I do get your point, despite that unlikely example you gave. And my answer is:

    Dave needs to stop listening to Rush Limbaugh.

    Myth: Income mobility makes up for income inequality.

    Fact: Income mobility in the U.S. is only moderate, not enough to forgive income inequality.

    “The Conservative Response 3: Income Mobility”

    This comes right below The Conservative Response 1: Denial, and Conservative Response 2: Taking Credit For Growth

    Studies by the Urban Institute and the U.S. Treasury have both found that about half of the families who start in either the top or the bottom quintile of the income distribution are still there after a decade, and that only 3 to 6 percent rise from bottom to top or fall from top to bottom.

    (snip)

    Income mobility might in principle be an important offset to the growth in inequality, but in practice it turns out that it isn’t. That did not stop conservatives [the noted scholar, Rush Limbaugh, for example] from trying to use it as a debating point.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Here we find the Human Development Report 2007/2008 regarding the life expectancy of Albania, which shows it as 76.2 in 2005.

    Contrast that with the CIA World Factbook entry, which shows it as 77.78 in 2008. In fact, the CIA World Factbook showed it as 77.24 in 2005 when the UN Index was taken, which puts the UN stat as lower than the information from the CIA Factbook.

    Now I’m not overly sure what, if anything, this means. But I think perhaps that as an “emerging democracy,” it may not be all that unreasonable to suggest that a country with a 98.7% literacy rate could be growing in terms of the HDI’s three components. Sure, you can’t go to church there, but it seems that you can have reasonable access to education and that compared to large parts of the rest of the world, you can live a little longer.

    Go Albania!

  • http://www.republicofdave.com DaveNalle

    And if you want to add happiness in to the mix, check out this article by Financial Jesus. Seven of the Top 10 are in Europe. The USA comes in at 17th and the UK at a lowly 22nd place…

    The mistaken assumption here is that people in the US want to be happy. We don’t. We want to be left the hell alone to be happy or sad or goofy and work our asses off until we die on our own terms.

    There’s also general standard of living, which if measured by the UN’s Human Development Index, places the United States in 12th place in the world.

    Which is inherently flawed because it includes as positives things which people in the US neither want nor expect from their government.

    Dave

  • http://www.republicofdave.com DaveNalle

    Thanks for the links, Cindy, but they’re all worthless because ‘income inequality’ is a meaningless term. It’s based on the erroneous assumption that one person becoming wealthier causes other people to be poorer, when the truth is that if Person X makes $20K a year and Person Y makes $60K a year, if both of them go up in income by 20% the result is technically greater income inequality, but in reality the $4K gained by Person X is far more valuable to him as far as providing for basic needs than the $12K in income increase is to Person Y. Plus the fact that the distance in income between X and Y grew greater did not make X one penny poorer than he was.

    So all arguments based on income inequality are fundamentally worthless because incomes do not exist in a state of equilibrium.

    Dave

  • Cindy D

    Oh, I see it’s the economists that are wrong.

  • Clavos

    Jordan,

    I don’t think you have enough information to justify your “Go Albania!” enthusiasm. Baronius’ point is well taken, in particular in regard to countries with strong, authoritarian systems. You say:

    Sure, you can’t go to church there, but it seems that you can have reasonable access to education and that compared to large parts of the rest of the world, you can live a little longer.

    To which I would reply, “there’s education and there’s ‘education.'” The simple fact that Albania has a high literacy rate only means they can all read. WHAT they can read is not covered.

    The Cubans score highly in a number of areas, including literacy, yet anyone who’s visited there in recent years (easy for you Canadians, proscribed to Americans, but not Mexicans) knows that the “quality of life” as enjoyed by most developed nations, is sorely lacking in Cuba.

    As the aphorism goes, there are “lies, damn lies, and statistics.”

  • Jordan Richardson

    Which is inherently flawed because it includes as positives things which people in the US neither want nor expect from their government.

    Which begs the question: what do people in the US expect or want from their government? And how do those things not relate to quality or access of education, health, or a decent standard of living?

  • Jordan Richardson

    I don’t think you have enough information to justify your “Go Albania!” enthusiasm.

    I was joking.

    Albania does, however, seem good enough to partner with the United States for the War on Terror. They can’t be all that bad, can they?

  • Baronius

    Cindy, I go with Thomas Sowell’s analysis on this issue. He’s the only expert I’ve read on it, but he is an expert. I notice that you describe 3-6% of the population going from bottom to top or top to bottom quintile. If we assume that 1.5-3% go in each direction, they represent 7.5-15% of their quintiles. That’s amazingly fluid, that that many people will go from the lowest to the highest incomes in a decade. And those are just the extremes in ten years. Across a lifespan, between each quintile, there’s got to be a lot more movement. People like Janica (great article, btw) and me.

  • Baronius

    Jordan, interesting question. A lot of Americans want government out of the health, education, and welfare business. The American instinct is to keep them as small and local as possible. Remember that we’re anti-royalists who moved here to be free, and set up crazy Utopian communities. It’s worth noting that these three areas (hostitals, schools, and care for the poor) used to be arenas for religious service.

    One obvious exception is veterans’ care, which we typically do at the grandest scale we can. But I think that’s because war is an equally big endeavor.

  • Cindy D

    I am shocked that you go with Sowell! You’re kidding! :-)

  • bliffle

    Why, we can’t afford to have a nanny state for those whining citizens! We have to save that money and use it (and a lot of other money, too) to make a Nanny Bankers state. Oh, we also have to make a Nanny Corporation state for GE and the likes.

    Priorities.

  • Jordan Richardson

    A lot of Americans want government out of the health, education, and welfare business. The American instinct is to keep them as small and local as possible.

    Is it fair to refer to this as an “American instinct” when it’s not an accurate representation of the people?

    When nine out of ten people say that they think “presidential candidates should propose reforms that would improve the quality of health care, ensure that all Americans have affordable care, and reduce the number of uninsured,” what do they mean? That they are against government health care despite wanting candidates running for PRESIDENT to do something about the health care situation?

    It seems to me that you and many on the so-called “right” are very selective when it comes to what you want the government to do. While you certainly want the government out of your way in general, you sure count on them when it’s time to put out fires or provide additional resources for the populus. And the “right” tends to have a remarkable distrust for the people, too, perhaps well-founded. By running elections on platforms that make people afraid of their own government’s incompetence, the Republican party ensures that their alleged platform of “small government” stands firm. In fact, the more incompetent the GOP can prove themselves to be, the better chances they have of being elected because they’ll propose to downgrade the “size of government” and be their own solution.

    I think it is patently untrue to consider “small government” an American instinct. The fact is that Americans don’t fully know what a government actually can do when it has the input and participation of the people. They haven’t had the chance to experience it in a long time, if ever.

    If recent polls are any indication, people want their governments to get the fuck out of Iraq, reform healthcare, create more jobs, secure the borders, change tax laws, be more ethical, spend more domestically and less internationally, be more disciplines fiscally, improve the schools, lower gas prices, fix social security, improve morality, and propose more help for the poor. That’s from a 2008 Gallup poll taking during the primaries.

    So it looks like the people of America really want their government to do an awful lot, doesn’t it? But I suppose you insist that people want all of that AND they want their government to stay small. People are conservatives because the spending is done in a conservative fashion, right? That’s the expectation. But that’s not the reality, is it? Instead, the reality is that most conservative governments simply defer to corporations and so-called private enterprise to handle the dirty work that Dems leave in government. It’s like swapping one form of incompetence for another and then lying about it.

    The fact is that many people are hungry for real change in America and all you have to do is open your window to learn that. People want their governments to work for all of them, not just for some of them. People want justice, equality, compassion, efficiency, ethics, and honesty out of government. And they’ll never get it, not with a leftie and not with a rightie. It’s all a sham, kids. The difference between what the people want government to do and what government actually will do is immense. And under the current American two-party system, there’s simply no reason to assume that the gap’s gonna close anytime soon.

    The real American instinct is shown when the people speak. It’s about time somebody listened.

  • Baronius

    Cindy, I didn’t know who he was – I didn’t know what “conservatism” was – the first time I read Sowell on the subject of income inequality. One of life’s great joys is finding a systematic intellectual demonstration of something you’d never thought about, particularly when it turns conventional wisdom on its head. Sowell probably influenced me more than I realize. His columns are bread-and-butter, but his pure research is phenomenal.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Dave @ #51:

    Which is inherently flawed because it includes as positives things which people in the US neither want nor expect from their government I, Dave, don’t personally think are positives.

    There… fixed it for you.

    Clav and Dave*, the point is that no-one’s statistics are flawed. They’re just numbers. Whatever interpretation you or I or Jordan or Chris or the UN wants to place on them is as valid as anyone else’s… that is to say, not very.

    What I’m going by is what I see with my own eyes. The typical American household is materially affluent on a scale which can’t even be approached by the average family in any other nation – with the possible and partial exception, as I said before, of Australia.

    That’s not to say that I believe life is somehow better here. In some ways it is; in others, it sucks. Ask anyone anywhere and they’ll probably tell you the same.

    And I think lack of appreciation of this affluence may be what bumps the US down in Chris’s happiness index.

    * Chris… don’t you think they’d make a good musical duo, huddled round the old joanna down the pub, wearing cloth caps and beards and singing cheerful songs about Tottenham Hotspur? ;-)

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    Doc, please explain what this typical material affluence is then?

    The UK South Coast looks pretty affluent to me, but I can’t speak of your Geordie homeland, never having been that far North in England.

  • Cindy D

    Wow! I have been all over England, Scotland and Wales. It all looked marvelous to me!

  • Clavos

    What I’m going by is what I see with my own eyes. The typical American household is materially affluent on a scale which can’t even be approached by the average family in any other nation – with the possible and partial exception, as I said before, of Australia.

    I hope you didn’t get the impression I’m disagreeing with you on this point, Doc; nothing could be further from the truth. I’ve even arrived at the same conclusion more or less the same way: By traveling extensively (during the thirty years I was able to do so for free).

  • Cindy D

    Dr.D,

    Dee ye oonderstaand geordie dialect, like?

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Why aye, man. Me aad gaffer grew oop in Whitley Bay. Used te gan doon Gallowgate ivvery Sat’dy ter watch the Toon back when wee Hughie Gallagher was playin’.

    But you’d never know it to hear me speak. I’m London born. My mother was a Cockney transplanted to Essex. I’m proud of my Geordie heritage, though.

  • Cindy D

    A Girl goes into a hairdressers in Sunderland and asks, “Can you give me a perm?”

    “Okay” says the hairdresser. “I wondad lurnley as a clood…”

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    Cindy, that was brilliant! Thanks for the laugh.

  • Cindy D

    Christopher,

    It took me about an hour to get that joke. :-)

  • Lisa Solod Warren

    Who here besides Christopher and the Dr has lived in another first world country? I have and I have to say that while the US is lovely, there are other ways of living that don’t necessarily involve so many possessions but that involve living wonderfully nonetheless…. so the fridges aren’t quite so big…. BFD. You get health care, retirement, baby care, etc. Lots of taxes, yes, but it’s a trade off….

  • http://janicasravings.blogspot.com Janica

    A trade off?

    It’s not about materialism. It’s about the freedom to choose to not buy a bigger fridge. Do what you want with YOUR money. If you really need the oh-so-efficient government to spoon feed you when you’re born, educate you on what they see fit, take care of you when you’re old, and bury you when you’re dead, then move to those other first world countries.

    But pleasantries don’t mean anything in comparison to freedom.

  • Clavos

    When I was growing up in Mexico, my father made what was a good, though not outstanding, US level income, and we lived MUCH better than my parents’ friends in the US did, including a half dozen live-in servants and a much larger and nicer house (we even had an indoor swimming pool) than those of their friends with comparable incomes back in the US.

    And all the gringo families in Mexico lived the same way, with those working for US companies even better off than we were, with home leave and tuition allowances for kids to go to prep school, etc.

    My father owned his own business, so didn’t get those kinds of perks, but he had about the same income as the executive level guys working for companies like GM and 3M did.

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com SteveS

    I think a lot of the middle class got screwed by banks, mortgage companies and credit card companies. But I don’t think they should be bailed out, because the money goes to the banks and companies that did the screwing over. I think these institutions need to just fail. So times get tough, it’s necessary sometimes.
    These ballooning mortgages should be criminal. So should a CEO making millions while the company crashes around him.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    By, Cindy, lass, that joake was a reet corker. Ta fer the laff!

    (In case you don’t know already, the cities of Newcastle and Sunderland have a long-standing… um… friendly rivalry, shall we say. We of the toon by the Tyne refer to them sorry Wearside bastards as ‘Mackems’. I really dinnae care what they call us!)

  • zingzing

    clavos: “When I was growing up in Mexico, my father made what was a good, though not outstanding, US level income, and we lived MUCH better than my parents’ friends in the US did, including a half dozen live-in servants and a much larger and nicer house (we even had an indoor swimming pool) than those of their friends with comparable incomes back in the US.”

    and now i see.

    no slight on your pop, but yeah… here we have a born republican.

    lucky he’s for baby-death.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Who here besides Christopher and the Dr has lived in another first world country?

    I’ve lived in two besides the US. Three if you count Russia. And I’ve travelled to pretty much all the rest.

    I have and I have to say that while the US is lovely, there are other ways of living that don’t necessarily involve so many possessions but that involve living wonderfully nonetheless…. so the fridges aren’t quite so big…. BFD. You get health care, retirement, baby care, etc. Lots of taxes, yes, but it’s a trade off….

    Yes, but the problem is that you die because the government doesn’t make replacing pacemaker batteries for those over 70 a priority, or because the 6 month wait to see an oncologist is long enough for cancer to move from your lungs to your liver (both modes of death for European relatives of mine).

    But most significantly, the US is no longer taxed less than these other first world countries. The only one taxed more is Japan and France is roughly equal. Citizens of other first world countries pay substantially less overall tax per capita than we pay here in the US. That’s a real problem given that we don’t have the services they do.

    As for Jordan’s argument in #61, the fact that a bunch of idiots are crying out for the state to wipe their asses from cradle to grave doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea or that they represent the basic American ideology, which has been to rise above the base inclination to turn to statism to solve all of our problems and try to be more self-reliant. If that is what the people want then they are no longer American. But fortunately we are a republic and not a mob-rule democracy, and that means that those with better sense can keep the mob of selfish idiots from destroying all of us.

    Dave

  • bliffle

    Dave sez:

    “…a bunch of idiots are crying out for the state to wipe their asses from cradle to grave ..”

    That’s not a nice way to talk about our bankers and politicians.

  • Cindy D

    Dave is what Klein calls a “right-wing Trotskyist”.

    He fails to recognize that ideas (like those of his hero Friedman) sound great on paper, but when tried out in real life are as defunct as communism.

  • Clavos

    no slight on your pop, but yeah… here we have a born republican.

    Don’t even see a slight. He was a good man, but not a Republican, not even really an American (though he was by birth), he grew up in Paris.

    Actually, I’m a born Mexican – believe me, not the same thing at all; I’m not nearly as democratic as most Republicans, let alone Democrats.

    And you missed the point, which was the difference in the cost of living between some foreign countries and the US and how that can impact lifestyles.

  • Lisa Solod Warren

    Actually,I kind of like Brokaw’s comment last night. Americans have gotten into an orgy of spending…. and we have to get out of it. I liked living in France. They didn’t do that. And I liked living in a country that didn’t spend, at least the people didn’t, like drunkenn sailors, but still lived nice, decent lives, took vacations, lived well, in in much smaller houses with less stuff. Americans seem to think we have a right to buy buy buy.
    Of course the government encouraged it, our television makes it seem attractive, but we don’t have to be so stupid as to buy it (and everything else on offer).

  • Jordan Richardson

    If that is what the people want then they are no longer American.

    Or maybe it’s time for you to come to terms with the fact that being “American” doesn’t mean anything more than living within a certain set of borders. There is no ONE American ideology, Dave, regardless of how badly you want to cling to your sickening policy of selfishness and fraudulent “self-reliance.”

    Instead, the people that live in America (Americans!) represent a much broader diversity of opinion than you and your crooks and liars would ever allow for. And your failure to recognize the people within your own borders makes you dreadfully out of touch and, I daresay, wholly un-American!

  • zingzing

    “And you missed the point, which was the difference in the cost of living between some foreign countries and the US and how that can impact lifestyles.”

    i didn’t miss the point, i simply ignored it. i had no idea you came from a background that included servants. i’d probably be a fucking republican too, if that were the case.

    i’ve lived in a foreign country as well (england), and here’s what i’ve got to say on the subject: life’s the same everywhere you go, life’s what you make it, blah, blah, blah.

  • Clavos

    Americans have gotten into an orgy of spending…. and we have to get out of it.

    A surefire recipe for finishing off what’s left of our consumer-based economy.

  • bliffle

    I’ve been trying for years to tell Dave that the USA would be socialized by the rightwing, not the (impotent) leftwing, but he just didn’t Get It.

    Dave, some advice: watch your enemies closely, but watch your friends even more closely.

  • bliffle

    Clavos

    Americans have gotten into an orgy of spending…. and we have to get out of it.

    A surefire recipe for finishing off what’s left of our consumer-based economy.

    We DO have a consumer based economy, which is exactly why we should inject recovery funds at the BOTTOM of the economy instead of the top.

    That’s why trickle-up works and trickle-down doesn’t.

    Consumers rule.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Perhaps American consumers could start using condoms during the orgy instead…

  • http://www.futonreport.net/ Matthew T. Sussman

    Now we have to buy condoms? There you go again, telling American consumers to buy more.

  • troll

    bah humbug…we just need the next bubble

    in the meantime: are there not workhouses – ?

  • Baronius

    Jordan, when you ask what Americans think, are you asking a trick question? If the only answer you’ll accept is that we don’t all think the same, then there isn’t much point in asking. If you’re asking what it is that makes America different than Canada, I think the answer includes our founding principles and our arrogant independence.

    About 50% of our voters have a vision that’s similar to that of Canada. Peace, government, secularism, non-integration. About 50% of our voters have a vision like mine. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not really much different than that of Canada, Europe, or our fellow Americans. We’re not calling for anything weird, like a monarchy with its own religion, like…Canada.

    Sorry, I couldn’t resist that line. We’re all coming from a similar tradition, compared to many parts of the world. It’s just that the American tradition includes an element that Canada doesn’t seem to have. This is the country that people come to when their home country’s government is beating the snot out of them. From Pilgrims to Irish to Cambodians, we’ve been founded and restocked with people who know what bad government can do.

  • Jordan Richardson

    This is the country that people come to when their home country’s government is beating the snot out of them.

    They come here too, chief. Indeed, many Americans come to Canada after having the “snot beat out of them” by their home country’s government. And vice versa, I’m sure. America is far from the only haven for the tired, etc.

  • Baronius

    Yeah, I know. But it never seemed to instill a sense of distrust among you. I think that American distrust of government is healthy.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Distrust of all institutions is healthy, but the answer is to seize power, not fear it.

  • Baronius

    Jordan, the American system is designed to prevent anyone from seizing power. Our localities, states, and federal government have different authorities. Our military and our police are separate (as are those of all of us children of England – thank God). Our Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches are independent.

    We have this system because our founders seized power and immediately dispersed it. They even made a list of things that government could never have the right to do. I imagine that over time, we’ll continue to see rights eroded and power accumulated, but it’s our duty to forestall that as long as possible. I don’t see this election helping matters, no matter who wins.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com DaveNalle

    Or maybe it’s time for you to come to terms with the fact that being “American” doesn’t mean anything more than living within a certain set of borders.

    If that is what it has come to mean then the nation is doomed.

    There is no ONE American ideology, Dave, regardless of how badly you want to cling to your sickening policy of selfishness and fraudulent “self-reliance.”

    Self reliance is bad now? My philosophy is not one of selfishness, it’s one of responsibility and duty – qualities which are characteristic of a free society. Selfishness leads to anarchy.

    Instead, the people that live in America (Americans!) represent a much broader diversity of opinion than you

    There is lots of room for both diversity of opinion and shared values, especially when one of those shared values is respect for diversity and individual free speech.

    Whether you like it or not, and whether you want to change it or not, this nation was founded on certain liberal principles of govcrnment and society and I see no justification for abandonning them, because they are to the benefit of all who live in this nation, whatever their backtround or beliefs.

    and your crooks and liars would ever allow for.

    I don’t actually HAVE any crooks and liars.

    And your failure to recognize the people within your own borders makes you dreadfully out of touch and, I daresay, wholly un-American!

    I recognize that the people within our borders have the universal need for freedom and a right not to be oppressed by others or by the state. Again, these are basic liberal ideas which transcend nationality, but which America is unique in recognizing and protecting.

    Dave

  • bliffle

    Dave claims:

    “…this nation was founded on certain liberal principles of govcrnment and society and I see no justification for abandonning them, because they are to the benefit of all who live in this nation, whatever their backtround or beliefs.”

    Then where were you when Bush was suspending habeus corpus, arresting citizens on the street with no probable cause, tapping phones without warrants, imprisoning people indefinitely without charges and TORTURING prisoners?

  • Cannonshop

    If you REALLY have a problem with the suspension of Habeas Corpus, Bliffle, why do you support the guys who renewed that suspension not once, but TWICE? There is only ONE democrat who’s voted consistently against the Patriot Act, and against renewing it- His name is McDermott, his district is in central Seattle.

    Notably, he is NOT running for President.

    Also…

    Bliffle, Name ONE person “Scooped off the streets” and imprisoned without Habeas Corpus inside the United States of America. ONE CASE, Bliffle.

  • bliffle
  • Clavos

    Your reading comprehension is abysmally low this morning, bliffle.

    Cannon asked you to “Name ONE person “Scooped off the streets” and imprisoned without Habeas Corpus inside the United States of America.

    Both those guys were “scooped off the streets” in Afghanistan.

  • Jordan Richardson

    If that is what it has come to mean then the nation is doomed.

    Again, more dramatic posturing. What a shock!

    Self reliance is bad now?

    Actually, I put “self-reliance” in quotes and called it fraudulent. I don’t believe Americans are self-reliant in the least, especially major corporations who need government to “assist” them in creating profit and lending groups that need the people to bail them out when they get into trouble. And the only thing remotely “new” about this bailout is the size of it.

    My philosophy is not one of selfishness, it’s one of responsibility and duty

    The government in America is giving people less reasons to share your philosophy than ever before. A sense of duty towards a government and a set of policies that drown the majority of people in corporate debt is not well-placed. And a philosophy of responsibility is incredibly hollow when more is asked of the “least of these” than is ever asked of the fat cats. It may well be your philosophy, Dave, but it is not a philosophy your government shares.

    Selfishness leads to anarchy.

    Anarchy is, at this point and time, preferable to the type of fictional “trickle down” economics the U.S. government tries to sell its people on. And anarchy is certainly preferable to the class dictatorship system currently choking the life out of most Americans.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Bliffle, Name ONE person “Scooped off the streets” and imprisoned without Habeas Corpus inside the United States of America.

    Why does the “ONE person” need to be “scooped off the streets” in the United States of America? Isn’t it much worse and much more compelling that America is able to do this using its own domestic tax dollars in other countries under violation of international law?

    Seems a needless and fallacious caveat, unless the intention is merely to support your point and not provoke a discussion.

  • Jordan Richardson

    But hey, I have an answer anyway!

    José Padilla. He was arrested in Chicago in May 2002. You can Google him, but I’m pretty sure he counts.

  • bliffle

    Don’t act stupid, Clavos. It was Cannon who introduced the “scooped off the streets…” mumbo jumbo.

    Do your homework. Do some research:

    Military commissions act

    Jose Padilla

  • Clavos

    bliffle, you’re not “acting” stupid, you are stupid.

    You gave as examples two guys who were grabbed in Afghanistan when Cannon asked for an example of at least one grabbed in the US.

    Not until Jordan prompted you out of your ignorance by bringing up Padilla were you able to come up with his name.

    And Padilla has never successfully argued that he was detained illegally, though he has had a number of opportunities to do so.

  • zingzing

    oh, clavos. go out on your pleasure boat and c-h-i-l-l. please. for us all.

    that said, if i could have your babies, i would. you know that.

  • Lisa Solod Warren

    Ooooh, little nihilistic babies. That’s creepy. Why would you want some of those? Think of how incredibly cranky they would be to raise?

  • Cindy D

    ROFLOL @ Lisa

  • Cannonshop

    The Padilla case should be heard. It’s a valid example. It’s interesting that ’twas the Canadian with no dog in this fight who came up with it, and not the American.

    It’s also interesting that your primary argument ignores the fact that Afghanistan is not U.S. Territory, it’s a foreign war-zone, UCMJ applies there, not 18 USC. It is not the job of the United States Military to provide United States Constitutional Protections to non-United States Citizens outside the borders of the United States.

    This is probably a difficult concept for you to understand, Bliffle.

    If Padilla can prove his allegations, and win his appeal, he’ll be out, and some folks will be up for felony counts that are heavier than the ones he was initially convicted of. That’s how it works. It’s how it worked for Randy Weaver, it’s how it will work for Jose Padilla.

    Of course, it would work better if Congressional Democrats had not renewed the Writ of Imperium known as the Patriot Act-but then, Obama wouldn’t be able to use it to crush opposition after his inauguration if it weren’t in there.

  • bliffle

    Clavos joins Cannon for laziness.

  • Pablo

    Clavos RE 105

    You said to bliffle:

    “bliffle, you’re not “acting” stupid, you are stupid.”

    Thats quite a statement, dare I say a personal attack. I remember a few months ago, when you told me to fuck off, quiet literally on this site.

    Your a typical sort of fella that has no compunction about breaking the rules when it suits your anger, or petty grievance. I find this particular human trait very common among right wing ilk.

    You also seem to get a wide lattitude from the political editors (hey at least your an elite here bubba hehehe) regarding personal attacks as well.

    Just one question Clavy. Do you hold Dave’s hand all the time, or just at night? Your both quite a spectacle ya know, fortunately for me my voyeuristic leanings find two hot chicks holding hands much more appealing than the images you bring to mind bucko.

    Have a nice day Clavos

    [Personal attack deleted. Sorry, Pablo, I get your point, but a direct attack is a direct attack. As tiresome as the others are being, they are at least being oblique about it… Dr D]

  • Cindy D

    As I see it:

    A World United

  • Cindy D

    Electoral College: 277 Obama to 158 McCain.

  • Pablo

    Cindy,

    Re A World United video:

    I see nice colors some lame music, and some nice platitudes on how humans need to work together to solve our mutual problems. What does that have to do with any of the current political issues of the day dear?

    Fact is the fox is in the henhouse, and soon another fox will replace the last one.

  • Pablo

    Dread,

    At least I proved my point. :)

  • Cindy D

    Pablo,

    I guess you’re too young to remember the 60s (spilling over to some of the youth throughout the 70s). An entire generation + of people thought those ideas were very much the point.

    I was happily wandering down memory lane. Yet also sadly, I was looking back over the last 30 years and regretting the direction we (even I) took. Who knows, someone might even be inspired to remember exactly what is important in life.

  • Clavos

    Cindy,

    I would venture to say that even on the issue of what’s important in life, you will find great disagreement among any group you poll.

  • Cindy D

    Clav,

    Sadly, there are those who don’t consider, peace, love, friendship, tolerance important to hUmaNITY.

    I know some of them. The ones I know are unhappily in pursuit of other things.

  • troll
  • Clavos

    I notice, Cindy that you don’t even list family, which to me is the THE most important thing in life and which incorporates love, which you do mention.

    IMO, family is far more important than all the rest in your list.

    As I said, I doubt we all can agree, even on what’s important.

  • Cindy D

    excellent troll!

    It surely is…a hit.

    Don’t give me that do goody good bullshit.
    I’m in the high-fidelity first class traveling set
    And I think I need a Lear jet.

  • Cindy D

    Bad link. Ah, there we go.

  • Cindy D

    But Clav,

    We don’t disagree at all. For me love incorporates family. Including what we teach those young members of our family.

    The most significant wisdom we came up with appears to be “shop ’til you drop.”

  • Pablo

    Cindy,

    No I am not too young to remember the 60’s dear. I am 55 years old and born and raised in SF. I was there for the protests with my family against the war in Vietnam. I was there in Golden Gate Park Jan 15,1967 with all the peace and love vibes. In fact I spent most of my life being a hippy love child.

    Unfortunately all of those goals and the platitudes that the video that you referenced have little to nothing to do with the current political crisis facing our nation. Which was my point originally in commenting about said video.

  • troll

    Cindy – unfortunately this is the flip-side of funny money

  • Baronius

    Cindy, there’s an impression that the left has nothing to say other than Peace, Love, and Understanding. Videos like that scare the undecideds.

    As for the question of what truly matters, I’d bet against Clavos. You’ll find a lot of agreement.

  • Cindy D

    In fact I spent most of my life being a hippy love child.

    So, when exactly did you morph into a condescending ass who calls adult women “dear”?

  • Jordan Richardson

    Cindy, there’s an impression that the left has nothing to say other than Peace, Love, and Understanding.

    Yeah, that peace, love, understanding….fucking scary shit. Give me corporate greed, war-mongering, and baseless moral posturing instead!

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Pablo,

    No I am not too young to remember the 60’s dear.

    Isn’t the paradigm that the very people who are old enough to remember the 60s are the ones who don’t remember them…?

    ;-)

  • Clavos

    I heard that if you can remember the sixties you weren’t rally a part of them…

  • Clavos

    Baronius,

    Am I to infer that you don’t consider family important?

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    I do remember a sixty, but my memories involve sunlit beaches, toy yachts and bacon rather than large crowds on farms and interesting chemical derivatives.

  • Baronius

    Jordan, Jordan, Jordan…I’m not saying that peace, love, and understanding are bad things. That’d be idiotic. I’m saying that the left often fails to present anything more than those as a plan. They do themselves a disservice, assuming they do have more substance.

    Consider the problems in Jerusalem. In one sense, it’s true that the only solution will come through peace, love, and understanding. But in another sense, the policies matter. Obama has taken three positions: 1, for a united Jerusalem; 2, against a united Jerusalem; 3, a declaration that his position hasn’t changed. I want a better answer than that.

    Likewise, I want a better answer from McCain about the credit crisis than “Wall Street greed”. But I know that McCain has been a Senator long enough to know that it’s complicated. We’ve had simple presidents before, but Obama is especially dangerous because he’s shallow but he thinks he’s deep. Those are the ones that do real damage.

  • Baronius

    Clavos, you made me think. An unexpected, unwelcome task for a Friday afternoon.

    I think that 98% of the world’s non-Buddhists would agree that happiness is found in personal enjoyment and fulfilling one’s potential, and aiding others in finding enjoyment and fulfilling their potential. We each may add caveats to that statement, or insert phrases like “as children of God” or “through capital gains tax cuts”, but those three things dominate most people’s view of happiness: to improve oneself, to enjoy oneself, and to leave the world better.