Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Who Stole the American Dream?

 Dave Beal posted an interesting article.  MinnPost Who Stole the American Dream?  It is about a speaker named Hendrick Smith who blames the typical suspects (ie business & rich) for our current financial problems.  And he has a proposal for changing things.  Below is how I started my comment string and it is rapidly spreading from there.  As is typical when I note that the "normal people" actively and willingly help to create our problems...
"Key elements: revitalize an aging transportation system; invest more in research; embrace industrial policy to spur a manufacturing renaissance; overhaul the tax system; pressure China to trade more fairly; cut defense spending; strengthen safety nets in the housing market and for Social Security and Medicare; rebuild the political center; mobilize the middle class."  Hendrick Smith's Key Elements

I am still not sure how this is supposed to work... If American consumers are still resistant to buying American products, who exactly will these manufacturers produce product for? Especially since it looks like his plan will increase the cost of doing business in America..." G2A
Forbes 10 Steps to Reclaim the American Dream
WP Who Stole American Dream
PBS Hendrick Smith
KPLU Hendrick Smith

Thoughts welcome here or there...


John said...

Greg's thoughts from MP

"Taking Advantage of the Realities of Human Nature

Clearly SOME of us have risen above the nature of us humans to be short-sighted, and very bad a predicting the results of our actions, especially when we're stressed, which is, of course, a useful epidemic all by itself, here in early 21st. Century America.


It's too bad those same people have very likely had the ability to experience or express empathy and compassion for those who demonstrate standard human weaknesses beaten out of them (literally or figuratively) by those who raised them.

The reality is, the financial system, and those who sought to drive consumers to purchase far more than they would ever need or could honestly afford were given carte blanche to tune in on and take advantage of their fellow citizen's most common weaknesses,...

while their media (which is decidedly NOT "liberal," being a wholly-owned subsidiary of the 1%) pointed regular folks toward "big government" as their enemy,...

to distract them from who it was the benefited MOST from "big government" and make sure they never, ever, considered that the wealth that made the 1%ers into 1%ers had come out of those regular people's own pockets,...

Of course, those same 1%ers have most recently worked mightily (including even Keri Miller's "Daily Circuit" program on MPR, for heaven's sake) to foment enmity between the retiring baby boomers and the millennial generation so that they can reduce or wipe out Social Security (on which they make hardly any profit),...

in order to drive ALL of America's workers into investing their retirement funds into the Wall Street Casino where those same 1%ers can siphon off a big chunk of what SHOULD have gone to those investing with them into those 1%ers own pockets (which they've been doing with 401Ks, 403Bs, etc., ever since their inception,...

costing the average citizen about $165,000 of their investment savings in the process (over what an old school, defined-benefit pension operated by their employer would have provided).

The only folks who still have defined-benefit pensions tend to be public employees, teachers, civil service workers, etc., which, of course, those same 1%ers are trying desperately to wipe out, as well, by working mightily to inflame hatred toward those "pampered" workers,...

who are still getting at least little bit more of what EVERYONE ELSE should have been getting if the 1%ers hadn't stolen the American Dream right out of our pockets and out from under us all.

Human Nature is human nature. If we don't manage to make our government take action to protect our fellow citizens from being taken advantage of by the 1%ers who are playing on the most common quirks and foibles so many of us share, those 1%ers will not only steal the tattered remains of the American Dream from us, but they'll then destroy the nation from whose populace they stole their own outrageous and unjustifiable wealth,...

because the 1%ers are have their own classic set of human dysfunctions; dysfunctions which cause them never to be able to experience the satisfaction of having "enough",...

and to misread the "problems" of our nation while demanding, by virtue of the power their money gives them, "solutions" that can do NOTHING but create more and more of exactly what they already detest in their fellow humans.

Given sufficient power, the 1%ers will create a nation that they, themselves can't stand to live in (or, along with the rest of us, even be able to survive in),...

but another of their dysfunctions will cause them to universally claim (and believe) that the inevitably destructive results of accomplishing what they demanded be accomplished is everyone ELSE'S fault."

John said...

My Response:

"Shared Resposibility

I have no problem admitting that some of the wealthy behave poorly, therefore that group contributed to our problems.

Can you acknowledge that us participants caused the other 50% of our current problem?
And hold 50% of the possible fix in their personal choices?"

Can't Cheat an Honest Man

John said...

Tom's thoughts MP

"Great Answer

G2A's repeated defense of the plutocrats and blame-shifting to ordinary Americans is one reason nothing has been done to control their greed the past 30 years. He sees the plutocrats mostly being of the same political persuasion as he is. Thus he needs to defend them against the "other" side.

Pure tribalism. Multiply this by millions of other Apples, not only not being helped by our plutocrats but being hurt by them but still voting for them, and you can see where our problems lie."

John said...

My Responses:

"Different or Same?

A business sends jobs overseas to reduce costs, stay competitive and increase margins.

A consumer buys a Subaru to reduce costs, improve quality and increase "joy".

Both cost American jobs, harm unions, are freely made amongst alternatives, etc. If the business does not do this, they will likely lose market share and may go bankrupt. If the consumer does not do this, they would be driving a Chevy...

Are they the same or different? Rationale?"

"Nanny State?

So how far do you want to take this? The state prevents me:

- From investing in a business because it may go bankrupt?
- From buying stock because it may decrease in value?
- From getting a loan because banks won't take risks?
- From getting an adjustable rate loan because the loan may go up?
- From getting a credit card?
- Buying a new device until I sign a release?
- Other?

If you place all the risk on the businesses for the poor choices of a few of their customers, they will need to charge everyone more to cover that extra risk. Instead of today where people who don't pay their bills pay higher rates. Or those who make bad spending decisions typically lose their money, not ours..."

John said...

Jon's thoughts from MP

"Nobody "forces" anyone to take out high priced debt by holding them at gunpoint. But unless you are going to live under bridges or a tent or a homeless shelter, you have to have credit and a credit rating to rent an apartment, to buy a car, to own a home, have a telephone or cell phone or computer. To make almost any purchase. Obviously, many people manage this and do it well. But that's not the point. Unless you pay off your credit card balance every month, you are paying a loan shark rate of interest. This is legalized theft. For many people, living on a minimum wage or less, from paycheck to paycheck, paying off their balance every month is not an option. And the game is rigged, as with the adjustable rate mortgages that offer a "teaser" low rate that operates like the classic bait and switch converting to a higher LIBOR indexed rate after a few years. A LIBOR rate that is fixed by the banks by the way."

John said...

My Response

"Why Not?

"Obviously, many people manage this and do it well. But that's not the point."

"paying off their balance every month is not an option"

One can develop a credit rating with very little principal / interest. However it seems difficult for modern Americans to delay gratification until they have the cash. I remember how bad I wanted to replace my college clunker when I graduated and got a job. It took a lot of will power to keep driving it until I could pay cash for a newer one. However after decades of this type of behavior it paid off great !!!"

jerrye92002 said...

I want to know how it is "rising above the nature of us humans" to insist that the wealth earned through providing goods and services that people want and voluntarily pay for, can be confiscated by government and returned to those who contributed nothing whatsoever to the transaction? Seems to me that this is nothing more than legalized theft, because government has a monopoly on force, while the free market is voluntary. Don't like the rich owners of Apple getting richer? Don't buy their product. You think the poor folks deserve more money than they're getting? Give them YOURS.

John said...

Yeah... I can't make this stuff up...

Laurie said...

No how many times you blame me as a consumer for the decline in the middle class, I will continue to blame large corporations, especially Walmart. This Frontline show was excellent:

Is Walmart good for America

John said...

Please do.

However I have to ask... Who gave Walmart the power described below? Who rewards them when they provide the best value? Is Walmart in someway forcing these people to grant them this power and influence? Does Walmart somehow forcefully pull people off the streets and forcefully make them spend their money at Walmart?

"Wal-Mart has reversed a hundred-year history that had the retailer dependent on the manufacturer," explains Nelson Lichtenstein, a professor at the University of California Santa Barbara. "Now the retailer is the center, the power, and the manufacturer becomes the serf, the vassal, the underling who has to do the bidding of the retailer. That's a new thing."

How can a retailer have the power? They just offer goods for a price, the consumers are the ones who decide where and what to buy.

By the way, I usually split the blame 50/50. It is the Liberals who are looking for that villain that is not themselves.

Some background FYI. Thomson Electronics is a French/Chinese firm that bought RCA along time ago. Any jobs they had here were likely lower value add. And as you can see their industry is incredibly competitive. (ie the downside of our cheap LED flat screen TV's)