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  #21  
Old 02-28-2016, 12:07 PM
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FallenAngelina FallenAngelina is offline
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Politics in this country has gotten out of hand, the major corporations run this country and control the politicians, the rich get richer, the poor get poorer and there is no more middle class. We can't have politics as usual any more......This country needs to have thing shaken up, a major overhaul.
People say this during every election. Yawn.

1. There is no more socially mobile society in all the world and in all of history than the United States.
2. The living standard has risen dramatically for everyone in this country during the past hundred years and that is due to the free market, the overall health and improvement of our economy and massive innovation with the capital to back it up. Dentistry, indoor plumbing, vaccines, plentiful food, the internet, a vehicle - just a very few of the immense life improvements that most Americans take for granted as everyday life, but were unimaginable to most even one short century ago.
3. The United States system of government is by design not shake-uppable. There is no one person who can "shake things up" (Hello! Balance of Powers and Federalism) and thank our founding fathers for seeing that empowering one person to this extent makes for tyranny. The US system of government can be clunky and Byzantine, but it's really quite remarkably designed to keep up with and accurately reflect the long term changes in the will of the people. You do not want one person to be able to barge into Congress, the White House and the Supreme Court to "shake things up."
4. Anyone who thinks that we have no freedom of choice hasn't been to most other countries and seen what passes for "fair election" in other parts of the world.



The dusty old "no more middle class" trope is just plain absurd. That's simply demographically incorrect.
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Old 02-28-2016, 08:44 PM
Ravenscroft Ravenscroft is offline
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The term "middle class" is bandied freely about as though everyone's talking about the same thing, but it reminds me of that Garrison Keillor line about Lake Woebegone, "where all the kids are above average."

If you fix the worst 10% of any problem... you're still gonna have a "worst 10%."

If you totally wipe out the center quintiles, you'll still have center quintiles.

Now, it's true that we DON'T have a "middle class" like when I was a kid, where just about any blue-collar Daddy could earn enough to support a wife & 2-3 kids AND buy a house AND get a better used car every few years -- pretty much my childhood, & we were definitely high end of the lower socioeconomic tier. That declined through the 1970s & was all but gone by the mid-'80s, & Mommy had to get a paying job to make ends meet.

As for "social mobility," it's hardly so dire as some delight in painting it, but
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There is no more socially mobile society in all the world and in all of history than the United States.
just ain't so. For starters,
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_mobility
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socio-..._United_States
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One study (“Do Poor Children Become Poor Adults?") found that of nine developed countries, the United States and United Kingdom had the lowest intergenerational vertical social mobility
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The four countries with the lowest "intergenerational income elasticity", i.e. the highest social mobility, were Denmark, Norway, Finland, and Canada

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Some studies have found that not only is the degree of social mobility in the US not large but it has either remained unchanged or decreased since the 1970s. Other research shows that economic mobility in the U.S. increased from 1950 to 1980 but has declined sharply since 1980.

The centrist Brookings Institution said in March 2013 that income inequality was increasing and becoming permanent, sharply reducing social mobility.
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Old 02-28-2016, 10:26 PM
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I'm familiar with your studies and others like this, but WWII gave us a blip in many ways. Look at economic figures before WWII and you'll find something very different. History extends well beyond the 1950s. The post WWII years are often held up as some kind of standard, but they are are actually an anomaly in many social and economic ways.

Your daddy might have been able to support a family on his working class wage, but that was also back when the average "middle class" family house had many fewer square feet, had one bathroom, kids shared rooms as a norm and there was one family car with one set of family car expenses. Nobody had a $200/month cable bill and nobody had to finance a cell phone and data plan for every member of the family. Kids just rode their bikes around (virtually zero cost for "kids' activities") and no expectation of a lavish family vacation every sumer. The whole "shrinking middle class" claim is nothing more than a buzz phrase, backed up by comparing apples to oranges. The "necessary expenses" family budget today looks nothing like what "necessary expenses" were back when we were Boomer and post-Boomer kids (another blip thanks to WWII.)
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  #24  
Old 02-28-2016, 11:34 PM
Ravenscroft Ravenscroft is offline
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But... see, I could (with equal validity) take your assertions to "prove" it's all due to angels, or Martians, or the Illuminati.

As you just pointed out, a major problem in any discussion of politics is the tendency for participants to toss out handy catch-phrases with not the least care for content or even consistency, just baseless jargon intended to impose a vague prejudice upon others.

Right?

I've got (as they say) no dog in the "mobility" fight. My hourly wage has doubled in nine years, & while I'm far from wealthy, I'm comfortable, & I've certainly had some fun when I was (briefly) an upper-middle-classer.

Maybe there's something to your assertions, but without sourcing, they're mere assertions.
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Old 02-28-2016, 11:57 PM
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Originally Posted by FallenAngelina View Post
I'm familiar with your studies and others like this, but WWII gave us a blip in many ways. Look at economic figures before WWII and you'll find something very different. History extends well beyond the 1950s. The post WWII years are often held up as some kind of standard, but they are are actually an anomaly in many social and economic ways.

Your daddy might have been able to support a family on his working class wage, but that was also back when the average "middle class" family house had many fewer square feet, had one bathroom, kids shared rooms as a norm and there was one family car with one set of family car expenses. Nobody had a $200/month cable bill and nobody had to finance a cell phone and data plan for every member of the family. Kids just rode their bikes around (virtually zero cost for "kids' activities") and no expectation of a lavish family vacation every sumer. The whole "shrinking middle class" claim is nothing more than a buzz phrase, backed up by comparing apples to oranges. The "necessary expenses" family budget today looks nothing like what "necessary expenses" were back when we were Boomer and post-Boomer kids (another blip thanks to WWII.)
These are all crucially valuable and important points. And I say so as one who agrees that in some broad sense "the middle class" ... "has been shrinking". Just as the middle class was shrinking we find that consumerism and expectations of what it means to be "middle class" have been bloating. It is no mere co-incidence, too, that ecological and environmental indicators have also been getting generally worse and worse as humanity lost all of its senses and launched headlong in to MORE, MORE, MORE! of "Bigger Is Better"-ism ... while Quality Of Life has gone further and further down the sewer in the USA in rampant pursuit of some delusional form of Standard Of Living.

But I guess I'm nit picking again, dammit!
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Old 02-29-2016, 12:07 AM
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This graph begins its arc of incline around 1970. I'd like to see the graphs all the way back to the beginning of the twentieth century, at least!


Today’s new homes are 1,000 square feet larger than in 1973, and the living space per person has doubled over last 40 years
https://www.aei.org/publication/toda...last-40-years/

And guess what the graphs about deforestation in the USA look like side-by-side with this one about average house size? How about depletion of other "resources" like fisheries, soil fertility / erosion... etc., etc.? The more MORE MORE America's per capita appetite (and demand on "resources") grew, the more the intact natural world shrunk. Imagine that!

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1900 To 2010: Evolution Of The American Home Today: Fun Housing Facts.

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2...-housing-units

More and bigger houses, of course, means less and less intact forest ecosystems.

http://www.ran.org/how_much_old_grow...ains_in_the_us

But, hey, we don't need no stinking planet. We can eat money.
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Last edited by River; 02-29-2016 at 12:27 AM.
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  #27  
Old 02-29-2016, 12:27 AM
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1900 To 2010: Evolution Of The American Home Today: Fun Housing Facts.[/B]
http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2...-housing-units
Very interesting, River - thank you.




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....a major problem in any discussion of politics is the tendency for participants to toss out handy catch-phrases with not the least care for content or even consistency, just baseless jargon intended to impose a vague prejudice upon others.
Absolutely. Same with religion, sex and most other taboo subjects.
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  #28  
Old 02-29-2016, 12:42 AM
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Very interesting, River - thank you.


Absolutely. Same with religion, sex and most other taboo subjects.
Unfortunately, the folks who deliberately WANT to obfuscate, defraud, deceive... know how to make the best use of books such as How to Lie With Statistics. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/How_to...ith_Statistics

So we have all of these tremendous gaps between what the liars are saying and what the actual (honest) data says.

With misuse and abuse of language and statistics we have folks saying utter bullshit like "There is more intact forest in the USA today than there was fifty or a hundred years ago". If pushed, they will redefine "intact forest" as "more trees" -- by which they may eventually admit are tiny saplings growing as monocrops on lands which were stripped to the bare soil a few weeks ago.

..........

Disappearing from the map:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ogtk6mO5qs0
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Last edited by River; 02-29-2016 at 01:01 AM.
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  #29  
Old 02-29-2016, 02:08 AM
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Well, How to Lie With Statistics is just a teensy little paperback that's an excellent text intended to teach commonfolk how to recognize the manipulation, not like The Prince (overtly written to court favor with the Medicis, but actually rather subversive). I used to give copies of HtLwS to friends.

But thanks for taking on the "stuff = wealth" trope. I can't fathom the obsessive need to (say) get the absolute newest Apple gewgaw, either -- the amount of toxic garbage involved in the creation AND disposal of expensive, fragile toys makes my head hurt.

There's a parallel with intangibles: nobody's convinced me that the thousands of hours spent updating Facebook or retweeting brainfarts does much to make a better world, & I won't even start ranting about Pinterest.
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Old 02-29-2016, 02:47 PM
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Well, How to Lie With Statistics is just a teensy little paperback that's an excellent text intended to teach commonfolk how to recognize the manipulation, not like The Prince (overtly written to court favor with the Medicis, but actually rather subversive). I used to give copies of HtLwS to friends.

But thanks for taking on the "stuff = wealth" trope. I can't fathom the obsessive need to (say) get the absolute newest Apple gewgaw, either -- the amount of toxic garbage involved in the creation AND disposal of expensive, fragile toys makes my head hurt.

There's a parallel with intangibles: nobody's convinced me that the thousands of hours spent updating Facebook or retweeting brainfarts does much to make a better world, & I won't even start ranting about Pinterest.
While I can be more than typically cautious or particular in my word selection at times, I can also use words with almost reckless disregard when using them playfully or figuratively, such as I did in my mention of the book title, How to Lie With Statistics. I knew it wasn't really a manual for liars to employ, per se.

....

On the topic of materialism versus true wealth.... I often love the exploration of etymologies, because they often provide interesting and surprising insights about things. A favorite case in point for me is the word "wealth," which is derived from the Middle English wele, which means"well-being". And while the word "health" is spelled much the same, and is a solid rhyme, it has a different root in language, yet is what may be called a "conceptual rhyme" (so to speak), for wele (well-being) is synonymous with health -- and both concepts bespeak wholeness.

Health: http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?...wed_in_frame=0

Wealth: http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?...&search=wealth

It was following this very trail which, along with a flurry of related insights, allowed me to understand that the dominant paradigm of economics in use in the modern world is catastrophically flawed. That is, economics as taught in universities and such is not actually a science of wealth, as it purports to be. In fact, it treats real wealth as an externality (which choice of words is a bit playful), or, rather something it generally chooses to ignore as irrelevant to its function or purpose. Sweeping all of this under its carpet is half of the fun for economists.
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