Sunday Funnies and Liz Warren


Maybe I’m wrong, it sure wouldn’t be the first time, but I think the middle class has finally woken up to the fact that the deck is stacked against them. I hope we’ve realized we don’t need a savior, we’re on our own, that much is clear. But people are finally expressing their anger and frustration outside of the voting booth so maybe someone will get the hint. I’m a little cynical, they just passed another free trade deal that most Americans didn’t want, so who knows what’s really going on. A Liz Warren in the Senate may be able to level the playing field a little, that’s the hope anyway.

People are frustrated with Washington, Republicans and Democrats alike. Congressional approval hovers below 15% and Obama’s not faring all that well in the polls himself. Whether, as some claim, we believe the so-called liberal media blitz blaming “Wall Street” for our woes or you believe the conservative claim that “government” was largely to blame, it’s tough to deny that we’re having trouble climbing out of this recession. While the economy would undoubtedly have been worse without TARP, “Main Street” isn’t in recovery yet. The Tea Party and the OWS protesters aren’t characters in a children’s book, an Ayn Rand novel or science fiction, they’re real people with real concerns for their future. It’s pretty obvious conservatives are worried about Liz Warren. Scott Brown’s campaign coffers have grown substantially since she announced her Senate run.

She had gained millions of supporters. With her passionate defense of America’s beleaguered middle class, under assault today from seemingly every direction, she had become like a modern-day Mr. Smith, giving voice to regular citizens astonished at the failure of Washington to protect Main Street—and what increasingly appeared to be its abandonment of middle-class America.

If you read this piece in Vanity Fair you’ll discover why she appeals to many of us, and also why she might just be a little different from the usual beltway corporate sponsored politician. I know, I know, corporations are people too, but oddly enough, so are people.

Arrayed against Warren, and today against the very existence of the C.F.P.B., was the full force of what many, most notably Simon Johnson, the M.I.T. professor and former International Monetary Fund chief economist, have called the American financial oligarchy: Wall Street firms and banks supported mainly by Republican members of Congress, but also politicians on the other side of the aisle, along with members of Obama’s own inner circle.

She has enemies in the White House and particularly at Treasury. There’s no love lost between Warren and Geithner, especially after her questions during heated oversight hearings. Chris Dodd wasn’t particularly thrilled having her in charge of setting up the CFPB, he wasn’t all that enthusiastic about bringing transparency or consumer protections to the banking industry in the first place. Does anyone miss Chris Dodd?

Reid asked Warren to head the congressional panel overseeing the $700 billion bailout. The job was vague, with no clear goals, but Warren would turn it into a tough, prosecutorial committee. She did real investigations, grilled government officials, and issued blunt monthly reports demanding more accountability from banks and better returns for the taxpayer. She held public hearings that were televised, asking the questions that many taxpayers wanted asked—and questions that bankers and Treasury officials did not want to answer. Perhaps the most widely watched hearing is the one that took place in September 2009. A video of part of that hearing can still be found on YouTube, under the title “Elizabeth Warren Makes Timmy Geithner Squirm.” It opens with Warren asking the question that was on the minds of many taxpayers: “A.I.G. has received about $70 billion in TARP money, about $100 billion in loans from the Fed. Do you know where the money went?” What followed during the rest of the hearing was the spectacle of the Treasury secretary tripping over his words, his eyes darting around the room as Warren, calm and prosecutorial, kept hammering him with questions.

She wasn’t always a Democrat. Her first big foray into bankruptcy, via a study she conducted to uncover fraud, had a much different result than she expected.

In 1978, Congress had passed a law that made it easier for companies and individuals to declare bankruptcy. Warren decided to investigate the reasons why Americans were ending up in bankruptcy court. “I set out to prove they were all a bunch of cheaters,” she said in a 2007 interview. “I was going to expose these people who were taking advantage of the rest of us.” What she found, after conducting with two colleagues one of the most rigorous bankruptcy studies ever, shook her deeply. The vast majority of those in bankruptcy courts, she discovered, were from hardworking middle-class families, people who lost jobs or had “family breakups” or illnesses that wiped out their savings. “It changed my vision,” she said.

And of course the vigor with which the banking sector and Republicans continue to vilify, demean, and label her will only increase the support and campaign donations she receives in response.

In those speeches, sometimes using slides filled with numbers and graphs, she would, as she did at a speech in Manhattan in early June, outline the impact on middle-class Americans of rising health-care costs, burgeoning debt, and the depletion of not only their savings but also, with the rise in joblessness, their confidence. She spoke of “the Wild West” conditions deregulation had created, where banks could sell virtually any product they wanted, on any terms: mortgages they knew consumers could not pay off, credit cards whose rates they could raise at whim, products that came with a mind-boggling array of penalty fees, many of them not fully disclosed. But it was her final remarks that brought down the standing-room-only house in June. “We cannot run our country without a strong middle class. We cannot run a democracy without a strong middle class,” she said, her voice quavering slightly. “If we hollow out the middle class,” she said, “then the country we know is gone.”

But while audiences applauded her, Warren’s opponents lacerated her. She was called incompetent, power-hungry, ignorant, a media whore, and, in a widely televised moment, a liar, by a Republican congressman during a hearing in May. “It was like she was the Antichrist,” says Roger Beverage, the president of the Oklahoma Bankers Association and one of the few bankers who publicly supported her. She had become the lightning rod for the opposition to the C.F.P.B.

Her critics characterize her as an elitist or a shark in school marms clothing, but while she speaks the language of the middle class, she also knows the secret handshakes and tricks of the trade of the financial elite. It’s no wonder they’ve spent so much money trying to keep her away from the levers of power.

That bluntness was evident in an interview even in late May, when Warren, who learned only in July that she wouldn’t get the job, still believed that Obama might ask her to run the C.F.P.B. “It’s money and power, the only two things we are talking about here,” she said, speaking of the people who were trying to kill the C.F.P.B. “in the back alleys,” as she put it. “There are many who are rich and powerful who say the system works fine as it is,” she continued. “America had been a boom-and-bust economy going into the Great Depression—just over and over and over, fortunes were wiped out, ordinary families were crushed under it. Coming out of the Great Depression we said, We can build a structure that makes us all safer. And notice, it’s from the end of the Great Depression to the 1980s that we built America’s middle class. That’s when we got stronger as a country. That’s when that big, solid, boring, hardworking, play-by-the-rules group in the middle emerged and defined what America was. You still had the ability to become a billionaire, but the center stayed strong and, notice, provided opportunity for growth, opportunity for getting ahead, opportunity that your kids were going to do better than you did. That was what defined America. And then we started, inch by inch, pulling the threads out of that regulatory fabric, starting in the 1980s.”

We’ll see how tough she is, she’ll need it, but I believe she’s got what it takes to both win and make a difference. There will be a lot of eyes on the Senate race in Massachusetts.

122 Responses

  1. Thanks for this, lmsinca. I've been so busy, I haven't had a chance to read the Vanity Fair article. Hopefully I can get to it sometime today.I fear that the right is going to go after her full-force during this senate race. Not only because she's such an effective voice for progressive policies, but because Scott Brown's win was such a symbolic victory for them in the first place. I think losing this seat would be a real blow for them. Here's hoping she stays strong!

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  2. "Maybe I'm wrong, it sure wouldn't be the first time, but I think the middle class has finally woken up to the fact that the deck is stacked against them."Well, I couldn't certainly be wrong, but in my experience I haven't met too many people who don't think the deck is stacked against them. The opportunity to complain about it in an organized way may be unique to the moment, though.

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  3. Hi SCat, okay you win, I'm pulling for the Rangers now, lol. They've had a great year so congrats.Yeah, I'm excited about Liz Warren. She hasn't backed down yet, and she'll have small donors across the country funneling money her way, so she may be able to compete with the banking sector money Brown's already receiving. In many ways it will be a bell weather race.

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  4. Morning all.Scat, congrats to your Rangers! Not the result I would have preferred (obviously), but hope they go the distance now!lms, I think a lot of what you've said about OWS is on the money. People in large cities and little towns are restless and starting to get together in their common frustration with both corporations and government institutions. And that's a good thing. I spent a couple of hours last night searching through FB for the Occupy movements in all the small corners of the US, and it was gratifying. When you see that they had a couple hundred people turn out in Peoria, a few hundred in Tulsa, a hundred people in Cheyenne, well, that is encouraging.

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  5. Hi sueI thought it was very encouraging yesterday following all the protests. And they really seems to be sticking to their general assembly rules and non-violent protest. Our daughter was at Occupy LA yesterday and said it's really high energy and much more focused than the media is portraying. I was following your comments and others yesterday so thanks for that effort.

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  6. "And they really seems to be sticking to their general assembly rules and non-violent protest."Very important, as always a good sign. Violence and vandalism (and looting) tends to just marginalize protesters and their message, because it would just make them appear to be common criminals.Of course, there are always common criminals who find any kind of protest a good excuse for something criminal, so ernest folks always need to keep an eye for that. And critics should always try to remember that there's no membership test, and one bad apple is not necessarily reflective of the whole bunch.

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  7. "I fear that the right is going to go after her full-force during this senate race."Of course. That's de rigueur in political races (and confirmations) these days. Just be grateful to local dog catcher is not a federalized, partisan position.And trial by fire is not a bad thing. While the opposition tends to be more tactical and logistical, as opposed to truly competing "in the arena of ideas", as one would ideally like to see political battles be performed, it means if she wins the political battle, she's more likely to win the day-to-day battles than she might be if she simply took it in a cakewalk. Speaking of which, I've been familiar with the term cakewalk for most of my life. I used a piece of music sequencing software back in the 90s called "Cakewalk". I did not know (until I read it in Rupert Murdoch's The Daily) that it's origins were racist:http://www.thedaily.com/page/2011/10/14/101411-opinions-history-cakewalk-carmichael-1-4/

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  8. Looking through the (literally) hundreds of photos posted on FB from the small town rallies, a couple things are rather obvious: -there is a lot of diversity by age, gender, and race.-there are quite a few signs espousing libertarian ideas like "End the Fed."

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  9. All…If you scroll all the way down to the bottom of any page on the website, you will notice on the bottom left a hit counter tracking visits to the site. I added it this morning. If you click on it you will find a whole host of information about who is coming to the site. One of the more interesting bits of info that it tracks is the site from which people who enter ATiM come from. That is, if we ever get linked at another site which attracts visitors to ATiM, we will be able to see it. Anyway, have a rummage around and you can see all the available info.

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  10. Scott . . . does it have to be in that typeface? 😉

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  11. There are only a few choices for style, and that was the only one that included the "Since" date, which is why I chose it.

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  12. That's pretty interesting scott. Does everyone see it or just admin? Not that it matters I suppose.

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  13. Cool, Scott! I like the world map feature.Good post, lms. . . I'm obviously pulling for Liz, but I'd like to see a good fight because I think she's one tough cookie who can take it and dish it right back out. It would be good to get a hard-fought battle that will get major attention in order to focus on the differences between where we are now and where we came from in terms of individual rights/freedoms/prosperity vs corporate overlordship.

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  14. Thanks, Sue and lmsinca, about the Rangers. I'm fighting an awful cold but forced myself to stay up to see the last out. It's my reward for suffering through many, many painful seasons.

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  15. I, for one, could care less if Brown wins. He was elected for one reason, served that function, and then turned hard left. He'll get corporate money, but he won't get the enthusiastic foot soldiers that propelled him to victory. His survival depends on being a Lincoln Chafee.

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  16. Looks like Brown turned a soft left, to me, McWing, but certainly your Lincoln Chafee prediction is apropos. He would likely continue to move leftward until he decided the Republican party was something he could no longer support, and jumped to the Dems or became an independent. I'd bet $5 on that.

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  17. Agreed. Let the spend their money on Warren. Makes other Dem seats more vulnnerable because of the money she (and Obama) will hoover up.

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  18. "Makes other Dem seats more vulnnerable because of the money she (and Obama) will hoover up"Hopefully (for them) they picked someone who doesn't seem to actively hate her (potential) constituents. Martha Coakley was practically campaigning for Scott Brown. ;)"What am I supposed to do, shake hands in the cold?"

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  19. You guys aren't any fun to argue with this morning. 🙂

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  20. So far, it looks like Warren is running her campaign 180 degrees from where Coakley did.

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  21. You must have caught everybody in a mellow mood, lms! LOLThis was interesting: I just got back from going down to mark my new start line so that I can get the race course measured and certified (one of the perks of being the RFTC director: the cops smile and wave at me when they drive by and I'm spray painting all over the street); when I came home I passed by the Occupy SLC site. Nary a cop in sight. I drove around the park where they're holding it twice to make sure, and there really aren't any police down there! They must be doing a good job of keeping it civilized and law abiding. Oh, and there were tons of recycling containers but only a few garbage cans. What a good bunch of lefties! 🙂

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  22. Here you go Lms, now Cantor talking up the evils of income disparity: Someday I hope to understand how one persons wealth diminishes mine."Nauseating.

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  23. lms:Everyone can see it. It can be restricted, but then all the administrators would have to log in to Site Meter to see the stats. Figured there was no need for that.

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  24. I was over at PL for a little while last night and just looked in this morning. I'm just going to say this once and then be done with PL. It appears that they moved to simply censoring and deleting virtually all comments from conservatives, so that they can maintain an uninterrupted flow of "conservatives are fascists" ranting. I think this completes a long-term transformation for PL and ends my interest in it completely. What little respect I had left for Greg and PL are gone now, and I have no plans to follow commentary there any longer, nor to discuss it. Greg and PL are irrelevant to me now.

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  25. QB, By the end of next week cao will be attacking the remaining D's on PL. I've see it before early in the year when no righties were commenting, At first he'll say how wonderful it is now that the righties have gone, but then he'll get bored and start picking fights. It's why he's there in the first place, haters gonna hate. It's interesting to watch.

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  26. Troll,Indeed, that individual is troubled.But whoever is behind the curtain is simply deleting conservatives now, so indeed it will be a lonely place with B, R, L, D, and C talking to each other.

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  27. Is Chris the one reporting everyone? He's after johnbannedagain again. He and Ddawd pulled that a few months ago and I had it out with them, fat lot of good it did, and then he and shrink went after NoVA since we came over here. They're chasing away a lot of the more moderate people and almost all conservatives, even drive bys. Too bad really but I'm glad we started something new, just in the nick of time if you ask me. I'm missing them less everyday although I try to drop a link in now and then. Ruk keeps talking about what a reasonable conservative NoVA is and hasn't even noticed he left about two weeks ago and hasn't been back.

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  28. "You guys aren't any fun to argue with this morning. 🙂 "You know I'm usually out the first half of Sunday.I have not yet begun to fight.

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  29. I think there's a couple of football games you should probably watch qb………….I'm scared. 🙂 Hey, have you read any good books lately?

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  30. lms,No idea.I've never figured out whether reporting does anything. I just see that a whole bunch of comments were deleted, some mine, some others. Just commentary on OWS, not even remotely violative. I made a comment about OWS and gave a link. Cao replied that I was completely full of sh!t. I replied simply that I've seen and heard the protesters, and my comment was accurate. I got deleted.I replied to a post and comments of Bernie's about Huckabee's stupid joke abot letting the air out of tires. I said it was just a dumb joke, but that the commenters were incorrect in saying Huckabee could be prosecuted. Pragmatic said, "yeah right, a joke." I got deleted, no one else.Those are just a couple of examples. Meanwhile cao and friends run riot. It's a worthless place at this point imo, and I'm obviously not wasting more time there.

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  31. It's too bad. Remember the old fights we used to have at whorunsgov? It was contentious but things have definitely changed over the past 7 to 8 months or so, more hateful IMO, not everyone of course but it's definitely gone in a weird direction. A lot different vibe now. Remember when the biggest argument was whether Greg should ask bilgey to leave or not? That seems like a century ago now. I had one foot out the door anyway so I haven't really missed it much. Have you noticed Greg doesn't comment much anymore either?Anyway, enough with that, you said you didn't want to talk about it anymore so we won't.

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  32. lms,You are right, I am watching football. What I really need to do is take a nap and get to work, as usual.No, not really good books per se. I've recently been reading some of the political memoirs, which I normally don't do. Rummy and Cheney. Bush. Stanley Kurtz's book on Obama. : ) My problem is that I almost never read a book beginning to end any more. No time for fiction. I have a stack of random stuff about three feet high (no lie) by my bed, but I'm too restless and distracted to plow through one at a time. One is interesting sociologically. It's called Leadership and Self-Deception. A lot of my church friends were recommending it. I think it boils down to: treat people as their own ends, not means to yours. It is incredibly annoying to me how it is written, is story fashion. Within two pages, I am saying, Get to the point!

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  33. Yes, lms, a few of us at least can recall when PL was a more interesting place, pre-Wapo especially. Of course, there were some bad actors then, too, and most of us went over the top too much (remember my wars with Gasman and Tena lol?), but now it's just silly. I'm not going to pretend it doesn't exist; it just isn't going to get my attention any more.

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  34. I remember waking up one Sat. morning and checking the site and Bernie and Scott had been at it literally all night. Oh well, sometimes I think it just got too big, for me anyway, and once I had a couple of people that I just couldn't tolerate any longer, I was pretty much gone.I'm the same way with my reading now, I have a list a mile long and generally am reading at least 3 books at the same time but I feel like I don't give any of them justice. I do tend to get bored unless it's really good literature.I'm going out for awhile……..go take your nap.

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  35. I think the worst thing that happened to PL was getting placed on the WaPo site; there were plenty of flame wars going on when it was on WhoRunsGovt, but at least the commenting platform was functional. And I had also noticed what you had, lms, that Greg doesn't seem to interact that much anymore. Don't know if it's that he's busier or if it's that he's frustrated (or both); I also really, really don't like the new moderation going on with posts just disappearing. I wouldn't have believed it except that one disappeared as I was reading it–and I couldn't figure out what had been said that made it go away.Hat's off to lms, Kevin and Scott for getting ATiM up and running!And boo hiss to San Francisco!!!

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  36. I used to make book lists years ago but gave up, deciding, what's the point? So I die with a list of books I never got to read? I remember being surprised how quickly I forgot what a book I listed was even about.I used to keep lists of interesting words I came across, too. But then, I used to read the dictionary when I was young, too. I wish it had done more good.

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  37. Michi, that was a good game. Sorry about the Lions. That last drive was pathetic, though.

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  38. "I also really, really don't like the new moderation going on with posts just disappearing."I understand the theory there, but I tend to agree. It would be better if they collapsed inappropriate comments so you have to click on something to see what the original stupid comment was, or something. The Digg system where 5 or more negatives demote you to collapsed would seem a better system. If 5 people think you suck, you're post is just a line indicating you can see that 5 people already thought was boorish behavior, if they want."Hat's off to lms, Kevin and Scott for getting ATiM up and running!"Michgoose: you left out Mark. The very first Circle of Three for ATiM was Mark, lmsinca, and myself.Re: lack of interaction. I agree. I liked it that Greg interacted more earlier on. The same could be said of Ezra Klein.

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  39. My bad–hat's off to Mark, too!We've had 52 visitors today–wow!

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  40. BTW, walking Dead season premiere tonight on AMC. If zombies are your thing.

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  41. qb: "No idea.I've never figured out whether reporting does anything. I just see that a whole bunch of comments were deleted, some mine, some others. Just commentary on OWS, not even remotely violative. "I'm boycotting Plumline until I see some Economic Justice. Or I get really bored. Whichever comes first. I still dip in and read, but resist the urge to comment. I want to see how many threads become solely Liam and Shrink. ;)I saw some threads that were just post after post of Liam talking to himself. If it weren't for Liam, Shrink, Bernie and Brigade, I tend to think Plumline would be a ghost town now . . . which says more about the commenting platform, I think, than anything. Even though I can get to it now at work, I don't participate much. I like this place better, need to use some of that time to prepare Bits & Pieces or an actual post on something substantive, and like some of the others, the sporadic functionality of the site–plus the often random censorship–leaves something to be desired. Nothing again Plumline. Can still use it as a farm team, see if anybody else shows up trying to have a reasonable discussion before getting yelled at by the more volatile regulars.

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  42. 53+ visitors: all of us can potentially be counted multiple times, if our IP address is reallotted (common for some ISPs, not so much for others), or if we show up with a different devices (iPhone vs. iPad versus desktop). Put another way: most of those, though not necessarily all, are probably us.

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  43. I suppose interaction by Greg was cool, but honestly it was of limited substance. He has a fairly nasty and defensive streak, actually.Scott and I both first dropped in at PL to challenge Greg to support accusations against Dick Cheney with facts. And his last interaction to me was basically to call me a liar for calling out his hypocrisy in dismissing criticism of Hoffa's violent rhetoric after Greg made a big deal of calling for everyone to denounce use of such rhetoric back in January. I don't consider him a journalist and never did. I consider him a partisan blogger and nothing more.

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  44. Farm team — I like that, k-dub. Agree, the platform killed it, too. Thanks for zombie tip, Troll. Had totally forgotten about that show.

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  45. "So far, it looks like Warren is running her campaign 180 degrees from where Coakley did."Yup. I think she's likely to take the seat back. Of course, I always argued not that much should be read into Brown's win, if for no other reason that Coakley ran an abysmal campaign and apparently was under the mistaken impression that she was being appointed to the seat, not running for election. Troll: "Someday I hope to understand how one persons wealth diminishes mine." . . . well, if they have more than me, then I think it's obvious. When someone else has a newer car and a bigger house , it damages my self-esteem. 😉

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  46. Someday I hope to understand how one persons wealth diminishes mine.If I could remember it now, Troll, I'd tell you what the first Libertarian I ever met told me about this. We were arguing/talking at work one day about increasing the minimum wage (this was back during the Clinton era, and from what I remember about the work set-up would have been around 1998/1999). His argument against raising the minimum wage was that it would mean that "those people" would be that much closer to him in their earning power and it just wasn't fair because he'd gone to school for all those years that "they" hadn't. Blew my mind.I'm not saying that he's representative of Libertarians, but ever since that conversation I've been very skeptical of people who claim that point of view and their motives. You're a sweetheart, Scott, but you haven't moved me politically more to your point of view either. 🙂

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  47. Mich:You're a sweetheart, Scott, but you haven't moved me politically more to your point of view either. What is your point of view? Unless you believe that the amount of wealth in the world is static (which surely you do not) then syou must agree that one person's gain is not another's loss. As for the min wage, your libertarian colleague may have been expressing a personal desire, but he wasn't expressing a libertarian idea. From a libertarian perspective, the min wage is bad because it encroaches on the freedom of both employers and employees to come to a mutually agreeable wage. From a non-libertarian point of view I would think the min wage would be bad because it restricts job growth.

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  48. scott is not a "sweetheart", he's a cruel heartless banker with no soul, and probably a moron and a liar to boot. Doncha know?I agree the platform over there really chased a lot of people off, but I have it on good authority that the constant demonization didn't help matters. We lost some good people along the way and mostly I didn't want that to continue. So here we are and now I can argue with qb, mcwing and scott to my hearts content without someone telling me not to feed the trolls. I'm pretty sure I'm just one argument away from turning them.

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  49. I think the idea that someone else's wealth is my loss does generally stem from a belief that wealth is static, or perhaps more accurately that it increases in a sort of impersonal, collective, autonomous (and mysterious) way, and that people who attain it do so in some amorphously immoral and undeserving way. I.e., they indeed "take" it from other people who, in the reality seen by libertarians and conservatives, in fact had nothing to do with producing it.I wish I had the wealth Steve Jobs had, but I don't have his talents and perhaps didn't take the risks he did. I had no claim to his wealth.

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  50. Scott: (and I don't care what that mean ol' troll feeding beehatch lms says, you're a sweetheart) My point of view is that to some much is given and much is required. Or noblesse oblige. Whatever you want to call it. . . the human species is put here on earth to create a community, and that means that we do our best to help those who–for many differing reasons–cannot help themselves. If that's because they aren't educated, we educate them. If that's because they can't work, we support them at a minimum level. If they can work, but in an unskilled or low-skilled form, we make it possible for them to at least earn a wage which will allow them food, shelter and some dignity.I didn't think that my former colleague was expressing an actual Libertarian viewpoint so much as he was being a selfish pig (and he is one of the most supremely unhappy people I've ever known–who is married to one of the happiest, most satisfied people I've ever known. Opposites and all. . .) He considered himself a Libertarian, so that's the label I stuck him with.Me, I'm a bleeding heart Leftie with what are probably socialist tendencies. I'm also a vet who would have relished taking ObL out myself. We're all mixtures of good, bad, and ugly and somehow we've all landed here. I've also found out, to my great surprise, that I'm an incurable optimist; so, like lms, I'm positive that I'm just one argument away from turning you into a bleeding heart Leftie yourself!

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  51. Here's what I think, and this time I'm being serious. We all make choices in our lives and some lead to wealth, some to happiness, and if we're lucky they lead to both. I don't begrudge anyone their hard earned or won wealth. I think the problem is when you have people that make such an over-sized income that they've completely lost touch with reality. When we have CEOs making over 400 times what their employees make it begs the question are they really worth it? I hear all the time that such and such insurance company only made $20 billion last year and so there's not much room for them to cut back on rising premiums etc. and yet their top 3 or 4 guys and gals either individually or collectively made more than the company. Doesn't that seem out of whack? It does to me.I'm a pretty smart girl and my husbands a hard working guy with a gift for gab and a winning and trusting personality. We could have made more money along the way but we made the decision with five kids, two of whom had a tough struggle ahead, to focus on the family first and foremost. We don't regret it for a minute and figure we still did pretty well with what we had. It just seems really crazy that some CEO at a big bank, energy or pharmaceutical company can make more in one year and sometimes 20 or 30 times more than we've made collectively working for 45 years.Again, I'm not angry or bitter, I'm happy, but I don't think it's good for society to have such a huge discrepancy between the classes.

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  52. "From a libertarian perspective, the min wage is bad because it encroaches on the freedom of both employers and employees to come to a mutually agreeable wage."How does that work in the real world with 9.1% unemployment? Does one party have a significant advantage in negotiations when there are many applicants for a single opening?

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  53. Mich:My point of view is that to some much is given and much is required.Given and required….by who? Beyond that, what does this tell us about whether wealth is gained at someone else's expense, or whether a min wage is a good idea? If they can work, but in an unskilled or low-skilled form, we make it possible for them to at least earn a wage which will allow them food, shelter and some dignity.Unfortunately, a min wage often makes such a thing impossible for some people.so, like lms, I'm positive that I'm just one argument away from turning you into a bleeding heart Leftie yourself!This is probably as misguided as is your advocacy for a min wage. 😉How does that work in the real world with 9.1% unemployment?Well there are surely some people who would agree to do certain jobs for less than the min wage if they were allowed, and employers who would hire those people for less than the min wage if they were allowed. But they aren't allowed.Does one party have a significant advantage in negotiations when there are many applicants for a single opening?Yes, but only if some of the applicants are willing to work for less than others. "Willing" being the operative word.

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  54. Re upthread: I want to thank lms, kevin, markinaustin, scott, qb, and mich for this platform, and for leaving the crumbs along the PL comment threads as a path here.I couldn't remember the name of this blog (I'd been here once to look around 3 or so weeks ago but forgot to bookmark). I found it again by googleing your tag names!

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  55. lms: We all make choices in our lives and some lead to wealth, some to happiness, and if we're lucky they lead to both. I don't begrudge anyone their hard earned or won wealth. I think the problem is when you have people that make such an over-sized income that they've completely lost touch with reality. In other words, you don't begrudge anyone their hard earned wealth, except in those cases when you do.When we have CEOs making over 400 times what their employees make it begs the question are they really worth it?That's up to the people who pay them to decide.…but I don't think it's good for society to have such a huge discrepancy between the classes.Particularly when some classes are constantly being led to believe that they have somehow been robbed by the other classes.

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  56. tao:Thanks for joining us. We worked hard on getting you here.

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  57. "Yes, but only if some of the applicants are willing to work for less than others. "Willing" being the operative word."But "willing" is a misleading word to use as it implies that there is a real choice to be made. When there is no equilibrium between the labor supply and demand, the choice is between take the crappy wage or have nothing, perhaps no food, perhaps no shelter, and perhaps neither one. Often that would be a choice made out of desperation, not other viable options. And so that negates the whole notion of their being any opportunity for real wage negotiation, especially when unemployment is high. A choice between take it or starve is not a level playing field.

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  58. tao,Very happy you made it. Scott had to hit me over the head at PL to get my attention. Hope I don't sound too bitter upthread about happenings at PL. I hope this place can prosper into a good discussion place.(To all): as I've said before, I believe a key is to try to generate quality and thought-provoking posts. Easier said than done for a group of working stiffs, but we are trying.

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  59. qb:Scott had to hit me over the head at PL to get my attention. Yeah, and I got in trouble for that, too. Wasn't supposed to post the actual link to the site. lms had to rip me a new one. (Actually I exaggerate…as you would expect she was quite calm about it.)

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  60. Re pay disparities, I don't see the pay of some F100 CEO as having anything to do with what I make. What basis do I have to say that someone running an enterprise with 50k employees, earning billions in profits should only make X, because he can't work 100 times harder than me?Entertainers and athletes make grossly more than we do. Is it unjust? We pay to watch them. We buy iPods and PCs and make Steve Jobs and Bill Gates rich. Best-selling authors probably don't work any harder than we do. My point is that the fact that someone can get a company him 100m, or can earn 100m in profits on a business idea just isn't a justice or "fairness" issue for me. It's repugnant to me to try to make it one.

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  61. sue:When there is no equilibrium between the labor supply and demand, the choice is between take the crappy wage or have nothing, perhaps no food, perhaps no shelter, and perhaps neither one.Even assuming the absence of all the other government programs we actually have to mitigate such an eventuality, a min wage will simply eliminate the possibility of even the "crappy" wage for many people. Some people will benefit, of course, but the min wage is an actual case of one person gaining at others' expense.

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  62. Scott:Given and required by. . . God, fate, luck, karma, society, Society, conscience. Whatever. Whether or not you believe in a higher power or the simple goodness of people, a community is an outgrowth of a people searching for a common goal. If that goal is to be reached, it has to be done together.And I know that you're trying to get me to define what "is" is. . . but I'm not a lawyer so I don't play lawyer games. You know darn well what I'm saying.No, somebody else's wealth does not come at my expense. And yes, a minimum wage is a good thing. And I find it very difficult, if not impossible, to buy the meme that a minimum wage and/or a regulatory environment prevents job creation. That's just a cop out for not wanting to play with rules in the game.tao: glad you were able to find us again however you did it. {{{one love}}}

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  63. scottI don't know why you don't believe me when I say I don't begrudge people wealth. Did you happen to see that graph of the 1% vs the 90%? I don't fall in either group, I'm in the other 9% and feel fortunate to be doing that well. I'm advocating for the 90% because I truly don't believe the discrepancy between the two is good for society.That's up to the people who pay them to decideI wish it was that simple. Many of these industries, such as the banks who were bailed out or the oil industry who have the added benefit of tax breaks the rest of us business owners don't enjoy, reap the benefits of a different set of rules. Don't you wonder what would have happened to CEO pay at the banks if we'd let them fail?Tao, I'm glad you've found us and hope you'll stick around. We'd love for you to author a post of your own you know. Just go up top on the right and and click on New Post and check it out. I'm going to email BGinChi tomorrow and let him know you're here. He want to do an ATM after dark for all of us book and culture lovers. This is a real community effort and we all share the responsibility for cleaning the windows and taking out the trash.

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  64. Scott,Explain what led to the labor movement in the first place. Was it totally unrelated to employers having complete control over the manner of work, i.e. wages, working hours, conditions? Look back at say…the coal mining industry. Workers were not paid enough to live outside the company purview. "I owe my soul to the company store." That was pretty close to indentured servitude rather than fair negotiating between worker and employer. Or do you disagree?

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  65. Mich:Given and required by. . . God, fate, luck, karma, society, Society, conscience. Whatever. Well which is it? I think it matters.a community is an outgrowth of a people searching for a common goal. If that goal is to be reached, it has to be done together.I don't really know what this means. But I do know that, say, a min wage is not an example of a community doing something together. It is an example of one segment of society forcing another segment to do something that it doesn't want to do.And I know that you're trying to get me to define what "is" is. . . but I'm not a lawyer so I don't play lawyer games. I'm not a lawyer either (although I have been told many times that I would have made a good one.)You know darn well what I'm saying.To be totally honest I think sayings like "To whom much is given, much will be required" sounds profound, but is ultimately pretty meaningless outside of a strictly religious context. I also think that, even accepting the religious foundation of it, it doesn't mean what those who would use it in a political context want it to mean. Just because God requires something of us individually does not mean that we are individually justified in requiring it of others via politics.And I find it very difficult, if not impossible, to buy the meme that a minimum wage and/or a regulatory environment prevents job creation.Impossible? Really? OK…suppose we raised the national min wage to $1000/hour. How many jobs bagging groceries do you think would exist?

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  66. lms:I don't know why you don't believe me when I say I don't begrudge people wealth.Because, for example, you talk about it being "crazy" and bad for society that certain people who make a lot of money, well, make a lot of money.Many of these industries, such as the banks who were bailed out or the oil industry who have the added benefit of tax breaks the rest of us business owners don't enjoy, reap the benefits of a different set of rules.I agree that the rules should be the same for all. I really do because equality before the law is, I think, very very important. But to be honest I doubt that you do, because you seem very focused on outcomes. If fixed and objective rules applied equally to all was to result is a larger disparity in wealth (as it surely would), that would be acceptable to me. It would not be acceptable to you, and you would presumably want to change the rules (as you do even now) in order to rectify the situation.

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  67. sue:Was it totally unrelated to employers having complete control over the manner of work, i.e. wages, working hours, conditions? No, it wasn't totally unrelated. But the issue we were talking about was the government mandating a min wage by law, not workers forming unions to negotiate with employers.

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  68. "How does that work in the real world with 9.1% unemployment? Does one party have a significant advantage in negotiations when there are many applicants for a single opening?"It works in one of two ways. (A) Nothing much is different. Most working folks do not take minimum wage jobs, much less sub-minimum wage jobs. Also, there are ways to use contracting and part-time employment to create jobs that are effective sub-minimum wage now. That things would be significant different seems unlikely.The 2nd way is more people get employed at a subsistence wage (better than not being employed at all, one might suppose), which slowly creates heat in the economy, which puts upward pressure on wages. While I don't think our current minimum wage level as being major distortions, I think we'd be better off, on the whole, without a minimum wage. I suspect it is feel-good legislation without real benefit, and perhaps doing real harm to limited-skill beginning-level workers and younger workers in some circumstances.

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  69. scott, a lot of money, lol. Come on, my daughter's going to make a lot of money because she's generally the smartest one in the room and has prepared herself to be in the right place at the right time. But even she's not going to be making millions of dollars a year. I bet you're the smartest guy in the room in certain situation as well, but I'd be surprised if you're worth that much or make that much. We've lost our way afaic and have taken opportunity away rather than increased it. I don't care about me, truly, I'm fine and happy, but when so few people have access to substantially more than anyone could ever need or desire there's something wrong. I find it perverse to be honest. Do you really think the free market or some sort of magical competitive force created this situation? It's money and power and influence and I really doubt it's been earned.

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  70. Done playing games–you're just baiting now, Scott.Goodnight, all, and sweet dreams!

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  71. "It would not be acceptable to you, and you would presumably want to change the rules (as you do even now) in order to rectify the situation."As a thought, I recommend modifiers such as: "it does not seem to me that you would feel". "Or, based on what you've said, I suspect that, for you . . . " While this may seem like a lot of deadwood, when people tell you what you think, feel, or believe by any method other than direct quotation, it is (in my opinion) a lot like flipping them the bird. Or, it comes off as more rude than perhaps the speaker feels it should sound, because it is, of course, obvious to them that the person they are saying thinks and believes these things does, indeed, think and believe these things.If I'm mistaken in this analysis, feel free to roger me roundly (metaphorically speaking).

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  72. lms:but when so few people have access to substantially more than anyone could ever need or desire there's something wrong. I find it perverse to be honest.But you don't begrudge them their money, right?It's money and power and influence and I really doubt it's been earned.What is the maximum that, say, a Hollywood actress could actually "earn", anything above which must, in your view, be unearned? How did you derive this figure?

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  73. One can hold the opinion that vast disparities in wealth, and huge concentrations of wealth in a tiny percentage of the population, is not ideal (perhaps far from ideal), and still not advocate for governmental solutions to "fix" the disparity.That being said, I'm open to a better system. I have yet to see any sign of it, and even in countries where wealth disparities are smaller–sometimes significantly so–I don't believe that there is an evidence that they have fewer problems, on the whole. While I support a more progressive tax structure than we currently employ, I do so because I believe it can raise revenue in a productive way, not as a strategy to reduce wealth disparities. Indeed, give me a more progressive tax structure, I expect you will see wealth disparities continue to increase.

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  74. Mich:I have no idea what you think is "baiting".

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  75. "It's money and power and influence and I really doubt it's been earned."This, I think, is a fundamental point of departure. Absent cheating, corruption, etc., to me it not a meaningful statement to say that someone didn't earn his pay, because it is too high to have been earned. By not meaningful, I mean, literally doesn't have any meaning I can grasp. People are paid what they are paid to do what they do; if they did what they were paid to do, they earned it.

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  76. "It's money and power and influence and I really doubt it's been earned."I tend to think this form of thinking ends in totalitarianism, and, really, who cares? Is that the problem: that someone rich didn't put in the necessary hours or come up with the necessary innovation to earn a set amount of money that they now enjoy? I know all sorts of folks who, by my metric, aren't rich but really don't earn even what little they get . . . but what business is that of mine?More to the point, nobody is going to give a shit whether or not Warren Buffet "earned" all his money if we have 4% unemployment and huge growth in GDP and robust growth in revenues to the federal treasury . . . what matters is, will artificial mechanism to redistribute wealth from rich to poor and thus close the income gap magically boost GDP, tax receipts, or lower unemployment? I submit they will not. Systems that minimize wealth disparity arguably ensure that people earn what little they make, but, historically, have not created society that economically unjust America should be envious of.

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  77. "One can hold the opinion that vast disparities in wealth, and huge concentrations of wealth in a tiny percentage of the population, is not ideal (perhaps far from ideal), and still not advocate for governmental solutions to "fix" the disparity."One could, but who is do that?

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  78. qb: "People are paid what they are paid to do what they do; if they did what they were paid to do, they earned it."Quite right. They may not provide an in turn economic value, but that can be hard to judge. Presumably, in a healthy company (and they aren't all), performance routinely below pay scale will end with the CEO or whomever being removed. But they earn what they get paid, no more, no less. Some of those folks game the system. Preventing or punishing the gamers is practically impossible to do (certain for the government to do), and would have no meaningful impact on overall unemployment or GDP.

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  79. Kevin:Perhaps you didn't read lms' posts, but she was very, very clear that she opposes the current distribution of wealth. So I don't see anything wrong, offensive, presumptive or whatever in asserting as a fact that if policy X were to result in an even greater disparity, she wouldn't like it. As I said to you in a different context (yet again when you were taking me to task for something I said) politeness does not require us to pretend not to know the obvious.Second, you might want to include the word "presumably" in your list of recommended modifiers, while also noting that, well, I used that word.Jeez.

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  80. "One could, but who is do that?"Well, I is do that. ; ) For one. Which, admittedly, begs a larger conversation I don't have time for. But I can think of lots of things that might be "better" than the manner in which they organically occur, but for which I don't believe there is any way to artificially adjust without creating much more damage than the problems we seek to alleviate.

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  81. scottI give up for tonight. You don't seem to understand or choose not to understand what I'm saying. I grew up with a different business model where the customers and the employees come first. Take BofA for instance, we're going to borrow from the government, after they already bailed us out once, and postpone foreclosing on some of the crappy loans we created because #1 we're having a little trouble proving that we own them and #2 our book will look worse if we foreclose them all at the same time. Then we're going to get everyone all jazzed up about using their debit cards to access their money so we can lay off thousands of employees, that's called progress. Now, the customers we have left will get to pay a fee for using those ATM's and debit cards. Meanwhile, we'll petition the government to have our back in the mortgage mess we created and hopefully only get stuck with pennies on the dollar for all the havoc we created. Oh and BTW, the smartest guy in our room just made millions of dollars for arranging this sweet deal. Sorry, that doesn't make much sense to me for an entire host of reasons. Yeah, I've simplified it quite a bit, but you get my drift.Night all, and BTW, if someone wants to try johnbannedagain this week he may be a little more open to moving.

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  82. "Perhaps you didn't read lms' posts, but she was very, very clear that she opposes the current distribution of wealth."Yeah, but, even so."So I don't see anything wrong, offensive, presumptive or whatever in asserting as a fact that if policy X were to result in an even greater disparity, she wouldn't like it. "Well, maybe I'm wrong, I just don't think telling people what they think and believe, even if the think and believe those things, is how adults ought to talk to other adults, but of course, I could be wrong. Like I said, I'm open for the metaphorical round rogering."Second, you might want to include the word "presumably" in your list of recommended modifiers"My apologies if I missed your presumably. In any case, it may just be an ongoing stylistic disagreement. But I would feel remiss if I don't mention it–although I get the sense that perhaps you perceive me as trying to criticize you personally, and I don't mean to do that. If I'm totally of my nut, then, I apologize, I'm just crazy. Get out of jail free card for me! You can't hold it against me. I'm nuts! 😛

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  83. qbAbsent cheating, corruption, etc.,Uh…………that's my point.

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  84. lms: "You don't seem to understand or choose not to understand what I'm saying."You mean, "from what you're saying, I get the impression . . . " . . . right?;)Phew. This net-nanny gig is hard work. I wish I had more time to do more than just irritate people, but (at some point) I'd love to tackle a conversation like this as a project in-and-of-itself. I think there's clearly a issue in communication where perhaps folks aren't feeling completely heard or understood, and I think that maybe a conversation about process might be worth having (I may or may not be the person to chair that conversation).Anyway, sorry I'm not more help. Facilitating actual communication is my biggest hope for what we're doing here, but it's tricky, and time consuming, and it's hard to communicate about communicating without sounding like you're telling other people they don't know how to talk. "Use your words, Kevin" . . . I get that. But, I do think sometimes it's worth talking about *how* we're talking. Because I don't think we're always aiming in the same place.

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  85. We just keep trying kevin, that's all. Don't be afraid to offer me suggestions, I'm not nearly as defensive about it as scott is ………… haaaahaaa. I kid. Seriously though, we all have bad habits in communicating with others and it's worth working on. Sometimes there's just no getting around being annoyed with someone though, probably because we'll never agree more than anything else.You don't always have to be the facilitator in our debates either, eventually we just give up temporarily or work something out and decide to live to fight another day. Some differences will never be bridged.

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  86. lms:Sorry, but even if we accept your characterizations, citing the problems at BoA is no defense of the notion that "when so few people have access to substantially more than anyone could ever need or desire there's something wrong" nor of the idea that any income above some given amount cannot have been earned.BTW, are you aware that only one person (that ultra-progressive himself, George Soros)in the top 10 of Forbes' list of richest Americans made their money in finance?

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  87. lms:I think there's clearly a issue in communication where perhaps folks aren't feeling completely heard or understood…I don't know about lms, but I think we understand each other pretty well. We just have very, very profound disagreements.

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  88. "We just keep trying kevin, that's all. Don't be afraid to offer me suggestions, I'm not nearly as defensive about it as scott is …………"Don't you mean, "As Scott seems to be to me"? ;)"there's just no getting around being annoyed with someone though"As someone who is annoying, I totally get that."Some differences will never be bridged."Agreed. I'm just trying to do what I can. Which ain't much. But . . . I think there's a lot to connect us, and our communication strategies often get in the way of that, to no clear advantage that I can see. But . . . I suppose that could just be a limitation of my own perception.

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  89. lms (to Kevin):You don't always have to be the facilitator in our debates…Or ever, even.

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  90. scott: "I don't know about lms, but I think we understand each other pretty well. We just have very, very profound disagreements."lmsinca: "I give up for tonight. You don't seem to understand or choose not to understand what I'm saying."me: I'm not sure you understand each other as well as you think you do. But, I could be reading that wrong. You may feel perfectly understood, but that feeling might not entirely correspond to reality, and some of your disagreements may in fact be created by communication. Or it might not be. I'm making an observation, based on my very limited human perceptions. Hoping it will be helpful but it probably won't be. Sigh.

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  91. Or ever, even.Yeah, well, until you get rid of me, you're going to my opinion on stuff.

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  92. ScottSorry, you must have confused me with someone who gives a crap about George Soros (sorry kevin). If "those" people who have access to substantially more can do it…..without also having the wealth and power to influence the government in their favor….then I have no problem with them.

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  93. "Sorry, you must have confused me with someone who gives a crap about George Soros (sorry kevin)."Don't apologize to me, apologize to George Soros. 😉

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  94. Kevin, we love having your opinion. It's just that some of us are never, ever going to agree on some (or even most) things.But, hey, we're still talking, so it's a win.

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  95. BoA is (has been is probably more charitable, since they've lost about a 1/3rd of their market value) the poster "too big to fail" bank. And it seems obvious there was at least corrupt practices, if not criminality, of their principals.But here's why OWS (and I agree with Denniger @ Mkt Ticker that they share enemies with the TP) and their Democratic Party battlespace preparers are full of carp.Remember when Sen. Durbin had a cow over debit card fees a fortnight ago.Well, Citi has raised fees also. Not a peep from Durbin.Citi is his 3rd highest campaign funder. Don't get me started re: Sen. Schumer. Or President B. Sachs Obama.The cynicism and BS is disgusting. Those misguided punkz should be occupying the Ellipse.

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  96. lms:Sorry, you must have confused me with someone who gives a crap about George SorosNo, but I assume you do give a crap about facts, so I provided you with one. If "those" people who have access to substantially more can do it…..without also having the wealth and power to influence the government in their favor….then I have no problem with them.The only way you can possibly remove the power of wealth to influence the government for its own benefit is to remove the government from the business of regulating business.

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  97. Kevin:But, I could be reading that wrong.I think you are. But I could be wrong. But I think I'm right. But I might not be. But…Yeah, well, until you get rid of me, you're going to my opinion on stuff.And you will get mine, as you have just now.

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  98. "Well, Citi has raised fees also. Not a peep from Durbin."Never take a politician as anything but a self-serving charlatan, and you shall seldom be disappointed. 😉

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  99. "I think you are. But I could be wrong. But I think I'm right. But I might not be. But…"You might have a point there. But, there can always be another side. "And you will get mine, as you have just now."And with panache, to boot. 😉

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  100. Well, zombies kept me from the fireworks.I wonder about the relative dearth of legal prosecutions for those that are "responsible" for our current economic crisis and have come to (some) conclusion(s). First, I just don't believe that the wealth and influence of our supposed perpetrators would be so complete as to prevent a lot of very ambitious State and Fed AG's from prosecuting these malefactors. The fact that there are not the prosecutions leads me to believe that the laws we think we're broken weren't. That doesn't mean that new laws shouldn't be enacted that might prevent this from happening again, however. In addition, I think a lot of this boils down to the moral hazard of (essentially) free money from the FedI still do not understand the problem with income disparity. How does it harm a community when there is a high level of income disparity. If it's the unfairness of it, there are a lot of things in life that are unfair. It's unfair that some people are smarter than me (I know, I know, that's difficult to believe but it's true. You're just going to have to trust me on this.) and better looking to boot! But I don't see that as justifying putting up roadblocks for those (exceedingly few) people. Why isn't wealth. Onside red in the same category?

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  101. "Onside red" should be "Considered."Don't ask me, ask my IPad's predictive texts in conjunction with my bad spelling and typing.

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  102. "I still do not understand the problem with income disparity."For me, "problem" is perhaps a strong word (although I realize for many it is not). Concentration of resources in a population, however, can limit opportunities for innovation, new business startups, and alternate directions of investment, versus what might be happening more of us were fortunate enough to have an extra ten million dollars instead of a few fellows having billions. Of course, a few of these guys pursue investment opportunities that only folks with billions of dollars can, and good things can come out of that . . .Income disparity looks just awful when you have high unemployment and a lot of people underwater on the mortgages or getting foreclosed on or unable to buy health insurance and you have (to pull an old example) some WorldCom executive spending $20,000 on a garbage can for their office. Now, someone has to produce that $20,000 garbage can, and someone has to supply the producer of that garbage can, so, in the end, that $20,000 does trickle down (just perhaps not so much in America any more). But, I can see where the emotional reaction is: I'm struggling to buy insurance. I can't get healthcare. I've worked hard all my life and I've got nothing set aside for retirement. And the government gave my tax money to multi-millionaire bankers that are turning around and seem like they are telling me to blame myself if I'm not a millionaire? Really? Even if factually the best strategy (might be), I certainly understand why some folks don't react well. One thing it does demonstrate is that trickle down economics–or cutting taxes on "the job producers"–doesn't do much to create jobs, and there's a very limited amount that trickles down, at least in America. Of course, with a global economy, trickle down probably has excess capital settling at the lowest possible level for capital investment–and that's going to be emerging economies, not first world economies. But, that's another story for another day.

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  103. "Quite right. They may not provide an in turn economic value, but that can be hard to judge."I believe the folks who contend that the wealthy should be de-wealthed are saying just this: that somehow it is not economically justified, in that they did not produce such value.This is part of what to me is largely meaningless. It's a kind of moot statement. Moreover, how can it be made as a universal statement? What is the financial cutoff point, beyond which no person can supply value? "Absent cheating, corruption, etc.,Uh…………that's my point."Is it really? Are you saying that anyone with over $X got it through cheating and corruption? Did Warren Buffett? Gates? Soros? Jobs? How about the Walton family? Respectfully (see how respectful I was there?), I don't think this is what you have been saying, that all the wealth of the wealthy (however defined) is gotten through corruption or cheating, unless it is a sort of tautology in which we posit that no person can by his energy and talents generate wealth above $X, and thereby define any wealth in excess of X to be necessarily a product of cheating or corruption of some kind.I'm strugglin here.

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  104. "One thing it does demonstrate is that trickle down economics–or cutting taxes on "the job producers"–doesn't do much to create jobs, and there's a very limited amount that trickles down, at least in America."What is "it"?"Concentration of resources in a population, however, can limit opportunities for innovation, new business startups, and alternate directions of investment, versus what might be happening more of us were fortunate enough to have an extra ten million dollars instead of a few fellows having billions."This looks to me like the old Keynesian mattress theory of economics, in which the rich just put all the money under their mattresses. It would be nice to have $10m laying around to start my new business or develop my new product (if I had any good ideas), but the people with millions do invest it in other people. I just don't think your argument here holds much water. The entity that most reliably misallocates investment is the government when it steps in to redistribute and pick the "growth companies of the future," (who conveniently turn out to be friends of Obama and the DNC and/or to represent their constituencies' interests and values, to take a recent example).

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  105. "And the government gave my tax money to multi-millionaire bankers that are turning around and seem like they are telling me to blame myself if I'm not a millionaire? Really?"This is in truth a minimally factual claim, for all I can tell. You can start with the fact that half the people don't pay income taxes to begin with, so it is unlikely their tax money was given to a fat, rich banker, even if fat, rich bankers were given money."Even if factually the best strategy (might be), I certainly understand why some folks don't react well."I understand it, too. It is part of human nature to feel misused and resentful, and to look for someone to blame. Sorry, but that's what your argument seems to come back to again. And before someone leaps to say, "people just want the chance to be successful and have the opportunity you did, you greedy sob" [not that any of the sweethearts here would say that], look, I'm not rich, either, and my condition is as precarious as the next suburban "rich" working stiff. I'm not sure where I'll be next year. My meager 401k got clobbered, I have a kid heading for college, etc.But I'm just not going to start imagining that the reason I don't have millions in the bank is that Warren Buffett has billions in the bank. I have a President who claims to be the only grown up in the room, but that isn't a grown up way of thinking.

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  106. Look all you guys. I'm not anti-capitalism or wealth. I'm anti-gaming as in using capital to influence the outcome of your tax obligation, your end run around regulations, your first in line status for bailouts and contracts, etc. etc. and then paying yourself excessively for doing it. Anyone who denies that both sides of our political spectrum are being bought by corporate money is being naive IMO. We've ended up with a nation run by competing corporations rather than competing ideologies. Sure, some of it falls outside of criminal behavior, I wonder why that is, but it doesn't mean that the short-sighted creation of extreme wealth at the top hasn't added to the decline of the middle class. If you like it that way and consider it the "free market" at work then by all means promote the status quo or continue to blame Democrats and George Soros, but if you're interested in the future of the country, as I think you are, then shouldn't we be having a discussion about how this came about and how to unravel some of it.

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  107. lms:Anyone who denies that both sides of our political spectrum are being bought by corporate money is being naive IMO.I think anyone who believes that government can take an active role in determining who can sell what to whom under which conditions and when without corporate money being used to influence the process is the one being naive.

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  108. "Look all you guys. I'm not anti-capitalism or wealth."I insist upon believing that you are an anti-capitalist business owner.

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  109. lms: "Anyone who denies that both sides of our political spectrum are being bought by corporate money is being naive IMO."scott: "I think anyone who believes that government can take an active role in determining who can sell what to whom under which conditions and when without corporate money being used to influence the process is the one being naive."Who here believes that both sides of our political spectrum are not being influenced by corporate money? Additionally, who here believes that the government can take an active role in determining the conditions under which sales can occur without corporate money being used to influence the process? Anyone? I'm dubious that either implied naïve position is actually held by either one of you. "I insist upon believing that you are an anti-capitalist business owner."I'm pro-wealth, but anti-capitalism. I believe we should all be wealthy, which would happen if rich people would stop hoarding the money trees.

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  110. scottExcept when government colludes with business to get the best deal for business at the expense of people, lol. Then the game is rigged. Are you saying there should be no limit to corporate influence in government?

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  111. "but it doesn't mean that the short-sighted creation of extreme wealth at the top hasn't added to the decline of the middle class"I'm not sure it has (isn't the upper-middle-class more populous now than it used to be–and those people are awfully close to becoming lower-upper class!). Even if the middle-class is truly declining (I would argue that it's just shifting–the end of the buggy whip industry and the decline of agriculture did not mean the end of the middle class, but things did indeed change), correlation is not causation.And "short-sighted" seems to imply our wealth disparity is intentionally created as a committee decision (I mean, I know that's not what you're saying, but I need to set up a straw man I can easily defeat to make myself feel better about my arguments) . . . but it happens organically. It's not planned, it's what happens when people are allowed to make money without a great deal of interference. I would note, again, that, for the most part, systems that prevent the private accumulation of wealth (of course, there is no system that prevents the accumulation of wealth by a favored political class–there were wealthy people in the old Soviet Union, too) do not help the lower or middle classes, historically. To reduce: it seems difficult to me to make the argument that large wealth disparities diminish the middle class, when systems that are biased against private citizens accumulating huge quantities of wealth have never demonstrated a higher quality of living for the lower and middle classes. Nor have they tended to demonstrate a sustained or robust middle class. Those tend to be the societies that worry less about the private accumulation of capital, and more about the security of (and right to own) private property, the consistency and enforcement of contract law, equal application of the law, etc. My 2¢. Be assured, an addition nickle's worth will probably follow.

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  112. "Except when government colludes with business to get the best deal for business at the expense of people, lol. Then the game is rigged. Are you saying there should be no limit to corporate influence in government?"I'm just going to guess, but this does not seem, to me, to be what he's saying. I would myself argue that of Big Business frequently loves Big Government, because only Big Government can legally allow a company to be a monopoly (AT&T, many early cable television vendors). Big Government can craft law to favor one or another businesses, and that distorts the marketplace.However, most conservatives take the position that the government should not be picking winners and losers in the marketplace, and should neither subsidize nor collude with business. Of course, this happens, but it's not conservatism or libertarianism when it does. However, it does not require government collusion for businesses or business-people with the right idea at the right place and right time to make huge piles of money. That will happen naturally, without government assistance.

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  113. qb: "You can start with the fact that half the people don't pay income taxes to begin with, so it is unlikely their tax money was given to a fat, rich banker, even if fat, rich bankers were given money."Bah, details, details! I'm angry! I want to yell! They took my money! They have expensive garbage cans! "I understand it, too. It is part of human nature to feel misused and resentful, and to look for someone to blame. Sorry, but that's what your argument seems to come back to again."I'm pretty sure that's what I was saying, explicitly. "But I'm just not going to start imagining that the reason I don't have millions in the bank is that Warren Buffett has billions in the bank."Nope, but he could spare a few bucks to keep the local library open. This may not be the general OWS argument, but I think that's Warren Buffet's argument.

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  114. lms:Except when government colludes with business to get the best deal for business at the expense of people, lol.I have no idea what this is supposed to be the exception to. Are you saying there should be no limit to corporate influence in government? It is not a question of "should". The more you involve government in the regulation of business, the more corporate money will flow towards influencing politicians. That is just a fact of reality.If you want to limit corporate influence in politics, you need to limit political influence in business. But from what I can tell, you seem to want more of the latter, not less. So you will necessarily get more of the former, just as night follows day. Again, it is not a matter of "should", it is a matter of "will be".

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  115. qb: "What is "it"?"The huge amount of money in the hands of the job creators. The ever-increasing gap between the super-rich and everybody else. That would be the "it" I was referring to. "I just don't think your argument here holds much water. The entity that most reliably misallocates investment is the government when it steps in to redistribute and pick the "growth companies of the future,""Note, I'm not arguing for the government to step in an reallocate investment wealth. I'm arguing there would be more "innovation churn" (in addition to a more vibrant consumer economy) if more people had more resources on which to draw. I do not argue (in fact, I specifically do the opposite) that the government can or should attempt to more equally distribute said wealth. I do not argue that the super-wealthy keep all their money in mattresses (although I am actually a fan of this style of investment). I have repeatedly said that this is not the case (although I think a lot of that money, these days, is in the global market place, so isn't going to have an immediate tangible benefit for Americans, although I think in the long term global investment and improvement has to happen–so I don't see how you really get around it, without causing more problems). I definitely don't think the government should be the VC business. Pure research, I can see the argument for (and I take that side, although I understand the argument against–that government simply needs to stick to it's knitting). But throwing half-a-billion at a company to burn not on R&D or innovation but just keeping their businesses running until the next round of funding . . . I don't think that's smart. The argument about income-disparity is, to me, the same as the argument a wife might make about an inadequate spouse. "If only he wasn't like that . . . " Alas, he is like that, and though it might be a much better world if he were not, he is, and it is what it is. I feel confident a society with a broader spread of wealth would be a more robust and more innovative society, if it had happened organically. I would also be able to jump higher, if the earth's gravity was half what it is now. However, these are the circumstances we're faced with, and trying to "address" income disparity via artificial means will be like trying to address the golden egg supply by decapitating the goose and reaching inside.

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  116. "The more you involve government in the regulation of business, the more corporate money will flow towards influencing politicians. That is just a fact of reality."I don't think the qualifier is necessary. Businesses will always be interested in influencing politicians, because a government that can levy taxes and write laws will always be capable to impacting business. Even if the government wasn't taking an active role in certain economic sectors, certain businesses would attempt to influence politicians to craft future legislation that would benefit them. What better sort of monopoly could a company enjoy, than one that had the force of law? There will always be money in politics. Any effort to route that is a waste of time. Sunshine laws and full disclosure could, at least, do something to allow voters to inform themselves of outside influences (and do, I don't want to imply there is no disclosure in place, because there is), but attempts to restrict money to politicians ends up re-routing the money, not restricting it.

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  117. A point that Scott is making, I believe, is that to complain about corporate influence in government while demanding more government interference in free markets is to complain about the consequences of one's own position. I still don't know what anyone's answer to that is.Indeed, if we are going to have government a la Liz Warren, I can't conceive of how anyone can complain that the business world would engage in influencing government. It's what we are asking for and impliedly approving. Kevin, I don't believe you can take the government as misallocator out of the equation if you are advocating policies to move money from the vaults of the oligarchs to the peasants (as some would see it). Either way, government is rearranging and redistributing.Beyond this, however, I don't see the theoretical or empirical support for the claim that "spreading the wealth around" results in more investment and innovation. The principle reason is that we have capital markets. If I were not woefully uncreative and untalented at business, I could get some rich people to invest in my brilliant idea.

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  118. If you want to limit corporate influence in politics, you need to limit political influence in business.Haaaaaahaaaaaaa, which came first the chicken or the egg?I give up for today, I need to work for a change. I'm trying to earn enough to influence a politician to turn off the phones at my competitors warehouse.

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  119. qb: " I can't conceive of how anyone can complain that the business world would engage in influencing government."I'm not entirely clear on why some people should be allowed to influence government, but others should not be, or should have less influence. Who has the more interest in the machinations of government than those who are governed? Why shouldn't they attempt to influence the nature in which they are taxed and regulated? "Kevin, I don't believe you can take the government as misallocator out of the equation if you are advocating policies to move money from the vaults of the oligarchs to the peasants"I assume that's the royal you, as I am, quite explicitly, not advocating for policies to move money from the vaults of the oligarchs to the peasants. I think the super-rich could pay for another lane on a crowded interstate or two–but I would expect the gap between rich and poor would only grow with a more progressive tax structure, not shrink. Narrowing the gap between rich and poor is not a functional goal. "Beyond this, however, I don't see the theoretical or empirical support for the claim that "spreading the wealth around" results in more investment and innovation."I also do not think an arbitrary redistribution of wealth by the government would result in more investment and innovation. Such a system would invite abuse, gaming, fraud, etc. A more organic broad distribution probably would foster more innovation, just as trying more things tends to give you more options than trying fewer things. But it's simply not possible to more broadly distribute wealth capriciously and have the same outcome. Any attempt to redistribute wealth will, I suspect, backfire. Trying to address issues of economic injustice by taking from rich Roland and give to poor Peter (and using a narrowing of income gap as a measure of success!) creates an environment hostile to business, to innovation and initiative.

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  120. "If you want to limit corporate influence in politics, you need to limit political influence in business."And if you want to travel through time, you need a time machine. Politics will always have potential influence in business–government is always going to regulate something, over see standards for some area, raise revenue through some form of taxes . . . and have a role in writing and enforcing contract law, protecting property, securing shipping lanes, protecting the borders, regulating imports and exports. Even if the government isn't going anything in those areas, the potential is always there, and there will always be business people who see an opportunity in getting the government to do something that favors them or their industry over others. You're not going to limit corporate influence in politics. Not by passing Campaign Finance Reform or by taking a hands-off regulatory approach. They are being governed, they are being regulated, and if they aren't perhaps a competitor can be . . . they are always going to be engaged in political influence.

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  121. Kevin:Even if the government isn't going anything in those areas, the potential is always there, and there will always be business people who see an opportunity in getting the government to do something that favors them or their industry over others.Yes, there will always be such people. But the number of such people will grow, either thru necessity or opportunity, with the degree to which government indulges them (intentionally or not).

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  122. "Yes, there will always be such people. But the number of such people will grow, either thru necessity or opportunity, with the degree to which government indulges them (intentionally or not)."So the government did not create these people? My point being that if it isn't using the government to tilt things in their favor, won't they simply shift their money/influence/power to some other target that will allow them to bend the rules to their favor? Do you think that government exacerbates the problem? I still have trouble answering Scott's (and Qb's) question about increasing the government not being the proper response to the corporate influence in government. The only responses I can come up with are that I am not sure that's what we are advocating more so much as a more effective government (I don't have time to go into more specifics than effective) and that the problem would arguably be worse if things were left to the free market.

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