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The veil of opulence

Posted by david52 z5CO (My Page) on
Sat, Aug 18, 12 at 11:11

At the link is a thought provoking take on how people view fairness in society -

A traditional concept is to try and ignore your own intelligence and experiences, put on a 'veil of ignorance' and try and put yourself in the place of someone else trying to succeed in todays society.

The author then points out that today, many people are putting on a 'Veil of Opulence' -.....Where the veil of ignorance offers a test for fairness from an impersonal, universal point of view - "What system would I want if I had no idea who I was going to be, or what talents and resources I was going to have?" - the veil of opulence offers a test for fairness from the first-person, partial point of view: "What system would I want if I were so-and-so?" These two doctrines of fairness - the universal view and the first-person view - are both compelling in their own way, but only one of them offers moral clarity impartial enough to guide our policy decisions.

Those who don the veil of opulence may imagine themselves to be fantastically wealthy movie stars or extremely successful business entrepreneurs. They vote and set policies according to this fantasy.

The article is too long to copy and paste, but I found it an interesting take / explanation of the political discussion today.

Here is a link that might be useful: link


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: The veil of opulence

  • Posted by bboy USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA (My Page) on
    Sat, Aug 18, 12 at 11:15

>Those who don the veil of opulence may imagine themselves to be fantastically wealthy movie stars or extremely successful business entrepreneurs. They vote and set policies according to this fantasy<

In other words, snobs.


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RE: The veil of opulence

It is hypothetical to imagine who or what we would choose to be from the womb because as Rawls knew only too well it comes down to the luck of the draw and how to deal with the result is the real question. Being born in a ditch in Bangladesh does not offer a child the same opportunity as one born into a wealthy family in Boston, say. The Bangladeshi may never be in a position to change his or anyone else's situation whereas the Bostonian could. For some reason most born into privilege don't see this as an opportunity to benefit others (compassion)but as a fast track to selfish gain. There is also the fear amongst 'the rich' that someone out there wants to take their money away making those with too much on a level with those with too little in the anxiety department.

Buddhists with their belief in reincarnation advocate treating everyone as though they were your mother or you were theirs in a previous life which is something to think about in any discussion on fairness.


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RE: The veil of opulence

  • Posted by bboy USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA (My Page) on
    Sat, Aug 18, 12 at 13:09

Old religions may contain rules which were obviously instituted to make it possible for people to live and work together in the situations known at the time, sometimes so very long ago. Treating everyone as though they were near and dear is of course one that still has value today. Never eating cows, no matter what, not so much.


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Off the subject, I know, but never eating cows may be wiser than ever. Stuffed to the gills with antibiotics, steroids, growth hormones and heaven knows what also, living and dying in utterly inhumane ways - I'd really rather not.

It always surprises me that more millionaires and up don't do more with their money other than to spend it on luxury items. This seems to be especially true of the nouveau riche. I'd love to be terribly rich so I could have the great joy of supporting causes I very much believe in such as organizations that help domestic and wild animals, environmental causes, education and financing of birth control in impoverished and overpopulated countries and many more. Once you have enough to live a comfortable life, I really don't believe millions and millions more to spend make you a happier person.


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RE: The veil of opulence

Interesting essay, Dave.

The veil of opulence seems to invert a bit of old wisdom: "to he who has been given much, less is expected" (just in case that he is me).


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Well, it explains some of the economic / political phenomena going on.

I find it astounding that so many people are willing to support billionaires who wish to do away with the estate tax, for example, when they themselves have to make up the difference in tax revenue or slashed services. Because they can pretend that if they were billionaires, thats the way they would want it.

I mean, who can better afford taxes then dead rich people?

I suppose as well thats why there is so much support for eliminating all taxes on dividends and capital gains. Because its possible for them to accumulate a few hundred thousand dollars in savings over a life time, somehow that puts them on equal footing with someone raking in 50 million a year with this version of income. And once again, ignoring the fact that if this isn't taxed, the difference has to be made up somewhere else - either cutting stuff like Pell grants or increasing taxes somewhere else.


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RE: The veil of opulence

Posted by david52 z5CO (My Page) on
Sat, Aug 18, 12 at 15:21

I mean, who can better afford taxes then dead rich people?

*

The larger point is, it's none of your business what happens with money people leave when they die.

You don't deserve it just because they aren't here to use it--it's THEIR money, not yours, and should be used as they wish.

*

All I would want is for the government to provide basic services and get out of the way for people to work hard and succeed without undue interference from the government.

We can be anything we want in this country, if we have our wits and a modicum of health.

Anyone that has hours and hours a day to spend on the computer complaining on a "hot topics forum" has time to do better, if they want.


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Back in the day when the currency in the UK was pounds shillings and pence my dad explained this mentality to me thus: They have 11 pence ha'penny which is such an untidy sum that the objective is to get the ha'penny that you have to make it a round shilling.


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RE: The veil of opulence

Yes, Demi, thanks for that example of the 'veil of opulence'. The personification of the theory, how to think if you were one of the elite wealthy.


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RE: The veil of opulence

  • Posted by bboy USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA (My Page) on
    Sat, Aug 18, 12 at 15:48

Around and around with the same arguments. Nevermind that the wealthy are subsidized by everyone, as has been pointed out here already.


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No, David.

It's an example how to think when you are born like many people, into a working family with just enough to cover expenses, and sometimes not that much--to make the right decisions in life, change what you can and work with and accept what you can't--all in tandem to achieve your goals.

It's an example of realizing that one is only wasting time and effort thinking about how someone else may have a particular advantage they did not have, while not realizing that they most likely had some advantages that others did not.

The only true measure of achievement is against yourself--what has one done with the gifts THEY were given, the gifts that are unique to them?

If one admits defeat based on what others have achieved, or the different gifts that others had and not concentrated on their own unique gifts and talents, they've lost to their self avowed victimhood and self doubt.


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Would this apply to the baby born in a Bangladeshi ditch and the Bostonian equally Demi?


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Ink, in the comment section of the OP link, this is discussed - and some would take the view that this is indeed the way to look at the world. If you can empathize with a baby born in a Bangladeshi ditch, the problems he/she faces, then you can begin to improve things and solve problems.

It reminds me of the book "Mountains beyond Mountains" about Dr. Paul Farmer (MD) who spends his time between Boston and Haiti. Which is worth a read, I believe.

Here is a link that might be useful: link to book on Amazon


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RE: The veil of opulence

Yes, Ink, it would apply equally.

What did I just say? "It's an example of realizing that one is only wasting time and effort thinking about how someone else may have a particular advantage they did not have, while not realizing that they most likely had some advantages that others did not."

I also said, "The only true measure of achievement is against yourself--what has one done with the gifts THEY were given, the gifts that are unique to them."

It seems to me that lamenting the fact that we are not all born into middle class families with equal childhoods and equal schooling, the benefits of equal parents, etc. is a colossal waste of time.

We are unique and unique for a reason.

Homogenization does not nurture risk taking or greatness.


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I feel like I am talking to an alien but are you saying that there is a plan behind the inequality that exists between the two people in my hypothesis? Incidentally that sentence about "lamenting the fact that we are not all born into middle class families" is so far out there I am not sure how to address it.


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What is "far out" about that statement?

It is REALITY.
Possibly, it's a plan.

Just as Jodik repeatedly states that "karma" catches up to people that deserve bad things to happen to them, there are those (although I'm not necessarily one) that believe that bad things like being murdered, death, illnesses, poverty and suffering happen to people who have committed transgressions in a previous life.

You know, Karma at work for that previous life.

Who knows?

We aren't all born into the best of circumstances.

As a society, and as individuals, we can certainly should try to help people live better lives but there will never be an homogenous playing field, and I don't think there should be.

If Oprah Winfrey or Elvis Presley, or Bill Clinton had been born into a life of privilege, I don't think they would have necessarily achieved the things they have in life.

Life isn't easy for many people, regardless of how much money they were born into, or how much they have acquired during their life. Financial security is not an equalizer to tragedy, disappointment, death, illness or suffering.

It does no good and is a waste of time to lament what might have been, how someone has something you don't have, how someone has it better than you've had it, how someone has this or that, someone else someone else someone else.

People should look in the mirror, buck up, and deal with what's on their plate.

People that do that are far more likely to receive help and encouragement from others "up the rung" because they're more likely to succeed by sheer determination and not whining.


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Repeated in its expanded form it still make no sense on a universal level because you are presenting it from outside anything a child born in a Bangladeshi ditch might ever experience.

The point you seem to be missing is that far from being 'homogenized' the gap between say, Ann Romney and the mother who just dropped the baby in the ditch is not just "up the rung" but on a different ladder completely. Do we have the means to address this discrepancy? Yes. Do we have the will? "People should look in the mirror, buck up, and deal with what's on their plate."


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It is quite convenient and I am sure quite intentional that you purposely omitted this statement of mine in the post, as well.

"As a society, and as individuals, we can certainly should try to help people live better lives but there will never be an homogenous playing field, and I don't think there should be.

It didn't help you paint me the way you want to, though, did it?


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The larger point is, it's none of your business what happens with money people leave when they die.

As long as government is taxing to pay for its expenditures, it's everyone's business.

As for the particulars of earned income, dividends, captial gains, carried interest, and estate taxes, it's our business if the majority of the voting public believes it is, and it is permitted by the U.S. Constitution.


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Nancy, my statement assumed after taxes are paid.

Hopefully the estate tax will be abolished.

It's just wrong.


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And you don't realise how patronizing that is Demi? And just in case: it is the arrogance of your point of view that is under attack NOT you as a person. If you choose to identify you personae with the views you express here then what do ya know?


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What is patronizing about it being none of anyone's business what happens to their money after they die, assuming they've paid taxes?

It is NONE of anyone's business to even consider what will happen to someone's estate when they die or how they could "put it to good use."


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RE: The veil of opulence

Posted by inkognito (My Page) on
Sat, Aug 18, 12 at 18:40

And you don't realise how patronizing that is Demi? And just in case: it is the arrogance of your point of view that is under attack NOT you as a person.

*

Oh, really? My point of view and not me, personally?

Then explain to me the nasty comments about me, personally, about my thought process, the speculation about me, and most of all, the nasty NAMES I have been called.

Short memory, eh?


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Got to have supper now Demi. Mix these words up for yourself so that they come out in your favour, I'll come back later to see if anything has changed, enjoy your slow Saturday.


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It's just wrong.

No, it is not. There are numerous studies, over a period of years, that show that concentration of wealth within a narrow portion of a society is harmful for everyone - rich, poor, and what is left of the middle class.

For a case study of what happens with intense concentration of wealth, please see the history of El Salvador, and the use of death squads by the '14 families' to thwart land reform. And to maintain extravagant wealth allowing them to invest in Bain.


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I certainly agree with demifloyd's view that we should all make the best of what we're given to work with, and that a great deal can be achieved with hard work, a plan for the future and also the pursuit of an education. These values however have to be taught and experienced by young children which won't be the case with the baby in Bangladesh or a little boy in a dangerous inner city neighborhood. The four months I spent in India also showed me that for large portions of a poor country there really is not much hope for betterment. In a country where destitute parents will break their children's legs so that they will be cripples and can beg for a living, the mindset that we have here that everything is possible is only a dream and a mirage. Even here it takes great determination and courage to overcome the obstacles of a ghetto childhood. Only the best and strongest can do that, and they have my admiration, but who's to say we would be capable of that where fear in an everyday emotion and the chances of being shot through the wall while in your bed at night are not so small. No easy answers, I'm afraid, and those of us raised in an intact family with parents who had values to pass on to us are so incredibly lucky.


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As much as it pains me I have to agree with Demi. Death taxes are just plain wrong.

The vast majority of people who leave inheritances for their families are not of the Walton ilk. They are just like must of us. It may not be that we leave much behind when we die.....certainly I don't intend to.....but the money we do leave behind had already been taxed, maybe even a couple of times.

We forget that it isn't just the super rich that leave the kids something.


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Chase, there are sizeable exemptions from the estate. I believe it's currently $5.1 million, and if the current exemption isn't renewed, it will fall back to $1 million.

The push is to abolish the estate tax entirely; not keep the exemption at $5 million.


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Nancy, I didn't know that but I still don't believe that money that has been taxed should be taxed again. However it has become apparent to me that it is very easy for the wealty not to pay tax on their income ....so it's a dilemma. In that case it should not flow tax free to the estate.

Very complicated....outside looking in you folk really need tax reform....along with election reform.


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Wealth pays all tax, or the social system that wealth depends on collapses. Why is it hard to understand?


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Posted by bboy USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA (My Page) on Sat, Aug 18, 12 at 11:15

>Those who don the veil of opulence may imagine themselves to be fantastically wealthy movie stars or extremely successful business entrepreneurs. They vote and set policies according to this fantasy<
"In other words, snobs."

A snob believes that some people are inherently inferior to him or her for any one of a variety of reasons, including real or supposed intellect, wealth, education..." There are plenty of intellectual snobs here. It's not the money necessarily.

Posted by chase z6 (My Page) on Sat, Aug 18, 12 at 21:51

"Very complicated....outside looking in you folk really need tax reform....along with election reform."

Be careful, chase. "you folk" means exactly the same as "you people".

Just sayin'.


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For a case study of what happens with intense concentration of wealth, please see the history of El Salvador, and the use of death squads by the '14 families' to thwart land reform. And to maintain extravagant wealth allowing them to invest in Bain.

That's how it's done in general, degrees vary.

Adding to Ink's scenario...what are the chances that there is a direct correlation between the reason for a child being born in a ditch, in Bangla Desh, and a wealthy family, in Boston?


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Maddie...could you please explain your last sentence?...

"...what are the chances that there is a direct correlation between the reason for a child being born in a ditch, in Bangla Desh, and a wealthy family, in Boston?"

I truly don't understand it. Correlation?

As someone who's spent the best part of the last 3 years literally picking up babies and older kids from the ditches and gutters of India, and now working in Bhutan, this is a subject close to my heart.

The Australian charity for which I volunteer has built a school/hostel in Bangalore, where these kids now have a home, food, education, friends and security. They had no chance of any of those things when we found them. You can imagine what Fate had in store for them. Or maybe you can't.

Most of these kids now speak up to 5 languages, excel at school studies and sports, and have aspirations to careers such as doctors, airline pilots and lawyers. Of course this couldn't have happened if they'd remained in their original circumstances.

After Christmas, I may be moving on to, coincidentally, Bangladesh on a 3 year contract. (Heavens! They're MUSLIMS, and I follow the Buddhist path! Should I be afraid?)

It goes against my grain to "expose" myself like this on a public forum, but I can't fail to respond when I read such ill-informed and callous statements as:

"It seems to me that lamenting the fact that we are not all born into middle class families with equal childhoods and equal schooling, the benefits of equal parents, etc. is a colossal waste of time."

And then:"...there will never be an homogenous playing field, and I don't think there should be."

I'll probably spend the next 10 minutes now deciding whether or not to hit the "Post" button...

Regards to all,
Shax


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David, I tend to think more in terms of what do I want the world to be like for my children, your children, and their children, and their children to grow up in... opulence is a word that I would leave out, as having enough of anything is enough. A roof, an income that adequately feeds, provides clean water, and clothes... and a good, fair shot at education, health care, and work/career... and family. What more could one ask for? A clean environment, perhaps, and peace around the world. A global group of nations that are led by fair and honest leaders...

Opulence, to me, would be having the wherewithal to make the lives of others better... having enough to share so that I could provide the help to create better lives for others.

The strange part to me is that sharing is one of the basic tenets of most religions. Yet, even though so many exist, I don't see that selfless giving. I think that's why I can't belong.

In order to restore balance, we have to begin with restoring a fair and balanced playing field.


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"It goes against my grain to "expose" myself like this on a public forum, but I can't fail to respond when I read such ill-informed and callous statements as:

"It seems to me that lamenting the fact that we are not all born into middle class families with equal childhoods and equal schooling, the benefits of equal parents, etc. is a colossal waste of time."

And then:"...there will never be an homogenous playing field, and I don't think there should be."

I'll probably spend the next 10 minutes now deciding whether or not to hit the "Post" button...

Regards to all,
Shax "

*

Shax, thank you for your post, and thank you for your life's work.

There is nothing misinformed about my post in my opinion--I am painfully aware of the disparity of living conditions across the planet and of course, AS I NOTED, we should, as individuals, and as a society, do something to help our fellow man.

But "lamenting" the fact that there is great disparity IS a colossal waste of time. As hard as you work, as hard as anyone works or volunteers their time, or gives their money to help the disadvantaged, poor, impaired--it will never, ever be a "level playing field." That does not mean we should not try, however.

They may seem a callous statement to you or anyone else, but it's the absolute truth. I'm a realist.

That is what I meant.


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Yes, Demi, thanks for that example of the 'veil of opulence'. The personification of the theory, how to think if you were one of the elite wealthy.

If there is one thing that is painfully clear is that being a member of the elite wealthy is only wrong if you're a conservative.


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In another thread, the poster Duluthinbloom referenced this "The veil of opulence" as quoted below and appears to agree with me in this regard:

The veil of opulence assumes that the playing field is level, that all gains are fairly gotten, that there is no cosmic adversity."

DIB:

"My own thoughts are the playing field has never been level and never will be level. No two people do the same thing with either an opportunity or an adversity."


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Dang. Sorry, Shax. Iz still low on the coffee.

I was thinking of sweatshops. Bangladesh is sweatshop country (there are others, too) so, it could be any wealthy family, anywhere on the planet, directly responsible for babies having to enter this world in a ditch. And most likely die in a ditch, too. The same applies to Bain. Death squads made Romney richer.

And, the work you do--tremendous!!


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RE: ...The veil of opulence

Forgot to add...

I wouldn't give those inane statements you mentioned any thought. There is a lot rationalizing and justifying going on. When it comes to profits, their personal responsibility goes out of the window before you can blink.


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Posted by maddie_athome (My Page) on Sun, Aug 19, 12 at 7:48

"I was thinking of sweatshops. Bangladesh is sweatshop country (there are others, too) so, it could be any wealthy family, anywhere on the planet, directly responsible for babies having to enter this world in a ditch."

Let's see how much sense that makes. Someone works in a "sweatshop" for a pittance because that is that best they can do. A wealthy family presumably owns this sweatshop. Therefore, the wealthy family is directly responsible for babies being born in a ditch.

OR

There is no sweatshop. Does this mean that now there is no baby and no ditch? Or more likely, there is still a baby and a ditch, but no income whatsoever?

Something is better than nothing. Surely these babies aren't better off if there is no sweatshop.


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But, but... personal responsibility, sharing the burden, and sturdy bootstraps are only for the little people. Opulence is what it is and where it's at. Keep your calloused hands on your own side of the ladder rungs!


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Dip with the chip?


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Chase, re the estate tax - much of these enormous fortunes were never taxed. It accumulates through massive capital gains, and if the estate tax is eliminated, it gets passed on tax free.

Example when the Walmart heirs inherited their shares, they were worth peanuts, and have now gained who knows how many percent and are worth billions.

And as stated, there are fairly generous exemptions, like $5 million.


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RE: The veil of opulence

Posted by david52 z5CO (My Page) on
Sun, Aug 19, 12 at 9:00

Chase, re the estate tax - much of these enormous fortunes were never taxed. It accumulates through massive capital gains, and if the estate tax is eliminated, it gets passed on tax free.

Example when the Walmart heirs inherited their shares, they were worth peanuts, and have now gained who knows how many percent and are worth billions.

And as stated, there are fairly generous exemptions, like $5 million.

*

David, beginning 2013 the estate tax exemption is set to revert to $1,000,000 and the tax rate 55% of assets.

The "fairly generous" rate (how telling that you characterize the government's confiscation of a dead person's property as being "fairly generous") you mentioned is guaranteed for only about four months.


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"opulence is a word that I would leave out, as having enough of anything is enough. A roof, an income that adequately feeds, provides clean water, and clothes... and a good, fair shot at education, health care, and work/career... and family. What more could one ask for?...Opulence, to me, would be having the wherewithal to make the lives of others better... having enough to share so that I could provide the help to create better lives for others."

So then, jodi is happy with the "bare essentials". How much is really enough, I wonder--before it's time to "provide the help to create better lives for others"? Sounds pretty darn noble.

Methinks in order to put her money where her mouth is (literally, pretty much), the luxurious computer has to go.


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Elvis! You opulent snob!


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"Chase, re the estate tax - much of these enormous fortunes were never taxed. It accumulates through massive capital gains, and if the estate tax is eliminated, it gets passed on tax free. "

David that's why I say you folk (that's for Elvis) desperately need tax reform. I don't believe that money should flow tax free and I don't believe that money, already taxed, should be taxed again.

The tax code there makes things way too complicated and complication costs money.


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Luxurious computer? This one is home built, a hand-me-down from the husband, and cost was minimal.

Most of our electronics are received broken, are repaired, and after about 8 months, if the repair bill is not paid and the owners do not offer up a valid reason for unclaimed merchandise, we keep it. Some people would rather go out and buy a brand new Dell instead of paying a $25 repair bill. Go figure.

If the valid reason is inability to pay, we reduce costs to parts only and ship it back. Computers are not luxuries any longer... they are necessities used for school, business, employment searches, communication, and many other things.

My computer is not just a toy to play at GW with... it also functions as a business machine, a code compiler and assembler, an extra terminal for online computer repair in the event my husband's machine develops an issue, and is as essential as the fuel in your car for survival. It's also a 6 year old desktop model, and not a laptop or Ipad.

Can you say the same about your computer? Or is yours just an opulent toy used to watch streaming videos and surf the web with?

To date, the repair bill on my computer has cost us less than $5 in electronic parts. You'd most likely buy the whole card and pay labor costs for installation... we buy a diode for 22 cents. When the motherboard dies, we repair it using parts made in America.

By the way, our third backup machine is a 386DX with 512K of RAM and a 10MB HD.

Opulent? Don't see anything matching that description here... not even the dog, who works for her food.


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Shax, having seen a great deal more of the other half of the world - in terms of opulence - than I have, do you think that everyone on the planet could be lifted out of the gutter, as it were, without rupturing the biological systems?


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Chase, I forgot to mention that there are a number of strategies that are commonly used to minimize estate taxes. For a minimal amount of money (compared to the tax being avoided), a trust can be established.


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Posted by nancy_in_venice_ca SS24 z10 CA (My Page) on Sun, Aug 19, 12 at 11:12

"Chase, I forgot to mention that there are a number of strategies that are commonly used to minimize estate taxes. For a minimal amount of money (compared to the tax being avoided), a trust can be established."

Yikes! Legal loopholes...very, very bad.


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Hi, Pat!
Good question. BIG question! And one I constantly ponder myself. I could write about it non-stop for weeks and get no closer to a good answer. But I don't want to hijack this thread with my personal thoughts. Pity we don't still have SOE for that...

Biological systems are already pretty stuffed or in the process of, worldwide, IMHO. But more obviously so in these developing countries, which are usually overpopulated for what infrastructure they already have or are trying to plan for the future.

But a common denominator I see is the huge disparity of wealth. In India particularly, if some of the money held by the billionaires and corrupt govt. officials could be used for the good of the people rather than for self-interest, yes, there would be a lot fewer hungry people and better health, education etc. India's richest man, Mukesh Ambani, has a 27 storey mansion that cost $1 Billion to build. It has sweeping views of Mumbai's slums. That money would build literally THOUSANDS of schools and hospitals for the needy.

I've been travelling to India and surrounds for several decades now, and I DO see an amazing new growth in those areas, but more for the burgeoning middle-classes (better roads for more cars, grand shopping malls, cleaner streets, expensive universities and elite hospitals.)

That list goes on, but it does absolutely nothing for the tens of millions of starving and uneducated people. Nobody knows exactly how many the real number is, but it'd be incomprehensible to most anyway.

As for your question of damage to biological systems, if you mean ecologically/environmentally, the answer would be yes, too many people. There are 1.3 billion in a country about 1/3 the size of Australia, whose population is just 23 million.

Apologies for the rant, and sorry if I can't give a satisfactory answer to your question.

Have put a link below to one of the world's most obscenely "opulent" displays of self-gratification...and if anyone uses the word "entitlement"...

Regards,
Shax

Here is a link that might be useful: Mumbai Mansion


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You might also have to consider whether or not your state has "decoupled" from the Fed when it comes to estate taxes. States can go their individual ways so as not to lose estate revenues.


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Nancy, such trusts also cut down on time, court costs and procedures. That way, an average to small estate, like my parents', doesn't have to go through state probate.

It's usually set up by the family attorney... my uncle was a lawyer... and in case my father passed first, the estate fell to my mother. After her passing, it was divided amongst all siblings, with an executor and co-executor. It was short and done, taxes paid.

Some people might look at it as a way to avoid paying taxes, or more taxes, but when the estate is tiny to begin with, it's a lot easier to place it in trust to avoid all the extra time and costs coming out. When you save all your life, and there's not much there due to medical costs or other expenses, and there are several siblings, it would be a shame to see it all eaten up by attorneys, court costs and fees, and extra taxes.

When estates are large, I don't know how they're handled. I've never run into that sort of situation, and most likely never will.


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RE: The veil of opulence

It's an example of realizing that one is only wasting time and effort thinking about how someone else may have a particular advantage they did not have, while not realizing that they most likely had some advantages that others did not.

The implication from demi being that all of us that post here are just wasting our time. We're just jealous of the rich people.

My take is that we care about our society as a whole. We are willing to pay our fair share towards society. We just want the ultra rich to do the same.

As I've said several times, if Romney is elected President and his ideas on taxes are passed, I will get a significant tax DECREASE. I will have more money in my pocket. Would I like that? Of course I would. But (and here's the important part), not at the expense of our society. And that's what it will do. I will have more money in my pocket and the poor will have even less money than they do today. That is totally wrong.

And, don't start with the stuff about how government spends our money (taxes). If that were your real issue, that's what you would bring up all the time. It's not. The real issue is taking more of YOUR money as you like to talk about constantly.


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RE: The veil of opulence

Was looking through my documents and found this, thought it might fit here.

Freedom is another word

puppets and masters who are who who's in charge
What purpose what end who is small who is large

power relinquished power misused information false
for advantage repeated till reality lost

so many have none prosperity for few
no outlet for anger from frustration for you

protection domination at home and abroad
image degraded the recovery hard

Value uneven quality askew
less good and abundance what to do

greed drives the ones that have much and want more
no heed for old saying Watch what you wish for

microscopic life supports life above
without the lesser they undo what they wove

unbalance dissipates like water seeking it's level
hoarding too much leaves no room to revel

true balance and fairness to all rich and poor
is the way our plenitude will restore

the one in the mirror who can it be
what is the difference between you and me

hold up your hand look past it you "see"
through your fingers our body a vessel of thee

live true to the self that the inner mind knows
the one that sees others the same as it grows

We say "rest in peace" is that what peace is
at the end what is left are we really free

by Don Case on Sunday, August 7, 2011

abundance, affluence, assets, belongings, bounty,
cache, capital, cash, clover, commodities, copiousness,
cornucopia, dough, estate, fortune, funds, gold, goods,
hoard, holdings, lap of luxury, long green, lucre,
luxuriance, luxury, means, opulence, pelf, plenitude,
plenty, possessions, profusion, property, prosperity,
prosperousness, revenue, riches, richness, security,
stocks and bonds, store, substance, substantiality,
treasure, velvet*, worth

The Swing

How do you like to go up in a swing,
Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
Ever a child can do!

Up in the air and over the wall,
Till I can see so wide,
Rivers and trees and cattle and all
Over the countryside--

Till I look down on the garden green,
Down on the roof so brown--
Up in the air I go flying again,
Up in the air and down!

Robert Louis Stevenson


"Socialism never took root in America because
the poor see themselves not as an exploited
proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed
millionaires."

John Steinbeck


I have come to believe that a great teacher
is a great artist and that there are as few as
there are any other great artists. Teaching
might even be the greatest of the arts since
the medium is the human mind and spirit.

John Steinbeck

I've seen a look in dogs' eyes, a quickly
vanishing look of amazed contempt, and I am
convinced that basically dogs think humans are nuts.

John Steinbeck

If you're in trouble, or hurt or need - go to
the poor people. They're the only ones that'll
help - the only ones.

John Steinbeck

Many a trip continues long after movement
in time and space have ceased.

John Steinbeck


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RE: The veil of opulence

This would be very nice on the relevant quotes thread.


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RE: The veil of opulence

Yeah, well those wearing that veil of opulence imagine, of course, that they too are like the Waltons and figure that its ok if they pay their workers slightly more than minimum wage, no benefits, part-time jobs - that whole Walmart scene, while arguing to the death that they should be able to pass on tens of billions of untaxed capital gains to their heirs.

Not able to empathize with the workers, cashiers, or those whose sweat and years of work helped build that fortune.

In fact, it goes further, and the sorts of assistance given to the Walmart worker set should be cut - get rid of food stamps, gut social security and Medicaid, get rid of housing subsidies and all that.

All the while getting rid of taxes on dividends and capital gains, so the Waltons of this world effectively pay no taxes at all.

All hail the job creators. Vote Romney / Ryan


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RE: The veil of opulence

The Walton clan could, of course, import guest workers and house them in government-subsidized dormatories or de-commissioned prisons or even tent-cities nearby.

Do away with those pesky and demanding American workers. The Chinese and other product-supplying nations could ship the workers cheaply in aerated containers. If these groups get too uppity, we could ship them back in the same or similar containers. The government would pay the costs of return, of course. Must if at all possible, subsidize the social costs of doing business.


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RE: The veil of opulence

As for those billions in deject poverty, I've found it interesting that they're after some basic human rights such as respect, decent affordable medical care, decent education, personal safety, enough food to eat, shelter, and some freedom - freedom to travel, explore, visit, etc. I think its a mistake to believe that everyone wants a Benz and a 15,000 sq foot home.


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RE: The veil of opulence

I don't know why some folks can't relate riches to anything but materialism, and think everyone wants the worthless material possessions they have.

Lots of people don't keep score, or count by the dollar sign and decimal point. There are so many other facets of life that mean so much more...


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RE: The veil of opulence

Shax, yes, I know people who have been visiting Delhi and the Punjab on a regular basis since the early '70's, and they agree that the changes in that part of India are immense. In the beginning Delhi had more animal-drawn carts on the streets than motor vehicles, and massive numbers of people living in the streets. It's a very different picture now, they say.

Likely the dispossessed have been covered up better.


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RE: The veil of opulence

Shax, How much effect does the fairly large ex-pat community in Bangalore have on econmic status improvement of local citizens. I'd suggest the impact is tremendously positive.

The impact of wealth has done MUCH to create and advance the middle class globally. Why be so myopic in your thinking?


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RE: The veil of opulence

Pat, yes, the poor are covered up and hidden by the authorities very well. Slums are razed as the cities expand, then reappear slightly further away with monotonous regularity. The officials don't want the tourists to see them, so out of sight, out of mind.

jmc01. Myopic? I would never say that! I'm a supreme optimist, with hope for the future, and always look at the big picture. Which happens to include an overpopulated nation. That's a simple fact. But we shouldn't stop trying to improve the lives of as many as possible. And it's through the kids that the nation's future can improve.

Our charity now supports/aids several thousand severely disadvantaged Indian children who otherwise would have no education, food...even a bed. And we're growing, as well as bringing in other foreign and local partners to help. If I didn't have hope, I wouldn't bother trying to do any of this. I believe we all can make a difference, one step at a time, but it's just being realistic to admit that there are too many people in too little space. But each generation can improve on the previous one.

Bangalore is not a fair representation of India. As you noted, the city is full of expats, while the better educated Indians from all over the country flock to high-paying jobs in the new IT sector. It is rare to meet a native Bangalorean.

And the expats rarely mix with the locals. Most are here to make money, and choose to live in gated enclaves where they don't have to see the slums not far away. They eat western food and bury their noses in the morning newspaper as their driver whisks them in air-conditioned cars to their comfortable offices in the walled, very modern IT parks.

Bangalore is a very modern and affluent city, but not 15kms from its centre is where we find many of the kids in our hostel, 6 year olds breaking rocks from dawn to dusk in the granite quarries. There are 400 granite quarries less than an hour from Bangalore city.

The kids really are the future. Once educated, they can begin changing the ways of their parents' generation.

The large families common in India are a cultural thing, designed to ensure an income for all, even if only one family member can find a job. The elderly are looked after by their working children and grandchildren. It's their safety net in a nation that has no pensions or financial assistance (except for a few govt employees). These people have lived in poverty their entire lives, being paid a pittance with which to support their own families, often below the poverty line, so of course they have no savings for their retirement. Hence it's the kids' responsibility to support their old folk. It's a vicious circle that MAY be broken by educating and finding better paid jobs for the younger generation.

The situation is very complex and so hard to fathom for a westerner. You can't just apply western sensibilities and parallels to this part of the world. But there IS a chance for the future.
No myopia on my part.

Regards,
Shax


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