Is Roger Ailing?

Roger Ailes. Source: New York Times; Fred Prouser/Reuters

This weekend, the Internets (a series of tubes) were buzzing about the “possible” indictment of Roger Ailes.

Ailes, you may recall, is the mastermind of Fox News. The accusation, reported in Friday’s New York Times, is that he obstructed justice by ordering Judith Regan to lie regarding her relationship with Bernard Kerik. The rumored indictment is based on a random overheard phone call, and an audio tape of the alleged obstruction of justice. The mere existence of the phone call was supposed to be sealed by court order, but the court order was not properly filed and so inadvertently became part of the public record.

Judith Regan is a polarizing figure in her own right. She spearheaded the failed O.J. Simpson project entitled If I Did It. Kerik, now jailed, was dating Regan and was closely associated with Ailes’ favored 2008 Republican candidate, former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. At the time of the phone call in 2004, Ailes was positioning Giuliani for the 2008 Republican Presidential race, and Kerik was under consideration for the post of Secretary of Homeland Security. According to the accusations, Ailes ordered Regan, who was his employee at the time, to lie regarding the affair to avoid discrediting Kerik and, by association, Giuliani. Regan claims she made a tape of the phone call, and the court record seems to confirm her claim.

Ailes began his television career in the 1960s in his native Ohio, and then became a producer on The Mike Douglas Show, a popular talk show of that time.

It was in that capacity that he met Richard Nixon. Nixon had been defeated by John F. Kennedy in an extremely close election, with allegations of tainted politics and illegal votes from Mayor Richard Daley’s Cook County Democratic Organization. Nixon then returned to California and lost the 1962 gubernatorial election to Pat Brown (Jerry’s dad). His bitter concession speech became a classic piece of political theater and self-immolation, superseded only by Howard Dean’s primal scream therapy after his loss in the 2004 Iowa caucuses. I submit that this speech started the hoary right-wing meme of “the press has a liberal bias.”

Richard Nixon at his "last press conference," November 1962.

Nixon wanted to renege on his promise to not be kicked around anymore by reentering the 1968 Presidential campaign as a Republican candidate. Ailes supervised the packaging and public image of the candidate. The race was thrown into turmoil by a series of events: a late decision (announced in March 1968) by incumbent President Lyndon B. Johnson not to run again; a country deeply divided by the Vietnam War and civil rights struggles; and the assassination of Robert Kennedy, the heir apparent to his brother’s legacy. Nixon’s surprising victory over the deeply divided Democratic party in 1968 was the subject of the best-selling book The Selling of the President, written by Joe McGinniss.

Joe McGinniss' The Selling of the President. Image: Amazon.

This is, of course, the same Joe McGinniss who famously incurred the wrath of former Governor Sarah Palin when he moved in next door to her in order to research a book he was writing about her. In a quote which shows his sushi-knife-like facility with words, he told Matt Lauer:

She has pushed a button and unleashed the hounds of hell, and now they’re out there slavering and barking and growling. That’s the same kind of tactic—and I’m not calling her a Nazi—but that’s the same kind of tactic that that the Nazi troopers used in Germany in the ’30s, and I don’t think there’s any place for it in America.

In my opinion, these reports are hanging on a very thin reed, indeed. I would interpret the buzz over this unsubtantiated report as due to two factors:

  • Ailes is, very much, a public figure;
  • Ailes is quite actively despised by those on the left.

What do the readers of 538 Refugees make of these charges?



About Monotreme

Monotreme is an unabashedly liberal dog lover, writer, and former scientist who now teaches at a University in an almost-square state out West somewhere. http://www.logarchism.com | http://www.sevendeadlysynapses.com
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168 Responses to Is Roger Ailing?

  1. filistro says:

    I have a brilliant science-geek freind who passionately believes (and regularly tries to convince me) that the universe tends toward chaos and disorder.

    (I believe this is not the same concept as as “Chaos Theory,” which is even geekier. But i digress… 🙂

    My personal conviction is that, left alone, both natural and human events tend toward order and harmony. Our troubled world economies will eventually wobble toward balance and growth. Our disordered political scene is going to stagger back to normal. And if humans vanished from the earth tomorrow, nature would totally restore itself within a few centuries.

    What does this all have to do with Roger Ailes? Well… Treme is right that these accusations are pretty thin, and unsavory as most of the principals are in this story, it probably would not lead to anything if Ailes were not involved. But I don’t think it’s necessarily because “progressive media” is driving the story. I think it’s because Roger Ailes and, more importatly, Rupert Murdoch, have created chaos within the tense, exquisitely-balanced relationship between politics and the media, and they are being punished for it because the system wants to.. and WILL… revert to balance.

    Wealthy moguls should not buy and operate biased media outlets. They should not employ powerful partisan figures to disseminate propaganda. It’s not American, it’s not right, and it’s not the way the free world operates. The system will seize this opportunity to squash Ailes and put him back in his box, because the political system itself wants to re-establish harmony… and anybody, no matter how rich, powerful or well-connected, disrupts that harmony at his own peril.

  2. shortchain says:

    filistro,

    On occasion, order and harmony win a battle or two in the eternal war against chaos and confusion. In the long run, however, entropy always wins.

    On this particular issue I have two thoughts:
    1. It’s beyond obvious that Ailes, Murdoch and crew (as opposed to CREW) are actively engaged in political and social machinations. Whether for fun or for profit we cannot really know, as both operate for the most part behind the scenes, merely casting shadows on the playing field. And for these people the fun may be in the profit.

    2. It’s highly doubtful that Ailes will ever be charged. In our two-tier justice system the wealthy and powerful (and Ailes is both) do not have their sleep or digestion disturbed by the concern that they will pay for their actions.

  3. mclever says:

    @filistro

    Don’t confuse “balance” with “order”. A system can be in balance between all of the various elements that are at play, without there being any order to the chaos. Without forces that push for order, things will naturally devolve towards chaos. (Entropy)

    That said, I find your perspective that the system is “righting” itself by its asymmetrical attacks on someone who sought to disrupt the balance interesting. Not sure if I agree that’s what’s happening in the Ailes case, but I do agree that our system tends to wobble around a midpoint. If things swing too far in one direction or another, then there will be an inevitable correction.

  4. filistro says:

    @shortchain… In the long run, however, entropy always wins.

    Oh dear. Not you, too!

    What IS it with scientists? Sheesh… the evidence of an eternal circle toward harmony and balance is all around you, and y’all don’t see it..

    Regarding your points, I also disagree. These guys are way beyond both fun and profit. After you have enough money, earning more is not all that important, except as it translates to POWER. That’s their raison d’etre, their drug, their aphrodisiac and addiction. They want POWER… more more more.

    For guys like Murdoch and Ailes, anything that clips their wings and lessens their influence is the cruelest cut of all. They’ve flown so close to the sun, and like Icarus, their crash will be huge. I believe Murdoch is now anticipating the fall and beginning, ever so cautiously, to attempt a repositioning that will help him survive.

    But Ailes is too arrogant (and perhaps too lacking in imagination) to foresee his own defeat. This will make his looming crash even more spectacular (and, I am ashamed to admit, even more delicious :-))

  5. mclever says:

    Filistro,

    With regard to science, shortchain is right. Entropy always wins. However, that doesn’t mean that a chaotic system can’t also be at equilibrium…

  6. shortchain says:

    mc, filistro,

    Anyone who has studied his Thermodynamics — and I have — knows that maximum entropy is another way of saying “nothing less to lose”.

    “Balance” can mean many things. For example, the best balanced person is the one residing spread-eagle on the concrete floor.

  7. filistro says:

    @shortcahin… For example, the best balanced person is the one residing spread-eagle on the concrete floor.

    LOL!!!

    Actually I guess that’s true.

    You’re a scientist, and I’m a poet. Too bad we can’t exchange brains for just a day. It would be a fascinating experience for both of us… but alas, I fear neither of us would survive the shock… 🙂

  8. filistro says:

    @mc… However, that doesn’t mean that a chaotic system can’t also be at equilibrium…

    I was going to demand an example… but then I thought of a household I know with 4 children under 7, and realized you are correct 😉

  9. fili,

    the evidence of an eternal circle toward harmony and balance is all around you, and y’all don’t see it

    You’re assuming that increased entropy and harmony are mutually exclusive. Entropy will always increase universally, though it may decrease locally. And the only systems that survive are those that have harmony and balance, so anything that’s “old” is (relatively) harmonious and balanced, because it must be to reach the point of “old.”

  10. mclever says:

    @shortchain

    Considering the years that have passed since I last took a class covering Thermodynamics, I bow to your superior expertise. 🙂

    Now, back to Mr. Ailes… I agree with you that it’s highly unlikely that he will pay any penalties for his actions, especially for something as insubstantial as potentially asking Judith Reagan to lie about a relationship she may or may not have had.

    Hanging by a thin reed indeed.

  11. rgbact says:

    I thought Bill Clinton made it so lying about sexual relationships was OK?

    In summary, Roger Ailes is successful, so he sucks. Meanwhile, noone has a clue who runs MSNBC. I’m sure whoever it is -they have no political agenda.

  12. filistro says:

    rgb… I wish you would just once try to conduct a discussion without introducing some variant of “but those other guys do it TOO! And WORSE!”

    Just discuss the issue on its merits. Be abstract for a change. Surprise me.

    Here, let’s give it a try. Do you think mainstream media networks should demonstrate an obvious political bias?

    Try to answer the question without any mention of MSNBC (or NPR, or FOX.) C’mon, you’re a smart person. I KNOW you can do it.

  13. rgbact says:

    Filistro-

    I guess you do what the market wants. The market wanted a conservative network. Ailes gave it to them. I imagine if the news wasn’t credible, people wouldn’t watch. I’ll admit the bias is too much for me sometimes. Their business coverage in particular strikes me as more ideology, less business. Probably why its not successful. That said, MSNBC’s (oops) evening lineup is FAR more partisan. I do find myself watching CNN more lately, as the extreme partisanship is getting to me. So….maybe bipartisansip will prevail when people tire of the screaming.

  14. Monotreme says:

    I go down to Speaker’s Corner I’m thunderstruck
    They got free speech, tourists, police in trucks
    Two men say they’re Jesus — one of them must be wrong
    There’s a protest singer singing a protest song.
    He says:
    ‘They wanna have a war to keep us on our knees
    They wanna have a war to keep their factories
    They wanna have a war to stop us buying Japanese
    They wanna have a war to stop industrial disease
    They’re pointing out the enemy to keep you deaf and blind
    They wanna sap your energy, incarcerate your mind
    They give you Rule Brittania, gassy beer, page three
    Two weeks in España and Sunday striptease’

    Mark Knopfler, “Industrial Disease”, 1982

    Plus ça change, plus c’est la meme chose.

    My point is, rgbact (or anyone else), just because the market demands it, is it the right thing to do? The market demanded “Tail Gunner Joe” McCarthy, and only Edward P. Murrow had the guts to stand up to him.

    By following the market, we get “Rule Britannia, gassy beer, page three”. If the market demands half-naked women on TV giving oral sex to men (it does), do we just let the so-called “news” stations provide that, since it’s what the market wants?

  15. rgbact,

    I imagine if the news wasn’t credible, people wouldn’t watch.

    This presumes that people choose their news sources for credibility. Here’s an analogy:
    “I imagine if the food wasn’t healthy, people wouldn’t eat it.” And yet, a majority of Americans load up on unhealthy foods because the healthiness is relatively low on the priority list.

    Being challenged in one’s beliefs is uncomfortable, and reinforced beliefs is emotionally rewarding. Most people avoid the discomfort and embrace the reward. So a news source that reinforces their existing beliefs will win out.

    I recognize that I’m in the minority in that I prefer to have my beliefs challenged. But in order to sway me, you’ve got to hit me with some compelling evidence.

  16. filistro says:

    @rgb… That said, MSNBC’s (oops) evening lineup is FAR more partisan.

    Okay, the “oops” really made me smile.

    But awww… you were doing so GREAT. It was a terrific answer except for that one little sentence. I’ll get to you yet, I swear I will … 🙂

    I think there are times when you DON’T do what the market wants, no matter how much a portion of the market may want it. For instance, I imagine there would be a pretty brisk market for suicide kits. Buy it at the drugstore, take the three little pills in sequence, wash them down with your favorite beverage and… presto! Tidy, easy, painless, instant oblivion. Lots of people would want to buy it. Should it be available?

    And if that seems overly dramatic, it really isn’t. This new proliferation of ultra-partisan, tit-for-tat media is killing the political process. Unless it’s soon stamped out, and an impartial, honest, clear-eyed and trustworthy media is somehow restored, the damage will be (I believe) horrendous.

  17. filistro,

    I think there are times when you DON’T do what the market wants, no matter how much a portion of the market may want it.

    It is that philosophy that has kept me from being a very rich man. I’m not bitter about it; just pointing out that I agree with you.

    But as long as one person with ability to produce disagrees with that sentiment, the product will exist. And that person will become wealthy. It’s one reason I oppose pure laissez-faire economics.

  18. dcpetterson says:

    Here’s a related question:

    With the advent of giganto-corporations operating immense media outlets and representing virtual monopolies, how does a biased media outlet differ from the propaganda-factory state-controlled media of your average dictatorship?

    To slice it to my own partisan bias — note that many conservatives frequently complain about the “liberal media.” Yet those same conservatives will proudly trumpet how much larger the viewership is of FOX than of any other news outlet. I guess which position a conservative takes depends on the point being made; does one currently want to play the victim? or argue that conservative ideas are far more popular among Americans than that librul commie socialite crap? It seems conservatives often try to hold both these notions simultaneously….

    But I digress. The point is, according to conservatives (except when they want to pretend to be victimized), FOX has a virtual monopoly on the “news,” and conservative commentators (Rush, Beck, et al) have the lion’s share of media commentary. Murdoch has a lock (a murlock?) on dead-tree news. Since all these sources draw their milk from the same source, and all are wildly biased in the same direction, and all repeat, ad naseum, the same talking points, how does this differ from a World Government State-run Groupthink Brainwash Mill?

    I’m serious about this. We all (even conservatives) lament the lack of free expression and single-narrative nature of, say, communist media, or Iran’s news outlets, or North Korea’s state-run television. How does the Murdock/Ailes/FOX empire differ? Even North Korea has leaks in its Internet censorship; so does FOX have MSNBC occasionally presenting an alternate viewpoint (and, to hear conservatives crowing about it, to about the same effect and percentage of viewership as Korean Internet pirates).

    How can one abhor state-run media, and yet support biased media megacompanies?

  19. DC,
    I believe the distinction arises based on popular choice. In a country with only state-run television, the only choice is what the state wants you to hear. In the US, people can choose to substitute MSNBC or CNN (or PBS, at least for now) for Fox News.

    What Murdoch learned was how to apply the fast food principles (hit the base instincts) to draw in the people, and then give them whatever he wants them to consume along with it. It works.

    But, in the end, it’s popular choice that’s driving it. At least for now, while there still is choice.

  20. rgbact says:

    You guys are overstating Fox’s propoganda. They’ve had Pelosi, Hoyer, Hillary, Rangel, Sharpton. Anthony Weiner, Barney Frank and others on in recent memory. All treated well. There are many opposing viewpoints.

    The news channel format simply appeals to an older more conservative audience-debating its content is like bitching about too much sex on MTV. Give someone like Arianna Huffington credit for creating a news format that appeals more to younger, hipper liberals. She didn’t complain about FOX, she found out the tastes of liberal newsconsumers and created a product that appealed to them. Same goes for John Stewart.

  21. dcpetterson says:

    Michael Weiss …

    I do understand the “choice” argument, that (supposedly) the consumer of commercial media has a choice to look at FOX or at something else. Set aside the question of whether what masquerades as “news” has any factual content whatever (or at least, whether it has any more than state-run media in your typical banana republic). My question is, at what point does a dominance of the media market translate to offering no more choice than a state-owned monopoly? We know that even in places like Iran and North Korea, there is some penetration of non-state news sources. Which means even there, a limited choice exists. Where does one draw the line?

  22. Gator says:

    DC

    you said: “Where does one draw the line?”

    One doesn’t. The marketplace does. And just because the marketplace is dominated by a preference for, or an abundance of, a particular viewpoint does not equate to the governmental control of news and information. Not being able to get something because what you want is of limited demand and therefore not profitable to produce, is not the same as being denied any opportunity to gain access to the relevant information or news based strictly on government control of the population. The fact that the information you desire isn’t as readily available for purchase and consumption as other news or info does not preclude you from obtaining that info. Your freedoms have not been abridged. Only your convenience has been compromised.

  23. filistro says:

    @rgb… You guys are overstating Fox’s propoganda. They’ve had Pelosi, Hoyer, Hillary, Rangel, Sharpton. Anthony Weiner, Barney Frank and others on in recent memory. All treated well. There are many opposing viewpoints.

    The measure of bias within a news network is not related to whom they choose to “have on.” All talk networks love hosting people of opposing views, because the possibility of conflcit is enticing to the public.

    A more accurate measure of bias is what a network chooses to treat as “news.”

    Here’s a small but telling example: when I’m in Canada, I don’t see FOX News at all… I don’t have a dish and FOX is not carried in this market. When I’m at the place in Vegas I like to watch it a lot, just for purposes of comparison, which probably makes me more attuned to discrepancies in content. This past month I saw at least six different stories on FOX dealing with crimes committed by Mexican illegals. Now… in what way could an individual mid-level felony like a car theft or an assault possibly be considered national news? But these incidents are selected and presented by FOX as news because they appeal to… and reinforce the preconceptions of … a very conservative, anti-immigrant viewership.

    THAT is media bias. Slowly but surely, it is corrupting the whole business of gathering, packaging and presenting news… and doing it so subtly that many viewers honestly have no idea they are consuming extremely biased reporting.

  24. Gator,

    One doesn’t. The marketplace does.

    In an ideal world, yes. But what happens when the market isn’t free? All television markets are inherently limited-access. If a small number of companies own the entire access market, then they can control the content without regard for tightly matching demand.

    I believe that’s what DC is asking about. When does that menu of companies become sufficiently small as to mimic a government-run media market?

  25. fili,
    I can’t add anything but this: I agree wholeheartedly. It’s something I watch for, because it fascinates me. It’s so clear, yet so subtle. It’s one reason I read stuff like the Washington Examiner. The story choice says so much about who they are.

  26. Gator says:

    Ergo the existence of the FTC, the SEC, the FCC and an alphabet soup ad nauseum of regulators to determine precisely that. However, the entire argument is specious. In this country if you cannot access the info/news that you desire, either it is so fringe as to be illegal(and even that is available online), or you are a moron. With the internet, cable television, satellite television, newspapers and so on, there is never going to be a single source of information. And the backdoor access that DC says others have in even extraordinarily repressive countries puts the lie to the premise that it is somehow a problem here. The whole supposition is silly. If Iranians and Chinese can gain internet access and twitter accounts, I hardly think we have a problem here. I mean until 1973-74 we only had 3 broadcast tv nets. We now have hundreds between the airwaves and cable. Most towns had one newspaper… I currently read four or five every day online. And you think limited access and control is an issue? Nonsense.

  27. rgbact says:

    Filistro-

    You’re now aware of how conservatives felt like for years. Yesterday I log onto Yahoo to find 2 separate human interest stories on gays on the front page–a week after the president announces a move toward the gay agenda. Gee, whatta coincidence. Now Fox would never run a positve story on gays as news. We all like news thats catered to our general interests. There’s no “right” stories to cover. Let the market decide what interests are more popular.

  28. filistro says:

    So based on our (very small) universe of responders here on this thread, it would appear that progressive types want an impartial, non-partisan wholly objective press, while conservatives are quite content with overt media bias and “letting the market decide.”

    I wonder why that is.

    (Note… that’s not snark, I’m truly curious. And I don’t know the answer.)

  29. mclever says:

    @Gator

    One doesn’t. The marketplace does. And just because the marketplace is dominated by a preference for, or an abundance of, a particular viewpoint does not equate to the governmental control of news and information.

    I think DC’s is concerned at what point does a private media monopoly mimic a government monopoly of the media.

    Furthermore, I would suggest that if the same business that owns the media monopoly is also able to control who gets elected via unlimited campaign contributions and favorable coverage, then it is a de facto government monopoly, even if it isn’t technically state-run.

  30. mclever says:

    @filistro

    Perhaps it gets at the definition of “liberal” which implies openmindedness and “conservative” which implies a desire to keep their current views. Many (but by no means all) liberals tend to look to have their views challenged. That trait is rarer among conservatives. Of course, my suggestion may be colored by the fact that I’ve been reading a lot of late 1800’s literature lately, where the term “liberal” generally meant moderate, and “radical” was used to refer to the opposite extreme from conservative.

  31. Gator says:

    Mc & Fili

    I’m not so much conservative as I am libertarian. I don’t think you “do” something unless there is a serious demonstrable problem. There is not. You say that:

    “if the same business that owns the media monopoly is also able to control who gets elected via unlimited campaign contributions and favorable coverage”

    When has that happened? I don’t recall elected officials being decided by Ailes, or Immelt or any media titan. Can you give me an example of that occurring? Please point out examples of media titans determining election outcomes.

    There is no control of information in this country except for the halls of government. Corporations are required to file numerous disclosures. Data and information on virtually anyone or anything is available to anyone via the internet. The only extraordinarily secretive body is the Federal government.

    As far as

    “an impartial, non-partisan wholly objective press”

    What? Fili you can’t be serious. There is NO SUCH THING…EVER.

  32. filistro says:

    @Gator… “an impartial, non-partisan wholly objective press”… There is NO SUCH THING…EVER.

    Maybe not. But I am increasingly nostalgic for the days when all the major media outlets at least TRIED.. and tried really hard… to achieve that standard.

    As far as bias being just fine, and media being slanted toward the “market”… let’s cast the issue in the light of what brought us all together in the first place, way back when, which was a shared interest in the science of political polling.

    Do you think it’s acceptable for polls to be overtly skewed to produce the results that people want, and for pollsters to do this if that’s what the market rewards?

    And if it’s not okay for pollsters to profit by having an inherent bias, why is it okay for mainstream media outlets?

  33. shortchain says:

    Just a couple of things:

    “There is no control of information in this country except for the halls of government.”

    Oddly, a heck of a lot of people self-select their information source — and the availability of bad information crowds out good information. It’s not necessary to prevent the truth from being said — it’s sufficient to provide falsehoods in sufficient quantity to distract from having the truth stand out.

    “Corporations are required to file numerous disclosures.”

    Which conveniently ignores the privately-held companies like Koch, The Carlyle Group, Bechtel, Cargill. And of course, those numerous disclosures don’t necessarily stop the corporate executives and board from hiding their operations from the stockholders, let alone the public.

    “Data and information on virtually anyone or anything is available to anyone via the internet.”

    So, since there can be no secrets, we all know what happens at the Koch meetings (like the one Clarence Thomas and Thomas Scalia “just dropped in on” — for four days a while back, and of course there are no secrets about what goes on in The Bohemian Grove.

    One of the best ways to hide information is by drowning it in noise. If you have a noise generator under your control, this isn’t hard.

  34. mclever says:

    @Gator

    I wasn’t suggesting that such a monopoly currently existed. I was posing a hypothetical “what if” as an extension of DC’s point about a private monopoly on information mimicking a state-run monopoly on information, even if it the media isn’t technically owned by the state.

    We aren’t currently (yet) at the point where any single news entity has a monopoly on information, but I do think we should be concerned about such monopolies forming.

  35. mclever says:

    @shortchain

    One of the best ways to hide information is by drowning it in noise.

    Indeed.

  36. mclever says:

    @filistro

    It’s a strange emotion for a progressive, but I also look back fondly at those days when news outlets at least gave the appearance of trying to be impartial, and from what I can tell did a better job of actually analyzing the news rather than just spitting infobytes at us.

  37. Mr. Universe says:

    Jon Stewart really took CNN apart last night. Poor Suzanne Malveaux. I’ve always found her attractive and trying to be a serious journalist but Stewart showed what a tool she is last night. CNN has become pretty pathetic. I suppose that’s why they’re hemorrhaging journalists.

    I’d have to go with filistro’s friend because I can’t explain Republicans. Sure, their belief in unregulated capitalism at all costs explains a lot of it. They’re like scuttling the ship because they can turn a profit on selling the brass hand rails. The one who dies with the most toys wins; I get it. But the whole social issue aspect is truly puzzling. I simply cannot explain why they keep jerking harder to the right.

    There’s a market for methamphetamine, too. Doesn’t mean we need to ‘let the market decide’ on it.

    Personally, I view Murdoch and Aisles as no different that Gadhafi. Tin pot dictators who will unfortunately die wealthy never having seen the error of their ways.

  38. Gator says:

    Do you not see that the very thing you lament was the thing that allowed unseen corruption? Do you not know of the ‘unstated agreements’ between politicians and the media? Between celebrities and the media? The days you miss were the days when you had to, as a news org, conform or be locked out. Politician’s pecadilloes were ignored and hidden. Jack Kennedy was a known womanizer. BTW I’m not picking on Kennedy, it’s just he is a known example. There are many, many more. The press corps knew that. Didn’t make the 6 o’clock news though, did it? Celebrities transgressions were swept under the studio rugs. As a news organization, you tried to be as bland and inoffensive as possible. Please take off the rose colored shades. Today the diversity insures that someone will be digging and looking at you and shining a light on nefarious doings.

  39. Mr. Universe says:

    We aren’t currently (yet) at the point where any single news entity has a monopoly on information, but I do think we should be concerned about such monopolies forming.

    I wish that were true, but there’s FOX and Not FOX. That’s currently a 35/65 split. Close enough to a monopoly of mendacity for me.

  40. filistro says:

    @Mr U… They’re like scuttling the ship because they can turn a profit on selling the brass hand rails.

    Now, THAT’S the most vivid, penetrating and accurate line I’ve read in a long time.

    That’s exactly what they’re doing. It mystifies me, too. What point is there in making a huge pile of money if you wind up all alone in a blighted wasteland… or marooned in some gated enclave that you venture out of at your peril because you’ve destroyed civil society?

  41. Gator says:

    Really the only thing that I should have pointed out to put an end to this is the following:

    If Ailes or Immelt, as two examples with tremendous media influence, are the subject of so much media attention and derision, if they are the subjects of as much examination and investigation as they are, then who is it you fear? If the media titans are targets of the media then who poses a threat? And if there is no true threat and all of this is nothing more than liberal hand-wringing and sour grapes, then what is there to discuss?

    Ya’ll have a great evening.

  42. Gator says:

    Fili said: “a blighted wasteland… or marooned in some gated enclave that you venture out of at your peril because you’ve destroyed civil society?”

    I just got back from the grocery store and I didn’t see any of this. I live in a really pretty area with a lot of nice people. Where do you live Fili? Oh right, Vegas. Now I understand the blighted wasteland remark! LMAO!

  43. rgbact says:

    Filistro-

    What scares us is you libs always think your way is “non-biased”. At least Fox viewers know there news is biased. They’re not forcing you to watch it. The lib way is always to force people to do what they want. Heck, sounds alot like Obamacare. Freedom of choice isn’t big in liberalism…unless its for abortions. Everything else–people need govt’s help to make the “right” choices.

    Who is this “impartial” news source, NPR? Dan Rather? Let me know so I can start watching. Progressives are all for progress….unless the progress isn’t in their favor it seems. Then they long for the “good ‘ol days”

  44. filistro says:

    Gator… you’re right. Vegas (and most of Nevada) is actually becoming a handy object lesson in what happens when your politics favor wealth redistibution.

    The whole goal of Republicans is to see wealth redistributed away from the middle class and consolidated in the hands of the wealthy, effectively creating a small moneyed class and a large and increasingly deperate underclass that can be exploited for gain (as long as it can be controlled… cf Mubarak and Ghadaffi..) In Vegas the results of this wealth-redistribution strategy are becoming depressingly clear. “Blight, wasteland and destruction of civil society” may sound hyperbolic… but not as much as they would have just a decade ago.

    You ask what I’m afraid of. My answer… I’m honestly afraid of a future where economic inequity and imbalances of power make ordinary people behave in desperate ways. Unless Republicans dial back the greed, I fear that day may be closer than we think.

  45. shortchain says:

    Excuse me, but how is it the case that “the media titans are targets of the media then who poses a threat?”

    I have seen no coverage of the hypothetical indictment of Roger Ailes on “the media”. It appears to be restricted to the internet.

    I’m willing to be a large amount that it will not be reported on FOX except as a denial.

  46. Mr. Universe says:

    Who is this “impartial” news source,

    Why do you suppose Republicans want to defund public broadcasting? It couldn’t have anything to do with controlling the message, could it?

  47. Gator,

    I just got back from the grocery store and I didn’t see any of this.

    Look to Brazil for an example of what happens when the chasm between rich and poor becomes huge. Gated enclaves, and bulletproof SUVs for venturing out into the blighted wasteland.

    That it hasn’t happened yet in the US doesn’t mean it can’t happen, nor does it mean that we aren’t on the path to that result.

  48. Gator says:

    from the NYT
    Fox News Chief, Roger Ailes, Urged Employee to Lie, Records ShowBy RUSS BUETTNER
    Published: February 24, 2011
    *****************************************************************************

    Why Does Roger Ailes Hate America?
    An exclusive and unbiased investigation into the highly paid operative of a foreign-born tycoon, a man who reengineered political and media culture and fomented a revolt that threatens the very stability of our country

    By Tom Junod

    Read more: http://www. esquire.com/ features/roger-ailes-0211#ixzz1FOgts6hR
    ********************************************************************************
    Did Fox News Roger Ailes Commit Crime By Covering Up for Giuliani?
    Video by Michael Flood McNulty
    (4 Seconds Ago) in Politics
    http://www. opposingviews. com/i/ did-fox-news-roger-ailes-commit-crime-by-covering-up-for-giuliani

    *******************************************************************************

    FOX NEWS BOSS ROGER AILES TO BE INDICTED???
    Henry Blodget | Feb. 27, 2011, 9:25 AM

    Read more: http://www.businessinsider. com/ fox-news-boss-roger-ailes-to-be-indicted-2011-2#ixzz1FOhnwB4s

    *******************************************************************************

    Will Roger Ailes be indicted? – The Week

    ******************************************************************************

    Funny, these are all from the last week. And here is the REAL problem that I believe that liberals have with Fox News and with Ailes…

    FOX NEWS Makes More Money Than CNN, MSNBC, And NBC-ABC-And-CBS News Combined
    Henry Blodget | Jan. 9, 2010, 7:54 PM

    Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/henry-blodget-fox-newss-700-million-man-2010-1#ixzz1FOkuNWdH

  49. Gator says:

    MW

    OMG, look to mainland China for what CAN HAPPEN when communism takes over!

    OMG, look to the skies for the mteor that MAY SOMEDAY strike earth and kill us all!

    OMG, look to the indigent natives of South America to see what USED TO HAPPEN when cannibalism ran rampant!

    All of those are as relevant as Brazil. Because I don’t live in Brazil.
    Why not throw Chavez and Venezuela in as a cautionary tale of socialist policies run amok?

    Can we talk about what is and not what horrors lie in the fevered brains of liberals who are unhappy that the ” 50 year downfall” or the “decades long loss of power” that happened to conservatives/Republicans in 2008 is over in 2011. This gloom and doom BS and “the end of civil society” is such a steaming load. I was around during the Vietnam war riots. The race riots of the early ’60s. And somehow America survived. Todays dystopian silliness is peanuts in comparison.
    Get a friggin’ grip, people.

  50. Number Seven says:

    When has that happened? I don’t recall elected officials being decided by Ailes, or Immelt or any media titan. Can you give me an example of that occurring? Please point out examples of media titans determining election outcomes.

    You’re joking, right? Wow, how quickly 10 years slips on by…

    I guess you forget when a first cousin of Bush, working at FOX Boobs called the 2000 presidential election before any other channel, then recanted after the damage had already been done in the form of all the other channels scrambling so as to not be out scooped.

  51. Gator,

    Why not throw Chavez and Venezuela in as a cautionary tale of socialist policies run amok?

    If we had been moving for the past three decades in the direction of socialism, that might be a valuable cautionary tale to bring up. But we haven’t. We have been growing an ever larger chasm between rich and poor, however.

  52. Gator says:

    Number 7

    Bwaaaahaaaaahaaaaa!! Oh wait, your not joking. You’re serious. You actually believe that?

    Might want to rethink that decision to go off the meds.

  53. Gator says:

    Hey Michael, how do our middle class and poor compare to the rest of the world in terms of real earnings, quality of life, availability of resources such as food and transportation? I mean where does the standard of living fall on the world scale? This idea that the American middle class has lost ground is just wrong. So what you are REALLY talking about is class jealousy.

    Here is a look at the current standard of living here now compared to the ’50s:

    Inequality, Living Standards, and the Middle Class, Part 2
    January 12, 2010

    Scott Winship view bio

    ——————————————————————————–
    Scott Winship is research manager of the Pew Economic Mobility Project and a recent graduate of Harvard’s doctoral program in social policy. The views he expresses do not represent those of Pew.

    by Scott Winship
    My friend Steve Rose really deserves the most credit for trying to draw attention to the reality of middle-class living standards being better than the left believes. In a much-circulated report for PPI and in his analyses for Third Way, Steve showed that, for instance, when measured correctly, the typical working-age American’s income is much higher than official statistics imply.

    Many progressives thought that Steve was somehow pulling a fast one, a view with which I strongly disagree, but let me make similar points in a more transparent way here. First, consider what many progressives consider “the good old days”—the height of the pre-1970s economic boom. In 1973, the median inflation-adjusted income was higher than it had ever been and higher than it would be again until 1978—$45,533 (in 2008 dollars). Call this the gold standard before, in the conventional progressive telling, things started going south.

    How much did things go south? Well, in 2008 the median was $50,303. That’s right—about $5,000 higher (after adjusting for changes in the cost of living). This improvement understates things because households also became smaller over time, and because the inflation-adjustment here probably overstates inflation. For instance, if one uses the Bureau of Economic Analysis’s Personal Consumption Expenditures deflator, the increase from 1973 to 2008 was about $7,700, or 18 percent. Not only does that still not adjust for declining household size, it also doesn’t include changes in taxes, non-cash benefits, the value of health insurance, and capital gains. Incorporating these adjustments shows an increase in living standards that is more like 40 percent.

    Rather than household income, others on the left point to stagnation in men’s wages (women’s wages have increased dramatically by any measure). For example, the Economic Policy Institute estimates that the median male worker’s hourly wage was $16.88 in 1973 and $16.85 in 2007. However, EPI’s figures show that when fringe benefits are taken into account, the median male worker’s hourly compensation increased by somewhere between 5 and 10 percent over this period. And these estimates don’t use the PCE deflator. Nor do they account for changes in taxation and public benefits—the very means we use to mitigate low income.

    To review, “stagnation” of household income or male wages means that after adjusting them for the rising cost of living, they are as high as they were in the glory days of the 1960s and early 1970s–they have actually increased. When analysts on the left concede these increases, they then move the goal posts and argue that wages have not grown as much as they should have. Typically, they contrast modest wage growth with more rapid productivity growth. But too often these analyses are done on an apples-to-oranges basis. Critics left, right, and center have all pointed out flaws with the kind of comparisons that EPI and others make. Careful analyses reduce the gap between productivity growth and wage and income growth, though they don’t necessarily eliminate it. At any rate, economic theory says that compensation will increase with productivity all else being equal, and all else has not remained static.

    http://www.progressivefix.com/inequality-living-standards-and-the-middle-class-part-2

    **********************************************************************************

    Our high, high standard of living
    by Philip Brewer on 9 September 2007

    According to John E Schwarz in Illusions of Opportunity:

    In the early 1950s, fully two fifths of American households had no automobile, about a third did not have a private telephone or a television, and the homes of about a third of all Americans were dilapidated or were without running water or a private toilet and bath. Only a small minority of families enjoyed such basics as a mixer or had a hot-water heater.

    Those dilapidated shacks without hot water improved over the years, but as late as 1970 the median single-family home was still less than 1400 square feet (versus over 2200 now).

    The key fact about the period from 1950-1980 was not the high standard of living, but that it was a rising standard of living, which made the period one of considerable optimism. I’m not advocating that anyone live at a 1950s (or even 1960s) standard of living, but I’d be pleased if people would quit romanticizing those days as a golden age of prosperity.

    ***********************************************************************************

    SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2005
    ‘The middle class has a higher standard of living than ever before. Who should pay for it?’
    Jonathan Gruber

    One of the longest-standing and most contentious debates in Washington, D.C., has been over reform of the rules that govern individual bankruptcy. Supporters of bankruptcy reform have spent the past decade pushing legislation to crack down on what they view as abuses of the system. And throughout this period Elizabeth Warren has been the most forceful voice against restricting access to bankruptcy for individuals. Through her strong advocacy of the view that bankruptcy is not a choice, but rather an outcome of bad luck, she has provided intellectual leadership to a movement that held fundamental bankruptcy reform at bay. This battle was won by advocates of tighter bankruptcy rules, however, with the passage last April of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005.

    http://bostonreview.net/BR30.5/gruber.php

    ************************************************************************************

    I could keep going for days. So Michael, your thoughts?

  54. Gator says:

    Some info on where we rank compared to the rest of the world. So by comparison to 3-4-5 decades ago we are better off. Compared to the rest of the wrold we rank highly in quality of life. So by any measure the middle class is better off than it was in the past and compares very favorably with the rest of the world currently, and yet we are teetering on the brink of collapse? Please.

    On comprehensive measures such as the UN Human Development Index the United States is always in the top twenty, currently ranking 4th. On the Human Poverty Index the United States ranked 17th, one rank below the United Kingdom and one rank above Ireland.[2] On the Economist’s quality-of-life index the United States ranked 13th, in between Finland and Canada, scoring 7.6 out of a possible 10. The highest given score of 8.3 was applied to Ireland. This particular index takes into account a variety of socio-economic variables including GDP per capita, life expectancy, political stability, family life, community life, gender equality, and job security.[3]

    The homeownership rate is relatively high compared to other post-industrial nations. In 2005, 69% of Americans resided in their own homes, roughly the same percentage as in the United Kingdom, Belgium, Israel and Canada.[4][5][6] Residents of the United States also enjoy a high access to consumer goods. Americans enjoy more cars and radios per capita than any other nation [7] and more televisions and personal computers per capita than any other large nation.[8][9]

  55. Gator,

    So Michael, your thoughts?

    This highlights one of the dangers of statistical analysis. You need to be careful about the question you’re asking. The median isn’t what we should be examining. Rather, we should be examining the shape of the income distribution histogram curve. Specifically, for each dollar earned, what income group does it go to? That is, are we looking at something bell-shaped, flat, bowl-shaped? And how has that shape changed over time? That’s the scenario I am describing.

    I’ll go try to track it down, but you should do the same. Unless you want to simply trust what I find…

  56. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    In 1970, the vast majority of families were single income with a stay-at-home mom. Non-mortgage debt was virtually nil except for the car. Few, if any mortgages were underwater.

    Today the majority of families are two-income. Non-mortgage debt is in the tens of thousands of dollars, and in excess of 25% of all mortgages are underwater.

    Do you really want to compare middle-class standards with 40 years ago?

  57. Gator,

    and yet we are teetering on the brink of collapse?

    Why the drama? If things are moving in a particular direction, and forces continue to accelerate the movement, it’s worth discussing what the endgame looks like. I don’t recall anyone saying that we were on the brink of collapse from it.

  58. Gator says:

    MW

    That has absolutely NOTHING to do with the state of the poor and middle class in America. The TRUTH is that the poor and middle class are demonstrably better off than they were 40 years ago. The average American family has demonstrably more living area, demonstrably more creature comforts. These are facts.

    What bothers people is that the gains haven’t been commensurate. The rich have advanced by magnitudes of degree in comparison. So what? That still means that the complaint is with how much the other guy has, not truly with what you don’t have. And that is jealousy.

    You can show whatever graphic illustration you want. At heart the argument isn’t :”We don’t have enough. We NEED more.” The argument is: “We have enough but we see that they have even more. We WANT some of theirs.”
    If you have bread and cabbage and game meat and your neighbor has cake and fruits and filet mignon, you may wish to share in his. You may want to possess what he has. You do not, however, have a right to his, nor a need for it. You simply WANT it.

  59. Gator says:

    Max said:”Do you really want to compare middle-class standards with 40 years ago?”

    Uh yeah. I’m pretty sure that was what I just did. with citations. I’ve got plenty more.
    But why don’t you guys put up one first, seeing as how everything I’ve said had supporting docs and citations and everything you guys have said is, what is the word I’m looking for? Oh yeah, your personal opinion.

  60. Gator,

    That has absolutely NOTHING to do with the state of the poor and middle class in America.

    Of course it does. Let me illustrate with an example (totally made up numbers):

    If in 1973 the middle class represented 30% of the population, with the poor representing 10%, while today the middle class represents 10% of the population and the poor 30%, it doesn’t matter that the middle class makes the same number of real dollars today as the middle class did in 1973. There are fewer of them.

    That’s why the histogram matters. And it describes what that growing or shrinking chasm would look like.

    Now you can argue about the causes of such a shift, but that’s a different topic entirely.

  61. OK, Gator, here’s one for you:
    (It’s only up to 2003, but I’m kind of on the spot here)
    http://www.russellsage.org/research/social-inequality/chartbook/basic-trends/median-income-by-quintile

    From 1970 to 2003, the bottom quintile’s income decreased. The only time it increased over that time was during the boom of the 90s.
    Everyone’s decreased from 1970 to 1980. All but the top quintile decreased after 2000.
    To my earlier point, the curve shape has been changing. Do you deny it’s happening?

  62. Mr. Universe says:

    Ooohh, gator bait. I could use some new alligator boots.

  63. Monotreme says:

    Gator,

    I honestly don’t think you’ve provided citations.

    Here are a couple, to US Census data so it’s probably reliable.

    http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/data/historical/household/H03AR_2009.xls

    Now, this probably shows something different to different people. I’ll give you my interpretation.

    Particularly for the bottom quintile of households, household income (which may or may not reflect two people working) has remained pretty much stagnant, in constant dollars. I’m trying not to cherry-pick datapoints, but your post specified “40 years ago” which is 1969 for the 2009 data. In 1969, household income for the bottom quintile was about $10K (in 2009 dollars). Now, with the recent recession, it’s about $11.5K. That’s hardly a significant advance in standard of living.

    In the middle quintile, income has gone from $43K to $49.5K. Not exactly the rosy picture that you’ve painted for us.

    In the top 5 percent of earners, income (in 2009 dollars) has gone from $163K in 1969 to $295K in 2009. Hmm. That’s almost double.

    Or, we could look at the Gini coefficient, as MW has alluded to, which measures income disparity.

    http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/data/historical/household/H04_2009.xls

    Here, the Gini coefficient has shown a steady upward progress, indicating increasing income disparity.

    Your turn. I’m looking forward to seeing your data on (for example) square footage for homes.

  64. Monotreme says:

    MW and I were fishing for the same data at the same time.

  65. Monotreme says:

    Gator,

    You said: Please point out examples of media titans determining election outcomes.

    You mean other than the 1968 Presidential election, as in the root article above? Did you read it?

  66. filistro says:

    Gator, I’m not an economist and I’m happy to leave this argument to Michael who is… though I’ve seen a lot of charts like the one he just posted, which show about a 10% decrease in middle and lower class wealth (while not exactly specifying how many people still remain in the former group) and a HUGE increase in upper-class wealth.

    But I think we would all stipulate the latter. You even said it yourself just upthread.. “The rich have advanced by magnitudes of degree in comparison.”

    So what I wonder, from an entirely non-economist, layperson POV, is this… <where exactly did the rich get all that "degrees of magnitude" new money?

    Did it arrive by spaceship from another planet? Did we import it from China? Where did they get it… <if not through a process of redistribution from the lower classes in their own country?

  67. Gator says:

    Doesn’t look like your ‘higher number living in poverty’ is going to pan out, Michael. Nice attempted deflection though.

    ******************************************************************************

    The reason why relative poverty measurement causes high poverty levels in the US, as demonstrated by Förster,[22] is caused by distributional effects rather than real differences in wellbeing among EU-countries and the USA.

    The median household income is much higher in the US than in Europe due to the wealth of the middle classes in the US, from which the poverty line is derived. Although the paradigm of relative poverty is most valuable, this comparison of poverty lines show that the higher prevalence of relative poverty levels in the US are not an indicator of a more severe poverty problem but an indicator of larger inequalities between rich middle classes and the low-income households. It is therefore not correct to state that the US income distribution is characterised by a large proportion of households in poverty; it is characterized by relatively large income inequality but also high levels of prosperity of the middle classes. The 2007 poverty threshold for a three member family is 17,070.

    Overstating poverty
    Homeless AmericanThe federal poverty line also excludes income other than cash income, especially welfare benefits. Thus, if food stamps and public housing were successfully raising the standard of living for poverty stricken individuals, then the poverty line figures would not shift since they do not consider the income equivalents of such entitlements.[51]

    A 1993 study of low income single mothers titled Making Ends Meet, by Kathryn Edin, a sociologist at the University of Pennsylvania, showed that the mothers spent more than their reported incomes because they could not “make ends meet” without such expenditures. According to Edin, they made up the difference through contributions from family members, absent boyfriends, off-the-book jobs, and church charity.

    According to Edin: “No one avoided the unnecessary expenditures, such as the occasional trip to the Dairy Queen, or a pair of stylish new sneakers for the son who might otherwise sell drugs to get them, or the Cable TV subscription for the kids home alone and you are afraid they will be out on the street if they are not watching TV.”[52]

    Moreover, Swedish right-wing think tank Timbro points out that lower-income households in the U.S. tend to own more appliances and larger houses than many middle-income Western Europeans.[53]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poverty_in_the_United_States

    ******************************************************************************

    US Poverty Rate By Year Sample

    1975 12.3%
    1985 14%
    1995 13.8 %
    2005 12.6%

    http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0104525.html

  68. Gator says:

    Do you people even look at what you post? So the bottom two quintiles are essentially unchanged from 1970 in real dollars, and the top three are all substantially HIGHER than they were in 1970. That makes my point precisely. The rlative buying power for the bottom 2/5s is THE SAME AS IT WAS. So the poor HAVE NOT gotten poorer. And there are less (or were before Obama) living below the poverty line. So it isn’t “we’ve got less than we had and that isn’t fair” it’s “they’ve got MORE an we want some of it”. Exactly what I said.

  69. Gator says:

    Treme said:

    “You mean other than the 1968 Presidential election, as in the root article above? Did you read it?”

    “The race was thrown into turmoil by a series of events: a late decision (announced in March 1968) by incumbent President Lyndon B. Johnson not to run again; a country deeply divided by the Vietnam War and civil rights struggles; and the assassination of Robert Kennedy, the heir apparent to his brother’s legacy. ”

    Was it this or was it Ailes?
    OK Treme, so which was it? Can’t have it both ways.

  70. Gator says:

    Fili said: “Did it arrive by spaceship from another planet? Did we import it from China? Where did they get it… <if not through a process of redistribution from the lower classes in their own country?"

    Fili do you believe that there is a finite amount of wealth and value and that the only way to gather that wealth is to take it from someone else? Because that is completely incorrect. Wealth can be and is CREATED. NEW WEALTH is formed. If I control that process and reap that growth in wealth, I can achieve a growth in my wealth without "taking" anything from anyone.

  71. filistro says:

    @Gator…. If I control that process and reap that growth in wealth, I can achieve a growth in my wealth without “taking” anything from anyone.

    So why do you think the wealthy have increased their holdings so greatly while the other strata have stayed constant at best, and all are functioning within the same economic conditions? What explains this, in your mind?

  72. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Gator,

    Your citations do not disprove my “opinion” concerning the factual situation of middle class families. Your use of “household income” glosses over the fact that it takes two incomes and a mountain of debt to uphold your percieved standard of living. Given that to be the case, what do you project the standard of living for the middle class to be 10 or 20 years from now?

    There is no ability to add a third wage earner. There is no relief in the high debt loads short of DECREASING the living standards intil debt is paid down. There is no relief in the underwater nature of mortgages for the next 10 years or more. There is no relief for the recovery of 401’s and other retirement savings for the foreseeable future.

    You have set up a premise this, in fact, a mansion built on a foundation of sand.

    Please provide citations that counter these “opinions” if you can.

    Thanks

    Night all.

  73. Gator says:

    Since either 1970 or 1980 the top three quintiles have all increased substantially. There has been a slight downturn much like from 1970 through 1980 during the last several years. Nonetheless, no one is worse off in real dollars and 3/5s are BETTER off than in ’70 or ’80 or ’90. None of you will address the truth and that is that the poor are NO WORSE OFF, NOR A HIGHER % OF POPULATION THAN IN ’70, ’80, or ’90.

    You also all completely ignored the data showing that entitlement money and off the books money did not count in the income #s but is a measureable difference in ‘real’ income.

    “showed that the mothers spent more than their reported incomes because they could not “make ends meet” without such expenditures. According to Edin, they made up the difference through contributions from family members, absent boyfriends, off-the-book jobs, and church charity.”

    “The federal poverty line also excludes income other than cash income, especially welfare benefits. Thus, if food stamps and public housing were successfully raising the standard of living for poverty stricken individuals, then the poverty line figures would not shift since they do not consider the income equivalents of such entitlements.”

  74. Monotreme says:

    Gator,

    I see no need to abstract McGinniss’ conclusions regarding the 1968 Presidential elections. Since you clearly have access to Wikipedia, why don’t you go over there and read about the book?

  75. Gator says:

    Max

    Nope. I’ve proven my point. You have stated your opinion. If that is all you have this is a pointless exercise.

  76. Monotreme says:

    Gator,

    Substantially? An increase from $43K to $49.5K in 40 years of supposed economic growth and unbridled prosperity is substantial? Really?

    Are you sure you’re reading the column headings correctly? There are six columns: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th quintile, and then top 5% separately in the far-right column.

  77. Gator says:

    Treme

    So you tell me to look at the article and when I do I see a diametrically opposed reason than the one that you posited. Then you seem to be saying that I should have somehow gleaned what was meant by the article by assuming the message in McGinnis’ book was the intended message of the article (because remember, that ISN’T what the article actually said). Then when I point out this disparity your answer is for me to go read a tome written by a fool.

    No thanks. I will say again… You have all been arguing with Bart for too long. You’ve lost your collective touch!

  78. Monotreme says:

    Gator,

    The article is about Roger Ailes. The book is about how Roger Ailes got Richard Nixon elected President.

  79. Gator says:

    Treme

    Nowhere in the article do you elucidate on the thrust of the book. You mention it (the book) briefly at the very end. And in the article you talk of the destabilizing factors on the Dem side of the election.

    I don’t read things written by those I consider incompetent and/or corrupt so I have not, nor will I ever, read anything by Mr. McG. Ergo I would have no way of knowing what the gist of the book was.

  80. Monotreme says:

    Gator says:

    I don’t read things written by those I consider incompetent and/or corrupt so I have not, nor will I ever, read anything by Mr. McG. Ergo I would have no way of knowing what the gist of the book was.

    Do provide us with a list, so we can avoid referencing New York Times Best Sellers about political topics in the future on this blog, which is about politics.

  81. Gator says:

    Ooohh, touchy. Treme, writers should never assume that a reader will know something that is intrinsic to the story. You have to elucidate. You might have said something like: “Joe McG wrote a book that exposed the machinations that Ailes used in engineering the ’68 election of RMN” but rather than do that you chose to throw in a little Palin jibe
    And no need to be snarky. I would imagine that I have read some authors and books on a variety of subjects that you would not be familiar with. You aren’t usually so touchy. If I embarassed you somehow, I apologize. Or maybe you guys aren’t used to being shown to be wrong and it bothers you. For that I won’t apologize.

  82. Mr. Universe says:

    I have not, nor will I ever, read anything by Mr. McG. Ergo I would have no way of knowing what the gist of the book was.

    That sort of discredits you from any opinion on the topic, doesn’t it?

  83. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    I have not, nor will I ever, read anything by Mr. McG. Ergo I would have no way of knowing what the gist of the book was.

    Max

    Nope. I’ve proven my point. You have stated your opinion.

    You are, only a shadowboxer, with opinions as these, Gator. Not a worthy or serious opponent.

    EG: What is non-factual and only opinion about ANY of these observations of FACT:

    There is no ability to add a third wage earner. There is no relief in the high debt loads short of DECREASING the living standards intil debt is paid down. There is no relief in the underwater nature of mortgages for the next 10 years or more. There is no relief for the recovery of 401′s and other retirement savings for the foreseeable future.

    As you cannot refute fact with anything other than “I won!”, thus my above observation of you.

    Sorry.

  84. dcpetterson says:

    Gator
    Nowhere in the article do you elucidate on the thrust of the book. You mention it (the book) briefly at the very end.

    Translation: Gator is unable to take statements in context. He cannot follow a train of thought from one sentence to the next without a pull-string on the front of the train. Or at least, he is fond of pretending he cannot, when it suits his purpose. He sees what he wishes to see. Arguing with him is like arguing with one of those blow-up punching bags that wobbles and comes back up. You can’t make any real impression, because he doesn’t take the discussion seriously. When you do score points, his response is along the lines of “I won’t read that, so I win!”

    Gators are foul tempered reptiles it’s best to just keep away from. Unlike prairie dogs and and echidnas.

  85. Gator says:

    Gee, thanks for all the personal attacks. What a bunch of crybabies. Get yourselves slapped down a little and you turn nasty.

    You might want to lay off MR in the future. Seems he isn’t the only one who gets a wee bit tantrum-y on occasion.

    Should any of you choose to address the data that I posted with something other than attacks on me, I’ll respond. And Max if you don’t find me worthy of a response, don’t respond. Pretty simple.

  86. filistro says:

    Gator, you still haven’t answered my question which I posed (really nicely, BTW :-)) at 19:32.

    I’m interested in hearing why you think it would be that the wealthy have (in your own words) increased their holdings by “degrees of magnitude” in recent decades while the economic conditions of the other quintiles have either deteriorated or remained stagnant?

    Thanks.

  87. Gator,

    None of you will address the truth and that is that the poor are NO WORSE OFF, NOR A HIGHER % OF POPULATION THAN IN ’70, ’80, or ’90.

    Perhaps we need a common definition for “the poor” before either you can support that statement or I can refute it.

    In any case, I’m talking Gini, you’re talking median. It’s an apples-and-oranges argument.

  88. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Gater,

    Because an uncontested assertion may stand as fact. When you make false or misleading assertions (as this series by you are) I may challenge them. It’s up to you if you wish to respond with like kind rebuttals that might prove MY challenges incorrect, once you have been called out.

    Simply yelling “I won” is not a rebuttal and now MY uncontested assertions stand as fact in counter to yours.

    Sorry. Debate 101.

  89. Gator says:

    Fili

    I don’t think the why is the issue, but to answer your question… the total of all wealth has increased substantially in the last 40 years. The logical effect of that would be that the vast majority of that wealth creation would have accrued to those who own the production framework – i.e. factory owners, large shareholders in corporations, etc. Fair? Who is to say. But that is the way that the free market system functions.

    MW

    Virtually all industrialized countries have seen an uptick in the gini calculation. China has seen a huge uptick. So has Great Britian. You know who hasn’t? France. Is that who you wish to emulate? France? Really?
    As far as the gini calc itself, the inputs that determine the Lorenz curve are, IMO, in need of serious revision where it relates to income distribution. And you are correct. We, or rather I, was discussing the median incomes as per the governments numbers not the Gini ratio.

  90. filistro says:

    @Gator.. The logical effect of that would be that the vast majority of that wealth creation would have accrued to those who own the production framework – i.e. factory owners, large shareholders in corporations, etc. Fair? Who is to say.

    Conversations like this always make me uncomfortable, because I truly believe in capitalism and free markets. The history of modern government has shown over and over that communism doesn’t work because the primary human motivation is to look after “me and mine”, and the powerful engine of that drive needs to be harnessed and rewarded if a society is to prosper. Moreover (also because of this basic human motivation) a communist system always develops its own hierarchy and corrupt elite who seek to profit disproportionately from the efforts of others.

    But pure, uncontrolled, Ayn Rand capitalism is just as dangerous. Left alone, those who (as you say) “own the production framework” are also going to abuse their power because profit becomes a game, and power is a heady drug.

    The billionaire NFL owners are threatening to destroy the upcoming season not because they aren’t making enough money, but because they have developed a long-term plan to grow their annual profits from 9 billion to over 20 billion.

    How much is enough? And who will determine that, and at what cost? Greed and selfishness are normal.. and powerful… human emotions. That doesn’t make them sacrosanct. They have to be controlled and regulated by laws and sanctions just as we control other powerful, natural emotions like lust and rage, or society will deteriorate.

    The absolute, ultimate, mind-blowing, quintessential, archetypical evidence of what greed does to thsoe who amass too much wealth and are subject to no controls is in this photograph. It shows Hosni Mubarak, who siphoned off about 100 billion dollars of Egypt’s wealth while keeping his people in poverty.

    He’s wearing a nice, tasteful pinstripe suit. But if you look very closely, the pinstripes spell his name in tiny letters over and over and over.

  91. msgkings says:

    Some theorize that in a globalized world, the ‘audience’ that the high earners serve has grown tremendously, and so their earnings have grown apace.

    Think sports stars, entertainment stars, CEOs, financiers and owners of global capital…their sandbox has grown tremendously, so their incomes have as well. I don’t think it’s some nefarious plot to screw the middle class, nor do I think rich folks are any greedier than our forebears.

    But the tremendous increase in wealth at the upper echelons does mean that those earners can easily afford some redistribution of those gains. The far left is silly to call these success stories thieves, and the far right is silly to claim that a modest shaving down of some of the marginal gains to that group will spell the end of civilization.

  92. mclever says:

    Why, msgkings, how sensible of you!

    🙂

  93. msgkings,
    I don’t believe that they’re thieves in terms of the income they gain from their franchises. I do, however, believe that they’re thieves when they take large sums of public money to build the stadiums in which they play their games, when they are pulling in that kind of money in the first place.

    I recognize that many communities are complicit in the “donation” of local tax dollars to the cause. It just feels wrong to do this, when there are so many other places those dollars could be more effective. It’s why I have always, when presented with the opportunity, voted against public dollars for professional sports venues.

  94. filistro says:

    @mc… Why, msgkings, how sensible of you!)

    I ask you… is there any creature on earth more rare and adorable than a conservative who is both reasonable and open-minded?

    Well, okay… besides this…

  95. msgkings says:

    @ mclever: I hope that’s not sarcasm 🙂

    @ MW: You’re drilling down to that specific topic, publicly financed stadia, from the much broader one, but I do agree with you. As a SF Giants fan I’ve always been proud that their new ballpark built in 2000, considered by many the best in the game, was all privately financed.

  96. Gator says:

    @msgkings

    I agree with everything that you posited above. I don’t have an issue with raising the marginal income tax rates for a defined period to bring the debt situation back to manageable levels. That would come with the caveat that spending cuts are mandatory as well. And that NO PROGRAMS ARE UNTOUCHABLE. Everything must be open to adjustments.

    The rich are in fact, generally speaking, quite generous. Look at Buffett. Look at Gates. Hell, look at almost any “wealthy” person and you will find endowments to charities and arts and education.

    Fili

    I understand your concern/consternation but I would suggest using the NFL owners/players is probably not your best example. Millionaires arguing with billionaires over wealth redistribution is actually kind of vile on some level. Those guys (both sides) might want to temper the yelling and try to be as unobtrusive as possible. Not much sympathy for either side there.

  97. msgkings says:

    @ filistro:

    I’m actually pretty much a straight-down-the-middle moderate. As such, I’m perceived as one side or the other depending on my surroundings. On this site I’m a ‘conservative’. At work I’m the pinko commie.

  98. msgkings,
    You must have been exceptionally giddy in November. 😀

    I brought the stadium issue up because it’s the one area where I feel personally damaged by the sports franchises. The “build me a new palace or I move to some other city” extortion bothers me tremendously.

    It’s not that different from the businesses that tell local governments “give me tax breaks or I will shut the place down and move to some community that will pay me to move there.” The damage that causes is substantial. And, of course, once one company in a relatively free-market industry does it, the others have to do it in order to remain competitive…which makes it worse for all of us.

  99. msgkings says:

    @ Gator:

    Careful, those generous billionaires you mention are probably a heck of a lot more liberal than you are. Buffett has been very vocal about wishing for higher taxes (estate and income) on the rich.

    But I do agree that the debt solution can only come with increased revenue and spending cuts. And in fact the cuts have to be the greater of the two.

    Actually, to boil it down, you just have to fix Medicare. Not that that’s easy or anything, but that’s our issue. Much of our current deficit will heal itself through growth.

  100. msgkings says:

    @ MW:

    Agreed. The sports owners who do that are kinda scummy. I don’t think there’s ever been a study showing that municipalities that pay the blackmail get back anywhere near the value. But cities (and people) like to feel like they are in the ‘big boys club’, and part of that is having a major league sports franchise or three.

  101. filistro says:

    @msg…. As such, I’m perceived as one side or the other depending on my surroundings.

    I have the very same experience, depending whether I’m in Canada or the United States. 🙂

    On this site I’m a ‘conservative’. At work I’m the pinko commie.

    Wow. Where do you work?

  102. mclever says:

    @msgkings

    “I’m actually pretty much a straight-down-the-middle moderate. As such, I’m perceived as one side or the other depending on my surroundings.”

    I know what you mean… I’m a bit to the left of you, but at work, I’m the “wingnut conservative.” Here, I think I come across as moderate leftish. And to my folks, I’m psycho-liberal who “alienates and offends” them with everything I say.

    I’m glad we have some moderate voices popping up in here, because it helps to keep the conversation from getting too tilted to the extremes.

  103. msgkings says:

    Also @ MW:

    November was ok. I do prefer divided government. But I voted for Obama and will likely do so again.

  104. msgkings says:

    @ mclever:

    My folks were a good deal more liberal than me, but they recently inherited some money and are moving rightward. So that cliche has at least one more data point to support it. 🙂

  105. filistro says:

    @Gator: Millionaires arguing with billionaires over wealth redistribution is actually kind of vile on some level.

    I don’t think so. I am not at all opposed to millionaires… or for people who aspire to that level. More power to them, and Godspeed. Millionaires do an awful lot of good in the world, creating jobs, investing in markets, and contributing to charity.

    But I really don’t see the sense in billionaires. Really, who needs a thousand million dollars? After all, you can only sleep in one bed at a time, use one bathroom at a time, and consume about 2,000 calories a day no matter how much money you have.

    People who are nudging billionaire status and still want more need to be taxed up the wazoo and out the nostrils. It would be good for society and good (albeit painful) for their immortal souls, as well.

  106. msgkings says:

    @ filistro

    I work at a wealth advisory firm. Our clients are wealthy people, and I don’t know a single one who cheated, stole, or did anything dishonorable to achieve their success. A few got lucky and inherited or married their money, but the majority made it ‘fair and square’.

  107. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    This just in.

    Judge who declared Healthcare law “unconstitutional” refuses to halt implementation of law.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/03/03/us-usa-healthcare-states-idUSTRE7225IH20110303

  108. msgkings says:

    @ Max:

    Very cool but didn’t we just learn that those kinds of topic-shifts now need their own threads?

  109. msgkings,

    Buffett has been very vocal about wishing for higher taxes (estate and income) on the rich.

    So has Gates. And his dad sponsored a recent attempt to get an income tax instated on the wealthiest Washingtonians. Didn’t pass, though.

    Actually, to boil it down, you just have to fix Medicare.

    Or, more specifically, the ridiculous increases in our nation’s medical costs. I’m probably going to be hitting that topic again in the next few weeks.

  110. Gator says:

    msgking

    I know that Buffett and some others are in favor of some seemingly draconian tax rates. I do think it’s much easier to contemplate an 80% tax rate when your remainder will still be 3 or 4 billion dollars or more.

    I actually wouldn’t have a problem with longer term rate hikes on income and estates if the floors were reasonable. A million dollars today does not make you wealthy. $100 million maybe, or $500 million does, but even a net worth of $500 million dollars means that you are worth approximately 1/100th of Gates or Buffett or numerous others worldwide.

    When you want to take 70% or 80% of a $10 or 20 million dollar estate that is going to be divided amongst 4 or 6 or 10 survivors, you have taken a relatively well to do family and pushed them back into the middle class. You have effectively killed the potential wealth creation that those estates left intact might have engendered.

    BTW, I’m a libertarian and in favor of gay marriage, happy to see DADT go away, for the decriminalization of marijuana, pro-choice, etc… but I’m fiscally very conservative. So on here I’m a raving winger to some. Bet the freepers wouldn’t think so. Kinda’ think they’d take one look at my social positions and call me a raving leftie. Perspective is everything.

    I figure if I’m pissin’ everybody off, I’m doing something right and I’m satisfied.

  111. msgkings and mclever,
    Seattlites and San Franciscans generally consider me to be pretty conservative. Most of the country considers me to be a flaming liberal. I’m a systems guy…I just want whatever gets the best results at the lowest cost (big picture cost, though).

  112. mclever says:

    @msgkings

    My parents have never had money, but they’re as conservative as can be. I have more in my retirement funds than they do, but I’m substantially more to the left than they are. There are exceptions to every rule, it seems!

    Just so y’all don’t think I’m callous about my folks’ financial situation, I’ve offered to help them with financial advice, but a young, lefty whippersnapper like me can’t possibly know anything about sound financial planning or investing. And, good conservatives like them wouldn’t consider taking a dime from the government, even if they were fully entitled to it.

  113. mclever says:

    Michael Weiss,

    I’m a systems guy…I just want whatever gets the best results at the lowest cost (big picture cost, though).

    I work with a lot of systems guys, so I can identify with that perspective. You’re neither “lefty” nor “righty”, you’re a pragmatist!

  114. mclever says:

    @Gator

    Social liberal + fiscal conservative = we probably agree on a lot more than we disagree.

    🙂

  115. msgkings says:

    @ Gator:

    Where do you get the 70-80% figures from? No one is close to arguing for those, least of all Buffett. And as far as breaking up estates so heirs don’t inherit as much as their parents: good! Dynastic wealth is a terrible idea and very bad for long run innovation. Buffett’s point is let those who know how to make the money decide what to do with it…but their kids need to demonstrate the same ability. Shuffle the deck (doesn’t have to be the government doing so, by the way…Buffett is of course famous for pledging almost all of his wealth to charity) instead of letting the lucky sperm club have it.

    And by the way, astute wealth planning can leave your heirs with plenty of capital, plenty more than they ‘deserve’ or ‘have earned’, even with an estate tax.

    I favor the $5 million exemption per person, indexed for inflation, with about a 50% tax on estates above that amount. There’s a lot the wealthy can do to get their kids and grandkids more. In fact I get paid to advise them to do so.

    @ mclever:

    At least they are a step above the TeaPartiers telling the government to ‘keep their hands of my Medicare!’. Your folks won’t take government funds on principle. Good for them. I have a real problem with hypocrites, on either side of the aisle.

  116. Thanks, Max. I popped a quick article up for Vinson’s ruling.

  117. msgkings says:

    @ mclever:

    Soc lib + fisc con is the shorthand description of pragmatic libertarianism. The internet is the natural habitat of this group. I think most thoughful, reasonable, intelligent folks end up around that area. Unfortunately, our current political system doesn’t really have an outlet for them.

  118. Gator says:

    mclever said:”Social liberal + fiscal conservative = we probably agree on a lot more than we disagree.”

    Probably so, although my positions are more dictated by libertarian philosophy. The social positions arise as a result of my firm belief in the government staying out of our lives to the greatest degree possible. However, I am not a proponent of entitlement programs, so in that I veer sharply away from the liberal philosophy. I do acknowledge the need for some entitlements as the system is now designed. That however, is a function of poor design and could be addressed.

  119. Gator,

    When you want to take 70% or 80% of a $10 or 20 million dollar estate that is going to be divided amongst 4 or 6 or 10 survivors, you have taken a relatively well to do family and pushed them back into the middle class. You have effectively killed the potential wealth creation that those estates left intact might have engendered.

    True. That inheritance, of course, flies in the face of the pull-yourself-up-by-your-own-bootstraps mythology of American wealth creation. How sincere are we that people with wealth should have had to earn it themselves?

    Bill Gates has said publicly that nearly all of his estate will go into the Foundation, not to his kids. Warren Buffet has said the same. I believe I would, too (though I’m not likely to have a chance to put that in practice). But I’d imagine it’s hard for most people to avoid giving their kids whatever they can. It goes against our genetic programming.

  120. mclever,

    And, good conservatives like them wouldn’t consider taking a dime from the government, even if they were fully entitled to it.

    I have to admire that, though. It beats the hell out of the hypocrites who try to take the government for as much as they can, while at the same time doing everything they can to dismantle those same programs.

  121. Gator says:

    msgking

    You have missed the previous discussions on here wherein several people were pining for the good ol’ 90% tax rate days of yore.

    You said: ” Dynastic wealth is a terrible idea and very bad for long run innovation.”

    Got any empirical evidence of this or just your opinion? I tend to agree somewhat, BTW, but long run innovation is not the responsibility of estate planning and inheritance, nor the responsibility of those who inherit. Innovation is the tool of those who wish to be wealthy.

    MW said: “How sincere are we that people with wealth should have had to earn it themselves?”

    Who the hell says this? Is there some new law regarding how someone aquires their money? Where does it say that you have to “earn it yourself”?

  122. mclever says:

    @Michael & msgkings

    Yeah, my folks are good people. (Hey, they raised me!)

    They won’t take a dime for themselves on principle, but at the same time they bemoan that “somebody oughta do something…” They talk about dismantling all entitlement programs while also complaining that my aunt’s Social Security disability payments are insufficient and unfair.

    There’s a logical disconnect there that I can’t quite close for them.

  123. Gator,

    Who the hell says this? Is there some new law regarding how someone aquires their money? Where does it say that you have to “earn it yourself”?

    No, it’s not the law. It’s the mythology. The longstanding cultural notion that if you want to “make it” in the US, you have to earn it. We as a society should either dispense with that message, or be consistent in building a system that enforces it.

  124. BTW, Max, in the future you should either put that notice in the most recent FFF thread, or ask us to put up a minipost on the topic.

  125. msgkings says:

    @ Gator:

    Maybe I did, but you implied Buffett was calling for those, and then went on to discuss how ‘80% tax rates’ would destroy an estate. No one is calling for those as estate taxes.

    Also you should know the 90% bracket (which was a terrible idea) was only on the very highest of incomes, over $400K in 1963 (the last year it existed: http://www.truthandpolitics.org/top-rates.php#fn-7), which is around $2.878 million today (http://www.coinnews.net/tools/cpi-inflation-calculator/). And it’s marginal too, so income below that sky high figure was taxed less.

    Should we have a higher (say 40%) bracket on income OVER $3 million? I can’t say it’d be a big deal. Not much harm. But then again, how much revenue would that really generate?

    I don’t have any ‘evidence’ on my opinion of dynastic wealth (what would that even look like?), but you already agree with me on that. And like you say, innovation comes from those who wish to be wealthy…so let’s not make people wealthy just for being lucky kids.

  126. Gator says:

    Michael that is simply ridiculous.
    The cultural notion is/was that you CAN “make it” with hard work and ingenuity.
    No one ever said you HAD to do it that way.
    What would you have done to rectify it. Take all moneys and assets at death and the next generation literally starts over? The whole objective in trying to amass wealth, in my estimation, is FOR THE PURPOSE OF GENERATIONAL SUSTENANCE. The only reason to build wealth is to pass it along. Whether that means to progeny or to charity. Given our ultimate demise, it would make absolutely no sense to amass wealth if not for the purpose of passing it to someone/thing.

    Were it not for this idea of intergenerational wealth building, the ONLY logical behaviour would be to spend everything you amassed before you die.

  127. Gator says:

    msgking

    you said:”so let’s not make people wealthy just for being lucky kids.”

    That is the hubris of your position. How are you, or we “making people wealthy”? Their parents are who are making them wealthy. “We” don’t have anything to do with it. What you are saying is in fact: “Let’s not ALLOW them to be wealthy. Let’s prevent them from being wealthy.”

    That is for damn sure un-American.

    My bad. I didn’t intend to tie the Buffett draconian comment with the marginal tax rate %. The tax rates were the extremes from previous discussions. Shouldn’t have put them in the same paragraph.I don’t know what, if any, specific rates Buffett may have suggested.

  128. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    msg,

    Hold up a sec.

    This thread started talking about Ailes and Regan and now the past 3 hours has been talking about wealth redistribution. Please don’t get all bent out of shape about a “topic shift” on a quick comment to update of what else is happening in the current world that may be of interest.

    Michael, I believe your original response combined with the creation of the new thread was certainly appropriate. Please, let’s not get so rigid on “rules” and keep it real. When a thread is “hijacked”, then there’s a place for “rules”. A newsflash id NOT a hijacking.

    Thanks

  129. mclever says:

    If this thread is about Reagan, then I can topic-shift it back to unions in a single post…

  130. msgkings says:

    @ Gator:

    I agree that parents should generally get to decide how much to spoil the kids. But there’s a competing goal of preventing dynastic wealth and ‘reshuffling’ the deck to foster innovation. Like most things the extremes of both positions are probably wrong (no estate tax vs ridiculously high one).

    And as I mentioned, even with the estate tax that exists for the next 2 years, and will likely be the framework for the permanent one, the wealthy can get plenty of cash to the kids. Believe me, if Buffett wanted his kids to have most of his wealth instead of charities, he could make that happen. They key is ‘most’. Some gets skimmed, and if families grow in size it eventually gets diluted, unless the capable future generations build it back up again. I think that kind of outcome is the most optimal.

  131. Gator says:

    msgking

    Gotta’ run. Good discussion. And nice ad for the financial planning/management industry!
    LMAO! Have a great afternoon.

  132. msgkings says:

    LOL

    Back atcha

  133. Gator,

    No one ever said you HAD to do it that way.

    That’s how I always interpreted the mythology. Perhaps my interpretation is wrong.

    What would you have done to rectify it. Take all moneys and assets at death and the next generation literally starts over?

    I’m pretty sure that’s part of the impetus for interitance taxes.

    The whole objective in trying to amass wealth, in my estimation, is FOR THE PURPOSE OF GENERATIONAL SUSTENANCE.

    And that’s where we differ. I amass wealth, to the extent that I do, so that I can sustain myself for my life…and give my offspring a solid foundation upon which to do the same. I have no desire to make any of my descendents financially independant. I do desire to make it as feasible as possible for them to do so, however.

    But that’s all a philosophical argument. We differ in where we start, so it should come as no surprise that we differ on where we end up.

  134. Gator says:

    MW said: “I have no desire to make any of my descendents financially independant. I do desire to make it as feasible as possible for them to do so, however.”

    A choice and a decision which is yours to make. Not the governments. Not mine. Your decision. So why would you deny me the same choice? Because I chose differently than you?

    It is my decision as to whether my progeny are worthy and deserving of my estate. Not the governments. Not by tax code and not as policy. This is an absolute overreach in govermental powers.

    msgking said:”But there’s a competing goal of preventing dynastic wealth and ‘reshuffling’ the deck to foster innovation.”

    Michael, do you believe that this is the goal of the tax code. Because I would ask – why is “preventing dynastic wealth” a goal of the tax code and why in the name of God should it be? Same question for you msgking.

  135. Gator says:

    msgking said: “I don’t have any ‘evidence’ on my opinion of dynastic wealth (what would that even look like?), ”

    Like this-

    ***********************************************************************
    The Transience of American Wealth
    America is exceptional for the number and size of its fortunes—and for the fact that they don’t seem to last. John Steele Gordon takes a look at the nation’s curious lack of dynastic wealth.
    By John Steele Gordon

    *****************************************************************************
    Our view: Tax deal showers billions on heirs to the largest estates
    by USA Today Feed on Dec. 15, 2010, under USA Today News

    Apart from winning the lottery or finding a Rembrandt at a rummage sale, there are basically three ways to get rich. One is to become very good at something — running a large company, say, or driving quarterbacks into the turf. Another is to shrewdly invest in some kind of hugely successful enterprise.

    A third is to be born into a wealthy family. This is the easiest. It requires no work, fosters no innovation, and does not involve taking risks or being brilliant.

    *********************************************************************************

    NYU Hosts Panel Today on Innovation and Capital Gains Tax Policy
    The NYU Graduate Tax Program hosts a panel discussion today on Innovation and Capital Gains Tax Policy:
    Founders of a start-up are taxed at lower capital gains rates when they eventually sell the business. Taxing entrepreneurs at a low rate is often justified as a method of encouraging innovation. This discussion will consider whether tax policy, in fact, affects the rate of innovation and what would happen to entrepreneurship if current law were changed.

    **********************************************************************************
    CAPITALISM AND THE HILTON FAMILY
    ——————————————————————————–
    Capitalism and the Hilton Family: A Case Study in Greed, Sloth and Debauchery.
    ——————————————————————————–

    Our capitalistic system of economics is derived upon the notion that innovation, hard work and superior competitive advantage over your competitors brings you success.

    Offering the right product, at the right price, at the right time can lead to unparalleled heights in the business world.

    The great fortunes that have been created by capitalism are staggering, creating dynastic wealth that continues to bankroll generations.

  136. shortchain says:

    “Offering the right product, at the right price, at the right time can lead to unparalleled heights in the business world. ”

    Tell that to all the companies with innovative produces that were put out of business by Microsoft by co-opting (often illegally, who ultimately paid civil penalties — too late to save the companies). Remember the company that produced the first compressed file system for DOS? What about Digital Research?

    This may be true, in some rare cases. In the real world, however, you would be better advised to put your money into the lottery.

  137. msgkings says:

    @ Gator:

    Those bits you excerpted are both contradictory (check the first and last ones) and quite opinionated. Hardly ‘evidence’.

    What I meant was, I have an opinion about dynasties, and how much wealth should be inherited (it’s not zero, but it’s also not unlimited), and I really don’t know how to present actual data to support or attack my opinion. Like most macroeconomic questions, you can’t run experiments with control groups very often if at all. I just go by my own gut feelings and knowledge and the opinions of those I respect, like Buffett.

    In a perfect world, the uberwealthy would all have the enlightened views of Buffett, Gates, etc. regarding giving back, and reshuffling, and so on. In that perfect world (the same libertarian utopia where all are good and wise) then of course everyone should make all decisions about their wealth, and how much to pass to their family. In the real world, there’s a negative externality to unfettered dynasties, and there needs to be some curb on it.

    Should those who create wealth be able to bestow it on their descendants. Of course! Should it be unlimited? Sad to say, in principle yes, but in the real world I have to say no. Once you’ve rejected the libertarian utopia of atomized individuals acting in concert only on a voluntary basis as unworkable on a complex planet of billions, you have to go with realpolitik on these areas.

    If all of us had the brains and charity and empathy of some of the enlightened billionaires out there, we could certainly go full monty on libertarianism. But we don’t and cannot.

  138. Gator,

    A choice and a decision which is yours to make. Not the governments. Not mine. Your decision. So why would you deny me the same choice? Because I chose differently than you?

    I don’t think you understand where I’m coming from. Yes, currently that’s your decision to make (aside from the inheritance tax issues). As I said, where we differ is where we start. I’ve interpreted that mythology as being one of everyone being a self-made person. That the road to success is based solely on each person’s unique contribution to society. Clearly the reality doesn’t live up to that interpretation. But should it?

    If we as a nation truly subscribe to the belief in the invisible hand of free commerce as the means of reaching survival of the best ideas, rather than survival of the deepest pockets, then yes we should do something about the current state of affairs. If, on the other hand, such talk is mere window dressing, then we as a nation should stop pretending otherwise.

  139. filistro says:

    Conservatives love that whole Ayn Rand “cult of the individual”. They fondly embrace the myth of the self-made, up-from-his-bootstraps guy. They live by the “earn what you get and get what you earn” philosophy and hate seeing anybody getting handed money for doing nothing… except for the offspring of the rich.

    This is the anomaly Michael is highlighting, and it is indeed puzzling. Why the philosophical inconsistency?

    I think it is this: despite that spot of bother back in 1776, conservatives are , deep in their hearts, still secret monarchists. They LIKE having a fabulously wealthy elite up there somewhere, forming a comfortable bright ceiling between them and the scary darkness. I’m betting when British Royalty visit American shores, it’s mostly conservatives who attend the formal functions and fawn over these very ordinary and not-too-bright people who are essentially nothing more than trust-fund babies.

  140. Gator says:

    Fili

    I hope you don’t include me in that characterization. I don’t care at all if someone is handed money for doing nothing… as long as it ain’t my money.
    As far as an aristocracy, I don’t believe that there is anyone, anywhere that is superior to me in any way (or at least I have yet to meet such), so I certainly don’t want inferior specimens standing between me and whatever the threat may be. They’ll just be in my way.

  141. Gator,

    I don’t believe that there is anyone, anywhere that is superior to me in any way (or at least I have yet to meet such)

    That’s just because you haven’t met me yet. 8)

  142. Gator says:

    msgkings says:
    March 3, 2011 at 15:22
    @ Gator:

    Those bits you excerpted are both contradictory (check the first and last ones) and quite opinionated. Hardly ‘evidence’.

    **********************************************************************

    I know. I was just bored. Didn’t really look at them. Did a google search for –
    dynastic wealth vs innovation – and those popped up. With another million or so, as is google’s wont. Every now and then I get bored and look for refutation for my own position. Good mental exercise. But I don’t look too hard. Good discussion, though.

  143. filistro says:

    @Gator… as long as it ain’t my money.

    Aha! Believe it or not, now we’re getting somewhere. What do you define as “your money?” Is it money you, personally earned… or money your Dad or grandfather earned and gave to you? If somebody else earned it through THEIR effort in their own lifetime, how can it possibly be yours?

    I puzzle over these things all the time. It probably dates back to the days when white men rolled across the continent and claimed ownership of the land, snapping up title to acre after acre. Poeple often wonder why native tribes, the current “owners,” just stood around and let this happen. It was because they simply didn’t have any cultural preconception that allowed them to wrap their minds around the idea of anybody owning the land. How could you “own” the land, they argued. It was always there, ages before you were born, and it will be there long after you are dead… so how can you say this particular bit of it is YOURS? They sat around shaking their heads and chuckling privately over the silly white men who thought they could own the land. “Next” the elders perdicted to gales of laughter, “they will be claiming to own pieces of the sky….

    The wealth of the planet doesn’t belong to people. It belongs to the planet, and each of us should only get to use the bits of it we can gather to ourselves during the span of time that we live on the earth.

  144. Gator says:

    Michael

    As is occasionally the case, you are wrong. Obviously you assumed I meant expertise at bloviation. I did not. But I like your moxie! LMAO!

  145. Gator says:

    Fili said: “Aha! Believe it or not, now we’re getting somewhere. What do you define as “your money?” Is it money you, personally earned… or money your Dad or grandfather earned and gave to you? If somebody else earned it through THEIR effort in their own lifetime, how can it possibly be yours?”

    How can it possibly NOT be. If my father and my grandfather earned it, and intended it to come to me, then how can you possibly say that the GOVERNMENT has the right to that wealth AND I DON’T? By what logic or reason does this happen? How is the govternment MORE DESERVING OF MY FATHER’S WEALTH THAN I? How is the government MORE DESERVING OF MY WEALTH THAN MY CHILDREN? That is a ridiculous concept through and through. Could you seriously look me in the eyes and say “Gator the government should get your money and your children shouldn’t.” ? Really you would have the gall to look in my eyes and say that to me?

  146. filistro says:

    Gator… as I told you once before when we discussed this … after you have died it’s not YOUR money. Because… you’re DEAD. And dead people do not hold bank accounts. They have, in fact, no control over anything. They’re DEAD.

    D-E-A-D.

    DEAD.

    I will now look you in the eye and tell you this… Gator, the money you amassed during your lifetime was given to you by your country, whose prosperity, opportunity and largesse allowed you to live, move, have your being and gather together that pile of money of whatever size. When you are DEAD, most of that stack of money should go back to the country that allowed you to pile it together, thus to assist and enable others of that country who are not DEAD to gather their own pile of money for their comfort and pleasure during their lifetime.

  147. Ok, filistro, lets take this to its logical conclusion. So when you die, everything you own becomes government property?

  148. filistro says:

    @Michael… So when you die, everything you own becomes government property?

    Except for the amount necessary to meet the needs of those who are your dependents, for as long as they remain legally dependent,… yes. Apart from that, the bulk of money of which you die possessed should be subject to an enormous tax.

    Of course this in no way impinges on your ability to give your money away to whomever you choose while you are still not DEAD and thus are able to freely make that decision. You just can’t have your cash and keep it too. 😉

  149. Gator says:

    Fili I absolutely disagree. Whether I am alive or dead, the product of my effort is mine, not the country’s.
    This country never gave me anything. That whole mindset is nonsense.
    The country is the sum of the work product and social product of the population. We give to the country. It is the very mindset that you espouse that is destroying this country. The idea that the country i.e. the government ‘gives’ anything is ludicrous. It takes and redistributes. The country CREATES NOTHING. The country GIVES NOTHING. The citizens create, the citizens give and the government distributes what it has received from the CREATIVITY AND PRODUCTIVITY OF IT’S CITIZENRY.

    The country is not responsible for my success nor my failure, I am. If simply living in America or being American were all that was necessary for success we would not be having this discussion because everyone would be equally as successful. My effort, my intellect, my drive are what made me successful, not the locale of my birth. And as my father’s proxy, what he made should come to me and as my proxies, my children should receive my assets.
    I am not the employee nor the slave of the government and it is NOT entitled to summarily take what I produce. It is entitled to reasonable taxes and levies to cover what infrastructure it provides. +REASONABLE TAXES AND LEVIES+

  150. Gator says:

    Fili you know I adore you, but you show an incredible naivete regarding inheritance taxes. If you could simply give away all of your assets to your heirs prior to death and incur no tax liabilities, don’t you imagine everyone would be doing just that? You might want to brush up on tax law a bit.

  151. Gator says:

    Fili you said earlier that you were against communism. What you suggest is essentially communism with a twist. Whatever you make is yours to plow through until the moment of your demise and then it all becomes the property of the state. So a free market while you’re alive to accomodate the growth of wealth and then a communist state at the moment of your death to sieze that wealth and make it the property of the state. How absolutely diabolical… and horrid.

  152. filistro says:

    @Gator… The citizens create, the citizens give and the government distributes what it has received from the CREATIVITY AND PRODUCTIVITY OF IT’S CITIZENRY.

    Well of course. We are in agreement. When I suggest that your accumulated wealth should be returned to the “country” I am hardly suggesting it should be ground up and sprinkled over the crops. It should go back to the people whose creativity makes your success possible… so that your creativity and hard work will make possible the success of future peoples, and so on and so on.

    Because I postulate that while you may feel (mistakenly, I fear) that your country “never gave you anything” I suspect that living in America probably contributed more to your accumulation of wealth than any of the Baby Gators did… and in a country without trillions of dollars of dynastic wealth stashed away in trust funds, bank vaults and Swiss bank accounts… if all that money were instead out there working vitally in the economy… the Baby Gators would have unlimited opportunity to build their own little piles if they are also hard-working and creative.

    And building one’s own little pile is just a hell of a lot more fun than inheriting it.

    So… if you won’t do it for your own moral sense… do it for the Baby Gators! 🙂

  153. filistro says:

    @Gator.. If you could simply give away all of your assets to your heirs prior to death and incur no tax liabilities, don’t you imagine everyone would be doing just that?

    No, they wouldn’t. Most very rich people will never give up control of their funds until it is pried from their (literally) cold dead hands. And many very rich people don’t even like their offspring much (often because their offspring are not all that likeable.) They only leave the mountain of cash to their kids to “keep it in the family,” and because they figure when they’re dead it won’t hurt quite so much. If they had to give millions to unsavory Junior III while they’re still alive and kicking, most would re-think and bestow that money more wisely.

  154. Gator says:

    Fili

    No good and kind Fili, you can’t give it away without tax consequences. You really can’t just write Junior a check and avoid inheritance taxes.

    You have a very dyspeptic view of the wealthy, BTW.

  155. filistro,

    Apart from that, the bulk of money of which you die possessed should be subject to an enormous tax.

    Money? Or all property?

  156. mclever says:

    @filistro

    And many very rich people don’t even like their offspring much (often because their offspring are not all that likeable.)

    Don’t you think you’re over-generalizing just a wee bit?

    I don’t think rich people love/like their kids any more or less than people living on the edge of poverty or middle class.

    You’re right that the grand amassing of wealth couldn’t happen without the country that establishes the environment for such wealth development and provides the necessary contract law, financial systems, business climate, etc. for money generation.

    However, because death is unpredictable, I also think it is unrealistic to expect that someone would give away everything that they’ve amassed in the manner that they wish before their untimely (or timely) demise.

    There are social/societal benefits from preventing the development of uber-rich dynasties, but that doesn’t mean 100% of it should go back to the government. Perhaps instead of limiting how much of the total estate can be passed on, the better approach would be to limit how much any single recipient can receive tax-free.

  157. Gator,

    It is entitled to reasonable taxes and levies to cover what infrastructure it provides.

    Naturally. But every tax is levied unfairly from more perspectives than from which it is levied fairly. So the initial issue in from the perspective of “reasonable taxes and levies” is not how much the government needs to collect (that determines the overall rates), but on what activities is it collected.

    No matter what activities are chosen, the presence of taxation will impact one’s behavior. Since that’s a given, it behooves government to choose taxation models that encourage desireable behavior, and discourage undesireable behavior, wherever possible. Is it in the public’s best interest to discourage financial dynasties? I believe so; clearly you do not.

  158. mclever,

    Don’t you think you’re over-generalizing just a wee bit?

    Haven’t you seen all of those movies? 8)

  159. Gator says:

    Michael or Fili

    Thanks for the spell-check assist, but then my clever comments disappear! LOL!

    Michael I was thinking of making that same point. If Daddy leaves Junior the family farm, which farm Daddy paid for with no help from Junior, then under your system, Fili, there is no more family farm. Every generation would have to buy new land and start over. I mean it’s only fair. Ignore the fact that the family has owned the land for 140 years. No more. Now Daddy is gone so the land isn’t in the family anymore. The whole premise is ludicrous. Not to mention that you also lose the expertise that has been passed down through the generations. That family vineyard… gone, so your 150 years of grape growing tradition… kiss it goodbye. You don’t own this vineyard your greatgrandfather started in 1873, the government does. But hey, you can start over. The government will give you a low interest loan.

  160. Gator,
    That was me fixing your spelling. And removing your clever comments. We cannot have those around these parts. No, sir!

  161. Gator says:

    Never fear. It was an anomaly and won’t ever happen again. Completely out of character. I think I was in a fugue. It’s all very hazy.

  162. mclever says:

    Gator,

    Your hypothetical outlines precisely why family farms are largely exempted from inheritance taxes.

  163. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Gator,
    This country never gave me anything. That whole mindset is nonsense. . . .
    The country is not responsible for my success nor my failure,

    AND,
    It is entitled to reasonable taxes and levies to cover what infrastructure it provides.

    Gator, those two disparate comment show the fallacy of the first of the two and why your philosophy is incorrect.

    May I point out that the United States provides an opportunity, with it’s stability, form of government, and the past emphasis on that infrastructure, for ANY of it’s citizens who are willing, able and, yes, lucky enough, to be able to succeed both socially and financially than just about any other country on this planet. The very size of it’s middle and upper class, compared to most other countries, is testimony to that fact. (Our current President is an excellent example and role model).

    Do you truly think, in the vast, vast majority of other countries, that same opportunity exists for any of it’s citizens?

  164. dcpetterson says:

    I don’t like this meme that taxes are given “to the government,” as if “the government” then just stashes the money in its mattress. Nearly all that money goes back to The People in the form of direct payments, salaries, or purchases of goods or services. The portions that don’t go directly back are things like interest payments on the national debt — a debt which was incurred by purchasing things.

    The Founders were highly suspicious of inherited wealth. They didn’t want feudal manor lords amassing great wealth into elite families and thus owning the poor. I think they were onto something. It’s a shame so few Americans follow the original intent of our Founders.

    The idea that the country never gave you nothin’, you earned it all your own self — yeah, right. Move to Somalia and see how well you make your millions there. One of the things this country gave you that Somalia can’t was a thriving middle class to buy whatever-it-is you’re selling. Another thing it gave you is education, and then an infrastructure to move stuff and information around, and the relative stability (few riots), tax breaks, good police and fire protection, etc., etc. You lived within a community; you benefited from having lived there. To pretend otherwise is just silly.

  165. Gator says:

    DC said: “move to Somalia”

    How clever and original. Did you just come up with that?

  166. dcpetterson says:

    Gator;
    How clever and original. Did you just come up with that?

    I did, yes. Do you like it? Feel free to take advantage of the concept.

    I see you don’t have a response to the substance of my argument, which is that America does, indeed, contribute to the wealth and success of Americans. Thank you for conceding that point.

  167. Gator says:

    DC, I also don’t respond when someone farts in the room I’m in. I may notice it, but I’m not going to dignify it with a response.

  168. Gator says:

    Unless of course, it was I that farted. In that case DC, I’d be fanning it towards your face. LMAO!

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