# American Dream

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Quote from Russ below is in response to my quote "It just doesn't add for me. There are no gains with no losses. When someone rises another falls."

Thats a terribly fatalistic and pessimistic point of view. The quantity of wealth and the overall size of the economy in the US (and most western nations) consistently grows faster than both inflation and population. If you look at historical income statistics, EVERY income level is increasing (even taking inflation into account). One person's success does not require the failure of others - quite the contrary: A successful person usually takes others along for the ride.
Russ you left out the part where I believe this country's dreams of success is benefiting from the means of foreign countries. The corporations that most Americans work for in one manner or another takes advantage of other countries most powerful resources (people) and in most cases abuses it. Corporations are taking advantage of other countries lax humanitarian laws -- just read the papers. These are the people who are falling.

Here is a statistical quote which many of you have probably already heard, "10% of American's control 66% of the nation's wealth" according to the American Affluence Research Center (AARC). This breaks down to 26 million people controlling the wealth of a nation with a 260 million population -- that doesn't quite add, subtract, divide or multiply too well for the medium and low income earners of the country. It is also projected that the control more and more of the nation's wealth will be controled by less and les Americans. This is what I was refering to when I said fewer people will control the wealth while the base of people (medium and low income earners) will increase.

I also agree with the fact that corporations and individuals who work for them are destroying resources all over the world. This fine since are resources are protected by our laws, but taking advantage again of lax environmental laws of other countries creates a damage not only to their environment bu to their economy as well. These countries continue to grow poor while we grow rich. We need to contribute back and I know where that money can come from. Start at the top.

Zero
Originally posted by Ganshauk
I think the American dream is founded in an open frontier.

This, of course, no longer exist. We have nowhere else to go...

"I have a strong urge to fly.
But I've got nowhere to fly to."
- Pink Floyd, Nobody Home.

Until we have a new frontier into which we can expend our boundless energy, we will turn upon ourselves in an irresistable urge to become a bunch of lemmings...
I would extend youir statement to say that the sucess of American capitalism is based on the idea of an openm frontier. All talk to the contrary, it seems that the stock market expansion of the 1990's was nothing but a bubble. A lesson could be learned from teh ecologists, who preach the concept of sustainable growth.

russ_watters
Mentor
They might be, but unemployment is also rising. I don't see how income could be rising for very long if unemployment is swelling! If there are more potential hole-diggers, the cost of a hole goes Down!
I'm talking LONG TERM here. Unenployment is up in the past two years, but even that isn't all that high historically. In the US, unemployment always fluctuates from about 4-8% with the economic cycle except in severe recession or depression. That is NOT something that has changed. As the economy recovers, the unemployment rate will again go down toward the lower end of that range. It always has and it will agin.

Check out the historical income tables http://www.census.gov/hhes/income/histinc/histinctb.html [Broken] There are a bunch of tables. Slice the data any way you choose. Individuals, households, families, whatever. Overall, the income levels of EVERY BRACKET has increased about 9 of every 10 years since 1967 (as far back as the tables go).

The reality is, not everyone can be a rock star.
Zero, if you have data that supports your opinion, I'll certainly read it. The data I have provided directly contradicts your opinion and attacking me personally won't prove you are right.

Read the book... its outlandish. H.G. Wells is a classic writer.
Sounds like an interesting book. I may read it. There is a major flaw in what you describe though. Not everyone has either the intelligence nor the desire to be a nuclear physicist. I certainly don't. And I agree with schwarz on this - it does sound like communism. Communism sounds nice in theory, but it doesn't fit with human nature (for the reason I described) and is unworkable in the large scale.
I know its sounds communistic... but, so does democracy when you boil it down to its roots which seem to say... equal opportunity for all.
My boss described the political spectrum as a circle - taking both democracy and communism to their extremes makes them very similar in some respects. I don't buy that they connect, but I'll agree that they are close.
Russ you left out the part where I believe this country's dreams of success is benefiting from the means of foreign countries. The corporations that most Americans work for in one manner or another takes advantage of other countries most powerful resources (people) and in most cases abuses it. Corporations are taking advantage of other countries lax humanitarian laws -- just read the papers. These are the people who are falling.
People in Indonesia are not failing because they make Nike's for low wages. The alternative to those low wages is starvation. I would prefer it if all countries would reform and become stable, prosperous capitalistic democracies like the western world, but the 300 million people in the US can't make it happen for the 5 billion in the 3rd world. They are going to have to do it largely on their own. Either way, the presence of Nike is HELPING these people, not hurting them. it is putting MORE money into the local economy than was there before.

These countries continue to grow poor while we grow rich.
3rd world countries are not "grow[ing] poor" they have always BEEN poor. There isn't anything that they have that we can take from them to make them more poor.

Raven, are you suggesting that the US should start taking over and modernizing all of the 3rd world countries in the world?
All talk to the contrary, it seems that the stock market expansion of the 1990's was nothing but a bubble.
It WAS a bubble, Zero - not unlike 1929 (though nowhere near as bad when it burst). But just like 1929 it will grow again. Through its entire history, the stock market has averaged about a 12% yearly gain (I believe thats NOT adjusted for inflation) and has never been down for more than 15 years at a time.

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RW:As the economy recovers
It's not going to recover soon, because its a consumer driven economy- more people are laid off so they buy less stuff, simultaneously with the price of stuff goes up (local sales taxes to cover state expenses). $22,680.16, per capita national debt. Debt is not free, maintenance for the debt will come out of public social services and infrastructure. It's just anarchy in government. Sid Viscious would be proud. Zero Originally posted by russ_watters Zero, if you have data that supports your opinion, I'll certainly read it. The data I have provided directly contradicts your opinion and attacking me personally won't prove you are right. Show me the personal attacks..oh, wait, there are none, and you are making it up, like your lying Right-wing heroes! Anyhoo, it is a simple fact that there are only so many dollars to be spent on any one thing. There is a limited market, and some people will get left out, simple fact. Last edited by a moderator: With the way our system works, not everyone can be rich, as in the amount of goods and services they can get. However, technological changes could change the system to make conditions more ideal. This would be a long process. Originally posted by russ_watters Sounds like an interesting book. I may read it. There is a major flaw in what you describe though. Not everyone has either the intelligence nor the desire to be a nuclear physicist. I certainly don't. And I agree with schwarz on this - it does sound like communism. Communism sounds nice in theory, but it doesn't fit with human nature (for the reason I described) and is unworkable in the large scale. Communism proved itself to be a cancerous mess. It was enforced democracy or equality. Democracy comes about through equal and totally accessable, unedited education and through the education of the people of a community concerning their rights and their responsibilities to one another. Democracy had a start in a small society somewhere near Greece. It was as doomed as you make Well's ideal sound today. Yet, because of its sound principals and logistical approach to the survival of the community... it did survived, somehow... and was adopted... in a variety of forms, by various countries. Intelligence and desire are nurtured by education. Education is the key to an independent individual and an individual country. I do truely believe Well's Utopia could actually come to fruition if democracy and all its implications were allowed to take their course. It is only by the definition of the "rich" that a country is "poor". How rich is a country that cannot drink its own water... or breath its own air?... or that poisons its own children everyday with "new and improved" compounds? Like any adventure or exploration... Democracy has its pitfalls and pinnicales. What matters is that the foundation of the precipice is stable... and this would hold true in the case of any American Dream. Last edited: russ_watters Mentor Originally posted by schwarzchildradius It's not going to recover soon, because its a consumer driven economy- more people are laid off so they buy less stuff, simultaneously with the price of stuff goes up (local sales taxes to cover state expenses). Currently the economy IS expanding (GDP is rising) and the stock market is rising. Consumer confidence is next. Historically, there is a specific order to which the various indicators come back up. Unemployment is actually usually the LAST of the indicators to rise or fall. The economy *IS* in the process of recovering. The only question is how long? I said for all of last year that the war uncertainty is what is holding the economy back. Now its over and what happens - the stock market is up some 20%-30% in 3 months. The economy will recover relatively quickly now - but that still means 6 months until unemployment has dropped by a meaningful amount. And the national debt is certainly a big issue. I am in favor of MASSIVE cuts in the size of our government. Social Security for starters. Personal responsibility is the other side of the freedom coin. Show me the personal attacks..oh, wait, there are none, and you are making it up, like your lying Right-wing heroes! Zero, calling me a liar is a personal attack. "Poor Russ" is a (pathetic) personal attack. These really do nothing at all to help your arguement. Why even do it? Are you trying to distract us from the substance (or lack thereof) of your arguement? it is a simple fact that there are only so many dollars to be spent on any one thing. There is a limited market, and some people will get left out, simple fact. Example? Supporting data? It is only by the definition of the "rich" that a country is "poor". Actually, this is part of the problem in the US. How do you define rich/poor? It would seem to me that you should define it according to a specific income level. But if you do that, you wind up with the data showing an ever shrinking number of poor people and that is unacceptable to a great many people. For some reason people WANT a well defined number of poor people, so it is more common to define rich/poor according to percentages, IE the bottom 20% regardless of income are considered poor and the top 5% regardless of income are considered rich. That way, the number of rich and poor is a constant proportion of the population. But that glosses over the fact that the bottom 20% is 40% LESS POOR than they were 35 years ago because they make 40% more money (inflation adjusted). People in 3rd world countries would LAUGH at our definitions of rich and poor in the US. Enough food? Running water? A CAR!!!?? A place to live with solid walls? Anyone who has that in a 3rd world country is rich. Last edited: schwarzchildradius Unemployment is actually usually the LAST of the indicators to rise or fall. It's been rising for two years, and since the 2001 Bush tax cut! Where are these jobs going to come from? It's hogwash: states and corporations are laying people off, they're losing not only their income but health care. And the national debt is certainly a big issue. I am in favor of MASSIVE cuts in the size of our government. Social Security for starters. I suppose it would be unconstitutional to vote on this one too eh? RW, the government already uses SS money to cover their budgets. But that's beside the point. Get rid of SS and grannies are going to be homeless. You don't want to get carjacked by a hungry homeless granny do you? That's what I thought. RW: People in Indonesia are not failing because they make Nike's for low wages. The alternative to those low wages is starvation. I would prefer it if all countries would reform and become stable, prosperous capitalistic democracies like the western world, but the 300 million people in the US can't make it happen for the 5 billion in the 3rd world. They are going to have to do it largely on their own. Either way, the presence of Nike is HELPING these people, not hurting them. it is putting MORE money into the local economy than was there before. Russ, you may be missing my point. Nike hires workers in Indonesia because labor is cheaper there and people who are already poor need more than the opportunities than the way Nike provides it. Simply put, Nike is taking advantage of the labor laws for its own good and not the good of Indonesia. And yes their economy does grow but not at the rate that other countries who use their resources to increase their own at faster rate and in essence keeps them down from reaching equal competition. I would also like to point out that you might want to consider other more damaging corporations. Enron for instance destroyed the environment in India and caused more problems for their economy under the guise of helping it. About a decade ago Enron made a contract with the Indian government to help build damns. The work created floods in populated areas and made millions homeless. To make things worse, Enron was the only corporation capable of cleaning up after themselves and yet they did not do this for free despite their fault. The Indian gov't was required to create another contract confirming Enron more building opportunities along with the necessary clean-up. Enron failed to do either. Who made the millions here? Actually maybe I should ask who stole it? RW: Raven, are you suggesting that the US should start taking over and modernizing all of the 3rd world countries in the world? Not really, although it would not be a bad idea to help modernize other countries. No what I am suggesting is that when we employ the people and resources of other countries, we should treat them with the same standards that we would treat our own citizens. Is that too much to ask? The way I see it, if corporations had to keep US standards in foreign countries than these corporations would simply hire Americans on American soil. As it stands in your example, Nike only hopes to cut back in expenses so that they can have better prices vs. their competition. The competition does the same in order to keep their profits and the losers in this situation is the citizens of the "3rd world coutries". In my opinion this also keeps third world countries out of the competition in a free market system. If we treated them like our own citizens it would help their economy more and allow their markets to grow stronger in order to compete. Like I said we are abusing the resources of other countries to merely increase our own. Although other countries economies may grow, the rate at which they grow and the rate at which this country's economy grows should be accounted for. If we grow ten times faster and they only twice as fast then yes they are falling due to our own greed. Originally posted by Raven Enron American Nightmare. russ_watters Mentor Originally posted by Raven Nike hires workers in Indonesia because labor is cheaper there and people who are already poor need more than the opportunities than the way Nike provides it. Simply put, Nike is taking advantage of the labor laws for its own good and not the good of Indonesia. And yes their economy does grow but not at the rate that other countries who use their resources to increase their own at faster rate and in essence keeps them down from reaching equal competition. Raven, you are implying that if Nike weren't there, the void would be filled by other compaines that paid more. Were you asleep the day they taught supply and demand in economics class? Where would these other "opportunities" come from? Nike can pay those low wages simply because there are no other jobs for those people. The presence of Nike does NOT keep them from prospering, it keeps them from failing WORSE than they already are. I would also like to point out that you might want to consider other more damaging corporations. Enron for instance destroyed the environment in India and caused more problems for their economy under the guise of helping it. About a decade ago Enron made a contract with the Indian government to help build damns. The work created floods in populated areas and made millions homeless. To make things worse, Enron was the only corporation capable of cleaning up after themselves and yet they did not do this for free despite their fault. India prides itself at being "the world's largest democracy." Are you saying that Enron forced them to build these dams? Enron profited from a project that had negative environmental impact - but they did not start, fund, or manage the project. The project existed because the government of India WANTED it to exist and paid Enron a lot of money to make it happen. Negative effects of an ill-advised project are the fault of the entity that comissioned the project, not the entity that carried it out. Not really, although it would not be a bad idea to help modernize other countries. No what I am suggesting is that when we employ the people and resources of other countries, we should treat them with the same standards that we would treat our own citizens. Is that too much to ask? Yes, that *IS* too much to ask. How exactly would the US go about enforcing such a requirement? We'd need to set up a labor bureau in every country that had US corporations employing people in it (which is about all of them) and enforce American laws on foreign countries. The term that best describes taking over the functions of foreign governments is IMPERIALISM. I'm sorry, but most countries are going to have to come out of the dark ages largely on their own. In response to Russ RW: Raven, you are implying that if Nike weren't there, the void would be filled by other compaines that paid more. Actually I'm not implying that at all. In my opinion, I believe most American corporations would take the same advantages that Nike would on the people of 3rd World Countries. It doesn't, however, make it ethically correct and in my opinion it's simply immoral. RW: Where would these other "opportunities" come from? Nike can pay those low wages simply because there are no other jobs for those people. Russ I think it's short sighted to assume Indonesia would not be able to find other "opportunities". I think business opportunities exist all the time and it definitely exists in Indonesia despite the long revolutionary wars they have suffered in the past. Let's not assume Indonesians are incapable of improving themselves without the aid of outside corporations taking advantage of their situation. The problem I have here is not what Nike "can afford to pay" (as you put it) but what Nike should try to do to help a developing country improve. Nike can afford to pay more than 40 cents an hour and they certainly should pay much more given the billion dollar profits this corporation is capable of generating. India prides itself at being "the world's largest democracy." Are you saying that Enron forced them to build these dams? Enron profited from a project that had negative environmental impact - but they did not start, fund, or manage the project. Negative effects of an ill-advised project are the fault of the entity that comissioned the project, not the entity that carried it out. Actually Enron bid for the rights for the contract. India took their offer. But I'm not disputing the fact that India has the right to choose its contracts. I also want to correct you, because Enron did start, fund and manage the project. The problem I have with Enron on this issue is that they had control and botched it. Then when no other bidders came to clean up after them, India was literally faced with the dilemma of hiring Enron again. Enron should have cleaned it up at their cost since they were the culprits to begin with. Thousands of people died due to their screw up. I really can't believe you are trying to defend a corporation with such high ethics as Enron. I think they should take responsibility for there faults. Lastly, you mentioned that it would be "too much" for corporations to treat the people of other countries as we would treat our own citizens. I think you dug too deeply on that meaning. I am by no means asking American corporations to change the laws of a foreign country. I am merely implying that corporations should keep their own labor ethics in place whenever possible. This includes creating a good working environment for their foreign emplyees and a good living wage. As far as I know we don't have to change any laws in Indonesia to pay their people more than 40 cents an hour. I mean really, can't Nike afford better than that. Were you asleep the day they taught supply and demand in economics class? No, I wasn't. I aced economics. However, we aren't really talking about supply and demand in terms of creating profit here. Nike is obviously high in demand and supply can easily made available within the working standards of this country. I think what you fail to understand is that cutting expenses play a huge role in making profit. Nike is simply cutting expenses by going to Indonesia to create their products. The opted to downsize their workforce here in the states and took advantage of the expense cut they would have in foreign countries. They are not helping the American economy in this fashion (in case you missed it -- they downsized and laid-off thousands of Americans and that hurts our economy) and they are not helping the people they employ in other countries by any great means in my opinion. Nike is just trying to make more and more profits for its elite executives. Don't be blinded by these corporations faults. They do have major faults and they need to be corrected in their practices not defended. Just because they can do it does not mean they should nor does it mean its morally and ethically correct to do so. "Might does not equal right." Originally posted by russ_watters Raven, you are implying that if Nike weren't there, the void would be filled by other compaines that paid more. Were you asleep the day they taught supply and demand in economics class? Where would these other "opportunities" come from? Nike can pay those low wages simply because there are no other jobs for those people. The presence of Nike does NOT keep them from prospering, it keeps them from failing WORSE than they already are. India prides itself at being "the world's largest democracy." Are you saying that Enron forced them to build these dams? Enron profited from a project that had negative environmental impact - but they did not start, fund, or manage the project. The project existed because the government of India WANTED it to exist and paid Enron a lot of money to make it happen. Negative effects of an ill-advised project are the fault of the entity that comissioned the project, not the entity that carried it out. Yes, that *IS* too much to ask. How exactly would the US go about enforcing such a requirement? We'd need to set up a labor bureau in every country that had US corporations employing people in it (which is about all of them) and enforce American laws on foreign countries. The term that best describes taking over the functions of foreign governments is IMPERIALISM. I'm sorry, but most countries are going to have to come out of the dark ages largely on their own. There seems to be an antiquated cycle through which a nation thinks it must squeeze its citizens. The one that drags its people through the stone, bronze, iron and industrial age, all with the accompaning industrial polution and gradient pay scales of yesteryear. That's how we got where we are today... now its their turn. Its ok for China and India to pollute the crap out of everything and to reduce the landscape to rubble... that's how we built this country and look at us now!!! But, I see a better way to go about this... if any country would listen and learn from our mistakes... they, first of all, wouldn't be haranged about the Kyoto treaty nor would they have Amnesty International on their coat tails about child slavery etc... if they could only learn from our mistakes here in the Western world. It would make a good company and a good american dream to create a legitimate and authoritative consulting firm that helps to guide countries through their early stages into the current climate of corporations and administrations. They could compile and present the best ways to avoid the devistation to the environment and their citizenry caused by the one foot forward... 4 steps back process called progress. russ_watters Mentor Originally posted by Raven Actually I'm not implying that at all [rether oppeortunities].... Russ I think it's short sighted to assume Indonesia would not be able to find other "opportunities". Those two statements are mutually exclusive. Either someone else will employ people at higher wages in Indonesia or not - the presence of Nike is irrelevant. And the reason I think you are unclear here is this: I aced economics. However, we aren't really talking about supply and demand in terms of creating profit here. If you aced econ, then you know that supply and demand applies to all goods and services: labor for example, is a service. Supply and demand DOES apply here. If there were "other opportunities", ie other companies that could turn a profit while paying Indonesians more, they would go to Indonesia and employ the people that Nike is paying less (or Nike would raise its its wages to compete). Thats how supply and demand works in a labor market. The problem I have here is not what Nike "can afford to pay" (as you put it) Careful - if its not a direct quote, don't put it in quotes. See my sig for what that is called. I never said it and I never even suggested it. Nike certainly can afford to pay more. That really isn't relevant to whether they SHOULD. Whether they should is a moral and legal question. Legally, they are clearly not obligated to pay more. Morally its a lot tougher. Morally, Indonesia should change its labor laws - or should they? If Indonesia changes their labor laws and enacts a$1/hr minimum wage, problem solved, right? Wrong. Nike (and every other corporation) picks up and moves to Vietnam where they can still pay \$.40/hr. Supply and demand again. Raising the minimum wage could HURT Indonesia more than it helps them. So its a tough problem.
I also want to correct you, because Enron did start, fund and manage the project.
[?] [?] Enron funded the project? So this was charity? I don't think so. India PAID Enron to do it - otherwise Enron couldn't have profited.
Enron should have cleaned it up at their cost since they were the culprits to begin with.
You implied before that the project was a flawed concept to begin with. Which is it? Did they screw it up or was the concept flawed? HUGE difference. I must admit that I don't know a whole lot about this project.

quantum, I actually mostly agree with your post there. I went a little further with my arguement than I actually believe. Though most would call heavy handed nation building imperialism, I think sometimes it may actually be necessary. Regardless, it would be great if other countries could learn from our mistakes. But its tough and it doesn't always work that way. Besides which, a lot don't WANT our help. They certainly wouldn't pay a consultant to tell them how to run their country.

Originally posted by russ_watters
quantum, I actually mostly agree with your post there. I went a little further with my arguement than I actually believe. Though most would call heavy handed nation building imperialism, I think sometimes it may actually be necessary. Regardless, it would be great if other countries could learn from our mistakes. But its tough and it doesn't always work that way. Besides which, a lot don't WANT our help. They certainly wouldn't pay a consultant to tell them how to run their country.
If they'll pay Enron to ruin their country... I'm sure they might try paying someone with a good idea to help them run their country.

Zero
Originally posted by quantumcarl

It would make a good company and a good american dream to create a legitimate and authoritative consulting firm that helps to guide countries through their early stages into the current climate of corporations and administrations. They could compile and present the best ways to avoid the devistation to the environment and their citizenry caused by the one foot forward... 4 steps back process called progress.
Can we somehow skip the corporations, since they are the bane of freedom and personal achievement, not to mention the environment and economy?

kat
Originally posted by Zero
Can we somehow skip the corporations, since they are the bane of freedom and personal achievement, not to mention the environment and economy?
LOLOLOLOL thanks Zero, I needed a good laugh!
BTW as a small business owner I've been incorporated for almost 10 years now, being incorporated allows me much personal freedom! and has certainaly contributed to my personal achievement!, not to mention I am environmentally green and definately have contributed to the local economy!

russ_watters
Mentor
Originally posted by kat
LOLOLOLOL thanks Zero, I needed a good laugh!
BTW as a small business owner I've been incorporated for almost 10 years now, being incorporated allows me much personal freedom! and has certainaly contributed to my personal achievement!, not to mention I am environmentally green and definately have contributed to the local economy!
You are soulless and evil.

Originally posted by russ_watters
You are soulless and evil.