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Thread: AMERICA TODAY: 3 Million Overlords And 300 Million Serfs

  1. #1

    AMERICA TODAY: 3 Million Overlords And 300 Million Serfs

    One of the most disturbing trends in this country is the rise of extreme wealth and income inequality. As the following charts show, America is rapidly becoming a country of a few million overlords and three hundred million serfs.
    Unfortunately, this issue has been politicized, which means that people don't think about the implications of it — they just start yelling.
    But extreme inequality is bad for everyone, even the overlords.
    Why?
    Because when inequality gets bad enough, serfs don't have much money to buy products from overlords. This hurts the overlords' ability to get even richer.
    (That's what's wrong with the American economy right now. The serfs are tapped out. The overlords are responding by firing more serfs, to increase profits. Unfortunately, because one person's "costs" are another person's "wages," this is making the problem worse.)
    The best way to fix inequality is not to tax most of the overlords' money and give it to the serfs. That just inflames "class warfare" and gets people yelling about "socialism."
    The best way to fix inequality is to persuade the overlords that it is in their best interests to share more of their wealth by paying their employees more for their hard work (work that, not incidentally, is what makes the overlords rich).
    In other words, the best way to change this is to persuade companies that it's better to focus on creating value rather than just profit.
    Persuading America's overlords to do this will take a while, though.
    In the meantime, it's important that everyone understand just how extreme the inequality in this country has become.
    It's way worse than most people think it should be. And it's way worse than most people think.
    The following screenshots from a video created by a pseudonymous videographer called "Politizane" shows this in detail. You can watch the video here or at the end of this presentation. There's one criticism that I'll address at the end, but the basic message is correct
    Wealth And Income Inequality In America - Business Insider

    This subject is not about left and right, it is about the majority of the people and a small minority transferring all the wealth for them and their friends.

    Listen to Senator Sanders, I believe that he is right about the growing inequality in this country. I will also add, that it is the same trend in Europe.

    Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.

    Voltaire


  2. #2
    This story has never changed since the first human stood upright thousands of years ago. It is inherent in nature. It is no different in most of the animal world. They also have their pecking orders and leaders who rise to lead the pack and get the best of everything. Animals earn status by being the strongest in the pack. People earn status through accumulation of wealth.

    Think about it. The only thing that is completely unnatural throughout nature is equality.

    Income equality is the most inefficient economic state possible. It removes incentives and destroys work ethics. Communism has proven that.

    BTW, Bernie Sanders is a Socialist Democrat who does not know what he is talking about. Although incomes for the top 1% are rising, when the top income rises, the Median income rises. The Median is the middle of the range. It is not the average. It does not take into account the actual numbers of people above or below the median. It just simply the middle of the range. The low end of the range does take into account the huge and growing number of freeloaders who live off the system and produce nothing. That is more likely to reduce the median or stretch the range.

    The Mean, Median, Mode and Midrange

    Corporate profits are not at an all-time high as he and Obama keep reporting. Very few corporations are making huge profits. Most are making lower profits than they did 7 or 8 years ago. There is no basis for the claim that Sanders and Obama are making.
    Last edited by TopDogger; 7 October, 2013 at 01:59 AM.
    "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote." -- Benjamin Franklin


  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by TopDogger View Post
    This story has never changed since the first human stood upright thousands of years ago. It is inherent in nature. It is no different in most of the animal world. They also have their pecking orders and leaders who rise to lead the pack and get the best of everything. Animals earn status by being the strongest in the pack. People earn status through accumulation of wealth.

    Think about it. The only thing that is completely unnatural throughout nature is equality.

    Income equality is the most inefficient economic state possible. It removes incentives and destroys work ethics. Communism has proven that.
    You know that we are going to disagree on this, right?

    The wealth inequality in a corporation is in long term going to have an effect. If you take a closer look at walmart for example, they are actually shrinking, and they are accumulating their unsold stock of products. What does it tell? In my opinion, the cost of living is increasing and a lot of consumers do not have enough buying power to buy more than the basic. You can check all the indicators of retail, they are more or less the same. Now If you work in a corporation or a public corporation, the wealth created should be divide reasonably depending of the employment position in the company. If the top earners and shareholders of a company take the whole wealth, most likely it goes a little in the economy, a lot in stock market or in fiscal paradises, how does it make good a economy? See the articles below:

    Wal-Mart Nails The "Consumer Recovery" Coffin Shut

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-09-25/wal-mart-nails-consumer-recovery-coffin-shut


    As Goes Wal-Mart; So Goes America...? | Zero Hedge


    Corporate profits are not at an all-time high as he and Obama keep reporting. Very few corporations are making huge profits. Most are making lower profits than they did 7 or 8 years ago. There is no basis for the claim that Sanders and Obama are making.
    I don't know to be honest with you, I am still seeing corporations buying other corporations, and bank like JP Morgan still having credit swap worth 3/4 of the planet GDP.

    You should take a look at the business insider article, and the infographic.
    Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.

    Voltaire


  4. #4
    I know you have some socialist tendencies from your European background, so I expected you to disagree.

    A corporation's legal and ethical goal is not to share the wealth with employees. It's to share the wealth with shareholders who have invested money in the company. An employee is not necessarily invested in the company. A employee is a tool to be used to help the corporation achieve its goal and purpose. A corporation has no responsibility to share its profits with employees, but most voluntarily do through profit sharing and 401K programs. An employee should be paid what the job is worth. Irrationally increasing pay for low-level workers does not help the corporation meet its legally required goals. Every employee should be paid a fair wage, but that is matter of supply and demand for workers and not some mandate from unions or government. If the wage is not fair, workers can and should seek employment elsewhere. If a corporation cannot maintain its workforce and turnover rates become too high, they will raise the wages as required to maintain the workforce. That is the most efficient way to maintain a workforce.

    I do agree that people at the top in corporations are making way too much money, but so are many of the people in Hollywood. The average Federal government worker is making 50% more than their private sector counterparts. That is also wrong. Government does not seek the best people for the positions, and because it is almost impossible to fire a lazy Federal employee, government accumulates people who are not good employees, which makes government less far efficient than the private sector. My wife works for the county government. They have lots of people who have not done their job for years. The managers have even hired additional workers to help get the job done, but they cannot fire the people who are doing nothing more than collecting paychecks. No business could operate that way and neither should government.

    From my perspective, I do not include the banks and the Wall Street crowd with the list of major corporations. They are in a separate bucket because they do not produce any tangible products. They manipulate investments, mostly to their advantage, but also to the advantage of their investors. I share your disdain for these sectors of the economy. Lots of people should have been thrown in jail for what happened in 2008.

    Years ago when I was in college, a bleeding hearth liberal Sociology professor taught us that the closer we come to economic equality, the less efficient the economy becomes, and the more volatile it becomes as a result. Even educated liberals understand the concept, but they don't put it into practice because it doesn't feel good to them. Plus, too many want to grab what people at the top are making, without doing anything to earn it.
    "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote." -- Benjamin Franklin


  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by TopDogger View Post
    I know you have some socialist tendencies from your European background, so I expected you to disagree.
    LOL, I guess what you call socialist tendencies from my European background, is in fact my humanism side. Today in business we are talking about numbers, profits, investments, market, etc but we don't talk about the person working to feed a family, we don't talk about a working person who love what they do, the individual performance, and why these people who provide a better work aren't rewarded. In our system, the CEO, multi national corporations, financiers, etc are dehumanizing our societies. They are completely removing the human aspect. I do not agree when employers talk about people as a tool, only the sociopath and psychopath act like that.


    From my perspective, I do not include the banks and the Wall Street crowd with the list of major corporations. They are in a separate bucket because they do not produce any tangible products. They manipulate investments, mostly to their advantage, but also to the advantage of their investors. I share your disdain for these sectors of the economy. Lots of people should have been thrown in jail for what happened in 2008.
    I agree with you, these people are parasites and thiefs.

    Years ago when I was in college, a bleeding hearth liberal Sociology professor taught us that the closer we come to economic equality, the less efficient the economy becomes, and the more volatile it becomes as a result. Even educated liberals understand the concept, but they don't put it into practice because it doesn't feel good to them. Plus, too many want to grab what people at the top are making, without doing anything to earn it.
    I am not for economic equality ideology like most socialists and communists support, but I can tell you that I am not for economic inequality. I am for a proportionality ideology, simple as that.

    It is inconceivable for me that today people need to get food stamps when they are working because their companies do not pay them enough. In my opinion, there are many employers who don't deserve to be employers, and it is outrageous that multi national corporations are paying that low. Besides, if everybody don't pay, it is bad for an economic based on consumption, and this down spiral will knock down the elites sooner or later.

    It is like anything else, when people abuse a system from any perspective; employers, financiers and employees, everybody lose. When there is a good government, it is its job to adjust the parameters and re balance things to be fair for all.
    Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.

    Voltaire


  6. #6
    You guys should read "Discourse on the Origin and Basis of Inequality Among Men" (Discours sur l'origine et les fondements de l'inégalité parmi les hommes) by Jean-Jacques Rousseau

    Rousseau discusses two types of inequality, natural or physical and ethical or political. Natural inequality involves differences between one man's physical strength and that of another – it is a product of nature. Rousseau is not concerned with this type of inequality and wishes to investigate moral inequality. He argues moral inequality is endemic to a civil society and relates to, and causes, differences in power and wealth. This type of inequality is established by convention. Rousseau appears to take a cynical view of civil society, where man has strayed from his "natural state" of isolation and consequent freedom to satisfy his individual needs and desires. In the work, Rousseau concludes that civil society is a trick perpetrated by the powerful on the weak in order to maintain their power or wealth.
    His discussion begins with an analysis of a natural man who has not yet acquired language or abstract thought. He then considers the origin of society:

    “The first man who, having fenced in a piece of land, said "This is mine," and found people naïve enough to believe him, that man was the true founder of civil society. From how many crimes, wars, and murders, from how many horrors and misfortunes might not any one have saved mankind, by pulling up the stakes, or filling up the ditch, and crying to his fellows: Beware of listening to this impostor; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody.”

    — Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discourse on Inequality, 1754

    The two fundamental principles of Rousseau's natural man are his natural, non-destructive love of self (amour de soi meme), and pity/compassion for the suffering of others ("another principle which has escaped Hobbes"). Pity and self-love, acting together, contribute to preserving the human species through time.
    Discourse on Inequality - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.

    Voltaire


  7. #7
    Here is what I think on some issues you mentioned.

    Quote Originally Posted by TopDogger View Post
    A corporation's legal and ethical goal is not to share the wealth with employees. It's to share the wealth with shareholders who have invested money in the company.
    Well that's the theory, in the real world corporations are paying as less as possible workers and employees to bring more money to the shareholders from dividends. Nothing in laws justify CEO paid 1000 times a low wage worker in a company, reward of stock from corporation, bonuses and other advantages, nor executive having bonuses and other advantages, when managers, workers/employees have no reward or almost nothing compared to CEO and executive.That's why a system of proportional reward based on people status in corporation will be fair. Do you know what can be the difference between motivated people and people doing just their job? Regarding some French analysts, it is additional 25% of production when people are well paid and motivated. You tell me if it worth it or not...

    CEOs Make Bank, But How Much is Too Much?
    CEOs Make Bank, But How Much is Too Much? [infographic]


    As far as the 401k or similar programs reward a certain level of managers, workers and employees. I sincerely doubt that a person making low wage would be able to put some decent money in a 401k.

    Ok let's follow you argument on workers are tools. First why do you consider workers as tools? Is it your perspective? Because my argument is that CEOs are tools, executives are tools and shareholders are tools.
    g about

    An employee is not necessarily invested in the company. A employee is a tool to be used to help the corporation achieve its goal and purpose. A corporation has no responsibility to share its profits with employees, but most voluntarily do through profit sharing and 401K programs.

    An employee should be paid what the job is worth. Irrationally increasing pay for low-level workers does not help the corporation meet its legally required goals. Every employee should be paid a fair wage, but that is matter of supply and demand for workers and not some mandate from unions or government. If the wage is not fair, workers can and should seek employment elsewhere. If a corporation cannot maintain its workforce and turnover rates become too high, they will raise the wages as required to maintain the workforce. That is the most efficient way to maintain a workforce.
    Let's be honest, these corporations will use every leverage possible to reduce the labor, even if it means blood in their hands from their sub contractors overseas. What is the parity between workers in western systems and workers in emerging countries? Absence of laws, regulations, taxes, labor laws, unions, etc That's why you found lead in paint, no security in baby products, poor quality of products, poor reliability of the products, high suicide rates of workers overseas, high rate of deaths because factories do not have regulatory safety measures, etc

    So, what do you think its going to happen after sending millions of jobs in emerging countries? How people are going to eat? Even today people educated cannot find a job, states are crumbling under the debt, this country is heavily in debt. How all of that will be paid back if 25% of the corporations are sent overseas? How an economy based on consumption can survive if less and less people are shopping?
    Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.

    Voltaire


  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Franc Tireur View Post
    Well that's the theory, in the real world corporations are paying as less as possible workers and employees to bring more money to the shareholders from dividends.
    It is not a theory. It is a legal and a fiduciary responsibility. If a company does not work in the best interest of their shareholders, they can and often are taken to court. There have been hundreds of successful class action law suits against the Wall Street firms, but these are civil cases. My complaint is that the criminals were not prosecuted in criminal court.

    Quote Originally Posted by Franc Tireur View Post
    Nothing in laws justify CEO paid 1000 times a low wage worker in a company, reward of stock from corporation, bonuses and other advantages, nor executive having bonuses and other advantages, when managers, workers/employees have no reward or almost nothing compared to CEO and executive.

    We are in agreement with this, but those are market forces at work. For the most part employes are paid what they are worth. If they are not satisfied with that, they can go elsewhere. From my experience working for an international company, most people stop learning and trying to better themselves as soon as they get a job. But there are always a few people willing to do what it takes to climb to the top. Most people are not willing to do anything to better themselves or their company. They only complain about things.

    I've actually never experienced people working harder or being more productive because they are paid more. People work harder to climb the ladder to a higher position or to achieve a larger bonus, but simply paying people more doesn't increase their productivity. There has to be an incentive. A good example of this is Federal government employees. You would think that overpaid workers would be happy as clams and would work very hard. In reality it takes 5 or more government workers to do the job of a private sector employee. Ron Paul used a perfect example of this in his Manifesto book when he used the example of the number of administrators in the parochial school system versus the public school system in New York City. If you have his book, look it up.

    Quote Originally Posted by Franc Tireur View Post
    As far as the 401k or similar programs reward a certain level of managers, workers and employees. I sincerely doubt that a person making low wage would be able to put some decent money in a 401k.
    Actually, if a 401K is offered by a company, every full-time employee is eligible to join, regardless of pay or status. The only people who are limited are the top 5% of wage earners. This includes the CEO. The top wage earners can contribute to their 401K, but the company is not allowed to contribute a share. The company can only contribute to the 95%. It is true that lower paid employees cannot contribute as much, but in most companies they have the opportunity to move up. At the company where I worked, we had people who started as low level mail room employees and worked their way into $120,000 sales management positions. In fact, very few of our sales manager had a college degree. Most worked their way up from low level positions.

    Quote Originally Posted by Franc Tireur View Post
    Ok let's follow you argument on workers are tools. First why do you consider workers as tools? Is it your perspective? Because my argument is that CEOs are tools, executives are tools and shareholders are tools.
    It is because every person in a company is a tool. A tool is something that helps get the job done. Computers, telephones and company vehicles are also tools. These all come together to get the job done. Why would you look at everything else as a tool, but not the workers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Franc Tireur View Post
    Let's be honest, these corporations will use every leverage possible to reduce the labor, even if it means blood in their hands from their sub contractors overseas. What is the parity between workers in western systems and workers in emerging countries? Absence of laws, regulations, taxes, labor laws, unions, etc That's why you found lead in paint, no security in baby products, poor quality of products, poor reliability of the products, high suicide rates of workers overseas, high rate of deaths because factories do not have regulatory safety measures, etc
    I don't agree with using slave labor to manufacture something, but it is not the US corporations that are doing this. You are talking about Chinese manufacturers. I have been to China many times and have worked with Chinese manufactures. A smart corporation places US managers in the Chinese facilities to keep an eye on the Chinese, because from my experience they cannot be trusted. They will cheat and substitute lower quality and sometimes toxic products almost every time they can make more money by doing so.

    Quote Originally Posted by Franc Tireur View Post
    So, what do you think its going to happen after sending millions of jobs in emerging countries? How people are going to eat? Even today people educated cannot find a job, states are crumbling under the debt, this country is heavily in debt. How all of that will be paid back if 25% of the corporations are sent overseas? How an economy based on consumption can survive if less and less people are shopping?
    In the industry that I worked in, we had no choice about where to manufacture products. The technology and manufacturing facilities were in Japan, not the USA or Europe. It would have cost too much to set up manufacturing in the USA and our products would not be able to compete. The Japanese are honest people and can be trusted, but when Japan went into decline, they moved a lot of manufacturing to China to cut costs. In order to stay competitive, companies have to reduce costs to match the competition. As soon as one company has a cost advantage it starts putting others out of business.

    Idealist viewpoints look great on paper, but they cannot survive in a competitive world. You cannot force companies to pay higher wages in a competitive environment without forcing the company out of business. No one benefits when the employees are out of a job because the company went bankrupt. At one time the USA was the world leader in many industries, such as steel production, that are almost extinct because high wages here do not allow the companies to compete with lower costs overseas. Manufacturing will always migrate to where the costs are lower, not because they want to to increase profits, but because they need to in order to survive. There is no way around that reality.

    The only solution that I see would be to discourage all manufacturing expansion and purchasing from outside of a country. That was one of the original goals for the EU. It was supposed to create a huge economic bloc that would encourage all manufacturing within the block and discourage purchasing outside of the bloc. The plan was to deal with the higher costs of socialist Europe by keeping everything contained. It sounded real good at the time. How is that working out?
    "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote." -- Benjamin Franklin


  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by TopDogger View Post
    It is not a theory. It is a legal and a fiduciary responsibility. If a company does not work in the best interest of their shareholders, they can and often are taken to court. There have been hundreds of successful class action law suits against the Wall Street firms, but these are civil cases. My complaint is that the criminals were not prosecuted in criminal court.
    Well, I was referring to what you said: "A corporation's legal and ethical goal is not to share the wealth with employees." I agree with you on the legal side, but when I said it's a theory, I meant that CEO and executive are sharing the full profits of a corporation with the shareholders, coincidentally they evict the managers, employees and workers from their equation. For me a corporation is a group of people, they work together and rewarded to their respective skills. Off course it is rarely the case.


    We are in agreement with this, but those are market forces at work. For the most part employes are paid what they are worth. If they are not satisfied with that, they can go elsewhere. From my experience working for an international company, most people stop learning and trying to better themselves as soon as they get a job. But there are always a few people willing to do what it takes to climb to the top. Most people are not willing to do anything to better themselves or their company. They only complain about things.
    I don't know about your generation, and the kind of corporation you worked for, but you can only learn a certain amount from school and you can only apply what you learned if an employer let you, otherwise like any assholes employers they will tell you that they prefer to hire as chip as possible someone already qualified. I am talking about this because new technologies don't mean that an employer will pay your training and keep you in his company. For example you have 10 good workers doing great job who are paid just above minimum wage, new technology arrive and the boss need only 4 workers. The new machine will replace the 6 who lost their job. Now when you get a poor and shameful unemployment with $400 per week, there is no way to re-train for free. So how do you invest for your education, when you can barely make a living at the beginning? I am sincerely happy for some people who have the opportunity to climb the ladder and get a better position, but that's not always possible in particular industries who are made of small business operations. Because in some industries, employers prefer to invest enormous amount of money in high tech tools that do not need a lot of operators, and the other companies look more or less the same. It is always the same story, every industry is different and some things you can do in some, cannot be done in others.

    I've actually never experienced people working harder or being more productive because they are paid more. People work harder to climb the ladder to a higher position or to achieve a larger bonus, but simply paying people more doesn't increase their productivity. There has to be an incentive. A good example of this is Federal government employees. You would think that overpaid workers would be happy as clams and would work very hard. In reality it takes 5 or more government workers to do the job of a private sector employee. Ron Paul used a perfect example of this in his Manifesto book when he used the example of the number of administrators in the parochial school system versus the public school system in New York City. If you have his book, look it up.
    Actually it is based on my own French experience in Pre-Press, the whole thing is based on competition between workers, the best skilled workers get the top decent wage, the others are paid less depending of speed and skills. We had in the small business I was working for, 5 different wages, believe me that many of them were motivated to get the same top wage and skill level. When we worked very well and the production increased from the precedent year, we had a bonus based on seniority. Everybody were happy in this company until it was sold to a mega printing corporation. All the guys were in this company more than a decade, when the printing corporation took over, they destroyed everything. Wages were based on the position, not skill, speed and experience, and they removed the bonus concept on good results. In less than 2 years almost all the seniors left, the company sank a few years later. So the HR and big corporations are not necessary the best type of companies.


    It is because every person in a company is a tool. A tool is something that helps get the job done. Computers, telephones and company vehicles are also tools. These all come together to get the job done. Why would you look at everything else as a tool, but not the workers?
    In this context, I agree with you, I thought you were using the term tool uniquely for workers


    I don't agree with using slave labor to manufacture something, but it is not the US corporations that are doing this. You are talking about Chinese manufacturers. I have been to China many times and have worked with Chinese manufactures. A smart corporation places US managers in the Chinese facilities to keep an eye on the Chinese, because from my experience they cannot be trusted. They will cheat and substitute lower quality and sometimes toxic products almost every time they can make more money by doing so.
    Well, if you have the time, you should watch some documentaries, big multi national corporations give the job to sub contractors and bad things happen.


    Idealist viewpoints look great on paper, but they cannot survive in a competitive world. You cannot force companies to pay higher wages in a competitive environment without forcing the company out of business. No one benefits when the employees are out of a job because the company went bankrupt. At one time the USA was the world leader in many industries, such as steel production, that are almost extinct because high wages here do not allow the companies to compete with lower costs overseas. Manufacturing will always migrate to where the costs are lower, not because they want to to increase profits, but because they need to in order to survive. There is no way around that reality.
    I agree that you cannot force companies to pay higher wages in a competitive environment, but really if nobody pay high wages, how do you boost an economy based on consumption? I mean it is pretty contradictory if you ask me.

    Also when an economy work pretty good, wages do not follow, so there is a greed element that is sad, because when things turn sour worker take the hit, when it doesn't just nothing.

    The only solution that I see would be to discourage all manufacturing expansion and purchasing from outside of a country. That was one of the original goals for the EU. It was supposed to create a huge economic bloc that would encourage all manufacturing within the block and discourage purchasing outside of the bloc. The plan was to deal with the higher costs of socialist Europe by keeping everything contained. It sounded real good at the time. How is that working out?
    I never wanted this kind of Europe, it was working fine before, since the Europe Union it is a mess at all levels. Austerity is destroying us step by step, and like Nigel Farage said, either it is the market who is going to destroy the EU or revolutions and unrests. With all the countries in deep debts, it is impossible that it will work. So far the English were smarter because they are still mastering their money, but everything are connected and everything will fall together.
    Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.

    Voltaire


  10. #10
    All prices in a free market are determined by supply and demand. A CEO does not set his compensation. The Board of Directors does that. They frequently pay way too much to assure they get the best leaders. Sometimes they do get the best and they manage to turn a company around, sometimes they don't. If the increased profits exceed the cost of the CEO, it was probably a good decision.

    In a normal, healthy economy, no one with skills works for minimum wage. That is an entry level job. You are supposed to build your skills so that you can move up. My point is that too many people never do anything to increase their skills or their value to an employer.

    I find the striking fast food worker issue to be laughable. Unions are trying to organize fast food workers and are demanding a $15 per hour wage. If they are successful, employees at fast food restaurants all over the country will rush to unionize. Most consumers do not understand that the increased food production cost will be passed on to them.
    "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote." -- Benjamin Franklin


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