Unraveling of America? Is the decline of our "empire" a given at this point?

Irvrobinson

Irvrobinson

Audioholic Spartan
And just as important is we’re a nation of immigrants or children of former immigrants who’ve taken a shine to democracy.
Oh yeah, big time. Nothing like growing up with not enough of whatever to make you want more than enough.
 
KEW

KEW

Audioholic Overlord
The federal Minimum Wage was never intended to be a "living wage". It was established under great controversy in the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. The way the law is written it applies to teenagers gathering shopping carts as much as it does people who live independently. Raising the minimum wage to $12-$15/hour has effectively reduced opportunities available to youths, which isn't a good thing. Amazon warehouse workers earn a minimum $15/hr plus healthcare benefits, and a 401K plan with a 50% match; one of the reasons why I admire Amazon as a company.
Regardless of whether it was intended to be a "living wage". I think most people believe it would be good for the minimum wage for any "people who live independently" to be a "living wage". I assume you believe the same since you applaud Amazon for paying $15/hr plus good benefits.
Unfortunately, this is one place where bare capitalism falls shy of ideal.
I too applaud Amazon's owner/management for setting a high wage for warehouse workers. However, one important factor to recognize is that if Amazon had serious competition that paid their warehouse workers $10/hr and could thus beat their pricing, they would be faced with the prospect of reducing wages or failure. That is the reason why we need regulations. Even an employer who believes in "doing he right thing" by paying a livable minimum wage, cannot, if he intends to stay competitive. The same is true when it comes to environmental and work safety issues. Employers of good conscience are subject to being undercut by less scrupulous competitors. If my chemical company can dump waste into the river without enforcement, I should be able to run your chemical company out of busimess because you are spending the money/resources to dispose of the waste safely!

Just curious, couldn't stock holders call Amazon out for paying $15/hr plus bene's as a bad financial decision if they could establish that you could run a good warehouse at $10/hr? Where does the rule about fiscal responsibility to the shareholder end? Obviously no one is going to second guess Amazon while they are dominating the retail industry, but I am fascinated by some of these rules and how they almost tie owner's/manager's hands to force them (or enable them) to be assholes!

To me, it would make sense to have two separate minimum wage rates - one for "part-time student/teen workers" and one for "full-time adults" (not sure how best to designate these two groups). It also seems reasonable to simply tie it to inflation rather than have it sit stagnate for a decade from time to time!

I can't explain Trump or his supporters, and I won't try. I'm just hoping that Biden stays enough of a moderate to get Trump out of the White House.
For me, it is unusual for there to be 34% (ballpark of Trumps hard-core base) of the population. I think part of it goes to a strict philosophy of "anything anyone else gets means there is less for me" fear of changes that benefit the less fortunate. But the same people are willing to buy into "tax cuts for the wealthy will create more jobs and improve the economy". Don't misunderstand me, neither of these philosophies is absolutely wrong; but I'd bet on money to the poor getting back into the economy more than money to the wealthy.
Smart people create jobs when they see a good business opportunity, not when they get a tax cut!
 
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Irvrobinson

Irvrobinson

Audioholic Spartan
Regardless of whether it was intended to be a "living wage". I think most people believe it would be good for the minimum wage for any "people who live independently" to be a "living wage". I assume you believe the same since you applaud Amazon for paying $15/hr plus good benefits.

Unfortunately, this is one place where bare capitalism falls shy of ideal.
While I am politically right of center, especially regarding the economy, I'm actually a fan of many "guard rails" for capitalism. "Bare capitalism" as you call it, is just a magnifying glass for greed and selfishness for very ambitious people. Capitalism needs regulation which would not come naturally if one just focused on profit. Unfortunately, politicians who want to gain power by turning regulation into government control or union control are just as misguided, IMO.

I too applaud Amazon's owner/management for setting a high wage for warehouse workers. However, one important factor to recognize is that if Amazon had serious competition that paid their warehouse workers $10/hr and could thus beat their pricing, they would be faced with the prospect of reducing wages or failure. That is the reason why we need regulations. Even an employer who believes in "doing he right thing" by paying a livable minimum wage, cannot, if he intends to stay competitive.
I think Amazon has a different motive. I think they want to be seen as a progressive company that is seen as a positive force for society, and they think that's going to be good for business. Also, I'm sure Amazon thinks they're attracting a better grade of workers with greater compensation. Which company do think has a higher brand value? Amazon or Walmart?


People with money to spend tend to care about the factors that increase brand value.

The same is true when it comes to environmental and work safety issues. Employers of good conscience are subject to being undercut by less scrupulous competitors. If my chemical company can dump waste into the river without enforcement, I should be able to run your chemical company out of busimess because you are spending the money/resources to dispose of the waste safely!
No argument on this point. Pollution regulation is a required guard rail for capitalism. On the other hand, our asinine environmental impact laws need streamlining urgently.

Just curious, couldn't stock holders call Amazon out for paying $15/hr plus bene's as a bad financial decision if they could establish that you could run a good warehouse at $10/hr? Where does the rule about fiscal responsibility to the shareholder end? Obviously no one is going to second guess Amazon while they are dominating the retail industry, but I am fascinated by some of these rules and how they almost tie owner's/manager's hands to force them (or enable them) to be assholes!
Jeff Bezos is obviously a long-term, big-picture guy. That's the company culture. As a stockholder I'm pretty happy with the way Amazon is managed, even when Bezos tells me to "take a seat":


To me, it would make sense to have two separate minimum wage rates - one for "part-time student/teen workers" and one for "full-time adults" (not sure how best to designate these two groups). It also seems reasonable to simply tie it to inflation rather than have it sit stagnate for a decade from time to time!
This is one issue on which I can argue both sides equally well.

For me, it is unusual for there to be 34% (ballpark of Trumps hard-core base) of the population. I think part of it goes to a strict philosophy of "anything anyone else gets means there is less for me" fear of changes that benefit the less fortunate. But the same people are willing to buy into "tax cuts for the wealthy will create more jobs and improve the economy". Don't misunderstand me, neither of these philosophies is absolutely wrong; but I'd bet on money to the poor getting back into the economy more than money to the wealthy.
Smart people create jobs when they see a good business opportunity, not when they get a tax cut!
I agree. But you have say this for the Republicans, they're consistent. All they ever talk about is cutting taxes, and then when they get a chance to actually do it they execute it poorly, and always skew the benefits towards the wrong people (the people who have the most lobbyists). I'm not a trickle-down economics supporter.
 
GO-NAD!

GO-NAD!

Audioholic Ninja
Japanese Navy Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, who planned & directed the attack on Pearl Harbor, warned Tojo and his nationalist cabinet, who held sway in the government at that time, that an attack on Pearl Harbor was a fool’s errand, plus there was some personal animosity between the two, but he was overruled. Hideki Tojo was a general in the Japanese Army before becoming the Prime Minister and represented their interests.

They were all convinced the US would retreat to the mainland, giving them a free hand in Asia, and viewed the strong isolationist sentiments in the USA favorably. Yamamoto warned them that they would ‘awaken a sleeping serpent’ if attacked. He was viewed as a defeatist, not taking into account that he had spent time in the US, at Harvard University, from 1919 to 1921, and as a naval attaché in Washington, DC. He spoke fluent English and traveled extensively here before returning home in 1928.

Fascinating character and whip smart.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isoroku_Yamamoto

The impressive Japanese victory over the Russians in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904/1905 was still fresh in their minds, combined with their urgent need for oil, to maintain the momentum of the Chinese/Asian land invasions, and then they made the tactical error of attacking us.

The greatest protection this country has is geographically; with the Atlantic and Pacific oceans on each side, and blessed with rich farmlands, navigable rivers, oil and minerals.

And just as important is we’re a nation of immigrants or children of former immigrants who’ve taken a shine to democracy. As long as we remember that and don’t lazily give up those freedoms, no one can defeat us.

The ball is in our court. What are we going to do with it is the question.
At risk of appearing pedantic, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour was a strategic error. It was pretty successful, from a tactical standpoint, although not completely successful - they didn't catch the US Pacific Fleet's aircraft carriers. If they had, the next few months - perhaps the outcome of the war in the Pacific - could have been vastly different. If they had caught the carriers and sunk them, it wouldn't have mattered if the battleships were left completely untouched - they would have been almost useless without air cover. This was clearly demonstrated when HMS Repulse and Prince of Wales were sent to defend British Pacific colonial possessions without air cover and were promptly sunk by Japanese aircraft.
 
Irvrobinson

Irvrobinson

Audioholic Spartan
At risk of appearing pedantic, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour was a strategic error. It was pretty successful, from a tactical standpoint, although not completely successful - they didn't catch the US Pacific Fleet's aircraft carriers. If they had, the next few months - perhaps the outcome of the war in the Pacific - could have been vastly different. If they had caught the carriers and sunk them, it wouldn't have mattered if the battleships were left completely untouched - they would have been almost useless without air cover. This was clearly demonstrated when HMS Repulse and Prince of Wales were sent to defend British Pacific colonial possessions without air cover and were promptly sunk by Japanese aircraft.
Better for Japan and the Axis powers, or I suppose worse for the Allies, if Japan hadn't attacked Pearl Harbor the US isolationists might have won out, and the US might not have entered the war until much later. Pearl Harbor got the US serious about a war we had been watching mostly from the sidelines. Even once the US was in the war, there wasn't quite the alignment in the population that high school history lessons would have one believe. For example, there were still thousands of strikes and work stoppages in the US during the war years, which meant many workers did not perceive the Axis powers as a true threat to mainland security. (Even more telling that Roosevelt negotiated a no-strike agreement with the AFL and CIO unions, which prevented national strikes but not thousands of wildcat strikes.) Of course, as usual, company profits were protected more than workers' compensation and benefits. Nonetheless, I strongly suspect that if the Japanese had not made the "strategic error" of Pearl Harbor, the war might have gone very differently.
 
GO-NAD!

GO-NAD!

Audioholic Ninja
Better for Japan and the Axis powers, or I suppose worse for the Allies, if Japan hadn't attacked Pearl Harbor the US isolationists might have won out, and the US might not have entered the war until much later. Pearl Harbor got the US serious about a war we had been watching mostly from the sidelines. Even once the US was in the war, there wasn't quite the alignment in the population that high school history lessons would have one believe. For example, there were still thousands of strikes and work stoppages in the US during the war years, which meant many workers did not perceive the Axis powers as a true threat to mainland security. (Even more telling that Roosevelt negotiated a no-strike agreement with the AFL and CIO unions, which prevented national strikes but not thousands of wildcat strikes.) Of course, as usual, company profits were protected more than workers' compensation and benefits. Nonetheless, I strongly suspect that if the Japanese had not made the "strategic error" of Pearl Harbor, the war might have gone very differently.
We could "what if" it until the cows come home, but I have no argument with what you suggest.
 
KEW

KEW

Audioholic Overlord
Nonetheless, I strongly suspect that if the Japanese had not made the "strategic error" of Pearl Harbor, the war might have gone very differently.
Not arguing, just elaborating as I got interested in some details I did not know and read about the lead up to Pearl Harbor.

Yamamoto, the guy who engineered the attack on Pearl Harbor, believed it was a mistake to attack the US. He had spent time in the US and understood the scale of the country and the depth of its resources (esp. as compared to the limited resources of Japan).
In 1940, Japanese planners had calculated that the US had 74 times the industrial capacity and over 500 time the oil capacity of Japan.
However, Japan was hell-bent on not being controlled by the sanctions imposed by the US earlier that year:

Yamamoto knew he could not influence Japan's policy on expansion, and even though he thought attacking the US a mistake, he concluded that war with the US was inevitable and that the best strategy for a positive outcome (for Japan) would be to launch a devastating attack of such proportions as to shatter the will of the people of the US! It certainly had better odds than slogging through a protracted "war of endurance and depletion" which would surely play to the US's strengths.

So, I guess you could say that it was a strategic error for Japan not to resign itself to docile acceptance to the restrictions being placed on it by western powers. However, given that decision, Pearl Harbor was the best/only shot they had!

My point is that in a way, the war had already informally begun with Western restriction of Japanese expansion. (not saying that was wrong - I don't know much about how it came about).

... and I kind of feel like, even though it was in the 1850's, the Perry Expedition (aka Gunboat Diplomacy) should be cited as setting the tone for adversarial relations between the US and Japan.

It would be an interesting "multiverse series" if Star Trek was redone using the philosophy of 19th century trade/politics where the USS Enterprise's mission was to "go forth, seek out, and commandeer/capitalize any benefits afforded by alien civilizations"! :)
 
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Irvrobinson

Irvrobinson

Audioholic Spartan
We could "what if" it until the cows come home, but I have no argument with what you suggest.
You're right, especially about WWII; perhaps one of the greatest opportunities for what-ifs in history. It even got a novel and a TV series out of it. The Man in the High Castle. :)
 
J

Jeff R.

Audioholic General
I usually don’t weigh on this stuff. A few comments on Amazon. I work in the warehousing industry and Amazon is paying what most are paying. Heck we are paying $14-20 per hour plus performance incentives that can be an extra $2 per hour. Same benefits and 401k stuff as you mentioned. We pay these rates so that we can get and maintain workers who can contribute in a positive way. And we still struggle to find good help. Our turnover is super high and so is Amazon’s. Why do think they are always hiring? We or they could never drop our wage or we would not be able to operate our business.

Just a little insight from my world.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
GO-NAD!

GO-NAD!

Audioholic Ninja
Not arguing, just elaborating as I got interested in some details I did not know and read about the lead up to Pearl Harbor.

Yamamoto, the guy who engineered the attack on Pearl Harbor, believed it was a mistake to attack the US. He had spent time in the US and understood the scale of the country and the depth of its resources (esp. as compared to the limited resources of Japan).
In 1940, Japanese planners had calculated that the US had 74 times the industrial capacity and over 500 time the oil capacity of Japan.
However, Japan was hell-bent on not being controlled by the sanctions imposed by the US earlier that year:

Yamamoto knew he could not influence Japan's policy on expansion, and even though he thought attacking the US a mistake, he concluded that war with the US was inevitable and that the best strategy for a positive outcome (for Japan) would be to launch a devastating attack of such proportions as to shatter the will of the people of the US! It certainly had better odds than slogging through a protracted "war of endurance and depletion" which would surely play to the US's strengths.

So, I guess you could say that it was a strategic error for Japan not to resign itself to docile acceptance to the restrictions being placed on it by western powers. However, given that decision, Pearl Harbor was the best/only shot they had!

My point is that in a way, the war had already informally begun with Western restriction of Japanese expansion. (not saying that was wrong - I don't know much about how it came about).

... and I kind of feel like, even though it was in the 1850's, the Perry Expedition (aka Gunboat Diplomacy) should be cited as setting the tone for adversarial relations between the US and Japan.

It would be an interesting "multiverse series" if Star Trek was redone using the philosophy of 19th century trade/politics where the USS Enterprise's mission was to "go forth, seek out, and commandeer/capitalize any benefits afforded by alien civilizations"! :)
With our Western/Euro-centric outlook, we tend to think it started when the Allies became involved. But really, we could say it started with the Italian invasion of Ethiopia and the Japanese war against China in the early '30's. It just incrementally expanded from there.
 
Alex2507

Alex2507

Audioholic Slumlord
I'm not a trickle-down economics supporter.
I thought you were in a position to benefit from that school of thought so this surprises me.

Our turnover is super high and so is Amazon’s. Why do think they are always hiring?
The work is pretty hard so if 'work' isn't your thing ... and the seasonal mandatory OT takes a toll on the weak. Being a 24/7 kind of thing has shift work and weekends effing up people's normal day to day M-F lives. $20/hr isn't gonna support an AH life style either.

It's also interesting that 20/hr in OKC isn't too bad but in Boston it would be really tough to get by on.
 
Irvrobinson

Irvrobinson

Audioholic Spartan
I usually don’t weigh on this stuff. A few comments on Amazon. I work in the warehousing industry and Amazon is paying what most are paying. Heck we are paying $14-20 per hour plus performance incentives that can be an extra $2 per hour. Same benefits and 401k stuff as you mentioned. We pay these rates so that we can get and maintain workers who can contribute in a positive way. And we still struggle to find good help. Our turnover is super high and so is Amazon’s. Why do think they are always hiring? We or they could never drop our wage or we would not be able to operate our business.

Just a little insight from my world.
I didn't realize Amazon's compensation was merely competitive. The news websites make it out to be significantly better than the industry average.

Why do you think warehouse work turnover is so high? What you're paying is better than almost all restaurant workers, except for people working in high-end restaurants, typically make, especially considering benefits. Is it the required pace of the work?
 
GO-NAD!

GO-NAD!

Audioholic Ninja
You're right, especially about WWII; perhaps one of the greatest opportunities for what-ifs in history. It even got a novel and a TV series out of it. The Man in the High Castle. :)
I've been really wanting to see the TV series, but I have a Roku (no Amazon app) for streaming and I refuse to buy another device for that purpose.

I don't know if you considered this, but the origins of WW2 can be seen as far back as 1888 and a misdiagnosis and mistreatment by a British doctor?

I don't think anyone could seriously question that the primary cause of WW2 lies in the outcome of WW1. The cause(s) of WW1 were far more complicated. I don't believe Austria-Hungary would have invaded Serbia, if Germany didn't "have her back" if Russia intervened. Kaiser Wilhelm II was a weak sovereign - sensitive to slights, unimaginative, militaristic and with a massive chip on his shoulder. He sought to compete with the British Empire to satisfy his fragile ego. A more enlightened and intelligent leader would have seen that there was little or nothing to be gained from going to war. Without German assurances, Austria-Hungary would not have dared invading Serbia, which was backed by Russia.

Wilhelm's father, Kaiser Frederick III, was a very intelligent, progressive sovereign who sought to transform German governance to be more in line with the British model.* He had experienced war, and fought bravely in battle. His experience lead him to hate war. If the opinions and suggested treatments from his German doctors been accepted and acted upon, his laryngeal cancer might have been more aggressively treated. Instead, the diagnosis and treatment administered by a British doctor was accepted, leading to his pre-mature death. Had he lived even a few years longer, he could have transformed the German government to reduce the power of the sovereign and could have educated his son (who was only 29 when he assumed the throne and had never been to war) and maybe transform his outlook.

It's interesting how a single, relatively small, circumstance can affect subsequent events so drastically.

*For all it's faults, the British governmental power was more de-centralized and liberal (in the classic sense), with very little power residing with Queen Victoria.
 
Irvrobinson

Irvrobinson

Audioholic Spartan
I thought you were in a position to benefit from that school of thought so this surprises me.
Trickle Down Economics is a dumb idea, especially when combined with the lobbyist-driven illogic of the US taxation system. Most people don't pay attention to all of the credits and deductions available that they don't qualify for, and if you study what's available to business owners, real estate developers, hedge fund managers, large private and corporate farmers, mining companies, and especially companies with a strategy of losing money to finance expansion and then get write-offs against future earnings (Amazon is famous for this) you'll get sick. If you have any semblance of the big picture (admittedly, most people don't), lousy policies always come back to bite you, even when you personally benefit for a while. This is one reason why the progressives are supporters of idiotic wealth taxes, because they don't have the knowledge, voter support, or stamina to undo the really dumb tax laws and replace them with sanity.
 
Irvrobinson

Irvrobinson

Audioholic Spartan
I've been really wanting to see the TV series, but I have a Roku (no Amazon app) for streaming and I refuse to buy another device for that purpose.
I didn't realize that in Canada, Roku units don't support the Amazon Prime app. In the US they do. FWIW, the series is not all that good, though it does have some interesting moments. I suspect you can still watch the series by going to the Amazon web site on a computer, and with an HDMI output you could still even use your HT system. I know, a pain, but seems practical.
 
Ponzio

Ponzio

Audioholic Samurai
Trickle Down Economics is a dumb idea, especially when combined with the lobbyist-driven illogic of the US taxation system. Most people don't pay attention to all of the credits and deductions available that they don't qualify for, and if you study what's available to business owners, real estate developers, hedge fund managers, large private and corporate farmers, mining companies, and especially companies with a strategy of losing money to finance expansion and then get write-offs against future earnings (Amazon is famous for this) you'll get sick. If you have any semblance of the big picture (admittedly, most people don't), lousy policies always come back to bite you, even when you personally benefit for a while. This is one reason why the progressives are supporters of idiotic wealth taxes, because they don't have the knowledge, voter support, or stamina to undo the really dumb tax laws and replace them with sanity.
David Stockman agrees. He found out the hard way as Reagan's director in the Office of Management and Budget.
https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1981/12/the-education-of-david-stockman/305760/
 
Irvrobinson

Irvrobinson

Audioholic Spartan
I don't think you can read this op-ed by Sen. Ben Sasse (R, Nebraska) in the Wall Street Journal without a subscription, but it is remarkably astute in my opinion about what we should do with the US Senate. Put appointment of senators back in the hands of state legislatures, one 12 year term with no re-election possibilities, etc. A senator with great, non-partisan ideas. It's so rare these days that the sight shocks me.

 
GO-NAD!

GO-NAD!

Audioholic Ninja
I didn't realize that in Canada, Roku units don't support the Amazon Prime app. In the US they do. FWIW, the series is not all that good, though it does have some interesting moments. I suspect you can still watch the series by going to the Amazon web site on a computer, and with an HDMI output you could still even use your HT system. I know, a pain, but seems practical.
I couldn't find the Amazon Prime app on my Roku a few months ago. Maybe it's available now. Regardless, I don't think I would subscribe for the sake a of a single series. I wonder if the book is any good.
 
Irvrobinson

Irvrobinson

Audioholic Spartan
I couldn't find the Amazon Prime app on my Roku a few months ago. Maybe it's available now. Regardless, I don't think I would subscribe for the sake a of a single series. I wonder if the book is any good.
The book is much better, IMO, but it was written in the early 1960s, so you don't get the modern perspective you get from the Amazon series.
 
panteragstk

panteragstk

Audioholic Ninja
The book is much better, IMO, but it was written in the early 1960s, so you don't get the modern perspective you get from the Amazon series.
Isn't that a Phillip K. D!ck book?

EDIT: Lol. It changed d!ck to "lord helmet"
 

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