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101  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: CA: Deal Reached to Raise Minimum Wage to $15/hour on: April 02, 2016, 09:34:37 am
Am I the only one who doesn't think this is all that huge?  I mean, we're talking about 2022 here.  While it's true that with inflation at current rates, that is a significant increase, if inflation rises at all (which I think is fairly probable), it won't be that radical of a wage increase.

Unfortunately, it's to no one's advantage to emphasize this: Republicans want you to believe that this will "kill small businesses" and ruin the statewide economy, while Democrats want immediate credit for achieving the full increase to $15.

The same is happening in New York State, where Cuomo's minimum wage deal doesn't even achieve a statewide increase to $15: Upstate will only go to $12.50 in five years. But nuance doesn't sell, which is why this thread is a strange mix of Democratic triumphalism and Republican doomsaying.
102  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: CA: Deal Reached to Raise Minimum Wage to $15/hour on: April 02, 2016, 09:30:11 am

Uh, yes. Agricultural work is exhausting and I don't see why it shouldn't be compensated appropriately.


So why wouldn't supermarkets start ordering even more of their produce than they already are from Chile and Argentina? The importation costs would be more than offset by the labor savings.

If a Chilean strawberry is retailing 29 cents cheaper than a Californian one in a supermarket, the consumer's going to pick it every time.

One reason why I'm skeptical of these claims is that many employers in the agriculture and service industries are not following existing labor laws in the first place. (Some of these employers will even insist that their business model wouldn't be viable if they were not already breaking the law.) Their employees do not have the power to challenge this, and the minimum wage increase will most likely mean nothing to them.
103  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: DC Madame Scandal - Who Is It? on: April 02, 2016, 09:09:36 am
It's definitely Bernie Sanders.
He's so old that he probably can't even have sex anymore.
Viagra!

The most shocking and scandalous part would not even be that Bernie Sanders was having sex with someone other than his wife - it would be that he was paying for it.
104  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: Opinion of Bernie's Income Tax Plan? on: April 02, 2016, 09:05:35 am
Absolute and utter garbage. The way Bernie and liberal groups have talked lately would make one think that "the rich" don't pay any taxes at all, when in reality, they pay the overwhelming majority of federal income tax already.

It's all about taking money from people who have earned it and giving it to people who have not.

My wife and I would literally have 27% of our income redistributed away from us, just by the Feds. Add in state income taxes and property taxes and you're looking at almost 40%. This means that all my work from January 1 to almost the end of May would be working to earn money for other people, and that doesn't even factor in payroll taxes. And then, after that's implemented, the left will still think taxes are too low.

Does it get more "entitled" than living in a developed country, benefiting from public services and (relatively) non-corrupt governance, and expecting not to pay for any of this? That is exactly what rhetoric about working until whatever date "to earn money for other people" implies.

It's Randian garbage, and few trends in American politics have been more corrosive to our politics than the emergence of this narrative as a leading concern for middle-class households. Living in this country, working in this country, being a citizen of the United States means accepting the obligations that come with that, including paying taxes on your income. It's a shame that even Democrats are afraid to talk about this in terms of duty.
105  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: Opinion of Bernie's Income Tax Plan? on: April 02, 2016, 08:56:27 am
Anyway, I wouldn't go so far as to say that I like the Sanders plan: It's a very rough policy proposal, as all platform statements are.

But is it better than Clinton's absurd, reckless, and infeasible, pledge not to raise taxes on households earning less than a staggering $250,000 per year? Absolutely. Is it a better starting point for tax reform than the flat tax charlatanry that Trump and Cruz are peddling? Of course it is.

Given the level of public services that Americans currently enjoy and claim to prioritize, taxes need to go up on most of us, and some of us - including any family with an income of $300,000 which is above the 98% percentile for income - need to pay much more.

The only people who are currently paying "too much" are people at the lower end of the income distribution, some of whom are literally being taxed into poverty, others who face effective tax rates of  - *gasp* - above 50% (!) because they earn just enough to become ineligible for certain kinds of public benefits. (And, taking LvP's points into account, this mark against the Sanders plan is much less severe than Vox's calculations would make it seem.)
106  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: Opinion of Bernie's Income Tax Plan? on: April 02, 2016, 08:44:40 am
linusvanpelt, one of our best posters, had a few keen points of criticism with regard to these calculations on AAD. I hope that he doesn't mind my re-posting them here. I do so less to defend the specifics of the Sanders tax plan than to demonstrate that Vox's policy analysis tends to be shallow and overconfident in its (frequently unspecified) assumptions:

Quote
If I understand their description of the methodology (on a separate page) correctly, they are including the employer portion of your health insurance in your "income", so the tax increase will be offset not only by your premium but by the employer's premium payments as well.

It is really a misleading tool. Most people will just enter their gross income from their W-2's, but if you read the fine print you should be adding all non-taxable benefits to this total, including any employer pension contribution. It is based on "expanded cash income", which doesn't appear anywhere on your 1040. This is what it says on the Q and A site:

The calculator also uses a broader measure of income than adjusted gross income, or AGI, the basic measure used for the federal income tax. The broader measure, called expanded cash income, or ECI, includes income from various sources not subject to income tax and therefore not in AGI.

For example, ECI includes tax-exempt interest on municipal bonds, all income earned by Americans working outside the US, health insurance premiums paid by employers, and employer contributions to workers' retirement plans. People often fail to take account of income from those sources when they consider how much they make each year.

Despite this, the main page advertises it as a "simple calculator" and asks you to input your "income" without explaining this. Typical Vox.

[...]

They also appear to be including employer-side payroll taxes (social security, medicare), etc., in the taxes that "you" pay, on the grounds that payroll taxes are passed on to the employee in the form of lower wages. Thus they are imagining that under Sanders' plan, employers will cut all our wages by the amount of the increase in their payroll tax, and this is counted as a tax increase.

This may be the case over the long run, as economic theory predicts, but I think it can be questioned for low-income workers in the short run. First of all, for the lowest-wage workers, a wage cut will put them below the minimum wage. But even if that's not the case, do you really think every small store owner employing someone making $10 an hour is going to cut their employees' gross wage to something below $10 right when taxes are increased? The raw wage figure is very visible - the employees are aware of it and not aware of complexities of their tax rate. Many employers will just recognize that the hit to worker morale is not worth it.

For this reason, I suspect that Sanders' tax plan actually increases taxes on low-income workers less than a "calculator" like this predicts.
107  General Politics / Political Debate / Re: How would you solve the student debt crisis? on: April 02, 2016, 08:35:59 am
Ironically, many of those who profit from our corrupt, wealth-driven university system...are the same university people voting for Sanders. Though that might not actually stop him from reforming the system if he were put in a position to do so.

Your typical high-level, six- or seven-figure salary university administrator (or board member) is basically a textbook Clinton supporter/bundler.

The "education-industrial complex" has been firmly embedded within the Democratic Party's infrastructure for a long time. Some of this influence has been benevolent, other parts... not so much. That's just how interest group politics work. Unfortunately, the interests of students have never been organized enough or well-financed enough to serve as a counterweight to that influence in state or national politics.
108  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: New York counties on 4/19 on: April 01, 2016, 01:30:05 pm
Does anyone think Kasich might have a chance of winning Nassau or Suffolk? They both seem to have a lot of those awful "fiscally conservative but socially liberal" Republicans who would support a candidate like him, plus also they seem to have a fair number of Jewish Republicans who'd be turned off by Trump supporters doing Nazi salutes at his rallies (I suspect the Israel-Firsters will support Cruz, but the Super-Rich might vote Kasich).

I think he's more likely to win Monroe (Rochester), if he wins any large population counties. Buffalo would also be in play if Paladino weren't putting out hits on any local Republican who doesn't support Trump. But Northeastern NY should be his best territory: Clinton and Essex counties especially. The Capitol and Mid-Hudson regions should be relatively strong for him as well.
109  General Politics / Political Debate / Re: How would you solve the student debt crisis? on: April 01, 2016, 01:24:10 pm
I'm totally not understanding the logic behind the "forgive all the debt" idea.  How is that fair?  The poor people that worked their way through school (like one should if they don't have the money) get nothing and the lazy layabouts get a hand out?

Who are the ďlazy layabouts,Ē though? Not many people get through college without ever working or interning part-time. Most of us would have no hope of post-graduation employment without the latter. The exceptions are mostly either (1) people who donít need loans in the first place, and who have jobs waiting for them at graduation by virtue of their wealth and pedigree, regardless of prior experience or (2) people who were never really qualified to attend college, or who for some reason struggled to adjust to it, and who most likely dropped out by the end of their freshman year.

I think itís obvious that debt forgiveness is unfair in some ways. People assumed risks by attending private schools rather than public schools, or by majoring in a less remunerative/less employable discipline, and through countless other decisions. Other people chose to make sacrifices rather than expose themselves to the same level of risk.

But there comes a point at which you need to ask what kind of consequences are appropriate. Are tens of thousands of dollars in non-dischargeable debt, backed by no collateral, a reasonable burden for any person to bear? Especially, it should be added, when weíre talking about decisions made by young adults under the auspices of a culture, an education system, and government-backed landers that market college so heavily that any realistic assessment of its expected payoff is impossible. As if the distribution of wealth in this country were not already skewed enough toward the few, now many of us are expected to begin our adult lives with literally less than nothing to build on in terms of accumulated wealth.

On the policy front, the good news is that the Obama administration has done some good work in terms of expanding income-based repayment options for some students. But I think itís difficult to look at the cost of education or rising debt levels and conclude that itís been enough to make things better.
110  General Politics / Political Debate / Re: How would you solve the student debt crisis? on: April 01, 2016, 12:54:34 pm
Third, I would encourage kids going to college to NOT take out excessive loans.  You can be poor and graduate college without stupid amounts of debt.  People do it all the time.  Yeah, it will be harder and maybe longer.  So?  Will it be harder than making loan payments for the next 30 years?  Probably not.

There’s strong evidence that, in most cases, a highly motivated student will be better off taking out loans and going to class full-time. On average part-time and non-traditional students have worse grades and have higher rates of non-completion.

They also tend to exist on the fringes of campus life, which means missing out on a lot of opportunities for socializing and personal enrichment. For some non-traditional students, this isn't a big deal: They might already have families, hobbies, professional contacts, etc. But if you're a young person who's still growing into adulthood, this is harmful to your future in two ways: It’s likely to reduce your lifetime earnings, and it’s likely to stunt your development as a person. In addition, there’s a very real risk that lacking social support will reduce your likelihood of completing a degree in the first place.

The clearest problem with this strategy is that it involves a great deal of risk: If you fail to complete your degree, or if your career isn’t sufficiently remunerative, you will struggle to manage your debt and it could impede or delay any aspirations toward marriage, home ownership, social and geographic mobility, parenthood, or even retirement. But, if you’re concerned with what happens on average, or even to the median graduate, the numbers are in your favor.
111  General Politics / Political Debate / Re: How would you solve the student debt crisis? on: April 01, 2016, 12:36:34 pm
Here are a handful of general points that I think should guide efforts to move away from debt-financed higher education:

(1) Allow students who are already in heavy debt to enter income-based repayment programs, with complete forgiveness following 10-15 years of payments.

(2) Restore state (or make it federal, if necessary) funding for public universities to what it was decades ago, so that undergraduate tuition is no longer a primary source of revenue.

(3) Taper, and eventually terminate, federal aid and student loans for students at most private schools, including not-for-profits. Curb less tangible public subsidies for private institutions, including property tax exemptions, unless per pupil spending is kept to a reasonable level. Public institutions can provide the same education without spending extra to maintain a country club atmosphere.
 
(4) Limit eligibility for student loans to students who have done something to show that they are prepared for college and likely to benefit from the experience. (Something needs to be done for these students as well, but for the purposes of this discussion what matters is that encouraging them to attend college is harmful at both the individual and collective levels.)

(5) Totally reject debt as an instrument of guaranteeing access to higher education. The risks involved in taking out thousands of dollars in non-dischargeable loans as a young adult for a degree that wonít necessarily have large financial benefits are simply unacceptable, even if most students benefit and the payoff is positive on average.

Generally, people who donít have collateral should not be taking out loans. Nor should creditors be encouraged to grant loans to virtually anyone, regardless of expected payoff, which is what our current system for funding higher education encourages. We are not helping young people by burdening them with large amounts of debt at the outset of their adult lives. (Nor is a college degree that fails to lead to markedly higher earnings necessarily wasteful, but that's another discussion entirely...)
112  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: New York counties on 4/19 on: April 01, 2016, 10:37:14 am
Cruz
A couple of counties near the border of Canada (EX: Hamilton County) that tend to be more conservative.

I hope that this is a joke. (Although Hamilton County is weird; then again, it contains barely 5,000 residents and is the only county located entirely within the Adirondack Park.)

Cruz's best part of the state should be rural western NY, i.e. places like Wyoming and Allegheny counties. Expect Kasich to run well in the most affluent Rochester and Buffalo suburbs, the Albany area, and the Mid-Hudson. He may also do well in the ancestrally very heavily Republican parts of Northern New York, esp. near Vermont.

My early prediction for Trump is that he'll run very strong in the less affluent portions of the Buffalo and Rochester metro areas. His best county in upstate NY might be Jefferson (home of Fort Drum and one of the highest concentration of veterans in the Northeast).
113  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: DeBlasio to campaign for Hillary in New York (not a joke) on: April 01, 2016, 09:32:03 am
Sanders ought to hold a major press conference from the nearest glue factory. Tongue
114  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: Donald Trump picked a terrible time to have his worst week of the [POTUS race] on: April 01, 2016, 09:29:35 am
Again, let's reconsider after Trump wins New York State. I don't think it's likely that he reaches the majority threshold either, but Oakvale's is right about Cilliza: He's among the worst in the business.
115  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: John Kasich is having a news conference in New York within the hour. on: March 31, 2016, 08:54:53 pm
Oh geez this is just nuts.

...
116  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: Clinton Takes on Sanders Hecklers in NY on: March 31, 2016, 08:53:36 pm
Meh... not "presidential," to say the least. For a lot of reasons, I am increasingly glad that I'm not voting in a state that will be competitive in the general election,
I wish we were all as privileged as you to allow Republicans to criminalize abortion and roll back gay marriage.

You don't know me, and your candidate is not entitled to me vote. Spare me the condescending pieties.

I can tell you this: My vote isn't going to change because of how anyone's online supporters have treated me, but if I do choose not to vote for Clinton, the behavior that we've seen throughout this election from posters like you, Lief, Mondale, and bedstuy will have made me feel markedly more comfortable about doing so. Reflect on that before assuming the worst about anyone who disagrees with you.
117  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: Clinton Takes on Sanders Hecklers in NY on: March 31, 2016, 08:21:26 pm
Meh... not "presidential," to say the least. For a lot of reasons, I am increasingly glad that I'm not voting in a state that will be competitive in the general election,
I wish we were all as privileged as you to allow Republicans to criminalize abortion and roll back gay marriage.

If his state is not competitive, how is he allowing that?!?

Don't worry about Ebsy, he's just eager to mete out verbal abuse. That's not an attitude that lends itself toward nuance, or even coherence.
118  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Opinion of Classic Conservative on: March 31, 2016, 07:33:06 pm
I'll just note that I've met literal cult members who have a less tenuous grasp on reality and leave it at that.
119  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: Clinton Takes on Sanders Hecklers in NY on: March 31, 2016, 07:30:00 pm
Meh... not "presidential," to say the least. For a lot of reasons, I am increasingly glad that I'm not voting in a state that will be competitive in the general election,
120  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: Have we passed Peak Trump? on: March 31, 2016, 11:43:16 am
Maybe, but let's check again after he wins >50% of the vote in New York State, esp. if Kasich edges out Cryz for second.
121  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: More American Students Leaving US for College Education Abroad on: March 30, 2016, 11:32:58 am
Yeah, they're the sort of people who can talk about their favorite restaurants on multiple continents but who have never visited lower income neighborhoods of their own city. Or who brag about how the friends they made while studying abroad "broadened their horizons" while having no friends with a substantially different class background at home.
Yeah, but they argue with conservatives online so that makes up for it.
Look for these to turn into permanent moves, for the rest of their lives, if the reincarnation of Hitler is elected.

Unfortunately (for Americans, at least), immigration to most other developed countries doesn't work that way.
Won't most other first world places will take you in if you have a needed skill?  Of course very few people have those (hence why they'd be needed).  I know that's the case with Canada, you can't get in unless you have something they want (money or a needed skill) or are a legit and heavily vetted refugee.

One exception to this, is if you are willing to live in the Arctic for several years, it is substantially easier to get in. Of course, I doubt many people are willing to teach school in a community of 300 in -40 weather to get away from Trump.

That's actually a great way of getting through to people that there are real barriers involved: "Well, if you're willing to spend a few years living in Arctic isolation, I suppose it's not that hard..."
122  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Do the Atlas Forum mods operate as a cult? on: March 30, 2016, 08:15:27 am
You really don't have anything better to do with your time?

Aren't you pursuing a Phd in Political "Science?"

wow so edgy

Breaking: Ironic Trump supporter dismisses entire academic discipline as "waste of time"

As for the rest of this thread... f**king cringe.
123  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: More American Students Leaving US for College Education Abroad on: March 30, 2016, 06:40:00 am
Look for these to turn into permanent moves, for the rest of their lives, if the reincarnation of Hitler is elected.

Unfortunately (for Americans, at least), immigration to most other developed countries doesn't work that way.
124  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: More American Students Leaving US for College Education Abroad on: March 30, 2016, 06:37:43 am
For the most part Tony, I don't think the travel abroad experience is helping as many people as even you want to hope. Sure tons of ignorants go on their luxury vacation, but remember the vast majority of people don't even have a degree. It's best to separate the groups. No doubt ignorance of the world is widespread in colleges, but the majority in that segment probably does understand those matters quite well, particularly amongst the wealthy who can afford such a trip.

I mean yeah, as I said it's obviously a marker of privilege and that's a problem onto itself.

That said, I'm not as sure that rich kids are necessary much more aware of the world around them than poorer ones. There are plenty of wealthy, ignorant people

Yeah, they're the sort of people who can talk about their favorite restaurants on multiple continents but who have never visited lower income neighborhoods of their own city. Or who brag about how the friends they made while studying abroad "broadened their horizons" while having no friends with a substantially different class background at home.
125  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Ford vs Clinton on: March 29, 2016, 09:05:02 pm
I'll take the city-bashing Nixon goon over the triangulating sexual predator, I guess. It's a difficult choice between two of the worst presidents since the Civil War.
Ford and Clinton are worse than Andrew Johnson, Herbert Hoover, and Jimmy Carter? (and James Garfield, but he died before he could be bad)
Uh... why are you assuming Garfield would have been bad?

A real leader knows how to take a bullet and live, obviously. Tongue
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