| Thursday, June 26, 2008 - 09:06 pm |
It's nice to see that there are some pretty informed people playing this game. I like that.
Now in regard's to JMR32's comments I have a few statistics to go over with you. Most of them are from the US Census Bureau. Anyways, here goes:
The top 1% of the US population earns 21.2% of the country's annual income.
The bottom 50% of the population earns less than 13% of the country's annual income.
36.5 Million Americans live in poverty (poverty rate is defined as a household income of less than 21,000 for a family of FOUR)
47 million americans live without health insurance.
11.7 million children have no health insurance.
The median HOUSEHOLD (for two parents) income for all americans is about 50,000.00. This means that over half of working americans earn less than 25,000 a year.
Now you can say all you want about guys like Bill Gates going from rags to riches, but that doesn't mean squat to a poor American unable to pay for his/her medecine. I don't mean to insult but when you say he and Ted Turner could blow 175 million a day and never go broke, all that really does is show how far broken the system has become. With the same money these guys apparently could blow each year on nothing, you could employ 2 million americans with good wages. Think about that. Two people could employ two MILLION people with good wages on their PERSONAL wealth alone.
I know the common argument is "well he worked for that blah blah blah." Sure, he's a brilliant man and he should be rewarded for that, but I find it really difficult to believe that Bill Gates contributed more to the economy in his life (last time I checked he was worth ~60 billion) than 200 million americans would in a year making the median american income. Just saying...
His charity isn't really the point either. He's leaving his fortune for charity rather than his children. Admirable really, but it's not really the point. After 13 years of being the richest man in the world, that money will finally find itself back into the pockets of people who need it more. He's doing the right thing and that's great, but it doesn't change the fact that the system was broken enough for him to accumulate that wealth in the first place.
For 2007 when the top 10 countries' standards of living were calculated, the US was ranked 6th. What's funny is that the USA is by FAR number #1 in terms of GDP per capita. What does that mean? Well it means that the USA is by far the wealthiest country in the world, so like you said it's economic stats are impressive. That clearly doesn't translate towards a good livelihood for the vast majority of americans, however, which is too bad. I find it really saddening when I see how strongly Americans support a system that has for the last 25 years made most of them poorer for the benefit of the top 5% of the population.
As for your argument about 100% free markets being fair I think you overestimate the power of the average worker. Collective bargaining without government regulation is pretty meaningless as a rich corporation CAN afford to halt production for a few weeks whereas a poor manufacturing worker often CANNOT go a few weeks without wages. Add in things like scab workers and you really can't make the arguement.
It is NOT easy for a poor person to move across the country looking for work. They have no money to do so. The poor also DO NOT own the companies they work for. When you make $25,000 a year, the last thing you have room for is to make equity purchases. People with high disposable incomes, however, DO have the money to buy equity, and thus they end up owning the VAST VAST VAST majority of publicly held companies.
Finally, if you think that publicly held companies should somehow be more ethical than a privately held corp, you're sadly mistaken. Publicly held corporations (especially with no majority ownership) are by far the worst offenders. Why? Because a CEO's bonus and salary is based on short term STOCK performance. If share prices rise and good dividends are issued, CEO's make money. That's all there is to it. Shareholders are not concerned with fair wages, just share performance.
Bringing things like good and evil into this discussion is really silly. Corporations are very quantitative. Some people simply have the means or the smarts to benefit from them, and some people are too poor/stupid. It doesn't mean it's a good system, however, because the extent to which it can polarize wealth is ENORMOUS. There's a reason why the are anti-trust/anti-monopoly laws out there. It's because they are without fail horrible for the average person.