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Total number of comments: 5 (since 2013-12-15 08:28:54)

John Ballard

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  • Gaza: Why a 'Cease-Fire' is Not enough
    • Insightful.
      >> Israel’s only real strategy is causing war, not ending war. <<
      It's not really a war. It's more of an insurrection. That's the proper term when there is a slave revolt or when an oppressed population tries to "dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another." If we are witnessing a war, it is a war of independence waged by Hamas, against overwhelming odds, And Israel -- the occupying force, holding all the reins of power -- is not waging war. She is one more time ruthlessly putting down an insurrection.

  • World Bank Head: Climate Change and Growing Inequality threaten Global Upheaval
    • Aside from struggles in the Sahel, a few voices have argued that food and resource scarcity triggered the Rwanda genocide as well as the outbreak in Syria.

  • The 1% is Hogging so much of our Income that it's Holding the Economy Back
    • I rest my case that beliefs trump facts.

    • No insult intended, but I'm not "under any assumptions." My belief (and it is, actually, a *belief* which is probably the heart of our disagreement -- more about that later) that the wage/income gap is causing the American economy to stagnate when it should be doing much better, is based on a lifetime of experience, working in food service management, the final 27 years before retirement with the same company, followed by five additional years as an hourly subordinate in a health care setting in order to have insurance until my wife and I got to Medicare. Though I was in management, earning far more than any of my employees (for a few years paying more in taxes than any of them were even earning) who were mainly the working poor. Some who were working second jobs or needed quick income between jobs on the way to better ones, but the core staff were not those transitional ones that upper management calls "turnover." I learned in the early years that the "turnover" theme was more a tool used by upper management to beat up on unit and mid-level managers. But the company mail included "new employee" data -- a precise index to turnover, since new employees are replacing those who are quit or discharged -- for every unit for all to see.

      When I put someone to work washing dishes, cleaning tables or serving on the cafeteria line I had no expectation that they were making a career choice, nor should they be. Those jobs were paid the lowest and are not appropriate for anyone except the "working poor." It was understood that anyone who wanted to earn more needed to get a higher-paying job. That meant they could either find one at another employer, or train and wait for one to become available where they/I were working. Everyone knew that cooks made more than dishwashers, that cashiers earned more than line attendants, etc. But in order to get those jobs three obstacles had to be overcome:
      1. There had to be an opening (job available)
      2. The candidate had to have the skills to do the job.
      3. A replacement must be available for the job the promoted person left open.

      (That last item is never mentioned, and I never had any problem filling a job opening. But in many organizations that an be a real obstacle to upward mobility.) But movement up the company ladder was very slow. It was not too challenging to train as a baker or a cook, but the incremental income improvement always meant a less flexible schedule, more responsibilities and worst of all, a longer wait til the next step. A cook or baker might wait several years to become an assistant head baker or assistant chef. And then the wait might approach a decade or more until people in those jobs reached retirement -- which was far more common than their leaving for another job.

      Bear in mind that even those at these more desirable jobs were still not paid a lot of money. They earned jusst barely over the federal poverty level, if that in some cases. Those who could afford the company's group health insurance were few and far between. In most cases the only employees with health insurance were covered by their spouses' policies at other companies or were management level or above in ours.

      I'm being more specific than needed, perhaps, to underscore the fact that I know well what life is like for teh working poor. I have a deep respect for those who do their jobs, no matter how poorly paid they may be, with dignity and reliability. And I cringe every time I hear people speak condescendingly about "fast food" or " hamburger flippers." People who speak like that reveal a level of mean-spirited ignorance that really pushes my button.

      So please do not make the mistake of presuming that I come close to agreeing "that people are in the lower income brackets tend to stay there and that the only way that they will get access to any real wealth is by a central planner taking it away from a higher bracket group and giving it to them." My experience does not bear that out in any way. What you say next is accurate, that "most people in the lower income brackets don't stay there for long." But it does not follow that most of the people working in those jobs are on their way to better jobs. Those who left almost certainly did, but those who remained -- the ones on whom the business depends -- did not. When I had to schedule two or more weeks vacation for more than half the staff because they had been employed five years or more, that means that all those others who left, presumably for better jobs, only represent a minority of the jobs available. "Turnover" creates an illusion (and possibly false assumption) of upward mobility that is non-existent for more than half the staff.

      I have no way of knowing who you are or what your background it, Jeremy. And I hope you don't think I am being disrespectful when I say that at this late date in life I don't like being told my opinions are based on false assumptions instead of a lifetime of experience.

      Now about "beliefs," another conclusion I have made in life is that belief systems may govern our lives more than we like to admit. Whether it be religion, political affiliation, philosophical background or whatever -- it is really tough to shake off any belief running counter to evidence. Or rather, it is hard to accept evidence that grates against our belief systems. That's the basis of much of human conflict, from the Scopes "monkey trial" of the early part of the last century to the sectarian/confessional conflicts infecting the world over today. We see it clearly looking further back in history -- amazed that people once hanged witches or waged wars over church doctrine in the Middle Ages -- but we have a hard time imagining that personal belief systems have such a strong power today. We all like to think of ourselves as rational thinkers, open to new ideas, products of the age of science and discovery. How can we possibly be wrong about anything important.

      And yet we look around and see serious conflict in all directions.

      I don't know about you, but I was spoon-fed a lot of wrong stuff growing up. And even more as I got older. Being from the South I was taught racial prejudice, for example, as being more than just a way of life. It was based on scripture, and there was plenty of evidence not only in the Bible but in the way those black people lived and acted in real life to support that belief. But I was wrong. Terribly wrong And it was not easy to abandon those beliefs. The same applied to other beliefs, but I think you can get the point.

      It's likely that you and I will need to agree to disagree. But before we got to that place, I wanted to do as much as possible to let you know that there may be room for you to consider another point of view. I find it incredulous that anyone can watch those videos and see the same statistics that I do and come away with opposite conclusions. Our two grasps of the meaning of "redistribution" -- yours and mine -- are diametrically opposite. And I am at a loss to find words to help you know how disturbing that is to me.

    • It's not about the accumulated net worth, Jeremy. The problem is that the wealthiest people STILL accumulate more NEW wealth, skimming it from income of the rest of the population, many of whom not only have little or nothing in the way of net worth, but in accounting terms actually have negative net worth.

      This is not about redistributing net worth. It's about redistributing NEWLY CREATED wealth. Our economy has become something like an all you can eat buffet with big people with heavy appetites eating everything that comes from the kitchen faster than others can get any more than a few scraps.

      link to hootsnewplace.blogspot.com

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