T Nation

Personal Wealth Vent

I know its way off topic but is anyone else fed up with the concentration of wealth in companies (mega corps and malls killing small business) and even worse, in individuals. Golfers, entertainers and media and computer magnates amassing sickening wealth while the general population is pretty much getting poorer. One of the sad by products of the increasingly ridiculous concentration is ridiculous waste. Wankers flying themselves around the world in jumbos wasting $100,000s worth of a non renewable resource is an obvious example but Id bet alot of their lifestyle including partying, gambling and whatever would constitute execesses that are a moral affront to the rest of humanity. Im so darn offended by all of this … AAAAARGH. Personal taxes should relate to wealth at the higher levels or something. I mean, I once heard that you could have every reasonable thing you could every want if you had $100m so why the hell let these guys with the 5c personalities and 2c heads amass so much wealth. Come to think of it, we should just cap personal wealth and take any excess back to redistribute or pay everyone elses taxes or to support some good social causes or … sumtin. I aint a no hoper or a commie but would really like to see some balance cause enough is enough.

Yeah I hate it when I see a small town with primarily mom and pop convenience and hardware stores have a big walmart come in and put the little stores out of business.

and in what way is what your advocating not socialism or communism??

Communsim is good in theory but doesn’t work in reality. People are too greedy and power hungry. Socialism isn’t too bad. Canada is a mix of democracy and socialism.

I get sick of people whining about how the rich people should simply hand over their money to others. I am by no means rich (recent college grad, student loans up the a$$) but we all live in America. If you want to be rich, then you’re in luck, cuz no one is stopping you in this country. Don’t mean to flame anybody but you soaked yourself in gasoline and handed me a match, what else was I supposed to do?

Great Post Dre. While our nation certainly has it’s plethora of benefits and luxuries beyond the reach of most other nations on Earth, we are constantly faced with the consequences of being a heavily capitolist nation thriving on consumerism and materialism as the cheif “gears” in our monetary infrastructure. Unfourtunately for those of us who have cares beyond the girth of our wallets, the rest of the world is attempting to emulate our “cash culture” which became all the rage after we established ourselves as the dominant world power post-WW II. While money is a mere paper commodity, greed is human and part of our basic nature. For many, greed becomes an obsessive drive, far beyond mere survival or even comfortably prosperous living. When so many have so little, a small minority continue to amass rediculous fortunes at the expense of the majority. Is this morally and ethically reprehensible? Yes. How can we change it? THAT is our thesis question. Trouble is, we are not a nation of rebellion. Sure, we had our revolutionary war, and the Civil war as well. But, we are not a nation of political upheaval. We do not boast of coup de’ etets and have not had a social takeover of our government. And so the system remains in place and the rich grow richer. While an overthrow of our government in order to create a more Socialist/Communist based system appears good on paper, it is not feasable because of two reasons: 1) Those with the most money in this country also weild the most power and 2) As previously mentioned, this is a consumer nation, and people are generally apathetic towards governmental affairs as the government is so far removed from the people at this point. It’s the “give 'em a new microwave and they’ll give up a constitutional ammendment” scenario. What then have we, the close-to-huddled masses have? Well Dre, you mentioned that your post is off-topic. I don’t think it is. A million dollar home does not give your biceps that post-curl pump. Yachts can’t replace a chiseled midsection. The big party for the rich and famous friends does not amount to a thimblefull of the satisfaction you get from loading that extra plate onto the bar. One drop of post workout sweat is worth more to me than some friggin’ oil painting. Yes, it is a fact that in the US, one needs money to survive and more to survive well. That I admit. But excess takes us away from ourselves. The rich are not neccesarily happy, and the happy are not neccesarily rich. It’s about balance. Just like the perfect bench press. And furthermore, if it’s retribution you’re seeking, just look at it theologically. Could any higher power whether it be a diety, a dietess, or “The Force” possibly let these assholes run amok without some quality post-mortem spankage? Methinks not. Lata.

"MB Eric: Friend of The Fuzzy-wuzzy Forrest Frizzies, until he's fuckin' famished...Since 1776."

-Eric

The economic ideas you espouse have been a disaster in every country that has ever tried them, making EVERYONE poorer.

There are people who hate those who have more than they do so much that they would accept
a loss to themselves for the sake of cutting off the nose of the other person, but basically while many may feel this way, it’s not sound social policy.

The fact is that 4/5 of Americans who are
registered voters believe that no one,
no matter how high their income (and recall,
their income is paid to them voluntarily,
they don’t obtain it by putting a gun to
anyone’s head) should pay more than 1/3 their
income in tazes. Over half say it should be no
more than 25%.

You seem unaware that high achievers with high incomes already pay far more taxes, both in dollars and percentage, than people with modest incomes. The great bulk of US income taxes is from individuals with incomes over $100,000. They’re already the ones paying the freight… carrying a lot of others on the ride!

You say you’re not a socialist or a communist but your ideas are precisely the same, and could be expected to have precisely the same
effect in the US as they have in every country that has ever tried them.

If you want to nit pick its probably a distant relation to something pink but it only kicks in when a person reaches the “appallingly excessive wealth/waste of money and resources” level. In any event, you can label it or characterise is any way you like and I wont debate it. There is no justifyable reason for these people to amass more wealth than many generations could spend like its a game or point system - it leads to socially irresponsible waste while others starve etc etc.

you are just jelous… cap personal wealth? are you serious. if i build a company and work 15 hours a day 7 days a week for 5 years and sell it for 3 billion i deserve every last cent. instead of envying and hating what everyone else has work hard , come up with some good ideas and become one of them and if you decide,donate a billion to charity

Hey, if you don’t like the rich, go get hired by a poor person. Oh wait, poor people don’t create jobs, at least without getting rich in the process. Do you know why these people are so rich? Because people have decided that they like the services and products they sell. Dude, you really think that if you put a ceiling on pay that people would continue to be as innovative? Hell why try to better your product or become more innovative, creative, etc. if you aren’t going to profit anymore from it then you already are? Come on. If you don’t have that desire to sacrifice and put out the effort, to learn from them, then don’t complain about their choices. Let me tell you something… This great big capitalist experiment called the US of A dosn’t know poverty. You say it does? Bullshit. Not when our “poor” worry more about obesity than starvation. I can’t remember the figures, but you would be startled at the amount of the “poor” in this country that have vcr’s, cable, and cars! Capitalism keeps our people from starving to death during the winters, or starving to death in the summer while flies swarm their eyes. Hey, China has a great redistribution program! I’m sure you could easily find some citizen there who’d love to trade you places.

Hate to be a dick here…but instead of being envious…BETTER YOURSELF. That is one of the things being a T-man is all about Bro…strive and fight until you get what you want. For me I do not give a damn about other people…all I care about is me and mine…and if we are living comfortably…then I don’t care!! If your not happy with your lot in life…go after what you want just like you go after that extra 5 pounds on your bench press…and you will get it bro!! The iron game is about more than just weights and looking good nekkid…the same strategies apply in life…Dont worry about other people…dont expect the government to help…don’t hope to win the Lottery…just go out and make it happen for YOU! Just remember…all these MEGA stores started out just like a small business…with an idea…nothing more. Look at KFC…that dude pitched his recipe to what? 3000 resturaunts until one bought in on it? and now look at KFC today!! Micky D’s, Burger King…all them started the same way…an idea.

Oh yeah, one other point. You complained about the lavish spending or the rich. Please, please, I beg you stop and think about the corner your backing yourself into. I hope they buy every piece of useless thing they can think of! I hope the spend money like their is no tommorow! Why? Because that my friend is how jobs are sustained. It’s when people don’t spend money that jobs are hurt. Why? Because products and services like those yucky limos, private jets, mansions, maids, butlers, buisnesses, bodyguards, etc. have to be built, maintained, designed, sold, inspected, managed, serviced…you know…the kind of things that reqiure job positions in order to do. But then again, I could be wrong.

"I mean, I once heard that you could have every reasonable thing you could every want if you had $100m "

Of course.. the govment will decide what "reasonable" is for you, if you dont like it, go to prison.

Study some history and economics and answer your own question, better yet go live in a commie country and leave our republic alone

I hear ya. My only problem with that is, most of these people are making their money from the people you are wanting to help. I read an interesting quote that I’ll paraphrase… If all the money in the world were redistributed equally to everyone; the money would be back in the hands of most of those who have it now, within 10 years. In other words the people who have real wealth know how to work money and will get it back from those who don’t handle money well.

The real issue is not taxes. Businesses used to get their charters revoked if they weren’t working for the benefit of their customers. In the 1800’s businesses were given the same rights as individuals. THATS THE PROBLEM. Think about it… AOL has the same rights as you or I, but with almost infinite resources to defend them. They have thousands of employees but are considered to be one person. Same thing for Wal-mart, they have as much right under the law to open in a small town(and ruin its economy) as the mom and pop store does. This is what’s called the corporate “I.” That scares the shit out of me. Not only that but it used to be un-american to pay taxes. That was part of the original government.During the World Wars they started telling American’s that it was “patriotic” to pay an income tax, and we’ve had it ever since. If you think about it, the poor screwed themselves by asking for taxation. Why? The rich have very good ways to hold all their money in non-taxable or low tax ways, like real-estate. So the government has to tax the poor more and more to keep itself going. Most rich people, spend half their time legally avoiding the taxes most of us pay. If most of your wealth is in real-estate, you don’t really pay an income tax. If you put all your money into a corporation, you get taxed after you spend it all. Income tax only hurts those who don’t know how to keep their wealth in other things besides dollars. How can you tax a rich persons income when its not held in actual money? I hear ya Dre… life sucks. All of this reminds me of why Biotest rocks. They will often sacrifice profit to benefit their customers. Can’t say that about most supplement companies.

Good Lord, where do I start? First of all, as Bill Roberts mentioned (thank you, Bill), these ideas such as redistributing wealth and limiting people’s incomes have been tried before. And they’ve been calamitous failures. Look at the former USSR, all of the former Eastern Block countries, Cuba and China. Ask ANY ONE of the average citizens (NOT government officials) in those countries if they wouldn’t give their eye teeth to trade places with you.

Do I see your point about people living billionaire lifestyles with private jets and $100,000 diamond bracelets making your stomach turn due to the fact that the value of that bracelet could do so much good if used to help poor families, or if given to a good charity organization? Absolutely. At some point it becomes a matter of extreme bad taste, or perhaps having one’s personal priorities way out of whack. HOWEVER, it is not and SHOULD not be the government’s role to step in and say, “OK, you’re wealthy enough already. We’re cutting you off and taking the rest of what you earn.” As others have mentioned already, this destroys the incentive to work harder, be more creative and produce more, all of which DOES benefit everyone in this country.

Here's a very relevant example of why "soaking the rich" hurts EVERYONE. A few years ago the federal government imposed a luxury tax on various luxury items (cars that cost over $30,000, certain jewelry items, etc.). One of the product lines hit by the tax was luxury motor yachts. Now, I am no millionaire, nor have I ever even set foot on a "luxury motor yacht." However, this tax, which was quite hefty (I don't remember the exact figures) caused yacht sales in this country to plummet dramatically. "Oh, the horror!" you might say. "Those poor billionaires couldn't afford new luxury motor yachts anymore!" The problem was that the companies that MANUFACTURE these yachts (and there are several in this country) had to lay off MASSIVE amounts of people. Blue collar, working class, lower-to-middle income people with families to feed. "Trickle-down?" You bet.

Although there might be various "loopholes" through which people with high incomes can avoid paying SOME certain taxes, they are really quite insignificant when you are talking about taxing their annual INCOME. Investing in real estate, or anything else, is not "hiding" your wealth -- you've already PAID the taxes on that money before you used it to purchase the property. Those are post-tax dollars. Once that money is in real estate, it's no longer considered INCOME, and therefore is no longer subject to INCOME TAX (it's already been taxed!). (There is, however, a Capital Gains tax imposed if you sell that property at a premium - a truly ridiculous idea in and of itself, but that's another discussion entirely). The fact is that if you earn over about $200,000 in this county (and if you know anyone in this income bracket they'll tell you themselves), you're going to pay about HALF of that in taxes (federal, state and local). So believe me, the "wealthy" are indeed paying more than their fair share. And since I strive to be one of "the wealthy" some day, as should all of us, it is not in my best interest, or yours, to want to SOAK them. It's counterproductive. That's the end of my rant -- for know. (Thank you).

As several people have said, this has been tried before and failed! I have very good friends in Poland and Lithuania and have been to Russia and other countries in the area several times. Even a poor American is rich in these countries. So where do we draw the line as to what is too rich?? What if we used the standards of some of these countries, or India or something? Because guess what? In those countries, they’d consider us average Americans who chug down Surge/Grow/Ribose etc. lavishly spending for frivilous purposes! Sorry, but that sucks!! Long live capitalism

Part of the problem here is that guys like this author belive in the “limited pie” theory. Read “Unlimited Wealth” by Paul Zane Pilzer. When you build wealth the pie gets bigger for all of us because jobs are created and value is typically added to the mix. You are rewarded in relation to the value you create for people. You can’t go backwards unless you stand still and the other countries pass you, which they will. One of the things great about America is free enterprise. There are other countries with greater material resources but we rose to our position because the government took such a long time to get into ‘business’ and monkey with the structure of free enterprise. Why the energy problems in CA? Because of fuel cost caps the development of additional energy sources has slowed to a stand-still. France has been using nuclear energy for the last 20yrs and the US hasn’t built a nuclear power plant in 25yrs. So what millionaires do in this they fund business expansion which we all can benefit from should we coose to. Don’t wine because you don’t choose to make the sacrifices and delayed gratification to prosper. Read some stories of the wealthy and you will see they give incredible amounts to charities. One multi-millionaire I know of lives on approx. 20% of his income the rest he gives away and invests in people. Also, read the “Millionaire Next Door”. Don’t get caught up in bashing systems you obviously know nothing about. Sorry for the flame and bandwidth. Nuf said? Or do we need to call a 'waaah-mbulance?

Hi guys,

I’m from Denmark, so please forgive grammar- and spelling-errors.

Dre and MB Eric, I totally agree with your point of view. In my country we have what you could call Western-Europe-Socialism. It’s not really socialism but we do have very high taxes (almost 50% of income). This is not really a problem as the income is generally quite high. The minimum wage is about 80DKR an hour, which I think, is about 10-13USD. The living standard is very high and all the countries in Western Europe are amongst the richest in the world. So a model similar to a socialistic is in fact very possible IF the people are up for it. I pay my taxes with joy and if most people didn’t do just that the system just wouldn’t work. One reason that it does work in all of Western Europe is that although the tax rate is quite high people still have more than enough money.

- And for those of you who say that communism has never worked take a look at Russia during Lenin. The people loved him and he was a great fair leader. In fact with Comrade Lenin in charge there was no poverty in the country. -But that's the trick. - A strong state needs great leadership. Without the support of the people the state has nothing.

However I don’t think a socialistic model would work in your country. For one your country is build on liberalism and minimal power to the state - or formulated differently; every man for himself - right? Now that’s perfectly all right - in my humble opinion - as long as the people are in on it.

I on the other hand believe that with consciousness comes responsibility. Responsibility for the world around you and responsibility for your fellow man that is doing badly compared to yourself. Now carrying this – again in my humble opinion - responsibility out is quite difficult if you don't have a strong state as a distribution agent. This just wouldn’t work in a country with your values that differ totally from countries with socialistic beliefs. I’m in no way putting down American val-ues. I do however somewhat disagree with them.

Finally, I do in no way think that this post is off topic. Every T-man needs some time to ponder upon what the world looks like and what it should be like and all of the beautiful contrasts it pos-sesses. It’s a healthy discussion, which I hope can help put things in perspective. After all it’s not a necessity that we agree is it?

Love / Rasmus

Here, here maxtram.

As for “I mean, I once heard that you could have every reasonable thing you could every want if you had $100m,” that wouldn’t even cover my car collection, with McLaren F1s being a mil and all. I need at least a billion…