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Author Topic: Buffett on US trade policy
Mandos
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posted 06 March 2005 06:23 PM      Profile for Mandos   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
A "sharecropper society":
quote:
"There are deep-rooted structural problems that will cause America to continue to run a huge current-account deficit unless trade policies either change materially or the dollar declines to a degree that could prove unsettling to financial markets," he said.

If nothing is done, he said, the United States will continue to transfer ownership of assets to foreigners to finance American overconsumption. Americans, he said, will eventually "chafe at the idea of perpetually paying tribute to their creditors and owners abroad."

"A country that is now aspiring to an 'Ownership Society' will not find happiness in - and I'll use hyperbole here for emphasis - a 'Sharecropper's Society.' But that's precisely where our trade policies, supported by Republicans and Democrats alike, are taking us."



http://www.iht.com/bin/print_ipub.php?file=/articles/2005/03/06/business/buffett.html

If this is class war, than his class is winning. Well, that's what he said, once.


From: There, there. | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Amricain galitaire
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posted 06 March 2005 08:04 PM      Profile for Amricain galitaire   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
You have to give the Sage of Omaha credit - he admits when he's wrong. Sometimes I think he does that because he knows a lot of mom and pop investors automatically ape everything he does.

Still this is just another warning. I wonder how many people are really listening.


From: Chardon, Ohio USA | Registered: Jan 2005  |  IP: Logged
James
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posted 06 March 2005 08:18 PM      Profile for James        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
H'mmm, .. consideration of how "real-life" sharecroppers on the verge of eviction have always logically responded on realizing that they had nore weapons and "clout" than the landlord does not paint a pretty picture.

Is it just me, or are all trends pointing to the same awful endgame ?


From: Windsor; ON | Registered: Mar 2004  |  IP: Logged
VanLuke
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posted 06 March 2005 08:19 PM      Profile for VanLuke     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
In a 2003 article in Fortune Magazine, Buffett proposed that the United States achieve a trade balance - or at least a sharply reduced trade deficit - by issuing what he called import certificates to companies that exported goods from the United States. Those certificates could be sold by exporters, but imports would not be possible unless the importer had such a certificate.

Free trade when it suits his class, regulation when it doesn't.

In fairness to Buffet it should be pointed out however that he's not the most reactionary capitalist. (Example: His article in the NYT against the inheritance tax changes proposed -at the time- by GWB)


From: Vancouver BC | Registered: Oct 2004  |  IP: Logged
Hephaestion
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posted 07 March 2005 05:23 PM      Profile for Hephaestion   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
"A Word from a Dollar Bear" - Buffett disses the dollar

quote:
Buffett has for a long time been lecturing fellow Americans about their bad habit of borrowing from abroad to live well today. He made a big stink about his currency trades in his March 2004 letter to shareholders. FORBES phoned him recently for an update, hoping for the news that the Scold of Omaha had softened his views on the decline of the dollar. What we got was more doom and gloom, more than we have ever heard from the man. In other words, he is not about to cover his short position on the dollar.

From: goodbye... :-( | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged
Stephen Gordon
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posted 07 March 2005 07:37 PM      Profile for Stephen Gordon        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
In other words, he is not about to cover his short position on the dollar.

It's hard to see why he should. Yes, the USD has fallen quite a bit against the euro, the CAD and other currencies, but they still have a ten-ton current account deficit - I can't see any scenario in which the USD doesn't fall even further. The story doesn't say, but I'm sure he's also stocked up on Chinese yuan - that's clearly a one-way bet.


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Ethical Redneck
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posted 07 March 2005 10:32 PM      Profile for Ethical Redneck     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Interesting take.

I don't see where there is a problem with "US over-consumption," (as not to be confused with over-production and waste) since, first, poverty and declining spending power have been on a 25-year worsening trend, and, second, as a part result, US consumer markets have not expanded anywhere near a comparable rate as the expansion of capital investment outside the US to supply the US market.

This is one major cause of the 1996-97 Asian Crash. That's when, according to the various economic reports I have read, after years of investing in Third World sweatshop factories particularly in Asia prompted by the so-called "liberalized" trade rules, someone realized that consumer markets in higher wage countries were not sufficiently expanding at a rate that would allow all that Southeast Asian investment to recover its costs.

Then these major capitalist investor elites started pulling out their investments and dumping the currencies of all those Asian countries and buying up US dollars, leading to that huge artificial inflation of US dollar value.

Kind of interesting that that very inflation of the US buck then has contributed so much to the ballooning US trade deficit now.a


From: Deep in the Rockies | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
Privateer
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posted 08 March 2005 12:03 PM      Profile for Privateer     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Ethical Redneck, the American middle class is spending money it doesn't have. People are acting like they still have the spending power and are going deep into debt. They are treating low-interest debt as free money at their peril.
From: Haligonia | Registered: Dec 2002  |  IP: Logged
No Yards
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posted 08 March 2005 12:19 PM      Profile for No Yards   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Well, the new bankruptcy bill should help ... it should keep those poor American credit card companies from suffering a drop in their mulit hundreds of billion dollar profits whenever some lazy American decides they are going to get sick, lose their jobs, and try to "stick it" to the banks by claiming an inability to pay their bills.

Unless these lazy Americans are living on the street eating out of garbage cans, they have no justifable excuse ... even then, they have usually have children they can put to work as inner city drug dealers and prostitutes ... lazy bastards.


quote:
People are acting like they still have the spending power and are going deep into debt.

People are doing this? I wonder where they are learning this bad habit? Oh, I forgot, in the USA, a deficit is no longer a problem anymore.

[ 08 March 2005: Message edited by: No Yards ]


From: Defending traditional marriage since June 28, 2005 | Registered: Jun 2003  |  IP: Logged
Mr. Magoo
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posted 08 March 2005 12:42 PM      Profile for Mr. Magoo   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
try to "stick it" to the banks by claiming an inability to pay their bills.

You must mean their Plasma Television bill, and their SUV gasoline bill, and their Trip On Expedia.com bill and...


From: `,_,`,_,,_,, | Registered: Dec 2002  |  IP: Logged
pogge
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posted 08 March 2005 12:54 PM      Profile for pogge   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Mr. Magoo:
You must mean their Plasma Television bill, and their SUV gasoline bill, and their Trip On Expedia.com bill and...

Over 50% of Americans who declare personal bankruptcy do so because of medical bills. The vast majority of those have health insurance but it isn't enough.


From: Why is this a required field? | Registered: Mar 2002  |  IP: Logged
Mr. Magoo
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posted 08 March 2005 01:00 PM      Profile for Mr. Magoo   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Fair enough. I'm just pointing out that if they can't pay their Visa bill, it's probably not because they bought the heart medicine for their poor sick granny on plastic. More likely that you just couldn't live without the 52" rear projection screen or the leather seats in the SUV.
From: `,_,`,_,,_,, | Registered: Dec 2002  |  IP: Logged
pogge
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posted 08 March 2005 01:06 PM      Profile for pogge   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Mr. Magoo:
Fair enough. I'm just pointing out that if they can't pay their Visa bill, it's probably not because they bought the heart medicine for their poor sick granny on plastic. More likely that you just couldn't live without the 52" rear projection screen or the leather seats in the SUV.

Emphasis added. Which part of "over 50%" didn't you get?


From: Why is this a required field? | Registered: Mar 2002  |  IP: Logged
v michel
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posted 08 March 2005 01:07 PM      Profile for v michel     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Mr. Magoo:
Fair enough. I'm just pointing out that if they can't pay their Visa bill, it's probably not because they bought the heart medicine for their poor sick granny on plastic. More likely that you just couldn't live without the 52" rear projection screen or the leather seats in the SUV.

No, it's likely that they took Granny to the emergency room and charged the $10,000 bill to their Visa since they didn't have $10,000 in the bank. Then that accumulated interest at 27% (if they are lucky), and now it's $60,000 with no end in sight.

This happens. Often. A 52" rear projection screen, frankly, does not cost enough to send someone into bankruptcy. An unexpenced bypass operation when you are uninsured does.


From: a protected valley in the middle of nothing | Registered: Jan 2005  |  IP: Logged
Mr. Magoo
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posted 08 March 2005 01:15 PM      Profile for Mr. Magoo   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Uh, I wasn't referring to the cause of bankruptcy in general. I was simply noting that if you're bankrupt, and you can't pay your credit card bill, then probably you can't pay off all the luxuries you charged on it.

To recap: not talking about every bill, just the Visa. Why should Visa suck it up because you really wanted a toy, and now, for various reasons, you can't pay for it?


From: `,_,`,_,,_,, | Registered: Dec 2002  |  IP: Logged
No Yards
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posted 08 March 2005 01:21 PM      Profile for No Yards   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Why do they charge such high interest Magoo?
From: Defending traditional marriage since June 28, 2005 | Registered: Jun 2003  |  IP: Logged
pogge
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posted 08 March 2005 01:27 PM      Profile for pogge   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Mr. Magoo:
Uh, I wasn't referring to the cause of bankruptcy in general. I was simply noting that if you're bankrupt, and you can't pay your credit card bill, then probably you can't pay off all the luxuries you charged on it.

How can you isolate medical bills from every other expenditure? Particularly when medical bills are often unexpected?

The credit card companies are busily pushing cards on everyone regardless of the risk. They're intentionally making bad lending decisions and in fact they make much of their profit on late fees and penalty payments. This bill is designed to relieve them from the responsibility of those bad decisions. Socialize the risk and privatize the profit.

[ 08 March 2005: Message edited by: pogge ]


From: Why is this a required field? | Registered: Mar 2002  |  IP: Logged
VanLuke
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posted 08 March 2005 01:41 PM      Profile for VanLuke     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Oliver Cromwell:

Yes, the USD has fallen quite a bit against the euro, the CAD and other currencies, but they still have a ten-ton current account deficit - I can't see any scenario in which the USD doesn't fall even further.

Is that why the US dollar is worth about half as much now than it was under Reagan when the external deficit as percentage of GDP was about the same?

Edited to add link of dollar - yen exchange rate over a few decades (The dollar rose in the first GWB years in spite of rising twin deficits):

http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/data/EXJPUS.txt

Edited to add link to budget deficits. Now you can have fun finding out just when there was a meaningful correlation between current dollar values and underlying fundamentals.

If it was that easy to speculate in currencies many of us would be doing just that.

[ 08 March 2005: Message edited by: VanLuke ]


From: Vancouver BC | Registered: Oct 2004  |  IP: Logged
Mr. Magoo
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posted 08 March 2005 02:05 PM      Profile for Mr. Magoo   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Why do they charge such high interest Magoo?

To make profits.

Why do people accept these terms, since credit cards are far from a necessity (and in fact many people simply refuse to use them)?

quote:
This bill is designed to relieve them from the responsibility of those bad decisions.

Whose bad decisions? The card users who live way beyond their means? Or the credit card companies for not somehow saving these cardholders from themselves??


From: `,_,`,_,,_,, | Registered: Dec 2002  |  IP: Logged
VanLuke
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posted 08 March 2005 02:07 PM      Profile for VanLuke     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
US trade policy ?
From: Vancouver BC | Registered: Oct 2004  |  IP: Logged
v michel
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posted 08 March 2005 02:27 PM      Profile for v michel     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Mr. Magoo:
Why should Visa suck it up because you really wanted a toy, and now, for various reasons, you can't pay for it?

Because unfortunately, the cost of basic health and human services is enough to drive people to bankruptcy. Therefore, we need lenient bankruptcy laws (i.e. Visa should suck it up).

Let me be clear: I abhor the practice of charging luxuries and then declaring bankruptcy when the bill comes. I am 100% with you on this one! I can't tell you how much I hate that. But as long as credit cards are the only payment option for a good number of people seeking emergency medical care, and as long as that option drives a good number of people to bankruptcy, I think we need lenient bankruptcy laws. It's giving some real losers a break, I agree. But that's too bad.

Sorry VanLuke, I will withdraw now! I am just cranky today I think.


From: a protected valley in the middle of nothing | Registered: Jan 2005  |  IP: Logged
VanLuke
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posted 08 March 2005 02:46 PM      Profile for VanLuke     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by vmichel:

Sorry VanLuke, I will withdraw now!

No problem vmichel. I just wanted to play 'peacemaker' and had second thoughts about my post right away


From: Vancouver BC | Registered: Oct 2004  |  IP: Logged
No Yards
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posted 08 March 2005 03:25 PM      Profile for No Yards   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Mr. Magoo:
To make profits.

They could make profits charging lower interest rates. Why do they feel they need the higher rates? (hint: risk.)


quote:

Why do people accept these terms, since credit cards are far from a necessity (and in fact many people simply refuse to use them)?

Because many people don't understand what they are signing on to unil it's too late.

If someone is trying to commit a fraud, then there are laws to deal with that possibility.

But, if this is such a good idea, prevent ways in which people can get out of declaring bankruptcy to get out of its responsibility to the lender, mayb esomething along the same lines should be enacted to put the same responsibility on corporations?

Which way should we go? Should stocks be considered loans to corporations that have to be payed back, no bankruptcy allowed, or should credit cards be considered as buying stock investing in the individual (sometimes the value goes up and you make a profit, sometimes the value falls and you lose.)


From: Defending traditional marriage since June 28, 2005 | Registered: Jun 2003  |  IP: Logged
Privateer
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posted 08 March 2005 04:15 PM      Profile for Privateer     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
My whole point earlier was that credit cards create false consciousness in the middle class as it make them feel richer than they really are. I'm not attacking people for using them for neccessities but the fact is people use them for a lot more. People have bigger and newer houses than they can afford, bigger and newer cars than they can afford, and bigger and newer gadgets than they can afford. If the cheap credit (or at least easy credit) wasn't so available, middle class America would see where they really are.

As far as medical bills go, middle class Americans elected politicians that oppose medicare and must compensate for that. Note, I have full sympathy for the poor Americans who are screwed with private medicine and are in a weak political position. But the middle class, especially the upper middle class, has elected those politicians and now should be saving like mad for those medical bills that exceed what their HMO will cover. Hey, its a given that Granny will need serious medical care in the not too distant future.

[ 08 March 2005: Message edited by: Privateer ]


From: Haligonia | Registered: Dec 2002  |  IP: Logged
No Yards
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posted 08 March 2005 04:20 PM      Profile for No Yards   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Then logically, it would be better to simply outlaw credit rather than outlaw bankruptcy.

[ 08 March 2005: Message edited by: No Yards ]


From: Defending traditional marriage since June 28, 2005 | Registered: Jun 2003  |  IP: Logged
Privateer
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posted 08 March 2005 04:27 PM      Profile for Privateer     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by No Yards:
Then logically, it would be better to simply outlaw credit rather than outlaw bankruptcy.

Well, I still see the need for mortgages, student loans and even car loans. But with more limits. I'm convinced that the reason housing prices are skyrocketing in many places is the banks are getting careless about how much they lend to people with more limited means than they either would admit. As to credit cards, it would be a better world without them.


From: Haligonia | Registered: Dec 2002  |  IP: Logged
No Yards
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posted 08 March 2005 04:35 PM      Profile for No Yards   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Privateer:
I'm convinced that the reason housing prices are skyrocketing in many places is the banks are getting careless about how much they lend to people with more limited means ..

I think you have a very good point here, if I'm poor, then I have to subsidize my richer co-citizens greed and impatience by allowing them to get what they need NOW in exchange for making the price of what they want artifically more expensive and therefore putting these items permanently out of my reach ... but back to current reality, if society is going to encourage people to spend beyond their means, then society should be prepared to suck it up when "spending beyond their means" blows up.


From: Defending traditional marriage since June 28, 2005 | Registered: Jun 2003  |  IP: Logged
Mr. Magoo
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posted 08 March 2005 04:47 PM      Profile for Mr. Magoo   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Because many people don't understand what they are signing on to unil it's too late.

If I'm not mistaken, you cannot sign up for a credit card without signing off on having read and understood their terms of service.

Unless you mean that people don't understand ahead of time just how tempting it will be to buy everything now (since they don't actually have to pay for it).


From: `,_,`,_,,_,, | Registered: Dec 2002  |  IP: Logged
No Yards
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posted 08 March 2005 05:01 PM      Profile for No Yards   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Mr. Magoo:

If I'm not mistaken, you cannot sign up for a credit card without signing off on having read and understood their terms of service.

Unless you mean that people don't understand ahead of time just how tempting it will be to buy everything now (since they don't actually have to pay for it).


You mean people like Enron, Nortel, Arthur Andersen, WorldCom, etc.

So what do you think? No bankruptcy for coporations, or treat credit cards as stock investments in people?


From: Defending traditional marriage since June 28, 2005 | Registered: Jun 2003  |  IP: Logged
No Yards
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posted 09 March 2005 10:44 AM      Profile for No Yards   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Well, the US bankrupcy bill looks like it will pass.

On the bright side, the "poison pill" that prevented this bill from passing two times before, the one that would also prevent anti-choice protestors who commit crimes from using hidden trusts and bankruptcy to prevent them having to pay fines, passed as well, so now the anti-choice people will be pissed at the Repugnicans.

Also, it seems that the top 10 bankruptcy states are red states ... another case of your ignorance making you your own worst enemy.

I guess there is a lesson to be learned here ... something to do with rope and hanging yourself.


From: Defending traditional marriage since June 28, 2005 | Registered: Jun 2003  |  IP: Logged
Privateer
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posted 09 March 2005 12:04 PM      Profile for Privateer     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
All I can say is "You can't get blood from a stone." If people are forced into Chapter 13 (reorganize debts) instead of Chapter 7 (real bankruptcy) and they can't - simply can't - do it, what will happen? Debtors prison?

This bill isn't all bad. If banks give someone with $12K income (who has no real estate) 40K in unsecured revolving credit, and that person goes nuts with it, the banks are still going to pay for their stupidity if that person does the smart thing and declares bankruptcy.


From: Haligonia | Registered: Dec 2002  |  IP: Logged
VanLuke
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posted 09 March 2005 12:13 PM      Profile for VanLuke     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Privateer:
.... and they can't - simply can't - do it, what will happen? Debtors prison?


On a related note, this will happen to squegee kids and panhandlers who can't pay their fines here in BC it seems. Not 'debtor's prison', just simply prison.

The state doesn't mind, it seems, to spend ten or twenty times the amount of money the fine would have brought in to make a point. (Point being that we are a heartless society if this law is any indication)


From: Vancouver BC | Registered: Oct 2004  |  IP: Logged
Mr. Magoo
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posted 09 March 2005 12:53 PM      Profile for Mr. Magoo   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
So what do you think? No bankruptcy for coporations, or treat credit cards as stock investments in people?

Will the credit card companies get to act like the Board of Directors would for a real company? Decide what a person can or cannot do, what they will or will not invest in? If so, let's go with that one then.

quote:
The state doesn't mind, it seems, to spend ten or twenty times the amount of money the fine would have brought in to make a point.

You'd rather go the other way and send out the message that if you have fines and you can't afford to pay them then that's okey dokey? Just keep on committing offences, so long as you can't pay?

Here's a novel idea for anyone who doesn't have money to waste on fines, and who doesn't want to go to jail either: don't offend.

Yes, I know. It's a radical thought. A crazy plan. But as they say, "It's a crazy plan... just crazy enough to work!!"


From: `,_,`,_,,_,, | Registered: Dec 2002  |  IP: Logged
VanLuke
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posted 09 March 2005 01:06 PM      Profile for VanLuke     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Mr. Magoo:

You'd rather go the other way and send out the message that if you have fines and you can't afford to pay them then that's okey dokey?


I did no such thing

I only pointed out that the state doesn't mind throwing you in the slammer to make a point. (demonstration effect)

quote:
don't offend.

And in the case of 'street kids': 'Don't eat'

[ 09 March 2005: Message edited by: VanLuke ]


From: Vancouver BC | Registered: Oct 2004  |  IP: Logged
Mr. Magoo
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posted 09 March 2005 01:20 PM      Profile for Mr. Magoo   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
I only pointed out that the state doesn't mind throwing you in the slammer to make a point.

And then promptly described that as "heartless". But, if you're really not proposing an amnesty for those who can't pay fines then fair enough.

quote:
And in the case of 'street kids': 'Don't eat'

Really?? Here in Toronto there are numerous drop-in centres where someone on the street can get a bite, and there's even a van that drives around delivering sandwiches, drinks, etc.

Are you actually telling me that in B.C. you have no social services, and people on the street are forced to steal food in order not to starve to death? And that's why they're going to jail?


From: `,_,`,_,,_,, | Registered: Dec 2002  |  IP: Logged
VanLuke
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posted 09 March 2005 01:26 PM      Profile for VanLuke     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
"And then promptly described that as "heartless"."

And will continue to do so *in this case* because of the relation of 'offense' and punishment.

Have you ever eaten at a food line? And since when is washing windshields 'stealing'? Or panhandling for that matter?

Kindly explain that and perhaps how you read this into my post.


From: Vancouver BC | Registered: Oct 2004  |  IP: Logged
Mr. Magoo
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posted 09 March 2005 01:41 PM      Profile for Mr. Magoo   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
And since when is washing windshields 'stealing'? Or panhandling for that matter?

This is the first explicit mention of either in this thread. While it's true that I do have amazing psychic abilities, reading your mind isn't one of them, so I asked "Are you actually telling me ..." to find out.

That said, something doesn't have to be "stealing" to be against the law. Personally, I think panhandling should be legal (aggressive panhandlers notwithstanding) but I don't think wandering about in traffic, with or without a squeegee in hand, should be. This is all tangential though. The question was what do we do (or not do) with those who've broken a law, but cannot pay the fine. Jean Valjean stealing a loaf of bread for his poor starving children excepted, I think jail is an acceptable option (although I'd personally have no problem with community service or some similar as well).


From: `,_,`,_,,_,, | Registered: Dec 2002  |  IP: Logged
v michel
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posted 09 March 2005 02:03 PM      Profile for v michel     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Mr. Magoo:

Will the credit card companies get to act like the Board of Directors would for a real company? Decide what a person can or cannot do, what they will or will not invest in? If so, let's go with that one then.

Well yes, I believe they do. They choose to whom they will extend lines of credit, and what that credit may be used for. I think that would be "deciding what a person can or cannot do, what they will or will not invest in."

I think it's a fair point being made above. In the case of loans by a corporation to an individual (like a Visa), you ask that we put the burden on the lendee to handle that credit responsibly. Strict bankruptcy laws relieve the corporation of much of its responsibility to make a wise investment.

In the case of an individual loaning money to a corporation (investment), do you ... put the burden on the lender to make a wise investment? Or would you be in favor of stricter bankruptcy laws for corporations, to protect those individual investors? I'm genuinely curious.


From: a protected valley in the middle of nothing | Registered: Jan 2005  |  IP: Logged
No Yards
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posted 09 March 2005 02:13 PM      Profile for No Yards   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Actually, they already are essentially a "board of directors" ... they can recall the loan any time they feel it necessary, and even in bankruptcy or proposals they get a say in proportion to their investment in your debt.
From: Defending traditional marriage since June 28, 2005 | Registered: Jun 2003  |  IP: Logged
Mr. Magoo
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posted 09 March 2005 02:23 PM      Profile for Mr. Magoo   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
I think that would be "deciding what a person can or cannot do, what they will or will not invest in."

I'm thinking more like "You can buy food with your credit card, but NOT consumer electronics" or some similar.

quote:
In the case of an individual loaning money to a corporation (investment), do you ... put the burden on the lender to make a wise investment?

In the case of an investor or stockholder, there's a partnering of interests. If the company succeeds beyond expectation, the stockholder is guaranteed a share of the profits. The stockholder also has some control, assuming they have voting shares, in ensuring the company is successful.

In the case of a cardholder, there's no similar pairing of interests. If the cardholder makes millions, but seldom uses his card, the Credit Card company will see minimal profit. There's no "payoff" to counterbalance the risk. What's more, the company cannot "vote" on whether the cardholder should or should not invest in a big screen television during a recession, etc. So I see the two situations as categorically different.

That said, I don't think corporate bankruptcy laws are perfect as-is, and personally I think that when a company goes belly-up, their first priority should be paying employees, then creditors, then investors last.


From: `,_,`,_,,_,, | Registered: Dec 2002  |  IP: Logged
v michel
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posted 09 March 2005 02:37 PM      Profile for v michel     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Mr. Magoo:

I'm thinking more like "You can buy food with your credit card, but NOT consumer electronics" or some similar.


Apologies for the drift onto credit card technology but I thought that card companies do have this choice?

Every point-of-sale is categorized by the lending institution, and every card may be programmed to only work for certain categories. And although it is rare, I did think there were some card companies that would offer limited access cards commercially.

The level of categorization is very precise. You could prevent someone from buying home electronics but allow them to buy food pretty easily.

This usually comes up with corporate cards, for example - my coroprate card won't work in a bar or liquor establishment, for example, but will in a grocery store. That's a choice my employer made, but that the bank programmed into the card. It simply will not be authorized in a bar cash register.

So yes, I thought that the card companies did have the option of restricting your electronics purchases. But most choose not to, as that's not a real popular option for most consumers! Nonetheless, this restriction is possible. Most banks choose not to use it for personal credit, but that is a decision.

To get to the point of this long post: Visa did choose to give customer X a personal credit card that could be used for home electronics. So when customer X files for bankruptcy for his big-screen TV, I don't think it's fair to say "hey, Visa had no choice in what he was going to use that card for."

Thank you for the explanation about sharing risks. I will digest that...

[ 09 March 2005: Message edited by: vmichel ]

[ 09 March 2005: Message edited by: vmichel ]


From: a protected valley in the middle of nothing | Registered: Jan 2005  |  IP: Logged
ronb
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posted 09 March 2005 02:53 PM      Profile for ronb     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Paul Krugman, as usual, is bang on.

quote:
Warren Buffett recently made headlines by saying America is more likely to turn into a "sharecroppers' society" than an "ownership society." But I think the right term is a "debt peonage" society - after the system, prevalent in the post-Civil War South, in which debtors were forced to work for their creditors. The bankruptcy bill won't get us back to those bad old days all by itself, but it's a significant step in that direction.


And as for Magoo's pathological fear that the great unwashed will end up with a bigger TV than he has:

quote:
The credit card companies say this is needed because people have been abusing the bankruptcy law, borrowing irresponsibly and walking away from debts. The facts say otherwise.

A vast majority of personal bankruptcies in the United States are the result of severe misfortune. One recent study found that more than half of bankruptcies are the result of medical emergencies. The rest are overwhelmingly the result either of job loss or of divorce.

To the extent that there is significant abuse of the system, it's concentrated among the wealthy - including corporate executives found guilty of misleading investors - who can exploit loopholes in the law to protect their wealth, no matter how ill-gotten.


Guess which loopholes the new bill specifically widens?


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VanLuke
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posted 09 March 2005 09:42 PM      Profile for VanLuke     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Mr. Magoo:

I asked "Are you actually telling me ..."

I made it quite clear what I meant and you deliberately ignored the final part of my sentence, the one starting with an 'if', i.e. if this law is any indication

You never did answer my question: Did you ever line up in a food line for something to eat?

Probably not because if you had you'd never talk about "free food" being available. (Delivered and all, eh? Presumably the homeless call in on their cell phones for that to say at what corner they want it delivered at.)

It's not free and the currency is part of a person's self esteem and self respect.

Furthermore, mental illnesses, chemical dependencies and alcoholism force some people into the position to beg for food if they want to obey the law here (since that outlaws washing windshields and panhandling).

I repeat that in my universe it's a sign of a heartless society (the description which caused you to react) and a sign of stupidity on the part of the lawmakers (since they are not likely to pay their fines and jails are expensive).

I also found your rhetorical question addressed to me quite hurtful having worked as volunteer for over three years at a food line (until my health did not permit me anymore).

You say you can't read my mind. Fair enough. But could you be so kind to read ALL I post, including any conditional clauses?

In the end it just boils down to you and I having different values, not to who is wrong or right as values can't be either.

Edited to add:

Hate to quote myself but to set the record straight this is WHAT I did say:

quote:
On a related note, this will happen to squegee kids and panhandlers who can't pay their fines here in BC it seems. Not 'debtor's prison', just simply prison.

The state doesn't mind, it seems, to spend ten or twenty times the amount of money the fine would have brought in to make a point. (Point being that we are a heartless society if this law is any indication)


[ 09 March 2005: Message edited by: VanLuke ]


From: Vancouver BC | Registered: Oct 2004  |  IP: Logged
Privateer
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posted 10 March 2005 12:16 AM      Profile for Privateer     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Americans handed all three parts of their federal government to the Repiglicans. What did they expect would happen?
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Mr. Magoo
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posted 10 March 2005 01:37 AM      Profile for Mr. Magoo   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
I made it quite clear what I meant and you deliberately ignored the final part of my sentence, the one starting with an 'if', i.e. if this law is any indication

I assumed it to be rhetorical. In other words, I assumed you were saying that our society is, in fact, 'heartless'.

Are you saying it is, or are you undecided? It's clear that we are going to jail those who cannot pay a fine, so does that mean that we live in a 'heartless' society, or no?

quote:
You never did answer my question: Did you ever line up in a food line for something to eat?

Nope.

quote:
It's not free and the currency is part of a person's self esteem and self respect.

Uh, when I pointed out that not offending is always an option for those who can't pay a fine and don't want to be jailed, you responded by equating "not offending" to "not eating". I don't think it's unreasonable of me to inform you that here in Toronto at least, a van drives about ensuring that 'eating' and 'offending' don't have to mean the same thing. You can eat, in Toronto, without having to commit a crime or any kind. Assuming you don't mind free sandwiches. I'll grant you that that pales in comparison to a hot pizza with the toppings of your choice, or a buffet dinner, but it's a damn sight better than starving, and whatever price it extracts in dignity is surely less than that extracted by begging and it's a lot safer than darting out into traffic to wash a window for a quarter.

Let's take this back a step or two: if someone who has been fined cannot pay the fine, do you believe they should face other punishment (jail, service, etc.) or no?


From: `,_,`,_,,_,, | Registered: Dec 2002  |  IP: Logged
Jacob Two-Two
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posted 10 March 2005 04:30 AM      Profile for Jacob Two-Two     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Not when what they're being fined for is basically their poverty. You know, by the very nature of the fine, that they are extremely unlikely to be able to pay it, so the fine is really only a technicality. A stepping stone to tossing the impoverished in jail and getting them out of your hair.
From: There is but one Gord and Moolah is his profit | Registered: Jan 2002  |  IP: Logged
VanLuke
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posted 10 March 2005 12:40 PM      Profile for VanLuke     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
: if someone who has been fined cannot pay the fine, do you believe they should face other punishment (jail, service, etc.) or no?

yes

Free sandwiches are preferable to stolen pizza.

The question however remains, is it a just law and I find it kind of interesting that you seem to be against laws forbidding washing of windshields (without intimidation) and panhandling and this was all I was talking about in my post.

Did I mean that our society is a heartless one (not withstanding the many good souls, who among other things make free sandwiches possible)?

yes

As I said, it's a question of different values and there's no argument about this as there are no 'right' or 'wrong' values per se.

P.S. At the church where I helped we had a perennial problem of funds to pay for the food (not all was donated day old bread etc) to hand out. By forcing more people to rely less on their own resources by washing windshields or even panhandling the help system has to cope with more strain.

P.P.S. I lost track of how many times Nortel has restated their books. (3 times?) Falsifying the books helped set the stage for robbing "little old ladies" (and others) of their retirement savings. Yet Roth (I believe his name is) paid himself a bonus of 145 million, the biggest in Canadian history (if memory serves) "while Rome (Nortel) was burning".

Why does this government get away with attacking poor people and the biggest crooks don't even get charged? (How many Enron execs were charged? Convicted?) Or are you saying that Roth was not a crook when he did this? If so that would be interesting by itself in the present context, i.e. washing windshields is against the law but plundering people's savings is apparently not, or at least doesn't get prosecuted.

Do you really disagree that we live in a heartless society generally speaking? Wouldn't spending priorities be a criterion?

It wasn't meant rhetorically when I wrote it and it is my belief based on my values. Disagree if you will -it's your right- but please tell me how it would not be based on different values we hold.


From: Vancouver BC | Registered: Oct 2004  |  IP: Logged
Mr. Magoo
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posted 10 March 2005 12:57 PM      Profile for Mr. Magoo   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I agree that this comes down to individual values, and in a sense I'd agree that society is "heartless", but I think that needs to be qualified some. Specifically, I think that law and order should show compassion where appropriate, but this should not interfere with its rationality and consistency. I don't think that in this case the law needs to be harsh or disproportionate, but if we decide for example that it's illegal to dart out into traffic to wash a window (a reasonable safety issue) then I think we need to enforce that however we can, without 'rolling over' because for this person or that person it seems 'heartless'.

In this particular case, I think the law itself could be more compassionate specifically, it shouldn't be prohibiting panhandling or safe window washing outright but it should also be enforced so long as it's there (or struck down, or replaced with a better law, etc.). Anything else just looks (and is) inconsistent.

quote:
Why does this government get away with attacking poor people and the biggest crooks don't even get charged?

I don't have an answer for that, other than to suggest revisiting the laws on the books. Whether they're good, bad or indifferent, the laws we have are the laws we have, until such time as we change them. Personally I think that when a business is financially in trouble, first priority should go to the non-management employees of the business, followed by creditors, vendors, etc., investors next, and the CEO last, but if the law doesn't support that then short of changing the law, I don't know what else we can reasonably do. Armed revolution in the streets, some might say. How about we all vote NDP next time?


From: `,_,`,_,,_,, | Registered: Dec 2002  |  IP: Logged
VanLuke
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posted 10 March 2005 01:49 PM      Profile for VanLuke     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Magoo

you should know by now that I do not advocate armed revolution. So I take this as rhetorical.

The law was not passed because of traffic safety consideration.

Even totalitarian regimes usually pass laws to 'legitimise' their odious practices.

Should they all laws be followed? Does your general statement above (about paying the price for not obeying) apply to clearly unjust laws?

Is there something wrong with a society that lets its government get away with attacking the poor without an outcry (other than some lone voices)from the 'general' population?

Could this not legitimately be described as heartless? (Since these 2 words seemed to have aroused your ire)


From: Vancouver BC | Registered: Oct 2004  |  IP: Logged
Mr. Magoo
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posted 10 March 2005 02:07 PM      Profile for Mr. Magoo   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
you should know by now that I do not advocate armed revolution. So I take this as rhetorical.

It was. I'm not picking a fight here.

quote:
Should they all laws be followed? Does your general statement above (about paying the price for not obeying) apply to clearly unjust laws?

Well, proponents of civil disobedience say no, but then civil disobedience actually requires punishment (to embarrass the state). Beyond that, I guess it's up to the individual to decide what laws they're okay with breaking, but I don't know what to tell them with regard to the penalty. I, personally, will cross the street if there are no cars coming, but if I were to be charged with jaywalking I wouldn't have much of a rigorous legal defence, beyond saying "I don't agree that I should be prohibited from crossing the street in the middle if I can do so safely." It's my belief, but it's not terribly likely to get me any clemency.

quote:
Is there something wrong with a society that lets its government get away with attacking the poor without an outcry (other than some lone voices)from the 'general' population?

That depends. An animal rights activist might say the same of a society in which people can still eat meat, or own pets, or wear leather. I, personally, would disagree with them.

To many citizens, laws against panhandling aren't about 'attacking the poor' so much as they're about making sure that you can walk a block or two without half a dozen guys hitting you up for money "for coffee", often persistently or aggressively.

Me, I don't think panhandling should be outlawed all of a piece, and I think that "Safe Streets" laws are too broad to be of any use for anything other than selective targetting of individuals. But at the same time I've seen and encountered aggressive panhandlers, I've been harangued for not giving, and in some cases for not giving enough, and so I'm not ready to assume that the sole reason why people aren't up in arms over panhandling laws is because they hate the poor, or they're heartless and don't care.

Could our federal government do more? Yes. Could your particular provincial government do more? Yes.


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VanLuke
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posted 10 March 2005 02:13 PM      Profile for VanLuke     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
It's a complicated topic, I agree.
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ronb
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posted 10 March 2005 03:41 PM      Profile for ronb     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
But at the same time I've seen and encountered aggressive panhandlers, I've been harangued for not giving, and in some cases for not giving enough...

And, as with all advertising, you are under no obligation to either listen or respond. It's not as if they can hypnotise you or anything. Personal responsiblity and all that, what what.


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Mr. Magoo
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posted 10 March 2005 03:55 PM      Profile for Mr. Magoo   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
And, as with all advertising, you are under no obligation to either listen or respond.

But when I don't care to see an ad and I look away, it doesn't follow me, yelling.


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ronb
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posted 10 March 2005 03:57 PM      Profile for ronb     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Yet.
From: gone | Registered: Jan 2002  |  IP: Logged
VanLuke
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posted 10 March 2005 04:03 PM      Profile for VanLuke     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I often don't give anything because I can't. I shrug my shoulders and say "sorry".

I have *never* been hassled by any panhandler and I do not look very strong.

Maybe attitude plays a role too


From: Vancouver BC | Registered: Oct 2004  |  IP: Logged
Privateer
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posted 10 March 2005 09:01 PM      Profile for Privateer     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I don't care if you're rich or poor, if you don't like my attitude when I'm walking down the street minding my own business you can go to hell. What are they the attitude police.
From: Haligonia | Registered: Dec 2002  |  IP: Logged
VanLuke
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posted 11 March 2005 05:54 PM      Profile for VanLuke     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Privateer:
I don't care if you're rich or poor, if you don't like my attitude when I'm walking down the street minding my own business you can go to hell. What are they the attitude police.

No. They are just human beings and often deeply troubled ones. Talking about attitude:


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Privateer
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posted 11 March 2005 07:04 PM      Profile for Privateer     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
The thing is the requests for money are so overwhelming when you walk down any commercial street in Canada that its become a kind of "white noise." The days when I respond or even give (as I did at one time) are fading away. Call it compassion fatigue.
From: Haligonia | Registered: Dec 2002  |  IP: Logged
VanLuke
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posted 11 March 2005 07:38 PM      Profile for VanLuke     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
"compassion fatigue"

I can understand that but your previous post seemed to indicate no compassion.

Glad I'm mistaken

However attitude can make a difference (without elevating panhandlers to be the 'attitude police')

I was deeply impressed when I was in Morocco and saw well dressed, obviously well-to do men, bow deeply in front of beggars while giving them some money.

I was also told that in Spain excuse my perhaps faulty Spanish) people say "Perdonne me hermano" ('forgive me brother') when they didn't want to, or couldn't, give anything.

That is what I was referring to when I talked about attitude.


From: Vancouver BC | Registered: Oct 2004  |  IP: Logged
VanLuke
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posted 11 March 2005 08:11 PM      Profile for VanLuke     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
It just came to me that it is kind of funny that a thread which went into the direction of squeegee kids, panhandlers, food lines and poverty in general should have the title:

Buffet on US Trade Policy

In case you didn't know, he's the second richest man in the world according to Forbes.

How ironic

Edited to add:

And yes, we do live in a heartless society.

[ 11 March 2005: Message edited by: VanLuke ]


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