questionswhat do you think is really going on with our…

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Mostly,I think that we're seeing the result of lack of oversight on the banking industry. However, my general concern is that I have enough income to take care of my family (pets included), put away for retirement, and enjoy life. Any additional is a bonus.

Not having a business to worry about let's me take advantage of those deals that stink of desperation you were referring to :)

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The major news outlets are reporting what sounds best. Jobs are still in short supply - the unemployment statistic is down only because folks have been unemployed for so long they don't count anymore. Those who still have a job are working the positions that others use to hold, making for a better bottom line for the employer.

I'm still not convinced that we'll see any serious improvements on this for at least a few years, no matter who ends up in The White House. More so, I can't see the US economy rebounding without some manufacturing base coming back either ... and it's going to take time for both the consumer's mindset and the corporations to change all that. Buying American where ever we can is a start, as the money stays "local". If neither side budges, however - the consumer for buying the cheaper import, and the corporation importing for higher profits ... well, may our economy continue to suck. :(

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I tend bar a couple times a month, it's my social life more than a job. I have been in the bar industry since I turned 21; first as waitress, later as a bartender.
I am of the opinion that tips, and the number of "how much does a __ cost?" inquiries are two good indicators of the public's perception of the economy.
Tips were at an all time low for me over the last year, up until this summer. Lately, the number of customers that tip and total overall tips compared to sales increased. I haven't noticed a ton of complaints about the cost of a shot, and people have bought rounds, not just a drink a person. From this my belief is that the general public is not so afraid that the bottom is about to drop out of the world economy and tight-fisting every dollar they have.
My husband, alternately, sells trucks (the kind with 18 wheels). That's another story. People buy but they really hammer him on prices. All in all I believe that we are on an upward swing but that is just my opinion.

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Not everyone that I know is hurting, but nobody is doing really well. Everyone is concerned that it won't get better enough, soon enough.

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-cont- the summer is always slower than winter in the bar, due to the number of barbecues, pool parties, campouts, etc. @ohcheri is your son seeing the summer lull or is this a year over year slowdown for him?

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@mrsbeny: He's only been doing this for a year so he may not be the best judge. He just said "things are slow". I appreciate the insight, it makes sense summer would be slower so I hope business picks up for him soon!

We usually get busy for Halloween so I'm thinking maybe adults are not doing Halloween parties this year if times are hard.

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@ohcheri: I wish I had a big enough house to throw a party...! Stupid housing market :P

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Nothing. Absolutely nothing is going on with our economy. It is firmly in the crapper, and it is going to stay there for the near future. As was pointed out, the only positive thing people can say is "there are less people filing for unemployment", but as was also pointed out, this is because they've gone so long without a job they no longer qualify for benefits. No reason to get all political about it either, as was ALSO pointed out nothing will change until jobs are brought back to this country. You want a job? Move to India or China. Oh wait, they're both overpopulated. Too bad for us.

Pick up the last item you purchased. Look closely. Does it say "Made in China" on it? If so, if you want to see the true problem with our society, go look in your mirror.

Also most likely made outside the US.

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@narfcake: Manufacturing is definitely the key.

Where I live there is a huge piece of land that belongs to the military (old weapons base) and they gave it to the city. This was at the peak of the house building frenzy and all the powers-that-be said: We need to build more houses! Get a bigger property tax base! What a stupid idea and thankfully the housing bust happened before they could move forward. Now the project is on hold and all the smart people are pushing for that to be an industrial park.It would be amazing if they could convince some major manufacturer(s) to move here. Maybe then the value of my house will go to back to where it was 9 years ago.

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I got an inside scoop last weekend. I was able to chat and catch up with of my previous employers, who is married to the former CEO of a large asset management company based out of Amsterdam (and currently, a high level executive in Traveler's Insurance, in the states). While their life is pretty secure, though millions upon millions in international investment, he painted a pretty clear picture of how bad things are. The media will say what it needs to affect the people the way that the decision makers want, but the truth is, the situation of debt for the United States is worse than we're led to believe, and in international dealings, the United States is trying to work with numbers on a screen that aren't there.

He told me that he thinks my generation might face the worst depression that this country's seen...but that might just be his old-school mentality talking heh. Personally, tho, I don't believe any of this "recovering from here" stuff that both political sides are pushing.

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@ocheri: Ouch on your house; the housing "boom" was a cause of the issues we're in right now. Offer what's essentially a signature loan for 1/2-million-plus dollar purchases, regardless of an individual's ability to pay back the debt? Sounds like a great idea! For several years, the economy was propped up from those who kept borrowing against their homes. Alas, the politicians of both parties were basing the future on that too, hence why municipals are in the same predicament too.

@stile99: My last purchase says "Made in USA" - a Woot shirt from when they didn't suck, though I still don't think that accounts for its negative sales figures after the last side sale.

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as long as national success is based upon the economy we are doomed. why? you can't have perpetual inflation and growth and increases in sales like 'investors' expect. if you don't understand life has ups AND downs then you are living in la la land. plus, sooner or later somebody has to pay the debt that's being accumulated, and our kids are being trained to pass it along like we are, so we're doubly screwed. bleh.

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I live in Texas so the job picture has not been as bad as other places but it is simple math, the country cannot continue to pile debt upon debt. From 10 trillion to 15 trillion, and economist tell us that those aren't even the real numbers. Each American's share of the national debt has jumped from 33,000 to 55,000, and if you wrote a check tomorrow for your share, it just start back the next day. There must be some radical changes in the country's finances. Both parties are to blame. An old proverb "A wise man leaves an inheritance to his children" not a debt they will never be able to repay.

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This week's Planet Monkey podcast focuses on the question of what it would take to reduce the unemployment rate to 5%. They fed a computer model all sorts of variables; even at utterly unrealistic levels (unanimous agreement in Congress! gas prices drop $40/barrel! consumer confidence sky-high!), it was essentially impossible to reach 5%.

I think it's difficult for most of us to get a sense of how the U.S. economy is truly doing on a macro-scale. National numbers don't capture the influence of the auto industry's decline on the economy of Detroit (not only were folks who worked directly for the Big Three affected, but advertising agencies whose main accounts were car companies closed; craft supply stores lost business as families lost income, etc.), or the influence of the biotech industry on Boston (booming, and supporting other industries from coffee shops to construction to cupcake stands.)

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@dw1771: Both parties are to blame and it makes me crazy that most voters feel they have to choose the lesser of two evils. This country needs a radical change and I believe that can only happen if one of the other candidates is elected. (Voting Libertarian myself.) The debt can only be reduced by extreme cuts in the Federal Waste-Our-Money program (I think there is a committee of several jillion people running that.). Why do we taxpayers have to subsidize things like tobacco and oil? Aren't these companies making enough money to pay their own way?

It's disheartening to see that only around 17% of people are still undecided. If only we could start a viral movement to have people vote for Anyone But Those Two.

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@neuropsychosocial: The housing boom/bust affected the SF Bay Area the same way as the auto industry affected Detroit but in a less intense way since there are many other industries here.

First construction workers lost work, then everyone they used to give their money to lost money. Restaurants, movies, etc. anything "non-essential" lost business. It was a big deal around here to hire someone to come pick up the dog poo from your yard, that's how much extra money was flying around here. Realtors lost work, mortgage brokers, contractors in every field and everyone who depended on these people for work like their maids and gardeners lost money.

Who didn't lose money? The banks responsible for the mess. They got bailed out with our money.

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I know you used to live in AR, and used to work for Lowe's, so you can understand this: that industry has been decimated. The hardware/remodel part is doing OK, but the new home construction went south. There are too many foreclosure homes available at a steal to justify building a new one.

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@jsimsace: So true. And the people who made all the decisions that caused this meltdown are laughing all the way to the bank.

I say fire them all and ask Canada to adopt the USA. At least then we'll have no more wars :)

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As long as the "Federal" Reserve continues to create money out of nothing we are in trouble. Every time the "Federal" Reserve creates money it decreases the value of the dollar AKA inflation. That's why every time the "Federal" Reserve creates money out of nothing silver, gold and other PMs jump in value.

I think the government is hiding the true numbers and it's worse than we all think.

The only thing I can do is not vote for people who keep the cycle going. So I won't be voting for Obama or Romney. If I vote for anyone, it will be Gary Johnson.

Normally, I'd write in Ron Paul which I may still do, but those votes will just be thrown out.

I don't understand how we can only have a 2 party system in a country with over 300 million people. I'm so sick of the polarization, can't we have some freaking middle ground?

I'm really glad that Gary Johnson is suing the corrupt Commission on Presidential Debates. It's about time. We need more choice.

http://bit.ly/QxoGtc

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"In an unexpected, and– some commentators have said– unprecedented legal maneuver, the Gary Johnson campaign is suing the Commission on Presidential Debates, the Democratic National Committee, and the Republican National Committee on anti-trust grounds, alleging that the three private organizations have conspired in violation of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act to limit competition, causing material injury to the American electorate and the Gary Johnson campaign.

The Commission on Presidential Debates is a private, non-profit organization founded in 1987 by the Republican and Democratic parties. Part of the Johnson campaign’s argument is that the Libertarian Party ticket will be on the November ballot in forty-seven states, enough to conceivably secure the 270 electoral college votes necessary to win the presidential election. The campaign accuses the CPD and the two national party committees of illegal collusion to exclude it from the presidential debates."

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Our economy is based on "intangibles." Meaning that our speculative and service based economy has no real product backing it. Of course it's dead. We have some short term, false upward movement right now, but it won't last. We need manufacturing industry to make a major comeback. We need to get the blue collar middle class back to work.

We are also at a point where we are requiring higher education, at inflated costs, for positions that don't actually require this type of investment. So the investment of a college education, for many, no longer has a worthy payout. Irritatingly, many positions now require a degree simply because they can ask for it - and offer $8+ an hour. This is part of the problem with losing manufacturing, skilled and/or unskilled labor positions. They were a solid source of income for those who could/would not make their money back on an extended education. Without this distinction, many in the lower/middle class won't ever be back to work.
Continued -

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As far as what I see? Most of our friends are paycheck to paycheck, if they're lucky. No one can afford "luxury" items, and count every buck and budget before they go out to eat. These people work in the medical field (behind the scenes), large battery/tech manufacturing, home good sales, education, etc. All solid middle class jobs - and they're barely making it, not because they have a mortgage they can't afford, or expensive habits either. But because their pay isn't commensurate to the education and current investment it takes to have those jobs.

I see this getting worse as falsely supported industries falter without the income and subsidies of the middle class. We/they can't hold this up on hope forever.

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@capitalggeek: Auto repair. My son's business is up 30% over last year, mostly servicing the vehicles that people need to keep running, and many people have given up on getting a fair deal from dealerships.
It's good for him and his employees, though.

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I am a veterinarian and our clients are hurting badly.Many have been unemployed a long time and whatever work they find is at reduced pay. The animal rescue groups we work with are seeing a huge increase in animal surrenders because many people cannot afford to keep pets. We do what we can to help everyone out that comes our way but it isn't easy and frequently we have to really scrape to pay the bills and taxes (the state of Washington collects taxes on the gross, whether there is a profit or not). Anyone that is contemplating voting for a third party is deluding themselves. We are either going to have President Obama or President Romney after this election. A third party vote is effectively a vote to continue the current course. There is a genuine difference between the two major parties this time around so vote accordingly.

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@nortonsark: I strongly disagree that voting third party is a vote to "stay the current course." Supporting the big 2 that got us into and keep us in this insane loop is more in line with staying the course. I do not believe that voting for the lesser of 2 evils is the only option we have. Every vote that goes 3rd party is a message to the other 2 that we are done with politics as an industry.

Side note - it is very sad that so many people can no longer care for their animal friends. It is also very wonderful that the rescues and vets are doing whatever they can to help these families and animals.

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@thumperchick: I realize that many want to claim that there is no difference between the two major parties but there really is. The economy began to tank during the Bush2 administration when the Democrats took over congress and Nancy Pelosi began to run the agenda. Bush should have used his veto, but the Democrats were running the legislature. The Obama administration was able to get everything it wanted out of Congress and dramatically increased spending and regulations despite a clear majority of Americans objecting. That trashing of American principles gave rise to the Tea Party which had a dramatic influence on the Republican party and they were able to get a majority in the House in 2010. Republicans are far from perfect, but they are talking the talk of fiscal responsibility. The Tea Party Republicans that were elected have also been walking the walk. A vote for a third candidate only insures Obama's re-election. The only message you will be sending is to keep the status quo.

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@nortonsark: The 2 parties are different, but neither is speaking the language of the American People. This election may be a pivotal point in our economic recovery for decades to come, no doubt about that. I guess for most voters it comes down to whose failed economic policies/plan you believe will work this time.
Either way, it takes all kinds, all votes, all opinions to make this country what it is. I'm glad there are so many people here who make it a point to be informed and make a choice. I think we should get back to question at hand and/or start a new question so we don't hijack this thread with party agenda.

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@okham: @okham: Actually, the problem is too much government oversight and intervention. Various laws over the last several decades dating back to the New Deal have been slowly putting more and more pressure on the banks to offer housing loans to more and more people, even if those borrowers couldn't pay back the loans. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are supposed to be independent companies, but are funded and run by the government. Those two "companies" are a sink hole for so much of our tax money.

Note, that when a bank makes a loan it is not with their money, but with yours. If you are a depositor then your money is placed at risk every day when a bank makes a loan. Under normal circumstances banks go through a rigorous vetting process with all potential borrowers to ensure that the loan has a high probability of being paid back in full.

But when the U.S. Government started putting direct pressure on banks to make loans, it set up the housing industry to collapse. More>>>

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@okham: To add to the problem, the Federal Reserve Bank instigated an "easy money" situation that lowered interest rates for loans to allow even more people to "qualify" for a loan. The interest rate for a loan is essentially the "price" of money. Like the price for a good or a service, it is the price paid to borrow another person's money.

To ensure that there would be enough money to fulfill all the loan requests, the Federal Reserve also dumped more money into the economy. But all that did was to lower the value of the dollar compared to what was being purchased. As a result, inflation ensued which caused prices for everything to go up significantly. (This is a big part of why gas prices went up so high).

When banks begin to run out of loanable funds (remember they are loaning depositors' money), the mortgages were bundled and sold to other banks, businesses and investment groups not knowing that the mortgages would default en masse. More>>>

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@okham: With the economic environment set, home buying exploded. Because home builders could not keep up with the increasing demand at all price levels, prices for homes went up dramatically. This lead to people buying homes to flip them at a profit, which in turn only added to the increased overall demand and drove the prices up even more.

When so many of the loans made to those persons who could not pay back their loans defaulted, there was sudden glut of homes on the market as foreclosures. With banks suddenly saddled with bad loans that couldn't be paid back, the banks found themselves unable to recover depositor's money and in some cases had to sell to other banks just to prevent total collapse. Additionally, banks suddenly became unwilling to make more loans for home buying. Demand dropped like a rock and home values dropped with it. Many who bought homes at the peak were suddenly stuck with homes that were now worth less than the mortgages they owed. More>>>

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@okham: Many who bought houses during the housing boom were first time buyers with little money, poor job history and could not afford houses even at the Federal Reserve's lowered, regular rates. So banks, forced to meet arbitrary quotas established by the Federal Government, offered teaser rates. These rates started out very low with low payments and then slowly moved to the then current standard rates for the loan at a later date.

However, many of these first time buyers knew nothing about buying a house or loan payments are teaser rates or any else relevant to home purchasing. So they signed on the dotted line thinking that the low payments were to be the norm for the duration of the mortgage. But when the teaser rates expired and the normal rates began to kick in, their payments went up these home buyers could no longer afford the mortgage payments. This lead to all the "toxic assets" that banks were saddled with when the housing boom busted. More>>>

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@okham: The primary reason that Congress gave for these laws that pressured banks into making bad loans was that they wanted everyone to enjoy the American Dream owning a home.

In reality, what the politicians did was interpret "right to own property" to mean that everyone should own a home, even if someone else has to pay for it. This was, fundamentally, an attempt to bribe voters with homes to keep certain politicians in office.

"See, I helped you buy a home. Vote for me!"

Later that refrain became, "See, I'm helping you stay in that home by making everyone else pay for it. Vote for me!"

The additional oversight placed on banks did not solve the problem. It only aggravated it. Now banks are even more averse to making big loans and without banks willing to loan to businesses, entrepreneurs and home buyers who can ACTUALLY afford what they are buying the economy is stagnating.

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@thumperchick: I can give you three solid reasons for the loss of manufacturing jobs.
1) Push for college education for everyone
2) Minimum wage laws
3) High taxes and excessive government regulation/intrusion

1) When the Progressive Movement began in the late 19th century, it believed (and still does) that humans could be perfected here on Earth simply through education and laws that carefully "encourage" the right kind of behavior. Thus would ensue a Utopia on earth. This push for education for all has culminated in the desire for all children in the US to attend college and earn a degree rather than enter skill/trade or manufacturing. This ignores that many of those students will have an aptitude for skills and trades and would likely be very happy and earn a good income in such jobs. The result is that students either graduate university with degrees that don't match manufacturing, skill or trade work or they drop out and have insufficient education for such work. More>>

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@thumperchick: 2) When the minimum wage was enacted, it was supposed to ensure a "liveable wage." That is still the argument every time the wage is raised. However, the rationale is poor since no one lives on minimum wage for long. People get pay raises, are promoted within or find better paying work elsewhere. But as the wage continues to go up by federal mandate it does something to the least educated in the country. It prices them out of the job market. No special skills are required for minimum wage work, but it can provide an entry way into a better job in the future. These unskilled workers can learn skills from within the company and earn promotions and pay raises. But at higher wages companies are forced to higher fewer people at minimum wage and thus fewer people can enter the job market and gain access to those opportunities. More>>>

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@thumperchick: 3) It is no secret, and no tragedy, that companies exist to make a profit. It is the "reward" for taking huge risks to provide consumers the products and services they desire most. However, the US Government has taken upon itself to declare that profits are a tragedy and should be confiscated. Worse, it also tries to micromanage companies with numerous and often useless regulations that cost American companies trillions every year just to ensure compliance. Both lead to higher prices and fewer products for consumers. It also eats into or prevents profits (the aforementioned "reward").

Our current politicians have made our economic environment so business unfriendly that companies are moving their operations (particularly manufacturing jobs) overseas to countries that are business friendly or which are willing to offer "sweetheart" deals that are business friendly, like Communist China has done. More>>>

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@thumperchick: Communist China is the poster child for government control of business, but has been willing to experiment with capitalistic ideas and has lured companies away from the US and other nations by willingly reducing regulations, governmental interference and lower taxes and as well as allowing the companies ownership of the factories and machines within without threat of it being arbitrarily taken over by the government, something the Chinese government is known to do. In essence, China is offering to these companies the kind of business environment the U.S. USED TO PROVIDE and doesn't any longer. ObamaCare, hoards of new regulations, the threat of higher taxes on corporate incomes all create an unstable and unfriendly place to manufacture and conduct business, so the companies are leaving to go elsewhere.

If we change these three things and a few others in Washington, D.C. you would see many companies return to our shores and bring manufacturing/skill jobs with them.

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@thumperchick: BTW, I recommend watching an interesting documentary titled WAITING FOR SUPERMAN. It details the major problems with our education system and adds further details to the drive for college for everyone that I discussed earlier. It is a well made, thoroughly researched and a rather frightening movie to watch.

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@ohcheri: Trust me, you do not want to be part of Canada. Their medical and pharma industries are so controlled that they license our new drugs to sell because their companies cannot afford to make their own. And if you get really sick they put on a waiting list and you are left hoping to get to a doctor before you keel over. (No kidding)

One Canadian citizen even filed a lawsuit and the Canadian Supreme Court, which eventually heard that case, stated that access to a waiting list is NOT the same as access to health care.

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@ohcheri: Read my other posts here for the real culprit in the housing boom and bust across the country. As for California, the reason it was so badly hit by skyrocketing housing prices was that local and state lawmakers began designating certain areas in and around the big cities as off limits to construction. The reasons usually varied, but included such things as farmland preservation and or protecting natural beauty of the landscape. This greatly limited the amount of land that was available for new home construction. When the demand for new homes was artificially inflated by government quotas on the banks, the lack of supply caused the price of the land to go through the roof. The high cost of the million dollar homes came mostly from the artificially inflated cost of the land, not necessarily from the house itself.

Read Dr. Thomas Sowell's THE HOUSING BOOM AND BUST. Dr. Sowell, a highly respected economist, details all that happened and who is responsible.

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To those who would vote Gary Johnson:
I appreciate your effort to vote your convictions. I am a Libertarian too. I believe in small government, lower taxes, less government regulation and intrusion into our lives and the bill of rights.

I did the same thing by protest voting for Ross Perot in 1992. Many people voted for Perot as a protest to the 2 party system. Perot got a respectable number of votes...however...

Since Perot's platform vote most closely with Pres. Bush all it did was peel away conservative voters thus giving Pres Clinton the presidency.

Exercise your right to vote and vote as you see fit but understand that Johnson can not win and a protest vote will fall on deaf ears. I'm not thrilled with Romney but he's far closer to my beliefs than Pres Obama is so I will pull the lever for Mitt.

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No education, no wages, no taxes for businesses.

Gee, I just can't figure out what political party thetexastwister is from.

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@thetexastwister: Bravo. You have an excellent grasp of the situation. I can only hope there are more like you out there. Your thinking gives me Hope for Change.

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@stile99: Gee, I wonder how this country ever got along for over one hundred years without the federal government telling us how to manage our lives?

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@nortonsark: Thank you, but I am just a humble Wooter who is standing on the shoulders of the great men who have come before me.

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Too man freeloaders. If everyone worked hard and didn't ask for people to give out of their pockets to help them aka "taxing the rich" we would have a roaring economy. Whichever way you lean, it's obvious the democrats are the ones who are inciting class warfare in this regard. I am poor, but if I had to side with anyone it's republicans because someday I'd like to be rich. That's what this country is all about. Not boo hoo woe is me, rich people just got lucky. That's not a good attitude to have.