Survival of the Fattest

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37 Responses to Survival of the Fattest

  1. gregoryzaller says:

    So funny! But I was certain from the title that it would have been a play on the Ayn Rand Republican sham to direct further wealth to the rich at the expense of the middle and poor classes.

    We’ve already crossed the line where the number of people who make the world that the rich profit from is dwindling. Can’t they see that? You can’t get blood out of a turnip!

  2. Todd Juvinall says:

    Hey GregZ, just curious. How do the rich take the money from the poor when the poor has no money to begin with?

    • gregoryzaller says:

      First there are the working poor Romney wants to tax more. They work harder than the rich Romney wants to give tax breaks to, with the ridiculous explanation that this will trickle down to them. They pay taxes but can never earn enough to get ahead. They are equal citizens and they have a right to better.

      Then there are the homeless and jobless Romney wants to cut the programs for. This isn’t so simple. These debilitating and humiliating give away programs probably contribute more to poverty than they help by destroying people’s sense of self worth and competency. I call them safety net traps. These folks need real help and not just handouts. They have a right to this help because that’s the grand bargain we call the USA. Also by developing programs that end poverty it will save us money and produce contributors .

      • Todd juvinall says:

        GregZ, So where is the information on Romney’s plans to tax the poor more? I need a link or paper. I am aware Obama will veto the present tax rates (or let them expire) which will increase the poor taxes 50%.

        You say the poor have a “right” to do better. Could you point to the place in our Constitutions where I can find that?

        You say Romney has proposed or “wants ” to cut the programs for the homeless and the jobless. Please tell me where I can find the proposals to cut the homeless programs? Jobless is another matter. You don’t need to explain that one since we have unemployment insurance for them.

        You say the existing programs, your so-called “safety net” programs are not good. Would you say perhaps a better economy and more jobs for those folks is a good idea and maybe even a solution? Does Obama have a plan for them?

        Lastly, since there has been 6 trillion spent by the taxpayers over the last forty years to get a solution to poverty and it hasn’t worked, I would like you to explain to me why it didn’t work. Since the issue appears to be money, poor vs rich, was it not enough money to the poor?

        • rl crabb says:

          I’m not speaking for Gregory here, but I will say there is a right to humane treatment of your fellow man. Maybe it’s not in the constitution, but I’m sure you can find it in the Bible. I’ve been there, homeless, broke, living day to day, but I talked myself out of the depression and feeling like you are worthless. I have been fortunate in my life to have good and true friends and family, something not everyone is gifted with.

          Greg is agreeing with you that the current safety net is more of a trap for the homeless and mentally ill. So what’s your beef, Todd?

          • Todd juvinall says:

            Beef? Why is asking for information a beef?

          • Ryan Mount says:

            I’m with Todd. These are reasonable questions. If we want to actually fix our problem(s), we need to stop apologizing, romanticizing and ballooning them into vague generalizations: the poor, the corporations, the Republicans, the Democrats. Dicks. Get specific.

            For example, 9 out of 10 people (or 8 out of 10 for the whiny nit-pickers) *can* find work. Good work? Work they’re trained for? Work that makes them happy? I dunno. Not my problem. I don’t enable people that way. I leave this kind of dysfunction for family affairs; I don’t extend that courtesy to strangers.

            Anyhow, a generation or two ago, people didn’t care either. Now it’s an entitlement. Now it’s a source of a lack of self-esteem if you’re not doing the job you think you’re entitled to. And this is the country of Teddy Roosevelt?

            Insensitive? Lacking Compassion? No. Just the opposite. It is not virtuous (see below) to keep people, and I mean deliberately, on the dole. This ain’t a Steinbeck novel; this is real life. (At least Steinbeck was a tough mofo, the Democrats could use a man like him.) We need to stop being such weenies. However the the fix is in, but it is victimless:

            “In the only cases in which the masses have escaped from the grinding poverty you’re talking about. The only cases in recorded history are where they have had Capitalism and largely free trade. If you want to know where the masses are worst, worse off, it’s exactly in the kinds of societies that depart from that.”

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWsx1X8PV_A

            His commentary on rewarding virtue is also spot-on. There is a partisan assumption by some that, for example, the Democrats are more virtuous than Republicans when it comes to the working man/woman. Hardly the case. They may have different approaches, but that doesn’t mean one is more virtuous or right just because one favors one over the other.

          • Tony Waters says:

            RL: The down and out have a right to decent humane treatment, and those of us who are more fortunate have a responsibility to provide it.

            This right is in the Preamble of the Declaration of Independence which ironically, was approved by a bunch of slave owners who said that we all have a self-evident right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The discussion about this continues in the preamble to the US Constitution which talks of our desire for “A more perfect union” and enumerates what the federal government can do, including regulate commerce, and tend to social welfare.

            I do believe that these rights extend even to down and out cartoonists, and the responsibilities extend to those of us who are more fortunate.

        • gregoryzaller says:

          I tried several ways to respond, Todd, and deleted them because it is too complicated to argue out a solution. We are just going to have to start by agreeing to try and agree.

          It’s a big mess and I choose to step away from useless arguing on blogs and to concentrate on new ideas that hold the potential of achieving good results. They are there but we collectively tend to ignore them.

          My ideal is a society that holds the promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all, including those born thousands of years from now.

        • TD Pittsford says:

          Todd, I might ask where in the Constitution it says that the privileged have the right to tread all over those of lesser means? I might add that Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence included the phrase that, “All men are created equal”. I take this to believe that we all have the RIGHT to succeed but while this is true in theory, the rich have always abused and used the lower classes to their own ends. I’ve said before that there’s not a super-wealthy person who got where they are by being a philanthropist. That happens only AFTER they have amassed their fortunes and has nothing to do with being “good guys”; rather is often no more than a tax write off. But that is all neither here nor there. The bottom line is that all of us down here in the trenches, “owe our souls to the company store” as it is now and always has been and probably always be. This isn’t going to change…just as you, Mr. Juvinall are not going to change your point of view, nor are you going to change anyone else’s. So you see, all this discussion is pretty much meaningless. I isn’t an exchange of ideas, is simply a pissing match or as Shakespeare wrote: “It is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.” It IS fun though, isn’t it?

          • Todd juvinall says:

            TD, do you take the money you earn and spread it around to the folks at the homeless camps? You comment about where in the Constitution it says those with more trample on those with less is quite telling. The document says we all have equal opportunity, not equal outcomes and that we have a Republic, not a socialist state.

            The fact we as a people have pent untold trillions of transfer dollars trying to wipe out poverty (and that is a subjective state of being) and it has failed, should be a wake-up call for all. Add the help the churches and benevolent folks give to the downtrodden and then of course the “immediate family” and we have created quite a “safety net” for people.

            There will always be people who refuse the help and actually enjoy a lifestyle of living outdoors as there are those that are mentally ill and really should be brought in. But in America, the Trial lawyers have let is be known and the courts have confirmed that everyone, even the mentally ill, are individuals who have rights (in the Constitution) and are to be left alone. So your beef about the rest of us having some “responsibility” is overshadowed by the poor’s individual rights to be poor.

            I chose to remove myself from the ranks of the downtrodden and poor through hard work and saving. I thank the Lord everyday for being able to improve myself and my family and my surroundings. If you think there is a “law” forcing us to help, please provide the proof in the Constitution and then I certainly will consider it. My position is simple, I help because I want to help, not because I am forced through government force to help others.

          • Bjorn V says:

            Poor Todd. All dressed up and nowhere to go.

  3. Tony Waters says:

    PS. I think what I write above is general enough for Obama and Romney would agree. But Todd may have a different opinion…

  4. Brad Croul says:

    Henry’s plan sounds a lot like the Mormon plan.

  5. Todd Juvinall says:

    Well I guess I have to put in my two cents about my early life and struggles so RL and Tony don’t think I am a silver spooner.

    Married at 19, baby at 20, worked in construction at 13 and then a neighborhood market at 16. Minimum wage. Started my own business at 19 with money I saved. Moved to Palm Springs (I had 54 bucks, a wife and infant), painted houses. Went to work from midnight to 6 am scrubbing floors at the Ramada Inn. Hired on as desk clerk, worked 16 hour days then promoted too assistant manager. Hired to run the Dunes hotel at 23. 40 employees. Never on welfare, never did drugs. Yep, but in my spare time even then worked in areas of people in need. Yeah, you just can’t make this stuff up. We rotten evil Republicans just don’t understand you folks who had it tough.

    • gregoryzaller says:

      In many ways we aren’t far apart, Todd. I put myself through college while living in an Econline van. I had put a bed in it, parked it alongside campus and worked odd jobs. I conserved the money I earned, and now I still have it.

      People have mostly forgotten how to do that type of thing largely because of they have learned a sense of entitlement because of all the things they are given without having to earn them. We need to stop giving people things that they don’t earn but as a society we also need to give them a reasonable opportunity to have life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

      I will wager that you agree, up to this point at least, Todd. If so the question then becomes about how do we do that. I’ve got some ideas and am working on them but I am curious what ideas you have. What are your ideas to turn this around? Or anyone else for that matter.

      • Greg Goodknight says:

        GZ, what we have here is a failure to communicate at the most basic level, what the basic assumptions are.

        After being misplaced for years, I ran across my copy of Sowell’s “A Conflict of Visions” yesterday, dusty, sitting on top of some books on a floor level shelf with the spine facing the wall. Taking the easy way out, I’ll quote the dustcover: “The very meaning of such words as “freedom”, “equality”, “rights” and “power” is drastically different in the context of different visions of man. Issues as diverse as criminal justice, income distribution, or war and peace repeatedly show those with one vision lining up on one side and those with another vision lining up on the other… The purpose of the book is not to choose between the tho principal visions of the modern era, but to show the inherent logic of each, which makes their specific conclusions virtually inescapable for those who accept their assumptions.”

        In short, this is the “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” book for political science. And no, it doesn’t exactly line up liberal and conservative. Well worth a read.

    • Tony Waters says:

      Todd,
      Never thought you were a silver spooner, and you biography doesn’t surprise me much. It sounds like a fairly typical story for many people who live in Nevada County, and try to take care of themselves, and leave a better society than when they arrived.

      But all of us who have grown up in the United States are to a certain extent silver spooners–we inherited a society that provided us with much opportunity, and a base which we ourselves did not create. This has been gifted to us in the form of imperfect but effective institutions, culture, physical infrastructure and a host of other things which were already here when we arrived.

      But I do think that there is a tension between protecting individual rights, and our responsibilities to each other–and I think most Americans agree with me on this. It is over the details of where rights and responsibilities exist that we disagree, and which keeps these blogs going.

      Tony

    • Greg Goodknight says:

      Todd, I’m sorry, but you didn’t build that business. Someone else made that happen.

      Sorry, I couldn’t resist. 🙂

  6. Tony Waters says:

    Greg: Glad to see that you line up with Adam Smith on the issue of the division of labor, free markets, and the importance of cooperation in the generation of economic activity. Like you, he agrSmith pointed out that it is not one person who builds a company, but individuals trading with each other, no one of whom is necessarily responsible for a final product or company.

    Tony

    • Greg Goodknight says:

      Tony, it’s a real stretch to go from Smith’s invisible hand to Obama’s ‘you didn’t build your company in a vacuum so the government has a virtually unlimited right to your profits’, which was the underlying message.

      Let’s see… my parents and grandparents willingly submitted to taxes to pay for infrastructure for all to use, like the interstate highway system and water systems. Now, because their kids and grandkids are using those systems profitably, the government has a right to the fruits of their labor *because* it was the government’s money that built them.

      Sorry, no.

      • gregoryzaller says:

        Your parents and grandparents would not approve of your statement, Greg. We all benefit from the common good they paid for and should not take it for granted. Those roadways, bridges, power systems, schools etc. need to be maintained, upgraded and expanded. The current Republican tax proposals ignore this.

        BTW I looked up Sowell. I wish I had the time to learn more about what he has to say.

        • Todd Juvinall says:

          GregZ, as a builder I am surprised you forgot to mention school fees for new construction, fees for the roads, parks and even “government facilities”. And there are many more. Who pays them? The ultimate homeowner, the middle class mostly.

        • Greg Goodknight says:

          Sure they would approve, GZ. They paid taxes, I’ve paid taxes. This isn’t about being willing to pay taxes, this is about who owns your assets and the extent we are a collective vs. a free people who individually choose to cooperate. The only reason to denigrate the effort it takes to organize and build a business (which I have not done) with “somebody else made that happen” is to justify taking more of it by playing class warfare.

          That was the message in context. Obama needs to turn off the teleprompter more often.

        • Greg Goodknight says:

          “Those roadways”
          Most roadways are built and maintained by state and local entities

          “bridges”
          ditto

          “power systems”
          Privately owned and paid for by power customers

          “schools etc.”
          Again, state and local

          “need to be maintained, upgraded and expanded. The current Republican tax proposals ignore this.”

          GregZ, just wondering, how to you get from the enumerated powers ceded the Federal government in the Constitution to the list you gave below that you think Obama needs that tax money for, and, for some real fun, compare the total for all the money the Feds would channel back to local entities for transportation and education, with major strings attached.

      • Sharon McKibbin says:

        “virtually unlimited right to your profits’ (sic)”? A bit of hyperbole there? Anyway, no, that was not the underlying message that I took from those perhaps unfortunately out-of-context-quotable 4 words – what I took from it, is that anyone who profits from an infrastructure (i.e. community) owes something to that infrastructure. I prefer the Elizabeth Warren quote, which is not quite so sound-bite-able:
        “There is nobody in this country who got rich on their own. Nobody. You built a factory out there – good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory… Now look. You built a factory and it turned into something terrific or a great idea – God bless! Keep a hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.”

        • Greg Goodknight says:

          Nothing [sic] I can see there, Sharon. Please elaborate.

          You’ve just repeated the fallacy inherent in the Obama “somebody else made that happen” when you wrote”You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate”. We pay our dues in society by living ethical, productive lives, not by ceding the rights to future earnings to a central government because we learned to read (if lucky) in a school financed mostly by the property taxes our friends and relatives paid.

          Raising taxes on the wealthy can’t fix deficit spending and the “99%” can’t vote themselves rich by emptying the already empty public treasury.

          • Sharon McKibbin says:

            Hmm. I don’t consider living an ethical, productive life as payment for anything – I wouldn’t want to live any other way. That’s an interesting way to look at it. But are there folks out there who don’t want to live ethical, productive lives, as far as they know how? I suppose sociopaths wouldn’t care, but otherwise, don’t you think only broken people wouldn’t want to be ethical and productive?

            The Eliz Warren quote mentions far more than education that we all paid for as far as infrastructure required for the success of all of us.

            Re the sic – “profits” takes no apostrophe. My apologies for being snide. (I hate it when I do that.)

        • Greg Goodknight says:

          That wasn’t an apostrophe, it was a closed single quote, which, while it wouldn’t meet the NYT style guide, is informally used for a paraphrase that isn’t a direct quote.
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quotation_mark

          That “we” all render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s does not give the mob rights to an individual’s property. Attending a crappy public school does not result in an automatic undischargeable debt akin to a debt to a loanshark.

          I was about to try to recall an old Milton Friedman passage taking apart a famous JFK line, but this is the age of google:

          “In a much quoted passage in his inaugural address, President Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.” It is a striking sign of the temper of our times that the controversy about this passage centered on its origin and not on its content. Neither half of the statement expresses a relation between the citizen and his government that is worthy of the ideals of free men in a free society. The paternalistic “what your country can do for you” implies that the government is the patron, the citizen the ward, a view that is at odds with the free man’s belief in his own responsibility for his own destiny. The organismic, “what you can do for your country” implies that the government is the master or the deity, the citizen, the servant or the votary. To the free man, the country is the collection of individuals who compose it, not something over and above them. He is proud of a common heritage and loyal to common traditions. But he regards government as a means, an instrumentality, neither a grantor of favors and gifts, nor a master or god to be blindly worshipped and served.”

          • Tony Waters says:

            I think Friedman reads far too much into what Kennedy’s rhetoric. After setting up a straw man, he then seems to try to substitute Kennedy’s rhetorical flourishes for his own, but I’m not sure he succeeds.

          • Sharon McKibbin says:

            My mistake – I didn’t notice the opening single quote.

            To continue being pedantic (don’t do it, Sharon!!!), I do find in your Wikipedia article “Quotation marks are not used for paraphrased speech. This is because a paraphrase is not a direct quote, and in the course of any composition, it is important to document when one is using a quotation versus when one is using a paraphrased idea, which could be open to interpretation.”

            Perhaps you meant the use of quotes as Irony. Because I don’t think that your ‘paraphrase’ is what President Obama has ever said. I stand by my labeling your ‘paraphrase’ as hyperbole.

          • Greg Goodknight says:

            Pedantic or blind? First you decide to be snide after you don’t notice the opening single quote, then snarky because you didn’t quite process the fact that I’d flagged my non-standard use before giving a link to the wiki on quotes where you found that I had indeed misused the single quotes.

            It does appear you’re just looking for something to be snide about, and not quite succeeding.

            The paraphrase stands, and this is going to be an interesting three months.

      • Tony Waters says:

        Greg,
        I did not bring up Obama’s inarticulate description of the division of labor. You did. I just pointed out that underlying the Smith’s magic hand is the division of labor (Smith’s very articulate description of the power of the division of labor is found in his description of a pin factory). What this means is that no one except a monk living in a cave “builds” something by ourselves. We don’t create in isolation.

        • Greg Goodknight says:

          Tony, and Friedman used the even more subtle pencil to illustrate the same point as Smith. No one person can make a pencil or even fathom the underlying mechanisms that guide the process where all the raw materials are procured, altered, moved, traded, etc, without many of the people knowing they are helping to enable someone they may be sworn to hate to make a pencil.

          Tony, perhaps you can help me understand your position… what maximum amount of an individuals income and wealth should be? The point that no man is an island is trivial and does nothing to justify an attitude that whatever wealth one manages to accumulate, the government has an inherent right to it in order to give it to somebody else.

          The current problem is spending, and demagoguery aimed at the current ‘haves’ doesn’t fix that.

          • Tony Waters says:

            Greg,
            Fair points, but I sense we are getting beyond the medium of Bob’s blog, and into the realm of pubhouse discussion, and debating society banter!

            Hope that this response is not seen as a total cop-out (only a partial one).

            Tony

  7. So the Romney plan is to ship all the unemployed to the areas where the jobs are. I understand that house painting in Palm Springs is no longer in high demand. Where are those jobs, and the employers sufficiently desperate to provide training? If they are not providing training, either they’re not that desperate, or they need more tax cuts?

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