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Rowdy Rob
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Joined: 09/04/2006
Welcome back, Matt.

I have to admit, when I heard you were going to Colombia, I was absolutely terrified for you! I didn't want to say anything to contribute to whatever nerves you might have been having about traveling abroad, but I'm sure you've already heard the stories of Americans being in danger in Colombia.

Anyhow, your travel experiences are very exciting to read. One thing I've learned in my travels is that most people, wherever you go, are generally "good," in that they aren't out to harm you, and will welcome you if you're not being a jerk. Yes, there are some places I've been where some people hate you just for being American. Turkey was one of the worst places I've experienced for this, and even there, most of the people were generally at least tolerant, and in many cases friendly, with Americans. Still, I'm not exactly dying to go back there.

I think one of the least friendly places I've been to is right here: the good ol' USA. This is a very hostile country internally. I often think that instead of the bald eagle as a national symbol, we should have a middle finger instead.

Matt Barton wrote:

When you think about what we could have if certain privileged people weren't allowed to be so greedy and hoard so much wealth, it's really enough to make you feel sick. One thing I'd love to see is for inheritances and "estate taxes" or whatever to really be raised. That'd help eliminate the problem of people having huge advantages just because they're lucky enough to be born into a wealthy family. I think people should have to earn their wealth, not have it handed to them.

I'm not sure I should even be touching this, being that political/philosophical battles are very exhausting, and pretty much everyone on AA leans further toward the left than I. But I do think that what a lot of "class envy" boils down to is the desire to punish achievement. Yes, there's a lot of privileged, silver spoon people out there, but a lot of rich people not only earned their wealth through hard work and "risk-taking," but are the ones who employ people. And our government has a very poor track record with tax money, so I don't think soaking the rich with taxes will solve anything major.

I don't believe that just because someone else has money, you can't earn some too! It's not like there's a fixed pot of money, and nobody else can get some more outside the pot.

Of course, I don't think big money is necessarily a great lifestyle. I've known "rich kids" who are miserable, because they'll never live up to their parent(s) standard. And of course I've known "rich kids" who are just outright scumbags who you hope to see get their comeuppance someday.

No joke, I once stayed at one of my mother's friend's house back when I was a teen, and they were so rich that they actually had a high-school-style gymnasium in their house! I'm talking a full basketball court, bleachers, and a stage in the back, just like my high school! It was unbelievable excess in my opinion, but maybe it was for a purpose I don't know about. The father owned at least one hospital. He had two teenage kids, a son and daughter. And you know what? They were all very good people! The son was going through a rebellious stage, smoking cigarettes and dressing in "punk" fashion, but he was actually very likeable and smart (and he turned out alright in the end). And the daughter was very polite, humble, and smart. The family did a lot for their community, much more than the drunk-ass poor people that bad-mouthed them have done. Ok, I didn't actually hear any poor people rag on them; I made that part up. But I can imagine it.

I am opposed to rich people who are criminals, who bend or break the rules in pursuit of wealth. Of course, who isn't? But these types are the ones who hurt the economy in the long run and fit the "filthy rich" stereotype.

Wow, that's all I'm going to say (for now) on this. I think a lot of "left/right" issues are very debatable, and there are a lot of shades of grey to sort through, making it difficult for me to be a hardliner on anything.

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