23 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Dream Hoarders”

  1. I don’t quite buy it. The 1% and 0.1% have exponentially tilted the playing field toward them and have captured all the productivity gains since the 1970s, and if the curve starts to bend up below them, the people at that point don’t have much control over it and don’t gain that much benefit. Many in the six-figure class still aren’t totally financially secure and don’t have the complete American dream, meaning they can’t comfortably pay for all of their retirement, old-age medical needs, a house, a car, and 4-year college for their children — and some have high college-loan debt.

    Yes, they use exclusionary zoning to their advantage. But what’s really happening is that as inequality goes up, more and more people are falling into poverty, and that will continue reaching up even into the six-figure class until we return to a 19th-century aristocracy and everyone else, and some of them will be in the everyone else and won’t have their houses anymore.

    He’s also wrong about the zero-sum game. Yes, of course mathematically if ten people go up into the to 20%, ten people have to come down out of it, but that’s a meaningless abstraction. If the income and options of the top 20% and top 40% aren’t much different then there’s not much advantage in being in the top 20% and it doesn’t matter.

    The real issue is to reverse the tilted playing field of the top 1%, eliminate the political corruption that both caused it and is fed by it, and ensure that people in the bottom 99%, 80%, and 20% have a decent and secure minimum standard of living.

    1. Totally agree with your third paragraph, it is immediately what came to mind when I heard him say that.

      I also agree with your overall assessment. The claim that households earning $117,000 or above are hoarding the American dream is ridiculous. In Seattle (and I have to imagine in NYC, where this is filmed), I can’t see how a household earning $117,000 could afford rent and all other necessities, much less having children or saving any meaningful amount for retirement. Is that hoarding the American dream?

      1. The video offered great commentary. While Mike Orr and Sleeknub’s points are well taken, i.e. that the top 20% in a place like Seattle or New York (or a number of other high-price cities) certainly aren’t “dream hoarding,” one could argue that they are in other places. Take any mid-sized Midwestern or Southern city, Cincinnati, for example. $120,000 for a family of four earns you enough to afford a home in an elite suburb, or enough to put your kids in the local Catholic school, luxuries only afforded to those well off. The kids in the wealthy neighborhoods with good grade schools, or in the parochial schools, succeed in high school and go on to college. With a minimum wage 30% lower than Washington’s ($8.55 vs. $12.00), and with comparable “technical level” career jobs paying less than coastal areas – sometimes significantly less – you can bet that your average non-college-educated worker is unable to create social mobility for their children. I went to college with a number of kids whose parents either paid for Catholic school through high school, where they took extensive AP courses to prepare for college. At the time, tuition to the Catholic high schools in the area was more expensive than college tuition. Many others lived in the “right” neighborhoods and either got to go to a good suburban school or tested in to a City magnet high school. I literally didn’t know a single college student who graduated and went to a non-magnet City public high school. Several started, and all failed or dropped out.

        So, no, nobody is dream hoarding on $117,000 per year in Seattle or New York. But, you better believe that there is a ton of dream hoarding going on in places like Cincinnati, Birmingham, Columbus, Omaha, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Minneapolis, Saint Louis, and Kansas City. Has been for decades, and will continue to until we fix public education.

  2. Martin, thanks for getting the comments fixed this morning. Sorry it took me an extra hour to see the correction. Topic itself could be STB’s most urgent to date.

    Would “Birthright Government” be fair description of the menace, or should we stick to the traditional term “Hereditary Aristocracy?” Either way, cause or effect, across history the birth of the Empire sounds the death of the Republic.

    Question for us is what we do about it starting now. First path to action I see starts with the fact of how many skilled tradespeople are literally retiring out from under their now-unfilled but still critical positions.

    Best start here is probably to free their most natural and deserving replacements from ICE custody across from Angle Lake Station and on the Tacoma Tide Flats, substituting work papers for arrest warrants.

    Followed closely by more than one Presidential and a lot more Congressional and Senatorial candidates giving the re-unionization of American politics top plank on their party’s platform.

    Which will also be good launch pad across both education and politics for the “Highest” education in the phrase to start involving learning whose mistakes can require a band-aid if you’re not careful.

    And for whatever the “WASL” is called in the other 49 States to strictly mandate proficiency in subjects from nursing to machining, veterinary medicine, and elementary school teaching as a high school graduation requirement.

    As to present numerical percentage of ladder-shaking class-wall-builders, any is too many. But reasonably sure that drafters of our Bill of Rights had these portraits in their minds as they signed the Second Amendment.


    Preventive remedy very likely including actual militia duty on the village green, the colder and wetter the weather the better, with the Village Idiot being issued a corn-stalk so the poor lad wouldn’t feel left out.

    Mark Dublin

    1. “Would “Birthright Government” be fair description of the menace, or should we stick to the traditional term “Hereditary Aristocracy?””

      Hereditary aristocracy. I don’t know what “birthright government means”.

      Thomas Picketty has the best long-term explanation I’ve seen in “Capital in the Twenty-First Century”. Throughout most of history the return on capital was higher than the return on labor (“p > g”), so the aristocracy grew richer by doing nothing. Capital then was land, and later government bonds and venture stocks. This lasted until the triple calamity of WWI+Depression+WWII, where a lot of old fortuned were wiped out by the war and depression. The deprivations were so high for everyone that a progressive/liberal/democratic/cooperative wave followed. I.e., the New Deal, the egaliarian experience for those fighting WWII, and the resolve after the war to build a great society for everybody: “We’re all in it together.” Now the return on labor was greater than the return on capital, and people plunged into high-paying jobs, most people made real gains, and some self-made men became the richest people in the world.

      The Anti-New Dealers never liked the reforms, and after the 1970s oil-price shocks they got some levers of power and began slashing taxes on the rich, deregulating industries, and reversing social programs. This happened most acutely in the US but also to a greater or lesser extent in the rest of the industrialized world. The new self-made men weren’t always Anti-New Dealers but they generally supported reducing taxes on themselves because they’re the “job creators”.

      Throughout the postwar era people assumed something had fundamentally changed, and a hereditary aristocracy was long gone. But finally the 2008 crash took the wheels off the postwar transformation and it was revealed to be a temporary aberration. That wasn’t apparent in the 90s because the aftermath of the triple calamity cast very long shadows, but the Great Recession finally put an end to it.

      Now the return from capital is again higher than from labor, and those self-made plutocrats are starting to have children and giving them the most advantages. The changing income-tax rate, with capital gains taxed lower than wages, adds to this. Thus we’re heading toward a new hereditary aristocracy.

      Picketty’s solutions include a progressive tax rate, and worldwide disclosure of all assets (no tax havens), and an annual wealth tax replacing the inheritance tax. (The wealth tax would be 1% of the inerhitance tax, so they’d pay the same amount of money but the revenue would be gradual, they couldn’t bequeath it through tax-free loopholes, and they’d have an incentive to spend/invest the money in something useful rather than hoarding it.)

      “Either way, cause or effect, across history the birth of the Empire sounds the death of the Republic.”

      Some would say the US has been an empire since the 1800s, because the United States itself is as large as an empire.

      “Question for us is what we do about it starting now.”

      There’s not much we can do until we can get enough people in government who will reverse this. We can bring back the “rising tide lifts all boats” with changes in policy. It just may take another calamity like WWII to convince enough people of it. Or a climate crisis.

      “First path to action I see starts with the fact of how many skilled tradespeople are literally retiring out from under their now-unfilled but still critical positions.”

      That is a major issue but I mostly see it as separate. Our infrastructure was built by people in the cooperative wave, who had a long-term vision of building a better society for everybody. Now people are thinking, “What can I personally make, now, this quarter? Low taxes would benefit me. The infrastructure will somehow just be there like it always has.” The solutions may be the same in that if you solve one you solve the other. But one is about money and wealth and the other is about infrastructure, which aren’t the same thing.

      1. “Birthright Government?” Notice lately the ever thickening cloud of imaginary Presidential powers acquired by claiming them? Orders to pull companies out of China by personal decree latest example. Also college admissions-manipulation strategies that let parents’ money substitute for students’ abilities. But you’re close enough.

        Shields said SPQR. “Senate and People of Rome.” Anybody got a problem with just making that read “Hail Caesar?” Or in recent millennia with neither the Philippines nor Samoa voting for the President of the United States? Didn’t think so.

        You’d have to be clueless enough to think the Union won its unjust War of Northern Aggression. What, ten years after Appomattox, Americans decided firmly that by 1876 or so, they were tired of losing white soldiers fighting against the proven job-creator of slavery. Lazy ingrates thought just being back in the USA wasn’t good enough! Lucky that modernization of calling it a correctional system really trimmed the States’ food budgets over the old system too.

        I’m seriously interested, though, in your thoughts about a massive up-front labor union revival at the front of somebody’s platform, not somewhere back with the leftover lumber. Whether or not the idea fits the category of “Socialism”, the reality of signature hands-on unionism shares its crowning difficulty:

        “The people shall own the means of production!” is the opposite declaration from an eons-long baby shower. From mining to deep ocean fishing (write in Metro schedule that best fills the bill here), who with a choice would want to pull into the yard knowing what the rest of your fellow owners will start doing to your customers soon as you sign off tonight?

        My own main general source of hope right now is how little deference I’m seeing in young people just turning voting age to those of us who are leaving them our country’s present politics.


        With likely strides in cosmetic surgery, in thirty years Anderson Davis will make Texas a lot prettier Governor than it presently deserves. With a lot better firsthand knowledge whereof she speaks on policy and its results. I trust her and her cohorts much more than I envy them.


    2. “…Anderson Davis will make Texas a lot prettier Governor than it presently deserves. With a lot better firsthand knowledge whereof she speaks on policy and its results.”

      Care to discuss which policy affected this child’s life? We can start with many, many agencies and their policies (beyond the law that murder is illegal): NCIC, NCIS, FBI, Red Flag laws and our distorted criminal justice system.

      There have been several shootings where agencies failed to follow NCIC policies and submit prohibited possessor information. Youth offenders have also been protected by policies that coddle them to prevent them from being flagged as prohibited possessors in the future (Parkland and Dayton).

      The shooter threatened his neighbors with a rifle and used to shoot animals from the roof of his home. Was that ever reported? Yes.

      Yet when neighbors reported him, the police could do nothing. Hamstringed by “laws” meant to protect law-abiding citizens, I mean criminals.

      The shooter also had a history of evading police and his original felony of this charge was reduced. The policies of the criminal justice system give way too many protections to the criminals in allowing them to not be recorded as their original crimes. Had his original crime been recorded as it such, he would have been noted as a prohibited possessor.

      Do we know how the shooter bought his gun? It has not been announced yet. We can assume either it was illegal or a legal private sale which, according to federal and state policies, are still regulated and exist harsh penalties for both buyer and seller who violate said law.

      Tell me, given the amount of current gun control policies currently on the books, what more firsthand knowledge can one provide about “policies” when it
      comes to making laws to guarantee good behavior from people who are willing to break the law?

      1. Since my Texas residence ended at age one when the Army transferred my father to Chicago….an up-to-date source.



        My remedy this afternoon?



        My own remedy, for Anderson’s generation and beyond? Have our country’s own entire population start adult life firearms training under supervision intolerant of a dirty rifle-barrel. And even less intolerant of workers’ wages and conditions that indeed unhinge recipients to murderous insanity. Seth Ator, may he rest in Hell….how much did he die owing?

        But one act of courage I think it’s unfair to ask of anybody on Earth: Personally telling an Australian he or she is a coward or a willing slave for abiding their countries’ laws on firearms possession.

        Mark Dublin

  3. Serious question – if you had one evening to experience San Diego rail transit where would you go with your camera and why?

    Because I just might get that evening soon…

    1. My first trolley trip was down to the border and back. I’d recommend that. I haven’t been much on the other lines.

      If you asked a different question, what should you see in San Diego, I’d say Balboa Park, Mission Beach, and the border trolley line. There’s a lifestyle center mall downtown that may be interesting. If you’re looking for a place to stay, there’s a Y on Broadway with lots of cheap individual rooms if it’s still there.

      1. The border trip is only half an hour down and half an hour back on a train running every 30 minutes evenings. You don’t have to cross the border. (Although it’s only a couple minutes walk to the gate; then ten more minutes to get to central Tijuana.) Your Sprinter trip from downtown San Diego will take half an hour just waiting at the station or going halfway to Oceanside before you even get to Sprinter. Of course, I’m assuming you’re starting from downtown; that may be a wrong assumption. If you’re starting from northern SD near the train line then it may be better.

    2. It’s a long trip, but you could take the Coaster up to Oceanside and then Sprinter inland a bit. Sprinter uses Siemens DMU cars, which is unusual in the USA. It’s an example of what could be done, say, on the DuPont – Tacoma line or a few other lesser used freight lines. Coaster has very limited southbound afternoon service so you may need Amtrak one direction.

      1. Thanks, I will attempt to squeeze the Sprinter into my calendar…

        However to get to it, it seems to require I decide between going into San Diego proper and going north to the Sprinter. Or going into San Diego proper and getting up boku early to making a quick Sprinter ride and then race back to MCAS Miramar :-). Seems doable if I make the wake-up alarm!

      2. It’s suburban hell up there. 55 mph arterials of superblocks with one building on them. I have relatives up there; the last time I was there was the weekend before Sprinter opened so I just missed it! Still, trying to squeeze an infrequent commuter train trip + Sprinter + going back the same way (or you could take the bus south from Escondito) sounds like a risk of not fitting it into an evening and and being depressed at the landscape. So I guess the issue is how much you want to see a DMU train vs how much you want to see the non-depressing parts of San Diego in your one evening there.

      3. I recently rode the Sprinter from Oceanside to Escondido. There isn’t much directly around the Escondido station. From there I took a Rapid 235 bus back to downtown San Diego. It is kind of like their version of ST Express with direct access ramps to park & ride stops off the freeway and inline stations they call Centerline.


        Also, if you take the Coaster/Surfliner you can see construction for the trolley extension to UCSD north of Old Town.

  4. I just found out from a KCM driver that they are required to pull up to the actual bus sign to let people on the bus. This is interesting.

    The stop at 4th and Jackson NB is set up for 3 or 4 busses. (180 ft. to 240 ft). When the front bus stops, the other busses stop behind and open the doors. It might be far back but you can see people running south towards their bus. Normally the passeengers run back and will be let on. Not all drivers stop again at the bus stop sign. Most people know this.
    Yesterday, my bus driver was the 3rd bus in that line. He told me that he was instructed to not let people on or off before the actual stop zone. So many people ran south on 4th to get his bus. He was stuck behind 2 busses and could not move. He did not open any doors. After the other busses cleared, he drove up to the front of the bus zone. People got on and he took off without at least 2 people. Those passengers were the ones who ran the other way for the bus. Those people ran both ways and still missed the bus. WTF.

    This also happens at the Jackson Island station all the time. I am sure I am not the only one to see it. And I have made conplaints about it with no responses. Have others seen this?

    1. If every bus driver strictly followed that, service would grind to a crawl. A bus that’s number 4 in line could easily be stuck at that stop for 10+ minutes. Worse, a single person getting on the bus with a wheelchair could start a chain reaction that causes several buses to be late, delaying hundreds of people.

      Common sense says, if you expect to be stopped for more than a few seconds, you open the doors. Its fine for a bus that was previously #4 in line to make a second stop at the actual sign, in case someone with mobility limitations is unable to walk over, but that stop would normally be very quick, since everyone has already gotten on.

    2. I wouldn’t take one driver’s word as gospel. There are hundreds of drivers and they all say and do different things. Without being on the inside it’s impossible to tell which are really the rules, whether they changed recently, which drivers are remembering out-of-date rules, and which drivers put practicality first.

      My experience is when a bus pulls behind another bus, you’d better go to it now because it won’t stop again for you. But the third bus will generally stop again at the front, or won’t open its doors at all until it gets there.

      1. This is Metro’s rule of thumb and what most drivers do at 4th and Jackson. The first two busses in line load and unload as normal. The third bus may open its doors, but if it does it opens them back up once it is at the front of the line. Usually the fourth can’t load or unload, as that far back there’s metal barriers in the way.

        Problems that arise usually do so when the third bus in line doesn’t open its doors once it has reached the front of the line. Which is why I pay attention to the driver of bus three. Upon making eye contact with them, they’ll frequently give me a shooing away motion with their hands if they’re going to reopen their doors in the front of the line.

        It is an annoying stop for passengers, and for drivers as well. But if both groups work together, 95+% of the time it all works out.

  5. When I was driving, seem to recall that rules always had third bus always stop at the sign at the head of the zone. Your runners would’ve done best to head that way and wait there. Creating, in effect, a self-adjusting platoon operation.

    Complaints best directed to your elected representatives on Metro Council and/or Sound Transit board. Time, location, direction of travel, route, description of driver. Use term “training” a lot. In the absence of some firm direction from both management and union, large percentage of drivers probably think of themselves as driving for Uber or Lyft: MY bus, My Way!

    “Runners” always a question for bus driver on long headways at rush hour. Whole idea is to carry passengers, not leave them. But under heavy service, every individual bus is functionally part of a train. More everybody on board thinks accordingly, better everything works.

    Mark Dublin

  6. Remedy for the “in”- in front of “tolerance”? Dad mentioned push-ups and large piles of potatoes.


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