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From Jim Gilliam's blog archives
Huge win in Maryland

January 13, 2006 12:57 PM

The Maryland legislature over-ruled the Republican governor's veto to pass a bill that requires companies with more than 10,000 employees to spend at least 8% of their payroll on health care (the average is 14.8%) or pay into a fund for the uninsured. Coverage in USA Today, and Washington Post.

I can't find the stat at the moment, but I believe Wal-Mart spends about 6% of payroll on health care, and about 7.3% on overall benefits. This is compared to GIANT, their biggest competitor in Maryland, that spends 20% on health care. So clearly Wal-Mart's ability to undercut their competitors on pricing is because their employees are sacrificing their health, and quite literally, their lives.

It takes effect in a year. Wal-Mart will fight it in court. 30 states are considering similar legislation.

Way to dial up the pain notch!

More from the archive in Health, Wal-Mart.

Huge win in Maryland (01.13.2006)

Next Entry: People can't live on $5.15 (01.15.2006)
Previous Entry: I'm on the lung transplant list!! (01.11.2006)

Read the 47 comments.

Paul:

They set a level which essentially every company except for Wal-Mart already meets. So, there will be a lot of support for this law.

Fri Jan 13 2006 9:29 PM


NJGuardsman:

Who does the government think they are/it is?!?!?!? How dare they dictate how a private company is to do business?!?!?!? This is what all of you claim Bush does and want to hang him from the highest tree. So now envy rears its ugly head!

I’m no fan of Wal Mart; I’ve been in the store a hand full of times. I say again PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY If an employee wants a better benefits package, that person can go elsewhere there’s no one holding a gun to their heads to stay working for Wal Mart!!!!

If Mr. Walton is smart (or out of sheer spite), he’ll close his stores in MD and then where would that leave those same people and what bene package would they be left with?

Mon Jan 16 2006 3:48 PM


Anonymous:

NJ,

we have a government of the people--not of the corporation. It's precisely because Republicans favor corporations over people that this law is necesary. Not only is it necessary, it's just and a model for the rest of the states!

Tue Jan 17 2006 8:54 AM


Tom from Madison:

The above is mine.

Tue Jan 17 2006 8:55 AM


cpurick:

Actually, freedom means the people who own the corporation run it as they see fit, and all the employees are free to go elsewhere, as are all the customers.

So when "the people" truly value this, they will speak with their feet and their dollars to bring it about through free will.

Otherwise, it's just an ignorant ploy to decide how Walmart employees' compensation is structured. Because Walmart will begin diverting base pay into health benefits without adding a cent to payroll.

And I hope they charge the administrative costs to the consumers of Maryland.

They're coming out ahead, because if it were up to me, Walmart would leave the state.

Tue Jan 17 2006 7:21 PM


Tom from Madison:

Cuprick said:
"Actually, freedom means the people who own the corporation run it as they see fit, and all the employees are free to go elsewhere, as are all the customers."

This statement is demonstrably false. Owning a corporation doesn't give you the right to pollute, engage in racial discrimination, and a host of other LAWS and regulations that the People put in place to protect the common good.

People can vote with their dollars, but they can also vote through their elected officials. The latter is better than the former--especially if they do it pre-emptively.

Tyranny of corporations is not freedom, no matter what the neo-con think tanks tell you. Teddy Roosevelt realized this. Why is this point lost on todays's conservatives?

Tue Jan 17 2006 10:56 PM


NJGuardsman:

Tom

“Employers have moral obligations to their employees.” No they don’t, they have an economic obligation to pay their employees according to what was agreed upon.

“The government has a moral obligation to protect the "least of our brethren--i.e. the most unfortunate among us who would be exploited by unregulated business owners.” No the government does not, it have a legal obligation to judge fairly the arguments brought by employee and employer (according to the laws of the: city, state, federal government).

In the event that an employer hires a/an illegal alien the employer should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and the illegal alien should be deported.

Please tell me what roll morality plays when a business owner decides to take his company over seas because he cant compete because of: over regulation, restrictive laws, environmental constraints? Issues like this are driving jobs out of the country. So what’s the solution to bar them from taking their businesses out of the country? The answer is to create the circumstances so that a business owner wont need to go else ware to make a profit.

“There is an obvious conclusion. We need some kind of minimum wage law. Surely we all can agree on that!” I’m sorry I don’t, do you think employers will just absorb this?!? We’re going to pay more for the very same thing!

Question - What ever happened to manifest destiny, hasn’t anyone of you ever said to yourselves “I’m worth more then this, I can do more with myself!” and then gotten a promotion, gotten a better/higher paying job, started your own business, gotten a degree, FINNALY asked that certain some one out on a date?!?!?

“Given that we need a minimum wage law, the question is at what level.” – question: How much is/ will be enough?

Republicans do not favor corporations over people, they favor the individual achievement, that’s what’s made this country great, that’s what’s made the American people great. The democrat party seeks to hinder this by punishing achievement and demonizing the achievers.

Tue Jan 17 2006 11:29 PM


NJGuardsman:

Above was ment for another topic, sorry.

But Tom this is for you: Republicans do not favor corporations over people, they favor the individual achievement, that’s what’s made this country great, that’s what’s made the American people great. The democrat party seeks to hinder this by punishing achievement and demonizing the achievers.

Tue Jan 17 2006 11:31 PM


NJGuardsman:

The law passed MD is intrusive, wrong and immoral and to stifle entrepreneurs in this way will erode the very fiber of our economic systems, this will (in the long run) cost jobs, employers will simply go overseas.

Tue Jan 17 2006 11:38 PM


Dave E.:

You've got your spoon-sized phrases mixed up: manifest destiny was over the minute this country settled out to the pacific ocean.

And Republicans favor maximum corruptibility and neat sound bites like "pick yourself up by your bootstraps" that do zero service to addressing empirically (read "factual") measurable imbalance in gender and race income disparity.

Market forces are, by nature, deleterious and destructive. I am not saying that a free market is evil, by no means. But it must be constrained. Read your Keynes. Even Adam Smith believed in only a responsible, accountable private sector economy. It by far is the most tenable, but it must be kept in check (Teddy Roosevelt and the Robber Barons). The "bottom line" has no heart, no soul, and no care for the people it may exploit or even kill to make a profit (research something called the Hand Formula).

If your response to this is simply empty rhetoric like "try harder" then you're probably saying that from a comfy living room and protected by a nice health plan with a very secure government job. Get laid off. Have a spouse die, leaving you to raise your 3 kids by yourself. Get cancer without health insurance. The list goes on, and it happens all the time.

You may fault them with blame and derision...I gladly support a robust safety net to help them while they do struggle. I know how valuable that net is, because I've been there.

Wed Jan 18 2006 2:13 AM


Jim Gilliam:

NJ, I used to say all of those things, but you can be smart, resourceful, employed and insured, and STILL not be able to survive without the generosity and kindness of total strangers. I'm living (still, thankfully) proof of that. It's hard to accept that I cannot be truly independent, but none of us really can. By helping each other out we provide opportunities for all of us to achieve great things...both individually and as a whole.

Wed Jan 18 2006 2:33 AM


cpurick:

"Owning a corporation doesn't give you the right to pollute, engage in racial discrimination, and a host of other LAWS and regulations that the People put in place to protect the common good."

Actually, what you're talking about are externalities: benefits a company realizes by shifting selected costs onto the public. This would occur if a corporation gained by ignoring environmental concerns, forcing the cost of its pollution cleanup onto the public. It is the role of government to see that the corporation's business is conducted with these costs in mind.

For that to apply here, you have to make some interesting assumptions. For example, that Walmart benefits from something that makes its employees sick while the burden of their healthcare is borne by the public. That's not what's going on.

You're also operating under the misguided assumption that an employer who typically gets less than 25% of an employee's time -- far less than that, in the case of Walmart -- is more responsible for the employee's health than the employee himself. On what basis?

But the most ignorant premise of the Walmart argument is this belief that any part of a compensation package is paid by the employer rather than the employee. In fact, no matter where a benefit appears on the balance sheet, it's going to be up to the employee to generate enough profit to cover it -- or he's out on the street.

Liberals look at laws like this and drool at the thought of "greedy" Walmart execs and shareholders taking big dividend cuts as their ill-gotten profits are given back to the exploited proletariat in the form of new healthcare benefits. Dream on.

In the real world, Walmart will now freeze salaries and make other cuts in payroll until 8% is going into healthcare. In the end, employees will see less cash in exchange for their mandatory healthcare benefit. Employees with Medicare and other plans will go to smaller employers where they can get more cash, and Walmart will now offer even less pay to applicants who need more healthcare.

Them's the facts, lefty.

Wed Jan 18 2006 8:00 AM


Anonymous:

"Tyranny of corporations is not freedom"

This is great stuff. Walmart looked at the economy, and found a niche for people who want to maximize cash and minimize other benefits. In exchange for this, they bring us all a measurably higher -- not lower -- standard of living.

And while you have the freedom to shop, work and invest elsewhere, you call it tyranny? If you want to be taken seriously, try not to sound like a parody of yourself.

Wed Jan 18 2006 8:13 AM


cpurick:

Last post by me...

Wed Jan 18 2006 8:14 AM


cpurick:

"you can be smart, resourceful, employed and insured, and STILL not be able to survive without the generosity and kindness of total strangers."

It's "kindness and generosity" when the relationship is voluntary. It's something else when the relationship is defined by the force of government.

Wed Jan 18 2006 8:20 AM


NJGuardsman:

Oh Really Dave?

And you think I haven’t?! You think I didn’t have a life B4 the military? You think I haven’t been laid-off?!, Fired?!

Let me tell you something: My wife & I bought our house, I bought my car, My wife & I feed our kids, My wife & pay our collective bills.

We didn’t wait for some govt law/program to all these things so spare me your condescending attitude like you’re the only one who’s had it rough, I’ll put my life up against yours any time. It’s PRICISLY because of where I came from and how I grew up that I can… enjoy my “comfy living room and protected by a nice health plan with a very secure government job”.

And this is coming from a “minority”

Wed Jan 18 2006 12:28 PM


Dave E.:

"It's "kindness and generosity" when the relationship is voluntary. It's something else when the relationship is defined by the force of government."

Guess it's time to get those children back to work. That's a pool of workers that've been let off the hook by big bad government for way too long...and they'll work for a pittance. 40 hour work week? Gone. Overtime? Over. Breaks? Say goodbye to those. Indeed, say goodbye to your friends and family because it's a race to the bottom.

Kindness and generosity don't bring returns in an unrestrained marketplace.

Wed Jan 18 2006 1:23 PM


cpurick:

That's a strawman.

Government is not a mechanism for imposing charity.

You're making ridiculous leaps to turn that belief into endorsement of child labor.

You must be out of ideas, lefty.

Wed Jan 18 2006 3:29 PM


Dave E.:

Jim Gilliam's post:
"NJ, I used to say all of those things, but you can be smart, resourceful, employed and insured, and STILL not be able to survive without the generosity and kindness of total strangers. I'm living (still, thankfully) proof of that. It's hard to accept that I cannot be truly independent, but none of us really can. By helping each other out we provide opportunities for all of us to achieve great things...both individually and as a whole."

Your reply:
"you can be smart, resourceful, employed and insured, and STILL not be able to survive without the generosity and kindness of total strangers."

It's "kindness and generosity" when the relationship is voluntary. It's something else when the relationship is defined by the force of government.


From "generosity and kindness of total strangers" you make your own ridiculous leap to "force of government" and "mechanism for imposing charity".

Straw man? Naw...just following your lead, chief. But unlike your grand conclusory statements, I backed my leap up with recorded history.

Doh!

Wed Jan 18 2006 8:45 PM


cpurick:

No, Jim's using his own situation to show that even when we take responsibility for ourselves we can still be dependent on the "generosity and kindness of total strangers."

That is true, and it is the reason that charity exists. But it is not justification for more government, which is how he's trying to present it.

If Jim thinks his security is not sufficiently assured through charity alone, and that the circumstances call for government, then we needn't be intellectually dishonest about what motivates people.

People are motivated by "generosity and kindness" to the extent that they will voluntarily provide for others.

When we call for welfare we're saying that generosity and kindness aren't good enough, and that we want people to be motivated by something else: the threat of force. And at that moment it becomes hypocritical, euphemistic, and dishonest to speak in terms of "generosity and kindness."

Now, you've made an amazing leap to conclude, from that observation, that I favor child labor, or whatever. Do you happen to have any rebuttals that refute my actual position???

Nor is it the case that when someone finds themselves helpless the only solution is government, compulsory welfare

When you use government to compel people to care for one another the product is not charity, it's welfare. And the motive's not "generosity and kindness," it is fear of the force of government.

And when I point this out it does not mean that I favor atrocities. It means I favor charity over welfare.

Thu Jan 19 2006 1:06 AM


Dave E.:

Actually, to now appropriately return this little spin of sophistry of yours back to this threads beginning, the point of this story was rooted in a state's legislature going about the business of representing the will of the people.

So make up your mind. Do you want the little government you can drown in the bathtub? Or just one that exercises its representative will of the people only when it agrees with your philosophical world view?

Obviously, the fundamental difference in thinking here is:
1. You wanting an underclass to thrash about, fend for themselves, and quite literally die as an apathetic but capable steward rests idly by, and

2. My knowing that much more can be done to elevate a minimum level of basic, decent living standards during a time of unprecedented tax cuts and extraordinary concentration of wealth. In a time of war, no less.

Law has evolved in myriad different ways to recognize and encourage charity. Contractual law slanted in favor of charitable institutions, tax alleviation, tax deductions, etc. You immediately characterize this as having a gun pointed at your head, and the force of the state telling you you must be charitable. As false a syllogism as I've seen.

This whole "society" thing? It's called understanding the benefits of pooling resources. Predictably, there will always be strident debate over where lines are drawn, but yours is among the more marginal, thank goodness. I certainly wouldn't want you as a neighbor.

If you truly are a person who walks what you talk, you'd have no need for any insurance. This is not about charity, this is about social dignity, or the lack thereof in the face of great capability.

Thu Jan 19 2006 2:31 AM


cpurick:

"Actually, to now appropriately return this little spin of sophistry of yours back to this threads beginning, the point of this story was rooted in a state's legislature going about the business of representing the will of the people."

Umm. The will of organized labor is not the will of the the people. "The people" have a will for many things that are not good for themselves, or which violate the rights of other people. It is the point of representative government that we're supposed to have representatives who know better -- not just whores who will sacrifice anyone for a majority vote.

"So make up your mind. Do you want the little government you can drown in the bathtub? Or just one that exercises its representative will of the people only when it agrees with your philosophical world view?"

Nope. I would not be so arrogant as to impose my world view on everyone else. What I want is government concerned with equity rather than equality, justice rather than fairness, liberty rather than security, reason rather than popularity, and real rights rather than contrived entitlements. In short, I want a government like the one laid out in our Constitution, and the ones guaranteed in fifty state constitutions as well.

I wouldn't mind having a government which can admit that this law is in spirit a bill of attainder, that Walmart will now restructure itself so as to minimize its exposure to the law without increasing payroll, that jobs will likely be lost, and that Walmart will never issue another pay raise without first considering its impact on the healthcare percentage.

I would like a government which acknowledges that regardless of who writes the checks, it is up to the employee to earn the sum total value of his compensation. I would like a government which understands that any statutory adjustment to compensation is a de facto law against the employment of any worker less productive than the statutory minimum. Because that is the way the system actually works, and so I think we should have a government that can actually work the system -- not a government which exploits the fact that most (government educated) voters do not understand how the system works.

I think it is ignorant to seek a government which simply performs the bidding of the greatest majority -- that creates huge incentives for an unprincipled populist party to keep the electorate dumbed-down.

"Obviously, the fundamental difference in thinking here is:
1. You wanting an underclass to thrash about, fend for themselves, and quite literally die as an apathetic but capable steward rests idly by, and"

Well I do want everyone to fend for themselves, but only in an environment where it's not a regulatory nightmare to do so. That used to be called "the American dream."

And I want someone to think outside the box, and explain why healthcare is an employer's responsibility. I want someone to explain why medical care is so expensive. I want someone to explain why individual citizens cannot pay for their own health insurance with pre-tax dollars. And then I want laws that actually fix these problems -- not laws where anybody with common sense can foresee the "unintended" consequences.

"2. My knowing that much more can be done to elevate a minimum level of basic, decent living standards during a time of unprecedented tax cuts and extraordinary concentration of wealth. In a time of war, no less."

In fact, overall living standards are not "down," so it is difficult to see the crisis which demands that the government "elevate" them.

In reality federal revenues are up, so it is ridiculous to "blame" tax cuts for anything except the frustration of Marxist egalitarians who simply demand that we raise taxes on "the rich." The rich are already the only ones paying meaningful taxes, anyway.

And contrary to leftist visions of fat cats lounging in gold, gobbling caviar and decadently lighting their cigars with hundred dollar bills, their "extraordinary concentration of wealth" exists because they alone are doing virtually all of America's saving. That wealth represents ownership of America's industrial machine -- are you proposing that we divide it up among the masses? Because the masses don't want it. The masses want to hock it to pay their credit card bills or to buy a big screen TV. The rich own all the wealth because they buy all the things of value while the rest of us squander ours. Do you honestly fault them for performing what is essentially a service?

Take the wealth from the rich and it disappears. It's nothing but paper anyway. Your obsession with its value shows your ignorance about its composition. In short, we need the wealth in the hands of our wealthy because they're the only ones who won't spend it. You collectivists need to learn the value of that. A quick look around the globe will reveal that our masses do not have a clue what poverty is.

"Law has evolved in myriad different ways to recognize and encourage charity. Contractual law slanted in favor of charitable institutions, tax alleviation, tax deductions, etc. You immediately characterize this as having a gun pointed at your head, and the force of the state telling you you must be charitable."

No, that analogy is reserved for welfare, not charity. Do you understand the difference?

"This whole "society" thing? It's called understanding the benefits of pooling resources."

No, that is the function of private insurance. You seek a model where only "the rich" pay the premiums. That's not pooling -- it's redistribution.

"I certainly wouldn't want you as a neighbor."

Somehow, I think you could do a lot worse than me, someone who who is accountable and responsible. In fact, when times are tough -- I am exactly the neighbor you want. My only demand is that, when you find yourself dependent upon me, we should both call it a dependency; not an entitlement.

"If you truly are a person who walks what you talk, you'd have no need for any insurance. This is not about charity, this is about social dignity, or the lack thereof in the face of great capability."

No, this is how to walk the walk:

I will do all I can to provide for myself and my own so that I will not create a burden on others. I will insure myself with that possibility in mind. And if I find myself dependent on others I will recognize that dependency for what it is, and I will not mistake it for an entitlement. And I will treat my benefactors with respect, and the knowledge that they can withdraw their support at any time. I will be grateful, and I will not bite the hand that feeds me. Because I know that my diminished capacity to serve my fellow man does not diminish my obligation to please my fellow man, to the best of my ability, in exchange for his voluntary support.

And I will not refer to you as "the evil rich," or demand that the government take things from you to give to me. And I will not vote for thieves who promise to do so. I will not demand that the government waste my vote by trying to defy laws of supply and demand.

You should try walking that walk sometime. It's called being conservative. You'd sleep better at night, and not just because the bed's more comfortable (which it is, BTW).

Thu Jan 19 2006 8:49 AM


Dave E.:

Heard it all before, chief.

Conservatism is a pipe dream, and deals with reality from the comfortable side of the equation. Some of the things you say are compelling, things that can be found in any of the sophomore ideologies, but are in the end mostly just elements of your version of utopia. If being an idealist conservative suits you best, be prepared to be taken advantage of just like those idealists from the left, because corruption knows no bounds and is not limited to ideology. This is reality. I shouldn't have to elaborate on the countless ways "conservatives" have exploited their power for personal gain. A brief look around the country should reinforce that statement. Hypocritical? I needn't say anything more.

Going forward knowing that, I tend to understand that government is flawed, just as is the market, because both are human endeavors, so both need to be carefully implemented and thoughtfully restrained.

But I cannot willfully ignore the fact that most of the equitable things this nation has produced have come thanks to progressive thought and design. This is measurable and real. So I'll err on the side which produces humane results more often than not, even if that means I have to pay a little extra (incidentally, endorsing the repeal of immoral tax cuts is not a call for more taxes...).

Gotta go for now, Grover.

Thu Jan 19 2006 9:48 AM


cpurick:

"Conservatism is a pipe dream, and deals with reality from the comfortable side of the equation."

In America you are hard-pressed to find an "uncomfortable" side of the equation. In a global view, our "uncomfortable" side is not so uncomfortable after all. Your desire to make everyone equally comfortable is rooted in a mistaken belief that unequal wealth is not equitable.

I can't say what motivates your movement, but its judgment is called into question by its preference for redistributing wealth rather than creating it.

Finally, I have been on the "uncomfortable" side of the equation. And when I was there I did not feel it was someone else's job to lift me up. As such, I can assure you that there is an actual principle, and that it is not all about whatever position's most convenient at any given time.

Thu Jan 19 2006 11:29 AM


NJGuardsman:

Cpurick,

I must commend you on that well thought out and eloquent post. You in a few short paragraphs have put the “lefties” on alert. I am happy to have some one as intelligent and well read as you on “my” side of things and look forward to reading more form you.

I apologize for Dave’s condescending tone in his posts, but it’s just par for the course, at least Tom and Mr. Gilliam when they express their points of view don’t give you a “holier then thou” – OOPS sorry, lets be PC here how about “High Horse” attitude.

With people like you in this country I have faith that the in justice of such issues as: eminent domain (recently passed by the Supreme Court), the “Kill Yourself Law” in Oregon (funny how there exists a law to kill yourself but no law to save an unborn child) also recently upheld by the Supreme Court and this latest stupidity in Maryland.

Thu Jan 19 2006 4:37 PM


Dave E.:

"In America you are hard-pressed to find an 'uncomfortable' side of the equation. In a global view, our 'uncomfortable' side is not so uncomfortable after all."

Au contraire, mon fraire. See, you have to compare general US standard of living indexes with LDC's to feel 'comfortable' making that statement. I don't feel 'comfortable' with that comparison, period. An honest comparison would use other Global North nations, and in doing so, the contrast between the indexes is readily apparent. With the resources at this nation's disposal, far too many humanitarian issues are simply written off and never discussed while the future solvency of our children's economy is frittered away through tax cut/money grab "fiscal conservatism" policy producing record defecits. This is not walking the talk, this is not accountability.

Frankly, it is quite astounding to read what appears to be an honest conservative peddling conservative punditry while their own movements leadership has candidates running on who is less corrupt.

"Your desire to make everyone equally comfortable is rooted in a mistaken belief that unequal wealth is not equitable."

Negative. Spend a few months walking around Rhiyadh (as an authentic OBL infidel, no less) and then revisit that comment on equity not being linked to disparity in wealth. A greater contrast, I have not seen in the countries I've been fortunate to visit.

I never came close to suggesting some absurd mandate for equal comfort to all. You are reaching conclusions I have never argued for, nor do I believe are possible, so you're merely revisiting your own straw man again to provide yourself some easily manufactured self-satisfaction. You should take...well, your own advice and try harder.

But congratulations on your success. You were lucky enough to get yours, and apparently that's all that matters.

No matter how you rationalize your principles, even as you sit there like a comfy lump staring at your computer screen, redistribution is how this nation is sustained. You drive on the streets that it cleans. It gives you speeding tickets and puts out your fires. It controls your airspace and inspects what you eat. It goes on all the time, is what allows us to be safe, warm, and placated.

No man is an island, entire of itself.

My focus remains: this nation can do much more to remedy its institutionalized disadvantages and those with no bootstraps to pull on.

We fundamentally disagree. You are certainly entitled to subscribe to whatever philosophy floats your yacht. Just keep an eye on the leadership in your movement...they've been thoroughly fucking things up since this nation gave over her reigns to it.

Thu Jan 19 2006 5:01 PM


Dave E:

"I apologize for Dave’s condescending tone in his posts"

I suggest you grow a thicker skin. Maybe those posts of yours that explode with exclamation points would be reduced.

Thu Jan 19 2006 5:05 PM


NJGuardsman:

Dave

I have not now or ever talked down to you yet you continue to do so (you're starting to apporch RWR's level).

"Just keep an eye on the leadership in your movement...they've been thoroughly fucking things up since this nation gave over her reigns to it." - I'll take my guys over your guys any day of the week! when you have people that have never been brought to answer for: wrongful deaths (Kennedy), Klansmen, racists like: Nagin (N.O.), Al Sharpton (White interlopers), and a certain NYC official (who's name escapes me @ this moment) that said the he would "love" to go up to a white man and slap him in the face, dont forget liars (Clinton), Even Gore agrees (Too bad he didnt believe that in 1998/99 "A president who breaks the law is a threat to the very structure of our government.".


Thu Jan 19 2006 8:04 PM


cpurick:

"Au contraire, mon fraire."

Actually, it's "frere." There may be an accent in there somewhere, but even if I knew for sure I wouldn't know how to type it.

"See, you have to compare general US standard of living indexes with LDC's to feel 'comfortable' making that statement."

LDCs? I hardly think so. Our poor are the envy of the free world, and our lowest classes live better than the average European. Are you now calling socialist utopian Europe LDCs?

I don't compare our poor to the people of other countries to make myself feel good about the comparison -- I make that comparison because it shows why the group you refer to as "our poor" is rightfully seen by the rest of the world as a bunch of spoiled, whiny crybabies. There is no poverty in America. There is no starvation in America. There is just a lot of complaining from greedy, spoiled ignorant masses.

Your fixation on tax cuts is pathetic. Taxes exist to fund government, not to punish the rich. And government revenue is at an all-time high. So if government doesn't have enough money it isn't because taxes aren't high enough -- it's because government's spending too much.

"Frankly, it is quite astounding to read what appears to be an honest conservative peddling conservative punditry while their own movements leadership has candidates running on who is less corrupt."

Yes, it's a shame that some of these Republicans turned out to be such Democrats. But what can I do? At least I voted for the honest platform. The last thing I'm going to do is become a willing accomplice to the theft perpetrated by a Democrat.

"Spend a few months walking around Rhiyadh (as an authentic OBL infidel, no less) and then revisit that comment on equity not being linked to disparity in wealth. A greater contrast, I have not seen in the countries I've been fortunate to visit."

Now who's turning to another country to be comfortable with their position? Equitable distribution of wealth is not equal distribution of wealth. And the distribution of wealth in America is equitable.

"I never came close to suggesting some absurd mandate for equal comfort to all."

Okay, let's get this straight -- our poor are wealthy by anyone else's standards, and you recognize that true inequity exists in places like Riyadh. Still you place high priority on eliminating the "uncomfortable side of the equation" here in the States, but you don't think your ideal qualifies as "absurd?" Gotcha.

"But congratulations on your success. You were lucky enough to get yours, and apparently that's all that matters."

Work -- not luck. I "got mine" through my own efforts. And all the "less fortunate" have only their own efforts to blame as well.

"No matter how you rationalize your principles, even as you sit there like a comfy lump staring at your computer screen, redistribution is how this nation is sustained. You drive on the streets that it cleans. It gives you speeding tickets and puts out your fires. It controls your airspace and inspects what you eat. It goes on all the time, is what allows us to be safe, warm, and placated."

Strawman. You're not describing redistribution. And you're suggesting that I don't want government doing the things that government is supposed to do, which is not the case. My point is that it is not government's job to correct everything you don't like about society.

It works like this: we rightfully have police, and air traffic control -- and a bunch of other services -- because without them we'd have a lot of problems that could all fall into a common category: "not enough governmnent." So, those programs represent a common category of solutions: "more government."

Now the problem here is that you guys are desperate to apply this big "more government" solution to healthcare, while any idiot can see that the problem is "too much government" in the first place.

"No man is an island, entire of itself."

May I borrow your wife tonight, friend?

"My focus remains: this nation can do much more to remedy its institutionalized disadvantages and those with no bootstraps to pull on."

I'll believe that's truly your focus when you throw your support behind school vouchers. Until then, you're just another socialist to me.

Fri Jan 20 2006 8:07 AM


Tom from Madison:

Republicans in Idaho are becoming "Socialists" as we speak. Republican House Speaker Bruce Newcomb is investigating Wal-mart.
http://www2.kbcitv.com/x69807.xml

Quelle horreur!

Fri Jan 20 2006 5:08 PM


Tom from Madison:

Getting back to NJ,

Employers REALLY do have a moral obligation to their employees. Many of these are also legal obligations.

E.g. you can't sell people into slavery even if they agree to it! What is legal or illegal to include in a contract for employment can and should be legislated--with a consensus of the people.

The tide is turning against operations like Wal-mart. People are using their legislative authority to put the common good ahead of lower prices and the destruction of their communities. That's a good thing!

Fri Jan 20 2006 5:18 PM


cpurick:

"Is it right for taxpayers of this country and this state to subsidize the richest family in the world?"

Spoken like a Democrat. I can't remember ever hearing a Republican spew such class warfare bullshit.

Walmart needs to challenge these de facto bills of attainder. Or maybe they ought to lay off a few thousand voters so they'll have plenty of free time to reflect on this with the legislature.

Fri Jan 20 2006 8:01 PM


cpurick:

Almost missed this little gem:
"While he refuses to work at Wal-Mart again, Sayko says he has no choice but to buy the cheapest medicine he can find-- from his former employer."

What a hypocrite! It'll serve him right when his med costs go up.

Fri Jan 20 2006 8:08 PM


Dave E.:

Now that I've got a few minutes...let's begin.

"Our poor are the envy of the free world, and our lowest classes live better than the average European. Are you now calling socialist utopian Europe LDCs?"

An unsupported conclusory statement, followed by an amateur and misrepresentative question fit for a push poll.

"I make that comparison because it shows why the group you refer to as "our poor" is rightfully seen by the rest of the world as a bunch of spoiled, whiny crybabies. There is no poverty in America. There is no starvation in America. There is just a lot of complaining from greedy, spoiled ignorant masses."

Unsupported statement, delusionally false (34.6 million people impoverished in 2002, and growing), and openly hostile toward an adopted illusion.

"government revenue is at an all-time high."

Duh. Where's your cape Captain Obvious? Do some adjusting for an honest study. Observe:

"No one would look at just a firm's revenues to assess how well it was doing. Far more relevant is the balance sheet, which shows assets and liabilities. That is also true for a country. Argentina grew rapidly in the early 1990s, mainly as a result of a huge consumption binge financed by international borrowing. But that growth was not sustainable and was not sustained. Similarly, the United States has been borrowing heavily from abroad, at the rate of $2 billion a day. It would be one thing if this were being spent on high-productivity investment. In fact, it has been used to finance increases in consumption and massive tax cuts for upper-income Americans

...

Consider the following thought experiment: If you could choose which country to live in but would be assigned an income randomly from within that country's income distribution, would you choose the country with the highest GDP per capita? No. More relevant to that decision is median income (the income level that 50 percent of the population is below and 50 percent is above). As the income distribution becomes increasingly skewed, with an increasing share of the wealth and income in the hands of those at the top, the median falls further and further below the mean. That is why, even as per capita GDP has been increasing in the United States, U.S. median household income has actually been falling." -- http://www.foreignaffairs.org/20051101fareviewessay84612/joseph-e-stiglitz/the-ethical-economist.html

And your position is:
"the distribution of wealth in America is equitable."

Hmm. Try this then. Supplement what Stiglitz says when he channels Rawls with the following statistics:

"In the United States, 10% of the population owns 71% of the wealth. Looked at another way, if $100 were divided among 100 people in the same proportions as the wealth in the United States, one person would get $38.10, while at the bottom, 40 people would receive 1/2 cent each."
http://www.faireconomy.org/research/wealth_charts.html

There.

"Okay, let's get this straight -- our poor are wealthy by anyone else's standards"

Previously refuted above.

"and you recognize that true inequity exists in places like Riyadh. Still you place high priority on eliminating the "uncomfortable side of the equation""

Incorrect quote.

"here in the States, but you don't think your ideal qualifies as "absurd?" Gotcha."

Your mischaracterization was, and still is, absurd. You got it.

"And all the "less fortunate" have only their own efforts to blame as well."

Not only a vast overgeneralization, but bitter and scornful as well. Classy.

"My point is that it is not government's job to correct everything you don't like about society."

More chronic misrepresentation. I said previously that there will be strident debate over where lines are drawn. Implicit in that statement is recognition of your point. Read with more care, and you'll save some time and embarrassment.

"Now the problem here is that you guys are desperate to apply this big "more government" solution to healthcare, while any idiot can see that the problem is "too much government" in the first place."

If all you're worried about is big government, you've got your "guys" mixed up. From the Cato Institute:

"Even after excluding spending on defense and homeland security, Bush is still the biggest-spending president in 30 years."
http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=3750

"May I borrow your wife tonight, friend?"

Troll. Funny how true colors start bleeding out when someone get's their ass kicked on a stupid internet messageboard.

"you're just another socialist to me."

You'd be surprised.

Finally:

"It'll serve him right when his med costs go up."

Schadenfreude anyone?

Sun Jan 22 2006 10:21 PM


NJGuardsman:

Simple is always the best way:

"Even after excluding spending on defense and homeland security, Bush is still the biggest-spending president in 30 years." – Because there hasn’t been a “war” in 30 years

Let's put tax cuts in terms everyone can understand. Suppose that every day, ten men go out for dinner. The bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:

The first four men-the poorest-would pay nothing;
The fifth would pay $1:
The sixth would pay $3;
The seventh $7;
The eighth $12;
The ninth $18.
The tenth man-the richest-would pay $59.
That's what they decided to do. The ten men ate dinner in the restaurant every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement-until one day, the owner threw them a curve.
"Since you are all such good customers," he said, "I'm going to reduce the cost of your daily meal by $20."
So now dinner for the ten only cost $80. The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes.
So the first four men were unaffected. They would still eat for free. But what about the other six-the paying customers?
How could they divvy up the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his "fair share?"
The six men realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody's share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would end up being *paid* to eat their meal.
So the restaurant owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man's bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.
And so the fifth man paid nothing, the sixth pitched in $2, the seventh paid $5, the eighth paid $9, the ninth paid $12, leaving the tenth man with a bill of $52 instead of his earlier $59.

Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to eat for free.
But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings.

"I only got a dollar out of the $20," declared the sixth man.

He pointed to the tenth. "But he got $7!"

"Yeah, that's right," exclaimed the fifth man. "I only saved a dollar, too. It's unfair that he got seven times more than me!"

"That's true!" shouted the seventh man.

"Why should he get $7 back when I got only $2? The wealthy get all the breaks!"

"Wait a minute," yelled the first four men in unison. "We didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!"

The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.

The next night he didn't show up for dinner, so the nine sat down and ate without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They were $52 short!

And that, boys and girls, journalists and college instructors, is how the tax system works.

The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction.

Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up at the table anymore.

Unfortunately, Liberals cannot grasp this straight-forward logic!

Mon Jan 23 2006 4:33 PM


Tom from Madison:

NJ,

You're dopey parable is full of holes. Bush started a needless war and is borrowing the money to pay for it from China and Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile countries who are focusing on competing with us economically are eating our lunch. The only Americans benefitting from the Bush raw deal are the very wealthiest. Everybody else has a legacy of debt and an ongoing war to look forward to. However, the Saudis, Chinese and other holders of American debt are doing just fine.

America can do a lot better than this. There's nothing straight-forward OR logical about Bush's policies. We have a secret, no-account government manufacturing new reasons for impeachment every single day.

Tue Jan 24 2006 3:26 PM


true_conservative_08:

everone hear SUT THE HELL up and go suck a dick motaher fuckers i hope u die tomorrow by a fuckin 9mm in your brain you sons of bitches....one thig to say to jim gilliam ...FUCK YOU JIM!!!!

Tue Jan 24 2006 3:41 PM


cpurick:

The problem with your perception of “the poor” and “the impoverished” is that it’s based entirely on a comparison between the top and the bottom. It ignores the undeniable fact that, in absolute terms, the poor are continuously better off rather than worse.

Your poverty level is an arbitrary line, drawn by politicians, and below which are people with their own homes, cars, cell phones, microwave ovens and iPods. It does not represent the difference between life and death, starvation and welfare, or between being condemned and having a future. Nobody is starving in America, though liberals obviously wish someone was.

Tax cuts are not responsible for deficits. It’s easily shown that despite tax cuts revenue has grown, while the tax incidence on the rich has increased as well. Tax cuts have not caused revenue levels to fall below spending levels.

Followers of Marx may not agree with their tax cuts, but it’s disingenuous to use the rich as a scapegoat for what is really runaway government spending. Let’s try not to be so intellectually dishonest.

Even if it were right to suggest that median income is in decline, it would be foolish to assume that any individual’s personal situation does not continue to improve throughout his working life.

It comes as no surprise that the segment of society which saves the majority of its earnings would have the majority of the wealth. In their hands, that wealth represents America’s industrial machine. Disassemble it and part it out to the masses, and it would be nothing of value. By doing all of America’s saving, the rich provide an important service. Just try to ask a poor person for a job.

It is not a zero-sum game. One man’s wealth does not require the poverty of another. Accordingly, it’s foolish to blame one man’s poverty on the wealth of another. Yet that’s exactly how you see it.

When you redistribute wealth, you are actually redistributing poverty as well. The only strategy that truly eliminates poverty is the creation of more wealth. I find it pathetic that you collectivists resist efforts to create wealth solely because some people might end up more wealthy than others.

“"May I borrow your wife tonight, friend?"
Troll. Funny how true colors start bleeding out when someone get's their ass kicked on a stupid internet messageboard."

Believe me: I'll never feel like I'm getting my ass kicked by a pinko like you.

I really meant it -- no man is an island, but when it comes to lending me your wife it turns out that we really do enjoy sovereignty over some aspects of our lives. Well, our personal healthcare is also one of those areas, and so is our personal education. People need to grow up and take some responsibility for themselves instead of trying to codify their dependence on others.

Somewhere in the family tree of every liberal is an adventurer who came to America to make it on their own. If they’d known what a bunch of bleeding-heart liberal statists their progeny would become, I’m thinking many of them would have never left home. Think how proud of you they'd be if they were alive today, lefty.

Tue Jan 24 2006 7:25 PM


Dave E.:

Utterly predictable reply.

Stereotypes throughout, dishonest misrepresentations of my position everywhere, ultimately ending in some lazy name calling. Your position hit its efficacy awhile ago, and you've had nowhere else to turn except the comfort of your simple world view talking points of liberal v. conservative.

Two things:
1. There's more than one way to skin a cat, and
2. You are being manipulated.

But, ultimately, your boilerplate presuppositions are boring, inartful, and seem to be all that's left of what you're trying to say. Yawn.

In fact, all I see is an eager adoption of a the same zero sum mentality you wag your finger at me for. There is no such thing as a bicameral brain; a refusal to apply upon yourself the standards you apply on everyone else = hypocrite.

Get inquisitive and become a little more curious. Hit the books kid.

Wed Jan 25 2006 1:34 AM


cpurick:

Well, if you addressed the arguments with facts rather than fantasy, I'd be happy to move on. But we're necessarily stuck at this point until we're both dealing with the same valid premises.

I'm not going to "hit the books" to get a more detailed briefing on something that is fundamentally flawed. You can elaborate all you want, but at the core of your argument there are a bunch of falsities. I'm not going to waste my time unraveling a web of logic built on half truths.

My argument is indeed a zero-sum-game defense. I'm sure you'd like something more complicated to debate, but we can't go that far. Once you start blaming the wealth of the rich for the poverty of the poor and hinting that lower tax rates, rather than politicians, cause deficits, then you're living in an alternate reality. It's impossible for us to contemplate the best economics for a reality that ignores economics.

Let's review:

The precise tax rate is less important than the total revenue collected by government. If a reduced rate generates increased revenues without causing a regressive shift in the tax incidence, then it is absurd to blame that reduced rate for deficits.

Poverty is an arbitrary status defined at the convenience of politicians who benefit from telling the public it needs the help of politicians. It is a fact that, depending on how it's calculated, a wealthy person can meet the definition of "impoverished." Therefore, poverty is only a starting point for identifying the people who truly need help. Accordingly, the number of people who truly need help is somewhat less than the number of people who are "impoverished." It is likely that the ones who have cars, cell phones and DVD players are not in such dire need as the ones who do not.

Fixation on the distribution of wealth ignores its composition. A large stock portfolio represents significant deferred consumption, in a process that creates jobs for others. It is sad that only a minority sees fit to make the kinds of sacrifices that create wealth, but it is ridiculous and destructive to society for liberals to assume that the resulting wealth is unjust.

Individual healthcare is an individual responsibility. It is up to you to pay your doctor, and your employer adds no value to the arrangement. If you "hit the books" and examine how employers got caught up in the healthcare business in the first place, you'll find that there's no real reason to be tying them to it. If anything, we should be enacting policy that restores the freedom necessary for people to provide for their own care.

The left has a goal: to move wealth from the rich to the poor. But the poor don't need factories and capital. They need jobs and consumables. So you're asking to convert their jobs into something they can eat. Really good investment.

Now, I know you libs present the argument to each other as if the rich are greedily consuming and wasting resources. But by definition the rich consume only a fraction of what they save, and the massive percentages of wealth accumulated by the rich are not indicative of a problem. If everybody saved as much there wouldn't be an imbalance -- and there wouldn't be poor people, either.

If you want to help the poor, you should call for everyone to invest heavily in IRAs in their twenties. It's the easiest way to retire a millionaire. But if you then see a conflict with having the national wealth tied up in the stock market, then you should cut some slack for the people who are willing to take that necessary risk, instead of villifying them as the evil rich.

I'm not mischaracterizing your position. It doesn't matter if I think you're further on the left than you think you are -- either way you're operating under the same faulty reasoning.

Wed Jan 25 2006 9:22 AM


Tom from Madison:

CPU:

you're living in a fantasy world. The crushing debt held by American families makes participation in the stock market an impossibility for a huge segment of the population.

The same holds true for "medical savings accounts". Both of these prescriptions benefit the richest people handsomely. Unfortunately the poor can't afford them. They are simply trying to get out of debt.

The Bush prescriptions aren't helping the least of our brethren Despite what King George is preaching, This is immoral. As a country we can afford to help our least fortunate citizens. I say we do THAT rather than blame the poor for their lot.

Fri Jan 27 2006 3:31 PM


Tom from Madison:

Correcton: I meant to say debt "owed" by American families.

Fri Jan 27 2006 3:32 PM


cpurick:

"The crushing debt [owed] by American families makes participation in the stock market an impossibility for a huge segment of the population."

Their own doing. Typical liberal foolishness. It is not the government's job to protect people from the consequences of their own actions. That is the "justice" part of a package once known as "liberty and justice" -- a package now firmly rejected in its entirety by the left.

"The Bush prescriptions aren't helping the least of our brethren Despite what King George is preaching..."

Good. I hope they dump the program altogether. Social Security, too.

"As a country we can afford to help..."

Translation: "From each according to his abilities..." Check your birth certificate: are you sure you're an American...?

"...our least fortunate citizens."

"Fortune" has nothing to do with it. I don't attribute my success to "good luck," and I'm not going to accept "bad luck" as an excuse for the majority of failures. When I was down, I know it was a result of my own foolish choices. No good ever comes of it when we subsidize the poor choices of those who have the most to learn.

The successful among us have demonstrated good judgment. It is they who are most qualified to decide which of our failures are worthy of assistance in a voluntary arrangement known as "charity."

Nobody gets wealthy except through actions that please their fellow man. A person's inability to provide for himself does not excuse him from his obligation to please his fellow man in exchange for his sustenance. It's how the positive, productive characteristics of the successful are communicated to those who have not yet learned them.

Or, we could take the liberal route: subsidizing and perpetuating failure, while blaming it on the evils of success and achievement -- all the while solidifying the political class's grasp on power.

"I say we do THAT rather than blame the poor for their lot."

Well, you're wrong, but at least you're not blaming it on the rich for a change.

Sat Jan 28 2006 11:21 AM


Dave E.:

...and George W. Bush became POTUS through only his hard work, determination, and ability.

Sat Jan 28 2006 4:37 PM


cpurick:

Well, that and the fact that Democrats don't have anything better to offer than Al Gore and John Kerry.

Sun Jan 29 2006 2:38 AM


Dave E.:

"Well, that"

You said it. Good to see you're not completely insane and can concede a salient point when it punches you in the face.

Wed Feb 1 2006 4:26 AM


cpurick:

I've always been able to do that. Too bad you've got so few salient points to make.

Wed Feb 1 2006 11:17 AM


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