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In Defense of the Rich
Human Events Online ^ | 31 May 2006 | John Hawkins

Posted on 05/31/2006 12:28:22 AM PDT by Aussie Dasher

“We’re the party that wants to see an America in which people can still get rich.” —Ronald Reagan

“Behind every great fortune there is a crime.”

—Honore de Balzac

The two quotes you’ve just read do a great job of representing how most liberals and conservatives view the rich. Conservatives believe that America is a land of opportunity, a place where a person can go from rags to riches if he’s clever and willing to work hard.

On the other hand, liberals believe that in and of itself, wealth is evidence of wrongdoing. Either the rich are, “winners of life’s lottery,” who didn’t earn the money they have or it was somehow swindled from the poor. Even if somehow, some way, neither of those conditions are present, then how can any decent person stand to be so rich when so many other people are so poor—well, unless you’re a trial lawyer, celebrity, or someone who contributes vast sums to the Democratic Party as penance, in which case all is forgiven.

These two attitudes explain why liberals often engage in class warfare and accuse conservatives of being, “in the pocket of the rich.” When your starting point is that, “rich people are bad people because they’re rich,” then simply refusing to display knee-jerk hostility towards the wealthy is taken as a sign of unscrupulousness.

But, what so many liberals fail to see is how much the rich contribute to our society. Just to name one example, let’s take a look at a man whose name is practically synonymous with limitless wealth: Bill Gates.

Would this country be better off if Bill Gates had never been born? My guess is that Microsoft’s 61,000 plus employees wouldn’t think so. What about the recipients of the $28.8 billion that Bill Gates has given away to charities and causes? What about the people who built his mansions and his cars? Heck, what about you? Do you have any Microsoft products on your computer?

The reality is that when you take down a rich man, legions of poorer men suffer as a result of his misfortune. Of course, there are some people who did inherit their money or become rich by leeching off society (like John Edwards), but most Americans who have become wealthy made their fortunes by doing an exceptional job of serving their fellow man in some capacity.

Take Derek Jeter, Mel Gibson, or Barbra Streisand. Is it fair that they’re able to make such incredible sums playing sports, acting, or singing? Of course, it’s fair! They have very rare talents and people are willing to pay and pay well to see them perform. And if the public is willing to shell out vast fortunes to watch them work, why shouldn’t they benefit from it? Who are we to decide that they don’t deserve the money that they earned by entertaining millions of people?

Similarly, consider CEO’s like Lee Raymond from Exxon. How many other people on earth could run a huge company like Exxon? Percentage wise, very few. Now, of those people? How many could have run the company as well as Raymond? Almost none. He was a “Michael-Jordan-quality” performer in his profession. So, given that Raymond ran a company that grossed $371 billion worldwide in 2005 and made $36 billion in profit that same year, is a $400 million retirement and salary package for 12 years’ worth of work out of line? When put in its proper perspective, that money was a drop in the bucket for a corporation like Exxon—and if anything, given how well the company performed under Raymond, he was probably underpaid.

But, that doesn’t sit well with a lot of people because they believe that the pie is only so big and if some Americans get a bigger piece of it, then that means the rest of us have to make do with less. However, that’s not true. If you think about it, it’s very obvious that the “pie” keeps expanding.

If it didn’t, we’d all still be living in caves, bonking each other on the head with clubs and trying to figure out how to steal some rocks from the guy hoarding them across town. Moreover, that “expanding pie” explains why the richest and most privileged Americans 100 years ago had a lifestyle that was markedly inferior in most ways to that of Americans with modest means today. Most poor Americans have television sets, radios, air conditioners, microwaves, and other gadgets and gizmos that would have been considered priceless a century ago.

So as you can see, if we have a strong, thriving economy, then over time our entire society will benefit from it in a myriad of different ways—and allowing people to create tremendous wealth for themselves is a necessary part of building a strong, thriving economy.

This may come as a shock to some people—like liberals—but the rich don’t sit around in their mansions all day and pass the time by swimming in pools full of their own money like Scrooge McDuck. They’re creating jobs with their companies, investing in the stock market, and loaning entrepreneurs the money they need to start businesses. Also, did I mention taxes? The top 5% of wage earners in this country pay more than half of all Federal Income Taxes.

That’s why we need to try to make it easier for Americans to get rich. It’s because the rich aren’t the enemy in a capitalistic country like America; they’re the geese that lay the golden eggs.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Editorial; Government; News/Current Events; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: conservatives; finance; liberals; thegreatronaldreagan; wealth
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Nothing wrong with wealth - I just wish I had a bit more of it!!!
1 posted on 05/31/2006 12:28:25 AM PDT by Aussie Dasher
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To: Aussie Dasher
The left uses all kind of divisiveness for their agendas and power.

Race card.
Class card.
Victim card.
2 posted on 05/31/2006 12:34:30 AM PDT by A CA Guy (God Bless America, God bless and keep safe our fighting men and women.)
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To: Aussie Dasher
“Behind every great fortune there is a crime.”

He met the Kennedys.

3 posted on 05/31/2006 12:40:00 AM PDT by leadhead (Itís a duty and a responsibility to defeat them. But it's also a pleasure)
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To: leadhead

Met them? He worked for the Kennedys!!!!


4 posted on 05/31/2006 12:41:08 AM PDT by Aussie Dasher (The Great Ronald Reagan & John Paul II - Heaven's Dream Team!)
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To: Aussie Dasher
"So, given that Raymond ran a company that grossed $371 billion worldwide in 2005 and made $36 billion in profit that same year, is a $400 million retirement and salary package for 12 years’ worth of work out of line?"

Well, maybe it is out of line. Given the recent rise in oil prices, it would be hard to imagine an oil company not increasing its profits dramatically.

CEOs are employees -- the owners (shareholders) need to get a handle on CEO compensation, which is spiraling out of control. CEO pay has increased many times faster than the pay for ordinary workers -- Boards of Directors seem to be letting the shareholders down. If the pay of all CEOs were cut in half, very few would quit, because they'd still be making more money than they could by doing just about anything else.
5 posted on 05/31/2006 12:46:55 AM PDT by USFRIENDINVICTORIA
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To: Aussie Dasher
Balzac lived in a time and place where wealth was frequently gotten by acts of conquest or by royal decree. There weren't many people working themselves to wealth in France in 1820.

Besides, he was French.

L

6 posted on 05/31/2006 12:49:57 AM PDT by Lurker (Real conservatives oppose the Presidents amnesty proposal. Help make sure it dies in the House.)
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To: Lurker

SCREW THE FROGS!!!!


7 posted on 05/31/2006 1:01:31 AM PDT by Aussie Dasher (The Great Ronald Reagan & John Paul II - Heaven's Dream Team!)
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To: USFRIENDINVICTORIA
Allow me to interject a 'bullshi**' in response to your comments.

Let's do some math, shall we?

Exxon made 37 Billion (with a B) dollars in one year. Raymond got a package that works out to about 33 million a year. That's less than 1/10th of one percent of one years profits for the company he ran. That's a pittance in percentage terms.

If he had agreed to work for just 1 percent of the annual gross profits he would have made 360 million dollars in a single year.

Mr. Raymond should be kicking himself in the ass for negotiating such a lousy deal for himself.

L

8 posted on 05/31/2006 1:22:52 AM PDT by Lurker (Real conservatives oppose the Presidents amnesty proposal. Help make sure it dies in the House.)
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To: Lurker

It does make a big difference that Exxon was profitable; and the pay package does seem small compared to the total profits of Exxon.

However, your math isn't quite right. The money in question wasn't his total pay -- just the severance package. And you're comparing it to Exxon's best year (up more than 25% from last year) rather than the average during Raymond's reign. Raymond also presided over several years of declining Exxon stock prices.

This is a shareholders' rights issue. Boards of Directors aren't doing their jobs if they're paying anyone more than they have to.


9 posted on 05/31/2006 1:46:06 AM PDT by USFRIENDINVICTORIA
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To: USFRIENDINVICTORIA

"So, given that Raymond ran a company that grossed $371 billion worldwide in 2005 and made $36 billion in profit that same year, is a $400 million retirement and salary package for 12 years’ worth of work out of line?"



Why don't we just give them 1 million dollars per year. That seems to be more than enough. lol. Actually, it is too difficult to argue this. I mean to me 400 million is a ton of money, but for someone who has lived with this their entire life, I guess it is a normal thing.


10 posted on 05/31/2006 1:49:30 AM PDT by napscoordinator
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To: USFRIENDINVICTORIA
So they made 27 billion last year...oh woe to the Exxon stockholder.

This is a shareholders' rights issue

Shareholders get to vote on the B of D, including the Chairman. If they don't like his performance he'll be shown the door soon enough.

This whole 'overpaid CEO' thing is a load of hooey IMO. When I ran a company, I kept 100% of the profits. I guess that makes me a bad guy as well.

L

11 posted on 05/31/2006 2:06:23 AM PDT by Lurker (Real conservatives oppose the Presidents amnesty proposal. Help make sure it dies in the House.)
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To: napscoordinator; Lurker
George Bush makes $400,000/yr plus expenses for presiding over an organization with a budget of $2.5 trillion (with a "T") and a country with a $12.5 trillion economy growing at over 5%/year (that's about $600 billion growth).

Is Bush's job any less complicated or important than any corporate CEO's?
12 posted on 05/31/2006 2:06:58 AM PDT by USFRIENDINVICTORIA
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To: Lurker

"When I ran a company, I kept 100% of the profits. I guess that makes me a bad guy as well."

I presume you were the owner -- so, no.


13 posted on 05/31/2006 2:08:49 AM PDT by USFRIENDINVICTORIA
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To: napscoordinator
I don't mean to seem brusque here, but how about it's no ones business but the stockholders of the company in question?

Unless one is a stockholder of Exxon, it's really none of anyones business how much the company pays their Chief Exec. This is another 'look how unfair capitalism is' whine from the usual leftist scum. Don't fall for it.

If the government can tell Exxon how much to pay their Board of Directors, it's just one small step to them telling you how much any business can pay anyone.

That's the real agenda here.

L

14 posted on 05/31/2006 2:10:07 AM PDT by Lurker (Real conservatives oppose the Presidents amnesty proposal. Help make sure it dies in the House.)
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To: USFRIENDINVICTORIA
There's a big difference between Exxon and the US Government.

Exxon makes a profit.

L

15 posted on 05/31/2006 2:14:17 AM PDT by Lurker (Real conservatives oppose the Presidents amnesty proposal. Help make sure it dies in the House.)
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To: Aussie Dasher

Always substitute the word "successful" for "rich" any time you hear a liberal using the word "rich". The liberals, democRats and leftists use it to promote their divide and conquer strategy when trying to make potential voters jealous of people in this country who have earned their wealth through hard work, innovation, etc.

Think about it... all democRats have to do to win elections is make 50.1% of the people jealous of the other 49.9%. By tagging successful people with the word "rich" they come close to achieving their goal each election cycle. Thank goodness that enough of the people in this country who vote understand that many of those "rich" people democRats talk about are the "successful" small business owners who make this country what it is today.


16 posted on 05/31/2006 2:20:38 AM PDT by ajolympian2004
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To: USFRIENDINVICTORIA

"When I ran a company, I kept 100% of the profits. I guess that makes me a bad guy as well."

I presume you were the owner -- so, no.

He could be Castro


17 posted on 05/31/2006 2:31:00 AM PDT by Darteaus94025
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Comment #18 Removed by Moderator

To: USFRIENDINVICTORIA
"George Bush makes $400,000/yr plus expenses for presiding over an organization with a budget of $2.5 trillion (with a "T") and a country with a $12.5 trillion economy growing at over 5%/year (that's about $600 billion growth)."

Is Bush's job any less complicated or important than any corporate CEO's?

Dude! You've NAILED it!! Bush should get a couple $B! Just like BJ & the PIAPS.
19 posted on 05/31/2006 2:40:56 AM PDT by Darteaus94025
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To: jk4hc4

Would it make any difference if the President were paid $400 million/yr.? It seems to me that the competition for the office of President couldn't possibly get any more competitive.


20 posted on 05/31/2006 2:44:18 AM PDT by USFRIENDINVICTORIA
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To: Aussie Dasher
In Defense of the Rich

Actually, I think the rich can afford to defend themselves.

Shalom.

21 posted on 05/31/2006 2:52:06 AM PDT by ArGee (The Ring must not be allowed to fall into Hillary's hands!)
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To: USFRIENDINVICTORIA
"This is a shareholders' rights issue."

Speaking as someone who held a fairly large chunk of Exxon during Raymond's tenure I was tickled pink at his stewardship of the company and the resulting return I enjoyed. I'd of given him twice as much.

How many shares did you own during that time?

22 posted on 05/31/2006 3:07:07 AM PDT by Proud_texan (I'm gonna break my rusty cage and run)
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To: Lurker; napscoordinator

I'm betting that a large percentage of those posting on and reading this thread, are XOM stockholders, through mutual funds.

Carry on.


23 posted on 05/31/2006 3:22:00 AM PDT by FreedomPoster (Guns themselves are fairly robust; their chief enemies are rust and politicians) (NRA)
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To: Aussie Dasher
Why aren't we screaming "Marxists !" from the rooftops ?

Especially when all conservatives are branded racists ?


BUMP

24 posted on 05/31/2006 3:40:41 AM PDT by capitalist229 (Get Democrats out of our pockets and Republicans out of our bedrooms.)
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To: USFRIENDINVICTORIA

I think we should cut your pay in half...I wouldn't notice a bit....


25 posted on 05/31/2006 3:50:17 AM PDT by dakine
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To: Aussie Dasher
¼-?? issue is considerably more complicated than many believe. If the Reaganite Republicans represent the opportunity for anyone with the ambition, determination, and work ethic to become rich, why is it that the mega-rich - from Bill Gates to John Kerry to George Soros - all line up on the opposite (supposedly the Balzac) side of the issue?

In truth, the Reaganite model really does present the truth that any ambitious, determined, and hard-working individual can achieve riches in a truly free economic system. We have no such sytem in place, truth be told.

The reality is that both Reagan and Balzac have given us pieces of the truth regarding wealth and its accumulation. Both are correct, as far as they go, but fail to give the whole picture. To the pure Reaganites, we can ask why Bill Gates is so happy to cooperate with a regime (China) where all poltical, religious, and econimic freedom (for anyone not connected to the rulers) is denied. At the same time, we can ask the Balzacites why is it that a man of realitively humble means like J. C Penney was able to create a financial empire from the ground up - was it all through theft and evil deeds? Overwhelmingly, the evidence contradicts such an assertion in this case - along with many others.

While it may appear that Reagan and Balzac contradict each other, I expect that the truth is that they in fact compliment each other. If we were blessed to be able to talk to each man in detail about this issue, they might well understand each other's point, for both were anything but fools.
26 posted on 05/31/2006 3:54:37 AM PDT by Bogolyubski
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To: dakine

It wouldn't save anyone very much either. ;-)


27 posted on 05/31/2006 4:00:26 AM PDT by USFRIENDINVICTORIA
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To: Lurker
There weren't many people working themselves to wealth in France in 1820.

Once they drove out the Huguenots, it was all down hill.

28 posted on 05/31/2006 4:07:11 AM PDT by Lonesome in Massachussets (NYT Headline: 'Protocols of the Learned Elders of CBS: Fake But Accurate, Experts Say.')
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To: Bogolyubski
We have no such sytem in place, truth be told.

Give the poster a cigar.

L

29 posted on 05/31/2006 4:25:19 AM PDT by Lurker (Real conservatives oppose the Presidents amnesty proposal. Help make sure it dies in the House.)
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To: USFRIENDINVICTORIA
Is Bush's job any less complicated or important than any corporate CEO's?

In a sense it is a lot less complicated in that he doesn't have to worry about making a profit or pleasing his customers.

30 posted on 05/31/2006 4:28:02 AM PDT by from occupied ga (Your most dangerous enemy is your own government)
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To: USFRIENDINVICTORIA

This could be said of any sports team couldn't it? Why do teams pay so much to a Michael Jordan? The fans want a winner!!! So it is with companies, the shareholders, employees, suppliers and customers all want them to flourish and make decisions accordingly.

Shareholders like voters ultimately are responsible for choosing their representatives. In both cases, apathy is the rule of the day.


31 posted on 05/31/2006 4:29:31 AM PDT by BillM
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To: from occupied ga
I'll concede your first point -- but, Bush has to please voters & that seems to be a tougher job than pleasing customers.
32 posted on 05/31/2006 4:34:26 AM PDT by USFRIENDINVICTORIA
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To: BillM
You have a point when it comes to companies that are making a good profit, and growing. (Although it doesn't quite explain why CEO compensation is growing so much faster than other salaries -- even for VPs.) But some CEOs have made a ton of money even when their company is losing money, and spiraling down. (I'm not referring to turn-around artists who are brought in to repair the damage done by their predecessor -- I mean CEOs who can't jump and can't score.)

Small investors don't have much power over the Board.
33 posted on 05/31/2006 4:43:43 AM PDT by USFRIENDINVICTORIA
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To: USFRIENDINVICTORIA
Bush has to please voters

Not once he's elected. Currently he's not pleasing too many people - especially about his program to give amnesty to 25 million illegal Mexicans. With an approval rating of approximately 33% I'd say there were a lot more displeased than pleased.

34 posted on 05/31/2006 4:46:38 AM PDT by from occupied ga (Your most dangerous enemy is your own government)
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To: from occupied ga
If most CEOs could claim 33% market share, they'd be looking pretty good to their Board. A company can target a market segment, a President has to try to represent everyone (although he should at least please the segment of voters in his own party). Ross Perot was extremely successful in business; but he couldn't get elected President.
35 posted on 05/31/2006 4:57:31 AM PDT by USFRIENDINVICTORIA
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To: USFRIENDINVICTORIA

He who pays the piper calls the tune.
There are over 6 billion shares of XOM outstanding.
99.8% of these shares are free trading.
54% of these shares are held by 1958 institutions (pension funds, Mutual funds etc)

This corporation is very widely held. Ony 0.2% of the shares are owned by insiders.

The shareholders always have options if they don't like management.

They can sell there shares or use proxies to change the directors.


36 posted on 05/31/2006 4:59:35 AM PDT by BillM
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To: Aussie Dasher

Socialism does not allow for wealth creation, which is one of several reasons why socialism doesn't work. It's also the reason why Democrats so strongly wish to limit and control it. 'Course, envy comes into the picture too, which is probably why some conservatives jump on board.


37 posted on 05/31/2006 5:05:28 AM PDT by Sam Cree (Delicacy, precision, force)
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To: Aussie Dasher
On the other hand, liberals believe that in and of itself, wealth is evidence of wrongdoing

Just another way to keep their minions pissed off. Maybe We should lower the Libs pay-scale so they might feel better.
38 posted on 05/31/2006 5:07:27 AM PDT by wolfcreek
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To: leadhead
“Behind every great fortune there is a crime.”

There's crime in everything. I got to work early today, at the risk of speeding and cutting off this woman who tailgated me earlier.

39 posted on 05/31/2006 5:07:56 AM PDT by Fawn
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To: ajolympian2004
"Always substitute the word "successful" for "rich" any time you hear a liberal using the word "rich."

Nice point.

40 posted on 05/31/2006 5:07:59 AM PDT by Sam Cree (Delicacy, precision, force)
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To: USFRIENDINVICTORIA
If most CEOs could claim 33% market share...

Not the same thing. A consumer has a CHOICE if he goes to Exxon, BP etc. US citizens don't have a choice, and don't have any option to not pay taxes if they're unhappy. Comparing government to private commerce is just too disparate for meaningful comparisons.

(although he should at least please the segment of voters in his own party

You'd think so wouldn't you, but Bush apparently doesn't agree. Poll on boortz.com the other day gave 99% DISSAPPROVE on Bush's amnesty plan. Frankly I'm puzzled as to just who he's is trying to please.

41 posted on 05/31/2006 5:09:18 AM PDT by from occupied ga (Your most dangerous enemy is your own government)
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To: Aussie Dasher

Liberals are such liars about wealth, they are every bit greedy and glutenous in accumulating their own personal wealth as they accuse conservatives of being, how many poor elected liberals are there in the Senate?


42 posted on 05/31/2006 5:15:43 AM PDT by Just mythoughts
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To: from occupied ga

"Comparing government to private commerce is just too disparate for meaningful comparisons."

Maybe that sums it up.


43 posted on 05/31/2006 5:23:51 AM PDT by USFRIENDINVICTORIA
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To: Lurker

Regarding corporate severence policies, I guess customers always have the option of not buying from corporations whose policies don't meet with their approval. OTOH, that idea may not get much traction here on FR, where I have seen it argued that employess *have* to work for a given corporation, meaning that because a given job is one they want, the corporation must adopt corporate policy to suit them).


44 posted on 05/31/2006 5:34:47 AM PDT by Sam Cree (Delicacy, precision, force)
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To: Lurker
This whole 'overpaid CEO' thing is a load of hooey

That's my take on it too. When I hear of someone being "over paid", I think of Michael Jordan and the statements I used to hear from fellow Bulls fans, that he was over paid. He was paid exactly right, which is to say that his employer paid him the least he could get him for and Michael got the most he could.

It's the way the free market works, if the Bulls didn't want to pay him what he asked for there were other N.B.A. teams that were willing to.

I wonder how many people on this forum think that they personally are "over paid"? If they think it then they can always give money back to their employers (or customers)

45 posted on 05/31/2006 5:35:57 AM PDT by Graybeard58 (Remember and pray for Sgt. Matt Maupin - MIA/POW- Iraq since 04/09/04)
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To: USFRIENDINVICTORIA
"But some CEOs have made a ton of money even when their company is losing money, and spiraling down."

I think John Snow is a good example of the above.

46 posted on 05/31/2006 5:38:19 AM PDT by Sam Cree (Delicacy, precision, force)
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To: Bogolyubski

Why do you think the wealthiest men in the world tend to lean left, with some even being socialists? I have my own ideas on that, but would like to hear someone else's.


47 posted on 05/31/2006 5:40:37 AM PDT by Sam Cree (Delicacy, precision, force)
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To: Aussie Dasher

I like rich people - I've never had a job from a poor person...


48 posted on 05/31/2006 5:45:01 AM PDT by Little Ray (If you want to be a martyr, we want to martyr you.)
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To: ajolympian2004
all democRats have to do to win elections is make 50.1% of the people jealous of the other 49.9%.
Always consider that it is not the rich who are necessarily Republican; neither Gates nor Buffet are Republicans - or if they are, they're RINO types. Buffet is a hitaxer. The Democratic Party is the party of the poor voter and the rich contributor/influential pol. The Republican Party is the party of the middle class - those who have ambition and fear. Republicans aspire toward the rich and Republicans fear declining into poverty.

The Democratic Party is a pincer movement of the rich who want seperation from the middle class and the poor who want equality with the middle class, without the self-discipline.


49 posted on 05/31/2006 6:13:12 AM PDT by conservatism_IS_compassion (The idea around which liberalism coheres is that NOTHING actually matters except PR.)
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To: Aussie Dasher
that “expanding pie” explains why the richest and most privileged Americans 100 years ago had a lifestyle that was markedly inferior in most ways to that of Americans with modest means today. Most poor Americans have television sets, radios, air conditioners, microwaves, and other gadgets and gizmos that would have been considered priceless a century ago.
Queen Victoria (1819-1901) was fabulously wealthy. But she lived before the advent of electrical appliances, most significant medical treatment, automobiles, airplanes, and consumer electronics. A modern American secretary today would not blythely trade circumstances with her. And if not with her, would she trade places with the antebellum plantation owner?

The "poor" of America have a standard of living equivalent to that of the middle class of fifty years ago. That's a lot of progress for "progressives" to oppose . . .


50 posted on 05/31/2006 6:25:00 AM PDT by conservatism_IS_compassion (The idea around which liberalism coheres is that NOTHING actually matters except PR.)
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