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The BLOG FLUME - Not-so-sad Farewells

Universal says goodbye to a loser, Eisner might say goodbye to another creative source and Jean-Marie Messier might soon say goodbye to freedom.

Written by Kevin Baxter
Published: June 24, 2004 at 1:52 AM

LA AVENTURA IS OVER-A
LA Times - Jun 22

NBC Universal has already decided it wants out of the theme park business. At least in Spain. Universal Mediterranea will now be a Universal resort in name only. The company sold its 37% stake to its former partner, the Spanish bank La Caixa, for $30M. The park will still license the Universal name, but that is it.

While many people are questioning whether this is just the start of a theme park sellathon, I think it isn't. No one could expect cost-conscious GE, NBC Universal's parent company, to hold onto a loser like this for very long. Now if they sell their Universal Japan shares, then it's time to be worried.


MIRAPIX? PIXAMAX?
NY Post - Jun 15
Thanks to Jim Hill Media for the link.

While many comparisons have been made between Michael Eisner driving away creative geniuses like those at Pixar and those at Miramax, nobody has mentioned that those two could combine forces to truly make Eisner's life miserable. Well, some Hollywood investment bankers are doing everything they can to make that happen.

But would such a merger benefit both companies? Disney claims Miramax loses money on a semi-regular basis. Disney loves to play fast and loose with accounting methods so whether or not this is true is anyone's guess. But Miramax certainly isn't the cash machine Pixar expects to be post-Disney. But Pixar's slow output keeps its stock price from soaring into the stratosphere. Miramax, even with minimal profits each year, could help keep stock prices up.

So it could possibly be a good match, but bankers are also trying to encourage a Weinstein-led bid for MGM. This might actually be more attractive to the Weinsteins, who would be able to milk the MGM film library and not answer to some moron who looks like the missing link. (Seriously, check out the picture!)


ANOTHER MISSING LINK
Orlando Sentinel - Jun 22

Say what you will about France, but it is a country that doesn't kiss the ass of the rich, unlike the government of a certain country who likes to ridicule it. Jean-Marie Messier, former CEO of Vivendi Universal, built the company into a Disney-style behemoth, all the while denying he ever did anything wrong in doing so.

Well, it seems he did do wrong. Very very wrong. After 9/11, Vivendi allegedly spent $1.2B in a stock buyback scheme to prop up its share price. While it isn't illegal for a company to buy its own stock, there are limits, which Vivendi supposedly exceeded. Messier was also arrested for insider trading, but there aren't any details on that.

So I guess the US will police the world for imaginary WMDs and France will have to police the rich. Unless you are a famous television personality, the US won't touch you if you are rich and white. Hell, if you are scummy enough, they'll probably give you a post in the Cabinet.

Readers' Opinions

From Jayson Myers on June 24, 2004 at 2:05 PM
Why the anit-US rant? Come on, you have the best theme park site on the net, do we really need to be anti-US? (or any country for that matter).
From cheryl hammock on June 24, 2004 at 6:30 PM
If I wanted politics, I would go to a political blog Mr. Moore.
From Robert Niles on June 24, 2004 at 11:05 PM
Actually, I took it to be more anti-rich. Trust me, no one could beat the U.S. at putting backslapping, crony-hugging, cash-n-carry capitalists in jail if we put our minds to it. Unfortunately, too many of our fellow Americans keep electing Republicans and "New" Democrats who think that corporate welfare and cooking the books are God-given upper class rights.

And if we need a theme park tie-in, I'm proposing that "Halliburton: The Ride" would scare the heck out of far more fans than anything the folks at Universal Creative or WDI could dream up.

How about it, Kevin?

From Kevin Baxter on June 25, 2004 at 1:05 AM
Yes, it was anti-rich, but in the vein that people with money aren't inherently evil, but if they are, they will find a government more than willing to protect them from a deserved jailterm. There are plenty Jean-Marie Messiers in this country, and most of them run this country. Not directly, like Cheney or Bush, but through campaign contributions.

And if you think this isn't affecting theme parks, wait until my next column...

From TH Creative on June 25, 2004 at 6:53 AM
For Mr. Baxter: What about stem cell research, do we need a position there?

(Chuckle)

From Tim Hillman on June 25, 2004 at 7:57 AM
Here we go again. Robert and Kevin, you two should be ashamed of yourselves. You both make thinly veiled attacks on the current administration, and then you hide behind the lame excuse that you are really only “anti-rich” or “anti-cronyism.” C’mon guys, anybody who has been visiting this site for more than a few days has a fairly good idea of your political leanings, so why dissemble?

Cronyism exists on both sides of the aisle. It doesn’t really matter who is in power in the White House or in Congress, the same pigs seem to be feeding at the trough. Many of the cheap shots that you both took at the party not of your choice could be and have been directed at the previous administration with the same amount of validity or more. Money and power are always going to attract folks looking for a quick buck and all political parties have their good and bad characters. Turning a blind eye to the misbehaviors of your favorite politicians and CEOs while blowing the whistle on the antics of “the other guy’s” pork barrel babies is disingenuous and only damages your credibility.

The content on this site (especially from you two) is far too good to be ruined by political discussions, yet it continually comes up in our threads. Most of the time it starts with a leftist bombshell or a slanted comment and it escalates from there. From my point of view, it comes across as “conservative baiting” and I suspect others feel the same. Those of us with conservative or libertarian views try to ignore it just like we would a yapping dog, but sometimes it gets annoying. So, for the sake of peace and for the continued general enjoyment of this website, can we leave our politics out of our discussions about theme parks?

From Robert Niles on June 25, 2004 at 10:07 AM
Because theme parks are a multi-billion dollar business, and it is impossible to cover and critique a multi-billion dollar business without acknowledging the political environment within which those businesses operate.

The liberatarian ideal of business operating without government influence is a myth. And businesses collectively, in the United States and elsewhere, devote far more of their time and resources lobbying the government for aid and assistance than for deregulation. So the political environment in which theme park operate is fair game for discussion and analysis on this site.

That said, I'll acknowledge that Kevin's columns, particularly the Blog Flume, get political far more often than mine, or anyone else's on the site. I prefer to limit my political coverage to that which is *directly* related to theme park management and development. But I will jump in and play along with the political discussions on the Blog Flume. Heck, it's fun. (And it is even more fun, when you strike back, Tim.)

Kevin's job with the Blog Flume is to riff off the headlines and stir things up. The Blog Flume is the O'Reilly/O'Fraken Factor of the site. If you don't like that type of discussion, skip the Blog Flume articles. There's plenty else around here to keep you entertained. (At least, I hope there is.)

If the Blog Flume's traffic tanks, believe me, I'll tell Kevin to go do something else. I'm a cold-hearted capitalist when it comes to running much of this site -- I won't waste my time on stuff people don't want to read. (But I won't cross the line some over-eager capitalists online do and accept freebies, junkets or company plants on the site. For what that's worth.)

If people don't want to read the Blog Flume, the site's log files will quickly let me know. But for now, the Blog Flume remains one of the more popular features on the site, so I can only assume that somebody likes Kevin's ranting.

From TH Creative on June 25, 2004 at 10:39 AM
I for one find Mr. Baxter's "rantings" very entertaining.
From Tim Hillman on June 25, 2004 at 10:51 AM
Doggone it, Robert! I had a bad feeling you were going to say what you just did. Soon as I get this hook out of my mouth I'll start dishing a little bit of reality back at you all.

Let the bomb throwing begin!

From Robert Niles on June 25, 2004 at 11:59 AM
Too bad Fox doesn't have a park to open "Dodgeball: The Attraction." We could finally do that TPI park meet: Liberals vs. Conservatives!
From Robert Niles on June 25, 2004 at 2:28 PM
By the way, not to get this discussion back on topic or anything -- Lord knows we're talking on the Flume here -- but Universal employees are *giddy* at the idea that Messier could end up in the clink. So many of them hated, hated, *hated* that guy.
From Kevin Baxter on June 26, 2004 at 12:42 AM
As for Tim... find me one place in my "rant" where I blamed this whole plutocracy on Republicans. I have said, time and time again, that I hate ALL politicians, though I certainly have a little less venom for the Democrats. But that's like saying I prefer eating horse poop to dog poop.

What I don't understand is how ANYONE can toss around the pompoms for ANY politician. These people are the scummiest people in our nation. Find any scumbag in the business world - polluter, slave laborer, sue-happy lawyer, etc - and you will find plenty of American politicians making it possible for that scumbag to continue his scumbaggery. Remember in Mars Attacks! when First Lady Glenn Close is told that the Martians blew up the Capitol building and she cracks up? Well, that isn't one-tenth the reaction I would have.

Toss some more Messiers in prison and things can only improve for us common folk, right?

From J. Dana on June 26, 2004 at 12:56 AM
Besides theme parks, I love civil, spirited, yet THOUGHT OUT debate on politics.... when the two topics meet, all the better. My take: I, too, tire of anti-American rants thinly spun as "anti-rich" rants. And since we're on the subject, why be anti-rich? If these theme parks make some people rich, do we hate those people because they're rich? Class bating isn't anything new. Here's the deal...I hope I'm fortunate enough to make my mark and score some big money some day (it just takes hard work and determination), and when I do, I'm gonna be pissed if the government thinks it's gonna take over 40 percent. Just because a person becomes successful doesn't mean that his success belongs to the government... that type of thinking is as successful as, hmmm, the Berlin Wall. Just remember, socialism has failed every time it's been tried. Now, before someone accuses me of being some right-wing nut, I think ANYONE who abuses power and steals money in order to become rich should be tossed in jail. No question about it. Kevin and Robert, keep sticking your political views in here (heck, it's Robert's site, he can do whatever the hell he wants to)...it's fun to see them. Just remember: about 98 percent of Americans belong to some sort of business, draw their paychecks from some corporation, and are in need of tax breaks of some sort. So, when we talk about government favoring businesses, that's a good thing, because that's government working for the people. And since we're talking theme parks here, that's a very good thing. Without government tax breaks and such (especially with Walt's World in Florida), I doubt we'd have a theme park to visit, much less a site to talk about it. I want businesses, especially these theme parks, to make lots and lots and lots of money. Because for the 98 percent of us who currently work for a business of some sort, including theme parks, a healthy company means we keep our jobs.

Hooray for money pouring into businesses...hooray for rich guys hiring us poor guys (albeit at pissy salaries). Hooray for theme parks making tons of money.

From David Allen on June 26, 2004 at 12:06 PM
I come here to read about and discuss theme parks, not to read social/political issues unless they pertain to theme parks.

There are plenty of political venues for that.....

From A E on June 26, 2004 at 1:10 PM
LMAO.

I have to giggle at those who say that any discussion of politics that doesn't show favorably on the current regime is "anti-American".

I'm sorry, but I was under the impression that being able to say these things is about the most American thing there is - isn't that the "freedom" we are all fighting for?

From Kevin Baxter on June 26, 2004 at 5:17 PM
Hallelujah, A E!

Actually, it is a bit naive to think that most people becoming rich aren't doing it at our expense. We don't control the vast amount of money, yet we pay the vast amount of taxes. How is that fair? If I went with Michael Eisner into a restaurant and he ate 90% of a pie we ordered and I had the rest, would it be fair for him to pay for half the pie? Or less? And don't even get me started on Corporate Welfare, something which costs us poor taxpayers about $100 BILLION a year!

And that doesn't get into ANY of the other little facts that have gotten so many SO rich, like exporting OUR jobs overseas or encouraging the government to make it easier for them to get rich and much harder for us to do so. We get used and abused and what little do we have to show for it? Especially like most of the people who work at the Disney parks. How many millions does it take for Eisner to live a decent lifestyle? Can't some of that actually "trickle down" to the underpaid workers in his parks?

And then we get to the hoary cliche that socialism doesn't work. The fact is, most countries have some sort of socialistic/capitalistic mix to their governments. Especially European countries, and few of them can be called unsuccessful. Scandinavia may be one of the most socialistic regions in the world and they seem to be making it work, don't they? But then they don't have multi-billionaires all over the place. Poor them!

If you work hard for your money, then fine, I'm certainly not going to have a problem with that. But has Eisner worked hard for the nine figures he has earned in his tenure? Has anybody in this country? Hell no! Nobody deserves that much money. Nobody NEEDS that much money. Yet how many people do we have in this country who DO need just a little more to survive? How many children are starving because these fatcats are hiding their money in offshore banks? If anything has been proven in the last twenty-odd years, it is that Reagonomics only succeeds in making the poor poorer and the rich much MUCH richer. If that doesn't stop soon, few of us will ever be able to afford a trip to WDW!

From J. Dana on June 27, 2004 at 1:41 AM
My last posting on this topic: Actually, Kevin, the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans pay for nearly 60 percent of all taxes (IRS tax registry records). The lowest 20 percent of wage earners pay NO TAXES AT ALL (but somehow still get tax "rebates." Wish I could finagle that) That means the middle 79 percent of citizens pay about 40 percent of the taxes.

Does anyone NEED to be rich? Absolutely not. But that doesn't mean that those who are not rich deserve the money of those who are rich. And go to any of those European countries and try to make a doctor's appointment. You'll likely be on the waiting list for 3 or more months...if you have a life-threatening condition, then you may get in within a month and a half. We may be buying our discount drugs from Canada, but our country's healthcare system is still the envy of the world. And our country's economy is the envy of the world. And our country's entertainment (including theme parks) is the envy of the world. Our country's strength is the envy of the world. We may do some things wrong, but we sure do a hell of alot right. Let's hope our country never does get to the point where someone's company or wealth is taken away because he/she is deemed too rich. A stretch? Nope. It's happened in any number of countries... especially those seemingly progressive European countries. Let's get off this subject because it does nothing but piss off half the readers, me included. Capitalism isn't killing America...it's reinvigorating most of the world right now.

From J. Dana on June 27, 2004 at 2:10 AM
ps However, Kevin, I do agree with you that if Eisner could forgo a bonus or two, then thousands of Disney workers could keep their jobs.
From Robert Niles on June 27, 2004 at 1:02 PM
Sorry, J. but your facts are incorrect. The poorest 20 percent of Americans pay plenty in taxes. They pay sales taxes, property taxes and FICA and Medicare. Those are taxes, too -- just as much as the income tax. If you don't think so, try to avoid paying them sometime and see what happens. ;-)

(And the reason why the richest one percent of Americans pay the lion's share of the nation's *income* taxes is that they have more than the lion's share of the money.)

A recent New York Times analysis, backed by real economists, found that the the percentage of income paid in *all* taxes by Americans was pretty much the same across income groups. According to the Times, people in the bottom 20 percent of all incomes pay about 18 percent of what they earn in taxes -- including income, payroll and sales taxes. But people in the top 20 percent of incomes pay on average just 19 percent of what they earn in taxes. (NYT, January 20, 2003)

From David Franzen on June 28, 2004 at 5:32 AM
While we're off subject, and talking about people earning too much money. Here's the top three athletes according to forbes:

1 Tiger Woods $80.3m
2 Michael Schumacher $80.0m
3 Peyton Manning $42.0m

"Hey Tiger, you just missed winning another major, what are you going to do next?"

From Tim Hillman on June 28, 2004 at 7:35 AM
So only the NY Times has “real” economists, Robert? I’m sure with enough money and effort the NY Times could find more than a few PhDs to conjure up a study that agrees with their view of reality.

Unless I could see how the data was gathered and analyzed, I would have very little faith in the final product. Here’s why. Say a man owned a company and paid corporate taxes on the profit that his company made and then had to pay income taxes on the salary he paid himself. Would the corporate taxes and income be included in his taxation profile or would they be excluded? Corporate tax rates are much higher than personal tax rates, so how that situation is handled could severely skew the data. Many high income people are company owners and/or own a lot of stock. If the double taxation of corporate and dividend income were not considered in the study, then I would consider the results invalid.

Just keep in mind the old adage about lies, damn lies, and statistics.

Kevin, your cynicism can be alarming at times. I know some wealthy people. They are decent, hard-working folks. They made their money by taking calculated risks and being honest with their customers and suppliers. They deserve every penny they’ve made. None of them had to cheat their way to fortune. Perhaps you should read “The Millionaire Next Door.” It might surprise you. Most rich people get rich because they are willing to take risks and provide services that the rest of us consume. The notion that rich people are a bunch of robber barons is simply ridiculous and smacks of class envy. If Robert eventually joins the ranks of the rich because of profits from this website does that automatically make him dishonest? (Only if he doesn’t share with you, right?)

What’s this crap about starving children? Where are they? Africa? China? Wait, no! Those were the starving children that existed because I didn’t clean my plate at supper. Could it be America where we supposedly have an obesity epidemic? Nope, can’t be here because I see a higher percentage of fat people when I go to WalMart than when I go to Macys. So where are they, Kevin? In the sweatshops that THC mentioned in a few threads?

Many of us on this site don’t like Michael Eisner (me included), and think he is vastly overpaid, but who are we to say that it isn’t fair that he is paid so much money? A strong case can be made that he is worth his salary and stock options. An equally strong case can be made that he is just pillaging the company for his own personal gain, but neither case should be based on some nebulous concept of fairness. You have a talent for satire, Kevin. What if you wrote a book and it became a bestseller and you started raking in the millions? (I’d expect a complimentary copy because I’ve helped you see the light in so many ways.) How much would be fair? Who gets to decide how much you get to keep? Me? You? THC? Should you share your profits with all of the unsuccessful authors?

I also don’t agree with your blanket statement about politicians being the scummiest people in our nation. Politics by its very nature requires the public act of positioning on the issues to appease the constituents and the private act of compromising on the facts so the work can get done. If that behavior makes them scummy to you then it is time to grow up because most of us spend a fair portion of our adult lives in some form of negotiation or another. Just because politicians spend a big chunk of time doing what some people consider to be unsavory doesn’t mean that the politicians are scummy. Most politicians are decent folks who enjoy a position of power and have a sincere desire to serve their country and their constituents.

I know you dislike all politicians or so you say. It just seems that you have a LOT more venom for the Republicans than you did for the Democrats when they were in power. (Yes, I’ve been hanging around here that long.) Your barbs almost always seem to be aimed at the Republicans so what am I to think? Until you show a little more even-handedness in your discussions of politics, I’m going to place you firmly in the camp of the liberal Democrats despite any protestations to the contrary.

And a final point, you shouldn’t knock anybody for shaking the pom-poms for any politician right after a rant where you slam the US at the same time you accomplish a major butt-kissing of the French. Talk about shaking the pom-poms. (Or would it be pomme-pommes?) If you want to talk about something scummy, how about how the French were profiting illegally from the “Oil for Food” program. Now that’s a situation where you can honestly speak about starving children.

From J. Dana on June 28, 2004 at 11:34 AM
Robert, you're right....I was talking solely about income taxes. Still, seems a little imbalanced.

Just a thought: since Fahrentheit 911 is doing fairly well at the box office, you think Disney will make a theme park attraction out of it? (yeah, I know they dumped it). They could make a wild oil-pipeline ride...it'd be a dark ride, of course, where riders dodge militants and car bombs enroute to the big pile of cash at the end. Or, how about Soarin Over Iraq. NOTE: I'm just pokin fun, folks...let's not start a debate on the movie. A little levity never hurt anyone. If we can all make fun of our own political leanings, then maybe we wouldn't have to be so serious on this site. Hey, I'm all for fun! So, let's build us a Farhrenheit 911 theme park attraction! [i'm done now]

From Robert Niles on June 28, 2004 at 12:53 PM
Now, we're getting back to my "Halliburton: The Ride" idea!

Thanks, J. ;-)

From Kevin Baxter on June 29, 2004 at 12:59 AM
As for the taxes "facts" which were taken directly from one of those fact-challenged right-wing talk show hosts. I know this because Al Franken devotes an entire chapter to this in Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them. And even Robert didn't nail the main problem with that argument. The majority of taxes we pay are payroll taxes (mostly for Social Security and Medicare), and we pay way more of a percentage of those than the wealthiest do. Furthermore, most politicians ignore the payroll tax because our employers also pay half. They try to claim we are ONLY paying about 7.65%, on average, of our salaries on payroll taxes, when we actually pay 15.30%, on average, since the 7.65% our employers are paying is money we would have earned anyhow. When you actually take into account that 15.30% we WORKERS pay, 74% of us pay more in payroll taxes than income taxes. How much in payroll taxes is Michael Eisner paying?

And there is a problem with the wealthiest 1% paying 60% of the taxes. That's income taxes solely, and I believe I just pointed out that payroll taxes mean we are paying far more of a percentage of the payroll taxes, so if you add in the payroll taxes, then we are clearly paying more of a percentage. Add in sales taxes, which disproportionately affect the poor; and stuff like tax shelters, tax loopholes and disappearing capital gains taxes, and the filthy rich clearly have all the advantages in the tax game.

Furthermore, that 1% controls 90% of the money, which goes right back to the pie analogy. If you eat 90% of the pie, then you pay for 90% of it. Would these people paying 90% of the taxload hurt these people? Of course not! Yet we middle-classers-and-below pay more than 50% of the taxes and how many of us are just surviving? How many are barely surviving?

And, Tim, don't give me the whole "I know wealthy people." Do you know people who are in the 99th percentile of the wealth scale? I'm not talking about people who are meager millionaires. It's not those people who are causing us to pay an unreasonable amount of taxes every year. Taking a lot more of a $1M salary would affect that person's lifestyle. Taking a lot more of an $80M salary would NOT affect theirs, especially since most of it just sits there. How much of our money is able to ever just sit there? Mine sure doesn't, and I make some decent coin.

And if you think children aren't starving in this country, then you really have been blinded by your "wealthy" friends. The vast majority of people on welfare are children. But I guess being on welfare means those kids are eating plenty. And that every child not on welfare is obese. Your arguments aren't arguments but the acts of a political magician: "Look at all the fat people as I hide the poor up my sleeve."

As for the politicians... most of these people aren't pleasing their constituents, but their campaign contributors. Did handing over Iraq to Halliburton please Bush's constituents? Did not reducing the cyanide levels in our drinking water please America's constituents or the companies that are poisoning our water? Which constituents are being pleased by not lowering smog output levels? Which are being pleased by spending $100B of OUR TAXES bailing out poorly run corporations? I can go on and on for PAGES about all the wonderful things politicians have done for the sole purpose of helping the benefactors who got them in office. Of course, I'm talking on a national level and probably most at the state level, though I can't speak for the tiny states. There isn't tons of money to be made or to hand out at the city level or below, so fewer crooks bother with those political positions. Yeah, there are probably a handful of people in Congress who aren't in it for the power, but why focus on them when clearly the vast majority of them ARE in it for the power.

Someone once said politicians go into politics because they are too ugly to make it in Hollywood. You think it's a coincidence that actors love politics and politicians love to be in front of cameras?

From Tim Hillman on June 29, 2004 at 5:32 AM
Robert, while we’re designing the political shenanigans theme park, I have a few ideas for rides.

“Cattle Futures – The Ride” This would be one of those space shot rides by S&S. You could theme it along the lines of the governor’s mansion in Arkansas.

“Who Wants to be a Millionaire – The Bill Clinton Version” This would be displayed on a set designed to look like the Oval Office. Instead of answering questions about trivia, contestants would be scored on their ability to lie to their spouses, lie to the press, lie under oath, bomb pharmaceutical factories, ooze sexuality, and cry crocodile tears. The final test would be a timed test of their ability to strip a White House themed room of valuables. Prizes would range from a date with a White House intern to a date with Gennifer Flowers with the top prize being a lucrative book deal. Sounds great, huh?

If the Bill Clinton version gets stale then they could redesign to a John Kerry version. Of course they’d have to rename it “Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire.” (Not the same as the disastrous show with Darva Conger.) Contestants would have to compete in events like medal tossing, how to work a room of rich women, how to take both sides of the issue, and how to speak in a monotone.

For more theme park fun we could have a rapids ride entitled “Whitewater.” The loading area could be themed to the capital building in Little Rock. Riders could then float down the “White River” on rapids with names like “David Hale Shoals” and “Susan McDougal Falls.” One section where other patrons could pay to spray the riders with water cannons could be entitled the “Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.” The off loading area could be themed to look like a failed savings and loan or a congressional hearing room.

This is fun!

From Tim Hillman on June 29, 2004 at 7:46 AM
Kevin, one day you may get it, but I seriously doubt it.

I keep cautioning people about putting blind faith in statistics. Statistics are meaningless unless you know how the data was collected, filtered, and interpreted. From basically the same set of data, three people – J.Dana, Robert, and you – came up with three different conclusions.

J. Dana said that the wealthiest one percent of Americans pay 60% of the income taxes. He’s right when he says that.

Robert said that all income levels pay approximately the same percentage of their income in taxes when all taxes – income, sales, property – are brought into the equation. Guess what? He’s right, too.

Then you come along with the assertion that the poor pay a disproportionate share of the payroll taxes, and you know what? Even you, Kevin, are right for once!

So how can that be? Three people who are all correct in their interpretation of the data, yet their statements about that data appear to conflict. What gives here? Well, the answer lies in how the data was selectively interpreted. Each person chose to filter and interpret the data in a manner that was consistent with and supported their view of the situation. Nothing wrong with that, and it works great to make a point if the other person doesn’t have on hand the information to refute your interpretation, but it doesn’t mean that your overall assertion is correct.

Thus I stand by my statement about there being lies, damn lies, and statistics.

Okay, Kevin, now that I’ve exposed the fraudulence of your syllogism, I don’t have to debate the first half of your last posting with you. You have your interpretation of the facts, and I have mine. They don’t agree. We can argue all day long about it, but neither of us is going to change the other’s opinion. That’s a fact we can both agree on.

I still disagree with you about the starving children situation. Usually when I hear a demagogue using the phrases “It’s for the children!” or “There are children starving out there!” I put my hand over my wallet and start looking for the real reason they’re on the soapbox. With you, I’m not sure. Maybe you buy into that nonsense. If you do, I suggest you go talk to a social worker and find out the truth about how America’s poor live. Enlighten me if your claims prove to be true.

I wish I could disabuse you of the notion that most ultra rich people got their money through non-ethical methods. It’s relatively easy to justify our relative lack of wealth by saying that “I’d have to be dishonest to get wealthy and I’m too ethical of a person to do that so I’ll just have to content myself with being middle class.” How silly! Good ethics and good character are the primary reason why most wealthy people attained their wealth in the first place! Just because we notice the bad characters who are wealthy doesn’t mean that the rest of the wealthy people are scumbags, too. Most rich folks are very good people.

Another point I keep trying to get across to you is the danger of your class envy. To you, Bill Gates looks rich. To someone else, you might look rich. Who gets to draw the line? Bill Gates, you, or the guy who is envious of you? The fact that someone has a higher income is no justification for taking a higher percentage of his money in taxes. Once you step too far away from that principle and accede to the class envy you start approaching a situation not unlike that of the French Revolution, so be careful what you wish for.

Last point. Politicians get an unfair knock. It’s awful easy to sit back and saw they’re bad people because they’re power hungry. I say that argument is arrogant and dishonest. My representatives should desire the power that the position confers or they shouldn’t be in the office. I want someone working for me who understands power and the use of it, and in my opinion, you have to want power to effectively use and understand it. Just because some people want to falsely assume the high moral ground and label politicians scumbags doesn’t mean that politicians as a group are bad people. I’m grateful for their willingness to take on the tough issues and the flack that accompanies them. Sure there’s more than a few dishonest politicians, but I think you can find dishonest people in all walks of life, and the percentage of bad politicians is probably no different than the percentage of bad people.

By the way, thank you for calling me a political magician. I take that as a compliment.

From Steve Moore on June 29, 2004 at 8:44 AM
"Anti Rich" Isnt that another word for jealous?

I wish I was rich so that I could have that million dollar pad in Orlando and ride Spiderman more than once every couple of years!!!!

I stopped visiting this site a while ago now, partly because of Kevins relentless attacks on ANYTHING Disney and partly because many of the topics descend into political warfare.
I agree with Robert that there are political forces at work behind big entertainment companies but thats no reason to go off on endless rants about the government and it s policies,
Remeber also that not evryone on this forum is American and therfore have very little knowledge, understanding or Interest in The Politicians and Policies you complain about.
I doubt it would be interesting to you guys If I started talking about the Shadow Undersecretary of state for transport and his latest policies!!

Steve

From Tim Hillman on June 29, 2004 at 10:41 AM
Here's another one for the political shenanigans theme park.

"Mr. Kennedy's Wild Ride" - In this dark ride, patrons would gaily careen about the simulated backroads of Martha's Vineyard while listening to an inebriated Teddy Kennedy giving a campaign speech. The car would swerve and dodge around obstacles and then at the very end suffer a splashdown in Chappaquidick Pond. Yee Haw!

From J. Dana on June 29, 2004 at 3:22 PM
Just a thought: Do you think it's true that Disney dumped Faharenheit 911 because they feared tax repercussions in Florida? I'm not arguing for or against the movie...I'm just curious if the theme park business had any sway in the decision.

By the way, I may not like John Kerry, but I admire the way he can snag him some rich women...I need to take lessons in that.

And Kevin, your using Al Franken as a source gains about as much respect as someone using Rush Limbaugh. People may like both entertainers, but c'mon...let's not base policy and facts on their highly skewed propoganda.

And very few super rich let their money just site there. Most of it is in stocks and investments--which means it's working and greasing the wheels of our fragile economy. Most of us have jobs because of the rich people who run the corporations and businesses in this country and WHO HIRE US to make more money for them (and thus, maybe for ourselves).

I don't plan on "working for the man" forever. But I sure as hell don't resent him for having money. And those who own companies pay HUGE taxes in payrolls. Plus, they have to pay medical insurance for their employees, retirement matching programs, training, etc.

Most of us don't vote for someone because he/she is everything we believe in. Nope, we usually vote for the person who is closest to what we believe. In other words, the only way to have someone in office who is EXACTLY what you'd want in a politician is to run for office yourself.

Speaking of which, who's the mayor of Mainstreet in Disney?


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