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There were two types of interesting reactions to my last post. A number of readers think that I'm a closet Obama supporter who would never support a Republican candidate. For the record, I think neither Obama nor McCain come anywhere near the minimum requirement I would like to see in a president. For example, I'd like a president who preferred science over superstition, just to name one thing. So if you think my writing suggests that one of the candidates is slightly less unsuitable than the other, that's unintentional.


I've only once donated money to a politician, and it was McCain. But that's because I made the mistake of telling one of his fundraisers, a friend of mine, that I'd donate money if the surge "worked." Admittedly that was more like paying off a bet than supporting a candidate. But time does seem to be vindicating the surge strategy, no matter what you think of how we got into the mess in the first place.


For the record, I would support a Republican candidate in the mold of Arnold Schwarzenegger, governor of California. As far as I can tell, he supports whatever is common sense and good economics (as experts advise him), doesn't care much about what anyone does in his or her private life, and favors science over superstition. I'm sure he's made his share of policy boners, and you will be happy to point them out, but I use him more as an example than anything else.

In my last post I joked that Obama wants to take my money and give it to people who don't work as hard as I do. As with all gross generalizations, there are plenty of exceptions. But how does it hold up as a generalization?

When I was a kid, I was mowing lawns, working on my uncle's farm, shoveling snow, washing dishes, waiting tables, and anything else I could do to save for college. Meanwhile I worked hard enough in school to graduate as valedictorian, getting a few small scholarships that helped a lot. My mother took a job on an assembly line to help pay for my college, while my dad worked his job in the post office during the day and painted houses on nights and weekends.


In college, I generally had two or three jobs along with my full course load. After college, at my first job, I got in the habit of waking around 4 am so I could put in a good twelve hours before going to night school to learn computer programming. I tried several times to use my meager programming skills to start my own business while continuing to work full time. I almost always worked nights and weekends trying to get ahead.

Eventually I got into graduate school and worked full time while taking classes nights and doing homework most of the weekend. That was the hardest three years of my life, work-wise.


And then there was Dilbert. For the first six years I kept my day job and made Dilbert comics nights, weekends, and holidays. I didn't take a day off for about ten years. At one point I was doing all of that plus writing a book that became The Dilbert Principle. The only time I saw the sun was walking to the mailbox. And I believe that all of that hard work was necessary for the good things that happened.


The average work week is something like 35 hours. For most of my work life I worked about twice that much. I'm writing this blog post on the 4th of July, and have several deadlines to satisfy. So yes, as a generalization, Obama promises to take a large chunk of my hard-earned money and transfer it primarily to people who don't work as hard. That's just a fact.

 
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-8 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 7, 2008
Working hard is only one factor among many.
Your thinking is the typical republican thinking, they don't want to help the less forntunate people.
The reason the rich do well is not because they work hard, it's because they are born with many privileges and advantages: they're smart, they have opportunities.
A stupid person can't get anywhere because they don't know how to, they don't have the ability to do other jobs.
There are many stupid people in any society. If the rich don't help them a little, they'll become some sort of criminal or trouble makers sooner or later. The tax money to help the less fortunate people is just a way to bring some balance to the society.


 
 
Jul 7, 2008
Wow, so much bad will,

Not everyone at the bottom of the heap is lazy and desires to steal all that you have piled up,

What about the folks who give up their careers to care for elderly relatives? Or who are disabled and unable to work? Or who have their lives trampled on by those desperate to achieve success?

We pay taxes as a sort of insurance - "There but for the grace of God go I", or "What if...". It could be you tomorrow - or the next day, or perhaps never,

Besides, if hard work was equal then perhaps you might have a point. But hard work by someone serving at a fast food joint doesn't reap quite the same rewards as hard work by some CEO - as they say, "money makes money", and so if you already have money you already have a big head-start,

If you want a really egalitarian way of reducing taxes maybe you should consider ending the practice of inheritance - then you might just have the startings of a fairer society, and be able to cut taxes while you where at it,
 
 
Jul 7, 2008
"But yeah, it's easier to keep spouting the socialist mantra and believing that people who are rich don't deserve it. "
- and they say: stealing is good, as this one:

"I don't see any problem with money being taken and given to people who don't work as much. Hopefully, it will bring more happiness and more productive memebers of society."
- the happiness of society cannot be maintained by means of thefts

"The average CEO earns 431 times as much as his workers. Do you think he works 431 times as hard as they do? "
- no, but he/she has more people to care about, he/she had to study hard (usually), and had to work hard for many years. So, yes, he/she deserve it.
 
 
Jul 7, 2008
It's nice to see so many of your readers are such hard workers too. In my early working years too many people I knew would only work long enough to become eligible for unemployment insurance and then promply quit. At least they helped to keep the local taverns in business.
 
 
-2 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 7, 2008
You make a point of the fact that since no one knows the future and what policies and politics will be best, there is no point in voting. So let's say Gandhi and Hitler ran for election, who would you vote for?

In my opinion there is no perfect candidate and no-one has foolproof policies, but that doesn't mean that one shouldn't vote. An election is kind of a gamble and one can assign odds as to what candidate will deal with the future in the best way. If you give Obama 150 in odds and McCain 160 for successfully dealing with the future, you should vote for Obama. In my opinion.
 
 
+4 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 7, 2008
wow, you really hit a nerve. People really hate to admit that where they are in life is largely under their control. Unfortunatly many are buying into the wealth envy cr_p. No, we don't all become millionaires if we work hard but the combination of working hard and making good choices will always leave you in a better place. But yeah, it's easier to keep spouting the socialist mantra and believing that people who are rich don't deserve it. Then you don't have to examine your choices.
 
 
-10 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 7, 2008
But the big question is: is that a problem? I don't see any problem with money being taken and given to people who don't work as much. Hopefully, it will bring more happiness and more productive memebers of society.
 
 
Jul 7, 2008
Everyone in society has their place, from the part-time burger flipper to the CEO of Microsoft. We can't all be one or the other.

Society also needs to take care of the part-time burger flippers, or else there isn't going to be anyone to flip your burger. The fact that they continue to make bad decisions is why they're burger flippers, though arguments can be made suggesting that Paris Hilton hasn't the ability to be a successful burger flipper. That does not mean we should not take care of them. Society does not need to take care of it's CEOs, which is why they typically are charged a higher rate even though they "work harder" and make more money. Paved roads do not fund themselves, and you can only charge a burger flipper so much for that road. As a general rule society also demands that you take care of it's poor/sick/elderly. That means the CEOs continue to pay (and maybe can't afford to have golden towel warmers in ALL the bathrooms.) for those less privileged and "hard working" than them.

However, it should be noted that the CEO works as "hard", if not harder, than the burger flipper. I'm a highly paid network engineer that is also renovating his house. I just finished putting over 300 linear feet of fence. I can tell you that I would rather have a hard day working on my fence than a hard day in the office.

Sapphire - you're single mom probably does work very "hard". But a job is hard because either no one else wants it or no one else can do it. Scott's job is hard because no one else can do it. Manager of a KFC does not fall into either category.
 
 
-3 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 7, 2008
Scott,

Thanks for the entertainment. As a cuibicle dweller Dilbert has been a source of relief for years and I hope will continue to be so. As a part of your fan base... which in turn keeps you supported (quite well you have meantioned) which means that part of your wealth came from ME.

If your going to equate how hard you work with how much you should get paid, then why don't you figure out how much more that is (Maybe as much as 4 times?) multiply that by the stereotypical engineer's sallery and donate the rest? or maybe I overestemated how much you earn...

Personaly I'd leave off meation of hard work somehow equalling how much money you got (even in a general sense) - just go with how your an entertainer in a world wide economy... The wealth comes from the appriciation that comes from what you do, and its your money - freely given ultimatly by those who appriciate what you do. Makes a lot more sense to me.
 
 
Jul 7, 2008
Ahhh, but Scott - you were destined to be successful. It's all a big chemical reaction and none of us, including you, can change the outcome.
 
 
Jul 7, 2008
First of all, Scott, I'm a big fan. Secondly, this is the most pretentious post I've seen from you in quite some time.

Yes, yes, you've worked hard for you're entire life. Guess what? So have most people. I know I have. In fact, the summary of your hard-working, sleep-depriving adventure through the hard knocks of life reads much like my own. But the devil, as they say, is in the details.

In my story, my parents contributed nothing towards my college education. And the scholarships available through my tiny po-dunk redneck school wouldn't buy lunch at a major university. So, 8 years of community college night classes later, I still don't have an associate's degree. I've since decided night school wasn't a valuable use of my time, as I've advanced far enough in my professional career that a 2-year basic degree from a juco just doesn't matter.

I regularly work 50 hours a week at my day job, then at least 20 hours on my various projects meant to eventually replace the evil day job. My wife and daughter always complain about my constant neglect. In fact, I'm kicking myself for replying here... I got !$%* to do.

So I'll summarize. You're successful because you struck gold with Dilbert. Sure, all the hard work eventually led to that windfall; but you have to admit that there are many, many people in this world that work a hell of a lot harder than you, with little payoff. And when they develop crippling carpal tunnel syndrome, they probably can't afford to spend $4000 on technology to ease their finger pain. They either work through it, or hang it up. Conversely, we could come up with plenty of examples of folks who pay a lot more taxes than you, yet have never had to clip their own toenails.

Finally, I think we can agree that your Obama/Mccain debate has nothing to do with your level of hard work, but everything to do with your level of income. You don't want your money going to people who don't deserve it... I understand that. Personally, I don't want to see my hard-earned money spent towards wars or welfare. But I would like to see some love on education, so I'll be voting for the guy who values that. Hint: He's the only candidate with a clear plan for educational reform.
 
 
-3 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 7, 2008
Scott, I'm glad you addressed the work vs. reward issue. I think you're essentially right, but I have a slightly different theory.

I think people basically do about the same amount of work in their lifetimes, but I define work as stuff that you really don't want to do if you have any choice. The important thing is WHEN you do your work. If you bust your butt when you're young and get a lot of your life's work out of the way early (like on getting a good education and getting a good start early in your career), you can probably start doing a lot of stuff that's more like play while you're still young enough to enjoy it.

By this definition of work, 70 hours a week of writing a thought-provoking blog, developing a popular and funny cartoon, and associated creative marketing stuff is about as much work as, say, 5 hours working on your uncle's farm. The other 65 hours is more like play. After all, you could probably chuck it all and retire if you really wanted to, but you don't because it's mostly fun.
 
 
Jul 7, 2008
The median income of a man your age is roughly $35,000 a year. You work twice that hard, so perhaps you should be paid $70,000 a year.

The average CEO earns 431 times as much as his workers. Do you think he works 431 times as hard as they do?
 
 
Jul 7, 2008
I'm not really sure why this argument is relevant, Scott. It isn't clear as to whether the conclusion is a good or bad result, all things considered. What is this money going to do? We spend taxes on police and military to protect everyone, which means that hard-working people are giving their time and money so slackers are safe.

Also, if you're anti-superstition, you shouldn't belief in free will, which means that you worked hard because it was what you were programmed to do. It may be advantageous to reward good programming so that society is more productive, but should that come at the extreme of allowing others to wither and die because of their own bad programming which makes them lazy and unable to afford health insurance?

Frankly, I think you're just trolling. You were joking when you originally made that comment, and you're joking now. So why did I fall for it...? I think the answer may have something to do with the fact that you're a millionaire and I am not.
 
 
-1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 7, 2008
I agree that part of the goal of the Democratic party is to take money from those who work hard and give it to those who work less, and this seems unfair especially to those of us who work hard. However, I believe it is nonetheless economically intelligent primarily because of my experience playing monopoly.

The problem with a purely capitalist system is that it is inherently unstable (once you get richer than the rest, it is easier to grow your wealth, which is why someone inevitably wins the game of monopoly). Our government functions by adding stabilizing feedback in the form of siphoning money from the rich back to the poor in order to keep the gap from growing too much.

Pure capitalism is as bad as pure communism; what we need is a socialistic balance where hard workers still get ahead, but not so far ahead that the country completely stratifies (since at some point it becomes extremely hard to jump the class barrier, and at that point our American ideals are lost).

For the most part I think our system functions well right now, but I think currently the gap between the rich and poor is of more concern than the amount of reward for working hard. This is why I am a hard worker who still supports the Democratic party.
 
 
Jul 7, 2008
Scott, your behavior points out one one of your already well-known features: you are a freak.

You have succeed and excelled in positions and situations which most humans would not succeed or excel in. While this makes you an excellent example to hold up to other people, the holding up part leaves out one crucial point, and that is, what it is about you that allows you to do that.

Aquaman is amazing because he talks to fish and can breathe under water. This is because he is part fish, and has gills.

We can't just decide to be like Aquaman- deciding does not give you gills- we can only decide to try to be more like him.

The features you have that make you who you are and make you successful also make you a freak, that is, not like most of the population in a very special way. If we all had them, there'd be no need to hold you up as an example. Don't feel bad that you are a freak. As we all know, freaks- supermodels, the ultra-rich, athletes, the ultra-intelligent, as well as the freaks who are lacking in some way- they're the basis of all entertainment and things interesting.
 
 
-10 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 7, 2008
You don't work that hard.
The nurse who clean the !$%* of my grandfather work hard.
The blue-collar workers who have a life expectancy 10 years shorter than you work hard.

I can waste 9 hour/day reading mail and be paid to do that. I won't say I work that hard or that I am an heroe just because I read mail again at home.

In fact I think you are rich enough and don't need to work anymore. You just have hobbies now :p


 
 
-8 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 7, 2008
Would it bother you if hungry people swarmed your house? What do you think keeps them in check?

You also have to pay for police services even though you never commit crimes.
 
 
Jul 7, 2008
Within the confines of this post it seems that the harder Scott worked the “luckier” he becomes.

It seems to be unrealistic to compare hours worked with productivity or creation of value in a financial or commercial sense. One can reasonably suggest that a stay-at-home parent works 24/7 and creates value in the life of their child.

People trade their time for money. The greater the financial value they create the more they are compensated. It is relatively easy to find someone to work at or near minimum wage as a clerk or fast food manager. The nature of the jobs does not call for the ability to create value. Employees must merely follow the rules set up by the company. They are easily replaceable. The nature of a fast food franchise is the system not the creativity of their staff.

If one has the ability to write two books that show up in the top two slots of best sellers simultaneously; attract 150 million readers; and create value so that people will spend $15.00 to read a collection of comic strips that were previously published for free then that person has created immense value and deserves to be very well compensated for it.

Again, in regard to this post the government did not subsidize the work being done by Scott to get to this place in life. There are no tax breaks for wannabe cartoonists of which I am aware. He was not on public assistance while creating the strip or seeking syndication.

The current tax system is social engineering. It is designed to confiscate wealth from those that have succeeded in taking risks, either in the work they do or the capital they invested. If the tax code was not designed to redistribute wealth from those that have it to those that do not - via a very bloated, inefficient mechanism in Washington D.C. – the code would be a flat tax of some sort.

Neither party has taken responsibility to reduce the burden of taxes. It is very worrisome that Obama admits that revenues to the government will decrease if capital gains taxes are raised but thinks it should be done anyway as a matter of “fairness”.

I am not thrilled with either candidate but supporting one that wants to punish those that take chances and thinks government can arbitrate fairness is scary.
 
 
Jul 7, 2008
Have you checked out the Fair Tax (www.fairtax.org)? It offers the best of both worlds.
- You earn as much as you want or can, and then you only pay tax when you decide to spend your money.
- You control how much tax you pay, and everyone pays regardless of their location in the income strata.
- There are provisions for basic necessities so that it isn't regressive tax.
- You don't need to keep detailed income records, the companies who already have to keep records for business reasons will be keeping those.
- The IRS can work to police businesses rather than individuals.
 
 
 
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