CarTalk.com Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Isn't it quite obvious that the US is becoming a plutocracy

It’s hard to ignore the obvious but most Americans are determined to prepare for the impending dooms of asteroids, climate change, a political coup, and a catastrophic drop in the price of gold but they are determined to not see the hand writing on the Wall.

http://www.alternet.org/economy/bill-moyers-plutocracy-will-go-extremes-keep-1-control

Don’t be the last to find out.

I agree that there is polarization in today’s society. However, I don’t think the rich are the major problem. In “socialist” Sweden, 85% of the wealth is still in private hands with very rich folks indeed. The reason not to worry there is that Sweden has extremely high literacy, good social programs free university education, and no “underclass” living on welfare and not working. And everyone pays taxes.

The US has gradually divide itself into rich, middle class (employed and paying taxes), and the bottom which gets welfare, food stamps, free health care while not working or marginally employed. A so-called democratic government should have as its first mission to get the bottom part educated, trained and gainfully employed. But that’s not happening. Instead we are going the way of the Roman Empire during its decline; the goverment bought off the lower classes with “panum et circensus”, bread and games and brought in grain from the colonies (cheap imports) and slaves (our illegal immigrants) did the hard work.

One of the networks had a documentary on a food caterer in the South who emplyed these “illegals” for nearly all his postions. The network journalist asked why he did not employ locals, since they had seen many idle and able bodies locals hanging around. His response was that he tried but they were not sufficiently motivated to stay on the job and went back to welfare and food stamps.

The Obama administration does not believe in “tough love” or “strong medicine” and the situation will get worse over time. In “socialist” Sweden, the government finds you a job while you are on unemployment benfits. When they call you with a job offer you are supposed to take it. If they can’t reach you after 3 calls, you’re OFF unemployment benefits.

By now you will understand why ambitious immigrants from poor countries do so well; they are actually willing to take any job to get started and are totally focused on success through hard work.

We know. The article just rehashes the obvious.

Do you propose that the US allow the poor to decline to the level of the 3d world in order to motivate them, @Docnick? If only we could let the poor here become as desperate as the poor in Mexico and Haiti the economy would BOOM? But who would it BOOM for?

@RodKnox You misinterpret what I was getting at. Motivation is not necessarily a function of how poor you are. It’s part of your culture. Ambitious persons from Britain are leaving behind a good living standard when they come to America, and succeed because of the opportunities.

For a society to proper across the board we need everyone who can work in the best job possible for his natural talents. Many countries have a guaranteed annual income which supplements a persons earnings from WORKING up to a decent level. Such countries put a high tax on the rich, something I am in favor of by the way. The US is an extremely properous country overall and a person on welfare does better than a Haitian working a full time job.

The key point is that a very large segment of the population has poor education, little or no job skills resulting in a high unemplyment rate for that segment and a permanent underclass. A third generation welfare recipient barely knows what work is.

If education a training is one of the keys to a better life, it should be subsidiized or free for those without the means to pay for it. Unemployed people should be enrolled in courses to improve their employability.

The current programs in place don’t seem to be doing much towards those goals.

I don’t disagree that there is a high level group more interested in self-preservation and global markets than the good of the USA or the common folks, however I think those living in large cities on the east coast can get a bit of a skewed view of the rest of the country.

I do agree that wages have stagnated while upper incomes have sky rocketed but there are also other reasons for that. I don’t mean to sound ultra conservative which I am not but just looking at some of the facts over the past 30 years-single families have sky-rocketed, birth rates have sky rocketed among the lower wage earners while the upper earners have stagnated, graduation rates have decreased among this population. Plus at the same time 20 million more imported low wage workers have managed to compete for entry level jobs, plus the number of these jobs available due to globalization decreased substantially.

These trends of large families with single parents, with little emphasis on education and training I think has caused a mushrooming of the under class. We’ve had this conversation before but I still believe that some of the current administration policies just play right into the hands of the 1% . Under section 8, apartment buildings would not be built and owned by the 1% if the feds weren’t paying 75% of the cost. We think this benefits the tenants but in fact benefits the 1% and continues the impotence of the tenants.

@Bing and @Docnick, we seem to see the same problems and honestly I blame the “war on poverty” for a great deal of the poverty that we suffer with. But for the individual in poverty intellectual rhetoric is just hot air. If you hope to get someone off welfare you cannot expect them to take a part time job at a minimum wage of $7 and give up Medicaid and all the incidentals. We fostered and rewarded single motherhood and now we blame the single mothers for their efforts. We demeaned and denigrated husbands into being “baby-daddies” and now curse them for being irresponsible. The wealthy lobbied for section 8, for free cell phones, for free cable tv and food stamps as profitable schemes for themselves and then they want to shake their fingers at the poor who live off the dole. Step one of the solution cannot be STARVE THE BEAST. It’s not a beast. It’s people who have lived their entire lives isolated and marginalized and ignorant as the result of our political leaders whose short term planning always puts re-election and cronyism at the top of their priority list.

No disagreement there. Not sure how we get out of it except maybe first step is lets not borrow more money for it.

A retired teacher friend volunteers with the Red Cross and after Katrina was sent down to NO to help distibute debit cards, etc. It was absolutely amazing the number of people that had no idea what a debit card was, never had a bank account, checking account, nothing. Basically had no personal finance experience at all. Just like stepping back a hundred years in time. So undoubtedly a lot of work to do.

@Rod Knox The economy has to function as a holistic whole. That’s why a guaranteed annual wage (topping up the minimum wage) and guaranteed health care are essential in getting the “underclass” as productive as possible. People should have the opportunity and the desire to work and learn new things at the same time. I teach workshops at a local college where there must be at least 50 languages spoken, and students range from teenagers to mature foks in their 50s. The tuition is kept low enough for most to be able to afford it.

I would like to see tuition tied to income levels; the lowest would pay nothing and the more properous a larger amount. In a recent workshop I had 18 students, and 2 were from India, one form Pakistan, one from Poland, 2 from China and two from England. Some had their studies paid for by their employers, but all were in the workforce. One, a single mother, had to juggle daycare hours with her schedule and I accomodated her leaving class early.

There is still substantial government support for the institution, as well as the city tax base, but corparate donations and tuition fees make up the bulk.

Socialized medicine seems inevitable and the sooner we get it the better off we will be. Those 3d+ generation marginalized poor are clueless of so much that the main stream takes for granted. And New Orleans is one of the most dismal examples of entire neighborhoods that seemingly live under a rock. Continuing to throw entitlements at the problem will not cure it but cutting off entitlements will certainly result in some degree of civil unrest.

I believe our seeds where sowed with each newly nominated justice to the supreme court. Seeming innocuous decisions made by them that seem to have no bearing on everyone’s life, suddenly becomes the impetus for major societal changes.
Plutocracy is not a US phenomenon as the wealthy knows no boundaries and decision are made by a world order whose entrance is determined by the size of your bank account. The reversal takes two things. Patience and education. Education not just of our youth but of those who just accept the inevitability of the wealthy being superior and caving into the idea that gee…they will be wealthy some day soon. Sorry. That group is predetermined, often by birth and seldom by work effort. The same family names keep poping up in business and politics as one supports the other. If that takes wealth redistriburption to put the middle class in a more favorable position…of course, count me in.

Count me in on socialized medicine, not because we will all become healthier, which we will, but it will be a big step back toward legitimate democracy and personal freedom.

When has there not been a polarization. Look at medieval times, the barons and the serfs. IMHOP the working class, is on a downslide as proven by statistics, unions being demonized and rights of workers put secondary to corporate interests, ceo pay increases, worker decreases in income, the distribution of wealth etc… Now it must be scaring the hell out of the elite to know if people really cared to vote and understood the consequences they would never vote for a republican, plan b limit voting rights. As Michelle Bachman said (so reminds me of David Bromberg I ask for water and you bring me gasoline) Giving the poor the right to vote is like giving a robber a gun. Now I believe in a social safety net, ie social security, medicare, unemployment insurance, rather than tax cuts for the rich, but given the republican majority I am in the minority.

single families have sky-rocketed, birth rates have sky rocketed among the lower wage earners while the upper earners have stagnated, graduation rates have decreased among this population

I’ve heard that some women will have another kid just so they can stay on welfare a little longer and get some more money.

How many here would be in favor of drug testing those on welfare randomly to determine if they get to stay on it or not?

I do not mind drug testing for welfare, but if there are people who for whatever reason do not want another child, now will be forced to have a child, wow what is the correlation. More people looking for work is all I can see.

“I’ve heard how some women have another kid just so they va stay on welfare”

I have actually heard that of all those people who don’t deserve welfare, a precious few of them have lost their jobs through no fault of their own, or are in poor health and can’t work and are actually deserving.
Just a couple…http://www.npc.umich.edu/publications/policy_briefs/brief02/
Why do we get more upset at spending money to help people then we do spending money to kill people ?

I don’t mind helping those who have fallen on hard times, but those that abuse the system by buying drugs or just working the system to get more money ruin it for everyone else. Meanwhile, some of those that do need the help can’t get it for one silly reason or another.

Unfortunately, the guy whose name is on the check won’t pass a drug test and his legitimate wife and kids are in desperate need. There are a significant number on welfare that are addicted but they are also tied to families in need…got an answer ? The govt. would like to hear it. I would like to use drug programs set up for these people and have the collection of the check tied to their attendance. But just denying the checks creates other problems.

@dagosa we are talking about 2% of the federal budget. Now this is nonsense carrying on on the point, sure drug test fine, now lets focus on the other 98%

We need to stop supporting one political party over another. They are both involved in importing low wage immigrants and exporting jobs. We need to start supporting each other. Here in Wisconsin we have been going through enormous labor unrest because the Governor cut benefits for state employees. We had weeks of protests at the state capital as you probably saw on the national news. I wandered the parking ramps and took an informal poll. I counted 561 cars in two parking ramps with pro union bumper stickers. 532 were on Hondas, Hyundais, Toyotas, Subarus, and NIssans. Now when union members won’t even support each other, why should our politicians care? They know we are all out for ourselves and to hell with everyone else.
The EVIL one percenters are not forcing us to undercut the UAW, (who lead the way on higher wages for everyone). We are driving ourselves to the poorhouse in Asian cars as we kill our unions and send billions of dollars out of the country. We are the only country in the world with a trade policy that seems to be intended to destroy us. Free trade is not fair trade. Fair trade would involve us buying asian cars and them buying our products. Research how almost every trading partner we have purposely throws up barriers to our goods. If we had a rational health care system, a rational trade policy, and a social services system that did not reward immoral, bad behavior we’d be well on our way to curing most of our problems. I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for it to happen.

@barkydog
So 98% of the rest of the federal budget is wasted ? You’ll have to explain ? Just responding to bscar2 as to how difficult it is to refuse welfare in families where there is drug addiction. It is a big problem. Gee, I thought 2 % of the entire fed budget was pretty darn significant.


And some states as is the fed. are grappling with the right way to address it. This state says just do it randomly and don 't pay…that’s the plutocratic approach of denial.