2018 Money & Power.

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I’m still feeling a bit off in all honesty. Not like I was on Wednesday, but a whatever is making me feel ill is still working through my system. Or maybe it’s whatever is outside is still blowing around and making me feel ill. Or some combination. I’ve been able to get stuff done, but it’s taking a level of willpower I rarely have to tap into. If you follow my twitter all that activity about random stuff is from me bed tweeting. My mind wandering while my body rejects everything. The other night I slept on the floor to see if it would help my back at all and I woke up feeling like my hips were on fire. It’s happened before & I assume it’s a pinched nerve. It’s pretty rare but also very uncomfortable. I ended up back in the bed after that. It lasted for a solid 30minutes though.

I ruined my yoga ball a few weeks ago & haven’t been able to find a replacement I’m secure in buying. Mine was a pretty heavy duty one from Gold’s Gym, but Walmart quit carrying them & I’m not sure what kind it was without being able to see the box. The one I had was very sturdy & the pictures online of other kinds do not look the same. It wasn’t expensive either and all the ones online are… I really want a new one though because it helped me stretch out a lot. Anyway, my sleep schedule is all screwed up & I really want to go to sleep. I’ll see you in all the usual places if you need me.

45 Comments

Meh…I’d be more ambivalent about the whole “if you figure out how to get it, you should be able to do whatever the hell you want with it” philosophy if the wealthiest families in Florence today weren’t the same as those 600 years ago, or the fact that England has families that have held titles of nobility for 8 centuries. The one’s who first acquired the family fortune might have earned it through hard work and ability (and murder), but I’m not impressed by those whose grand achievement is “being barely competent enough not to lose it.”

Yeah, but my problem with people having a problem with inherited wealth is that we ALL do it, and receive from our parents and give to our kids, just on a naturally far smaller scale. For example, the guy who takes over his dad’s construction business (he having taken over from his own dad), makes a fair whack of cash over the years, and has enough to give his kids the money for their first apartment, or car, or whatever never gets criticised but it’s exactly the same, and why SHOULDN’T it be? I’ve never been given a compelling reason as to why fortunate people would want to just hand over their property to the state. I get your point that it’s pretty ridiculous that those Florentine families are still the wealthiest, and that the Rich List in the Times shows a fair number of aristocrats (like the Duke of Westminster who owns half of London… nice situation!), but there are a great many multi-millionaire, even billionaire self-made or at least less-initially-privileged people who greatly surpass the majority of the aristocracy, so I’m not sure the point really stands. At what point does the line of descent from the ‘self-made man’ who makes £100 million qualify for criticism of this sort? His kids, his grandkids? Or does it need to be a few more generations to really let what the general public- most of whom have never even met anyone with a knighthood, let alone a peer- perceive as the entitlement and superiority complex settle in?

And I would say the question is, do we punish that family that owns the construction company by forcing them to pay a tax equal to 30% or 40% or 50% the value of the company every time the owner passes away (even if the actual personal income is modest), or do we take steps to make it easier for other people to start their own, competing businesses by, say, reducing the amount of fines, fees, taxes, paperwork, and legal restrictions standing in their way? Making it harder to function mildly inconveniences giant corporations, but progressively cripples small and medium sized businesses; a lot of small businesses exist in a perpetual state of risk because they can’t possibly comply with every law and regulation profitably so they just ignore them and hope they are too small to ever get investigated, and fined into oblivion, by the authorities. Meanwhile a big company can afford that drag on productivity, so long as they are safe in the knowledge that their competitors are equally burdened or more so.

I totally agree with you, BWM- regulations put in place to make things ‘fair’ definitely don’t work when one considers, as you said, that large companies are barely affected but small ones destroyed. Ideally the establishment of a level playing field would be to raise those with less rather than bringing down those with more; death duties in the U.K. at least are crippling, which is why so many of the aristocracy and gentry, reviled because of their ‘good fortune’, end up living in collapsing manor houses they aren’t allowed to sell off because of family trusts, without the capital to restore, maintain and renovate them. I do agree with what the initial poster said in some respects (mainly, as you and I seem to be saying, that more ought to be done to facilitate self-made success), but I don’t think it’s viable to hold disdain for them because they’re ‘barely competent enough not to lose’ what they inherit. It’s, as I said in my previous post, the same all the way down the ladder as far as I can see; if I inherited £5,000 when my grandparents died, for example, I could either blow it on a holiday and some other stuff, or invest it; it’s the same for those with inherited wealth. They run the same risks, and have more to lose. I’m not saying that constitutes grounds for weeping on their behalf, but with the benefits come burdens. The kind of person who inherits a lot of money and the family house etc (not always titled, but from minor gentry upwards) is merely a custodian for the next generation, who will safeguard the family holdings for the future, and so on. Trusts are virtually always set in place by means of which wastrel heirs cannot simply blow all the family money- or even income from farms etc- on gambling or the like. Most aristocrats aren’t trying to ‘impress’ anyone anyway (that kind of gauche attention-seeking being beneath anyone of any real quality; leave the ‘look at me’ antics to the Kardashians or whoever), they just get on with their lives, look after ageing parents, raise children, like everyone else.

Thank you both for your insightful and constructive responses, I enjoyed reading them and agree with them. Leveling the playing field does not mean penalizing those “in the lead”, it means making business easier for everyone. Small businesses thrive when legal and regulatory requirements are reasonable and balanced, and corporate titans that are everday household names put more people to work, reduce overhead and have more money to put into R&D.

No resonable person will say that businesses should not be taxed or regulated, but an unreasonable person *will* seek punative taxation and regulatory actions to gain influence and power at the cost of *all* businesses, which helps no one but those who propose it.

Thank YOU for reading my whole spiel and replying! :) I’m glad I can talk some sense off-the-cuff. I totally agree; it’s no good to just penalise people for having money. The small businessman shouldn’t have to submit to such strictures in the same way as a multinational corporation. In a related point, the way most people sagely nod their heads and say ‘well, good; they’ve got enough money anyway’ when a wealthy person (particularly upper class) gets hit with death duties and it’s reported in the media is completely asinine in my view. You have some families where an elderly man dies, followed in very rapid succession by his son, and the grandson is left with two lots of death duties and not two pennies to rub together, but still expected to maintain the house for his kids, grandkids, etc etc. and not having the legal right to sell it. To go off on (another) tangent- this is, of course, what led to the National Trust now possessing so many historic houses (better than their being destroyed or left derelict, of course!)- the diaries of James Lees-Milne go into considerable detail of desperate elderly owners trying to construct a deal that the National Trust would accept, usually of the form that the National Trust owns it and allows public visitors in, but the family are able to reside in a private part of the building, for example.

The combination of having to pay significant duties on an asset and nod being able to sell it is asinine.

In some jurisdictions, it is possible to refuse a bequest. If all potential inheritors do so, the state becomes the owner.

I don’t know what country you’re in, but the USA has it easy. Our estate tax rate is 40%, starting at $11.18M. Amounts beyond that are subject to a 40% federal tax.

Inheritors get $11m guaranteed, and 60% of the rest. Don’t have over $11m? No estate tax.

Compared to the taxes I we all pay on salary, it’s damn cheap.

I don’t have the numbers of how few construction companies are worth that, but the last time the Congress tried to publicizie a family farm which had to be sold due to the estate tax, they couldn’t find one.

True, but that’s relatively recent, I think from the Bush years. It was MUCH higher before, and many people still want to raise it back to that level. Which just tickles Monsanto and the like, they’d love to go back to buying those family farms like in the old days. And even 11 million isn’t THAT high when discussing total worth of land, buildings, equipment, investments and holdings, etc. Someone can own all that but still actually take home wages equivalent to, say, a surgeon; nothing to sneeze at, but not “I own 12 mansions” super-rich.

I’m not impressed by those whose grand achievement is “being barely competent enough not to lose it.

Like the current president. It has been reported that he could have done better investing in an S&P 500 index mutual fund than all his high flying real estate ventures. But that would not have gotten him the headlines, and as an egomaniac, that’s what he really lives for.

I, on the other hand, have most of my retirement invested in S&P 500 index funds. And this comment is my exercise in egomania for the day.

I don’t begrudge wealthy people their money/influence-unless… Unless they use that money and influence to lobby for legislation/ regulations that make it harder for other people (possibly me in some instance) to accrue wealth, or just make a living.
Everyone says, “We ought to make wealthy people pay their fair share.” I sincerely hope that doesn’t happen-we’d lose billions. Wealthy people have somewhere around 20 or 30% of the money and pay around 70% of taxes. Not surprisingly, they look for any tax shelter available. The kind of steward the government is with money, it may actually be sinful to give them any more than absolutely necessary. In fact-inflation is the printing of money and prices rising to reflect the bigger supply. It would probably be more advantageous to the US as a whole to take a pile of cash equal to ones taxes and burn it-thus reducing the money supply and raising the value of the fewer remaining dollars. But I don’t recommend it.(might not do anything but raise air pollution in these days of digital money. Of course, government needs money to do the things they do-they’d have to do fewer things. Don’t see the downside there.

Meh, thing is, most rich people don’t “figure out” how to become rich. They’re born into it. Their parents figured it out, then died and left them with fortunes they never worked for. And then they usually have people working for them whose jobs are to keep making them richer.

And this is the elephant in the room when it comes to wealth management and cash flow in this country.

Not everyone wants to be Warren Buffett.

Gonna have to disagree with Thomas. Most rich people do not hoard their money, they invest it. And investing is not an automatic money-generating process as some people think, it means starting new businesses to meet unmet needs or acquiring existing businesses in order to run them more efficiently, in both cases allowing more people to access the goods and services provided for a lower price, which is the ultimate point of business. Criminals exist, there is no doubt, but the general view that most or all rich people are crooks or scoundrels is unfounded. We celebrate a small business owner, but if they grow and grow, they eventually cross a magic threshold where now they are bad, for doing the exact same thing they were doing 20 years ago when they were beloved. We have just been programmed to assume all wealth is ill-gotten…somehow. My personal favorite is when government agencies threaten to destroy businesses and jail the heads of them, for doing nothing identifiably wrong even after an investigation that lasts more than a decade, and when the businesses then start sending money to the politicians and their parties, we blame the businesses for “corruption”, which is like blaming the local liquor store for “corrupting” the mob when they pay “protection” money to the Gambinos. I don’t like businesses using their connections to rig the game in their favor, but any business that does NOT do this risks being destroyed by the ones who do, giving them no real choice; either support your local gang, or be wiped out by that gang OR a rival gang that you now have no protection from.

That’s because Politician’s are the bigger crooks.

This isn’t to say businesses aren’t terrible. Not to mention, even small businesses may have their downsides.

I know one small practice (doctor) who fires a worker every time the government wants to take a bit more of his business. He’ll ruins someone else’s life, before he’ll take a pay cut to his own. His own words.

My own big business I work for, wants to lay off as many people as they possibly can, get the business down to the skeleton crew that’s needed to keep it working, and consider that progress.

Of course, they tried that with my job and it failed and their remarks were, “We tried something, it failed, let’s move on.” as you know, they drove people out if not laid them off, only to have new ones come in and replace the old ones, who don’t know what they’re doing.

Hell, even the bosses who move up from the bottom, then start becoming what they complained about, because they’re afraid to lose their job and those nice bonuses (those have gotten leaked a few times).

Also, back to politicians. Never trust the ones that say “We’re looking out for the small people. The minorities.” They’re not. They’re looking to stay in power. They do not live the life they claim to be fighting for, nor do they want to. They say it, to live the bigger life they do not want to give up.

Everyone has story of businesses making decisions they don’t like, including me. But that’s no different from the rest of life, is it? We have all made, and seen other people make, bad decisions. You call it “ruining someone’s life” to lay them off, but then isn’t it “making someone’s life” to give them a job in the first place? And if you lose your job because the government is taxing and restricting your employer, why insist it was your boss that ruined your life with a layoff? Again, if the mob extorted money from your employer and they laid you off in order to pay that expense, would you let the mob off the hook?

Well said, Pinkk. I just wish more people had your perspective, because then we wouldn’t have as many issues with our current politicians being self-serving, short-sighted buffoons.

Err, theoretically anyway. Always allow for human stupidity.

So if a politician is required to cater favors to the business in exchange for campaign finance on the fears that the business itself could be wiped by their competitors, then is it not considered a corruption of capitalism?

I’m not sure I understood your question, but if I did, then yes, it is. The corruption stems from the government side, not the business side; if they try raising corporate taxes to the tune of billions of dollars, it’s hardly surprising that suddenly millions of dollars flow into election funds to defeat the motion. If government taxes were low, even, and regulation was minimal, there would be no reason to bother giving money to political parties, it wouldn’t net them any benefit (outside of businesses that exist on government contracts, which is a separate issue). I bet a lot of money right now is flowing into the hands of any politician that will work to reverse Trump’s stupid tariffs, because suddenly many businesses are seeing huge increases in their costs, for example.

It still doesn’t change the fact that businesses are using governments to generate favors for their interests through campaign financing, which is not how democracy should work. People cast ballots for a reason. It’s not something that should be relegated to business owners.

Sorry, but as far as I’m concerned, if you’re a business, you take the risks associated with running a business. Asking for government favours at the expense of proportional constituent interests just corrupts the system and makes you look inept.

Hi Jackie,
Here are some ideas about really-tough yoga balls-

This site offers a PROFESSIONAL GRADE ANTI-BURST EXERCISE BALL

…I wasn’t finished writing this comment.
My crappy keyboard made me post it before I was done. My machine acted like a cretin. ;)

However- one item is:

Professional grade anti-burst ball.

I think it is by the Live Infinitively [R] company.
It is a yoga ball, I think, and is made to be hard to break or burst.
Here is a site for ordering that ball:

https://www.liveinfinitely.com/collections/exercise-equipment/products/anti-burst-exercise-ball?variant=8109777411&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI6PrtsZvo4gIVj8BkCh1JpAwcEAQYAyABEgL7yPD_BwE

I think the ball is about $20-21.
Or- try asking your favorite library’s reference librarian what yoga ball he, she or they recommend for the exercise that you want to do.
Are any of the readers of this comic, users of yoga balls?
What do you readers recommend?

You could try calling up Gold’s Gym and asking about yoga ball brands. They may be obligated to pitch a gym membership at you but should also have the decency to give you a recommendation.

Also I can’t speak highly enough about actual yoga. DDP Yoga in particular offers a well thought out plan with modifications for beginners and has done fucking wonders for the back I destroyed welding.

He’s about ten seconds from turning into the Joker in panel 3. C’mon, do it!

But who should be Harley Quinn in that case …? Who? Whoooo?

I don’t know.

But- Jo would look good, in RAVEN’s costume, from “Teen Titans Go”. ;D

I think the real issue is who has it. Or why they have it now.

It’s how much is enough money.

Take for example something like Amazon. Amazon makes a lot of money. The need is real, the business is solid. Now they also hire a lot of people. That’s good for the economy. Mostly because the business itself is not aligned and does not act on morals itself. It is an entity created by a business model.

However –

The “founder” of Amazon (because he’s not alone in creating such a business) Bezos himself is an issue. He’s said, numerous times, that his sole goal is to be the richest man in the world. Not one of the richest – the richest. So what does that mean? That means that Bezos is imposing his morality on the business, which then impacts the people who are part of it. His company grows, but do the wages grow comparatively along with it? Not if he wants to become the richest man in the world they don’t. We know Amazon can afford it. Jeff Bezos’ end goals cannot, though.

He actually holds down his own employees. Some of them could probably be small business owners in the future, or do other things that would improve the economy, but right now they can’t afford to because the person in charge does not want to HELP the people on the bottom become his competition and/or slow his rise to the top. His charity is even limited – he started a charity but with the stipulation that it is a limited, one-time thing.

So what the real issue is is not the economics of big business or taxes or any of that really. It’s the morality that certain owners of bigger business inject into their companies when it comes to making more money. “Milking the cow dry,” so to speak. The reality is they know their lives are short and time is the real commodity, so they have to either squeeze people harder to have more money right now, or blow all their money without caring about the consequences. Their immediate end goals trump the long game.

It’s not all business owners, but there are those near the very top who only care about legacy. You can’t be remembered for having a mere billion dollars. You have to build giant statues and put your name on everything, and that takes money. Money that comes from one place – other peoples’ time and hard work.

That’s why people dislike larger businesses. When they stop benefiting the people working there (or anywhere, really), they start being about the owner’s own goals and morality. Those people can be cruel and cold, so their corporations become a reflection of them. Those with the most money can rebound a lot faster than those that have less money.

Which is why I’m not a believer in the corporate mentality. It’s a sacrifice of integrity in the name of profitable return.

Well said, EmCeeKhan. I happened to work in the DotCom industry when Amazon was making it’s start and I thought to myself, “here’s a smart business plan: build your customer base by offering convenience and a quality product for a reasonable price first, then worry about profitability.” Unfortunately, I didn’t know that Bezos’ personal agenda was to use that smart business model to enrich himself at the expense of his employees. Getting called out for not paying warehouse workers a fair wage for their labor and then fixing it is not an example of someone who has the best interests of their “human capital” in mind.

Though his vision and planning may have made Amazon the mercantile behemoth it is today, ultimately it appears to have a shadier side that the public is not privy to and, truth be told, it is unlikely to curtail their business much unless it it truly egregious, because while the company’s model of business has definite value to consumers (myself included) it is not likely to get toppled by them.

I strongly disagree with this. Bezos has created thousands of jobs. Bezos has helped thousands of producers reach new customers. Bezos has allowed the economy as a whole to save billions of dollars by purchasing affordably through him instead of having to pay insane markups or special-order niche items. And he has invested his income in numerous businesses, allowing them to also improve the standard of living of hundreds of millions of people. He even runs Amazon, from the articles I’ve read, somewhat less profitable than it could be, focusing more on growing the company than trying to rake in as much cash as possible. And for all of this massive benefit to society, he keeps for himself a fraction of a percent…and that equals “milking the cow dry”? You can argue “Who needs that much?” but if it was pursuit of that wealth that led him to do all the good he did, so what? He more than earned it. I’m not saying he, or Amazon, is perfect, but he’s done everything to be the OPPOSITE of a corporate raider and he still gets grief solely because he made money.

It’s not about the making of the money that’s the issue here, it’s about using it as a means to influence the democratic process, which is not how real democracy should work.

Possibly not, but as this (the US) is not now nor has ever been(and GOD willing, will never be) a democracy, the point is probably lost on most of us. In a democracy, you would vote on EVERYTHING and the majority would rule. It would be pointless for those in the lower populated flyover states to even participate -New York and California would determine everything-just as they’re trying to do by eliminating the electoral college. Silver lining though, I suppose- we wouldn’t have to concern ourselves with politics anymore-everything would be done without our input.

I really like Carol’s “Why are you answering my question so seriously? This was supposed to be funny, or at least fun.”

Kind of like this comments section?

Well, these are mostly individualist and psychologically infused arguments, which are not very well warranted with psychological principles, ‘just’ history. Money and taxes are a game for two, the individual and all others, and have to work on both levels. Having a taxation for the rich that makes it attractive being rich works as an inspiration to try and become richer for those who are and those who aspire to be, whereby getting rich within the system means doing something that’s been socially approved of (you have been validated in your activity so to speak) and additionally monetarily estimatef, mind you by people who might be big pundits (do getting rich=outsmarting your followers, to their benefit or not, but none else) , I e., if noone attributes value to a tree alive in the woods, rather than a wooden table in an individual’s house, than that tree is going to go, even if it might sustain the ecology in the woods around itself, which we are all part of. So, there are a lot of unvalued unpaid services by nature or by people, which everyone still benefits from even values ideally, but doesn’t prefer. Basically it’s freeloading, when we value only part of all economic activity. If we take a systems approach and value everything at the rate it contributes to our well-being, the distribution of riches would be somewhat different, more just as I would suggest. As a society we have an interest in that and this is what taxes are for, to pay everyone a fair share not just those whom the sheeple are most paying attention to. Then there’s the social mercy aspect that not everyone is that good in attracting attention/money or even figuring out what serviceable thing to do. We still want to keep those folks around, just in case because you never know when genius strikes them (rarely, but development is hard to predict). Also it would be more cruel to watch them die (although cruelty is a feature we are training ourselves in if current shows are to be trusted). Back to society, what matters to the group is what in entive makes everyone at each level and the group most productive. This differs by person and status. Taking info account different motivations is a way to explain different taxation. Yet, motivations themselves are rarely questioned. This way more resourceful people and corporations get to negotiate better deals. Of course in any time-based system you have people at the links trying to bend the rules in their favor, because the unit handled is at the same time the unit of compensation finance and related sectors are at an advantage, promoting a tale of stability that benefits them disproportionately. In this way Yorkding a lot of money and getting interest today can be automated to a point where the effort and achievement for society is minimal and the decision-maker is rewarded for no suitable work. Getting to that point is fortunately tough, inheriting not so much. Particularly the suitabitility of financial decisions determining what is being built in society is highly questionable, and rests on a projection of other people’s approval on the future rather than proven need. Done of the time it still makes sense to the extent that consumers think clearly about what they buy – well and the rest goes to bullshitting sectors. Lastly, the time dimension and and non-synchronous distribution introduces unavoidable inequalities, which the internet can somewhat level. I like to believe that a resource-based economy, a common good economy and a personal growth oriented economy would be more just, healthy and humane to inhabit, they would not necessarily be more efficient to get things done as a society, and might lead to delusions of their own kind, but at least the underlying values would be explicit rather than given behind done finance bollocks. So that’s our choice and design challenge with riches and taxes.

I found some good quality yoga balls on amazon about a year ago. Various sizes and “guaranteed unburstable”. if you want try typing that into their search bar. Mountain something or other. they were all black, and came with their own pump.

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