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November 21, 2014

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Letter to the editor:

Greed is not the American dream

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In response to Jeffrey B. Morris’ letter of Sept. 26, “We benefit when others succeed,” he states that private economy works because of someone’s desire for wealth.

Morris is wrong. The average person does not think of becoming wealthy. The average person is concerned with having a job with a decent wage, a home for his family, health care, education for his children and a secure old age.

This is the American dream — not having a million dollars in the Cayman Islands or Swiss banks or, like Paris Hilton, a $300,000 air-conditioned house for her dog — especially now when people are concerned with jobs, foreclosures and feeding their children.

Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett were driven by their creativity, not by the wealth it produced.

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  1. There is not a black and white answer here. Wealth seeking, life style desires and creativity challenges are all reasons for success. Steve Jobs from an early point was not only a technological whiz,but also was occupied with how to make money.
    Job creation on the other hand seems to be more a consequence of a successful venture,not a main objective as such.

  2. Passion drive successful people. Wealth is the way they measure it. If you think Buffett, Gates, Jobs and Romney don't pay attention to the dollars, tell Steve Jobs that his father Malcolm was wrong all these years by devoting special annual editions to the wealthiest people, including Hollywood celebrities, in the USA and the world. Don't expect Steve to believe you. The editions sell out even before they hit the newsstands.

    CarmineD

  3. There's something fundamentally flawed with a society that values people or their contribution to that society strictly by how much wealth they are able to accumulate.

    Bloomberg News reported this morning that 93% of the 2010 increase in wealth in this country went to the top 1%. Redistribution has been going on in this country for at least the past decade. So how much is too much? Judging from the money flow toward the GOP we're not there yet according to many of the wealthiest.

  4. CarmineD - I think the "Steve" you refer to is Steve Forbes not Steve Jobs.

  5. "CarmineD - I think the "Steve" you refer to is Steve Forbes not Steve Jobs."

    Thank you Mr. Weber. You are correct.

    CarmineD

  6. The fact that most of us realize that success is motivated by a mixture of drive/passion for achievement, life style advantages and financial advantage is a good sign. At least we are not crediting pure greed as the only source of motivation. There will always be the tendency to try and rank the most wealthy in their own list, or companies by their sales--that is, by bottom line references which are easy points of comparison. Also, big houses, the car that one drives, how many square feet in one's house. These are general comparisons ,but they do not define what is most important to most of us who are focused on more mundane matters, like can we afford the house payment,getting the kids to their activities,grocery shopping and so on. These things are what most Americans are focused on.Without blaming anyone in particular, what is so unfortunate is that the average middle class American has recently experienced so much turmoil and disruption in their lives because of general economic conditions which are beyond any one person's control. Hopefully, this unfortunate situation will be resolved in a responsible way by future circumstances.

  7. Gordon Gekko, said greed is good.

  8. Now darn it! What was that eye of the needle and camel quote again???

  9. "Greed is one of the seven deadly sins."

    Ghandi had his own version and the one I subscribe to: "Greed without conscience is a sin."

    CarmineD

  10. Mr. Schaffer: I responded to your reference to St. Matthew's gospel on the other thread where you posted it. And posted another excerpt from Matthew for you: Chapter 18, verses 1-5 and 10. For your information. Enjoy.

    CarmineD

  11. I find it hilarious how conservatives such as above commenters love to invoke Steve Jobs and pervert his life and work into something to further their narrative.

    Jobs was concerned with money as a tool to enable his visions. A means to an end. He was not concerned with money as an end.

    He didn't see things as liberal and conservative. He saw things as constructive and destructive.

    He told his friend Rupert Murdoch to his face that Murdoch's fox news network was a destructive force in society.

    He also offered to design a political ad campaign for Obama in 2008.

    He certainly wouldn't be voting Romney next month were he still alive.

  12. Utter hogwash.

  13. Greed is fine as long as you don't go overboard with it. It's greed that has led to a vast underground criminal economy involving drugs, prostitution, fraud, loansharking, murder, and various other illegal activities. In addition greed has led to the creation of $700 trillion worth of derivatives around the world. These instruments have caused one financial crisis after another beginning with the 1987 stock market crash. They still haven't determined what caused it because the financial system is so complex. Our multitrillion dollar medical system is another area where greed is causing the nation nothing but problems. Nearly every day you read about some doctor, insurance entity, or medical group involved in some type of medical fraud.

    Over the last couple of days people have mentioned charitable giving. There are over 1 million charities in this country. When the government changed the reporting requirements we lost over 200,000 charities. This entire industry is wrought with fraud. When you have one charity for every 300 people charitable giving becomes another boondoggle. Many of these charities exist for no other reason than tax avoidance and theft. Not many charities get very high ratings by the groups that rate them.

    Greed is fine but too much of it can blow the whole system up.

  14. If you exclude generational wealth transfers there are only a few million people in this country that have started with nothing and made it. Something needs to be done for the vast majority of people that will never make millions. It's possible to make it in this country but the probability is extremely low if you start with nothing. That's the reality.

    Every kid fantasizes about being a famous athlete or entertainer. Most end up with a $1000 month Social Security check in a few bucks in savings. Half the seniors in this country are dying penniless. We need a good national pension system, affordable medical care and college that doesn't cost $60,000 a year. Forced savings is the only way most will ever see a substantial amount of money. Social Security needs to be changed to a defined benefit pension system where people get account statements, see their wealth begin to grow, and get a feel for how the financial system works. You don't get that with Social Security and the payout at the end is nil.

  15. I hate to break it to Nadia, but many Americans do want to be wealthy. Look at the popularity of the various lotteries, of the wealthy sports and entertainment people. Look at the popularity of the magazines that detail the lives of the rich and famous.

    People do also want stable and decent paying work and hope for a decent retirement. However, for many years this country has been defined as the very best place to go if you want to follow your dreams and try to become successful and yes... wealthy.

    The problem we have run into is two fold. Too many people that feel no matter how much wealth they have, it is never enough and who are willing to gouge others to become even more wealthy.... and too many people who really don't want to work very hard and are content to live off the labor of others.

    We've gotten 'out of balance' and the problem cannot be fixed without action on both fronts.

    Michael

  16. Author, were you going to make a point?

  17. Truly amazing how some commentors can read minds. How do they know what motivates anyone else? As for making money - I have never yet met anyone who did not want to make more. If they made $10 and hour, they wanted it to increase to $12 or $15; $20 and hour, they wanted $25 or more. You call that greed? I don't. I call it human nature - that is for the productive - for the parasites, well, they are content to live off the blood, sweat & toil of others. They are lazy unmotivated members of the "entitlement" brigade fostered by leftists whose goal is make them dependent, enslaved and beholden to their quest for domination and power over others.

  18. Calling the people that get government assistance parasites is rich. The vast majority that get government assistance are either the working poor or the elderly. I believe your in the latter. Nearly a third of Walmart's domestic workforce is getting some type of government assistance. Those people are parasites? I would argue many of those people work their rear ends off. Walmart stores get tons of merchandise every week. The people that get that merchandise from the truck to the store make very little money. Many get government assistance. They are hardly parasites. How many people in this country can afford exorbitant million dollar medical bills and college that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Not too many. Just because you're not a millionaire doesn't make you a parasite.

  19. "Anyone making more than $250,000"

    That seems to be a "magic number" in Obamaland.
    I was reading about the new real estate tax and there is that $250,000 written all over it. "A house worth more than $250,000." Total income $250,000"

    Does Obama believe that a couple should only be allowed to keep $250,000 and any income over that amount belongs to the government?
    Instead of a minimum wage..we have a maximum wage enforced by taxes?

  20. "Does Obama believe that a couple should only be allowed to keep $250,000 and any income over that amount belongs to the government?"

    President Obama believes, as the majority of the nation does, that income over $250,000 a year should be taxed at a higher level. At no time has he suggested that marginal tax rate be 100%.

    He's proposed allowing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest to expire, meaning that top bracket would return to the level of taxation during the Clinton administration.

    "That seems to be a "magic number" in Obamaland."

    Not really. I think most intelligent Americans understand that if your MONTHLY paycheck is over $20,000 gross, then you're probably doing ok for yourself.

    It's the GOP who has inflated the definition of "middle class." People earning over $20,000 a month are not middle class. They are wealthy.

  21. Ksand99 "I think most intelligent Americans understand that if your MONTHLY paycheck is over $20,000 gross, then you're probably doing ok for yourself."

    If you live in NY and you have two kids in college, that's not much.

    If you have a business that grosses that amount,from which you pay expenses its not that much.

    Unless you define the circumstances , that amount is very uncertain in defining your real standard of living.That's a very simplistically stated level of income, and it is very misleading to say someone is wealthy at that level. But liberals hip shoot often on income numbers, and their definition of wealthy is based on a poor person's perspective instead of from the perspective of an educated person who has a professional skilled job. I would say that the cutoff for "wealthy" should be over one million net of business income. We should be leaving money in people's pockets and raising the standard of living for the lower and middle class as well as everyone else.Do this by increasing opportunity,not by extracting the money from people's pockets.

    The emphasis should be on increasing the overall size of the pie, not redistributing the fractions of a one- sized- pie. This is a concept that the liberals have not fathomed. Let's all focus on a new paradigm, liberals and non liberals--let's call it "expanding the pie" economics. Under this notion, policies would need to be oriented toward growing incomes for everyone, creating more jobs, and expanding the size of the money pie. What have we got to lose by trying--look at us now!

  22. Maybe things have changed, my great grandparents came from europe to work any job they could find in the USA, saved, raised their family, and in turn my grandparents worked hard, saved, sent their kids to school, now those kids have worked hard, sent their kids to colleges. The parents always wanted something better for their kids then they had,, more money, better life, bigger house.. That "greed" is there. Many people think big and work to achieve goals. Not everyone is going to stay stuck at a cash register at Wal Mart, but those who do are there for a reason, they accept the level they have achieved. Times have changed..what is the American Dream now? Wait for the union to strike and get you another $2 an hour? Leave your future up to someone else?
    note to zippert1, the SS does send out a mailing every year showing your earnings and estimated retirement, it ought to be enough to make people know they need to save and take responsibility for their retirement but it is easier to buy something you/wife/kid wants then save the money long term.You would only be dependent on SS for retirement if that is the way you planned it, excluding those who had medical or personal tragedy.

  23. "If you live in NY and you have two kids in college, that's not much."

    You earn $260,000 a year. You pay $80,000 for 2 kids in college. That leaves $15,000 per month.

    You are rich. Wealthy. Well-off. You earn more per month than most people on minimum wage earn every year.

    And under Obama's plan, you would pay a fractionally higher tax rate on $10,000 of your income.

    The GOP again fails to inflate the meaning of "middle class." In a failed attempt to inflate the meaning, Houston uses the example of a person living in the most expensive city in the United States, with two children in college, simultaneously.

    Chances are, if you earn $20,000 a month, you've got a pretty healthy bank account to deal with the kids' tuition, Houston.

    How many households are you talking about Houston? A handful, at best. Out here in the rest of the world, earning $250,000 a year puts you in the 96-97 percentile of earners.

    I'd be willing to bet that the tax breaks on your home, your kids and the college tax credits are more than enough to make your $15,000 a month living pretty comfortable, even with your dramatic example, HoustonJacBobJack.

    Meanwhile, HoustonJacBobJack and the rest of the GOP whine that families earning $20,000 a YEAR aren't paying enough in taxes. They call them freeloaders and takers.

    This is why Mitt Romney's losing in the polls.

  24. Ksand99

    You might not be familiar with living costs in different areas such as NY(as example);

    You have heavy house payments( at least $5K/mo PI) in NY--prices are exorbitant, you have two car payments plus mtce and repairs, gasoline at high levels, or you ride the metro during week,you have all the other costs,groceries, utilities,state and local taxes are a major burden, health costs, insurances,entertainment,vacations, trips to vist the kids in college or they come home, , all their moving expenses, gifts for family and friends, household maintenance and repairs,federal income taxes,saving for retirement, --you keeping track? .You ran out of money a long time ago.
    You avoided my comment about business gross income from which business expenses have to be paid. I don't know what your income and expenses are--that's OK, I just cannot imagine any real thought has gone into the income of $250K--it's a hip shot, and it's far too low to define as "wealthy".

  25. My bank considers me "affluent". What does that mean? It depends on your definition of affluent. Am I comfortable in my retirement? Yes. Am I tossing money around like a drunken sailor on shore leave? No. I know my limits, and live within them. If I want or need something, I tend to pay cash. No interest on ill advised loans, no car payments, no house payments; this is the way I live. I worked to get what I have, otherwise I'd still be working. It's a simple philosophy; live within your means. The reason this town is in the toilet is simple; use your home as an ATM, buy a home you can't afford, drive vehicles you can't afford, and so on. My goal was always a comfortable RETIREMENT, not instant gratification.

  26. 250K equals the income of five average families. Not bad even if you live in NY. Most in this country can only dream of earning 20K a month. Let's get real. I believe median personal income sits at 26K a YEAR.

  27. Re gerry hageman. The middle class, as I remember it, never came close to making 250k per year. Your number of 26k per year is probably closer to reality. It is unfortunate, with inflation, that that number, since I've been around, is more like poverty level (depending on family size). And so it goes.

  28. Nadia, is the problem with reading comprehension or logic? Wanting a job is "greedy" desire for wealth. The issue in your mind seems to be MAGNITUDE. If you have a good job and keep it, and you save and invest, you are working for greed and for advancing your wealth every step of the way.

  29. Ayn Rand explains greed is good. Fountainhead. Atlas Shrugged. Everything else she wrote.

  30. "You ran out of money a long time ago."

    This is laughable. If you go broke on $15,000 a month, in ANY LOCATION, you're an imbecile, HoustonjacBobJack. 2 cars in NYC? Your example is laughable and not at all representative of reality.

    "You avoided my comment about business gross income from which business expenses have to be paid. I don't know what your income and expenses are--that's OK, I just cannot imagine any real thought has gone into the income of $250K--it's a hip shot, and it's far too low to define as "wealthy"."

    Yes, I ignored your incorrect and obviously misinformed attempt at argument on small businesses. Why did I ignore it? Because, just like with your example of the magical family making $260,000, living in NYC with 2 kids in college simultaneously... it's not representative of reality. Answer one question: what percentage of the United States lives in NYC, earns more than $250,000 and has two kids in college?

    Just answer that one question, HoustonjacBobJack, to reveal your own argument as petty and unrepresentative.

    Down here in reality, the increase in marginal tax rates would affect a whopping 3% of small businesses.. or less! Again, since you have no rational basis, you're assuming that the majority of small businesses earn more than $250,000 a year. In reality, only 3% of small businesses do.

    As CBPP found: The evidence does not support the claim that raising top marginal income tax rates has a heavy impact on small business owners: a recent Treasury analysis finds that only 2.5 percent of small business owners fall into the top two income tax brackets and that these owners receive less than one-third of small business income. Moreover, even those small business owners who would be affected by tax increases on high-income households are unlikely to respond by reducing hiring or new investment. As Tax Policy Center co-director William Gale has noted:

    "The effective tax rate on small business income is likely to be zero or negative, regardless of small changes in the marginal tax rates. This is for three reasons. First, small businesses can expense (immediately deduct in full) the cost of investment. This alone brings the effective tax rate on new investment to zero, regardless of the statutory rate. Second, if they can finance the investment with debt, the interest payments would be tax deductible, making the effective tax rate negative. Third, they can deduct wage payments in full, so the marginal tax rate should have minimal impact on hiring."

    So let's say your mythical taxpayer in NYC files with $260,000 in income. The amount that would be subjected to additional taxation? $10,000. Under current law, your mythical taxpayer would pay $3500 of that in taxes. Under Obama's proposal? $3960. A $460 increase in his taxes are going to kill that family? Give me a break!

    That's the reality of the numbers behind your argument. As Clinton said, "Arithmetic!"

  31. Comment removed by moderator. Personal Attack

  32. "250K equals the income of five average families. Not bad even if you live in NY. Most in this country can only dream of earning 20K a month. Let's get real. I believe median personal income sits at 26K a YEAR."

    But what if you and your wife and your 8 kids are living in Nantucket in quaint 12 bedroom home and you have 7 cars and 7 gym memberships and have to pay for college for 5 kids, all quintuplets, who are all preparing for the Olympics and don't forget your dressage horse and maybe your beach house in California needs a car elevator! Life's so HARD!

    Obviously you're not wealthy... you have so many expenses!

    It's the dumbest argument I've ever heard.

  33. Ksand99
    The NY example is an actual one. A friend of mine who is a Democrat who is disgusted with Obama. Therefore mine was based on a real case, and reflects my friend's thoughts on the income threshold of 250k . Your response is nothing more than meaningless noise. This threshold is unworkable. Even Democrats have suggested the 1 million level for the millionaires tax. Your response on the threshold as applied to small business makes no sense. Other than being a punitive proposal, the 250k is a non starter. You should try to get realistic.

  34. "The NY example is an actual one. A friend of mine who is a Democrat who is disgusted with Obama. Therefore mine was based on a real case, and reflects my friend's thoughts on the income threshold of 250k."

    If your imaginary friend can't cut it on $250,000 a year, and is that incompetent with his money, then I fully expect him to vote for Romney.

    So I asked you how many people meet your ridiculous example... what percentage of the United States lives in NYC, earns more than $250,000 and has two kids in college? Your answer: your imaginary friend.

    Thanks for proving my point.

    "Even Democrats have suggested the 1 million level for the millionaires tax."

    And when you lose your argument on repealing the Bush tax cuts for those making over $250,000, you desperately try to change the subject to the Buffet rule? Transparent as always. Apples and oranges, HoustonjacBobJack.

    "Your response on the threshold as applied to small business makes no sense. "

    My response was based on facts, while yours was using your imaginary friend. I can see why you're having trouble rebutting the facts. Your imaginary friend faces a whopping $450/year increase in his taxes under Obama's plan to repeal the Bush tax cuts for those making more than $250k. That's a fact you still can't rebut.

    So you tried to sell us on the increased tax rates bankrupting your imaginary friend. That failed.

    Then you tried to sell us on the increased marginal tax rates bankrupting small businesses. That failed.

    Here's a few tips for your imaginary friend: you don't need 2 cars in New York City. You should have saved for your kids' college tuition. You should've bought a cheaper house. If you can't make it on $20,000 a month, you'll get no sympathy from anyone.

    What happened to personal responsibility? Now the GOP wants us to pity the rich because they can't afford 2 BMWs!

  35. Ksand99

    NIce try,but you fail to make the case. All noise,no substance.

  36. Comment removed by moderator. - -

  37. Greed is not the correct word when discribing one's desire to getting ahead in life.

    The correct word is opportunity,this is offered to every American who has a desire to get ahead.It dosen't matter what your nationalty is,or your skin color, or what your religion is, or even your level of education.

    Our country offers this opportunity to all,and it has worked for many who took advantage of this great opportunity.

    No matter what a person's current position in life is today it can be changed tomorrow, with the one thing our country offers "opportunity".

  38. "Carmine pays attention to the parts of the bible he likes"

    I like all parts of the Bible, New and Old. My point, which you usually miss, is that most of Jesus' teachings and parables go far beyond the literal meaning of the words. Anyone, including you, can find a Bible quote, or more, that justify your opinion on any subject under the sun. And another, like me, can find just as many in the Bible that contradict them. That is the wonder of the Bible and Jesus' teachings.

    CarmineD

  39. What some call greed, I call competent and able.

    Nobody should be demonized for their success. In fact they should be admired.

  40. Why is it considered greedy for me to want to keep the money I earned, but not greedy for those who didn't earn it and want to take it from me?

  41. Noindex:
    It is a known fact that all rich people had to do is be greedy and they got rich..
    The reason I am poor is because I am virtuous and not greedy and I believe in the American Dream of everyone being equal..no one makes more than maximum $250,000 a year and minimum $25,000 guaranteed by various benefit programs
    Therefore..Those Greedy Sinners owe..Me..Call it a sin tax..

  42. Comment removed by moderator. Inappropriate

  43. Hey Kevin, you said "President Obama believes, as the majority of the nation does, that income over $250,000 a year should be taxed at a higher level. At no time has he suggested that marginal tax rate be 100%."
    and then you said
    "That's the reality of the numbers behind your argument. As Clinton said, "Arithmetic!"

    So let's test the reality of the numbers behind YOUR argument.

    Go look at the latest available tax figures (2009) here:
    http://taxfoundation.org/article/summary...

    Now tell us what marginal rate is good and then see what percentage of Obama's annual deficit would be covered the plan you endorse above.

    Hint, even if you taxed all income over $250,000 at 100% it covers less than half of Obama's annual deficit, so any realistic number that Obama proposes will fail to make an appreciable dent in his deficit.

    His plan to let the Bush tax cuts expire only for high earners is estimated (generously) to bring in $80 billion per year. That sounds like a lot, but it's a drop in the bucket compared to his annual deficit.

    Conversely, a 1% tax increase across the board with NO exceptions...everyone pays 1% more and pays at least 1% no matter how little they make...would bring in almost three times as much as Obama's plan.

    Leave the emotion out of it and compare the numbers...to quote you: As Clinton said, "Arithmetic!"