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Walton family wealth equals 40% of Americans combined

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Re: Walton family wealth equals 40% of Americans combined

Postby SlayerDave » Tue Jul 24, 2012 7:58 pm

Rich Schultz wrote:Most of the people on this forum have more wealth than 20% of Americans combined.

"About one in five U.S. households owe more on credit cards, medical bills, student loans and other debts that aren't backed by collateral — so not including car loans — than they have in savings, checking accounts and other liquid assets, according to a new University of Michigan report."
http://www.usatoday.com/money/perfi/basics/story/2012-05-12/households-net-worth-university-of-michigan/54912016/1



No one seemed to respond to this, and I was going to make a similar point, so it's worth quoting again.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/modeledbehavior/2012/06/16/if-you-want-a-better-media-be-a-better-media/

There was a pretty ironic moment on this morning’s Up With Chris Hayes. The panel was discussing whether we live in a post-truth world, and how much the media is to blame for this. Amidst this conversation, host of PBS’s Democracy Now!, Amy Goodman, repeated a highly misleading talking point. It’s a claim you’ve probably seen it a hundred times before; that the wealth of the six Waltons, who own Walmart, is greater than the wealth of the bottom 30%. It sounds astounding, and it is a true fact. But it is also highly misleading. The fact is meant to tell you something problematic about the Waltons’ wealth, but in actuality it tells you almost nothing about their wealth. This is clear if you consider that Amy Goodman herself almost certainly has more wealth than the bottom 25% of households. In fact everyone on the Up With Chris Hayes panel probably has more wealth than the bottom 25%.

For a full debunking of this claim see Tim Worstall or Felix Salmon, but what you mostly need to know is that almost 25% of households have zero or negative wealth. So anyone with any positive wealth has more than them. This fact is entirely about the wealth at the bottom tail of the distribution, not the top tail. As the story is told by Goodman and others it implies that the opposite is true. This may not be a lie, or a literally false claim, but it is completely misleading and decreases rather than increases understanding.
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Re: Walton family wealth equals 40% of Americans combined

Postby Stella_Guru » Tue Jul 24, 2012 8:48 pm

johnfajardohenry wrote:Walmart and this attitude has been one of the best things to happen to US industry. They have forced US industry to become better. This usually do this only when forced to.

I have spent several years in manufacturing also, and Walmart has had very little impact on US industry compared to the Japanese. Back in the 80's they were kicking our ass with superior quality and less expensive products. Their castings and machined items held tolerances and precision that our industry could not reproduce. Their more modern equipment, manufacturing facilities, and great innovation enabled them to almost totally take over several product lines world-wide. Walmart? Who ya crappin?
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Re: Walton family wealth equals 40% of Americans combined

Postby Cornbread » Tue Jul 24, 2012 9:04 pm

Stella_Guru wrote:Why did you feel you had to re-invent yourself a bunch of times?

A variety of reasons--initially lack of education, military time, age, demographics, technology, disability..throw in bad choices at various times, and I'm sure a few others.

Why didn't you enjoy the freedom this country offers of being yourself, taking life into your own hands, making a living as independent as possible from the exploitation of employers, doing what you want to do and facing the consequences?

I'm not sure what you said or what you're asking/implying.
It's because of this country that I was able to re-invent myself.
"old nations" like europe are terribly tribal, so upward mobility is extremely hard, just as lateral mobility to get a different angle on that upward mobility. This is why the caste system is so integral in eurotrash nations. And this is why this (formerly) great nation is different from all others on the planet.
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Re: Walton family wealth equals 40% of Americans combined

Postby Cornbread » Tue Jul 24, 2012 9:06 pm

peripat wrote:They [walmart] also require lower quality


and your proof of this is? (PS, no leftist blathering please, just some proof).

so they can sell for less and still make their obscene profits.


:lol: :lol: Thanks for that one. I had to quote you there because leftists are always funny to read/watch/hear.
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Re: Walton family wealth equals 40% of Americans combined

Postby johnfajardohenry » Wed Jul 25, 2012 6:39 pm

Stella_Guru wrote:I have spent several years in manufacturing also, and Walmart has had very little impact on US industry compared to the Japanese.


I had more in mind consumer goods producers, the kind of companies that sell to Walmart since that is who we have been talking about. Sounds like you are talking about heavier industry, durable and capital goods and the like.

Who had more impact overall? I'm not sure. Perhaps the Japanese, perhaps Walmart. Both had tremendous impact.

Much of what Walmart suppliers have been doing to bring costs down has been implementing what we think of as Japanese manufacturing techniques. So the Japanese have that impact as well.

What most people don't realize is that the Japanese production techniques were all in use in Ford Motor Company by 1923 when Henry Ford wrote his autobiography "My Life and Work". It was out of print in Englishy for over 75 years. It has never been out of print in Japanese. The folks at Toyota will be the first to tell you that their entire business model is based on Ford's book.

For quality, they learned from Ford as well as statistical process control techniques from Shewart, Deming, Juran and other Americans.

But by 1932, Ford was already nuts on precision measurement. So much so that he bought the Johannssen Gauge Block Company so he could install Carl Johannssen in an office adjacent to his own with an interconnecting door.

See http://www.changeover.com/metrology.html for the chapter "A Millionth of an Inch" from Ford's later book "Moving Forward"

Stella_Guru wrote:Their castings and machined items held tolerances and precision that our industry could not reproduce.


Back in the 80's I had a conversation with a marketing guy from Mitutoyo, a leading metrology company. He told me that the reason they could do this is because the Japanese were a decimal place further than the Americans. When we were measuring in thousandths (3 decimal places), they were routinely measuring in ten thousandths (4 decimal places). When we got to 4, they were already at 5 places. If you can't measure it, you can't make it. If you don't measure it, you won't make it.

You can't hold .001, or even .005 if you are only measuring 3 places.

Stella_Guru wrote: Their more modern equipment, manufacturing facilities, and great innovation enabled them to almost totally take over several product lines world-wide. Walmart? Who ya crappin?


I am just telling you what I have seen in both consumer goods industries and heavier industries over 35 years of working in, studying and teaching manufacturing management.

In CGs, Walmart, by forcing manufacturers to become better has had an enormous impact. A lot of that has come by the CGs implementing what we think of as Japanese techniques. In reality, they are implementing 100 year old American techniques that got forgotten. It is easy to get bloated and inefficient. It is hard to get lean and efficient. The Japanese, and Walmart, have both been forcing American manufacturers to get better. Kicking and screaming, perhaps (look at GM, Ford, Chrysler). Some haven't made it (AMC, Studebaker) GM? Basically a zombie and is only kept alive by money taken from taxpayers.

We can make good cars in America. Look at Hyundai in Alabama. It was only 20 years ago or so that Hyundai was known as the car for the people who couldn't afford the luxury of a Yugo. Now? Top of the line and a market leader.

Toyota makes a lot of nice trucks in San Antonio.

Ford is still struggling but seems to be making good progress.

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Re: Walton family wealth equals 40% of Americans combined

Postby johnfajardohenry » Wed Jul 25, 2012 6:58 pm

In 1980 I was Engineering Manager at a newly built pharmaceutical plant and was equipping a new maintenance shop. One of the things I was trying to buy was a new Bridgeport knee mill. Bridgeport was the premier brand and they sold them by the thousands.

They were offering 9-12 months delivery at the time on something that is not that much more than a very glorified drill press like you would buy at Sears. They wanted about $22,000 for it IIRC.

Their attitude was, to paraphrase the old Lily Tomlin line about the phone company: "We don't care. We don't have to. We're Bridgeport."

I looked around and found a Korean Company called Enco that was just getting into the US market. Had not been around long but I had to have a mill and they could deliver one for about $10,000 from stock. I took a chance and bought it. 20 years later, it was still in daily use and still tight.

Enco still sells the same mill (with new technology) for around $10,000 and they sell a lot of them.

Bridgeport? They are still in business. Sort of. After a couple of bankruptcies and being sold a few times.

Screw 'em. If I was in the market for machine tools today? Enco would certainly be high on my list.

It is Bridgeport's (and many other manufacturers) attitudes that killed them. Enco didn't kill them. They basically committed suicide.

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Re: Walton family wealth equals 40% of Americans combined

Postby pjbogart » Wed Jul 25, 2012 9:33 pm

I can't speak to Bridgeport specifically, but is it possible that there was a large royalty to be paid upon a registered patent? Might the Korean company been infringing upon that patent? The long wait for delivery seems inexcusable, but do you suppose you have an obligation to pay your fellow countrymen a living wage to produce the items you desire? Put another way, isn't the low price leader sometimes a short term benefit with long term negative impact on our economy? I can buy a burger at McDonald's for $1, a pizza at Little Caesar's for $5 and a pair of jeans at Wal-Mart for $10, but don't I have a social and moral obligation to pay a living wage when I consume? I know that's not terribly relevant when discussing a $20k drill press, but isn't it possible that the same considerations come into play?

Buying cheap is nice, but selling cheap sucks. Sometimes people get rich by selling high volume at low margins, but oftentimes that low margin is achieved through unconscionable cuts in labor costs. Those cuts eventually reduce the overall economy by reducing the number of people with appreciable expendable income. Do you not recognize that such behavior is unsustainable? If you want to complain about a small portion of the population paying the lion's share of taxes, don't you also need to address the fact that a large portion of the population makes ridiculously low wages to your benefit?

There was a time when having a full time job pretty much guaranteed you the ability to buy a house. Do you think that's unfair?
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Re: Walton family wealth equals 40% of Americans combined

Postby johnfajardohenry » Thu Jul 26, 2012 1:43 am

pjbogart wrote:I can't speak to Bridgeport specifically, but is it possible that there was a large royalty to be paid upon a registered patent?


Nope. These mills have been around for 100 years or more. It is a pretty standard design. Perhaps there was a feature or two that Bridgeport had a patent on but I don't recall any.

Remember that patents only last 17 years, in most cases. Any basic patents that Bridgeport might have had were long, long, gone.

FWIW, Enco needs to keep running too. I was at the International Machine Tool Show in Chicago 2 years ago and there was a Chinese company selling a full size mill for under $5,000. I thought it was a mistake or a miscalculation so I spoke with the people in the booth. Not very well as they had little English, but they assured me that if I gave them $4,995 I could take it home with me. Harbor Freight has similar mills for under $2,000. Floor standing, cast iron 2 HP. Might not be suitable for production use but will be fine for most toolroom & maintenance operations.

http://www.harborfreight.com/vertical-m ... 40939.html

pjbogart wrote:Put another way, isn't the low price leader sometimes a short term benefit with long term negative impact on our economy?


Perhaps but probably not. The $10,000 that I saved on the mill could be spent on something else. The $10,000 I spent on the mill will return to the US economy in some form(Where else can they spend dollars?) so it will keep people in work here.

What that $10,000 I saved will not do is go up in wasted inefficient operation.

pjbogart wrote:Buying cheap is nice, but selling cheap sucks.


No disagreement from me. I so not spend any more than I need to and I doubt you do either. But I do hate being on the other side.

pjbogart wrote: Sometimes people get rich by selling high volume at low margins, but oftentimes that low margin is achieved through unconscionable cuts in labor costs.


That was the Ford model. It is the Walmart model as well. Volume creates its own savings. Sell more, drive costs down, drive price down, drive volume up. Rinse and repeat.

As for Walmart workers, they are not badly paid when you consider what skills they have. Average wage is $10-11/hr for unskilled labor? Seems OK to me.

Look at the jobs these people had before. Walmart lures people from other jobs, not vice versa. Walmart's turnover used to be about half of the retail industry average. Considerably less than Sears, K-Mart, target and so on. They must be doing something right by their people. (Used to be because this was about 10 years ago and I don't know what it currently is. I doubt it has changed much, though the economy may help reduce turnover for everyone)


pjbogart wrote:There was a time when having a full time job pretty much guaranteed you the ability to buy a house. Do you think that's unfair?


There was a time, not that long ago, when the average person stopped paying taxes (income, ss, property, sales, auto and everything else) around the end of February. Now it takes until June.

There was a time, not that long ago, when you could buy a house, including the lot, for $20,000. Much of the increased cost is from regulation, zoning, permitting delays and so on.

Maybe we could address some of that?

Maybe we could find some way to get people some useful skills? I know a man in Chicago that has openings for 6 mechanics. They have been open for more than 9 months now, he can't find anyone qualified. He pays $70,000/yr plus all the overtime they can handle. Good benefits too.

He can find plenty of $40,000/yr mechanics. It is the really good ones that are thin on the ground.

If you can program PLCs you can probably make $100,000/yr without breaking a sweat. They are very hard to find too.

See Jay Leno on welders http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PASEG5xLlRo

These folks don't have problems buying houses.

But that is another issue for another day.

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Re: Walton family wealth equals 40% of Americans combined

Postby Henry Vilas » Thu Jul 26, 2012 7:45 am

Henry Ford paid his assembly line workers much higher than the prevailing wage so they could afford to buy his cars. Wal-Mart pays low wages and sells cheap shit.
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Re: Walton family wealth equals 40% of Americans combined

Postby wack wack » Thu Jul 26, 2012 8:32 am

SlayerDave wrote:
Rich Schultz wrote:Most of the people on this forum have more wealth than 20% of Americans combined.

"About one in five U.S. households owe more on credit cards, medical bills, student loans and other debts that aren't backed by collateral — so not including car loans — than they have in savings, checking accounts and other liquid assets, according to a new University of Michigan report."
http://www.usatoday.com/money/perfi/basics/story/2012-05-12/households-net-worth-university-of-michigan/54912016/1



No one seemed to respond to this, and I was going to make a similar point, so it's worth quoting again.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/modeledbehavior/2012/06/16/if-you-want-a-better-media-be-a-better-media/

There was a pretty ironic moment on this morning’s Up With Chris Hayes. The panel was discussing whether we live in a post-truth world, and how much the media is to blame for this. Amidst this conversation, host of PBS’s Democracy Now!, Amy Goodman, repeated a highly misleading talking point. It’s a claim you’ve probably seen it a hundred times before; that the wealth of the six Waltons, who own Walmart, is greater than the wealth of the bottom 30%. It sounds astounding, and it is a true fact. But it is also highly misleading. The fact is meant to tell you something problematic about the Waltons’ wealth, but in actuality it tells you almost nothing about their wealth. This is clear if you consider that Amy Goodman herself almost certainly has more wealth than the bottom 25% of households. In fact everyone on the Up With Chris Hayes panel probably has more wealth than the bottom 25%.

For a full debunking of this claim see Tim Worstall or Felix Salmon, but what you mostly need to know is that almost 25% of households have zero or negative wealth. So anyone with any positive wealth has more than them. This fact is entirely about the wealth at the bottom tail of the distribution, not the top tail. As the story is told by Goodman and others it implies that the opposite is true. This may not be a lie, or a literally false claim, but it is completely misleading and decreases rather than increases understanding.



let me see if I have this straight: 20% of American households have no wealth, Amy Goodman has more wealth than 25% of American households, and the Waltons have more wealth than 30% of American households, therefore Amy Goodman is the same as the Waltons.

Maybe there's a reason no one responded: it's illogical, unreasonable and dishonest.
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Re: Walton family wealth equals 40% of Americans combined

Postby Francis Di Domizio » Thu Jul 26, 2012 1:14 pm

wack wack wrote:let me see if I have this straight: 20% of American households have no wealth, Amy Goodman has more wealth than 25% of American households, and the Waltons have more wealth than 30% of American households, therefore Amy Goodman is the same as the Waltons.

Maybe there's a reason no one responded: it's illogical, unreasonable and dishonest.



I think the point that was trying to be made wasn't that Amy Goodman was just as bad as the Walton family, but that saying that the Walton family has more money that 30% of American households needs to be put into the context that 20% of American households have no real wealth. Which may just be a bigger problem than how much wealth the Walton family has. You could argue the Waltons by their actions have contributed to that problem, but they are hardly the only ones, and the problem wasn't caused by their having the wealth, but by how they built that wealth.
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Re: Walton family wealth equals 40% of Americans combined

Postby johnfajardohenry » Thu Jul 26, 2012 1:21 pm

Henry Vilas wrote: Wal-Mart pays low wages and sells cheap shit.


You, and several others here, keep repeating this like a mantra.

Have you ever been inside a Walmart?

Could you elaborate on just what "cheap shit" they sell?

If you said that they sell shit cheaply, I would go along with you.

Using "shit" in the Carlinian sense of "That's my stuff, your shit is over there."

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Re: Walton family wealth equals 40% of Americans combined

Postby Huckleby » Thu Jul 26, 2012 1:26 pm

Image

They sure aren't showy about all that wealth.
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Re: Walton family wealth equals 40% of Americans combined

Postby johnfajardohenry » Thu Jul 26, 2012 5:49 pm

Henry Vilas wrote:Henry Ford paid his assembly line workers much higher than the prevailing wage so they could afford to buy his cars.


"The payment of high wages fortunately contributes to the low costs because the men become steadily more efficient on account of being relieved of outside worries. The payment of five dollars a day for an eight-hour day was one of the finest cost-cutting moves we ever made, and the six-dollar day wage is cheaper than the five. How far this will go, we do not know."

Henry Ford "My Life and Work" (Chapter VII Wages)

The chapter is mainly about the $5 wage and talks about how they reduced turnover. In 1915, after the raise, they only had to hire 6,508 workers. Without the raise, they were expecting to have to hire 200,000. As he says:

"Even with the minimum of instruction that is required to master almost any job in our place, we cannot take on a new staff each morning, or each week, or each month; for, although a man may qualify for acceptable work at an acceptable rate of speed within two or three days, he will be able to do more after a year's experience than he did at the beginning."

The reason the increased wage allowed his employees to buy cars was because it allowed him to decrease the selling price of cars. The Model T, while undergoing continual improvement, dropped in price from about $900 in 1908 to under $300 in 1928.

I might point out that wages did not actually rise under the $5/day plan. Wages stayed about the same, around $2.50. The other $2.50 was profit sharing and was subject to being cut when the profits weren't coming in. When he did cut the profit sharing, there was much unhappiness.

For those with Kindles, you can download the book for free. Also at Gutenberg. I've read 100-150 books on lean manufacturing over the years and this is far and away the best ever. (Full disclosure, I wrote the forward to a 2007 paper edition. I am a HUGE Ford fan)

It is written for the general reader so you don't need any technical knowledge. It is a very good read and I highly recommend it.

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Re: Walton family wealth equals 40% of Americans combined

Postby johnfajardohenry » Thu Jul 26, 2012 5:53 pm

wack wack wrote:let me see if I have this straight: 20% of American households have no wealth, Amy Goodman has more wealth than 25% of American households, and the Waltons have more wealth than 30% of American households, therefore Amy Goodman is the same as the Waltons.

Maybe there's a reason no one responded: it's illogical, unreasonable and dishonest.


The real problem is that fully 20% of all families are in the bottom quintile.

We will not be a just society until no more than 5% are in the bottom quintile.

We also need to get more families into the top economic quintile. Why not strive for 50%? Or even more?

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