ChrisWeigant.com

Friday Talking Points [469] -- A Crazed Definition Of Modern Womanhood

[ Posted Friday, January 26th, 2018 – 18:58 PST ]

American women were in the news this week in a big way, on both sides of the political aisle. Last weekend, millions of women took to the streets to protest, once again, Donald Trump sitting in the Oval Office. By the end of the week, a Republican Senate candidate in Missouri was making headlines for his rather Neanderthal views on, as he put it, "modern womanhood."

Courtland Sykes is running to unseat Democrat Claire McCaskill in Missouri. He isn't exactly the frontrunner on the Republican side, to be sure, but his views certainly catapulted him into the spotlight. In an interview he posted on social media, Sykes holds forth on "radical feminism," which has a "crazed definition of modern womanhood." This seems to be a bit of projection, because his own views on modern American women are pretty antiquated (to say the least). Here is just some of what he had to say:

[On the subject of his fiancée's role as his future wife:]
I want to come home to a home cooked dinner at six every night, one that she fixes and one that I expect one day to have my daughters learn to fix after they become traditional homemakers and family wives.

[On those future daughters he plans to have:]
I don't want them [to] grow up into career obsessed banshees who [forgo] home life and children and the happiness of family to become nail-biting manophobic hell-bent feminist she devils who shriek from the top of a thousand tall buildings.

[On the "crazed definition of modern womanhood":]
They made it up to suit their own nasty, snake-filled heads. Men and women are different and gender-bending word games by a goofy nest of drugstore academics aren't going to change anything -- except the fantasy life of those confused people in ivory towers.

[On women in the news media:]
Big media has become too many dumb blonds, too many leg dangles, too many "tee-hee's," too many hate-Trump stories, too much "fake news," too many left-biased reporters, too much mud-slinging -- the credibility is shot to hell and with it big media.

How utterly charming! In a later message to the Washington Post, Sykes wrote of his dislike for the "radical drug and communal hippy-visioned 1960's," and what he hopes to do about it: "The Femimarxian era is ending and I am here to help end it."

One female reporter had the best response to him we've yet seen: "I worry that 'nail-biting manophobic hell-bent feminist she devils who shriek from the top of a thousand tall buildings' is going to be hard to fit on the front of a t-shirt."

In other news, the evangelical right has closed ranks behind President Donald Trump after the news broke that he paid hush money to a porn star so she wouldn't publicly speak about the sex they had had while Trump was married to his third wife (who had just given birth). Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council, explained: "We kind of gave him, all right, you get a mulligan. You get a do-over here." Which they surely would have done if, say, Barack Obama had been caught paying off hush money to a porn star a month before his election, right? Hypocrisy, thy name is Tony Perkins -- and all the other faux-pious self-appointed arbiters of morals who have temporarily lost all of their own (for some reason). There's nothing like standing up for family values, folks!

Oh, and what has that porn star been up to? She's been down at the Trophy Club in South Carolina, cashing in:

"Making America Horny Again," said a big sign outside [the strip club], a play on Trump's campaign slogan. Inside there was patriotic bunting on the brass railings. Red, white and blue balloons floated above each sticky table. [Stormy] Daniels spread out a taupe fleece blanket onstage, dropped to her knees, arched her back and began to squirt a bottle of lotion onto her chest to the sound of "Animal" by Def Leppard, as the president's face flashed on video screens behind her.

All of this is having an effect on the public, of course, which is why pollsters are now saying women voters may indeed become the key reason for a possibly-upcoming Democratic wave election later this year. The poll found: "Democrats [now hold] a 57 percent to 31 percent advantage among female voters, double the size of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's margin in the 2016 election." That's pretty impressive. And women aren't just marching in the streets in protest, they are also running for office in record numbers, too, so this could indeed go down in history as the second (and much bigger) political "Year Of The Woman." The best sign seen at the Women's March last weekend summed this up beautifully: "GRAB 'EM BY THE MIDTERMS." Crazed modern womanhood may win out in the end, in other words.

One last modern womanhood milestone note before we move on -- Tammy Duckworth is about to become the first U.S. Senator in American history to give birth while in office. Congratulations, Senator Duckworth! Guess she didn't get the memo about staying home to fix her hubby a hot meal, eh? Crazed!

Of course, there was much else happening in the political world this past week. Democrats briefly shut the government down and then reopened it, but we'll get to that in the awards section. President Trump was denied his first anniversary party (with $50,000-a-plate donors) due to the shutdown, but then he did get to fly away to Davos, Switzerland to hobnob with some billionaires later in the week, so there was that.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled this week that Republicans had blatantly gerrymandered House districts in an unconstitutional fashion, and ordered new maps for the 2018 election to be drawn up within weeks. This could be a big win for Democrats if (as expected) the federal courts decide not to get involved. Pennsylvania is one of the most heavily GOP-gerrymandered states around, so this could give the Democrats the chance to pick up half a dozen or so House seats in November, in one state alone.

Florida will likely have a ballot referendum this year on automatically reinstating the right to vote for most felons, after they have completed all other parts of their sentences. This could re-enfranchise over a million people, so it would be pretty impressive if it happens.

President Trump, in an unscripted moment, said he was "looking forward" to testifying before Robert Mueller's team, and that he would "absolutely" do so under oath in the next few weeks: "I would love to do it, and I would like to do it as soon as possible."

This immediately caused a full-on panic attack among Trump's legal team, who showed exactly what they think of their client's ability to tell the truth by immediately whining to the media that Trump was walking into a "perjury trap." For those unfamiliar with the term, this means: "We are terrified that Trump will lie his face off under oath, just like he's done in countless lawsuits in the past, and that this time he will actually have to pay a price for his lies." So there's that to look forward to, Mueller fans!

In other Trump legal news, court arguments have started in a trial accusing Trump of violating the emoluments clause of the Constitution, with Trump's lawyers arguing to have the whole thing thrown out of court. The judge, however, seemed much more inclined to support the plaintiff's side of the argument, so this could become a much bigger story very soon.

Next week will likely be dominated by Trump's first official "State Of The Union" speech, so there's that to look forward to as well. Usually, the White House offers up sneak peeks of what the president will say, but this time around the only new initiatives they've run up the flagpole are starting the trade wars in earnest (Trump announced tariffs on washing machines and solar panels), and rolling out the long-awaited infrastructure plan. John McCain responded to the White House moves by tweeting: "Trump admin's new protectionist tariffs nothing more than a tax on consumers." There are still free-trade Republicans left, so it'll be interesting to see how this all plays out.

Let's see, what else? Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach used to be vice chair of Trump's voter fraud commission, before it was shut down due to there not actually being any voter fraud to speak of. The commission requested personal information on all voters from all states, but many states balked, saying such private information would be at risk of being leaked or getting hacked. Which makes it all the more ironic that this week it was revealed that Kobach's office in Kansas apparently exposed the last four digits of Kobach's own Social Security Number, as well as that of several thousand other political candidates and state employees. Whoops! Looks like the states that refused to give up their info were right not to do so. Kobach can't even keep his own personal information secure, it seems.

And the White House was apparently invaded by interplanetary pranksters, or something. In the released list of attendees of a recent dinner, there were three spelling errors. They couldn't even get the name of their own Secretary of Homeland Security correct, but the more-amusing ones were industry guests Martin Lundstedt (of Volvo) and Carlos Brito (of InBev). In a Santa Claus Conquers The Martians type of moment, they were listed as "Martian" and "Carols." Quick! Get Scully and Mulder on the case!

Heh.

 

Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week

This is one of those weeks when we encourage readers to get through both awards sections before drawing any conclusions.

Because we measure our weeks here between Friday afternoons, last week started off for us with the government shutdown actually happening. Democrats finally took an issue to the mat and refused to punt the issue of the Dreamers and DACA a few more weeks down the road. Which is why we are awarding Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer the Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week, for leading the effort and mostly keeping his caucus together (five Senate Democrats wound up voting with the Republicans, but by that point they would have needed 14 to pass their bill, since some Republicans crossed the aisle as well).

Schumer had gotten a lot of grief back in December for failing to fulfill his promise to force Republicans to deal with DACA "before the end of the year." Democrats aided Republicans twice in December, punting the budget rather than using it to force action on DACA, and the Dreamers and their advocates were not happy.

Schumer finally made good on his promise last Friday, and the government shut down. For doing so, he has to be seen as the Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week. But, as we said, stay tuned...

[Congratulate Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on his Senate contact page, to let him know you appreciate his efforts.]

 

Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week

...because Chuck Schumer is also the winner of this week's Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week award.

Last Friday afternoon, Schumer went to the White House for a one-on-one meeting with Trump. Republicans were terrified that Trump would be talked into a deal by Schumer (showing what little regard they have for Mister Art Of The Deal), but as it turned out Democrats were the ones who should have been nervous. Because even before the shutdown happened, Schumer was agreeing to utterly capitulate on a big issue. Trump asked for full funding for his wall, and Schumer, in his own words, said Trump: "picked a number for the wall, and I accepted it." The number turned out to be $25 billion. Long-forgotten was the promise that Mexico would be the ones footing the bill, but so far that hasn't seemed to upset any Trump fans.

Trump and Schumer ultimately didn't agree on a deal, and the government shut down at midnight on Friday. Then came a furious spin battle where each side accused the other of being responsible. Democrats were largely winning this public relations effort, but then they got nervous.

Perhaps it was the brutal ad released over the weekend, in which Trump's re-election campaign warned: "Now Democrats who stand in our way will be complicit in every murder committed by illegal immigrants." It was as if the Willie Horton ad and the Pete Wilson anti-immigration "streaming across our borders" ad of the 1990s got together and had a baby, or something.

Or perhaps it was the fact that Monday meant the start of a workweek, when the federal furloughs would truly begin to be felt. It could have even been that Democrats simply hadn't thought far enough in advance to have a viable Plan B ready to go. But for whatever reason, by the middle of Monday, Democrats caved on the shutdown and went ahead and voted to kick the budget can down the road a few more weeks.

They had accomplished only two things with their shutdown -- the CHIP program is now fully funded for the next six years (which removes it as a bargaining chip for Republicans), and Schumer got a very vague and weaselly "promise" from Mitch McConnell to hold some sort of vote on a DACA bill at some date in the near future in the Senate. There was no concomitant promise from Paul Ryan to do the same in the House, which means that even if McConnell wasn't lying his face off (he's certainly done so before on the subject of voting on DACA), it has to be considered a partial victory at best. The hotheaded hardliners in the House could still simply refuse to move such a bill forward.

The Democrats caved pretty fast on their shutdown stunt, which not only disappointed but enraged their advocates. It was notable that pretty much every Democratic senator who is even considering running for president in 2020 voted against the bill on Monday. The base isn't happy with the way this all worked out, to put it mildly.

Schumer, belatedly realizing this, tried to walk back his promise of the wall funding. He tried to rescind his offer, but once out there it's pretty tough to do that. The White House released its own demands later in the week, which were breathtaking in scope. Not only did they want the wall money (now boosted to $30 billion), but they also want to effectively cut legal immigration in half. That's now Trump's starting point for negotiations, it seems.

So not only for folding like a cheap suit at the first sign of pressure, but also for giving away the store on the border wall before the shutdown even happened, Chuck Schumer is also the winner of this week's Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week.

[Contact Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on his Senate contact page, to let him know what you think of his actions.]

 

Friday Talking Points

Volume 469 (1/26/18)

Since this isn't really political, we didn't know where else to put it, but we were personally saddened this week to hear of the death of science-fiction/fantasy author Ursula K. Le Guin. She was a giant in the field, producing such classics as the Earthsea Trilogy (later expanded to other books), the gender-fluid The Left Hand Of Darkness, and (our personal favorite) The Lathe Of Heaven. From her first novel Rocannon's World through lesser-known titles (Planet Of Exile, City Of Illusions, The Word For World Is Forest, Orsinian Tales, and The Dispossessed, to name but a few), Le Guin brought worlds alive through memorable characters and storylines. Unlike many science-fiction authors, she heavily explored the concept of how time slippage would accompany any faster-than-light travel, and coined the term "ansible" for a faster-than-light radio. Unlike Ged, though, she will not return from crossing over that low stone wall into the Dry Land, but she will be long remembered here in the land of the living. Requiescat In Pace.

As we said, we didn't know where else to put that, but felt the need to mark her passing. Having done so, let's move along to this week's talking points for Democrats. Of course, most of these will become moot after Trump gives the "State Of The Union" speech next Tuesday, and we'll all be watching Representative Joe Kennedy III of Massachusetts (naturally), who will be giving the Democratic response to Trump's speech, to see what talking points he'll come up with. But for now, here's what we've got....

 

1
   Protect Mueller now!

This, obviously, just moved to the front burner.

"With the revelation that Donald Trump actively tried to fire Bob Mueller last year -- putting the lie to all the times Trump's advisors or Trump himself swore up and down that they hadn't even considered such an action -- it is now imperative that Congress immediately pass a law protecting Bob Mueller from being fired for purely political reasons. There are two bipartisan bills in the Senate -- sponsored by Republicans Thom Tillis and Lindsay Graham, together with Democrats -- that could accomplish some judicial review of the president's ability to fire a special prosecutor. Now that we all know that Trump has already attempted to do so once, there simply is no excuse for failing to act. Republicans have to decide whether they stand with Trump, or with the Constitution. Protect Mueller now!"

 

2
   Survey says...

A majority of Americans now agree on one thing, when it comes to Trump.

"The number of Americans who say that Donald Trump holds a racial bias against black people has risen to an all-time high of 52 percent in a recent poll. A clear majority of the country thinks their president is a racist, folks. The percentage of people who strongly believe this rose from 36 percent to 40 percent just in the past few months alone. Trump may go down in history as the most racist president to sit in the Oval Office since at least Woodrow Wilson. So much for his claim that he's the 'least racist person you'll ever meet,' eh? A majority of Americans now disagree, Mister President."

 

3
   Equally offensive and equally ineffective

In a similar vein, Representative Luis Gutiérrez had the best Democratic response to the White House's new offer on immigration. He said it "doesn't pass the laugh test," and then went on to suggest an alternative:

It would be far cheaper to erect a 50-foot concrete statue of a middle finger and point it towards Latin America, because both a wall and the statue would be equally offensive and equally ineffective, and both would express Trump’s deeply held suspicion of Latinos.

 

4
   The Trump Slump

Here's one fact about the economy you don't hear the White House bragging about:

"America used to be the world's premiere tourist destination. We were number one in tourism, but that is no longer true. Since Donald Trump took office, we have now slipped to second place, behind Spain. Spain! Tourism industry experts are calling this the 'Trump Slump,' and it has meant the country has lost at least $4.6 billion -- that's billion with a 'B' -- in tourist dollars in just one year. This lost spending has also cost the American economy an estimated 40,000 jobs. Gee, I wonder why foreigners suddenly don't want to visit America anymore! Haven't heard the White House bragging about the size of the Trump Slump yet, have you?"

 

5
   The vindication of Michael Moore

Remember The Awful Truth?

"In 2000, Michael Moore decided he had had enough of the Democratic Party just refusing to run candidates in certain congressional races. So he began a campaign to run a ficus plant ("Ficus For Congress!") as a write-in candidate to challenge Rodney Frelinghuysen in New Jersey, since the Democrats refused to even field a candidate in the race. Today, a ficus tree adorns the office of the Morris County Democratic headquarters as a reminder of this history, since they are now finally contesting the seat in a major way. Frelinghuysen is 'facing the first series challenge of his 23-year congressional career' in November, as the Democrats feel the wind at their backs. One former Republican representative from New York even admitted this, warning: 'Half the Republicans in Congress have never seen a wind in their faces. This is a wind-in-your-face election.' Somewhere, Michael Moore is laughing, that's for sure."

 

6
   Embrace legalization

We wrote earlier in the week that marijuana legalization has now passed an important tipping point, and that the death knell for the federal War On Weed cannot be far off.

"This week, Vermont became the ninth state in the country to legalize recreational adult marijuana use, but this was even more notable because they were the first state to do so legislatively. Only about half the states have the direct democracy of ballot measures, so this was an important milestone to reach. The people let it be known their support for legalization, and the politicians finally followed their lead. This crossed party lines, as the governor who signed the legislation is a Republican. It is high time -- pun intended -- for Democratic politicians to wake up and realize they need to get on the right side of history when it comes to ending the destructive and costly federal War On Weed. New Jersey's new Democratic governor campaigned on passing a legalization law through the state legislature in his first 100 days in office, so they may be next. More and more voters care about this issue, and Democrats need to get over their timidity and embrace an issue that more than six in ten Americans now support. Embrace legalization, Democratic candidates, because doing so will help you get elected!"

 

7
   How perfectly appropriate!

Too, too funny.

"The White House made a request to the Guggenheim Museum, because apparently the First Lady wanted to have a Van Gogh painting to look at. The Museum turned down this request, but instead offered the suggestion that perhaps the Trumps would enjoy a different artwork from their collection -- a solid gold, working toilet. The piece, titled "America," by artist Maurizio Cattelan, is supposed to be a comment on excessive wealth in this country. Personally, I couldn't imagine a more appropriate artwork for the Trump White House. I mean, have you seen those photos of Trump's apartment in New York? I'm kind of surprised they don't already have solid-gold toilets."

-- Chris Weigant

 

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Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

Cross-posted at: Democratic Underground

 

68 Comments on “Friday Talking Points [469] -- A Crazed Definition Of Modern Womanhood”

  1. [1] 
    John From Censornati wrote:

    I’ve heard some people say that Amnesty Orange has seen the light and he’s already planning to start a religion once Bobby Three Sticks throws him out like the obese, racist, Russian money-laundering trash he is. Apparently, space alien Greta Van Susteren told him about Scientology and it all looks too easy. He already has a read-made cult of dedicated Dumb and Dumbers who love his lies better than the truth and would gladly drink his orange Flavor Aid. The bible’s twisted, contradictory, hateful, only-a-child-could-believe gobbledygook is not even in the same league as his persuasive word salads. That’s where the money is.

  2. [2] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    Trump pretty much secured an obstruction charge with his ordering Mueller’s termination. The charge doesn’t require that it was successful, only that the attempt to obstruct was attempted.

  3. [3] 
    Michale wrote:

    Trump pretty much secured an obstruction charge with his ordering Mueller’s termination.

    No facts that prove such a claim....

    Bon voyage, everbody...

    "Be.... excellent to each other"
    -Ted, BILL & TED'S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE

  4. [4] 
    TheStig wrote:

    Who in the hell is Courtland Sykes? He seems to have all the authenticity of a faked passport.

  5. [5] 
    TheStig wrote:

    "Trophy Club in South Carolina"

    That would be Greenville SC. A nice town.

  6. [6] 
    TheStig wrote:

    Fun fact: Ursula K. Le Guin went to high school with Phillip K Dick.

    Neither was the most readable of Sci Fi authors, but IMHO they both score high on deep ideas.

  7. [7] 
    TheStig wrote:

    If a solid gold toilet is too Trumpy for even Trump, maybe he'd settle for some Jasper Johns.

    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/d/d7/Three_Flags.jpg

  8. [8] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Chris,

    Do you suppose that there are any enlightened investigative reporters actively working to uncover what it is with regard to Russia that President Trump feels the desperate need to hide?

    Or is the news media too busy being gaslighted by the gaslighter-in-chief and being itself complicit in the gaslighting of America to be concerned about the big picture?

  9. [9] 
    neilm wrote:

    The Gugg threw Melania some serious shade ... who'd've guessed they'd be stooping to toilet humor?

  10. [10] 
    neilm wrote:

    Courtland Sykes is an insecure man's Ann Coulter. Mind you, Ann Coulter is a 12-year-old's Milo Yiannopoulos.

    They are all trying to emulate SCOTTeVest on the same marks ...

    https://www.politicalorphans.com/scottevest-fox-news-and-a-dunning-kruger-nightmare/

  11. [11] 
    neilm wrote:

    Everybody in media knows Fox’s value-pitch. Reeling in viewers with scary stories about colored folk delivered by Hooters waitresses in short skirts, Fox News has built a machine for reaching a gullible, aging white audience with some loose cash.

    After CW, Chris Ladd is my favorite political blogger.

  12. [12] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    neilm

    Ain't never seed a Hooters waitress, but seem to recall from the photos I have seen, they're clad in short shorts, not short skirts.

    Actually, for that matter, also never seen a Fox News. I get my TV from an old fashioned roof-top antenna, and in this part of the country, Fox only comes by cable.

    No wonder I'm so politically backward!

  13. [13] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    I’m kinda hoping that some big news story will drop Sunday or Monday that will get Trump all fired up for his State of the Union address. It’s sad that he is so easy to manipulate, but it does make for good entertainment, I guess.

  14. [14] 
    neilm wrote:

    No wonder I'm so politically backward!

    You are "politically backwards" because you like being seen that way.

    Your act is that you are the old-time, independent, "gee sucks", can-do American who acts "simple" but is really the only person that can see things as they are "cos you don't go overthinking things" and all of the rest of us, over time, are going to be an awe of your old-time-gritty-tell-it-like-it-is insights. (Hint: we aren't - like you, we are all stuck in our own artificial characters.)

    We all have our roles - remember, the person we lie to most is ourselves. Try not insulting everybody as you play out yours though - the trolling is unnecessary and spoils your "old-cowboy-hold-the-door-open-for-ladies good manners" side role I'll bet you think you put on as well.

  15. [15] 
    neilm wrote:

    Ain't never seed a Hooters waitress, but seem to recall from the photos I have seen, they're clad in short shorts, not short skirts.

    I have. I went to Hooters once, as a beard for my friend who wanted to see inside of one. The girls are cute, the prices high, and the food mediocre in my one experience.

    They did wear shorts, which is why Ladd said "Hooters waitresses in skirts" (i.e. instead of shorts) because short, brightly colored dresses seem to be the uniform for Fox anchors.

  16. [16] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Russ,

    While it may be true that Trump can be manipulated, it hasn't exactly yielded a desired outcome as of yet.

    I think we should ask why.

    The sadder situation is his role as gaslighter-in-chief with the news media and his obstinate base being his targets.

    And, did you know that millions of Americans believe that God made Trump president?

    This is what we are up against and we aren't exactly winning. :(

  17. [17] 
    neilm wrote:

    LWYH [13]:

    I'm hoping he goes off script and starts meandering through the gripes and grudges floating around inside his head.

    I don't think it will be some new story that will set him off, I think it will be some story about e.g. Kelly really running things, or this new book that is coming out, or Stormy Daniels being quoted as saying that old "tighty whiteys" needs to use ED drugs and making some comparison about his hand size and his manhood.

    He really gets going when he feels insecure.

  18. [18] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Neil,

    I'm hoping he goes off script and starts meandering through the gripes and grudges floating around inside his head.

    And, he couldn't possibly survive his first year in office, let alone his first term, eh?

    I'm afraid that Trump is not America's biggest problem.

    We need to focus on the bigger picture issues.

  19. [19] 
    neilm wrote:

    I'm afraid that Trump is not America's biggest problem.

    We need to focus on the bigger picture issues.

    I'm failing to see how I claimed that 45 was America's biggest problem.

    For the record, I think that America's biggest problem is that we are being torn apart economically as a nation and that as more and more people are facing economic pressures our cohesion as a society is falling apart. Couple that with increasing pace of cultural change that leaves many people feeling that their country changed in ways that they don't like, and that they are called bigoted if they long for their, partially imagined, good old days.

    Thus we have a nasty little zit appearing on the shining face of Mother America in the form of President #45 - he is a symptom not the disease.

  20. [20] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I'm failing to see how I claimed that 45 was America's biggest problem.

    Neil, you are absolutely correct. You did not claim that. I claimed that! :)

    Why so sensitive? Are you up for a discussion today or not?

  21. [21] 
    neilm wrote:

    Re: Economic Pressures:

    Our median net worth has not recovered from the 2008 crisis, and the number of households with zero or negative non-home net worth is over 30% for the first time in recent history.

    http://ritholtz.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/inequality-e1515191667633.png

    Basically we are starting to feel good about the economy and opening our wallets. But since incomes have been flat for most earners under $150K we are saving less and running up credit card bills again.

    We know this story, and it doesn't end well.

  22. [22] 
    neilm wrote:

    Why so sensitive? Are you up for a discussion today or not?

    Sorry - my bad.

    I'm taking my wife to see "The Post" today, but I've got an hour or so.

  23. [23] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Actually, my mom is having a bad day so this is it for me for a while ... enjoy the movie ... did you see William Bradley's latest?

  24. [24] 
    neilm wrote:

    did you see William Bradley's latest

    The Gov. Brown one? If so, yes - excellent as usual.

  25. [25] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    No, the one about The Post, Devolutionary Media, and Trump's Gaslighting of America ...

  26. [26] 
    neilm wrote:

    Help me out here EM - I go to Bradley's page on HuffPo - do you have a link?

  27. [27] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I just checked and it's not there on his bio page?? I'll get back to you on that ...

  28. [28] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    neilm [15]

    I don't have access to Fox anchors (as previously stated), but I recall reading during the Roger Ailes sexual abuse episode, that he insisted they have great legs and display as much of them as possible as often as possible. And I've always said about great (female) legs, If you got 'em, flaunt 'em!

    Re "Income Inequality" [21} We (Americans, but actually everybody) have NEVER had 'Talent Equality' never had 'Skill Equality', never had 'Ambition Equality', never had 'Contribution to Societal Welfare' equality, how can you expect or even justify, Income equality???

    It never occurs to Dems/Libs that because of the fundamental inescapable truth that it's impossible to achieve income equality by raising the productivity of the less-productuive/unproductive, the only other option for income equality is to reduce the productivity of the more productive, by eliminating incentive!

    Who would be dumb enough to advocate for that??

  29. [29] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    neilm

    Re "We know this story (saving less and running up credit card bills again) and it doesn't end well."

    So how DOES it end??? (Surely you're not saying another mortgage-default financial crisis, right?)

  30. [30] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    There is more than one kind of financial crisis, you know ...

  31. [31] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    neilm

    Re "People currently having more low/negative net worth compared to previous times."

    It goes without saying that it's somewhat easier to save some money with a high income than it is with a low income, however our society is replete with stories of people who blew through huge fortunes (Willie Nelson comes to mind) and still went broke.

    Bottom line is, people today (more than previous generations) are FAR more prone to spend everything they earn (and more), or just don't see the need to save, and there are legitimate reasons for that.

    Saving money (i.e. foregoing current consumption in favor of later consumption) is penalized by our government's proclivity to reduce the purchasing power of savings over time by means of cheapening the currency (currency inflation). That's MAJOR disincentive to save.

    Also, there's a modern mindset that "We don't NEED to save for retirement, 'cause the gov't will take care of us."

    That was at least a semi-legit argument when people all had large families and there were 25 -30 workers paying into SS for every retired person taking out, but those days are gone forever. These days there are something like 3 or 4 workers for each retiree, and rapidly headed for only 2 workers per retiree.

  32. [32] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    Liz M [30]

    Of course, but which one do you think neil anticipates, (or you anticipate)?

  33. [33] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I'm not anticipating one but I know there will be one.

    Let's just hope that lessons have been learned in the wake of the last financial crisis and that foolish steps won't be taken that might help precipitate another one or make the next one more difficult to mitigate.

  34. [34] 
    neilm wrote:

    CRS [28]

    I've tried replying several times but my replies have been caught in the nanny filter.

    Basically:

    1. I'm not advocating equality - and you know it.
    2. We are at excessive levels of inequality and it is ripping our country apart, and the current administration's policies are designed to increase inequality, not mitigate it

  35. [35] 
    neilm wrote:

    CRS [29]

    It ends in a recession.

  36. [36] 
    neilm wrote:

    CRS [31]

    Some proof points might be useful - where do you get your facts from concerning:

    1. savings rates?
    2. this statement: Also, there's a modern mindset that "We don't NEED to save for retirement, 'cause the gov't will take care of us.?

    Or are you just another "feelie" who trusts their gut and "common sense" over verifiable reality?

  37. [37] 
    neilm wrote:

    CRS [31]

    Time & Cash:

    You claim that people spend, or overspend, because inflation is going to eat away at any savings so what is the point?

    This is so obviously wrong that I'm going to assume you are just parroting some libertarian whining.

    My friends and I are prodigious savers - granted we can afford to be, but we also know people in our income brackets who have Teslas instead of 10-year-old Hondas and boats they have bought on line of credit loans.

    Most of my friends are wealthy but you'd never know it from meeting them - you'd probably think we are down-on-our-heels. We haven't made much more money than our neighbors, but we save up to buy a (cheap) car with cash and go to the $2 beer happy hour every week for our "pub night".

    We all strongly believe in saving and investing and are living proof that the following statement is wrong:

    Saving money (i.e. foregoing current consumption in favor of later consumption) is penalized by our government's proclivity to reduce the purchasing power of savings over time by means of cheapening the currency (currency inflation). That's MAJOR disincentive to save.

  38. [38] 
    neilm wrote:

    Also, there's a modern mindset that "We don't NEED to save for retirement, 'cause the gov't will take care of us."

    That was at least a semi-legit argument when people all had large families and there were 25 -30 workers paying into SS for every retired person taking out, but those days are gone forever. These days there are something like 3 or 4 workers for each retiree, and rapidly headed for only 2 workers per retiree.

    Most surveys show that people are less inclined to trust social security, e.g.:

    https://www.nationwide.com/about-us/091917-nf-social-security.jsp

    One of the reasons that I'm all for increasing immigration is because of the number of workers to retirees - you need only look to Japan to see what happens when the number of workers to retirees drops.

  39. [39] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    neilm

    [34] Of COURSE I know that - nobody's that dumb (to advocate for total equality of income), but your side advocates vociferously for a major reduction of INEQUALITY, by means of transfer from hi earners to lo earners, so the difference is only one of DEGREE, and not of PRINCIPLE, right?

    [35] Presume you're talking a consumer credit ("credit card") default, and I suppose a really bad one COULD "result in recession", but such is not even slightly comparable to the mortgage default recession. Not any kind of existential threat to the banking system, just a dip in the level of the usurious profits banks make on credit card debt.

    [36] 1. That conclusion (low savings rates/low net worth balances) comes from the chart in the "Ritholz.com" link YOU GAVE ME in your [21], for gawdsake!

    [37] I'm SO HAPPY that you and your friends are diligent savers and investors, it's a blessing for the economy, but that doesn't make it smart.

    The truth of that is the last 60 yrs of inflation! In my working career (early 60's thru late 80's), I worked two jobs, raised 4 kids, lived modestly (poor-man's cars, no expensive toys, no ocean cruises) paid cash for everything I ever bought so as to never pay interest, and socked away $300k, which in those years would have bought 4 houses of the type of houses in the subdivisions I've always lived in.

    Now I sit here after 20 yrs of retirement looking at my $300k which only equates to 1 1/2 of my neighbors middle-class 1600- 1800 sq ft houses, wondering why my gov't robbed me of a pleasant retirement.

    When your own gov't, in the form of its central bank (aka the "FED") advocates PUBLICLY for a 2% compounded annual inflation rate, it doesn't take a math genius to figure out that what you save today wont buy shit in 30 yrs.

    [38] You're absolutely correct about the U.S. headed for where Japan now is barring mass immigration. And it's actually substantially worse than the numbers themselves indicate, because in spite of sounding racist, it's undeniably true that the quality of immigrants is even more important than the quantity.

    When the ratio of workers to retirees drops too low, you'll inevitably witness a generational revolt, when the young refuse to support the retirees in the manner to which they want to live, and you can't blame 'em!

    I've got the solution. Retired folks should be entitled to only whatever SS contributions their own kids are paying in. My kids currently pay more SS than my wife and I receive, so I'll get a big raise. How about you and your rich buddies?

  40. [40] 
    neilm wrote:

    [34] Of COURSE I know that - nobody's that dumb (to advocate for total equality of income), but your side advocates vociferously for a major reduction of INEQUALITY, by means of transfer from hi earners to lo earners, so the difference is only one of DEGREE, and not of PRINCIPLE, right?

    Well we need to have a decision as to what the Gini coefficient should be - do we keep hammering away until we get to 1.0, or do we look at where it makes most sense from a balance of greed, economic activity, and compassion? I'd say we are leaning heavily towards pure greed at the expense of the economy (i.e. our economy could be growing faster if we distributed the wealth differently, and we could lower misery at the same time).

    I've not heard anything from you wrt where greed stops. Do you want Gini = 1.0? If not where?

  41. [41] 
    neilm wrote:

    [35] Presume you're talking a consumer credit ("credit card") default, and I suppose a really bad one COULD "result in recession", but such is not even slightly comparable to the mortgage default recession. Not any kind of existential threat to the banking system, just a dip in the level of the usurious profits banks make on credit card debt.

    I have no idea what will trigger the next recession, I just know that I'd be very surprised if we had 25 more years without one.

    We usually get a recession every 6-8 years, so I anticipate multiple downturns in my long term plans.

  42. [42] 
    neilm wrote:

    [36] 1. That conclusion (low savings rates/low net worth balances) comes from the chart in the "Ritholz.com" link YOU GAVE ME in your [21], for gawdsake!

    The chart in [21] doesn't include savings rates. I don't disagree that savings rates are historically low - I just like to see that you have actually looked at real data, e.g.:

    https://media.ycharts.com/charts/749458190f94d530d0ffc4c3e918e2b4.png

  43. [43] 
    neilm wrote:

    [37] I'm SO HAPPY that you and your friends are diligent savers and investors, it's a blessing for the economy, but that doesn't make it smart.

    I track everything in two mirrored spreadsheets - one nominal and the other inflation adjusted. My investments have outperformed inflation by about 7% over the last two decades - that will drop as I get more conservative as I get closer to retirement, however a nominal long term return rate of 5-6% and an inflation adjusted rate of 3-4% is not ridiculous.

    Also, houses tend to beat inflation by about productivity growth, so are basically a vehicle for indexing the U.S. economy, after inflation.

    Our current 2% inflation is historically low. In my opinion there are sound reasons to have 2-5% inflation, as it means that large investments (e.g. a mortgage) tend to get smaller in real terms over time, encouraging spending and investment.

    Since inflation is part of just about every country's economy, and as been for the last 100+ years in one form or another, it is just part of the uncertainty of the future we have to live with.

    This is why we invest in long term, inflation mitigating instruments. I hope to be retired for 20 years. I don't expect to earn any more income, so I'm going to have to make the money I retire with last. If I want to draw $25K per year from my savings, I know that the $25K I will need in the first year needs to be in cash equivalents. However the $25K (plus inflation) I need in 20 years time should be in long term instruments that typically outpace inflation. So that $25K is only $10K sitting in a small cap index fund right now. Between time, the headwinds of inflation, and the tailwinds of returns, the odds are in my favor that the $10K will grow to $40K (=$25K plus 20 years of inflation) over 20 years.

    The mistake I see so many people make when they retire is to move all their savings into "safe" instruments that get eaten away by inflation. The 60/40 stock/bond balance is pretty good for any plan over 5-10 years, and gives you a chance of being protected from inflation.

  44. [44] 
    neilm wrote:

    I've got the solution. Retired folks should be entitled to only whatever SS contributions their own kids are paying in. My kids currently pay more SS than my wife and I receive, so I'll get a big raise. How about you and your rich buddies?

    I'll take the amount I've paid in to SS as one lump sum right now and not take a future dime from the government. However that isn't likely.

    I'm not too worried about the "quality" of the immigrants - this is a perennial story in America - look at the way the Irish were perceived, and they were still lynching Italians in 1927! The "catholic" immigration wave was meant to destroy America, but instead we got pizza and St. Paddy's Day parades. The current wave of immigration is no darker skinned than the Southern European wave that triggered earlier concerns about people who didn't have the right culture and would destroy America.

    We are facing a pension crisis in this country - too many promises have been made that don't look sustainable. The cops in my area have been given promises that our city can't afford. At some point in time we will have to decide to pay an ex-cop on a golf course, or an active cop on the beat. I predict if crime rates rise because we can't afford enough active cops, some sort of chiseling will occur (probably COLA related). Unfair, but then, as I tell one of my kids who is in the public sector, don't rely on the pension promises you are getting - save for yourself as well.

  45. [45] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    neilm

    Your "nominal 5 - 6% return is one helluva return in this day and age. I'm rarely to never able to do that well, especially when you factor in inevitable losses of principal, such as the 1000 Sh of Citbank I bought in the 40's just prior to the housing bubble bursting and wound up selling at $4/sh

  46. [46] 
    neilm wrote:

    Your "nominal 5 - 6% return is one helluva return in this day and age.

    In 2000 a wise man told me "you can't beat the markets, and don't trust anybody who tells you they can. Put any money you won't need for more than 10 years in a S&P500 index fund with the lowest fees you can find and forget about it no matter what"

    I did.

    At one point in 2008 I had less money in my account than I had put in, but I stuck with it as the same guy said to me "what part of buy low and sell high do you not understand?". (He added "you're a bloody fool if you get out of the markets when they are at their low point.")

  47. [47] 
    neilm wrote:

    My buddies can be a bit direct. I suspect you'd like them.

  48. [48] 
    neilm wrote:

    Thus I'm not really taking credit for anything except not panicking when the (inevitable) market crash happened.

    My buddy had a line-of-credit waiting for the crash and scooped up a pile of S&P500 funds in 2009.

    BTW he is puttering about with S&P500 futures at the moment - he has some options game he is playing that allows him to put his principle in a long term bond instrument and use the cash it throws off to replicate the same amount in the S&P500 so he can only lose the 5% the options cost him, but has unlimited upside.

    He tried to explain it to me, but I told him I'd stick to the simple things. He retired at 50 BTW.

  49. [49] 
    Kick wrote:

    neilm
    10, 11

    They are all trying to emulate SCOTTeVest on the same marks ...

    https://www.politicalorphans.com/scottevest-fox-news-and-a-dunning-kruger-nightmare/

    Too funny.

  50. [50] 
    Kick wrote:

    neilm
    46

    At one point in 2008 I had less money in my account than I had put in, but I stuck with it as the same guy said to me "what part of buy low and sell high do you not understand?". (He added "you're a bloody fool if you get out of the markets when they are at their low point.")

    My standard speech is: "Ignore the dang statement; you've lost nothing. You own the same number of shares you owned yesterday, and right now you're basically buying them at 2 for the price of 1... so you're NOT getting out; you should be going all in."

    It sometimes takes repeating multiple times because people I know seem to all panic during a crash/correction, but as you know, it's really not as complicated as people seem determined to make it.

  51. [51] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    neilm

    Re your [40], and "Not having heard anything from me about where greed stops."

    The Gini coefficient is much misunderstood, and leads to many of the mis-comprehensions of Economics common to Lefties.

    Imagine for theoretical purposes, a given population of people where not a single person produces a single thing for some given timeframe. That population would within that time frame, have a Gini coefficient of 0 (a Liberal's dream come true, perfect equality!).

    At that point, those folks realize they're all going to soon die unless they begin to produce something to eat, so they all go to work planting potatoes. Some turn out to be skillful at potato growing, some not so skillful, so the Gini coefficient promptly explodes.

    It quickly becomes obvious that Gini can serve equally well as a measure of poverty/misery as a measure of prosperity, and low Ginis are NOT always preferable to high Ginis, right?

  52. [52] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    neilm

    Had to quit and go to sleep last night, but I wasn't quite thru with my 'Gini' lecture.

    Folks who worship at the Gini 'equality altar' have a strong proclivity to draw erroneous conclusions about what is really going on in the world. You guys see the Steve Jobs's and the Jeff Bezos's of the world (the very people who cause Gini numbers to explode) as greedy villains, who are enriching themselves by stealing from the shares of the 'national pie' that rightly belong to their fellow Americans . . . NOT TRUE!!!

    Those kinds of people are NOT getting rich by stealing your share and my share of the 'national pie', they are getting (filthy) rich by ENLARGING the 'national pie'.

    Don't let low Ginis lead to to the erroneous conclusion that the highly productive people are the bad guys within society. I realize that your concept of Gini Utopia is where there is an abundance of Jobs's and Bezos's (highly productive folks), who are willing to share the fruits of their labors equally with everybody, but that is not how the real world works.

    You guys ALL have two or more 'i-devices" (phones, pads, or whatever), your spouses and your kids all have two or more each, you send every dollar you make (except maybe for fast food) to Amazon, and then you shout "GREEDY BASTARDS" at Jobs and Bezos, and you see no contradiction there!

    Bottom line, we should not let the high Ginis of the world lead us to conclude that we would be better off without the highly-productive people.

  53. [53] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    neilm

    OK, BOTTOM bottom line, So let's 'put the Gini back in the bottle'!!!

  54. [54] 
    neilm wrote:

    CRS [51, 52]

    I'll restate that I believe that a lower Gini will improve the economy (i.e. more iPhones) because more people will be able to afford to participate without having to go into debt. If the economy grows 20% over five years because we spread the wealth, and Steve Job's estate gets 10% wealthier, he is better off than if the economy is stagnant and he is 0% wealthier.

    It isn't about who gets a percentage of the pie, it is the size of the pie and the size of the slice. You are in zero sum game thinking (which is an error of right wing arguments at the moment that is so disappointing, it used to be the left wing's flaw).

  55. [55] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    neilm

    Funny, I would have said it is thou who is doing the "zero sum" thinking. When I explain that the highly productive get rich NOT by stealing some of your piece of pie and my piece of pie, but rather be ENLARGING the pie, is that not the opposite of "zero sum" thinking??

    I fully understand the Liberal idea that confiscating the wealth of the Jobs's and the Bezos's and re-distributing it to the less productive would result in stimulating the economy by boosting demand. It is not without some logic, but it's predicated on the erroneous assumption that the outrageous incomes of the highly productive wind up stashed in their mattresses, and that is an invalid assumption. Who says that spending that money on consumables rather than on investment is a net gain for the economy?

  56. [56] 
    neilm wrote:

    CRS [55]

    If we added 10% to Elon Musk's tax rate do you think he'd:

    1. Stop raising money and investing in new ideas?
    2. Decide to stop or decrease working?
    3. Notice?

    Also, how many iPhones does Elon Musk need?

    Let's play some slippery slope games to use extremes to highlight a point:

    1. If everybody gets the same (Gini=0.0) regardless of input, ability or effort, nobody will be willing to work harder. That would be bad, because no Elon Musks and Steve Jobs.

    2. If Elon Musk has all the wealth (Gini=1.0) then there will be nobody to build or buy his Teslas. That would be bad.

    Somewhere in between is a perfect balance. If you could try to explain why you think the current Gini is too low, and what level you want to aim for, it would help.

    Telling me you think I'm stupid because you are so intelligent is a bit like tweeting that you are a very stable genius - sort of shooting yourself in the foot.

    What facts and/or models are you using to think that the Gini is too low? Are you leaning solely on ideology (taxes are always bad, no government is the only good government, etc.) or do you actually have a nirvana you predict will increase the economy and make everybody better off?

  57. [57] 
    neilm wrote:

    Who says that spending that money on consumables rather than on investment is a net gain for the economy?

    Since 70% of our economy is driven by consumer spending, I didn't think it needed pointed out.

  58. [58] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    neilm [56]

    Nowhere have I EVER stated, or even implied, that you are "stupid" nor that I am "so intelligent". Nor have I ever said the Gini is "too low", nor for that matter, ever offered my opinion on where I think it should be, nor that taxes are "always bad". Ease of with the hypersensitivity, and manufactured imaginary insults.

    "If Elon Musk has all the wealth (Meaning that nobody else produces anything whatsoever with which to trade for Musk's cars) then Musk will indeed be stuck with all his Teslas. Not sure what you mean by saying "that would be bad". It sends the message that you can't get beyond equating wealth with money. Money has zero intrinsic value, its only value is when it represents real wealth (physical output) and can be used as a medium of exchange for other real wealth (physical output).

    [57] That (the fact that 70% of the economy is consumer spending) simply represents the other fact of life that food, shelter, clothing and the like are the primary needs for sustaining human life, all the fun stuff being secondary. It in no ways proves or even hints that it is better for the economy than investment. That is simply non sequitur reasoning.

  59. [59] 
    John M wrote:

    [28] C. R. Stucki

    "It never occurs to Dems/Libs that because of the fundamental inescapable truth that it's impossible to achieve income equality by raising the productivity of the less-productuive/unproductive, the only other option for income equality is to reduce the productivity of the more productive, by eliminating incentive!

    Who would be dumb enough to advocate for that??"

    And it never occurs to Republicans/Conservatives that income inequality actually has very little to do with either the productivity of the very poor or the very rich.

    For instance, the ratio of CEO to worker pay in the U.S. is currently 303 to 1. In 1965 it was 20 to 1. Even in Germany it is on;y 147 to 1, only half that of the U.S.

    Restrictions on stock buybacks began to be greatly eased starting in the early 1980s under Republican tax policies.

    Between 2003 and 2012, the 449 companies in the S&P 500 used 54% of their earnings ($2.4 trillion) to buy back their own stock. An additional 37% was paid to stockholders as dividends. Together, these were 91% of profits.

    This left little for investment in productive capabilities or higher income for employees, shifting more income to capital rather than labor. Executive compensation arrangements, which are heavily based on stock options, stock awards and bonuses for meeting earnings per share (EPS) targets (EPS increases as the number of outstanding shares decreases) became the be all and end all of the focus of corporate managers.

    Stockholders in effect began to appropriate what once belonged to middle-class wage earners. Since the vast majority of stocks are owned by higher income households, this contributes to income inequality.

    The purpose of the modern U.S. corporation became to reward large investors and top executives with income that once was spent on expansion, research, training and employees.

  60. [60] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    John M

    I share the personal opinion that many if not most CEO's are outrageously overpaid (I REALLY get worked up over the ones who get "golden parachutes" after their companies go under), and that lots of workers are underpaid, but I don't have any good solutions. It's basically a case of supply and demand - managerial talent appears to be scarce, and labor skills are evidently abundant.

    I've always said that any worker who feels he is being underpaid has the obligation to offer his time and talent to other employers. Also, everybody is entitled to go into business for himself and earn some of those big profits, but that's about all I can offer.

  61. [61] 
    TheStig wrote:

    The Gini is one of those cocktail napkin statistical models that trolls just love to prattle about for no particularly good reason.

    It's a very general model. It doesn't make any deep predictions, it spits out a number and calls it an equality index. You can fit your data to any monotonically increasing function you like. A bent stick function will do. Two rather different functions can give the same index...does it make sense that two different countries with differing economies are equally equal? How do you operationally make sense of that?

    You can fit the model to income data, or you can fit it to accumulated wealth. The results will almost always be different. You can fit model to attributes associated with wealth, like education level, or tombstone size. It seems equality is multidimensional. Napkins are two dimensional. Trolls seem to have one less dimension than napkins.

  62. [62] 
    TheStig wrote:

    Re -62

    I forgot to mention the Saint Petersburg Paradox. people consistently behave as if they discount the value of increasing wealth. This should certainly be considered in any discussion of economic equality.

    Also, it would be better for me to have said "you can fit any monotonically increasing function to your data." My bad.

  63. [63] 
    neilm wrote:

    It never occurs to Dems/Libs

    Nowhere have I EVER stated, or even implied, that you are "stupid" nor that I am "so intelligent".

    i.e. I [CRS] am intelligent and you're stupid.

    Q.E.D.

  64. [64] 
    neilm wrote:

    CRS: It sends the message that you can't get beyond equating wealth with money.

    Now I sit here after 20 yrs of retirement looking at my $300k which only equates to 1 1/2 of my neighbors middle-class 1600- 1800 sq ft houses, wondering why my gov't robbed me of a pleasant retirement.

    I dunno, it looks like I'm not the only one who equates wealth and money.

    In fact, I'd hazard a guess that if you are just about anybody if somebody else was wealthy we'd check their net worth in dollars.

  65. [65] 
    neilm wrote:

    In fact, I'd hazard a guess that if you ask just about anybody if somebody else was wealthy we'd check their net worth in dollars.

  66. [66] 
    neilm wrote:

    The Gini is one of those cocktail napkin statistical models that trolls just love to prattle about for no particularly good reason.

    Hmm. Not buying that one. It isn't a perfect, nor a complete gauge, however it is very useful as a signal.

    The temperature gauge on your dashboard only measures your engine temperature in one place, and the temperature of your engine varies greatly across the whole, but if your engine is overhearing it is useful to know.

    However if you want a more detailed look into inequality, try Branko Milanovic's "The Haves and the Have-nots".

    Also read Charles Murray's (yes, that Charles Murray - the Bell curve guy) "Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960–2010".

    I focus on the Gini coefficient because it is a simple signal that tells a key story - is America working for most Americans.

  67. [67] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    neilm

    I think of money as a handy yardstick by which wealth is commonly measured (which definition helps immensely for purposes of Economic analysis), but if you wish to think of money as BEING wealth, I can easily comprehend how that could be the case, and truth be known, your definition is FAR more common than mine, perhaps even to the point of near universality.

  68. [68] 
    TheStig wrote:

    Neilm-66

    Peace! My comment wasn't directed at you, but rather at certain folks responding to you. Your temperature gauge model is verybapt....if moves into the red, you would do well to pull the car over before you do serious damage to your economic engine. Fan? Thermostat?Radiator? Head gasket? The temp. gauge doesn't discriminate, you need a mechanic, a chip reader or both. A more sophisticated diagnostic model.

    The Gini-C seems to me particularly weak in the vicinity of 0 and 1.... I think you would be hard pressed to find any major economy near those extremes in the last 10,000 years....not communism, not Rome, not feudalism. Trolls inevitably drive the Gini discussion towards 0 or 1, where objective verification of theory is dicey for lack of data.

    Like the Laffer curve, I view the Gini a useful discussion tool for bulding scenarios, but not sophisticated enough to forecast the outcomes of economic/social/ political policies with any confidence.

    I like models that make predictions bounded by definable margins of error. I've been stealing them from economists for decades! :)

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