A Question Concerning Economics

So … the New York Times notes that “American businesses earned profits at an annual rate of $1.659 trillion in the third quarter … the highest figure recorded since the government began keeping track over 60 years ago.”

Now … clearly my plebeian brain is missing something. Cuz, if I’m not mistaken, people keep telling me that when rich people have lots and lots of money, they’ll fix our economy by creating all these super-nifty jobs and just, generally speaking, pulling out the awesome sauce. So that’s why we should extend the Bush tax cuts.

Now … OK, here’s where I get lost. So, we have the tax cuts now, yes? And we’ve had them for quite some time? And American profits have been growing “at some of the fastest rates in history,” yes? For the past seven quarters? So … *scratches head* … why haven’t the super-rich saved us?

The lady doth be full of shit, methinks.

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27 thoughts on “A Question Concerning Economics

  1. Let me give an opposing view. Just for laughs.

    Let’s say you are a small businessman (please note that most jobs, somewhere around 70%, are created by small business) and you would like to expand because you are doing well and making good profits. But, because the tax laws which favor you are about to expire and the economic situation is iffy, you are a bit concerned that expanding your business (which will likely mean expanding your debt) at the moment may be unwise.

    I will give a simplistic example. You are making, as a small businessman, $240,000 a year in profit. You can expand and make $300,000 a year but (assuming your tax rates will increase with the sunsetting of the Bush tax cuts) that increase will be less due to tax increases. You are comfortable now, why take the risk for a lower rate of return?

    Just some thoughts.

    • Hey Douglas!

      Welcome and sorry I haven’t addressed your questions sooner. I’ll be honest … about nintey- … seven percent of this post was an excuse to vent, having thought very little about the issue. Which I s’pose is irresponsible blogging, but it means I didn’t need to punch a wall, which saved me time and money for repairs and medical bills … and also pain. But you’re here to keep me honest, which I appreciate 🙂

      So, I did some reading. I’ll begin by working in your simplified setup. Turns out, the hypothetical small businessman (or -woman) would only have to pay the increased tax rate on the $50,000 made over the $250,000 limit, so said businessperson would still be able to maintain her/his same comfort level in addition to increasing profits and expanding business. Does that make sense? Am I extrapolating from that correctly? That’s my understanding anyhow. My brain has a tendency to leak out of my ears when I actually try to work out the numbers….

      According to the New York Times:

      Analyses from the Joint Committee on Taxation and the Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan research organization, show that less than 3 percent of filers with small-business income pay at the top two income tax rates, and many of those are doctors and lawyers in partnerships.

      So your scenario would hardly be a wide-ranging rug-pulling-out-from-under-small-businesses. 97% of them would actually get a tax cut.

      Also, Moody’s Analytics Inc. says that “spending by the wealthy is more likely to be influenced by the ups and downs of the stock market than changes in income-tax rates.” Meanwhile, they just save their tax cuts.

      Add to that the benefits they are reaping from the Small Business Jobs Act and I can’t knock Obama for neglecting 3% of small businesses this go-around.

      I also found this McClatchy Q&A to be helpful.

      The more I learn about this, the more it sounds like the shrill whining of entitled rich people. The highest possible tax rate will be 39.5%, which is only 4.5% higher than they are now. That’s hardly crippling. Hell, if I made a million dollars every year, I’d pay 45 … 50% and I’d be goddamn-happy to do so. There’s a video on the New York Times article I linked to in my post that explains where most of the trillion+ profits are coming from: increased efficiency and out-sourcing. Which tells me that big corporations (not small businesses, I note) care more about developing the economies in India, China, and Brazil than they do about the US. That’s how economists can come out and say, “Wee, the recession’s over!” and life for 9o% of the country still sucks.

      • First, let me point out that it isn’t a tax cut. It is a tax increase. The cut was made 10 years ago. It is just lapsing if Congress fails to extend it. While I would reasonably be expected to not care about the rich getting a tax increase, I wonder when I might be considered rich. You see, the tax rate is such that the more you make, the more you pay. A “progressive” tax rate. But, while the rich may have benefited more from the system in some ways, they use less of the tax revenue. Let me put it another way, with a story (a true one).

        The union I was in desired a dues increase. They proposed a $3.50 monthly increase over the $8 we were paying (this was obviously some years ago… I am an Old Fart). Not unreasonable, you might say. But they didn’t make their case well in justifying it and the measure failed to pass. So they set about changing the dues structure so that it was a percentage of pay rather than a fixed amount. Since I was in the top pay scale, I paid more while the lower scale paid less. In dollar amounts, of course.

        Did I get more representation from the union?
        Did I get more benefits than other, lower paid, employees?

        The answers are “no” in each case. But I ended up paying more for them. Only because I made more money.

        This passed.

        Can you understand why? Because there were more people who, while ending up paying more than they had been, would still pay less than the highest pay scale folks.

        Class envy, one might say, saved the day for the union.

      • Can we call it the “Bush tax increase,” since he’s the one who signed into law tax cuts that would expire? Pretty short-sighted of him. Unless he was trying to pin them on the next guy … But no. It’d be cynical to think like that. As designed, however, it will be a tax increase. Obama is trying to implement a tax cut for 98% of the country.

        What you call “class envy,” I call “practicality.” The rich do benefit from the system more. And not just in dollar amounts, percentage amounts too. I saw this nifty pie chart in this article when I was reading up on whether or not Obama’s plan would hurt small businesses (which … did I convince you it wouldn’t? Because you didn’t respond to any of what I said), entitled “Who saw the most income growth? (A breakdown by income group, 1979-2007).” Turns out, the top 1% saw an increase in income of 38.7%, which is more than the entire lower 90% of income-earners combined.

        In fact, going off that, I found this article, “A Tale of Two Tax Payers,” by the Economic Policy Institute which shares these fun facts:

        1) As of 2009, the top 1% in the country received 18.8% of the income.

        2) “[B]etween 1991 and 2006 the cumulative income growth for this top group (over and above their 1991 income level) was actually 113% higher than their total tax bill over this period … le[aving] them with an extra $800,000—after taxes—at the end of the 15-year period.”

        3) “The average taxpayer in the middle 20% … experienced a mere 1% real average growth per year. Over the next 15 years the total tax bill for the average taxpayer in this group was over twice as much as the cumulative income growth, meaning that unlike the taxpayer in the top 1%, this middle-income taxpayer could not pay his tax bill exclusively with his cumulative income gains over this period.”

        So, you know what? Yes. I think the taxes of the top 2% should increase by four-and-a-half percent. Maybe that huge and growing disparity in income growth is where all the class envy comes from.

        But you know what really sucks? This shouldn’t even be the issue, in my … rarely humble opinion. The bigger issue, to me, is the bloated, distended, and unctuous behemoth of a leviathan our federal government has become (leviathan in size and cost, that is, rather than authority). How about a bill that makes illegal any budget that isn’t balanced? Or am I talking crazy-talk? Instead of big government and small government, I wanna talk about efficient government. I want our government to stop acting like a bunch of teenagers with their parents’ credit cards. But I don’t think our current batch of politicians share my views….

  2. Chris, do you know how easily statistics can be manipulated? Of course you do, you are a smart man.

    I just ask myself a simple question:

    How will I benefit from another man’s loss?

    I also ask myself why giving the government more money (whether it is mine, yours, or Warren Buffett’s) will improve things. You see, government has not wisely spent money in the past, present, or will in the future. It is just not the nature of the beast.

    The rich have not benefited more from the system than anyone else. They have not received more benefits, more entitlements, or more of anything. Yes, they have gained more income over the years and at a greater rate than others. My mother had a saying that applies… “Them that has, gets.” By this she meant that those who have more tend to get more. If I invest $100 and get a 10% return on that investment, I end up with $110. If I invest $1000 then I get $1100. I had more, risked more, gained more. If I make more, I pay more. In dollars. But why should I pay a higher rate also? Because I have more? Because I am more successful?

    You likely weren’t living in the 50’s. I was. Tax brackets were such that you might pay 90% in income tax. Still, there were people getting rich then. Elvis comes to mind. Just think, 90 cents out of every dollar going to the government. Things have changed and we could be happy that the rates have dropped. But I wonder…

    I won’t be affected by an increase on those making over $250,000. At least, not directly. My rates are likely to remain the same whether the Bush cuts are extended or not. Your rates probably won’t be affected either. But let’s turn things upside down, shall we?

    The bottom 95% pays about 60% of all income taxes. That’s right, the majority of taxes are paid by the bottom 95%. Wouldn’t it be better to raise their rates by 5%? After all, that would put more money into the government and it wouldn’t affect small businesses at all. And, it certainly wouldn’t affect the 40% who pay no taxes at all. You know, the poor? Because they would still make too little to be affected.

    It makes as much sense, in terms of revenues, as increasing the tax rates on the highest incomes. A tax rate hike on the highest earners affects the billionaires much less than it affects the guy making $300,000. Not just because they earn so much more but because they already have so much more. Their wealth is not taxed, only their earnings. I see no “fairness” in any of this. I see people who are happy someone else is being taxed more than they are. I don’t understand it.

    I am in favor of a flat tax rate. I know. I must hate the poor. But I don’t. I have been poor and I have never been rich. Still, I also don’t hate the rich. They weren’t the reason I was poor. I was. they weren’t the reason I am no longer poor. I did that. I see no reason to punish the rich just because they earn more money than I do.

    And if Warren and Bill (and the other 44 billionaires) want to pay more to the government, no one is stopping them. They could give all of their annual income to the government, if they chose to. No one is stopping them.

    I often wonder why they don’t.

    • Ahhhh, now we’re getting to the good stuff. I do think there are many ways that a person can benefit from another person’s loss. Perhaps not in an idealistic or moral sense, but in a pragmatic, material sense, yes, I think one can. You seem like the kind of person who slides more weight onto the idealistic side of the scale, which I am definitely not scoffing at; I’m just sayin….

      I disagree that the rich have not benefited more from the system. A few examples off the top of my head:

      Who gets access to the best health care?
      The best education?
      The best legal representation?
      The loudest voice in the media?
      The most influential social circles?
      The best chance of becoming a government representative?
      The safest, cleanest, and most affluent neighborhoods in which to live?

      No, not every rich person has access to all of those, but when you look at the demographics of those who do, the one thing they have in common the vast, vast majority of the time is money. Lots and lots of money.

      I also disagree with the idea that the rich have somehow earned their wealth. This is not to say that there are not rich people who work very hard. I just don’t think our economic system accurately assesses the value of someone’s work. And I think most people who manage to cross categories in our economic hierarchy get lucky or know someone who knows someone or begin with an advantage. This is exacerbated by inheritance. You cannot tell me that Paris Hilton or George W. Bush or anyone else in the world earned the wealth of their parents. They had a one-in-six-billion chance of being born where they were born and they hit the mega-jackpot. Because of that simple fact, they have access to many, if not all, of the above mentioned perks. America as a meritocracy is a lie. And the gap between rich and poor is getting bigger, and that’s a problem.

      I won’t deny that part of me resents the rich. I think it stems from the fact that I know how hard I work, I see how hard my friends and coworkers work, but we are the ones who are straddling the poverty line. And I know that it doesn’t matter at all what Shiloh Jolie-Pitt does or does not do with her life; she already has it made.

      But all of this is just to get to the part of your comment that I thought was the most interesting: “I also ask myself why giving the government more money (whether it is mine, yours, or Warren Buffett’s) will improve things.”

      That is a really good point and one not often accounted for in the average liberal’s thinking. The knee-jerk, partisan reaction is, of course, to accuse you of hating the poor, but that’s just a cheap ad hominem, and it doesn’t change the fact that our government is insanely irresponsible with money.

      It leaves me wrestling with two parts of myself: the brutish pragmatist and the tired, emaciated idealist who manages to pop up every now and then to bother me. On the one hand, the pragmatist bellows that we have to do something, anything, we can, now. We need to slow down (if not stop) our debt; we need to keep the infrastructure of our country updated and intact; we need to keep providing the services that keep our country running; we need to keep benefits going to the people who need them; etc. etc. etc. There’s so much we need to do. But then, on the other hand, the idealist rasps, giving the government more money amounts to treating a symptom and not the real problem. And there is a real problem with how our government functions. In fact, there’s more than one. But no one with the power to affect any real change is talking about those. And that, more than anything, really pisses me off. Heh, almost to the point where I would be open to the idea of extending the Bush tax cuts across the board, if only to deny that money to the government, to not, as it were, feed the beast.

      Almost … 😉

      • I am going to preface this by saying we don’t disagree all that much. Probably mostly on the form of solutions, if any.

        I will, however, offer a bit of rebuttal to this:

        Who gets access to the best health care?
        The best education?
        The best legal representation?
        The loudest voice in the media?
        The most influential social circles?
        The best chance of becoming a government representative?
        The safest, cleanest, and most affluent neighborhoods in which to live?

        Ask that of The People’s Republic of China, the former Soviet Union, Venezuela, Cuba, and just about every socialist or socialist leaning nation. In most cases, you will find that power leads to money which leads to more power and enhances influence. I liken it to the human tolerance for aristocracy. It may be due to the concept that breeding is important. And it goes back to Mom’s Axiom.

        But, more to the point, those things, those advantages, are not The System. They are the result of people getting wealthy. The system did not crate those things and then dole them out only to the rich. The best education is the result of the rich creating and endowing good schools. The best health care is due to the rich paying for it and the knowledge gained for them does, indeed, trickle down to the rest of us. The best lawyers go where the money is because they, too, want to gain wealth and power for themselves and their families.

        No one started from wealth. We all started as hunter-gatherers scavenging for food.

        We have a lot of self-made millionaires in this country. More than most, I suspect. From them have come, and will continue to come, rich families whose children get all the benefits that the non-rich do not. I have yet to find the man (or woman) who says “I have amassed a great fortune. I intend to give it all to the government when I die and I will not provide anything beyond basic sustenance for my children. I made it on my own and so should they.” If one did, I think we both would say he (or she) was mean and crazy. Show me the person who says “I’m not going to go to Harvard because it’s not fair to those who don’t have my advantages. I will go to my community college instead.” You’d think he was crazy. I know I would.

        Here’s something from Forbes…

        “While inheriting a billion dollars is still the easiest way to land on our list of the world’s wealthiest, it certainly isn’t the most common. Almost two-thirds of the world’s 946 billionaires made their fortunes from scratch, relying on grit and determination, and not good genes.”

        http://www.forbes.com/2007/06/22/billionaires-gates-winfrey-biz-cz_ts_0626rags2riches.html

        The problem, I think, is we put these people on some kind of pedestal, we see them as somehow superior because they did what we couldn’t or wouldn’t do. We tend to see them as “special.” Like we do Hollywood stars. But most of those stars started out at the bottom. They worked hard, got some breaks, and made it to the top. But only a few did out of all that try. Many equally talented did not make it. This lends that aura of specialness to them and we place them above ourselves. They aren’t all that special. But they had a talent (or talents) to exploit and they exploited it well. And they got breaks… from those who had already made it (or were the children of those who made it).

        Rich people (and their families) start and fund charities and foundations which provide opportunity for those who do not have that “leg up” that the rich kid does. Without the rich, who would do that? Be thankful that they do not ascribe to the Noblesse Oblige concept.

        Envy of the rich? Understandable. Resentment? Human nature.
        Thankfulness? Rare.

      • Forbes and I have very different ideas of what “self-made” means.

        My series of questions was designed as proof that the rich benefit from our societal systems more than anyone else, not that “socialist” countries, or, rather, totalitarian regimes masquerading as socialist, are any different. Regardless, capitalism and consumerism are very much a part of the foundation of American society. They are the driving force behind much of our economy and our government. I have never hunted for nor gathered anything in my life. I was born in twentieth-century America, to parents in a very specific socio-economic context. Others were born to more wealth, many more to less, but in economics not everyone is born equal.

        I wouldn’t have nearly the problem with that that I do if there were mechanisms within our society to mitigate these ridiculous inequalities. We don’t all have to be perfectly equal, but the ever-widening gap between rich and poor needs to close. As counterexamples to China, Venezuela, etc. I would give countries such as Germany or Sweden, which routinely outperform the United States when it comes to educational performance, life expectancy, lower crime rates, etc. despite our abundance of self-made millionaires.

      • I brought up the various things, such as the hunter-gatherer comment, to point out that things in life are fluid. No one’s family began as wealthy. People strive not only to improve their own personal circumstances but that of their families and their children’s futures. The things you offered as proof that the rich allegedly get more out of the system wouldn’t be available at all, to anyone, if there had never been any rich. Colleges, good health care, legal representation, even governments would not be what they are without the existence of the wealthy. Heck, many of these things wouldn’t exist at all. And I do not mean just here in the US. The desire for wealth and comfort drives us all. It also drives the envy of the rich.

        You are absolutely correct that, economically, not everyone is born equal. But that is also true in terms of talent, looks, intelligence, athletic ability, and just about anything you can think of. The only thing we strive to guarantee in this country is equality of opportunity. And, by that, I mean you are not bound legally to a life dictated by the circumstances of your birth. You are not bound by class or your parents’ income. You may not get rich, your child may not go to Harvard but maybe your grandchild will. You may live in a mansion but your child or grandchild may.

        I was re-reading an earlier comment by you that stated the following:

        2) “[B]etween 1991 and 2006 the cumulative income growth for this top group (over and above their 1991 income level) was actually 113% higher than their total tax bill over this period … le[aving] them with an extra $800,000—after taxes—at the end of the 15-year period.”

        3) “The average taxpayer in the middle 20% … experienced a mere 1% real average growth per year. Over the next 15 years the total tax bill for the average taxpayer in this group was over twice as much as the cumulative income growth, meaning that unlike the taxpayer in the top 1%, this middle-income taxpayer could not pay his tax bill exclusively with his cumulative income gains over this period.”

        I noticed something interesting. The majority of the period used in the argument were under the higher income tax rates.

        I also noted the comment about an increase of 4.5% in the top rates. That’s misleading. It is a 4.5 “point” increase in the rate, that’s true. But it is also 12 plus PER CENT increase in the rate. (We often mislabel these things. For example, is an increase in unemployment rate from 6% to 9% a 3% increase or a 50% increase? ) So, the increase in taxes paid would be more than twice the 4.5% you cite for those affected.

        I brought up the socialist and leaning-socialist countries only to illustrate that all schemes to promote equality don’t actually accomplish it. Human beings will always strive to get more, to have more. And they will exploit whatever system they are in in order to accomplish this.

        The gap between rich and poor is increasing worldwide. Not just in the US.
        See: http://freedomkeys.com/gap.htm

        But who created and grew that gap? I say it wasn’t the rich.

        In the US, however, you have more opportunity to move between classes. Just because you are born poor does not mean you have to remain poor.

        As I said, I am not rich. I was not born rich. My family, like many in the 50’s, struggled to get by. As I grew up and got out on my own, I experienced a period of poverty myself. At one time, I struggled to support my small family on a minimum wage paycheck without benefits. I managed to get into a job which paid better and provided good benefits. I put my then wife through college, my son went to college, and both ended up with higher income than I ever saw. Should I resent their success? And if I shouldn’t why then should I resent the success (or even the luck) of those who have succeeded economically?

        Why punish success with higher income tax rates?

        My point is simple. The rich are not the cause of anyone’s misery. Not in the US. They deserve to keep as much of their earnings as possible, just as you do. Increased taxes for anyone will not solve the problems we have today. Giving more to the government will never help reduce the deficit or improve its efficiency. It never has in the past and it never will in the future.

      • That graph at freedomkeys.com left out two pretty crucial pieces of information: inflation and rising costs of living. According to that graph, I should be able to build my own personal Versailles. Except, if it weren’t for my aunt providing me a place to stay without having to pay rent, the market’s invisible hand would have thrown me out on my ass by now; I’d be bankrupt and homeless, and nothing in that graph explains why.

        The Spirit Level has a very different take on income inequality in societies.

        Here’s what I don’t get: I don’t understand why a society shouldn’t account for the lowest tier of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (and a few from the second). I don’t understand why it can’t provide a living wage and universal health care without totally screwing up the entire economic system. If what you are saying is true and people will always strive to better their circumstances, then a living wage would be irrelevant because no one would settle for it. They would still want to achieve more and, thus, keep the economy going. No one would ever try to game the system or lazily depend on it. Even if we had a living wage safety net, the wealth would continue to grow for everyone involved.

        Based on the math I’ve done, I know this:
        0.395($1,000,000.00) – 0.35($1,000,000.00) = $45,000 = 0.045($1,000,000.00)

        Though the increase in taxes paid under Obama’s proposal would actually be less than 4.5% because the rich would still be paying the lower rate on the first $250,000.00. Am I fundamentally wrong in my reasoning?

      • I will just say, echoing my sweet little gray-haired mother again, “Life ain’t fair.”

        You say you don’t understand why a society can’t provide all the basic necessities of life for all its citizens? Because it can’t. Society doesn’t provide anything except a place to mingle with others. So, let’s replace “society” with “government” because that’s what you really mean. I would say that it is because that is not government’s purpose and never has been. Government’s purpose is to provide protection from external forces and keep order within a society. Everything else has been the result of pressure from citizens who think they should also be protected from their own failures, bad luck, and unforeseen circumstances.

        I know, I sound cruel and indifferent to suffering. But I am not. I have “been there”, as I said. I struggled, I toiled, I eked out a living. I got subsidized by family for a period of time. But I eventually made it out of that existence because I had incentive to do so. I did not have a never-ending cushion against the pitfalls of life.

        I was once counseled by a higher paid employee while I was working for minimum wage to consider applying for welfare and ADC though he thought I might have to give up my car in order to qualify. I decided against it. I would rather have gone under than take that road. I would have sent my wife and child home to her parents and gone homeless than do that.

        I do not expect the government to provide for me. I do not want the government to provide for me. Yet I do get Social Security (which I paid into and would have had more if I could have put that money where I wanted it to go) and next year I will be eligible for Medicare which I will also take advantage of.

        You make your choices, I make mine. I will tell you that in 15 years, you can be much better off than you are now or you can wait for government to provide for you. It’s up to you.

        I think you will be much happier if you do it yourself. But it’s still up to you. And isn’t that the real reason this is a great country?

      • Life ain’t fair … life ain’t fair. Well I wish you would have told me sooner; that certainly makes things much easier.

        I say we tax the shit out of the rich. Why? Life ain’t fair! I’m sure those three little words will silence their whining.

        You gotta love folk wisdom. There’s just no fighting it.

      • I was going to respond to your “tax the shit out of the rich” but I figured you knew the other old folk wisdom about shit running downhill. Toward the bottom.

        I wish you great success in life… maybe then you will see things a little differently. I never had great success (didn’t seek it… being a lazy guy) but I see no reason to punish those who have attained it. You do realize that the wealthy won’t be affected much by any tax increase? For a number of reasons but mainly because you won’t be taxing their wealth, only their earnings.

        So the Kennedys, the Soros’s, the Buffetts, the Pickens’s, the Gates’s, the Jobs’s, etc will remain extremely wealthy and you will still be living at your aunt’s. In fact, you will be living there even if you put the “rich” in a 90% tax rate. It’ll just make it harder for you to get anywhere near where they are.

        We’re not going to change each other’s minds. But I have enjoyed the exchange.

      • Ha ha … indeed it does, rolls right to me. Maybe if we tax them enough we could get a little creek going and one day I could get up it. I guess they’d be up it … though they’d probably have plenty of paddles. Regardless, I just hope their shit don’t stink.

        Now I feel bad for being sarcastic. But I do believe we have reached the point where we are no longer talking with each other, but at each other. At least we made it this far. I hope that you did sincerely enjoy the exchange and that it wasn’t just a tiresome partisan exercise, as so much of this country’s politics is.

        I do indeed understand that the rich will remain extremely wealthy (not much of a “punishment” now, is it). Hard as it may be for you to grasp, the intent was never to pull them down to where I am or to prop myself up to super-rich status by force of taxes alone. Though it is quite a bit easier to argue against my position when you frame it that way. It’s all rather moot now anyway, as you’ve no doubt heard. Obama and the Republicans have reached an accord: the tax cuts will be extended and the economy will get “stimulated” a little more. Leave it to the Democrats and the Republicans to approach a situation with two possible outcomes (higher taxes, more spending v. lower taxes, less spending) and agree on a third way (lower taxes, more spending) which happens to be the worst of the three.

        What can I say. Shit happens. At least come to Woodstock with me and Jenny. You’re still invited. We can sling mud at each other there 🙂

  3. How about this, though, Douglas: Would we not, as a society, be better off if higher education were fully publicly funded? Would it not be better if access to higher education (including the most presitigious institutions) were determined solely on the basis of academic merit?

    How many more millionaires might we produce if the smartest (and most ambitious) had first dibs on the best education? And professors could throw their asses out if they didn’t do the work?

    • How about this, Jenny, wouldn’t we be better off if everyone was given a car and guaranteed a job when they graduate from high school? How about free dental care for life? How about free plastic surgery for the ugly? Think of how many more successful people could be if they didn’t have to hunt for a job, or pay for a car, or had good looking teeth, or weren’t ugly?

      Ok, I’m being snippy when you actually had what appears to be a valid point. But here’s the problem, what about those who would be lost in college? How about those that barely struggle through high school and only graduate because the standards have gotten so low? Will government paid higher education lead to more and more mediocre colleges? Have you ever attended community college? I did. It was a joke. But it was about as close to “free” as a college could get.

      I also think that professors would not be allowed to throw anyone out if they failed to do the work. It (college education) would be seen as a “right.” A college education would become meaningless… much like a high school education is now. And where would we get welders from? Carpenters? Construction workers? Who would man the fast food restaurants? The ticket windows at theaters? We do not all need, or even want, a college degree. How would you compensate those that couldn’t, for valid reasons, take advantage of the free college education?

      No, I believe that making the effort to go through college is as important as the education. Maybe even a strong part of that education. I also think we appreciate better those things we earned. I know. I’m old fashioned.

  4. The current state of affairs, though, is that an American college education is something of a joke because the student is a consumer, and feels that, as long as he is paying his bills, he has a right to the degree. The colleges do not throw out the students who fail to perform because they need the tuition dollars. It’s not a very effective system.

    I also do not believe that everyone should go to college. I only want the ones who have a proven academic track records and aptitude to go. In other words, under the system I envision, higher education would never be a right because only those who earned (I’m just talking about a different kind of ‘earning’ than you are) an education would be afforded the opportunity. Society would bear the cost because society would reap the benefits: the best doctors, the lawyers, the best engineers.

    If I’m not smart enough to get into a university, or if I didn’t work hard enough in high school, well, as your mother used to say “Life ain’t fair.”

    • I do not live in a perfect world. I live in the one we have. In my world, people don’t always get what they want but the best ones make do with the opportunities they find. The best people don’t expect someone else to pay for their education. They don’t feel the odds are against them. They see obstacles as challenges and not as unfair. The people who aren’t the best fail most of the time but a few make it, enough so it seems unfair. The best ones know they have a very small chance of becoming a CEO of a Fortune 500 company before they are 50… or at all. But they know they can find a place, a job, a company where they can rise to very near the top if not the top. Because they know, in their hearts, that their futures are in their own hands.

      But the very best of the best are happy with their lives, maybe a little wistful that they couldn’t be another Bill Gates or Warren Buffett or T. Boone Pickens while understanding that those people are anomalies. So they recognize that they did their best and are satisfied.

      You are entitled to your dream, Jenny. But it’s your dream and not one I would like to see become reality.

  5. I would love to go to Woodstock. I missed it the first go `round. I was unable to get off my ship at the time. Uncle Sam said I was “needed.” It sounded like much more fun than the freebie I attended in Santa Clara that year where I woke up at 3 AM to the strains of White Rabbit sung by Grace Slick. No babies were born at that outdoor concert though a few may have been conceived.

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