Slog AM: SPD Will Finally Stop Arresting People Only for Drug Possession, Few Artists Make Good Money on Spotify, Inslee Demands End of Racist Insurance Practice

Comments

1

"The function of low wages is not to increase profits but to lock and keep workers in the bottom of a class structure that is, at the end of the day (or the final analysis), capitalism's raison d'être."

This is a lesson the publisher of The Stranger has learned well.

2

'A Honeymoon' in the political sense refer to a president's relationship with Congress, not with foreign terrorist groups.

3

'Effective immediately, officers will no longer detain nor arrest individuals under RCW 69.50.4013 alone.'
SPD street cops will continue to arrest people for this, based solely on the cop's personal anger toward any subject. And there will be no punishment for violating civil rights, of course.

4

1 - Any point to make? Just more indignant, inane blather from you?

5

@4 I thought the point would be obvious. The Stranger starves its writers while preaching shoulder-to-shoulder socialism for all.

6

5 You suffer Tu Quoque fallacy. That point you made obvious.

7

Under RCW 69.50.4013, the state/county/city could prosecute you WITHOUT having to prove your knowledge of possession, and that’s an 8th amendment problem, according to the state Supreme Court.

Nobody knows, but I suspect share of people who are found with drugs and didn’t know is close to—though greater than—zero percent. But Charles sums it up nicely: “To protect those who don’t know, we must, by default, decriminalize [simple possession] for those who do know.”

One unfortunate wrinkle is that many times drug trafficking charges are pleaded down to simple possession. And those traffickers will also have their records expunged.

8

As a former heavy user of cocaine and other substances, I find the drug possession thing hilarious in that the woman at the center of the decision was, if I recall correctly, in-possession of a stolen vehicle but claimed she bought the jeans she was wearing from a friend and didn't know there was meth in the pocket. Lol, a likely story! Sounds like an excuse I would have thrown out there were I to be caught with coke.
That said, the person found with drugs could at least be given a business card to a drug councilor or something. Where them councilors at we were going to hire with defund money? We are always half-implementing ideas around here. Decrim drugs is great because possession should not be the path to lifetime poverty that it often becomes; but then to not back it up with a robust treatment network? Drug addiction is not enjoyable.

9

@6 It's only an informal fallacy. The Stranger doesn't deserve a more reasoned argument.

10

My god you are tedious pile of shit. Added to the PLONK list.

11

How many recording artists made the equivalent of $100,000 per year in 1995?

12

raising the minimum wage is officially socialism now you guys because nothing embodies “the state owns the means of production” quite like paying ppl a semi-livable wage welcome to joe biden’s america now please don’t ask any questions bc i have no idea how this works either i was told there would be bread lines

13

lol, is SPD really arresting people for drug possession like wild all over the city? nope.

14

@10: Block away - fewer tedious piles of your rage meltdowns is a win/win

15

@5:

So, you're privy to the salaries of The Stranger staff? Are we to conclude from that that you yourself work for Keck?

16

@1,5,

You sure? I don't know what The Stranger pays its writers and what the management keeps for themselves. If everyone there is making peanuts then your argument is invalid. Do you have any evidence there's a big wage gap there?

17

15 - Message #1 is correct. Stranger pays its staff poverty wages, and that's not really a secret.

18

16 - You want proof? Okay, check out "Quitter" by Erica Barnett, former Stranger writing staff goofball. People only work there to get journalism experience and starve while doing it.

19

@18,
I'll put the book on my list, but the question is more along the lines of "Is The Stranger paying its lower tier employees low wages while in turn paying their execs drastically higher wages?" That would be a case of hypocrisy. How much does Keck make from the paper?

20

starvation works well for Capitalism
as does pitting workerbee/drones
against each other whilst keeping
Attention off the tippy Top who
only Rule because they
SAY they do.

21

It’s no secret that ALL alt weeklies pay shit.

But congratulations of falling for the Tu Quoque logical fallacy that has successfully derailed the topic of INCREASING WAGES FOR EVERYONE THROUGH SYSTEMATIC REFORM.

If the topic had been alt weekly pay, then let ‘Er rip. But it was not.

Jesus. The entire point is to devise a system where suppressed wages are no longer tolerated, possible, or necessary.

And every time you get suckered into a detail by these tedious bad faith dipshits you are just one more step away from plumbing reality. Christ. Here you all are talking about The Stranger’s pay scales?

Just download Greasemonkey (desktop only) and block these stupid fuckers. You can even block me! That’s worth it. Be done with it.

Then adults can finally have discussions about actual topics again.

22

@19, So as long as everyone is equally poor, that's fine with you? Socialism that creates equality by pulling everyone to the lowest rung does not suffer from inequality, but it also hasn't improved the plight of the poor, it just adds to their number.

If people won't go to enough concerts, restaurants, etc. (or pay a higher ticket or meal price) so that The Stranger can sell ads to pay everyone well, what is the remedy for that? Raising the wage per writer, means fewer writers, if TS can't grow their revenue. Fewer writers, means fewer eyeballs on ads. Raising the minimum wage by law to get TS writers a reasonable standard of living, without end use consumers directly, or indirectly, paying more revenue to TS means it goes out of business or slashed the number of writers (something epidemic in print journalism everywhere). Social mandates by government, or redistribution (when the pie is too small to go around), don't account for that reality and those consequences.

Capitalism needs regulation. That isn't the argument. The question is does the regulation eliminate inequality by pulling down people from their perches at the top, or by lifting the poor up from the bottom?

23

@22 Well. Another cute derail. See that guys?

The topic was music streaming services that make billions through gamed and unfair payment schemes to the artists that are the very makers of the product they sell.

Dipshit #1 conflated that with... oh, fuck. Who knows.

In order to even bring socialism qua socialism into the discussion we need to all be on the page as to what socialism is, which “socialism” we mean, and what bias you each have for and against it.

Because Trollflake, most of you Rightwing dipshits are so abundantly ignorant on the vast array of socialist economic principles that it’s impossible to have a good faith discussion with you. It’s just some boogeyman word you use.

The fact remains the mighty market has failed. If you cannot agree on this central fact then there remains no further discussion with you because all that will follow is bad faith and endless attempts at stripping away your strawmen, whataboutisms and fallacies. Not to mention the monotonous task of trying to educate you on economic reality.

Because rather than do all that what I’d like to hear is something from musicians and artists involved, how they make due, and how we can engineer a marketplace AND social support system so they can continue the vital work of making life bearable. A task you and every other troll here make more difficult every breath you draw.

24

@22,

"So as long as everyone is equally poor, that's fine with you?"

I didn't say that's fine with me. But it is more equal than if the execs make millions while the rest make minimum wage. If everyone's making shit wages, that's not unequal, just unfortunate.

"Social mandates by government, or redistribution (when the pie is too small to go around), don't account for that reality and those consequences."

But the pie is plenty big enough to go around. The problem is that a handful of people are hoarding nearly the entire pie, and the U.S. basically celebrates them for doing so instead of forcing them to share the pie with those who need it.

"Capitalism needs regulation. That isn't the argument."

Well, it's part of the argument. Yeah, there probably needs to be a LOT more regulation of markets, but more importantly, taxes are WAY too low and public services are both too scarce and at the same time underfunded.

25

People are literally calling for more regulation of capitalism — higher taxes on the rich, higher minimum wage — and then other people call this socialism and say socialism is bad while arguing we need to regulate capitalism without specifying what that means let alone why their version of regulating capitalism isn’t socialism. Why do people still fall for this stupid trick?

26

I'm genuinely curious about the Spotify numbers and what they mean. First, presumably Spotify is not the only source of income these artists have -- shows, merch, etc. (and yes, I realize 2020 was shitty for live music). And I know that it's model is exploitative. But what's a reasonable amount of musicians to make over $100,000 a year from music on Spotify?

27

"But the pie is plenty big enough to go around. The problem is that a handful of people are hoarding nearly the entire pie, and the U.S. basically celebrates them for doing so instead of forcing them to share the pie with those who need it." --@Urg

well
there
it IS.

someone remind me:
WHEN did we Vote on that?

28

DEMOCRATIC Socialism
means we VOTE on
that shit.

Corporatocracy means
UN-elected bureaucrats
RULE* our Asses. Care
to Choose 'twixt the two?

*aka: Fascism

29

In order to buy into the Rightwing market fetishist framework you have to ignore reality. You have to ignore that there has never existed “free” markets. And you have to simply except the wanton cruelty of poverty as a personal moral flaw.

Once you get the free marketeers to finally admit the reality of exploitation exists and that poverty is a scourge — a rare thing, indeed, the only acceptable solution to them is more of the same poison. More deregulation. More tax cuts. Fewer labor laws. More power concentrated in fewer and wealthier hands.

When they squeal “SOSHULISM” what they mean is literally ANYTHING that is not “more of the same.”

Regulate insurance markets for cheaper healthcare? SOSHULISM! Raise minimum wages? SOSHULISM! Attempt to harvest the few more scant grains that fall from the hoarded larders of billionaires. SOSHULISM!

What is implicit in this panic reflex in the subconscious knowledge that any attempt to make life better for the worse off will be first deflected by the billionaire class to be endured by the tenuous middle class.

A situation we are attempting to remedy by the very ideas proposed.

30

"... any attempt to make life better for the worse off will be first deflected by the billionaire class... " --@Perfessor

so fawking Convenient
OWNING the Means
of Communication eh?

howdjalike them Bootstraps?
their Leg Up is a jackboot
on thoust neck.

gosh if only We, the Peeps
owned the Airwaves... .

31

@24 Urg, and others... we've got to stop with the "billionaire class" BS. It's a stupid line of reasoning, and worse, it's a losing line of reasoning. A "handful" of billionaires has nothing to do with this nation's problems. Their wealth has nothing to do with the the rest of our share of the pie.

Murdoch, Bezos, Koch, Gates, etc., could all die tomorrow, their wealth redistributed, and it wouldn't change a thing about this nation's wealth inequality or its problems.

I'm all for higher taxes on the wealthy, repealing Citizen's United, heavy regulation of these mammoth corporations, breaking up monopolies, and so on. But the constant railing against the billionaires class is empty populism that does a disservice to the real issues that create and maintain income inequality and poor working conditions.

32

So now the evangelicals are worshipping the Trump golden statue?
"Their idols are silver and gold, the work of human hands." Psalm115.

33

@PiP -- c'mon
you're Really
a Billionaire
ain'tchya?

34

@26 I think the point was that only a handful of musicians and artists make anything close to a realistic compensation from streaming services. And that these services grossly misrepresent the benefits to the artists. Not that everyone suddenly gets $100k.

For me it’s yet another example of how capitalism not only tolerates parasites but grossly rewards them. That the artists and creators who sweat and bleed to make things are tertiary to the unproductive remoras that suck the life blood from culture.

35

@31 -- "A 'handful' of billionaires has nothing to do with this nation's problems. Their wealth has nothing to do with the the rest of our share of the pie."

you ARE a Billionaire!

from the brilliant Thom Hartmann
(weekdays 9am till noon KBCS fm):

Ever since the election of Ronald Reagan, Republicans have been working overtime to kneecap institutions that support the American middle class. And, as any working-class family can tell you, the GOP has had some substantial successes, particularly in shifting both income and political power away from voters and toward billionaires and transnational corporations.

As Princeton researchers Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page demonstrated in an exhaustive analysis of the difference between what most Americans want their politicians to do legislatively, versus what American politicians actually do, it’s pretty clear that President Carter was right.

They found that while the legislative priorities of the top 10 percent of Americans are consistently made into law, things the bottom 90 percent want are ignored. In other words, today in America, democracy only “works” for the top 10 percent of Americans.

With so-called “unregulated free markets,” the rich become super-rich, while grinding poverty spreads among working people like a heroin epidemic. This further polarizes the nation, both economically and politically, which, perversely, further cements the power of the oligarchs.

“The American fascists are most easily recognized by their deliberate perversion of truth and fact,” [Vice President (1944) Henry] Wallace wrote. “Their newspapers and propaganda carefully cultivate every fissure of disunity, every crack in the common front against fascism. They use every opportunity to impugn democracy.”

In his strongest indictment of the tide of fascism the vice president of the United States saw rising in America, he added:

“They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest.

Their final objective, toward which all their deceit is directed, is to capture political power so that using the power of the State and the power of the market simultaneously they may keep the common man in eternal subjection.”

https://www.truthdig.com/articles/thom-hartmann-billionaire-funded-fascism-is-rising-in-america/

36

also from @35 (Thom Hartmann's Billionaire-Funded Fascism Is Rising in America)

The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information.

“With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public,” Wallace continued, “but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power.”

tonnes more at
https://www.truthdig.com/articles/thom-hartmann-billionaire-funded-fascism-is-rising-in-america/

Hartmann is thee best Progressive
Voice on the Radio today. give
him a listen some time...

37

No kistofarain, Pretty in Pink is correct on this one.

38

Sorry to interrupt you guys resolving the capitalism/socialism debate, but our state fucking legislature just failed to write a law making drug possession illegal. I certainly understand there are different opinions you can take on drug legalization, but I'm thinking there's only one real opinion that one can have about a legislature that legalizes the possession of heroin, crack, and meth through stupidity rather than policy. I've made some pretty big mistakes at work before, but this is some next level incompetence.

39

@31 While it's true our problems are deeper than the existence of the billionaire class, you could not be more wrong on the immediate positive impact of eliminating the possibility of becoming a multibillionaire from the economic ecosystem.

I merely outlined the first big steps we HAVE to take or every other can be immediately reversed. You can disagree. But you'd be a fool.

First off, you will never repeal citizens United — NEVER — without dealing with the massive buttress of wealth damed up by the top 5% wealthiest hoarders of the world's economy. They can literally buy entire media networks. They can out spend and out lobby you by ordered f magnitude. Without gelding that power you will achieve nothing permeant.

We exist in a system where a mere handful of people can literally determine a huge swath of legislated outcomes and face no consequences to misdeeds at all. The only thing that saves us are the rare instances where one billionaires interests or principles align with ours and we can pit them against another billionaires interests.

Sorry. But this has been researched to death by minds much better than ours. I suggest you seek them out.

40

@31,

Basically just backing up what kristofarian wrote @35.
The ultra wealthy and monied corporate interests ARE a big part of the problem. If they just sat back and let politics play out naturally I wouldn't have a problem with the billionaire class. But they don't do that, they get legislation enacted, regulations eliminated, and judges appointed to keep themselves in wealth and power and drain wealth and power from everyone else.

Here's the article:
https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/perspectives-on-politics/article/testing-theories-of-american-politics-elites-interest-groups-and-average-citizens/62327F513959D0A304D4893B382B992B

Also, watch Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse at the confirmation hearing of Justice Barrett:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vdQ-LgQPpRM
(if you really don't want to watch the whole thing, at least watch the last 8 minutes, starting at 20:24)

He lays out the agenda the wealthy and monied corporations have been pursuing in controlling government. Dark stuff.

In truth, I don't really mind if people are rich, but when they use their wealth to make society a worse place, then yeah, I've got a problem with them.

41

@dewdroppings -- you make a Fine
Argument but no now you're Wrong too.

42

@40 Exactly. And we're on the clock.

There is quickly approaching a time where an irreversible civilization crippling global crisis — like the Climate Crisis — will grow beyond the scope of the current system's ability to solve. It's actually happening now.

In order to save civilization we are very soon going to need to undertake projects and create institutions that will take decades to compete and on a scales never before seen. And the lower 90% simply cannot generate the wealth necessary to fund these massive projects. And the upper 10% now obstruct these projects and institutions.

Sitting behind dams is enough wealth beyond which entire nations can generate. We need that wealth. We need those resources focused on saving civilization.

A system that allows multi-billionaires simply will not succeed in saving the bulk of humanity.

The only option is therefore the status quo which will end in a massive contraction in human population and a devastated civilization. All merely to sustain a few handfuls of Billionaires, their sycophants, bootlickers, and armed goons. That is where we are going.

43

@39 (I'm blocked anyway, but we'll see)

Let the record state that you are perfectly fine if the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation had never existed, nor any philanthropic venture by anyone with one billion or more dollars, since the inception of our nation.

44

All this caterwauling about Capitalism versus Socialism is just rehashing arguments that have existed since the concept of class hierarchy was developed, oh, more than 4,000 years or so ago.

The truth is there have always been a very small minority who have sought to benefit from lording over the far larger majority of laborers; Capitalism is simply the modern iteration of this, wrapped in a somewhat more democratic cloak from the old-style hereditary or tenure-based structures (although, in the case of the former, inherited wealth never really went away, it was just disguised as something else). The Capitalist system depends on maintaining the fiction that "anyone can become rich (and therefore powerful)" as a form of social control, so that the masses are inured to their state or class by convincing them they actually have a means of rising above it. In reality, however, the ruling class has successfully rigded the system to prevent, in all but a few rare instances, such upward mobility, since such a large-scale uplift would result in a direct threat to their own status and authority.

It doesn't matter whether it's a chief, or a king, or an emperor, or a commissar, or a Captain of Industry: they've all used pretty much the same tools to keep what they have and amass more, while at the same time stopping anyone else from getting their grubby, mucky hands on even so much as a penny, if they can prevent it. And one of the easiest ways to do that is to pit the masses against each other, keep them fighting over the few scraps they deign to drop from their elevated positions, and time after time, we keep letting them get away with it, because, frankly, most humans are inherently greedy bastards who would gladly step on the necks of their comrades if there was even the slightest chance of clambering their way just a little higher up the ladder than everyone else.

45

@38, I agree with your assessment of the state legislature and its dereliction of duty. There are some reallly important criminal justice issues that need legislation to change existing policy, and in the absence of legislative action, the state supreme court is filling the void. This would not be a problem if it was constitutional, but it's not. The court should interpret policy set by the legislature. More proof: State of WA vs. Basset, which prohibited life sentences for juveniles, and State of WA vs. Gregory, which prohibited capital punishment. I support both those policy changes, but it should be the legislature making those changes. Alas, too many of them lack the spine to stand for justice and/or are just afraid to be labeled pro-criminal.

46

"people who unknowingly possess drugs"

And while the police may not arrest and charge one for "unknowingly possessing" illegal drugs, they will offer to confiscate them. The refusal of which will demonstrate intent to possess them.

This might be a get out of jail card. But there goes the weekend entertainment budget.

47

I would rather tax billionaires & use the money to support, I don’t know... healthcare, feeding poor people, developing vaccines & treatments for rare diseases... basically what a handful of billionaires do but on a much larger & more equitable scale & without having to put up with people giving blowjobs to billionaires for being “generous”.

The sum total of charity — ALL charity, mind you, not just some billionaires’ pocket change — is a fraction of what our tax dollars spent on healthcare, social programs & publicly funded biomedical research. We could help far more people by taxing billionaires than by counting on their generosity.

48

Yeah, if only thousandairs or millionaires had such large amounts to invest in medicine, space, and energy to fund large projects and probably not make a profit for several years. Or just leave it up to Congress to do it all (including infrastructure or fighting viruses) with higher taxes.

Sit and wait in misery for things to happen I guess is what bleeding hearts prefer, at least it's "equitable".

49

@48,

"Bleeding hearts" don't always just sit and wait in misery for things to happen. When the misery gets too great, they stop sitting and start acting and things don't typically turn out too well for the wealthy elites once that happens.

50

@49: Well then you be careful Urgutha. Drink Pabst instead of microbrews. Play gin rummy instead of canasta.

51

Why do people continue to use the term socialism when they clearly have no understanding of it, neither in theory or practice. Until everyone in this country pays the same % of their income (or profit, since you know, corporations are people, too) in taxation and that taxation goes to ensure health care coverage for all, universal child care for all, universal paid sick leave for all, universal parental leave for all, a hefty retirement pension for all, and all of the other things that Europeans enjoy then this country isn't even close to being socialist in any fucking way.

Everything being equal, minimum wage in this country should be $24/hour. By the time this country gets around to agreeing on $15/hour as a minimum wage (a measly $30K a year), what a true living minimum wage will be is more than twice that. The fact that people believe it is acceptable to pay people $7.25/hour and expect them to live (and then complain endlessly about people requiring social services, while those same social services, paid for in taxpayer dollars, are used by corporations to boost their profits, in addition to those same corporations having obscene tax bills - like $0 in federal taxation or even better the billionaires who get tax refunds from the federal government, so in effect having negative federal taxation) is so fucked up and beyond ridiculous at this point.

This country exists solely through exploitation of labor, vilification of the poor, marginalization of those in need (in any way), and the behemoths that are the military industrial complex and the prison industrial complex.

This country will never achieve anything close to socialism. It will literally destroy everything (and everyone) it can to keep the wealthy wealthy - no matter what anyone says or anyone does. This country will never elect someone like Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren as POTUS. This country will never have a progressive legislature. This country will always value money more than anything else. It will be its undoing. It will likely be the world's undoing. There is no way to sustain the destruction of the planet for profit and the exploitation of the majority of the world's population and resources for the enrichment of the few indefinitely. It is a mathematical impossibility.

And to the degree damage has already done, even if this country were to become 100% socialist tomorrow, even if the world were to become 100% socialist tomorrow, it is too late.

We've ignored reality for as long as reality has existed (or rather for as long as humanity has existed).

52

@31, 32, 40 Krist, Urg, yeah, you guys always start quoting me a bunch of stuff that has nothing to do with the point. Again, Murdoch could die tomorrow, his wealth distributed, and Fox News will continue to be a RWNJ propaganda machine.

@39 prof, Citizens United is the result of Repubs getting to be in charge of the Supreme Court. Repubs get to be in charge of most things because Democrats suck at playing hardball politics - they are politically spineless and inept. Murdoch became a billionaire because of the success of his media empire - stupid people ate that shit up. Where the fuck have Democrats been for the last 40 years? Eating Republicans shit.

Billionaires are a symptom of the a capitalistic system run amok, where corporations are allowed to become too big, too powerful, too overreaching. Billionaires are not the problem.

I often get the impression that many of you just use railing against the billionaire class as an easy way to summarize all the issues being discussed. Again, this is stupid - similar to “defund the police”, which as understood by its true intent, is a noble idea. But it’s stupid messaging. Dems/liberals are great at shooting themselves in the foot.

Here’s what all the “typical” people think when they hear you guys railing on about billionaires: what’s the cut-off - literally, how much money is too much money? Literally a billion dollars? 500 million? 100 million? What if it’s all stock (as most of these billionaire wealth is)? Stock prices go up and down. Do you force people to start selling stock once the value of that stock reaches a certain point? Really, you guys have to answer these type of questions. What you’ll find is you lead yourself down a rabbit hole where you eventually sound like the Stranger staff writes - left wing nut jobs that even most progressive-liberal types are alienated by. Good luck with that.

53

@51 xina, yep. I'm the first to say, our system is broken beyond repair. We are seriously fucked.

54

To my point: I missed this yesterday as I went out of my home for the first time in 350 days to spend hours getting to, waiting for, getting, waiting to see if I had a reaction, and returning home from getting my first COVID vaccination shot.

199 of the 219 House Republicans, led by wealthy heiress Marjorie Taylor Green, voted to adjourn Congress a day before the vote on the COVID relief bill.

And they have the nerve to whine about bipartisanship. They are guilty of sedition, treason. and flat out refusing to do their jobs! They sure do collect their paychecks, though, don't they.

Republicans in the Oregon legislature walked out, too, because they don't agree with Governor Brown's decision to extend the state of emergency until May.

Imagine if Democrats behaved this way - from the terrorist attack on the Capitol, to the seditious vote regarding the election results, to refusing to pass COVID relief legislation people in this country have been waiting on since the election. Republicans would burn the country down. Just like they are burning the country down right now because they're having toddler tantrums because they did everything in their power to cheat, steal, and take AND THEY FUCKING LOST ANYWAY.

Every single one of these shit bags need to go. Every single one.

55

@53: Wheew. That was close. Good recovery.

56

@52,

Ok, then what IS the point, in your estimation?

57

"Billionaires are a symptom of the a capitalistic system run amok, where corporations are allowed to become too big, too powerful, too overreaching. Billionaires are not the problem."
--@PiP

and yet, they perpetuate the Problem
& they happen to have All the
Clout Necessary to do
so plus Motivation

so are you saying there's No Solution
or what Are you actually saying?

I still say* you're either a Billionaire
or on their Payroll. good work, if
you can Get it (& still sleep).

*believe it or don't I
Have been 'wrong' before

58

Congrats on
the Vax xina!

59

@56, @57 Urg & Krist, I thought I was pretty clear - the point is to stop it with the railing against billionaires as though they are the cause of this mess, and that by getting rid of them, it fixes the systemic problems that lead to them being billionaires in the first place. It's scapegoating, not so different from Repubs railing against immigrants, LGTQ, etc.

Again, Fox News is not what it is because Murdoch is a billionaire. Murdoch is a billionaire because of what Fox News is.

You guys never answer any of the questions or address any of the points - because you can't without going down the rabbit hole I speak of.

I've been very clear throughout my postings - I don't like the system that produces billionaires. However getting rid of the billionaires does not fix the system.

60

thanks, Pip!
your suggestions?

and if you Were a Billionaire
I'd still prolly not hate you

61

@kristofarian, Thanks. Fingers crossed I get my second shot when I am supposed to (over 2 million people here in Oregon so far have not).

As for billionaires. They really should not exist. Saying that getting rid of them will not fix the problem is not really genuine or honest in any way.

If there was equality regarding compensation of labor and taxation of all types of wealth (most specifically inherited wealth and wealth not earned through labor) there would not be billionaires. It would take an average person 10,000 years to earn ONE billion dollars.

Defending people who make tens of billions of dollars because they don't pay taxes, they don't pay the people that work for them true living wages, they inherit wealth, and because capitalism and the people who worship at its alter believe billionaires are somehow special, deserving people (and they also believe they could be a billionaire, so no way are we going to vilify billionaires) is a sickness! A serious mental illness that is literally destroying this country and this world.

It's so much easier to insist people making minimum wage deserve to starve, be homeless, go without healthcare, be unable to get an education, etc. etc. etc. because they are just unmotivated losers. This country is delusional and sick. It worships money and lives and murders with white supremacist ideology, policy, violence, and terrorism. There would be no wealthy white people the way there are if there had been no genocide of Native Americans, no stolen land (the entire country), no chattel slavery, and no exploitation of laborers (after chattel labor was made illegal).

In 1965 CEO pay was at a 20-1 ratio (CEOs made $20 for every $1 one of the laborers made). Today the average (and that's just the average) CEO makes $17.2 million. So if there were still a 20-1 ratio, the average laborer in this country would be making $860,00 a year, NO MATTER WHAT JOB THEY DID.

Why, why, why, why is it okay for Jeff Bezos to make over $70 BILLION during a pandemic, while people who work in an Amazon warehouse worker makes, on average, $15/hour? And most of them are not full-time employees, are "employed" by a third party (so all employee complaints are not even addressed by Amazon, they are addressed by the third party employer), are not paid for the time it takes to go through security every day (because they're all suspected of being thieves, so ironic given Bezos is the biggest thief of all), are fired when they speak out against conditions such as 20,000 of them getting COVID, others being forced to work with sick employees, and employees literally dropping dead on the warehouse floor, etc.

Why are grocery stores, corporations who have raked in record profits during the pandemic, forcing their employees to work, and shutting down rather than paying their employees, "essential workers" $2 more an hour?

Why are corporations allowed to pad their personal profit margins with millions in taxpayer dollars? Every state that has a Wal*Mart store takes an average of $2 million in taxpayer dollars for their employees because their employees need food stamps, welfare, housing assistance, and Medicaid. McDonald's gives new employees a seminar on how to apply for social services they will need! Defending billionaires and saying getting rid of them will not solve the problems in this country is bullshit.

Pay people living wages and $15/hour is not a living wage.
Make health care affordable and available to all.
Make the wealthy pay taxes on all non labor earned income (especially inherited wealth).
Make corporations (who are people in this country!) pay taxes.
Make taxation progressive.
Make all pay for all work equal - meaning men and women (and all sexual orientations and gender identities) of all races (and all ethnicities) in all places in this country doing the same work get paid the same amount.

Hold corporations and the wealthy accountable for crimes they commit.
Hold corporations and the wealthy accountable to the communities they inhabit.

Doing all of the above may not eliminate billionaires entirely, but it would go a long, long way to creating wealth equity in this country and not wealth equity out of any kind of charity, but wealth equity out of fair and equal valuation of labor and fair and equal taxation of all money, regardless of how it has been earned.

62

@61-- for the Win.
Well said as
per usual.

63

This is so unbelievably fucked up. I’m so tired of people here lecturing me on things that while I largely agree with, have nothing to do with the issue. Go on, write paragraph after paragraph on wealth and economic disparity. Quote entire passages of books for all I care. You’re preaching to the choir.

Do you understand basic concepts like stock ownership and value? Do you have any understanding that Bezos didn’t “make” $70b this past year?

Again, Bezos dies tomorrow, his stock is redistributed amongst everyone making less than $50,000 a year, we all dance on his grave, and then what? Do you think Amazon is going to be a better corporate citizen because Bezos is dead?

Your last paragraph is a display of this fucked up thinking - that somehow the goal in itself is to eliminate billionaires simply because you don’t think billionaires should exist. Whether we agree or disagree on billionaires right to exist is freaking pointless.

Focus on the issues that create billionaires, rather than the billionaires themselves. Again, eliminating billionaires does not solve any of the problems you highlighted. And I wouldn’t give a shit, except it’s politically a losing and dangerous strategy that feeds into everything people are wary of when you try to implement more socialist ideals. It’s counterproductive.

Okay, I don’t think I’m ever going to get through to you people - you just keep arguing things that I have no quarrel with. I’m out until next time.

64

@59,

The system that creates billionaires is human greed and selfishness. Not sure how to get rid of that. Well, other than getting rid of humans.

I would really like there to be stuff put in place to keep billionaires from happening. Like minimum wages, maximum wages, wealth caps, etc. But the major problem is that the billionaires control everything and they're sure as hell not going to use their power to take away their power. A revolution of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie would help, but the problem THERE is that too many of the proletariat have been convinced that A) they're temporarily embarrassed bourgeoisie themselves and/or B) the bourgeoisie deserve to rule. We're not nearly as destitute as necessary to start a revolution. There's still plenty of bread and circuses.

65

Pretty in Pink I went through a litany of changes that would eliminate ways billionaires are created. Stock ownership and value = wealth unearned by labor = not taxed in the same manner. So yeah, I understand, so much so that I clearly delineated how that contributes to the existence of billionaires. Disagreeing with each other is one thing. Getting all pissy because you believe "you aren't getting through to you people" when it's clear you have wholly dismissed what was laid out as concrete, specific actions that would eliminate so many ways billionaires exist is another. Fixing the system is the focus of my entire post. But hey, have a nice day.

66

@63,

The main, underlying issue of the entire problem in all likelihoods cannot be fixed until the human race evolves, or is otherwise somehow forced, out of the iron-clad grip that material possession is the sole value of one's worth.

Unfortunately, that's been humanity's problem for practically its entire (civilized) existence. Compounded with that is that many, probably most, people believe it to be a strength rather than a weakness.

I fear it is unsolvable. Therefore, mitigating the symptoms that arise from it is the only choice left.

67

@61 oughtta be a guest Opinion piece
or letter to the Editor here or nyt.

68

We almost had a great debate. Then they got snippy.

69

we legalize psychedelics
we're halfway there

living in the
Material
World'll
likely
End
it.

way More to LIFE
than meets the eye

70

'they' dewey?
don't Embarrass
yourself here
keepin' an
Eye on
you.

71

The question is what is the threshold of accumulated wealth by an individual that would become detrimental to societal equality? How would it be calculated? How would it be regulated or suppressed or dispersed?

Next, consider the absence of capital that would have been for huge projects. Would the government have the means for the same innovation?

As xina admits, her list in @61 wouldn't get rid of billionaire but would create "wealth equity". Perhaps to some extent, but what about the huge ventures we need to solve huge problems?

Our economy needs the healthy asymmetrical input that only the great industrialists of the 19th century to our space and energy entrepreneurs of today can provide.

72

I am surprised by how many people seem to be happy that drug possession is legal. How on earth are the police ever supposed to build cases on drug dealers when the people who rat them out no longer have an incentive to do so? If you really believe that handing addicts cards with treatment information is going to work, you probably need one of those cards yourself.

73

@72 -- 'cause our 50-yeara Long War
on Drug Users has been so successful?

74

@71,

"Next, consider the absence of capital that would have been for huge projects. Would the government have the means for the same innovation?"

The U.S. government funded the Apollo program. The U.S. government funded the Manhattan Project.

When you want massive innovation, look to the government, not private capitalists.

Private capitalists invest their wealth in personal prettyboy glamour projects designed to make more profit for themselves. Private capitalists use their wealth to put their electric cars in orbit. Useless, but generates lots of ad revenue.

Here it is simplified:

Government: Good for everyone

Private Capitalist: Good for me

75

why tf don't they Teach
this shit in our Schools?

76

@74: Sure, those are two examples, interstate highway is another. In our modern era, SpaceX and Terra Power are private ventures.

We both are right. So why not have both?

Better than "equity".

77

If we want to be truly philosophical, capitalism has no raison d’etre. Capitalism, as a moral system, has no consciousness. It is not a conspiracy. It is the sublime and subversive opposite: a belief that the individual is just and good when he (yes, he - Adam Smith and the other western liberal philosophers didn’t have a Whtiney Wolfe as an archetype) looked solely after his own interests.

The two-class structure is an accident, one even its losers love, because they want solely to think of themselves, too. Don’t make me be responsible to or for anyone else!!

There might be pockets of organization lending the aura of institution to the bifurcated structure of our society - policymakers who have an opinion about wage growth’s effect on the economy or shadowy collectives of the upper class agitating to punish the poor on purpose - but all that is unnecessary. The engine of selfishness needs no help. We all willingly fuel it ourselves, even when we think we are being progressive or enlightened.

78

“ what’s the cut-off”

Somewhere. The cut-off is somewhere.

That a specific number cannot be immediately settled upon is not an argument against progressive taxation, the outsized hoarding of and power.

It’s stupid argument. And can be ignored. Because the “cutoff” will fluctuate and change depending upon the status and health of a given society.

We’re in a fucking pandemic that is destroying and literally killing the working class by the millions. And the upper 10% has exploited this crisis without the SLIGHTEST sacrifice. And ALL of that pain could be eased by recapturing less than 20% of the wealth hoarded by the upper 10-15%.

What’s the cutoff? The cutoff is when 328 million people have affordable fucking healthcare, that’s where the god damned cutoff is.

What are you so worried about here? Why are you stan’ing for these immoral dirt bags? How brainwashed are you? The existence of multi billionaires in a world at crisis is anathema to civilization. Get your fucking head right.

Are you worried that a new tax regime will impact you so maybe instead of an $80k car you might only afford a $40k car?

Look. I make a good six figure income. Or o did pre-pandemic. I can achieve pretty much everything I want painlessly. Almost. Bezos making $500 million instead of $30 billion knowing that another 10 million Americans won’t die senselessly of a treatable disease or won’t go into debt treating their kid with cancer?

WHAT IS HE LOSING?

Get your fucking head right.

79

@22:

"So long as everyone is equally poor, that's fine with you?"

You bet. Because if everyone's labor had the same inherent value NO ONE WOULD BE POOR. Poverty can only be measured in comparison to wealth; if there's no "wealth", that is, if no one has any more - or less - of value than anyone else, then there can't be any corresponding poverty, as both terms would become essentially meaningless. Most of the pre-colonial societies in North America operated quite well for thousands of years on such a system. No one thought of themselves as poor OR rich, and there was no economic imperative or desire to accumulate and hoard wealth or possessions; quite the opposite in fact. By their standards "wealth", as much as the concept was understood as a means of delineating status, wasn't based on how much one had, but rather on how much one could afford to give to others.

Now, you can argue about relative "standards of living", but again, it's impossible to do so without contrasting how we understand the term now with what might have been. As I noted above, no one in a classless society ever complained their standard of living was too low, simply because there was no other standard by which to compare it. If one needed land on which to live or grow crops, one simply selected a patch of soil not being otherwise used. If one needed food, it was generally plentiful and readily available, depending on the location and time of year. And if, for whatever reason, one hadn't accumulated enough stores to survive a particularly harsh season, the social customs dictated that those who had excess would share their portion to make up the difference; but no one considered it a burden or an "unfair" redistribution of wealth, because everyone understood the very fundamental concept that they in turn could depend on the tribe or social unit to provide for them in like circumstances. In short: they recognized that taking care of others when times were bad had inherent social value, because they in turn could count on that altruism being reciprocated if they needed it in the future.

We simply have no way of determining how the indigenous cultures of North America might have further developed these principles had it not been for the introduction of white, European economic and social structures, not to mention the economic and cultural devastation imposed upon them by diseases for which they had no natural immunity. Given sufficient time, there's no reason to assume they wouldn't have evolved into highly sophisticated, albeit greatly different, socio-economic structures based on socialist models of behavior.

80

"treating symptoms."

Another silly aphorism. Symptoms KILL. In medicine YOU TREAT SYMPTOMS. Fever is a symptom. A fever kills.

Of course we treat the malignant symptoms of capitalism.

What is tiresome here is the endless derails into these binaries. We will have capitalism. And we will have socialism. Because we already have both.

What we are demanding is better more ethical synthesis of the two.

And. No. It is not "just how it is." We decide these things. They are not acts of nature. It is not fate. We are not in some perfect system that cannot be changed for the better. The status quo is not the best of all worlds.

The status quo exists because we allow it. Our ways of organizing humanity are human designed constructs. And a tiny fraction of over-powerful humans are the barriers to changing the world's systems for the betterment of everyone. Remove those barriers.

It will take trail and error. It will never be perfect. But it can be more perfect. Human systems are processes. Not destinations. Elites will alway re-emerge. That is not the problem. The problem is tolerating an elite that worships greed and excess above all things. We can change that.

We have it within us to design a process that is more humane, that allows for greatness, innovation, prosperity and even — yes — great wealth.

To do that we treat the symptoms of societies sickness.

81

Far worse to have a world were no-one would be poor instead of where no-one would be rich.

82

who was it who said
'as ye do to the Least of me
you do to ME,' dewdroppings?

who would You send to the Poor column
so you might have your Kings and Oligarchs?

@80 -- post
of the Year
so far.

83

You guys are so intent on sticking to your point of view, that you're blinded to what I've actually written. It's like you're not reacting to what I'm actually saying, but rather to the troll in your head that you're so conditioned to arguing with.

This is readily apparent in that you guys keep putting forth that I'm saying things that are the exact opposite of what I actually wrote - the literal words in my posts, which are there for all to actually read, if you so choose.

This is where you occasionally show yourselves to be as blind as the trolls that we all despise. It would do you good to step outside of your righteous bubble for a moment, and reconsider.

84

Okay PiP -- thank you.

so have you any suggestions
as to how we reduce Income
Disparity cum get outta this Mess?

or rather what do you suggest we might do?
other than stopping the demonizing Billionaires*
how do we get Better?

*hard to think of any with more Agency

85

oops -- apologies -- stop the
demonizing OF billionaires

86

PnP not woke enough for profxina. So rich.

87

@86 -- thought you and me
we had a Deal dewdrop?
re: Trolling? e pluri-
bus fawking Unum?

88

@84 Krist, I agree with all the solutions that have been proposed here... if you read my posts above, I say that - more regulation on corporations, raising min wage, universal healthcare, etc., etc., etc. I don't know what more you want me to say?

I'm not defending billionaires - no where do I suggest that billionaires are a good thing. It's not a good thing that there are billionaires, but I don't say that because I resent some people having more wealth than god, I say that because it's a sign that the system is broken.

I didn't say there's "no point in trying to fix things" or that we just need to chalk it up to "human nature" as Urg suggested. I think our political system is so broken that it's beyond repair, but that's not the same thing as understanding what would fix the system, or that we shouldn't try to fix the system.

How did Bezos become a billionaire? He started a company that has been very successful, which he has a huge amount of stock shares in. Why is the stock so valuable - how did Amazon become such a valuable company? The answer is that our economic system allowed Amazon to become what it has become. Blaming Bezos for being a billionaire is just backward thinking - the problem is that Amazon and all these giant corporations are largely unregulated and monopolistic, and they take advantage of an economic and political system that allows them to become that way. Bezos being a billionaire is just a byproduct of that broken system.

My entire point was, as I already said - it's bad messaging. It's like "defund the police". By focusing on "billionaires" as shorthand for everything wrong with the system, you end up going down a rabbit hole that there's no way out of. The Prof can dismiss the questions and examples I put forward about all he wants, but that's not going to work in the real world - I'm just pointing out how problematic it is to approach the problems with our system from that angle. It's a losing and dangerous approach that doesn't solve anything in itself. You just end up sounding like you resent rich people, and most people want to be rich people themselves. It's self-defeating.

I don't know how much more clear I can be on this. You can disagree that it's bad messaging, but everything else you guys are railing on about has nothing to do with what I've written.

89

@88,

Jesus you're confusing.

Here's you: "I don't dislike products of the system I dislike. I just dislike the system. And don't you dare criticize the products of the system I dislike because they're only doing what I don't like but which are the most rational outcome of the system I dislike." You've got this "don't hate the player hate the game" mentality going on. You hate the system that made bezos a billionaire, but you refuse to criticize bezos for playing the game that made bezos bezos. Even though the system that made bezos bezos was installed by bezos. Bezos is the reason bezos is bezos.

Listen and understand... the reason "the system" exists is because of the people who create it. The system you hate is installed by the people you excuse.

Or am I still not understanding you? I'm starting to simply think you're a clever troll.

90

@89: You're still not understanding PnP, that's obvious.

91

gotta Confess
PiP's got me a little
confused as well... .

92

re: PiP: all boils down to this:
'The system you hate
is installed by the
people you
excuse.'
--@Urg

the point oh one %rs club has Every reason on Earth to keep it like that or, hey, why Not, make it Even BETTER for themselves 'cause guess what they're only Human too. so PiP's right -- we gotta CHANGE THE RULES.

Bingo.

93

Yes we need to raise minimum wage, and put regulations on businesses, and get universal healthcare, and a whole bevy of things.

On top of that, the billionaires also need to have their billions taken away so they can't simply buy back the laws that made them billionaires in the first place.

Both.

94

PnP It is you that does not understand. It is you that is deaf. You're not hearing us.

You're just regurgitating the same tired debunked propaganda and apologia we've seen a million times.

There reality is you can't do the things you claim to want as long as there is all powerful class that can block all those efforts. And they ARE. And they will continue to do so. Because they can.

With out imposing limits on the resources that class can extract from society with impunity you will never achieve what you want. Ever.

95

when one Makes the Rules
the Odds are
Infallible.

96

@93b -- or we get Big
Money Outta politics

97

Bernie on Billionaires:

At a time of massive income and wealth inequality, with the very rich getting much richer while working families face increased desperation, Walmart and its owners, the Walton family, have become the poster children for corporate greed.

And it is time that we stood up to that greed and the unfettered capitalism which sustains it.

Here is the reality. The Walton family is the wealthiest family in the country and is worth more than $200 billion, which is more than the bottom 40 percent of Americans combined.

Yet somehow, they continue to oppose the idea of paying their workers a living wage of $15 an hour. They think the taxpayers in this country should have to subsidize the needs of their low wage workers who are forced to go on food stamps, Medicaid and other forms of public assistance.

This is a family that has made more than $50 billion during the pandemic – yet many of their workers reported going into work without the protective gear they needed during that same pandemic, and few have any paid leave they can use.

This is a family whose eldest son has spent more than $225 million on an antique car collection, including Ferraris, Porches, Maseratis, and a 1936 Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic that won top prize at the The Peninsula Classics Best of the Best Award in Paris — yet 55 percent of Walmart’s hourly workers have reported struggling with hunger.

This is a family with another heir to the Walmart fortune, Alice, who has amassed a private art collection worth an estimated $500 million, a $25 million two-floor condo on New York’s Park Avenue with 52 windows overlooking Central Park, and a $22 million 4,400-acre ranch in Texas — yet tens of thousands of Walmart workers are forced to rely on food stamps and public housing in order to survive.

Now, I have never understood how one family could have so much money and feel the desperate need for even more. I would think that with all those cars and homes and cash, they might just be able to raise the wages of their employees to a living wage and still afford to get by.

Because the greed above just scratches the surface of the Walmart family’s pathology.

In 2005, Walmart was forced to settle a child labor law case. That same year, they paid a settlement for denying workers meal breaks.

In 2016, they were found to have used sweatshop labor.

In 2017, they were sued by female employees for discrimination based on gender.

And here is something else you may not know:

The Walmart family — despite all of their wealth — is the largest welfare recipient in the country.

While they make these huge profits, buy their cars, their art, their homes, and more, they pay their workers wages that are so low that Walmart workers need distressing levels of public assistance just to get by.

A 2020 study by the Government Accountability Office found that in Arkansas, where Walmart was founded and has its headquarters, 1,318 workers receive SNAP benefits, which is 3.1 percent of the state’s total SNAP recipients. And another report showed that in 2013, Walmart cost taxpayers more than $6 billion in taxpayer-funded public assistance — and just four years later, for good measure, Walmart gave more than $8 billion in stock buybacks.

This is all possible because of the low wages they pay their workers, and compliments of U.S. taxpayers.

So to the Walton family, I say to you, maybe you cannot understand what it is like to make $11 or $12 an hour in this country, but your workers need a raise. No one can live in dignity working a full-time job at those wages.

Amazon raised its minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Costco has raised its minimum wage to $16 an hour.

And it’s time for Walmart to do the right thing as well.

Sign my petition: tell the Walton family that their greed has got to come to end — pay your workers a living wage of at least $15 an hour.

As Americans, we must ask ourselves one fundamental question, and that is whether or not this is the kind of country and economic culture we are comfortable with.

I am not. And I don’t believe you are either.

Thank you for making your voice heard.
In solidarity,
Bernie Sanders