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Confessions of a Member of the One Percent

Passing a kiosk in France recently, I noticed a magazine on the rack that promised to reveal to the multitude the secrets of the One Percent. The One Percent in question was, of course, that small and now infamous proportion of humanity that is separated from the 99 Percent by its wealth and, presumably, happiness and all other desirable things.

That humanity is now divided into these two categories has become the conventional wisdom. In a sense the division must exist (assuming that wealth can be measured precisely enough to draw the line properly, which may not be a justified assumption). By that token humanity could also be divided into the 47 and the 53 per cent, or the 34 and the 66 per cent. The number of divisions is infinite.

Obviously, those who like to draw the one-versus-99 line think theirs significant in a way that the other lines are not. The One Percent are apples whereas the 99 Per Cent are pears, or cats and dogs, that is to say beings of a profoundly and irreconcilably different nature.

This belief is no doubt the last gasp of dialectical materialism’s law of transformation of quantity into quality. According to this law, when a man grows rich enough he suddenly ceases to be a man like others and becomes—what, exactly? He is certainly not freed from what may be called the iron law of mortality, even if he may call upon the best medical services the world has to offer (though my observation is that people, including the rich, are not always very adept at choosing the best). He may be freed from several of life’s irritating circumstances, but he is not freed from the spectre of all human miseries whatsoever.

Moreover, if someone, by virtue of his earnings or others’ losses, passed from the Two Percent into the magical One Per Cent, it would probably bring him less satisfaction (assuming he knew about it) than the passage of a man from the poorest 10 per cent to the decile above him.

Unfortunately, the spread and influence of ideas is not necessarily proportional to the solidity of their foundation. I am sorry to say that, even though I thought from the first that the division was bogus, in the sense of not telling us anything new, and indeed was outright harmful in promoting anger, envy, and resentment, it insinuated itself into my mind. I started to worry about whether I was one of the One Percent or the 99 Per Cent.

This left me prey to conflicting thoughts. On the one hand, I knew that wealth as such was not a very elevated aim in life, nor indeed had I ever made it my principal aim or goal. On the other hand, a degree of economic prosperity is at least some evidence of worldly success—an imprimatur as it were, to which I have never been quite as indifferent as perhaps I ought to have been.

I need not have worried. A friend of mine who knows about such things because he is a share-promoter told me I had long since entered the ranks of the One Percent, as estimated by my convertible assets. So dependent on credit and so debt-ridden is our society that I was surprised when he told me how little net worth will put an individual into the One Percent.

It did not make me feel rich. Perhaps this is because I was very far from my friend’s definition of true wealth: to be able to live on the interest of one’s interest, or from the investment income from the investment income from one’s past investments. I was not even rich enough to feel that a new car would not be an unwise extravagance if it were unnecessary.

As to the means by which I crawled gradually, and without any such intention, into the lower reaches of the One Percent, they were unexciting and banal. My wife and I lived well below our income for more than 20 years and invested the rest under the guidance of an advisor of whose superior financial wisdom I had no real evidence, other than that I liked him. I am not even absolutely convinced that such wisdom actually exists. If success and failure in this field occurred by chance, there would be a normal distribution among financial advisors and investors, with some doing extremely well and others extremely badly, most of them being somewhere in between. As to my own judgment, let me admit right here that if I had had the misfortune to meet Mr. Madoff before his scheme was exposed, I should have trusted him implicitly. He had such a trustworthy face.

As indicated, this is not a very dramatic personal story; it hardly seems a good basis on which to distinguish me from the great mass of the 99 Percent. Nor did I change much along the way—or if I did it was not because of my slow accumulation of assets. My pattern of consumption and mode of life are not conspicuously different from those of many of my peers, except in so far as I have no television and buy many more books than most. It is true that my interests and amusements are not the same as those of most citizens, but that was so long before I joined the One Percent and would have been the case had I not joined it (or them). If it is really necessary to divide me from others by possession of some characteristic or other, my different tastes and interests would seem to me to be a better way to do it. The fact that I sometimes write art criticism, for example, distinguishes me far more clearly from my neighbors than do my assets.

Though I have no actual disdain for money, I have no desire, either, to make further ascents—to the 0.01 Per Cent, or even the 0.1 Per Cent. I am that exotic creature, a person content with his lot, at least economically. I fear to be poor (and to end up in the hands of the state, whose charity is simultaneously patronizing and heartless, rule-ridden and capricious) much more than I desire to be rich. But there is considerable scope for a reduction in my standard of living before I could count myself poor. In fact, I don’t really need much of what I have—but that is true of almost everyone.

The division of people by income or assets into One Percent versus 99 Per Cent as if they were creatures of different species is not so much descriptive or explanatory as incitement to those two most unattractive and destructive emotions: envy and resentment. If the category of hate-speech really exists, it is a prime example of hate-speech, with an historical pedigree and record no better than that of racist hate-speech.

Reader Discussion

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on September 25, 2015 at 09:28:40 am

Dr. Dalrymple,

You indeed write a nice story to which I relate but on a much lower economic level. For example, I work hard to convince my wife to go to the symphony (and we are tonight for the first time since last Valentine's, having paid $84 for our tickets). But I told her long ago, give me bed&bath, kitchen & table, her "flower" habits, and the authors (dead or alive) with whom I argue, and I am fixed for the next sixty years. However, you totally miss the unfairness with the statement:

"The division of people by income or assets into One Percent versus 99 Per Cent as if they were creatures of different species is not so much descriptive or explanatory as incitement to those two most unattractive and destructive emotions: envy and resentment."

Your soft terms "income or assets" typically obfuscate the ages-old class division Capital v labor. The asset class happily obfuscates from the labor class the "slow accumulation of assets." They extol "faith, family, community, and work," to keep laborers repressed with the ability of a person to earn his or her liberty on the eight hours, five days a person can sustain for forty years.

The asset class passes to their posterity the wisdom that assets are working for you while you sleep, amuse yourself, and shop to consume. But they make no effort to educate the poor to this secret of capitalism.

Please write back and speculate what would happen if the asset class did the work necessary to convince the poor to work to accumulate assets, no matter how low their income may be. For example, use the rule: invest 15% of earnings in every decade of life.

How would the poor being not only consumers but also asset owners affect American capitalism?

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Phil Beaver
on September 25, 2015 at 11:33:13 am

"The asset class passes to their posterity the wisdom that assets are working for you while you sleep, amuse yourself, and shop to consume. But they make no effort to educate the poor to this secret of capitalism."

Really? What are 401k accounts all about then? Is this not an attempt (somewhat successful, BTW) to broaden membership in the *asset* class? Or consider that all working man pension funds are predicated upon *asset* investments and I would add when one includes these pension funds (however, mismanaged many of them may be) it is likely that a majority of Americans are members of the asset class. Admittedly, many folks do not so identify as such - but the fact remains that a considerable portion of their wealth is asset based.

I suspect, however, that most of us are in some ways similar to Professor Dalrymple - we do not possess, nor do we care to make the effort required to attain, a solid understanding of *assets* and investments. Why not simply rely upon the expertise of some service provider. He or she is offering a good or service on the open market - choose it or not as you see fit.

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gabe
on September 25, 2015 at 11:54:31 am

I don't know about the 'Asset Class', our problem is the Pornocracy.

To quote Dalrymple:

"Not all the malnourished are drug-takers, however. It is when you inquire into eating habits, not just recent but throughout entire lifetimes, that all this malnutrition begins to make sense. The trail is a short one between modern malnutrition and modern family and sexual relations."

And not merely "modern malnutrition" but virtually all societal dysfunction.

There's an interesting graph representing the sexual market place (SMP) https://dalrock.wordpress.com/2013/08/24/womens-morphing-need-for-male-investment/

"One way to look at the chart above is not just in terms of attractiveness, but the relative power this gives the respective sexes as they age. Young women are the rockstars of the dating world. In one sense Rollo’s chart understates the scale of young women’s SMV power, because very few 38 year old men (the male peak in the graphic) will experience the kind of raw attraction power that the average 23 year old woman experiences. It is only when you include the female desire for male investment that the relative heights of the two curves come into balance."

This is a rather fundamental inequality. SMP is power, power corrupts the moral sentiments; the modern obsession, particularly of women, with equality mainly stems from SMV shaped expectations... (the women, and men, who lack SMV is the flip side of the same problem).

After their rock concerts in the seventies The Eagles had their roadies go into the audience to hand out 'Third Encore' buttons to the 'beautiful' girls... this was basically an invite to a drug fuelled orgy. Just imagine how many unsexy girls got passed over and discovered militant feminism in the process.

Much of society works like that... infidelity is common and so too is bad faith. No surprises if such a society produces a corrupt 1%. As much as the thought appals me it's almost certainly better that a minority of corrupt billionaires horde their money... have several hundred-million-dollar yachts etc than have that money enabling thousands of people on the lower rungs of the pornocracy to give full expression to their proclivities... yes they pretty much do anyway, hence the deficit and attendant ecological damage etc.

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Kiljoy
on September 25, 2015 at 12:39:22 pm

Gabe,

Is "really" intended as a conversation stopper? An empty rebuke? How did you use it? There's a culture that allows people to collaborate: let's go there.

I want a response to "How would the poor being not only consumers but also asset owners affect American capitalism?"

The poor are not 401K owners.

If you want to contribute to PL&DG, think about my question you quoted and the intro, "The asset class passes to their posterity the wisdom that assets are working for you while you sleep." What do the poor pass on to their posterity?

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Phil Beaver
on September 25, 2015 at 12:55:56 pm

What amazes me is why anyone should care or be interested in the amount of wealth other people have. Why is it anyone's business? Of course for years agitators and demagogues,especially on the Left, have used Class Warfare to attain power. But if you eliminate crony capitalism,which is a part of the 1%,why should anyone want to stick their noses into the private financial life of a successful businessman. Collectivists have always acted under the guise of the zero sum game. Envy and coveting is part of the Left's arsenal for attaining power through the ballot box. That is that wealth somehow falls from the sky and the greedy 1 percent are stealing more than their "fair share" and thus the power of the state must intervene to redistribute "the wealth." If someone creates their wealth in a "hands off" market economy that wealth,no matter how large or small,belongs to that individual. It doesn't belong to an abstraction called "the society." Its the individual's wealth. Once a nation goes down the road of undermining property rights by placing the fruits of one's labor into the category of redistribution then that nation economically and politically is doomed. In essence,without property rights their are no rights.

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libertarian jerry
on September 25, 2015 at 13:05:01 pm

Kiljoy,

Your reference says, "Go back to the previous essay, or you won't understand this one." The graph and your comments touch my concerns: death, pain, and misery brought on by Pornocracy.

Sex is a powerful animal phenomenon. The most aware animal, the human, invents sexual gratifications far surpassing varieties the rest of the animal kingdom might discover. The polyamory crowd invented polyfidelity. My guess is that these people have so much control of their sex drive that real fidelity does not matter. I'd say such people are not faithful to physics, self, or sex partner, yet they can have sex.

In my monogamy, every time I wanted to make love, psychology dominated the scene: if I could not woo my wife, my readiness to make love lost its blood pressure. There was one exception in forty-sex years of marriage--a time when my wit accomplished what my best amor could not. There were times when we had sex, but normally, we made love. We still do, but now it's all psychological. I many ways, it's the best of all times. One can observe this phenomenon in this video poetry: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NGorjBVag0I .

The education system needs to be reformed so that before puberty every person understands both human reproduction (sex) and formation of human relationships that lead to life's greatest rewards, which I am in no position to evaluate, since I have only experienced adolescent heterosexual sex prior to monogamy for life. One idea that seems absolute to me, though, is fidelity to physics, self, partner, and beyond.

After I have read your articles, I may post again.

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Phil Beaver
on September 25, 2015 at 13:49:37 pm

The poor however one defines them may indeed be asset owners. Many of those classified as poor are members of industrial or service unions. These unions provide pension benefits; as such they are dependent upon the performance of *assets* for their retirement security.
There are of course many poor, who for whatever reason, do not share (participate?) in these benefits. Some choose not to work, some are prevented from doing so by either physical or mental infirmity. To lecture them on the benefits of asset wealth accumulation seems, to me at least, somewhat pointless. The possibility of them engaging in such activity is rather questionable; nor is it likely that even after being so advised that they would be so disposed as to actually pursue this means of acquiring wealth.

More importantly, I can assure you from my own experience counseling my own organizational subordinates on the benefits of 401k's that a) significant efforts are and have been made to so advise people of the advantages of *assets* and b) a substantial proportion of people are somewhat more "time-horizon" limited than your arguments would otherwise suggest.

Now as to " “How would the poor being not only consumers but also asset owners affect American capitalism?” - one need only look to the increase in economic activity following the Reagan Administrations introduction of the 401k program. The number of folks "participating" more directly in the market rose significantly as did the amount of available capital for overall economic growth.

As for "really" - it was not intended as a conversation stopper - rather as a point of emphasis to highlight what I believe is a factual flaw in your position.

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gabe
on September 25, 2015 at 14:23:40 pm

Jerry, referring to your sentence "Once a nation goes down the road of undermining property rights by placing the fruits of one’s labor into the category of redistribution then that nation economically and politically is doomed. In essence,without property rights their are no rights."

Respecting words, I'd like to discuss "We the People of the United States," as this nation; and "property" as the land the people share--the USA. "We the People of the United States" ostensibly authorizes limited powers to the central government of the USA. However, "We the People of the United States" is divided: part want no-harm personal liberty and domestic goodwill--PL&DG--and part want alienation. We need to recognize this distinction and establish A Civic People of the United States who use the preamble to the constitution for the USA to collaborate for PL&DG. That's what our website discusses.

Federalist 10 addresses alienation as factions:

"So strong is this propensity of mankind to fall into mutual animosities, that where no substantial occasion presents itself, the most frivolous and fanciful distinctions have been sufficient to kindle their unfriendly passions and excite their most violent conflicts. But the most common and durable source of factions has been the various and unequal distribution of property. Those who hold and those who are without property have ever formed distinct interests in society. Those who are creditors, and those who are debtors, fall under a like discrimination. A landed interest, a manufacturing interest, a mercantile interest, a moneyed interest, with many lesser interests, grow up of necessity in civilized nations, and divide them into different classes, actuated by different sentiments and views. The regulation of these various and interfering interests forms the principal task of modern legislation, and involves the spirit of party and faction in the necessary and ordinary operations of the government."

Federalist 10 goes on to argue pure democracy v republican governance and posits that by having elite patriots rise up from the states, the federal government will always have a supply of men of integrity who will wisely control distribution of the USA. After 226 years operation we see it does not work that way.

In the simplest argument, the elite are reacting to the foolishness of the federal government by increasing their income sufficiently to perceive they are protecting wealth for the children, grandchildren, and beyond such that they can carry an increasing poor class. They are doing this by emphasizing to the poor that the way out of poverty is faith, family, community and labor. So, the naive or gullible poor work harder to increase the benefits of labor, they do not save that 15% that can be saved at any income level and put it into assets such as US stocks to be grown for both security and to rise out of poverty--break the chains.

American capitalism needs to be tweaked so as to include all posterity in both sides of the capital system: every infant growing its person to be both consumer and owner in the American capital market.

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Phil Beaver
on September 25, 2015 at 14:44:38 pm

"counseling my own organizational subordinates on the benefits of 401k’s that a) significant efforts are and have been made to so advise people of the advantages of *assets* and b) a substantial proportion of people are somewhat more “time-horizon” limited than your arguments would otherwise suggest."

How does it happen that you cannot influence subordinates to appreciate accumulation of assets and how does it happen that you have subordinates in the first place? [The second question can be ignored, yet it relates.] Does your organization constantly remind emplyees to live on 85% of income and save 15%--so that a margin of their accumulation can be use for emergencies so they don't need to tap the 401K? Would it work? is moot if it is not being taught.

I have in mind an endowment program where in your subordinates would already have stakes in American capitalism. Just as the progeny of the elite population are confident of their importance to a civic people, every person who has performed well in the 20 to 25 years it takes to acquire basic understanding so as to embark into adulthood knows there is a stake in America that has their name on it. And at each point in the accumulation of that stake they are reminded of the importance of assets and living on 85% of income.

With that program in place, I assert that American capitalism would enter a new era of affluence. Welfare would decrease. The social security program could disappear in about three decades.

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Phil Beaver
on September 25, 2015 at 15:17:51 pm

The class divide is driven in part by partisan gaming, and in part by the very human tendency to evaluate by comparison.

Our earliest ancestors needed to be able to compare two apples to determine which is the better one to eat, the small green one or the big yellow one.

They did not compare apples to the abstract concept of "appleness." They compared one apple with another.

We still tend to think in terms of comparison today. Propagandists understand this. It isn't enough to denounce the personal accumulation of wealth. They must set up a manipulative comparison to better persuade those folks who lack the capacity to know better.

In other words, the one percent comparison is a Jedi mind trick. It only works on the weak minded.

After reaching a certain level of accumulated wealth (enough to retire on) you are a small, privately held, investment company putting cash into likely profit-making businesses. That means more production of desirable goods, and more jobs. Redistributing the investment wealth is actually just destroying investment, desirable goods, and jobs.

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Scott Amorian
on September 25, 2015 at 15:59:56 pm

What digressions on a theme !

The essay focused on the false premise of the criterion (ia) selected for observing the differentiations in society.

Comment to original post:

"Your soft terms “income or assets” typically obfuscate the ages-old class division Capital v labor."

Which seems nothing more than an effort to suggest or substitute a different criterion (which the original did not imply) upon which the commentator takes off on his own frolic; disregarding the proven invalidity of that "Marxian" take.

Gabe, on the other hand, does approach descriptions of the "segmentation" of society with the issue of describing "poor."

We might (once again) apply the thinking of Carl Jacob Jacobi to this issue of the segmentations of society (here and abroad) and - INVERT.

Start from a lower (bottom?) segment, economically and motivationally (indicated in part by inter-generational social mobility) and then move up.

Yes, one could look (but not exclusively) at the amounts and **kinds** of assets, the amounts and kinds (sources) of "incomes."
But, one should also consider the perception of "posterity" held by the generation(s) preceding those in the present segments and the effects on motivations - how the formations of motivations are transmitted (or lost). Having done so one could move on to examine the perception (and sense of linkage) of members of present segments of, to and with a "posterity ."

On such an examination, it will probably soon appear that there are broad asynchronous and asymmetric spectra of such segments. We already observe that the "1% Economic Spectra" has the highest "churn rate" in terms of mobility (by economic measures). There seems to be a "lowest percentile" with an almost fixed churn rate (an "underclass').

In all that, "assets" and incomes (however classified) are more likely symptomatic and probably have less to do with segmentations than do motivations and the conditions for their formation.

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R Richard Schweitzer
on September 25, 2015 at 17:59:21 pm

"How does it happen that you cannot influence subordinates to appreciate accumulation of assets and how does it happen that you have subordinates in the first place? [The second question can be ignored, yet it relates.] "

Quite simply because people make choices and ought to in a *civic* society be able to make such choices. It is the difference between the choices that they made AND the choices I made that may account for the fact that they were subordinate.

Your *endowment* scheme, far from advancing American capitalism, would appear to be a prop fostering socialism.
And no, neither welfare nor Social Security would be eliminated simply because we gave people more free stuff.

Walker Percy decried the plight of modern man as follows:

"modern man’s fondest assumption, that he has made the world over for his happiness and that therefore he must be happy.”

Percy saw this for the folly that it was and like others was able to recognize that there would always be another *grand scheme* to remake man / society in the belief that happiness would result.

Like Percy, I ain't buying any of it. Within a civil society, ultimately, we are alone in the choices that we make. Some of us do better than others at the task; some of us are able to do so without disregarding the needs of our fellow citizens - some do not. I suspect it will always be so!!!

Unless, of course, the eschaton is immanentized - are yopur proposing to do so?

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gabe
on September 26, 2015 at 00:24:03 am

"would appear to be a prop fostering socialism" is predictable.

The endowment comes as a bargain. The child must demonstrate that indeed he or she acquires personal autonomy and advances to collaborative autonomy. The money stays in the child's name until he or she reaches age 30.5. If he or she defaults, for example becomes a criminal, the endowment reverts to the state.

Passing the legislation would be difficult from both sides of the age-old debate: capital v labor. However, a civic people can get it done, because they are left bearing the cost of the present American capitalism.

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Phil Beaver
on September 26, 2015 at 07:30:05 am

Thank you for your reply Phil.

"Sex is a powerful animal phenomenon".

Sex is *the* powerful animal, human, social (and particularly anti social) phenomenon.

In another recent essay by Dalrymple, he takes issue mainly with a quote from the Lancet:

"A new agenda for sexual and reproductive rights is needed that recognises the full scope of people’s sexual needs, and enables all people to choose whether, when, and with whom to engage in sexual activity; to choose whether and when to have children; and to access the means to do so in good health."

To quote Roger Scruton

"When Eleanor Roosevelt and her advisers framed the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1945, they were seeking an impartial standpoint from which the various regimes and legal systems could be judged. The UN Declaration was to lay down a universal standard, which would be acceptable to everyone since it was founded in human nature alone. And the Declaration begins with a list of freedoms, in the manner of its predecessors, emphasizing that rights are limits to the power of the state and guarantees offered to each of us that we can be both governed and free.

By article 22, however, the emphasis has changed from freedoms to claims, and among the rights supposedly guaranteed by the Charter are radical claims against the State – claims that can be satisfied only by positive action from government. Here is article 22:

Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.

Contained within this right is an unspecified list of other rights called ‘economic, social and cultural’, which are held to be indispensable not for freedom but for ‘dignity’ and the ‘free development of personality’. Whatever this means in practice, it is quite clear that such alleged ‘rights’ can be guaranteed not by limiting the power of the state but by increasing it, and also by empowering the state to take as much of the property of its citizens as would be necessary to guarantee the ‘dignity’ of those who need a slice of it. The agenda has shifted from liberalism to socialism, without any indication of why or how."

As for a previous comment "modern man’s fondest assumption, that he has made the world over for his happiness and that therefore he must be happy.”

Well, here's something I wrote a few weeks back. I don't know who Vincenzo Ferrone is other than that he has written a book on the Enlightenment; I read the introduction and...

... in it he writes of "the truly revolutionary discovery of the natural right of man to pursue happiness as the ethical foundation for a new universal morality."

Well I'm not opposed to happiness but... I think of when in Pride And Prejudice the newly 'wedded' Lydia makes her appearance; in spite of all the distress she has caused she somewhat triumphantly takes what was Jane's place at the table. A disgusted Elizabeth looks on; later she reflects:

“How Wickham and Lydia were to be supported in tolerable independence, she could not imagine. But how little of permanent happiness could belong to a couple who were only brought together because their passions were stronger than their virtue, she could easily conjecture.”

And then in the opening scene of Persuasion, there is, as I recall, a kind of Burke's Peerage left open at a page of Eliot, as it were, with the emendation of Mary Eliot (now Musgrove). Mary being the youngest daughter, having apparently internalised much of her ridiculous and vain father's worldview (a regressive 'conservatism', I suppose) she married young... and a little like Lydia, I presume, a significant part of the attraction of marrying was getting one over her older siblings. She is consequently a discontented neurotic (oh how she would love feminism).

[of course, to be fair, a woman in those days didn't have much in the way of options, getting married young was hardly likely to be merely motivated by petty sibling rivalry]

On the scale of happiness Anne is hardly faring much better but crucially anyone of any sense (who knows her) is likely to admire and love her for her dignity and good sense.

Roughly, I'd say dignity, self respect... self possession, circumspection etc, these qualities are hardly the guarantee of happiness as most people (including Ferrone, I suspect) would conceive of it. And if Ferrone doesn't conceive of it as such [that is, largely deriving from pleasure, but especially sexual pleasure] he's hardly about to spell it out.

He seems to be a champion for a unified Europe, or rather the 'European construction'... based on universal cosmopolitan ideals, a "legitimate existential aspiration", but this, as is becoming more and more obvious to the Germans, is national suicide.

Way off topic? I think, as is probably fairly obvious, that most of the wrong-headedness stems from a failure to subordinate the libido (Eros, if I'm really generous) to Agape, to matrimonium... even in efficient, productive, Germany; it isn't so much about atoning for what happened seventy years ago.

To quote from Pride And Prejudice

Jane: "It is our vanity that fancies SMV means more than it does."

Elizabeth: "And White Knights take care that it should."

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Kiljoy
on September 26, 2015 at 07:42:43 am

Anne *Eliot*, I mean... Mary's sister, in Persuasion.

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Kiljoy
on September 26, 2015 at 10:04:39 am

Wonderful references to fiction, which I neglect.

"to choose whether and when to have children" This is the issue that disturbs me the most. Nobody considers the equality and dignity of the child. It seems that Supreme Court self-appointed god of dignity, Justice Kennedy, could care less about the dignity of a child.

You inspired me to pull down Marshall Berman's book The Politics of Authenticity, new ed. He analyses Montesquieu's Persian Letters. On page 52, Berman writes, "A central theme . . . is that a person can get satisfaction only with other people, not from them; that to enjoy them, one must respect their authenticity." I think of "personal autonomy," as "authenticity."

I cannot separate "respect their authenticity" from "be faithful to physics, self, and them." Thus, if I am with a woman and sense conversation becoming too intimate, I change the subject to my wife and keep it there. I think I am being faithful to what I know about passion, my wishes for myself, my wife, and the woman who for some reason may be a candidate for adultery--mine and perhaps hers. If a man proposes something "new age" like starring in each other's eyes, I respond, "I reserve such intimacy for my lovely wife."

The other party may argue that i am repressed, and I respond, "Not so. I will not compromise my liberty." Liberty is a powerful substitute for "happiness," which is sometimes hard to define. With fidelity, I possess liberty, and so does my wife--my daughters, too.

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Phil Beaver
on September 26, 2015 at 10:15:38 am

Scott:

Luv'd it! Jedi mind trick is perfect.

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gabe
on September 26, 2015 at 10:18:38 am

Yes, but does that make you part of the 1% - a stable and sensible home life may be one criteria for the evil 1%.

And how did we get into fidelity? - quite a departure from Professor Dalrymple's essay, wouldn't you say?

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gabe
on September 26, 2015 at 10:35:23 am

Richard:

Quite right!!

Without a sense of "posterity", i.e., the *obligations* that we have to posterity ALL such schemes as advocated by Mr. Beaver will fail - and fail abysmally. Limited by a truncated "time-horizon," the re-distributed wealth passing to the time limited will be rather rapidly dissipated - oftentimes in some rather socially unproductive manner.

Thus, the truth behind the phrase: "They don't require an IQ test when issuing a checkbook."

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gabe
on September 27, 2015 at 08:41:35 am

I imagine underlying motives for objection. In the child endowment plan I'm thinking of, even the children of the 1% would be included. I suspect that the 1% more than the rest would resent the bargain being made: a civic people make it clear to the infant that he or she is a person, by granting him or her a stake in United States stocks. As the child progresses and demonstrates progress toward personal autonomy and later collaborative autonomy, the stake increases. At age 30.5 the stake is available only to the emerged adult--to spend, roll-over, or whatever. The rub is that some of the 1% don't want their child to become personally autonomous. William Faulkner's "Barn Burning" gives a good example of the effect of a taste of justice on a 10 year old boy; poor as he is, he walks away.

And Kahlil Gibran's "On Children," states the status of the child the endowment program by a civic people would effect. Here's my civic adaptation:

Your children are with you yet belong not to you.
You give them your love but not your thoughts, for they have their own thoughts.

Gibran claims a child is a person. When parents default, a civic people takes charge of the children. Because so many parent's thoughts are not compatible with their children's thoughts, some 30% of Americans are involved in child abuse (see Marci Hamilton's books). A civic people has a duty to its children to recognize them as persons before it becomes a reaction to abuse, neglect or murder.

Many people read the preamble to the constitution of the USA as though it is describing "them." Most people claim they are of "We the People," but some have no regards for the civic contract the sentence expresses. Many don't have a firm grasp of "posterity." I think the preamble should be contemplated by each individual and with understanding, they should ask themselves, "How much of this is obsolete and how would I modify this sentence so that I would commit to it and trust it for my civic collaboration?"

With such an experience, many people would come to understand "posterity" means children, grandchildren, and beyond. Once there, it is not a long step to my children, my grandchildren and my family beyond them. With such perspective, I doubt a people would allow their Supreme Court, Administration, and Congress to incur 19 trillion dollars in debt. Nor would they try to saddle their posterity with the task of continuing to alienate the poor by not involving them in the ownership side of American capitalism--keeping them enslaved to income, never enlightening them to assets.

I want you on-board to discover how my idea can actually work rather than sit back and pick at it. My children's future is at stake.

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Phil Beaver
on September 27, 2015 at 09:57:16 am

'@ P B

None of this was intended to be about you, or about any of us.

The theme concerned the manner in which the segments of our "society" are observed "popularly" i.e. "the 1%," a simplified income or assets criterion.

Do we want to "study" the segmentation of our social structure to some end of eliminating what is false in the views with the hope of understanding what is more often true and useful to maintain some cohesion? If so how should we go about it - and- what is false or deficient about the 1% - 99% viewpoint?

To complete your reference: Children come through us, not from us. To understand something of the differentiation in the segmentations we should be aware of the differentiations in those very concepts.

Again, these exchanges are not about us, they are about ideas and gaining understanding.

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R Richard Schweitzer
on September 27, 2015 at 11:52:36 am

Mr. Schweitzer, so ignore me. But address the issue:

Centuries of capitalism has worked to keep the poor poor. In the last fifty years the a civic people's distribution of GDP has been distributed at exponentially increasing advantage to the wealthy elite. The elite tacitly works to cover the increasing welfare state with higher possession of a civic people's GDP, so that the welfare load can be sustained. The elite pass laws that protect their children, grandchildren and beyond, obfuscating the systems of control. The misery and travesty of the welfare state means nothing to its perpetrators.

They lecture the poor that they can pull themselves up by their bootstraps, mindlessly hoping to entrap them in the advice, "faith, family, community, and work," (FFCwork) will pull you up and it's up to you. The gullible ones start with a job at McDonald's and work hard on education in the professional field or domestic service they choose, building debt, because they do not have the backing of elite parents. Yet they have that hope: FFCwork. So they finish school, get a job, and try, working for the elite, to earn higher pay. They are limited to 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, or 2100 hours a year and the progress they can make in forty years. (Meanwhile the elite oversee operations and enjoy income from assets.)

The poor drift through life never realizing what they could have been coached to know: since your single cell beginning was not among the elite, you will not be made aware of the secret: live on 85% of what you earn throughout your life, as a means of digging out of poverty. Learn to tell that child that needs a bicycle to wait one more month because the 15% savings for this month is all that is left from the earnings this month. With this failure to coach, We the People of the United States feed the cycle of poverty; A Civic People of the United States proposes to change the cycle of abuse of poor, child persons--citizens already but subjects of civic abuse.

The poor are consumers and thus an essential side of the capital market. Each poor infant is essential to American capitalism and will emerge an adult who is essential to the market. Since infants are essential to American consumerism, they are owed a stake in ownership of American capitalism just a certainly as children of the elite are assured larger stakes in American capitalism. With the knowledge that they are appreciated by a civic people, and with an endowment plan that demonstrates to them over 30 years time (for the best performing infants, less for children who express alienation to facts and understanding), most people emerge 30.5 year olds who understand. Children of the elite are included in this plan to make certain they know they too are appreciated by a civic people.

The consequence is American capitalism with reduction of debt and eventually more productivity (and wealth) than the 1% ever imagined.

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Phil Beaver
on September 27, 2015 at 13:38:39 pm

'@ P B

The point was to explore and compare ideas (yours included) and ways related to understanding the segmentations of "our" society; not the effects of such segmentations - more toward how to properly identify them, rather than by an over-simplified "assets-incomes" sets of views.

You now digress into other issues and views that are significant on their own.
As Gabe noted, delineating the "poor" and the characteristics of that segment called "the poor," is one thing. But, to try to establish the "why" of an un-delineated "poor," as "caused by conduct of others is NOT the "issue" here, in this theme.

What are your delineations of the characteristics of those who constitute the "poor;" the "elite;" the "ordinary;" or, any other segments you choose? How does the concept of Posterity fit into the characteristics of each?

As to the other issues you last raised, if you care to post your Email, I will respond privately.

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R Richard Schweitzer
on September 27, 2015 at 17:48:17 pm

Radical skeptics make up challenges with bars to jump and when you jump them they introduce new bars. It's better to converse openly.

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Phil Beaver
on September 28, 2015 at 01:36:07 am

Richard............A wise man once told me that if you argue with an idiot people watching the argument won't be able to tell who the real idiot is.

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libertarian jerry
on September 28, 2015 at 03:46:43 am

The people who attempted to occupy Wall Street, being Americans, probably knew nothing of class distinctions. It was hammered into us during the cold war that we were a classless society and therefore immune from the communist revolution. When Americans speak of the middle class they mean middle income. The one percent meme is not a mathematical calculation. It is an attempt to differentiate between the ruling class who are few and the working class who are many. While all classes share their common humanity the rulers have very different lives and political agendas than the workers. Clumsy as the 99 percent meme is it still serves it's purpose of consciousness raising. Meditating on this meme the 99 will realize that to get to 99 they must include black and white people. Men and women. Church goers and non believers. Old and young. Democrats and Republicans. Everyone in fact who is not among the ruling class. And so, inasmuch as the 99 are political beings, they have a common adversary in the "one percent". This realization tends to reduce divisions and lead to solidarity which is the only, if considerable, political weapon of the working class. Is Mr. Dalrymple employing people at starvation wages? Is he bribing politicians and officials? Is he a war profiteer or a monopolist? These are some of the habits of the ruling class that bring them into conflict with the working class. If Mr Dalrymple is innocent of these behaviors then he can feel unfairly stigmatized by the 1 percent meme just as many of Romney's 47 percent are unfairly stigmatized.

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WorkingClass
on September 28, 2015 at 10:23:11 am

Gee, some of this sounds like an *inf0-mercial* on late night TV - Ahh! the secret will be divulged, tune in for more!

And why create strawman arguments against Richard's rather pointed commentary / analyses?

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gabe
on September 28, 2015 at 11:08:29 am

Where infidelity is common so to is bad faith... to quote Elvis "We can't go on together with suspicious minds" https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=cYjv9uWxW94

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=7xohWvO9i4c

There does seem to be some substance to the '1%' thing, as to whether the richest people are evil? Or typically more evil than the majority, I strongly suspect not (hence the pornocracy, which is a problem at every level of society, the main kratos of evil that people should be concerned about).

Extreme wealth disparities are what I'd expect, given my above observations, and I think spurious class segmentations (the 'evil' 1%) for the purpose mainly of projection is part and parcel with that; it is bad faith in action.

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Kiljoy
on September 28, 2015 at 11:22:30 am

I assert that James Madison’s Federalist 10 contains false justification of an elite class.

The USA is an asset. Each newborn is essential to the consumption side of the USA asset. However, only the children of the elite benefit as owners. Non-owning children pass 40% of their lives before the possibility of ownership emerges. The children who are excluded from ownership often become defenders and sacrifice in war. It’s much like 98% of inhabitants of the South forsaking their opportunity at life to support interests of the 2% who were slave owners.

I propose to change the system so that newborns are candidates for appreciation as both consumers and owners respecting the USA asset. I do not propose a gift; A gift would result in abuse. I want endowments that encourage parents to plan and each child to take responsibility for his or her education--acquisition of the basic understandings needed to embark on adulthood (beyond age 30) leading to long life and no-harm personal liberty and goodwill. Children who prefer alienation or otherwise default, do not benefit. Children of the elite are included in the endowment program in the same way.

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p
on September 28, 2015 at 11:27:47 am

I suspect if you attempted to live the life of someone with financial wealth at the median you’d quickly see the difference between being part of the 1% and part of the norm. Particularly if you tied your median income, health insurance, and retirement plan to an employer and recognized the potential instability involved with all of your financial eggs tied to that one basket.

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FL Transplant
on September 28, 2015 at 11:48:35 am

Well written. However, our work proposes to include all factions, so that 100% rather than 99% are candidates for collaboration for civic morality. To read about it, please go to the website and focus on the folder "Discussion." Start there with the 7/12/15 post. (This is not Gabe's "infomercial" rather a reference.)

In 1787, 70% of delegates to Philadelphia saddled us with the impossible totality: We the People of the United States. It seems a tacit coercion by the elite more than a civic expression by the inhabitants. My point was supported in 1861 when We the People of South Carolina allowed John C. Calhoun and others to talk them into denying the country their ancestors had fought for.

In 1863, Abraham Lincoln dreamed governance of by and for the people. No one wants to be governed by the people: people want no-harm personal liberty and domestic goodwill--PL&DG. Candid discussions helped us modify our objective to: collaboration of and by a civic people.

Our work proposes to change the image of who we are to A Civic People of the United States. We think 70% of persons in all factions already want civic morality, but they are prevented from envisioning it by the factious pairings you listed. Especially problematic is religious morality, which strives for favorable afterdeath according to personal beliefs: only civic morality is a shared essential. We propose an over-arching culture of A Civic People, wherein each no-harm factious culture thrives. We envision 70% of persons in every chosen culture collaborating to establish and maintain A Civic People of the United States.

We write to motivate interest and collaboration.

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Phil Beaver
on September 28, 2015 at 13:10:04 pm

'@L J

Touche- spot on! Excelsior!

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R Richard Schweitzer
on September 28, 2015 at 13:19:19 pm

Folks who cast meanness often eat their words. (more in the wings for you, sir)

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Phil Beaver
on September 28, 2015 at 13:42:35 pm

It seems, based on humankind's history that fidelity begins with physics. For example, the earth revolves about the sun and those who say not after it has been proven break fidelity with physics. Physics is energy, mass, and space-time from which everything, including infidelity emerges.

Second, there's fidelity to self: to do the work necessary to understand the facts and discern imagination. Because there is so much to know, it is a task that seems to end at death. However, the work itself establishes personal autonomy leading to collaborative autonomy or authenticity. Authenticity requires recognition of other parties' personal autonomies.

Third is fidelity to collaborative autonomy. A few decades practice may lead to psychosocial maturity, perhaps in seven or so decades. For example, Mother Teresa may have been psychologically mature.

Our education project, A Civic People of the United States, seeks to reduce the time required and increase the incidence of psychological maturity.

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Phil Beaver
on September 28, 2015 at 14:10:05 pm

'@ W C (non European):

"The one percent *meme* is not a mathematical calculation. It is an attempt to **differentiate** between the ruling class who are few and the working class who are many."

Considered as a "meme," of course you are right. But perhaps you intended "repeated theme" or just "theme."

Still, you have touched on a, if not the, salient point which is the "drive" ( or drives) to differentiate and thereby segment our society; a "them and us" segmentation based solely on a particularly narrow "assets and incomes" identification (if not calculation) then given a label, the "Ruling Class."

Perhaps arguments can be made that there IS a "Ruling Class" of the 100% and its members are to be found within the 1%. Angelo Codevilla might demonstrate that falsity. So, let us drop down to the upper 49.5 % of the 99%, is there another "Ruling Class" amongst them? Is it within some similar 1% of that 49.5%? Is there another such class among the 99%?

What are the commonalities that bind the 99% together into "us," but exclude the 1%? If we could somehow "eliminate" the 1% would that increase the cohesion of our society; or would we still experience the drives to differentiate? As you point out:

the 99% as political beings ". . . have a common adversary in the “one percent”. This realization tends to reduce divisions and lead to solidarity which is the only, if considerable, political weapon of the working class." Take away that "common adversary and what happens to "solidarity" (cohesion) in your viewpoint.? Perhaps they do not have that adversary, at least not in sufficient commonality.

Our particular society has previously experienced periods of concentrations of assets and incomes. Did those give rise to the pressures of enormous public and private debt; to continuous "deficit spending" at many levels; to the abandonment of limiting principles in the use of governmental powers? If a "Ruling Class" caused all that let us turn to Pogo in facing that "common adversary."

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R Richard Schweitzer
on September 28, 2015 at 18:56:29 pm

Thank you for your response.

We have met the enemy and he is us. A profound if depressing truth. Human nature is the limiting factor which ultimately defeats any ideal of governance.

But we still have to put food on the table. In an imperfect world where increasingly the few have everything and the many have nothing I advocate solidarity among the working classes as a leveling device.

Solidarity by the way is like training wheels for brotherhood which offers a real solution to human problems. The Pope recently reminded the United States Congress of the Golden Rule. The congress ignored him of course.

Go in peace Mr. Schweitzer

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WorkingClass
on September 28, 2015 at 21:19:02 pm

really - sp this iw what "civic USA" reduces to - an asset. Well, as you folks seem to be disdainful of all who have assets, then i must question both your motivations and your understandings of civic association and comity. If this is not a *corruption* of postmodernism beyond even that of some of the most inane of the postmodernists, I don't know what is.

A civic association is not an asset - or it OUGHT not to be. I suppose that you would have as our sustaining myth (yes, myth, as all societies (successful ones at least) have a myth at their core. Some myths are simply better than others - but to think that you can motivate and sustain a civic association by referring to it as an *asset* is sheer folly. I can just picture many of the *deprived* thinking, "Well, it is an asset. I am part of it. Damn it, I WANT mine."

Yep, this will work out fine!

Gimme Money! as the Beatles used to say!

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gabe
on September 29, 2015 at 11:32:28 am

Mr. Gabe,
Your expressions seem to have turned to hatred for opinion you have not taken the time to understand and perhaps alienation against a person you do not know.

Maybe father of the country George Washington can help bring concern for what I propose. Here's General Washington, June 8, 1783: “At this auspicious period, the United States came into existence as a Nation, and if their Citizens should not be completely free and happy, the fault will be entirely their own.” Notice: he does not refer to the USA, as the victory at Yorktown represented only the thirteen United States. “We the People of the United States,” a totality assigned by only 70% of delegates to the 1787 convention, had not yet authored the draft constitution for the USA.

“There are four things, which I humbly conceive, are essential to the well being, I may even venture
to say, to the existence of the United States as an Independent Power: An indissoluble Union of
the States under one Federal Head; A Sacred regard to Public Justice; The adoption of a proper
Peace Establishment; and The prevalence of that pacific and friendly Disposition, among the People
of the United States, which will induce them to forget their local prejudices and policies, to make those
mutual concessions which are requisite to the general prosperity, and in some instances, to sacrifice
their individual advantages to the interest of the Community.”

In this paragraph, he outlines A Civic People of the United States. Essential phrases are “well being,” “Public Justice,” “Peace Establishment,” “pacific and friendly Disposition, among the people,” “forget local prejudices and policies,” “mutual concessions,” “general prosperity,” “sacrifice individual advantages.” Washington said nothing about preserving the traditions of common law and Protestant Christianity—Burkean principles. Washington was appealing to inhabitants for historical, global change that James Madison could not brook.

Our work posits that the totalitarian “We the People of the United States” is a false representation, because many inhabitants do not accept the goals that follow the subject of the civic sentence. We propose that the historically significant 70% of extant people would like living according to George Washington’s 1783 vision, and that it will never happen unless those people recognize themselves as committed to and trusting in candid collaboration of and by a civic people for the people. We assert that George Washington’s noble vision can be achieved if 70% of members of every no-harm domestic faction collaborate to establish civic morality, keeping religious moralities for private pursuits: what happens in a person's afterdeath is not a civic consideration. An over-arching, transcendent mediator is needed, and Albert Einstein proposed it in 1941. His only example is, and I paraphrase: We don’t lie to each other so that we can trust our statements. He goes on to state that with a well-thought out statement of each civic problem, a well-founded system can be developed.Thereby, the no-harm factions can flourish. Seventy-four years later, our group seeks to cultivate Einstein’s idea. Law scholars must be involved to effect the benefits.

In the case of the 1%, 0.7% become members of A Civic People of the United States and defeat the long-standing alienation of capital v labor. I have a proposal that empowers every child who does not choose a path of alienation to regard himself or herself as an appreciated member--A Civic Person of the United States. It represents about 15% of current welfare expenditures for the poor and aims to motivate children to take charge of their education over twenty-two years in preparation for adulthood after three decades maturing. I want to discuss it under George Washington’s noble attempt to start a new nation and Einstein’s idea of how to civic mediation to resolve otherwise intractable factions.

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Phil Beaver
on October 04, 2015 at 08:13:16 am

Public sector pensions have improved. A kind of redistribution of wealth in itself: from the private sector to the NHS.

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Harriet
on July 03, 2017 at 04:17:55 am

Confessions Of An East Coast Raw

[...] I had had the misfortune to meet Mr. Madoff before his scheme was exposed, I sho [...]

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