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Old 22nd November 2011, 04:22 AM   #31 (permalink)
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Re: Occupy Wall Streeters

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Originally Posted by Dr.Jackson View Post
This is indeed the very root of the problem. Almost everyone in the entire human race has a drive to be better than the person next to them. In America more than most other nations in the Western world, the idea that 'Greed is Good' has become a mantra of sorts.

Unfortunately there is a mathematical rule which shows the reasons for the economic inequality - the Pareto principle http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pareto_principle - although many, not just those in the Occupy movement, are not aware of this.

In essence, as well as human nature, a fundamental law of mathematics is being fought. I'm not sure how we can change the attitudes to the fundamental nature of being without something so terrifying happening that it shocks the world into a paradigm shift.
There are several things to address here, I think. While I agree that the drive to better ourselves personally is one of the most basic drives there is -- a part of the survival instinct and, even more, a part of the instinct to pass on our genes, really -- it is balanced by other drives innately equally strong, and linked to the same instinct, such as ensuring the safety and well-being of the family, clan, or tribe... and in modern life this, of course, has been expanded to a much wider group than ever before in the existence of our species.

Second: The Pareto Principle, as I understand it, is a formulation of an observation of conditions within human interaction. It is not something like a formal law of physics, but simply a mathematical expression of an observed set of facts within a limited (human) set of circumstances. Change the circumstances, and you change the facts to be observed, and therefore the mathematical formula will change to describe the new set of conditions.

And that is, ultimately, it: it is the environment we are in which decides which of the traits I mention in the first paragraph is more highly developed. But! Unlike most species on our planet, we have the ability to choose how to alter conditions such as these. We are no longer bound by the sort of constraints the physical environment placed on us through most of our existence, but can alter many of those conditions in our favor... if we so choose. In other words, we create the environment in this sense; furthermore, we have the ability to think it through and alter our paradigms for the optimal conditions to increase a more humane response. This can be done whether religious or secular, so that isn't a dividing ground here; nor does either side on that debate have a monopoly on making good moral or ethical decisions in this sphere.

The problem is that we really need to get away from the traditional view of labor -- i.e., donkey-work, which is increasingly to be fulfilled by machinery, really, until there will likely not be any "unskilled labor" jobs at some point in the not-too-distant future; and start building a paradigm where we finally, dammit, start making use of that most neglected of resources, the untapped human potential; that is, the sort of things which only human beings (at least, so far, and for a very long time to come, I suspect) can do. This will require an overhaul of the educational system, and probably most political systems as well. It is certainly going to require an overhaul of these insofar as views of ethnic minorities, the role of women, etc., are concerned; and that's going to be one hell of an uphill battle in several parts of the world. But if we want to avoid simply finding stop-gap measures and postponing the inevitable (and worse next time) crunch, then we'd bloody well better be about it.

The good thing, as I said, is that we have the ability and the tools to do it. The question remains (as it so often does): do we have the will to follow the implications of such a difficult, long-range, choice?
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Old 22nd November 2011, 05:13 AM   #32 (permalink)
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Re: Occupy Wall Streeters

"Dreamers dream as dreamers do. Doers make the dreams come true"
it comes, as you say, down to will power. do we want to make the personal sacrifices necessary to carry us through to the next 'big phase'? we had the stone age and the iron age and the bronze age, when is the mental age truly going to take shape? or are we still stuck in the silicon age?
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Old 22nd November 2011, 05:31 PM   #33 (permalink)
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Re: Occupy Wall Streeters

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Do you know how to run a hospital or perform surgery? Does that mean you're not allowed an opinion on the health care system that directly impacts your health?
No, but it does mean that my ill-informed opinion has to carry less weight than the opinion of those who do know how to run hospitals or perform surgery.

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Can you try a case in court on your own? Does that mean you're not allowed to discuss the death penalty or tort reform?
Bad example, I'm afraid.


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I don't think there's any rational way to argue against the main point... that over the last 20-30 years, a small number of very wealthy in the US have done very well at the expense of the rest of us.
Erm..it's been going on for a lot longer than 20-30 years, old chap.

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That's why you protest... show you demand a change and then hope those with the ability to produce it hear you.
They'll never listen. The best you'll get are fine words and perhaps a few concessions which are so watered down that they could pass for homeopathy remedies.


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I think it's totally disingenuous and unfair to act like that guy doesn't know what he's talking about just becos he can't argue the finer points of globalization's role in it.
If a chap doesn't know what he's talking about, it's hardly unfair to point that out. No-one's saying he has to shut up.


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THEY don't know what they're talking about becos they never have to worry about looking for a job or making money.
Who are THEY?

Look - I fully understand the anger. I share it too, albeit perhaps for different reasons. But to accuse everyone with money and influence of being corrupt and uncaring is as sweeping - and as inaccurate - a generalisation as accusing all protesters of being workshy soap dodgers. We have to look dispassionately at the issues - not pour self-righteous bile on the heads of the usual suspects.

Regards,

Peter
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Old 22nd November 2011, 09:02 PM   #34 (permalink)
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Re: Occupy Wall Streeters

Corporations are too powerful. People talk about the stock market endlessly, and while that's a part of it, the real danger to American democracy is the power that corporations wield.

The corporations now qualify as people, but unlike people they can donate an unlimited amount of money to political campaigns. Also, they can't be held criminally responsible for their actions, only individual scapegoats within the corporation.

There's a really fantastic documentary available on Hulu called, "The Corporation" that explores the evils of transnational corporations very well. I recommend everyone to watch it.

The reason this is relevant, if it is not obvious, is that corporations are the primary means of wealth acquisition for their shareholders, many of whom comprise the top 1%, if not the top .01%.

Back to the OWS people: The wealth disparity is not created through capital gains alone. That's ludicrous. Everything about our national system is responsible, and by that I mean everything: education, health care, government, culture, and the media.

Capital gains have contributed to the rich getting even richer in the past few years, but it's not the cause of the inequality. The entire tax system as it exists now is unreasonably lenient towards the rich while putting the largest burden on the middle and lower middle and lower class. Our culture of glorifying the wealthy has totally screwed us on this too.

The class system in America is rarely discussed, because most Americans would like to politely pretend it doesn't exist, but it does. No one who doesn't live in destitute poverty considers themselves lower or working class, and everyone in the middle class aspires to be upper middle class. The result of this is that middle and lower class people are manipulated into voting against their own self-interests and lowering taxes on the wealthy, while largely maintaining the tax rates as is for the lower brackets. This has been going on since the Reagan era.

Another result is that Americans are largely unwilling to enact punitive measures against the wealthy because they like to think one day they themselves will be wealthy. I think this is the major source of inertia for socioeconomic reform.

People really need to be educated about how the wealthiest people have been systematically abusing our democracy for their own personal gain at the expense of national well-being and prosperity before they will wake up and realize they need to be supporting the OWS movement and helping to change the system while they can. Otherwise we'll just end up in a real and total plutocracy.
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Old 23rd November 2011, 01:27 AM   #35 (permalink)
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Re: Occupy Wall Streeters

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Originally Posted by Peter Graham View Post
Erm..it's been going on for a lot longer than 20-30 years, old chap.
http://abcnews.go.com/Business/incom...1#.TsxK4PGH25Y

Thinks have been accelerating at an insane pace over the last 28 years though.

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Who are THEY?
Anyone that says the protestors should quit being whining and just get jobs. The people are protesting BECAUSE there are no jobs, not because they're too lazy to get them.

And no, not all rich people are evil, but the ones driving this ARE all rich people. It's an epidemic among the upper classes anymore... egomaniacal greed as virtue.
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Old 23rd November 2011, 01:30 AM   #36 (permalink)
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Re: Occupy Wall Streeters

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I get the same vibe from younger Christians. And speaking for this Parson, you are much more likely to hear me preaching against greed/materialism than about lust. (Although most people think that they are poor, and materialism really has no hold on them.)

Once again, I agree. I've seen the video you refer to, or at least parts of it. I would say unequivocally that greed is a chief American sin. I do think that there is some possibility for a kind of coalition on this point. The chief sticking point would be that both sides would expect that the other would be more like them than they actually were.

(Just to illustrate my point, I'm both pro-life and anti-death penalty, which I feel is a very logical pairing, but proponents of each side look like I've just committed some sort of awful sin by pairing them.)
You sound like an unfortunately rare preacher indeed.

As to the logic of your pairing, it makes sense to me. But I was raised Catholic. I think all the ornate and bizarre rituals give people the impression Catholics are a lot more light evangelicals than they really are... the church has always opposed the death penalty.
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Old 23rd November 2011, 05:17 AM   #37 (permalink)
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Re: Occupy Wall Streeters

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Originally Posted by soulsinging View Post
As to the logic of your pairing, it makes sense to me. But I was raised Catholic. I think all the ornate and bizarre rituals give people the impression Catholics are a lot more light evangelicals than they really are... the church has always opposed the death penalty.
I'm having trouble understanding "more light evangelicals" suspect "more like evangelicals" but that doesn't jibe with the ornate and bizarre rituals as those things are anathema to evangelicals.

I really haven't heard any major Christian figures speak about the OWS group. It is hard for me to imagine where they'd fall. The evangelical leaders I would suspect would have most of their people fall into the lower socioeconomic classes, but their politics are very Republican. While some of the mainline churches would have a lot of their people as bankers et. al. but their politics is usually democratic. It's an enigma to me.
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Old 23rd November 2011, 01:54 PM   #38 (permalink)
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Re: Occupy Wall Streeters

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Thinks have been accelerating at an insane pace over the last 28 years though.
The essential disparity between the haves and the have nots has, if anything, decreased (at least over here). The money is still held inequally and I accept that the gulf is widening, but the money is only one factor. Increasing executive pay may be symptomatic of greed and self interest, but it isn't necessairly symptomatic of increasing power and influence.


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Anyone that says the protestors should quit being whining and just get jobs. The people are protesting BECAUSE there are no jobs, not because they're too lazy to get them.
The reason there are no jobs has little or nothing to do with fat cats spending the money on lobbying instead. There are no jobs because people aren't spending and that means a reduced need for goods and services. People aren't spending because there is no money sloshing around the system. There is no money sloshing around the system because we lived on debt for too long and the day of reckoning has come. Bankers and politicians must shoulder some of the repsonsibility for that - but not all of it. Most of us were happy to throw caution to the wind when times were good.


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It's an epidemic among the upper classes anymore... egomaniacal greed as virtue.
That's been true since Wall Street, Thatcherism and probably since before the Norman Conquest. And upper class is not necessarily a failsafe measure of monetary wealth.

Regards,

Peter
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Old 23rd November 2011, 06:16 PM   #39 (permalink)
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Re: Occupy Wall Streeters

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Originally Posted by Parson View Post
I'm having trouble understanding "more light evangelicals" suspect "more like evangelicals" but that doesn't jibe with the ornate and bizarre rituals as those things are anathema to evangelicals.
It was a typo firstly, "more like evangelicals." What I meant was there tends to be a lot of overlap between a certain set of conservative views and the evangelical community (for instance, most are pro-life and pro-death penalty, thus the reaction you normally get for being against the latter). I think that the Catholic Church, because so much of its ceremonial trappings are so antiquated and conservative (plus their bizarre contraception stance), people assume that Catholics pretty fall in line with that same conservative ideology. The reality is that just like evangelicals swing the opposite way in terms of how elaborate ceremonies are, Catholics swing the opposite way on a lot of the political issues. They're really only lockstep on abortion, while ending the death penalty is a core part of their doctrine.

I was just meditating on why most people might find it odd that you're pro-life and against the death penalty, but it makes perfect sense to someone like me that was raised on Catholic doctrine where those were presented as the logical pairing. Of course, that could be more a Jesuit thing than just Catholic, hehe.

And I'll stop pulling this thing further off The Man (in the political, not religious sense) now, promise!
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Old 23rd November 2011, 06:31 PM   #40 (permalink)
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Re: Occupy Wall Streeters

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Originally Posted by Peter Graham View Post
There is no money sloshing around the system because we lived on debt for too long and the day of reckoning has come. Bankers and politicians must shoulder some of the repsonsibility for that - but not all of it. Most of us were happy to throw caution to the wind when times were good.
I'd say they ought to shoulder the bulk of the responsibility for that since it was their mess and their system and their business practices that caused the bulk of the damage. The outrage is due to the fact that they have shouldered NONE of it while we have borne all of it. We lost our jobs, they got government loans and bonuses to "retain talent"... the same talent that caused the mess. For all they keep saying about our responsibility to just shut up and go find jobs and pay our bills, none of them have been held responsible for a thing. So I guess I find it hard for them that caused this crying over the possibility they might have to pay more on their capital gains when if any of us had screwed up even 1/10000th as badly as they did, we'd be on the street.

As to wealth and power, money IS power. It's the new club, sword, longbow, musket, nuke...
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Old 23rd November 2011, 07:37 PM   #41 (permalink)
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Re: Occupy Wall Streeters

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As to wealth and power, money IS power.
Spot on SS. But power also generates money. It's people in power that decide how much to pay themselves, the people without power are told what they are goimg to earn.

But just let people try to gain a little power by organising themselves and the roof falls in - "you're blackmailing the country, holding us to ransom etc."

In the U.K. there's been talk of banking reform to prevent abuse of the system and a repetition of the banking crisis. The bank's response? "We'll move abroad!" The Government's response? "you're blackmailing the country, holding us to ransom etc."? Not on your life. The Government's response: "O.K. maybe we'll kick it into the long grass until everyone forgets about it."
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Old 23rd November 2011, 09:20 PM   #42 (permalink)
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Re: Occupy Wall Streeters

Somehow... I don't think anybody is going to forget about this for quite some time... at least until the problems are, if not fixed, at least ameliorated by one hell of a lot.

Incidentally, I have no illusions about the steps I outline above being taken; I just think they are the only way to avoid finding ourselves back in this same mess further down the line... and likely worse than now. But... if even some of the steps are taken, then we may improve things at least a little; and, as history tends to show, such improvements happen (when they happen at all) incrementally, not all at once....

And even if we did take the radical steps necessary to avoid repeating this garbage, I'm likely to be long dead before the effects are felt, so it is for future generations to ensure we don't screw it up again....

By the way... I've spoken again to my neighbor and, yes, it is as broad as I suspected. If anything written is submitted -- suggestions, etc. -- or even if a "manifesto" is designed for such an organization (such as nearly all organizations throughout history have had as their "mission statement"), then it will most likely end them up on the list of terrorist organizations. This is one of the big problems with organizing and getting things done: If they take the steps necessary to do this properly, they de facto make themselves outlaws....

I've put out some feelers to see if I can get sources to track down this information, and find out how accurate it is (but given where I'm getting it, I'm pretty sure it's dead-on), and will pass along anything more I find out... unless I land myself in trouble by doing what I have so far. (Incidentally, a part of what I'm hearing is that they are barred by law from getting the specifics out there themselves, even; and aren't having any luck going through the mainstream media because the situation is too complicated to fit into their soundbytes, so it will have to fall to those of us who aren't affiliated with such, and have no particular axe to grind, but only wish to legally dispense information which, frankly, is vital to us all, to get the word out... if it really is legit.) And, of course, if all this is true... then we're in an even deeper mess than I realized.....
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Old 23rd November 2011, 10:49 PM   #43 (permalink)
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Re: Occupy Wall Streeters

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Originally Posted by Peter Graham View Post
The essential disparity between the haves and the have nots has, if anything, decreased (at least over here). The money is still held inequally and I accept that the gulf is widening, but the money is only one factor. Increasing executive pay may be symptomatic of greed and self interest, but it isn't necessairly symptomatic of increasing power and influence.

This is not true. At least in America, the gap between the wealthiest members of society and the rest of it has only increased, and at a breakneck pace. Liquid currency is the least part of that disparity. Most of the wealth being held by the top 1% so often referenced is in the form of the contents of stock portfolios, bonds, and real estate. Executive salaries and bonuses are for some reason are a common talking point, but the executives are simply the handmaidens of the those who actually hold all the wealth and power: the top shareholders of their corporations. It is the corporations, acting in the interests of the super-wealthy, who do wield considerable political power and a great deal of media influence.


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The reason there are no jobs has little or nothing to do with fat cats spending the money on lobbying instead. There are no jobs because people aren't spending and that means a reduced need for goods and services. People aren't spending because there is no money sloshing around the system. There is no money sloshing around the system because we lived on debt for too long and the day of reckoning has come. Bankers and politicians must shoulder some of the repsonsibility for that - but not all of it. Most of us were happy to throw caution to the wind when times were good.

The reason there are no jobs is that the American manufacturing sector no longer exists. Neither does a large part of the service industry. Everything that possibly can be has been outsourced to various countries where labor is cheaper.

The current economic depression is not due to a lack of consumer confidence. The lull in consumer confidence is caused by the crisis, not the other way around.


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Originally Posted by Peter Graham View Post
That's been true since Wall Street, Thatcherism and probably since before the Norman Conquest. And upper class is not necessarily a failsafe measure of monetary wealth.

Regards,

Peter

The "upper class" that posters, myself included, have been referring to is the economic upper class, not the remnants of the British aristocracy which can still be found lurking around on that island. In America the upper class is largely defined by how much wealth it possesses, and how long that wealth has been possessed (This is the key point, old money always trumps new money, no matter how much new money it might be.). Which is not to say that they mostly hold actual money, because as I said above, most of the wealth is in non-liquid assets.
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Old 23rd November 2011, 11:05 PM   #44 (permalink)
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Re: Occupy Wall Streeters

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Somehow... I don't think anybody is going to forget about this for quite some time... at least until the problems are, if not fixed, at least ameliorated by one hell of a lot.
I meant forget about the promise of banking reform J.D.

Unlike a lot of the legislation introduced by the current government, banking reform is directed staright at people with both money and power.
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Old 24th November 2011, 02:08 AM   #45 (permalink)
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Re: Occupy Wall Streeters

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Originally Posted by Parson View Post
I really haven't heard any major Christian figures speak about the OWS group. It is hard for me to imagine where they'd fall. The evangelical leaders I would suspect would have most of their people fall into the lower socioeconomic classes, but their politics are very Republican. While some of the mainline churches would have a lot of their people as bankers et. al. but their politics is usually democratic. It's an enigma to me.
I don't understand why that would be hard for you of all people to understand, Parson. Does it not say the kings (nations) have committed fornication with her (the harlot) and their sins mass clear up to heaven? They are in league with one another, playing politics with each other for their own conveniences, for now.

I saw two movies recently, the first was the Aviator and there was a quote in it when Howard Hughes was at the Hepburn residents and mother Hepburn said smugly in conversation, "we don't worry about money" and Howard shot back "that's because you don't have to". I laughed. The other is V for Vendetta, and that movie is more relevant today than when it first came out. The thing is, I want to agree when he said on the TV broadcast on whose to blame, just look in the mirror. You voted these people into office, you voted these laws in. Well, I know it's more complicated than that as many things are passed by our government we don't have a chance to vote on. That movie is just so good, though.

I've enjoyed reading all the comments to this thread, thank you all.
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