Thursday, October 23, 2008

Redistribution Experiment

My friend Holly sent me this. Holla at me...

Today on my way to lunch I passed a homeless guy with a sign that read "Vote Obama, I need the money." I laughed. Once in the restaurant my server had on an "Obama 08" tie, again I laughed as he had given away his political preference -- just imagine the coincidence. When the bill came I decided not to tip the server and explained to him that I was exploring the Obama redistribution of wealth concept. He stood there in disbelief while I told him that I was going to redistribute his tip to someone who I deemed more in need--the apparently homeless guy outside. The server angrily stormed from my sight.

I went outside, gave the homeless guy $10 and told him to thank the server inside as I'd decided he could use the money more. The homeless guy grabbed the money. At the end of my rather unscientific redistribution experiment I realized the homeless guy was delighted to receive the money he did not earn, but the waiter was pretty angry that I gave away the money he did earn even though the actual recipient needed money more.

I guess redistribution of wealth is an easier thing to swallow in concept than in practical application.

13 comments:

holly said...

Thanks for posting this Symmonne! BTW that wasn't me that conducted this unsceintific experiment, but who ever did it provided us a fabulous example of wealth distribution, what Obama and Biden (or any democrat for that matter)plan on doing with our money as soon as they get into office. That's why I vote Libertarian. Or Republican. Or anything but Democrat.

Saule Wright said...

Interesting, a little simplistic, but interesting. To each his/her own. I think I'd rather the distribution of wealth than the extermination of the middle class anyday.

glocha said...

We'll have to agree to disagree. This was not a fabulous example. He is certainly not talking about taking from someone like a server, who makes crap already (and lives off tips). Plus, people like us, don't make near enough $250K. I can also say as someone who will become a teacher at a masters level that I still will make crap. I have worked just as hard as some of those other higher paid people. There are also other deserving people out there that will benefit. While the plan may not be perfect, and there are also people that may take advantage of the loop holes (a whole other topic), this is better for me. Personally, if I were rich, I wouldn't mind paying more taxes.

holly said...

Obama would never admit he is taking from someone like a server, a teacher, or anyone that makes under $250,000 but if you examine the redistribution of weath philosophy, basically it states that the governmnet can legally take your money away from you and give it away to other people or entities that they feel are more deserving. I feel that is wrong. I don't believe that that is the government's place. They can tax me for roads and bridges, defense and military, other such necessary things but the government can willy nilly just decide at any time if given the permission now, to take any amount of money and give it out. GM/Chrystler says they need money to survive. Ok says the government, and takes it from the people, and redistributes it. What about the airlines. They are in trouble. Lets redistribute that wealth. What about EVERYONE who is "deserving" and "needy". I know! Lets become communist!!!!!

Saule Wright said...

Actually, they just did it and called it the Bailout plan.

holly said...

Ooooh Saule...RIGHT!!!! You are so right on. I don't see how others don't see that as well.
I don't support that bail out at all, and think that the economy and businesses in the free market (capitalism)is designed to have ups and downs, and if you force the ups to stay ups through constant federal funding (our taxes) bad things can happen. How are we to learn from our mistakes, adjust bad business models, when the government just saves us from disaster each and every time. What incentive do we have as a country to do better and strive for higher things? We can always just get by on mediocrity because there will never be failure. There will always be the gov't to keep us in our houses, feed us with food stamps, pay our college education, medical insurance and prescriptions. Why bother really.
They will even get us a TV coupon right now for the change over in February from analogue to digital. Isn't that nice.

sunny said...

The discussion created around politics and our beliefs and values during election years is what I feed off of. We all know that any politician has political agendas that are self serving, but our vote is one of a symbolic nature, it stands to represent what we as a nation communicate to the world – our values. I only hope that we can learn from all of the discussion and begin to see new perspectives, ones that we are denied based on our lives limited experiences.

From my limited experience, people who typically believe that the government should have no part in the financial affairs of its people, will also argue that we have equal opportunity to prosper. Hard work = financial rewards. Unfortunately, that is a very limited view that doesn't take into consideration that the institutions within our country that create opportunities (education, government through its policies…) are created for the success of the institutions themselves and the people within them that hold power. Our systems are culturally biased and value a “cash culture” that has been created by those in power. Do we really believe that the poor, through hard work, have the same opportunities as a family with generational wealth? Do we really believe that by not helping those in need we are saying that we value hard work? What about the American who puts in a 12 hour work day making our highways and still can barely feed his family? What about the person who lives a life of leisure, basically a professional partier, living off his status and the fruits of his father’s labor? What does our choice of political leadership communicate about how we value these individuals? Are our perceptions of these individuals biased based on our limited experiences?

holly said...

Sunny, in response to your question "what about the porr American?"
Here is what I think: (taken from Neal Boortz's website) sorry it's long
"I'm going to cut taxes for 95% of Americans."
And what is the truth? The truth is that almost one-half of working Americans eligible to vote don't pay federal income taxes in the first place. This brings forth the interesting question of how do you cut taxes for people who don't pay taxes. What Obama has done here is change the definition of "tax cut."
It used to be that when the government walked up to someone who had just received their paycheck and said 'Gimme some of that," and the government then gave that money to someone else who had not earned it; that was called welfare. Now apparently you can't get welfare if you're working ... so we'll just call it income seizure and redistribution. Under Obama a couple earning, for example, $70,000 and owing no federal income taxes at all will get several checks from Obama's federal taxpayer-funded treasury. These checks will be called "tax cuts."
So .. for those who don't pay taxes, here are some of the "tax cut" checks you'll be getting from Obama. I'm taking some literary license here and replacing the words "tax credit" with the word "payment." That literary flourish brings us much closer to the truth. Here are your goodies; come and get 'em:
• A $500 "make work pay" payment.
• A $4,000 payment for college tuition.
• A payment equal to 10% of your mortgage interest
• A payment equal to 50% of the amount of money you put into a savings account up to $1000.
• A payment equal to 50% of the amount of money you pay for child care up to $6000.
• A payment of up to $7,000 if you purchase a "clean car." By that Obama means an environmentally correct car.
• Plus ... an expansion of the earned income tax credit .. increased payments on top of your earnings if the government doesn't feel you are earning enough.
There you go ... Obama's "tax cuts." Sounds pretty good, doesn't it. Well, I guess it is, if you're not too successful it IS pretty good. Remember, the harder you work the lower these payments get. Barack Obama's tax plans are all about punishing success and rewarding failure. He understands that if it weren't for failures, Democrats would be scrounging in the alleys for votes.
It's rather ironic that the Obama campaign will go to the mat with critics over the definition of "socialist," but feel absolutely free to change the definition of "tax cut" to anything that suits them.
"95% of small businesses won't pay any more taxes."
Once people started hearing that the very people that Obama wanted to raise taxes on are the people we depend on for jobs, The BO campaign had to come up with a line to neuter the "small business" argument. Barack Obama knows he's in trouble if the voters find out that 70% of all extant jobs are in the small business sector and that 80% of all new jobs are coming from small businesses. So, Obama comes up with this line about 95% of small businesses not paying any more taxes under his plan.
Here's the trick. Let me illustrate reality with a simple comparison. Let's say that we have 1000 small businesses. About 950 of them, that would be 95%, employ one or two people each for a total employment figure of 1,200. Now let's assume that the other 50 businesses employ anywhere from 20 people to hundreds of people for a total of about 250,000 workers. If someone comes along and says 95% of small businesses won't be affected by his tax increases, how do you feel? You know that the tax increase is going to slam those businesses that employ 250,000 workers, while leaving the 95% of businesses that employ just 1,200 people alone. Quite a deal.
The point here is that it's not the percentage of small businesses your tax increases hit, it's the percentage of small business employees. Unfortunately that nuance is lost on the majority of voters educated by the government, and the MoveOn Media sure isn't going to take the time to explain it to you. Obama's tax increases are going to hit the small business owners who employ the most people. They are the ones that make the most money. These business owners are going to respond to the tax increases one of two ways. They'll increase prices -- which hit all of us -- or they'll cut expenses. Their number one expense? Personnel. Say TTFN to your job. Makes perfect sense to me, but then I was government educated too.

holly said...

One more thing...

CHUMP CHANGE
Obama did an interview with MTV ... this is where he is a true American Idol. But the interview is extremely telling. And yet I will bet you dollars to doughnuts that none of the government educated teenagers listening to this interview can even begin to understand what this man is actually saying. Here are some excerpts:
MTV: Our next question is from Matt from Iowa: "If your desire is to spread the wealth around, what incentive is there for me to try to work hard? If I am only going to get more taken away from me, the more money I make, why wouldn't I just slide into a life of relaxation and let rich people take care of me? And a lot of people are asking similar questions, and I wanted you to specify. What does this mean exactly?"
Obama: What is amazing to me is this whole notion that somehow everybody is just looking out for themselves ... You don't just give tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires. What you do is make sure the tax code is fair ... So this idea, that somehow everybody is just on their own and shouldn't be concerned about other people who are coming up behind them, that's the kind of attitude that I want to end when I am president.
Did you catch that, folks? As president, Barack Obama is going to end this idea of self-reliance. He is going to make sure that government is there to tell you when you should be concerned about the people behind you, and he is going to make sure that government is there to take your money to help these people. We have already established that wanting to keep the money that you earn is "selfish" according to Obama. On the other hand, wanting the money that someone else has earned isn't selfish. We also need to say that it was refreshing to see this particular question ... especially on MTV.
Another one:
MTV: Just out of curiosity, for those that are being taxed that are making more than $250,000 a year, how much difference would it be from how they are being taxed today?
Obama: Well, right now, they are getting taxed at 36 percent. Under Bill Clinton in the 1990s, they were being taxed at 39.6 percent. You are talking about a 3.6 percent difference, and for the average person who is making half a million, a million dollars ... that's chump change, that's nothing ...
So there you go. The reason that Obama will increase taxes on the evil rich is because that is "chump change" to them. It's money they just don't need. I'm sure that is not what the people who earned it think. But what do they know? It is now the government's role to take that chump change and make sure that you aren't being selfish with it.
This is the type of leftist nonsense that Obama has been spreading in his stump speeches. Just recently in Jacksonville, Obama said, "The choice in this election isn't between tax cuts and no tax cuts. It's about whether you believe we should only reward wealth, or whether we should also reward the work and workers who create it." What is wrong with this picture? If by "wealth" you mean the business owners who created the jobs for these workers ... then ask these workers where they would get a job without the evil rich people to create them.
This isn't a question about rewarding wealth over work. Work creates wealth. Obama paints the picture that rich people are being somehow rewarded because they are rich; that being rich is just some status in life that was bestowed on them at the expense of others. This is anti-achievement rhetoric. Achievers bug Democrats because achievers understand that they can realize their dream without the government taking from others to give to them. Achievers must be demonized. If more people figure out that the road to wealth lies in hard work and determination then the role of government, and the power of politicians, will be lessened. Democrats and Obama want Americans to think that the only way they are going to have an adequate standard of living is for the government to take from those who have worked harder and smarter, and give to them. The inevitable result is that there are going to be fewer people willing to work hard to achieve wealth, and more people standing by for their government handouts. Even the government-educated can figure out where that is going to take us.

sunny said...

Wow! I guess I could have just posted something written with a democratic bias as a response, but my goal was for us to explore our thoughts, not the biased ones from one parties side. Please understand that I am not trying to defend a platform – I believe there are good and bad in both (all), but I do believe in exploring where our beliefs and ideas come from and how a limited view can cause people to judge others. It is uncomfortable and can sometimes rock our world to the core, but still necessary to grow.

I would love for you to read this article and tell me your thoughts. http://mmcisaac.faculty.asu.edu/emc598ge/Unpacking.html

I wonder if you believe that whiteness gives privileges that others may not have. Do you truly believe that everything one earns is based on their hard work and it has nothing to do with privileges based on American values, a society created on oppression of other races? Do you believe, even though the civil rights movement and integration has happened within our (or at least our parents) lifetimes, we all have equal opportunity?

It is very difficult for me to understand that people don’t see that certain populations do not benefit strictly because of a lack of societal privilege. I guess it isn’t that tough to understand, because that would mean that the people who have would have to recognize and admit that they are not above others who work hard and are still struggling. Those in privileged situations have something to lose from admitting that they didn’t earn their higher status. Our parents have taught us that hard work pays off, and for some it has. It is difficult to want to believe that this is only a half-truth.

The statement in your posting, “Obama’s policies are all about punishing successes and rewarding failure” is a privileged perspective. It assumes that money equals success and is acquired through hard work, and that those who “fail” didn’t deserve or try to succeed. In fact, the most reliable determining factor of wealth is wealth. People who come from money continue to make money. It isn’t about hard work, or laziness, it is about the opportunities that money buys you (the right schools, friends in high places, the ability to receive loans and start businesses…) and I would argue that very few non-white Americans have had the opportunity to create generational wealth.

I know many people who struggle to provide for their family, and none of them are lazy, or are waiting for a hand out – even if they have received one or two in their life. I don’t think any child hopes to sit around and collect assistance so they can have food and crappy housing. And for those VERY few who later in life resign to this life, it is because the systems have taught them that no matter how hard they try, they will never be as good as those who already have – the gap widens because of our institutionalized oppression. When 4 out of 5 students in the educational discipline programs are minority students, we are sending a message loud and clear.

Also, the statement about selfishness assumes that helping others to have the basic needs of food, shelter and education is as selfish as maintaining a system where the privileged can afford flat screen TVs and family vacations.

By giving breaks to the big businesses, does that guarantee jobs? Many companies are outsourcing. Can “trickle down” be counted on?

Is there a problem with promoting and exploring alternative fuel options? Clean cars cost more to make, and there has to be an increase in demand for the manufacturers to put revenue toward exploring options and for the cost to go down. Maybe we won’t need to be dependant on other countries for fuel and we can possibly avoid future wars. Wouldn’t that be good? Oh, and I doubt the poor are choosing to pay more for clean cars - this isn't about the haves and have nots.

What about the stimulus checks? Were they not doing the same thing? Did all of the republicians donate it to a charitable cause or maybe send it back to the government because it wasn't right and it may cause laziness?

Many of the proposed changes have been in place for years, the amounts may have changed, but that is what happens when you are in an economic crisis and have to repair broken systems. It takes some time and money to help in recovering. And hopefully there won’t be a need for too long and these relief efforts will soon be unneeded.

It is inevitable that we will spend money on those who have been oppressed, it is just a matter of where we choose to spend it. I prefer to spend it helping others to prosper (food, shelter, education…) rather than punishing them for generational poverty and a lack of opportunity (prisons).

Some quotes from Tatum’s book Why are All the Blacks Sitting Together in the Cafeteria

“Whether one looks at productivity lowered by racial tensions… or real estate equity lost through housing discrimination, or the tax revenue lost in underemployed communities of color, or the high cost of warehousing human talent in prisons, the economic causes of racism are real and measurable.”

“When one is targeted my multiple isms – racism, sexism, classism, heterosexism, ableism, anti-Semitism, ageism – in whatever combination, the effect is intensified.”

“I sometimes visualize the ongoing cycle of racism as a moving walkway at the airport. Active racism is equivalent to walking fast on the conveyor belt…Passive racist behavior is equivalent to standing still on the walkway…unless they are walking actively in the opposite direction at a speed faster than the conveyor belt… they will find themselves carried along with the others.”

Some quotes from Hinchney’s book Unpacking the Way it Is

“Who are these someones who make the decisions that yield such important consequences for others? How did these someones come to be the decision makers that have so much power?”

“… seek to uncover situations in which one group unquestioningly and/or unconsciously accepts a value system that results in privilege for some other group at the cost of its own welfare.”

holly said...

Sunny,

Interesting response, I really respect your thoughts. I don't know where to begin. My original response to you was strickly regarding fiscal issues and it seems like this is turning racial. But I'll try to address your questions:
I wonder if you believe that whiteness gives privileges that others may not have. Do you truly believe that everything one earns is based on their hard work and it has nothing to do with privileges based on American values, a society created on oppression of other races? Do you believe, even though the civil rights movement and integration has happened within our (or at least our parents) lifetimes, we all have equal opportunity?
I think there are a lot of groups that have privilages over others. Whether that is fair or not...well I certainly don't belive that is up to the federal government, or local government to make us all equal. That sounds like communism to me. I'm not saying I enjoy seeing poor people and they deserve to be poor. I think there are other ways to address these social problems. Get the government out of it. Take Katrina for example. They can't seem to do shit to help the people who need it the most. We have contributed (as a gov't) billions of dollars in aide and it is being squandered by beaucracy. But you get the private industry involved (i.e. habitat for humanity) and you see neighborhoods going up all over the place. It's just that my preference for help to these people are coming from different methods than yours. The gov't takes money, and does nothing with it. The proof is in the public schools, the No Child Left Behind Program, the kids that are now coming out of the school systems, and we are pouring more and more money into them. There are better ways to fixing these problems than giving more money. And when I say giving more money, it's Obama or any democrat TAKING more money. And they have you convinced, because you feel sorry for them thinking this is the only way to go. It's not though. There are other solutions, and you aren't an elitist or racist if you feel that way. People like me don't just sit by and think "oh you're lazy, that's too bad you don't have squat" to the underprivledged, we think "this gov't is crazy and fucked up and here are some ideas on how to improve it".
Regarding stimulus checks. I'm not in favor of them. I like tax cuts b/c I think they stimulate the economy but I think the check is another form of welfare, and although I spent mine (yes I did) I am not in favor of them as a policy. Don't like it. Those Congressional Republicans spent way too much and had no fiscal control.
Also to respond to your: The statement in your posting, “Obama’s policies are all about punishing successes and rewarding failure” is a privileged perspective. It assumes that money equals success and is acquired through hard work, and that those who “fail” didn’t deserve or try to succeed.
I don't agree here at all, I think it assumes that those who fail are those that happily vote for him with their greedy little hands stuck out deliberatly waiting for what social program they will get; or they fail because they are tricked into believing letting the gov't take care of them is the best way to live their lives.
In other words, it's the people who are in favor of the social programs, and receive them.
Sunny, you're a very intersting person!

sunny said...

It is nice to have someone willing to discuss issues that are usually so personal to people that their arguments are stictly emotional. Thank you!

It would be great if fiscal issues and race could be separated, but one influences the other, so in our efforts to discuss the financial realities in our country, race is relevant.

Quote:
And they have you convinced, because you feel sorry for them thinking this is the only way to go. It's not though. There are other solutions, and you aren't an elitist or racist if you feel that way. People like me don't just sit by and think "oh you're lazy, that's too bad you don't have squat" to the underprivileged, we think "this gov't is crazy and fucked up and here are some ideas on how to improve it".

I agree that the government isn't the best way to address the issues of poverty in our country, but unfortunately until there is a better solution that serves to feed and provide shelter to all of our citizens in need, it is all we have. After all, the help offered isn't just for the adults (whether we believe they deserve it or not), there are kids that I'd guess we all believe are deserving of the basics of life.

I think, in all of your comments, the word lazy is the part that I take issue with. There are lazy people in this world, but they are in all social classes. Help doesn't make a person lazy or we would all be lazy - we have all received some sort of help in our lives. It isn't a reason to not be humane to others, is it? I can agree with the idea of reform of our welfare system - we need to reform just about everything, nothing is perfect - but I can't just say it should be done away with and to all those in need, you're on your own.

Quote:
I don't agree here at all, I think it assumes that those who fail are those that happily vote for him with their greedy little hands stuck out deliberatly waiting for what social program they will get; or they fail because they are tricked into believing letting the gov't take care of them is the best way to live their lives.
In other words, it's the people who are in favor of the social programs, and receive them.

I guess on this one, we are just going to have to agree to disagree. I guess my experiences with people of many different social classes have taught me differently than yours. I have met good and bad in all social classes. I have also seen people who worked hard and had everything lose it all in a bad business deal - and needed help to get back on their feet (oh, and there is a lot of money going out to help the rich, probably more than is spent on welfare - it just isn't as scrutinized - money equals power and both are valued in our society). I have met first generation Americans who have nothing other than the clothes on their back, who work hard to not meet the needs of their families - and with little hope for the next generation due to nutritional issues and basic needs having to take priority over education.

I also know that even though I work hard to secure a comfortable lifestyle for my family, it could all be gone in the blink of an eye - I am not invincible. And I can only hope that I won't be judged or fall into a second class citizenship as a result. I hope I will never know hunger, I hope I can spare my children of these experiences - but if I can't, I hope there is someone/something I can turn to in a time of need. The Golden Rule lives on - do unto others as you would have others do unto you.

sunny said...

Hey Tiki, can you repost this and the thread? Thought it would be nice to have it back in the forefront of conversations, I don't want to dig for this one, but it did lead to some good conversation. Don't know if it is possible to repost w/the comments, but thought I'd ask.