Whose Money Is It?

Not all wealth belongs to Washington

Paul Ryan’s budget blueprint already has done the nation a service by illuminating the strange liberal conceit that Americans have a right to other people’s money, but not to their own.

Even as Ryan was unveiling the details Tuesday, critics were slamming his plan. The Washington Post’s E.J. Dionne condemned its “radically redistributionist purposes,” and hoped Ryan would be candid about “whom he is taking benefits from and toward whom he wants to be more generous.”

Paul Krugman of The New York Times also condemned Ryan’s proposal because it would “massively redistribute income upward.” In The New Republic, Jonathan Chait likewise insisted Ryan would “redistribute income upward.” At The American Prospect, Jamelle Bouie alleged that Ryan was “massively redistributing wealth to the wealthy.” On The Huffington Post, Ethan Rome warned Ryan and his fellow Republicans to “ask corporations and the very rich to pay their fare share” before “asking the rest of us for anything.”

On a very superficial level, these charges almost make sense. If you were to draw a pie chart of U.S. income distribution at the current moment, and a pie chart of income distribution a few years after the Ryan plan took effect, then the two charts would look different. And they would look different in just the way Dionne, Krugman, et al. describe: The well-off would have a bigger share of the nation’s wealth under distribution B than they currently do under distribution A, and the less well-off would have a smaller share.

And if that is as far as you look, then it is easy to view Ryan’s plan as Sheriff of Nottingham economics: a cruel injustice that (to quote Dionne again) “transfer[s] even more resources from the have-nots and have-a-littles to the have-a-lots.” But it is not enough to look only that far.

First, there is no such thing as “the nation’s wealth.” Wealth is not collectively owned, nor should it be. Second, the current division of income in the U.S. is itself the product of considerable re-distribution. The federal government now collects more income-tax revenue from the top 1 percent of filers than from the bottom 95 percent. This is due partly to the concentration of wealth near the top, but also to tax policies that exempt a great deal of low- and middle-class income from taxation.

Forty-seven percent of American households pay no federal income tax at all, points out the Tax Foundation, and the IRS hands out more than $70 billion in refundable tax credits. Washington also spends hundreds of billions a year on social safety-net programs that benefit persons who pay little or no federal income tax. Entitlement spending constitutes the single largest category of federal outlays (which is precisely the reason Ryan has taken it on). You can say this massive transfer of wealth is good, or you can say it is bad. What you cannot do is pretend that the transfer has not taken place.

In this light, to speak of Ryan’s proposal as transferring wealth to the wealthy borders on the mendacious. If Fred pays $100 in taxes, and Mortimer pays nothing while collecting $25 out of Fred’s tax payment, then it is fatuous to say lowering both Fred’s tax bill and Mortimer’s benefit check by $10 is “taking money away from Mortimer and giving it to Fred.” That is not what is going on at all. The government is still doing just what it was doing before—taking money from Fred and giving it to Mortimer—only to a lesser degree.

And yet progressives insist on pretending otherwise, again and again.

Look at how proposals to extend the Bush tax cuts were described in December: as a “giveaway to the very wealthiest” (Sen. Kent Conrad); a “huge giveaway to the super-rich” (Rep. Jim McDermott); “unconscionable . . . giveaways for our country’s wealthiest” (AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka); a “windfall” (the Los Angeles Times); “giving more money to those least likely to spend it” (The Washington Post’s Ruth Marcus); and so on.

Talk of this sort makes sense only if you assume that all money belongs to the government, which then spreads the wealth around in whatever manner it deems appropriate. The same assumption explains how pundits can speak of tax cuts “costing” X or Y billion dollars, in the same way a grocer’s accountant might speak of a sale on oranges costing the grocer revenue. From the perspective of the taxpayer, tax cuts, like sales on oranges, do not cost money—they save money. Those who speak of tax cuts costing money reveal whose side they are on.

Fortunately, all money does not belong to the federal government. But unless something is done to correct the nation’s fiscal trajectory soon, that will change.

A. Barton Hinkle is a columnist at the Richmond Times-Dispatch. This article originally appeared at the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

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  • Tony||

    the strange liberal conceit that Americans have a right to other people’s money, but not to their own.

    ... so beautiful... *sniff*... Hallmark oughtta make a card, I'm tellin' ya...

  • Old Mexican||

    Ignore the halfwit - he's just rambling.

  • WTF||

    Notice it doesn't deny the premise, however.

  • JoJo Zeke||

    In perfect fairness: that was actually me, trying my hand at a Tony impersonation. (Maybe a little too ably, apparently...) ;)

  • hooha||

    Naw, I smelled it straight away. See, like most giant douchebags, Tony is absolutely convinced he's an 'intellectual', and as such would never use language as colorful as 'oughtta', 'tellin', and 'ya'.

  • JoJo Zeke||

    Curses! [::scribbles careful notes, in preparation for inevitable next attempt::]

  • ||

    A Barton Hinkle-Heimer-Schmidt

    Damn you, Almanian, you gave me an ear worm.

  • Almanian||

    A. Barton Hinkle Heimmerschmidt
    His name is my name, too!
    Whenever we go out
    People always shout
    A. Barton Hinkle Heimmerschmidt
    LALALALALALALA....

    !!!!!111!!11one!!!

  • ||

    There you are. I've had that running in my head for two days now. How do you get rid of an ear worm? With another ear worm...so ok then...

    Flintstones
    Meet the Flintstones
    There the modern stonage family

    not working..

    Come and listen to a story
    of a man named Jed...

    still not working, try again..

    Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale,
    A tale of a fateful trip
    That started from this tropic port
    Aboard this tiny ship.

    argghh..i can't get rid of:

    A Barton Hinkle Heimerschmidt..

    damn you.

  • Sudden||

    Solution:

    You take the good
    you take the bad
    you take it all and then you have

    The facts of life, the facts of life....

  • You||

    Put de lime in de coconut and drink it all up. You put de lime in de coconut and drink it all up. You put de lime in de coconut ....

  • Brett L||

    I hate you all.

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    I've had Static-X's Destroy All running through my head for the past week.

  • ||

    "redistribute income upward"

    that sound bite has legs

  • juris imprudent||

    It will certainly cause a tingle to run up a number of legs.

  • .||

    And a tinkle to run down a number of legs.

  • ||

    Monday's SCOTUS decision on school choice was highlighted by four justices arguing that it's all the government's money to begin with.

  • ||

    Unfortunately, at the end of the day, it is all government's money. So is your property.

    If you don't give the government all the money of yours it requests, for whatever reason (taxes, fines, fees, penalties, etc.), you will be punished in the form of them taking even more of your money and property or ultimately being jailed. You don't own your land; you merely rent it from the government, because if you don't pay your rent (property taxes), they will take it away from you and rent it to someone else.

    This is the logical conclusion of government and its monopoly on force and ability to tax.

  • Realist||

    Right you are.

  • Mensan||

    I've been saying this for years. Glad to see I'm not the only one who gets it.

  • creech||

    True, even if the government were held to the strict letter of the Constitution.

  • GroundTruth||

    "...deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed"

    True, it is not the Constitution, but I suspect that the Declaration of Independence has to have some weight, does it not?

  • ||

    ---"Unfortunately, at the end of the day, it is all government's money. So is your property."---

    Since Kelo, they can eliminate the middle step and just take the property.

  • .||

    You don't own your life either. They can send your ass out to be used for canon fodder any time they feel like passing the required legislation and have done so in the past. Not only that, but it is against the law to take your own life. If you don't succeed, you can be prosecuted; if you do, your estate can be.

  • WTF||

    Fucking thirteenth Amendment, how does it work?

  • R||

    In practice, it hasn't gotten in the way of the draft, which is what the above commenter is referring to.

  • ||

    I think that is a cornerstone of much constitutional litigation...only if the government is presumed to have a prior claim on your income can the law see a tax credit (i.e., letting you keep your money) as somehow active state sponsorship of religion. Of course, applied elsewhere, why should homeowners get a tax break and not renters? Why should education expenses get a credit but not the cost of getting yourself to work? If the gov sponsors one group over another by letting them keep their money for certain things and not others, then, well how f'ing 'fair' is the tax code? Flat tax solves these quandries doesn't it?

  • Apogee||

    Flat tax solves these quandries doesn't it?

    Which is why it has a snowball's chance of becoming reality. The big money's in things staying broken.

  • Brett L||

    We'd have packs of out-of-work accountants roaming the streets, fighting with unemployed lawyers over scraps and terrorizing children.

  • .||

    If the gov sponsors one group over another by letting them keep their money for certain things and not others, then, well how f'ing 'fair' is the tax code? Flat tax solves these quandries doesn't it?

    What makes you think they ever intended that it should be fair? Because they say so? Hah!

  • ||

    On The Huffington Post, Ethan Rome warned Ryan and his fellow Republicans to “ask corporations and the very rich to pay their fare share” before “asking the rest of us for anything.”

    A "fare share"? Is that per chance for tickets for everybody in Washington D.C. to be shipped to Siberia? If so I'll chip in.

  • Bucky||

    "fair share" sounds so juvenile... reminds me of school yard kerfuffles where logic is the furthest thing from the subject of argument...

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Fair share...does that mean everybody should pay 50%, or that everyone should give the same amount of money, like a flat, per capita tax?

  • ||

    The term "fair share" is deliberately left undefined so that the lefties can always claim that you're not paying it.

  • sevo||

    "“giving more money to those least likely to spend it” (The Washington Post’s Ruth Marcus)"
    Ignoring the lie about "giving", why, the rich throw their money in vaults and wallow around in it!
    I see it all the time, and Tony will vouch for it!
    To add to the amusement, the things the rich spend their money on is exactly what ignoramuses like Marcus whine about in their envy.

  • Brett L||

    Nice. Instead we should transfer wealth to those least likely to conserve it. If we're going to have that discussion.

  • zoltan||

    This "spending boosts the economy but saving doesn't" nonsense meme needs to go.

  • Old Mexican||

    First, there is no such thing as "the nation's wealth." Wealth is not collectively owned, nor should it be.


    Well, it can be collectively owned, leading to results like these:

    http://offtopic.kimcm.dk/Images/KoreaByNight.jpg

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/t.....069225.ece

    1995 State food distribution collapses after flooding and a cut in Soviet aid. Famine kills three million people; more than one tenth of the population, according to the Government’s own estimates

    2002 Regime allows small-scale private farming, and permits "farmers' markets" to sell wider range of goods. UN says one third of population is malnourished

    2005 Centralised food rationing is reinstated and private sale of grain forbidden. The Government bans most international humanitarian operations

    2007 Severe summer flooding makes chronic food shortages worse. Government appeals for foreign aid

    2009 Economy is thought to have grown thanks to better weather and foreign assistance, but more sanctions come into force. Government rejects US food aid. Currency is revalued, with cap — in effect, confiscating private savings

    2010 Regime accepts 10,000 tonnes of corn from South Korea. The official behind the currency revaluation is executed

  • ponchy||

    Doesn't the government take money from taxpayers and give it back primarily to rich people, though? By going deeper and deeper into debt? Are the recepients of interest on government bonds primarily rich or primarily poor?

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: ponchy,

    Doesn't the government take money from taxpayers and give it back primarily to rich people, though?


    Rich people are the primary taxpayers in the US. ponchy... But you can bet not ALL the rich taxpayers get back the money they put in, only a few well-connected rich...

  • Tony||

    The ability of rich people to stay rich is a huge ROI. Take away government that backs up and defends their wealth with guns, then that wealth is fair game. And it's quite something to defend that wealth by saying that they pay all the taxes--yeah, after decades of policy making most everyone else poorer, their share of the burden has gone up. That's what you get for making everyone else poor.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Tony,

    The ability of rich people to stay rich is a huge ROI. Take away government that backs up and defends their wealth with guns, then that wealth is fair game.


    Are you implying that it is not fair game now?

    http://www.slate.com/id/2289354/

  • #||

    "after decades of policy making most everyone else poorer,"

    [citation needed]

    Also I suppose poor peoples lives are fair game because they are protected by the guns of the state, right tony?

  • Anonymous Coward||

    The ability of rich people to stay rich is a huge ROI. Take away government that backs up and defends their wealth with guns, then that wealth is fair game.

    Tony, given the centuries-long history of feudalism (you know, when rich people directly paid heavily armed killers to protect their lands and property) are you that stupid to believe that if the government evaporated tomorrow, they wouldn't have Xe or someone else with guns on their property within hours?

  • Tony||

    AC,

    Fair point. That's why I want to reduce the power of wealthy private interests in this world, instead of increasing their power by reducing the scope of government like you guys.

  • Alt Tony||

    Most humans are pathetic and spineless sniveling victims

  • WTF||

    That's why I want to reduce the power of wealthy private interests in this world, ...

    ..So it's easier to steal their stuff.

  • tarran||

    Reducing the scope of government is how you reduce their power, you nimrod.

    You really might want to familiarize yourself with the Socialist Calculation Problem, a phenomenon that Mises described in the 1920's. It applies to families, corporations or state run economies and explains *why* in a free market wealth cannot concentrated in the hands of a few (it takes forcible redistribution by something like the state to make that happen).

  • zoltan||

    in a free market wealth cannot concentrated in the hands of a few (it takes forcible redistribution by something like the state to make that happen)

    I can't understand what it is about leftists that they can't understand this. Corporations began after a national bank was instituted by Lincoln and railroads were allowed to cartelize (even then, the free market broke cartelization until railroad commissions were cemented).

  • sevo||

    Tony|4.8.11 @ 12:11PM|#
    "The ability of rich people to stay rich is a huge ROI."

    Good thing you don't make pitches to those in business. I'm sure some would hide the laughter, but most would find it impossible.
    Hint: Don't use technical terms before you learn what they mean. It only confirms your ignorance.

  • Richard Pearse ||

    only a few well-connected rich...

    Oldway Exicanmay, areway ouyay yingtray otay etgay ourselfyay
    annedbay? On'tday entionmay ethay Ochkay othersbray!

  • ||

    Doesn't the government take money from taxpayers and give it back primarily to rich people, though?

    Actually, in North Korea, the Party inner circle is essentially a hereditary aristocracy, which does exactly that.

    Note, BTW, how many congresscritters are the scions of congresscritters themselves.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "Are the recepients of interest on government bonds primarily rich or primarily poor?"

    Interest payments to bond investors is not a "subsidy".'

    It is payment for the government borrowing THEIR MONEY.

  • ||

    That was printed out of thin air.

  • ConfederalRepublicBy2030||

    “My country is good. Here in China if you want a child you have to pay, but we can have children for free.”

    "To celebrate the birthday of the heir-apparent, extra food rations were distributed on January 18 — even rice and a little oil."

    "Mrs Choi says everyone she knows believes in the leadership. But then her eyes slide away. “They believe because they don’t know what it’s like outside. No one tells them. The younger people know more.”"

    Just imagine it. MILLIONS of people, wandering around their homes, walking down their streets, lying down to sleep each night, with legions of their neighbors and family and friends surrounding them, all dying in the gut-wrenching, Satanic agony of starvation, stumbling aimlessly until their body surrenders and they drop dead like flies, all the while Dear Leader gorging on sushi and the finest wine money can buy. I fucking hate these people.

    I'm an atheist, but if there is a hell, if there is one such place somewhere as Mephistopheles, I hope each and every one of these people (Dear Leader and everybody around the world supporting anything even vaguely resembling anything even vaguely resembling anything even vaguely resembling his ideas and policies) burns for eternity in unearthly anguish, roasting from head to toe until the end of time itself.

    Reading that article actually made me cry, cry with fury. If I could, I'd torture Kim Jong-il to such a point that he became a corpse with a pulse.

    I don't know about you guys, but the motto 'Live Free or Die' has never felt truer and closer for me than it does today, in our time.

  • Old Mexican||

    If Fred pays $100 in taxes, and Mortimer pays nothing while collecting $25 out of Fred's tax payment, then it is fatuous to say lowering both Fred's tax bill and Mortimer's benefit check by $10 is "taking money away from Mortimer and giving it to Fred." That is not what is going on at all. The government is still doing just what it was doing before — taking money from Fred and giving it to Mortimer — only to a lesser degree.


    Statist fucks would say that Mortimer's "income" was being "slashed," even though Mortimer did NOTHING productive to obtain that income. That would be those same statist fucks who also want to tax inheritances (that is, slash their income) under the argument that the recipients did nothing to "deserve it." Logical consistency and rationality are NOT the staple of the Statist fuck.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    Modern leftists base their economic theories upon Carl Barks, not Karl Marx.

  • Mensan||

    Am I the only one who got the distinct feeling that this entire article is aimed directly at Tony?

    I have written almost the exact same thing as a response to his nescient drivel on more than one occasion.

  • ||

    If Fred pays $100 in taxes, and Mortimer pays nothing while collecting $25 out of Fred’s tax payment, then it is fatuous to say lowering both Fred’s tax bill and Mortimer’s benefit check by $10 is “taking money away from Mortimer and giving it to Fred.” That is not what is going on at all. The government is still doing just what it was doing before—taking money from Fred and giving it to Mortimer—only to a lesser degree.

    Nice.

    Of course, this flies right over the heads of the vast horde of union parasites and rest of the wealth envy mob.

  • Tony||

    We seem to be operating under the assumption that the current distribution of wealth is the product of a free and fair market. Let's pretend that it isn't, and that the increasingly obscene gap between rich and poor is actually the product of deliberate government policy, and has nothing to do with who worked harder, was more entrepreneurial, etc. (unless you count lobbying for special government treatment entrepreneurial). Then what?

    Libertarians want to apply their one-size-fits-all morality and say it's more wrong to tax a wealthy person any tiny amount more than they already are then to take away basic services for poor people, since allegedly they didn't earn those services. But if the money at the top wasn't really earned, but was taken, how does that figure in? I could say the wealthy and corporations have commanded policy changes that sucks money from the middle class and poor and puts it in their pocket, and that's a million times more plausible than the notion that the poor have been victimizing the rich with their evil parasitic demands for food and healthcare.

    The basic point is that there is in fact a useful notion known as "national wealth." It's useful because there is no magically correct distribution of wealth. It's always a product of policy, and a reflection of what society values. If it values wealth accumulation above all else, then it might reward wealth accumulation. That seems to be the case in this country, where hard work and an entrepreneurial spirit have next to nothing to do with how much money someone has compared to already having money. Or we could be a nation that values maximizing human well-being in addition to capitalism and decide that having most of the nation's wealth in the hands of a few is a massive, unproductive waste of resources. You guys don't get to be all pious and claim that the current distribution is the most fairest imaginable, because it's always going to be a result of policy--and besides, you're always going to defend wealth for the wealthy no matter what led to it.

  • Id||

    ....in which we demonstrate the true meaning of "begging the question".

  • Citizen Nothing||

    Tony is definitely a Barksist.

  • WTF||

    Tony|4.8.11 @ 11:44AM|#
    Let's pretend [...]

    'Nuff said

  • ||

    Even if NO wealth was earned, as long as it is transferred voluntarily that is still better than coercing it away from people.

    How is someone more entitled to my money if they take it by force than if, say, my father passed it along to me?

  • Tony Gollum||

    But it's my birthday, and I wants it!

  • Tony||

    Why are you entitled to inheritance? Because Jeebus said so? Or is it because policy allows you to inherit because society values the ability of parents to transfer wealth to children? Coercion as usual is a red herring. It's all the result of policy. There is no such thing as not having a policy.

  • Dick Fitzwell||

    So you would rather see everyone increasingly spending their money in wasteful ways as they get older?

    Nah. We know that you'd rather (as another commentor pointed out) take the inheritance from someone who hasn't earned the money and give it to someone else who hasn't earned it either.

  • Bucky||

    Family = Policy?

  • Fred||

    No, Tony, the real question is: why are you entitled to decide who does and doesn't receive their inheritance? Because Jeebus said so? Because you are smart enough to see how to maximize the value of this national wealth? Bullshit. You don't know any more than anyone else.

  • Tony||

    Every single justification for regressive economic policy is based on maximizing value of national wealth. It boils down to "it will be put to better use in the hands of the productive entrepreneurs who make jobs!" Maybe you don't buy that bullshit, but nobody is innocent of the crime of trying to distribute wealth most efficiently.

    All I'm saying is that policy that allows 100% inheritance is equally arbitrary as policy that taxes it at 50%. So what policy we have must be based on some standard of efficiency or morality, like what maximizes human well-being or makes the market fair.

  • Really?||

    All I'm saying is that policy that allows 100% inheritance is equally arbitrary as policy that taxes it at 50%. So what policy we have must be based on some standard of efficiency or morality, like what maximizes human well-being or makes the market fair.

    A policy that lets gay people get married, or have sex, or whatever is equally as arbitrary...morality...blah blah blah. You get the point, I hope.

    The Soviet Union tried to end inheritance, and it didn't work there, either. Source.

    For you to say that pilfering half is as "arbitrary" as pilfering none is one of the most morally monstrous things I have ever heard.

  • Tony||

    Well I think it's morally monstrous to make people starve for the crime of having poor parents, then to tell them that it's their fault they weren't born to rich parents, so they deserve their fate.

  • WTF||

    Well I think it's morally monstrous to make people starve for the crime of having poor parents

    Who is advocating for such a policy? Other than the voices in your head?

  • tarran||

    This thread is a classic demonstration of how completely Tony is motivated by envy.

  • Fox Mulder||

    ""Well I think it's morally monstrous to make people starve for the crime of having poor parents, then to tell them that it's their fault they weren't born to rich parents, so they deserve their fate.""

    I'm not against feeding the poor if they really need it. But we may be defining poor, and need differently. If you can afford a smartphone, you could have bought food instead.

    Being poor should be a motivator for getting out of the poor house.

  • Contrarian P||

    85% of millionaires are first generation rich. Guess nobody told them that their fate was already decided for them.

  • ||

    Because all you care about is equality of outcomes rather than equality of opportunities. You just want everything to be fair. Well, to paraphrase Uncle Milty : "I don't care about what is fair - I care about freedom, and freedom is not fair. Fair is someone else telling you what is fair, and I don't want someone else making that decision for me."

  • Dave||

    The term "regressive" is pejorative and inaccurate. Tax policy which redistributes wealth is actually more regressive than progressive since it violates individual property rights.

    Tax policy which respects individual economic rights by taxing people at equal rates is the most moral.

  • alzabo||

    The amount that the government currently spends on social programs is _vastly_ greater than the amount it would take to make sure that no one in the US ever starved to death or froze to death.

    I think people should keep the great bulk of the wealth they actually produce. I do think that there are a lot of people out there who have managed to get their hands on a fair bit of wealth without having produced much of value to anyone else. In some real sense they have "cheated."

    The thing is that the best way of cheating is to use the power of government to cheat. It is not the only method, but that whole monopoly on force thing makes it pretty effective. I have yet to hear a proposal for enlarging the scope of government that will not lead to more of that kind of cheating. So when I read your (probably not entirely serious) comments, I hear you endorsing the kind of cheating that you claim to be against.

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    Why are you entitled to inheritance?

    Why are you or the government or anyone else entitled to say I'm not?

    You seem to have a problem with the concept of "not yours." My father worked his ass off for decades to generate his personal wealth. Now that he's done that, it's his. Part of it being "his" means he gets to say who gets it.

    This is true while he is alive - and I hope to the sweet Flying Spaghetti Monster that you at least can agree on that, right? I mean, if he decides he wants to give me a gift of $10,000, that's his right to do so, yes? Not like the government can step in and say, "not so fast - why are you entitled to receive that gift? We think that should go to poor Steve over here, whose father was an alcoholic loser and useless layabout, leaving poor Steve with nothing."

    It's my father's wealth; it's his to give to whomever he wants to give it to.

    Your proposition is that when he dies, that continues to be the case only by the good graces and beneficence of the wise and great government. To which I say fuck that. If my father decides who he wants to get his stuff when he dies, then that's who gets it, because - once again - it's HIS STUFF. NOT YOURS.

  • Tony||

    Even if I completely agree with you, we don't run society on playground ethics. What's "yours" or "mine" has got to be determined legally if we're going to agree on it. Otherwise what's "mine" is whatever I can get my hands on, and there is no standard to legitimize my claim anymore than yours except "I have a bigger gun." Government is meant to have the biggest gun so that we are all in agreement about the legitimacy of property claims.

    So dad gets to bequest his wealth to his children because government makes that a legally legitimate action. Nothing wrong with that, but if you're going to base your entire economic worldview on the premise that capitalism rewards productivity and is thus the fairest possible system, then how can you defend inheritance at all? No work went into that accumulation of wealth. The only thing that mattered was whose loins you happened to come from, total random luck. That doesn't square with the moral justification for your economic policies.

  • Douglas Fletcher||

    So whose loins did you come from, and were they human?

  • Really?||

    Fine - I will just put everything into a trust or a pour-over will / trust, and then there will be a legitimate property interest.

    Tony, when people give you gifts at Christmas, do you feel bad? And why do you give people gifts? They didn't earn them, you know.

  • Tony||

    I'm not against inheritance. I'm just against dishonesty, as in the claim that we should have a regressive tax policy because it's unfair to all those hard-working earners who produced their wealth by sheer determination and skill.

  • ||

    all those hard-working earners who produced their wealth by sheer determination and skill.

    ...but not the rich ones who produced their wealth by sheer determination and skill like Bill Gates, right? they don't count.

    You are truly special. And by special, I mean retarded.

  • CJ||

    Even if I completely agree with you, we don't run society on playground ethics.

    I hear children say "that's not fair" a lot more than "finders keepers."

  • The Ingenious Hidalgo||

    I think Tony just called opposition to theft 'playground ethics'. Good to know.

  • Joe||

    The person who earned has the right to give it to anyone to he chooses. You aren't a party to that decision.

  • Ted S.||

    I may not be entitled to inherit my parents' house. However, they're entitled to bequeath it to whomever they damn well see fit.

    My understanding is that my parents plan to liquidate their estate when they die and split the money between the four of us siblings. If they want to write me or one of my sisters out of the will, that's their right.

    What has Big Government done to earn the money?

  • ||

    ""I may not be entitled to inherit my parents' house. However, they're entitled to bequeath it to whomever they damn well see fit.""

    ^^This^^

  • crossofcrimson||

    "Why are you entitled to inheritance?"

    Why are you entitled to a can of pop you just bought, or the birthday present your friend gave you last year?

  • The Ingenious Hidalgo||

    Why are you entitled to inheritance? Because Jeebus said so?"

    No, you shit. Because the person who earned the money says so.

    "Coercion as usual is a red herring. It's all the result of policy."

    So? There's a difference between policies that don't require coercion (i.e. leaving people the fuck alone) and those that do. How is that a red herring?

  • Dick Fitzwell||

    the notion that the poor have been victimizing the rich with their evil parasitic demands for food and healthcare.

    Who ever said that the poor have been victimizing the rich?

    Again you show your ignorance and inability to understand the position that most people on this board take. You have had the "conservatives/libertarians hate the poor" mantra drilled into your head for so long it's now just a part of your reasoning (or lack thereof.)

    The statists have fed you shit sandwiches for so long that you no longer mind the taste.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Tony,

    We seem to be operating under the assumption that the current distribution of wealth is the product of a free and fair market.


    Nobody has said that.

    Let's pretend that it isn't, and that the increasingly obscene gap between rich and poor is actually the product of deliberate government policy, and has nothing to do with who worked harder, was more entrepreneurial, etc. (unless you count lobbying for special government treatment entrepreneurial). Then what?


    Get rid of the problem you already point out to: government. Why beat around the bush?

    Libertarians want to apply their one-size-fits-all morality and say it's more wrong to tax a wealthy person any tiny amount more than they already are then to take away basic services for poor people, since allegedly they didn't earn those services.


    You will find it difficult to find anybody here (except maybe MNG) who makes these comparattive moral judgments. It is wrong to steal, period, does not matter if for a good reason or a bad reason.

    The basic point is that there is in fact a useful notion known as "national wealth."


    May be useful for you. That's a value judgment, and totally irrelevant.

    It's useful because there is no magically correct distribution of wealth.


    Non sequitur.

    It's always a product of policy, and a reflection of what society values.


    Begs the question: "It's useful because it has always been useful."

    You guys don't get to be all pious and claim that the current distribution is the most fairest imaginable[.]


    Nobody has made such claim - you're making shit up, as in "pulling it out of your ass."

    because it's always going to be a result of policy


    You don't know how stupid this assertion of yours is. "By Policy," everybody should live to be 300 years old. Yours is magical thinking.

    [...]and besides, you're always going to defend wealth for the wealthy no matter what led to it.


    Basically, you're accusing us of thinking like you.

  • 24601||

    It is wrong to steal, period, does not matter if for a good reason or a bad reason.

    It was just a LOAF OF BREAD

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: 24601,

    It was just a LOAF OF BREAD


    Yes, but it was MY loaf of bread!

  • Fred||

    Tony, this is more thoughtful than most things you write, so I condescend to respond to you.

    Your general proposition that wealth can be created and destroyed by policy, rather than production, isn't wrong. But why are you not a libertarian? This is exactly what everyone around here would agree on.

    What you can't justify is your jump from this initial proposition to the second proposition that the idea of "national wealth" is useful. Your jump only makes sense if we choose to throw up our hands and say, hey, since EVERYTHING has just been thrown into the collective resource pool then we should distribute "fairly" through the political process. But you've already pointed out that the political process has been captured by the wealthy and powerful. So why not go the more just route and say, let people keep what they earn?

    You sound like an advocate for "the poor," but really, you're just doing what everyone does, which is screwing the little guy who is trying to make a living by saying he's obligated to continue participating in a political game he is destined to lose. Your characterizations of rich and poor are wrong, and even if they aren't wrong, you are still ignoring the middle class, which is where the vast wealth of this country is being destroyed. And it's being destroyed by the powerful, on one hand, and by well-meaning imbeciles like you who continue to insist on the idea of "national wealth," which is precisely the idea that keeps people like ME in economic slavery.

    One last point: one well-meaning do-gooder like you, FDR, created a system of "helping" the "poor" (social security) that now leads to 7.5% of EVERY dollar earned by the poor and middle class be thrown into the pool of "national wealth" via the payroll tax. So explain to me how it would be such an injustice to let them keep this money. You say we can't determine what is just or not except through policy. I say, a policy that robs 7.5% of the money a minimum wage worker gets is wrong.

  • Tony||

    I'm saying there is no alternative to a policy-based distributive scheme. There is no magical sweet spot of distribution based on the virtues of capitalism. There may be a sweet spot as regards a macro assessment of human well-being and efficiency, though. So yeah the rich have gamed the system in their favor, but that can't be an argument for doing away with the system altogether, because that's a logical impossibility: wealth exists because government is there to secure it with guns, and it is distributed according to government policy. I'm arguing in favor of policy that makes the distribution a little more equitable, and let's add some restrictions on how much wealth influences policy while we're at it. And I am totally with you in thinking that tax policy should be more progressive. If you take everything into account the effective tax burden in this country is only slightly progressive.

    I could say something like: it's more important that nobody starves to death than it is for a billionaire to have a million extra dollars. It's a moral calculation that places the basic needs of people over the right of billionaires not to be taxed. Libertarians completely reverse this moral calculus and want to be patted on the back for it.

  • WTF||

    Notice how Tony always posits that wealth is somehow just 'distributed' - it is never in any way earned. What a tool.

  • Tony||

    Define earned. What accounts for a hedge fund manager making hundreds of thousands times the wages of a teacher? Did he work harder? Did he produce more value in society? Did he produce hundreds of thousands times the value?

    According to how I define earning--actually toiling for your money--your average fry cook earns his wages much, much more, dollar for dollar, than your average CEO.

    You just want to claim that however money is acquired, that is earning. Unless it's acquired by means you don't approve of, of course.

    I'm all for society actually rewarding "earning" instead of "having" or "making."

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Tony,

    Define earned.


    Obtained through voluntary exchange.

    What accounts for a hedge fund manager making hundreds of thousands times the wages of a teacher?


    The hedge fund manager created more value.

    This has been "Economics Ignorance Week" on H&R.

  • WTF||

    You beat me to it, OM, but I think we all know by now that Tony is completely clueless regarding relative value.

  • Joe||

    So the imbecile who spends the week digging holes with his hands and then filling them back up again deserves a more wealth than the salesman who sells $10,000,000 of new business?

    Pinko please!

  • Mensan||

    earn transitive verb \ˈərn\

    1 : to receive as return for effort and especially for work done or services rendered
    2 : to bring in by way of return < bonds earning 10 percent interest >

    Words already have definitions. You don't get to invent your own.

  • Really?||

    But see, they did not demonstrate that the earned it to Tony's satisfaction. That is the part you guys are missing. If sports stars get paid millions, they must not have earned it because it offends Tony's sensibilities that people might value things differently than he does.

  • .||

    What accounts for a hedge fund manager making hundreds of thousands times the wages of a teacher? Did he work harder?

    No. He worked smarter.

  • BigT||

    Earned more = Someone else valued his service more, and freely paid for those services

  • ||

    ""Define earned.""

    I can't imagine anyone who's ever had a job would ask that.

  • The Ingenious Hidalgo||

    Seriously, Tony, do you have some weird form of amnesia that makes you forget the arguments people put to you a couple of days ago? You know that when libertarians says 'earned', we mean 'acquired by voluntary means'. You know that. Why do you make people explain it to you every time?

  • Emperor Wears No Clothes||

    Why does anybody bother responding to Tony the Marxist's state-o-philic posts?
    He'll never change our minds. We'll never change his.
    If we ignore him maybe he'll have to go elsewhere to get his erections.

  • Fred||

    Tony, I understand that your way of thinking about policy is fairly mainstream in some circles. And unlike a lot of people, I do actually care about the moral calculations. But the one thing I will never yield on is the ideology that there is such a thing as "national wealth."

    You say wealth exists because we have stable government (more or less). I could quibble with this, but let's accept this. What you've described is essentially the Nightwatchman State -- a guarantor of property rights and a means of peacefully resolving disputes.

    What about this makes the elimination of the policy game impossible? What about having minimal property rights protections necessitates the horrible fiction of "national wealth"?

    There is, in fact, a moral dimension to libertarianism, and it runs like this:

    1. At BEST (and imperfectly), government can protect property rights, in the minimal sense of storing records of ownership, enforcing contracts, etc.

    2. Property rights are defined as the right you have to anything you yourself earned or that was voluntarily transferred to you.

    3. "Distributive" and "redistributive" policy is a game unto itself that is controlled by special interests and invariably favors the powerful.

    4. The allocation of wealth by private parties will ALWAYS help society more, in the long run, than attempts to "rationally" or "morally" distribute.

    5. The fiction of "national wealth" is the ideological basis for central planning that corrupts everyone and everything.

  • Tony||

    National wealth is simply a description of cumulative individual wealth in the country. It's not a thing apart from that. All I'm saying is it's useful to look at it because it is a reflection of what society as a whole values. Maybe it values a radically free market, and how national wealth is distributed will reflect that. Maybe it values wealth equality, and the distribution will be a reflection of that. The only difference between your position and mine is what government policies we want. There is no such thing as no policy. And I take this further and claim that there is no such thing as a correct distribution of national wealth. It's all a reflection of policy, which is a result of what the people who make policy value. Hopefully in a democratic society it's what the people value too.

  • Joe||

    Why all teh focus on distribution and not a focus on absolute levels.

    One reason why the wealthy are getting a larger share is that they are the ones leading the charge to expand wealth. Bill Gates came from an upper-middle class home. But he produced so much wealth that (along with many of the original employees of Microsoft) became fabulously wealthy. Would it have been better in your moral universe if he had of stayed at Harvard and become a hack attorney like his father? maybe he would have ended up making $500k a year. Or was it better that man quit school (I know the liberal can't stand that), started a capitalistic venture and changed forever how the world works and plays?

  • Tony||

    Bill Gates has said many times that luck played an overwhelming role in his success.

  • made mine||

    Hey asshole, ANY sucessful person will tell you that luck had a big part in it
    Get off your ass and do something will ya?

  • alzabo||

    Of course it did. If you think about it, luck played a big part in your being here at all. How many spermatazoa got spilled when you were conceived? What were the odds of that sperm getting into that egg, and you winding up being you?

    If we look at why things happen it is pretty hard to believe that anyone is responsible for anything. Who you are is some combination of nature and nurture, and you're not responsible for either of those things. If we look at things this way (and it seems the most accurate way of looking at them) even the rapist and the serial killer are blameless.

    But we don't look at things this way, because it doesn't work very well. We attach blame and moral opprobrium to rape and murder because it reduces the number of rapes and murders.

    Beyond that, many of us feel that it is a bedrock principle that people own themselves, completely. But who they are (in other words, how valuable their ownership of self is) is not something they are responsible for. To try to equalize the luck factor here is to assert that people do not own themselves, and that generally doesn't turn out very well.

  • Emperor Wears No Clothes||

    "What were the odds of that sperm getting into that egg, and you winding up being (Tony)?"

    Now I'm really depressed.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Tony,

    National wealth is simply a description of cumulative individual wealth in the country.


    Then the concept is flawed. If it's individuals cumulative wealth, then it cannot be "national," just like students' grades are not the "school grades."

    The only difference between your position and mine is what government policies we want.


    What's with this "we" business, Kimosabe?

    There is no such thing as no policy.


    Of course there is, just as there is such a thing as "no letters in an empty book."

    By the way, just because there's no government interference in something does not mean there's a "policy of no intervention." Government is neither omnipresent nor omnipotent.

  • Ray Pew||

    There is no such thing as no policy.

    You continue to make this claim, yet it is logically false.

    Your argument assumes some epistemic belief in eternal government principles that exist and must be uncovered by man.

    The absence of a codified policy is "no policy". It is a human construct that must be implemented to exist.

  • CJ||

    There is no such thing as no policy.

    Name the policy of any government in the world in the year 2739 BC on funding microbiology research.

  • ||

    ---"And I take this further and claim that there is no such thing as a correct distribution of national wealth. It's all a reflection of policy, which is a result of what the people who make policy value."---

    1) In your opinion, the wealthy are wealthy due to the policies of government allowing them to accumulate assets.

    2) Your solution is to give government more power to "distribute" wealth.

    Do I have that right?

  • susan28||

    I think Tony's basically starting from a place of nihilism (no clearly-manifest objective values) which i respect - this is why i prefer the term "preferences" over values, and make it clear that while the libertarian ethic - if you will - is the most pleasing to me the one behind which i've chosen to invest my blood and treasure, it is by no means the only or "highest" value.

    So; i'm appreciating that someone is putting the discussion ("debates" can only happen with a shared premise, as T points out) on this level.

    I read an article awhile back showing that liberals and conservatives, to a degree, are just differently predisposed and i suspect the same is true of libertarians, since i find that without even trying, the people to which i'm attracted as friends end up having a libertarian bent even if the social contact is unrelated, like cars or whatnot.

    Which is why - i think - we need to find a way to turn off our impulses to interfere on "moral" grounds and somehow learn to let be, and i think that the US's original concept of federalism ended up looking the best to me in the long run, with the little micro-states living as they please and coming together for the common defense, and this is why i think we're moving in the wrong direction with the globalist perspective, as tempting as it may be to all those with a "vision" for humanity.

    But in my experience "vision" always translates into more tyranny than good because such structures are also tempting to an Ancien Regime trying to maintain its stranglehold on humanity.

    I feel your pain, Tony; i came to libertarianism from the left and had to eat alotta sacred cow to resolve the cognitive dissonance (good luck on your journey, baby!).

    How bout this as a starting point: self ownership - do you own yourself or do you see you yourself as a product of social policy and therefore not fully your own, but either A) a public resource or B) that you own a portion of yourself = 1 / the total world population and an equal share of everyone else and vice versa, so that everyone owns "one person's worth" of "person", but everyone's "personhood" is pooled?

  • Dick Fitzwell||

    Libertarians completely reverse this moral calculus and want to be patted on the back for it.

    Wrong again. Libertarians realize that there is no set standard of moral values. Your morals and mine may be (and probably are) very different. However I'm sure that neither of us want poverty and hunger.

    At what cost? This is a question most statist believe should never be asked. Sure it would be great for the poor people if the rich were taxed more to make up for what you may call the unjust distribution of wealth. But at what cost? If you forget about the dollars and cents that you take from the rich to give to the poor, you still have to consider other costs.

    Where is the incentive to the rich to keep making enough money to benefit the poor? Or the incentive for the poor to try a little harder? Say what you want about what is immoral and unjust but believe me, incentives matter.

    You confuse moral with noble. You talk of a noble end but you arrive at it by immoral means.

  • Tony||

    So-called statists ask "at what cost?" all the time. Cost-benefit analysis is central to all policymaking.

    Where is the incentive to the rich to keep making enough money to benefit the poor? Or the incentive for the poor to try a little harder? Say what you want about what is immoral and unjust but believe me, incentives matter.

    These are perfectly reasonable questions to ask in a cost-benefit analysis. I think there's ample evidence that the rich can be taxed fairly heavily before they decide they'd rather just be middle class instead of rich. You're referring to the Laffer effect, which if not totally bunk is certainly not relevant to any tax policy changes on the table in the real world.

    And I suppose there's a legitimate worry about incentivizing laziness in the poor. But again in the real world nobody is talking about lavishing the poor. In fact, providing for basic needs allows them to focus on "trying harder" and succeeding in the world instead of just trying to meet these basic needs, which apart from taking time away from higher pursuits, skews incentives in another way: if you're hungry, you are less incentivized to abide by laws against stealing, for example. It's certainly in the wealthy person's interest to see that the basic needs of the poor person are met.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Tony,

    Cost-benefit analysis is central to all policymaking.


    Which crashes right against the wall of acting people.

    Cost-Benefit analysis are made by financers and project managers to help them make financial decisions, with information gathered from market prices. Market prices reflect the value people place on certain commodities or services, but not every single decision by acting man is priced.

    Policies cannot thus be costed this way because they are not based on financial information as most analysis purport to "cost" elements that have no market price; they are based on economic, econometric or polling information which is already obsolete, as people can change their minds and value schedules.

    Since people are NOT robots and act with purpose, ANY so-called "cost-benefit" analysis for policy purposes will suffer the consequence of relying on mere guesses; this is unavoidable, no matter how much YOU want it to be not true. NO policy has EVER realized the goals obtained from cost-benefit analysis, precisely because people act differently than expected.

    It's certainly in the wealthy person's interest to see that the basic needs of the poor person are met.


    That is what production and the markets are for.

  • zoltan||

    I recently read about a government policy based on cost-benefit analysis, more specifically a 1992 Supreme Court decision. Chief Justice Rehnquist said that sobriety checkpoints aren't too much of an imposition on the 4th and 5th amendments and that the safety we all get from violating those rights is more important than the rights themselves.

    This is what happens when government does cost-benefit analysis.

  • .||

    I think there's ample evidence that the rich can be taxed fairly heavily before they decide they'd rather just be middle class instead of rich

    Yes suh. Ya kin work dem niggas mos' to death afo' dey done gib up an jis kill de selfs. Sho nuff.

  • ||

    You're kinder to Tony than he deserves.

  • Fred||

    One last point: the fact that it's easier to make money when you already have money (which is why the "rich get richer") is not an injustice. I don't begrudge people who are born on third base. Their existence does not in any way hinder my pursuits -- and in fact, it helps them -- especially when compared to do-gooders like you who tax 30% of my income to pay for maintaining a welfare culture AND for maintaining the corrupt political game. Get rid of the game.

  • Tony||

    Laissez-faire policy is still policy. It's not superior by virtue of itself. If you think a darinian society where luck plays the predominant role in one's success is the best possible system, fine. I think there are better options--even ones that still allow for obscenely wealthy people. But just don't say that the market rewards productivity and cleverness and hard work. Even today with our welfare state in place, luck plays a very large role. I read a stat that said that children of wealthy parents who don't go to college are more likely to be high-earners than children of poor parents who do go to college.

    So obviously some amount of unfairness and random luck will be tolerated, but we don't have to make it the single biggest determiner of success. Otherwise capitalism is a demonstrable failure according to all the justifications made for it.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Tony,

    Laissez-faire policy is still policy.


    I imagine that the robber going on vacation can be construed as a "non robbery policy" as well...

    Government is God. Up is down.

  • Dick Fitzwell||

    Hot snow falls up...D'oh!

  • ConfederalRepublicBy2030||

    Laissez-faire is no policy. Government can't deem itself uninvolved in something it's involved, which it would have to be to decide that it's not going to interfere in it. Laissez-faire means no government and no policy. As in, an ABSENCE. VACUUM. NONEXISTENCE. I don't understand how you can argue this horse-fucking, cock-sucking, ball-gobbling illogic and immorality.

  • Joe||

    Luck is part of life. We're lucky that we were born in the 20th century and not the 10th. Should we have all killed ourselves when we hit 40 yo because our ancestors couldn't live as long as we will? It isn't fair.

    Luck also comes in many forms. You are you were born to, what genetics you inherited, the people you meet, etc. all play a part in how our lives turn out. And so what? How does the fact that someone is born tall and handsome oblige that person to others who are shorter and more plain. It doesn't because such a concept is crazy. But you would have the world organized by how much money someone has because you can draw some connection to that being due to luck. Do you ever think that you don't have the moral authority to do such a thing?

  • Tony||

    It's impossible to remove luck from the equation but that doesn't mean letting it be all-important is the best way. I just want capitalism to work the way you guys claim it does. Otherwise what is it good for. We already have Darwinian selection in nature, why does it have to dictate the outcomes of commerce?

  • Shorter Tony||

    It's not FAAIIRRR!!!11!!

  • The Ingenious Hidalgo||

    Stealing is wrong.

  • Social Planner||

    I read a stat that said that children of wealthy parents who don't go to college are more likely to be high-earners than children of poor parents who do go to college.

    Because IQ CANNOT, MUST NOT be an inheritable trait, even partially.

  • ||

    Yeah, because if IQ was in fact an inheritable trait then we would have to consider the possibility that we can find IQ differences across racial divisions. This is double plus ungood.

  • ||

    Not only do you not understand econ, you don't understand evolutionary theory either?

  • Observer||

    [quote]So obviously some amount of unfairness and random luck will be tolerated, but [b]we[/b] don't have to make it the single biggest determiner of success.[/quote]

    Because we as Human's control the reality we live in.

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    Let's pretend that it isn't, and that the increasingly obscene gap between rich and poor is actually the product of deliberate government policy, and has nothing to do with who worked harder, was more entrepreneurial, etc..

    Except that it's not. So yeah,you would have to "pretend."

    Scenario: Steve dropped out of high school, and now works as a welder, 9 to 5. At the end of the day, he comes home, sits on his ass drinking beer in front of the TV. Every day, he does the same thing. Get up, go to the job site, weld stuff together, go home, hang out with the guys at the bar or just go home, drink beer, watch TV. He's pissed that he doesn't make more money, have a better truck and live in a better house. And he constantly bitches about the government. Because he's married with two kids, his salary is such that he pays no income tax. Not only that, he gets a refundable Earned Income Credit and Dependent Child Credit - money from other taxpayer who did pay tax.

    Now let's look at Sue. Sue finished high school and attended some community college, but never finished her degree. She worked as a cashier at a health food store for a year or two, but always wanted to do something more. In the evenings, she searched the Internet for business ideas and spent a lot of time on entrepeneurial forums discussing her ideas with others.

    Sue liked to sew and do crafts with fabrics. She noticed that her 3 year-old nephew loved to cuddle and sleep with his plushy stuffed animals. So for his birthday, she made a teddy bear shaped like a pillow. When the kid's brother and sister saw it, they wanted one, too. So she made one for each of them. The other moms thought they were great, too and suggested that she start making them for sale.

    Sue took her savings - all $5,000 of it - and started a small business. She bought a bunch of materials and a good-quality sewing machine, and spend a couple weeks during the evenings and weekends making a couple hundred of her "pillow pets." Then she rented a kiosk at the local mall and tried to get the attention of the passers-by.

    Long story short, after a year, Sue was selling every one she could make. She made a web site, a Facebook page, and started advertising on Google. She got so many orders she finally had to find a supplier to make the plushy toys to her specifications and had to hire a couple employees to pack and ship all the orders. After three years, she's now generating $20,000 per month in revenues, shipping her toys all over the world, and employing four people.

    So tell me again how hard work doesn't make the difference, and the only reason "rich" people are rich is because of some government policy?

  • Dick Fitzwell||

    The "Steve" in your scenario could be my brother. Except that my brother's name isn't Steve.

  • Jack On||

    To be fair, BSR, that's a bit of an oversimplification. There are plenty of poor people who bust their asses and never succeed, and plenty of well-to-do folks who happened to fall out of the right vagina. If I'm being honest, even I fall into that category; because my parents could afford to bail me out (quite literally) during the worst of my "partying" phase at college, I was able to finish on time, and get a decent job. Two of my "poorer" friends went, and because they did not have parents with as much disposable income as mine, had to take out a lot of student loans in addition to working, which now take a severe chunk out of their monthly salaries. So I'm relatively better off now, even though I goofed off more, and work less hard, than my poorer brethern. The fact that my parents were upper-middle class means that quite literally, I put in only half the effort, but reap more rewards, than two of my best friends. This is a concrete, real-world example that "hard work" is not a sole determinant to success.

    Not to take away from the fact that Tony is almost completely wrong about everything, but if your Horatio Alger vignette was completely true, then America as-is would be perfect and there's no need for our political movement to even exist.

  • WTF||

    There are plenty of poor people who bust their asses and never succeed,

    If by succeed you mean get rich, then sure. But if they bust their asses and avoid making foolish life decisions, they will not remain poor.

  • ||

    The reason that "Steve" fails in the scenario above is NOT that he isn't working hard. His problem is his high time preference: "Get up, go to the job site, weld stuff together, go home, hang out with the guys at the bar or just go home, drink beer, watch TV." He spends his time and money only on what he wants right now.

    Sue has a low time preference: she thinks of the future. So when luck does come her way, she can exploit it. She has not only saved some money, she has invested time and intellectual resources in the future while Steve has invested nothing--he just consumed.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    Two of my "poorer" friends went, and because they did not have parents with as much disposable income as mine, had to take out a lot of student loans in addition to working, which now take a severe chunk out of their monthly salaries.

    Then maybe your friends can be the more well off parents when it comes time to bail out their kid. And so on. It's a process and it isn't necessarily going to happen over night or within one generation.

    My mother and stepdad worked to provide for me but I had to go to a crappy public school and pay my own way through college and grad school. I was the first one in my family to graduate college. Now, my kids go to a private school and won't have to pay for college. They aren't the most well-to-do ones at the school, but they're at the school. I'm hopeful they can do even more for their children than I have been able to do for them.

    Hard work isn't the sole determinant but hard work is the best we can do since we don't get to choose our parents.

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    There are plenty of poor people who bust their asses and never succeed, and plenty of well-to-do folks who happened to fall out of the right vagina.

    Yup. It's called reality. Welcome to it.

    As Frank Sinatra sang, "That's life." The line he left out is "sometimes it sucks; sorry; hope you have a good one."

  • Anonymous Coward||

    It's useful because there is no magically correct distribution of wealth.

    Sure there is. If you obtain your wealth by means other than fraud or force, it is rightfully your wealth.

  • sevo||

    Tony|4.8.11 @ 11:44AM|#
    "We seem to be operating under the assumption that the current distribution of wealth is the product of a free and fair market."

    "We"? No, it takes someone as stupid as you to believe that.

  • Jersey Patriot||

    We seem to be operating under the assumption that the current distribution of wealth is the product of a free and fair market. Let's pretend that it isn't, and that the increasingly obscene gap between rich and poor is actually the product of deliberate government policy, and has nothing to do with who worked harder, was more entrepreneurial, etc.

    I wouldn't say "nothing to do", but I agree with the general thrust of this. The problem is, of course, that you're posing the same solution that has been posed for more than a century, and it was has led us right back to the 19th century. Essentially, mass democratic Progressivism bought you 100 years. The elites figured out how to game that.

    Well, what are you going to do next, more and better Democrats? LOL, maybe we can incinerate enough Third Worlders to get single-payer!

  • Tony||

    Hey now that's a good point. If voting for Democrats doesn't work, there's always hauling out the guillotines again.

  • .||

    Yeah, that did wonders for France back in the day. They're still a third rate country.

  • crossofcrimson||

    "You guys don't get to be all pious and claim that the current distribution is the most fairest imaginable, because it's always going to be a result of policy--and besides, you're always going to defend wealth for the wealthy no matter what led to it."

    Tony, believe it or not many libertarians sympathize with some of what you've said here - and you've been lurking around here long enough to know that libertarians generally don't favor corporate welfare, protectionism, or most of anything else in the myriad of government interventions and redistributions aimed at funneling money or power to the privileged. The reason why many of us seem so defensive when you or other people talk about the rich is that, with the exception of this explicit post, and outside of the libertarian-left, it seems pretty clear that their soul contention is with the disparity of wealth - which is quite different than pointing out that there is coercion which is resulting in that disparity. In other words, even if we had a completely free market, if there were appreciable disparities in wealth, those people would still lambaste the wealthy and call for further aggression. On this, we'll always part ways.

    That being said, even in that Utopian free-market, "fairness" has no context in that sense for most libertarians. Fairness is derived from our beliefs about equality - and we believe in two VERY different kinds of equality. You believe in some semblance of equality in wealth or condition. We believe in some semblance of equality in authority. There are areas for which those distinctive views overlap, but there are quite a few places where they don't.

    Let's look at a simple analogy:

    Take, for instance, two children playing on a beach - building sand castles. One child, in the course of an afternoon, manages to build one sand castle of poor quality. The other manages to build ten. Now why this is so could be for many different reasons; a difference in physical prowess, natural skill, intelligence...all of which could have been affected by their upbringing and background, etc.. Now, someone of your ilk might contend that the one child having ten sand castles is not "fair." You might claim that purely in terms of results, or even claim indirect fairness more generally in terms of factors that might have boosted the capability of the more productive child. This is a commonly liberal view of equality and fairness.

    But the libertarians sees no "unfairness" here. He sees a difference in outcome predicated on a difference of ability - both in terms of nature and nurture - but understands that men are not equal in terms of character, ability, and experience. It's no more "unfair" (in the sense that would call for justice, social or otherwise) than being born without a finger. It's unfortunate. We may wish to help such a person (and rightfully so) out of sympathy, or in the virtue of charity. But it is not the purview of justice as no "injustice" has been committed for which one would be called to recompense.

    On the contrary, the libertarian begins to sees inequality only when someone, on behalf of the struggling child, begins to aggress upon the "gifted" child. This is because both own themselves as well as the product of their labor; and to claim to have the power to unreciprocally take from one on behalf of the other implies another very important kind of inequality - the inequality of authority. By claiming authority over the product of another's labor, you are claiming part of his labor, and are thus claiming authority of his person.

    Now, if this one child enjoys an advantage solely because we have kicked over the sand castles of the other children, or have redistributed their shovels to the privileged child, you won't find many libertarians in support of that. But this is usually not the argument that liberals are making. And to the extent that they are, it's in the belief that if it weren't for that, all the castle-making children would be on par, productively. It's not clear that this would be true, and if it weren't it's even less clear that this would be the end of the clamoring from the left on equality. So don't conflate our "piety" regarding our vision of equality for a reverence for the current state of...well...the state. If you want to lead a crusade upon government for coercing some individuals in favor of others (and, yes, even the rich), then you can count us in. But what we've been hearing sounds a lot more like plans to flood a city in order to put out some burning houses...and when we get to that point you have to start wondering what a person's objectives really are.

  • crossofcrimson||

    soul = sole....sigh

  • Tony||

    libertarians generally don't favor corporate welfare, protectionism, or most of anything else in the myriad of government interventions and redistributions aimed at funneling money or power to the privileged.

    I get that. Your principles forbid you from supporting these things, even if your policies implicitly do. And they do. Otherwise why even spend a single second worried about the allegedly unfair policies targeting the rich and corporations, and why worry about what poor people are getting for free, when the low-hanging fruit and the most egregious abuses of government cronyism is happening at the top, not the bottom?

    Now you can still be right while not being terribly consistent in what you choose to argue against. But the conversation is distorted, and I see it all over this very thread, the idea that wealth = virtue, as if tax policy should be based on our estimation of people's moral worth (productiveness!), but then we refuse to ask how the wealth was acquired in order to make that judgment. If you have wealth, you obviously earned it. Conversely if you're poor, it's to some extent your fault. Well, if the rich are gaming the system, maybe it's their fault instead.

    It's fine to say you're against crony capitalism, but how do you prevent it in a strong capitalist system? To the businessman, getting favors from government can be a quite rational business decision and might take its own brand of skill and ingenuity. A free market system relies on too many unproven assertions about human virtue.

    Sand castles:

    If we were talking about sand castles, you might be right. I think you mischaracterize how liberals think about these things. It's not about fairness in terms of outcomes. Granted that life isn't fair, the whole point of attempting to create a level starting place is so that capitalism works as you guys advertise it: the thing that allows people to build their own success. A highly bifurcated society makes this impossible for most people. And if that system--a human invention--doesn't work as advertised, what good is it? I don't care about satisfying principles of absolute property, I care about maximizing human well-being. Yes that involves shaving some resources off the top in order to lift the bottom to an acceptable place. Oh well. The moral distinction I see between the active harm of taxing someone and the passive harm of letting someone else starve is that the latter is much worse.

    "Authority over labor" and coercion, again, are distractions. Unless you're an anarchist, in which case you can't believe in property or rights anyway. I'm fine with property rights if we're talking about sand castles. But what's to stop the struggling child from knocking down the gifted child's sandcastles without an agreed-upon framework of who actually owns what? Property is a government fiction that serves a social purpose: it helps us all get along. So right off the bat, even talking about an artistic work, we need to pay somebody to man the courts and the police force to enable these rights. It is well within the gifted child's best interests to give up a sand castle to make sure her claim to the other 9 is secure.

  • .||

    Unless you're an anarchist, in which case you can't believe in property or rights anyway.

    Huh? Since when? What the fuck you been smoking, fool?

  • .||

    Granted that life isn't fair, the whole point of attempting to create a level starting place is so that capitalism works as you guys advertise it: the thing that allows people to build their own success the masses can be kept level. That is, on their knees, groveling for handouts from their betters like Tony.

  • crossofcrimson||

    "I get that. Your principles forbid you from supporting these things, even if your policies implicitly do. And they do. "

    What part of explicitly being against policies of protectionism and corporate welfare implicitly puts be in support of them? I'm curious. Because such conjecture sounds a lot like the "If you're not coercing them you're indirectly coercing me" argument that I referenced as an egregious liberal misunderstanding.

    "Otherwise why even spend a single second worried about the allegedly unfair policies targeting the rich and corporations, and why worry about what poor people are getting for free"

    Generally speaking, I (personally) don't give any deference to either. I don't sit and give heavy-handed scoldings to neither the poor nor the rich, not only because, effectively, you're right in that it would make my view inconsistent. But also because I don't think the odd collectivist divisions we try to make between classes account for the complexity of what's occurring. Some poor both benefit and suffer at the expense of others in the system - likewise for the rich. To be honest, I think serious people would have a hard time untangling who receives the largest net-benefit (individually), and even then it's not a homogeneous effect across an entire income class.

    "but then we refuse to ask how the wealth was acquired in order to make that judgment. If you have wealth, you obviously earned it. Conversely if you're poor, it's to some extent your fault. "

    For the people who do make that mistake, I think they're in error. But you can't use that logic and assume the reverse either; that all wealth gained is done so unjustly, and that all wealth not attained is the result of oppression or coercion. Both are likely happening depending on who exactly we're talking about. And our inability to untangle that, leading into our tendency to cherry-pick incidence and incorporate it into our political narratives (as a weapon against our idealogical opponents) is one of the reasons such government involvement poses a threat to an already thin social fabric.

    "It's fine to say you're against crony capitalism, but how do you prevent it in a strong capitalist system?"

    It really depends on what you mean by "capitalist system" to be honest. If you're referring to a system in which we allow both capitalism and an institution granted the monopoly of force, I think it's extremely difficult. The first (and maybe only) effective step is to restrain the scope of that institution. But, for better or worse, most Americans have not been too seriously interested in this concept in a long time.

    "the whole point of attempting to create a level starting place is so that capitalism works as you guys advertise it"

    Admittedly, I had to chuckle a bit at this line. It's like looking at someone selling a gas engine and telling him you had to "fix it" to run on diesel to get it to run as advertise. What exists now is not what we recommend - government intervention affects ostensibly free markets...outcomes included by the way.

    "I don't care about satisfying principles of absolute property, I care about maximizing human well-being."

    I'd be willing to make a bet that you're fooling yourself if you really think that's your bottom line. But i'll let you keep the wallet in your pocket on this one:

    Doctor -> hospital -> 5 dying patients who need separate organs -> one perfectly healthy patient walks in -> ?

    Would you stop the good doctor from offing the healthy patient to save the dying five? If you really believe in what you just touted, I'd contend you would. But I also contend that there is a restraining value you place (consciously or not) on that egalitarian platitude. I'll also bet that you can trace the heritage of this countering line of thought back to the concept of property too...but that might be a separate discussion.

    But even with all of this said, most libertarians have consequentialist reasons to believe what they do as well (hence their interest in economics...there's a reason for that). They believe it will have better outcomes - and not just in strict terms of ethical/moral outcomes revolving around self-ownership.

    "Authority over labor" and coercion, again, are distractions. Unless you're an anarchist, in which case you can't believe in property or rights anyway. "

    These two statements, in tandem, kind of made my head hurt a bit. Firstly, you just kindly tossing off the conversation of authority (regarding labor or anything else) would be like me tossing off your conversation of "fairness" or "well-being". Those are just distractions after all...

    As far as the second comment, I don't think you could be more wrong. The basis of almost all schools of anarchy lie in the absolute belief in self-ownership (at the very least). This is the whole reason why they're self-touted "individualists" who despise "authority." Starting to see a connection? Now, that sense of property almost always at least extends to labor, and then, at least in less anarcho-communist camps, extends to external matter (a misnomer) as well. Try telling an Anarcho-Capitalist (of which, yes, I'm one) that he doesn't believe in property and you'll get some strange looks. I'd suggest reading up on them a little more before you throw things like that out there.

    "Property is a government fiction that serves a social purpose: it helps us all get along"

    This idea that the concept of government somehow precedes rights, trade, property, etc. is a little baffling. You may thing that such social constructs can only operate or flourish under modern governmental institutions, but that is quite different than saying that property, law, morality, religion (whatever) can't arise (or didn't arise) without an institution having a monopoly on force. If anything they arrived in tandem, but given that government's role is to supposedly address the failings of these other institutions, in some sense, those other institutions had to have arrived previously or simply along with government.

    As far as property more specifically is concerned, there's a difference between a concept and a fiction. I could just as easily say egalitarianism is a fiction. But it's a concept. And it's very real. I don't think you'd accept that as a knockdown argument against its existence - with or without government. I can't say this about a strictly egalitarian framework (although I'm open to it if you know of where it's to be had) but the concept of property can to some degree be worked out deductively, apriori. So even if you have a good reason to believe that other values trump self-ownership, the presumption should still always be against violating liberty.

    "So right off the bat, even talking about an artistic work, we need to pay somebody to man the courts and the police force to enable these rights."

    I think you mean "enforce" instead of "enable" here - the rights already exist independent of their enforcement. That being said, rights certainly would enjoy much more respect with enforcement. But even at that, we would be calling for a government with a much narrower scope than what you're suggesting. And beyond that, it's not necessarily obvious (albeit accepted) that such enforcement has to come at the hand of a monopolistic institution.

  • crossofcrimson||

    Sorry again for the piss-poor spelling; typing in a hurry.

  • Tony||

    To be honest, I think serious people would have a hard time untangling who receives the largest net-benefit (individually), and even then it's not a homogeneous effect across an entire income class.

    But what's missing from this way of looking at things is the reality that being poor is in itself a disadvantage, and being rich is in itself an advantage. We shouldn't talk about economic classes in the same we we talk about racial or sexual classifications. The benefits to a poor person cannot logically outweigh the benefits to a rich person, because being poor is itself the definition of disadvantaged.

    But even with all of this said, most libertarians have consequentialist reasons to believe what they do as well (hence their interest in economics...there's a reason for that). They believe it will have better outcomes - and not just in strict terms of ethical/moral outcomes revolving around self-ownership.

    Agreed. All descriptions of how humans should live are consequentialist by definition.

    Try telling an Anarcho-Capitalist (of which, yes, I'm one) that he doesn't believe in property and you'll get some strange looks.

    While I admit that I haven't read anarchist literature extensively, so perhaps you could help me out, but how exactly do you have property without enforcement? And once you admit enforcement, why not attempt to make it less Darwinian than anarchy would seem to imply it must be?

    that is quite different than saying that property, law, morality, religion (whatever) can't arise (or didn't arise) without an institution having a monopoly on force.

    I guess I don't see how any of those things make any sense without an enforcement system. Even if there isn't a monopoly on legitimate force, there will be power centers of some sort. What is law if you aren't forced to agree with everyone about it? Government is just the practical response to that.

    I could just as easily say egalitarianism is a fiction

    And I would agree with you. All schemes of how humans should live are just assertions based on unprovable moral axioms. The best I think we can do is to figure out what it takes for a human to live a decent life according to normal human demands and the figure out how to maximize that in the world. Now if I admit that this is not deducible from pure logic, what do you think I'd say about property? It's a convenient idea that helps to contribute to human well-being, but like all such things that aren't written in stone comes with qualifications.

  • crossofcrimson||

    "But what's missing from this way of looking at things is the reality that being poor is in itself a disadvantage, and being rich is in itself an advantage.... The benefits to a poor person cannot logically outweigh the benefits to a rich person, because being poor is itself the definition of disadvantaged."

    Hmmm...I don't think we're seeing eye to eye on the term "benefit." I think you're referring to net status post intervention whereas i'm referring to the "benefits" bestowed by government. If one poor person receives a net income from government receipts and one rich person pays out $1,000,000.00 - then the poor person has received the larger net benefit. The fact that he still produces more value and is much richer after the fact is not an additional benefit bestowed by a third party. In fact, the only context in which I think you could make that claim is in saying that the wealthy man consumes more protection services. But even then, he's already paying substantially higher (proportionally) taxes; and if he wasn't, it would certainly be a good starting point to ask why we (ostensibly) have a single monopolistic system of protection services. In either case, I'm addressing benefit as a grant from a second party of some sort of privilege - which I think is the common usage. Being more productive than another person requires no benefit from an outside party.

    "Agreed. All descriptions of how humans should live are consequentialist by definition."

    Deontologists would like to have a word with you...

    "While I admit that I haven't read anarchist literature extensively, so perhaps you could help me out, but how exactly do you have property without enforcement?"

    I'm going to be very forward here and let you know that there are probably just as many if not more schools of anarchism than more standard political thought...so some of the answers may very depending on who you are asking. But generally speaking, property as a concept - like egalitarianism in a broader sense - exists whether it is forced/enforced or not. That being said, most anarchists are not under the impression that property rights would not need to be enforced in a functioning society. But they believe it can be done without giving a single institution a monopoly on it. For edification, assume that anarchists view it in a similar way that most common people view religion - such institutions can exist and interact without simply a single one being endorsed by the state. Obviously the arguments get more complicated in that it concerns the enforcement of law itself (and it would be hard to unravel in this small conversation). But there is some good work out there unraveling some of the deeper questions (for me, The Machinery of Freedom by David Friedman and For a New Liberty by M.A. Rothbard...both available online for free).

    "And once you admit enforcement, why not attempt to make it less Darwinian than anarchy would seem to imply it must be?"

    I'm not sure exactly what you mean by this. If you mean, "Why wouldn't we try to make it more egalitarian?" I would say few anarchists would have a problem with this - most would support it. But they wouldn't do it with violence or expropriation - precisely because it violates the axiom of self-ownership. So you can shun, shame, ostracize, and boycott those you disagree with - but you can't enslave them. That's why I refer to liberty as a "restraining" value on other values you or I might have.

    "Even if there isn't a monopoly on legitimate force, there will be power centers of some sort. "

    No doubt. And there are power centers today too. Outrightly outlawing competition for power (giving a single institution a monopoly on force) doesn't help in an endeavor to resolve that issue either. From our perspective it's as if we're trying to stop you from lighting our house on fire and you retorting, "Well, the house might catch on fire at some point anyways."

    "What is law if you aren't forced to agree with everyone about it?"

    Well, what is religion if we're not all forced to agree? Morality? Culture? Don't you find it interesting, in light of that comment, that the world is not yet some homogeneous blob of humanity. We live in separate places with separate laws, separate cultures, separate customs, separate religions. And yet, there is an absolutely amazing amount of cooperation (of a voluntary sort). I think what anarchists are proposing is not the absence of law but a invigoration of private law - not the current feudal throwback with law tied to us geographically; all misunderstandings regarding the state's dual-ownership of land included. We are asking for "no law" no more than those dissenting of monarchical rule asked for "no law." But people are so tied, mentally, to the system that exists that they have a hard time envisioning the evolution we're attempting to bring to fruition.

    "Now if I admit that this is not deducible from pure logic, what do you think I'd say about property?"

    I think you'd come to the conclusion that there's no deductive path to the concept of property either. But I also think you'd be wrong. Again, this isn't the forum to walk through the whole thing, but the best sources for that are M.A. Rothbard's For a New Liberty, M.A. Rothbard's The Ethics of Liberty and one of Roderick Long's lectures - I believe it's "Property, Land, and Contract" - if you are interested in the versions I think hold up well. And, just as a note, this reasoning is a departure from the standard "Natural Law" arguments from Locke et al. There's also a respectable deductive line of reasoning touted by Hans-Hermann Hoppe called argumentation/discourse ethics. It's essentially a linguistic derivation of norms (which I find less convincing) but many people in my camp swear by it. If nothing else, those works would give you, at the least, a good understanding of how some libertarians defend property as a somewhat objective constraining value. Long's lectures are a quicker path for the sake of brevity however.

  • The Ingenious Hidalgo||

    I'm not going to do this whole thing - I suspect crossofcrimson will be back and I don't want to take up the argument on his behalf - but I have to mention this:

    "Agreed. All descriptions of how humans should live are consequentialist by definition."

    First of all, crossofcrimson didn't say anything like that. Secondly, even if it were true, it wouldn't be true 'by definition'. And thirdly, it's not true - consequentialist ethics are not the only kind of ethics.

  • The Ingenious Hidalgo||

    Oh, well that was a waste of time.

  • Tony||

    Mill argued that deontologists used consequentialist logic. That is, deontological imperatives reduce "the ends justify the means."

  • The Ingenious Hidalgo||

    If you're talking about the opening of 'Utilitarianism', that was a specific (if crude and not entirely decisive) criticism of Kant. And while it may be the case that any deontological ethics that entails positive duties reduces to 'the end justifies the means' (then again it may not be - there are still a lot of deontological ethics philosophers), it certainly isn't the case when we're talking about negative duties only, since the end of any particular action is irrelevant, and instead only the means are constrained. I'm not sure even Mill ever said that the distinction between consequentialism and deontology was entirely useless anyway.

  • blubi||

    "On the contrary, the libertarian begins to sees inequality only when someone, on behalf of the struggling child, begins to aggress upon the "gifted" child."

    Not inequality but injustice. Not a convoluted term such as "inequality of authority", but injustice.

    My point is, this obsession with equality has so permeated our culture that even though doing a very good job of refuting the concept of "fairness", which is grounded on equality, you stepped into it.

    Equality and freedom are incompatible, and I can´t see why equality is a virtue. It´s only material equality that seems to be an issue anyway, that´s why we have organizations with the Orwellian "equality and diversity office" designation that claim to promote both.
    I don´t know what started the ball rolling, the phrase "all men are created equal"? It was an argument against the privileges of kings and noblemen, not that men are equal, should be equal or deserve to be equal.

  • .||

    I don´t know what started the ball rolling, the phrase "all men are created equal"? It was an argument against the privileges of kings and noblemen, not that men are equal, should be equal or deserve to be equal.

    The part that was left unsaid was that all men are equally men, or human beings. If one man has rights, then all have them (regardless of whether government or society chooses to recognize those rights.)

  • crossofcrimson||

    To be fair, my use of "equality" as opposed to "justice" was not un-intentional or haphazard. Our classical liberal roots are tied inexplicably to "equality" - even though it's one of the many words modern liberals have managed to turn upside down. Equality of authority IS justice. I invoke it almost exclusively in conversations with liberals specifically because it's one of the many mantles we've let go; and one that could be put to good use against them. Libertarians give up too easily on terminology.

    Given your contention, it's worth noting that I was in the same rhetorical boat you were not all that long ago. I would have said the same thing. If you want to see what changed the tides on that (and it addresses your contentions explicitly), check this out: http://mises.org/daily/804

  • ||

    CrossofCrimson

    You sir, are the man.

  • cynical||

    The problem: Some rich people get their money unfairly, as a result of government policy.

    Recommended policy change: Punish all rich people for the government's malfeasance by raising their taxes.

    Isn't that like the agent provocateur approach to fiscal policy? Except without even trying to hide it, because you know people are so stupid/horrible that they don't even care.

  • ||

    The basic point is that there is in fact a useful notion known as "national wealth."

    Useful to the Kleptocracy, in particular.

  • ||

    You guys don't get to be all pious and claim that the current distribution is the most fairest imaginable

    "Fair" has nothing to do with it. Once again, you're arguing with the voices in your head.

  • WTF||

    The leftist argument, such as it is, is basically the equivalent of an eight-year-old stamping his feet whining "it's not FAAIIRRR!!!!"

  • Tony||

    Fine if there is no moral underpinning to justify your distributive scheme then my justification is at least as valid. I think it's more so, because it takes human well-being into account.

  • Fred||

    Again, you are blinded by your do-gooding. I don't care about your macro-view of wealth distribution. What I care about is, if a person works or allocates capital through investment (which is a type of work), you let them keep the fruit of their labor. This is a very simple standard -- much easier than trusting the very same politicians which you already know are corrupt.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Fred,

    I think it's more so, because it takes human well-being into account.


    No, it doesn't. The fact that a person's labor will be snatched away by a do-gooder, regardless of the good intentions behind the snatching, will lead to that person becoming despodent and unproductive. I am not just saying it: History has shown this time and time again, from Soviet Russia to the "Swedish Illness" (young and otherwise perfectly healthy people calling in sick so they don't have to work.)

    You're not thiinking about human well being at all, you're only thinking about your own feelings.

  • Fred||

    Good point, O.M., but Tony said that, not me.

  • Old Mexican||

    Sorry! I mean to write "Re: Tony"

  • Fred||

    See my longer response to you above.

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    How is it "fair" to take away the wealth generated by someone's creativity, ingenuity, and yes - long hours of work, drive and determination, and give it to someone who did not a single thing to entitle themselves to any wealth of their own.

    It's the old grasshopper and the ants.

  • Tony||

    I would hope that society would reward hard work, creativity, and determination. What makes you think that's how it works now?

    By all evidence, it rewards merely having wealth, or daddy having wealth, much more than these things.

  • sevo||

    Tony|4.8.11 @ 1:18PM|#
    "By all evidence, it rewards merely having wealth, or daddy having wealth, much more than these things."

    And I'm sure your advanced degree in cherry picking means you can support that claim.

  • Bandito Tony||

    Evidence? We don' need no freakin' evidence!

  • ||

    ""I would hope that society would reward hard work, creativity, and determination. ""

    Society rewards?

    In a free country people are allowed to award those they choose, for whatever reason they want. No middleman needed. That's the American way.

  • Tony||

    And then there's macroeconomics.

  • Mensan||

    Tony thought that the grasshopper was the hero in that story.

  • ||

    Lol!!

  • sevo||

    Tony|4.8.11 @ 12:09PM|#
    "Fine if there is no moral underpinning to justify your distributive scheme..."

    No, you are too ignorant to understand the moral underpinning. Don't bother claiming the sun didn't come up since you're blind.

  • blubi||

    "your distributive scheme"?
    There is no scheme, no distribution.
    The morality concerns 2 consenting adults: one agrees to perform a service for the other without state intervention.

  • .||

    because it takes human well-being into account.

    Which human?

  • The Ingenious Hidalgo||

    You've yet to explain why what you call 'human well being' is good.

  • Bucky||

    handouts = well being?

  • ||

    my justification is at least as valid. I think it's more so, because it takes human well-being into account.

    Wrong.

    You want to take by force, and redistribute according to your notion of "morality". Where I come from, this is commonly referred to as "stealing".

  • Tony||

    That's exactly what you want to do, you just claim it's more morally laudable because you want to transfer wealth upward. I find that to be backwards thinking.

  • Fred||

    No, what we here want is to get rid of ANY well-meaning imbecile, whether you or some congress-animal, having the power to transfer wealth.

    By your own arguments, you would have to accept it as just to get rid of BOTH entitlements AND corporate subsidies. Make everyone play by the same rules. Now, if you don't want to play by open, fair rules, you have to justify WHY it's right to transfer wealth downward but not upward.

  • Tony||

    If we got rid of all wealth transfer then we couldn't even have armed forces. Unless you're an anarchist, there will always be policy that distributes wealth in some way, arbitrary or not. I'm just saying there's no extra virtue in the way it's distributed now or in a theoretical laissez-faire system.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Tony,

    If we got rid of all wealth transfer then we couldn't even have armed forces.


    Oh, the humanity! I pull my hair, shred my clothes and wail like a Muslim woman! Without wealth transfers, we would have NO ARMY!!!

    Ahhhhh, the world will end!! The sky will fall!!!!

    Please, keep trying.

    Unless you're an anarchist, there will always be policy that distributes wealth in some way, arbitrary or not.


    There is no connection between one thing and the other. "Unless you're a burly, smelly biker, there will always be some redistributive policy...."

    You write just like Obama - an that ain't a compliment, if you ever read anything he really wrote.

  • CJ||

    If we got rid of all wealth transfer then we couldn't even have armed forces.

    Yeah, putting an end to wars in the Middle East and an end to killing people (or at least people over there) whenever the government feels like it is definitely an awesome side benefit. In fact, it might even be better than the "main" intended benefit of doing what's right.

  • Dick Fitzwell||

    I find that to be backwards thinking.

    No shit.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Tony,

    That's exactly what you want to do, you just claim it's more morally laudable because you want to transfer wealth upward.


    "You just want to strangle puppies!"

    "How to argue like an imbecile, by Tony. Simon and Schuster 2011"

  • Warty||

    Why do you people continue to talk to Tony? I don't get it.

  • Warty||

    I mean, Christ. What do you even say to something as backwards as

    transfer wealth upward

    ?

  • ||

    Tony kind of reminds me of those guys who aren't truckers that hang out at truck stops, or guys who aren't cops that hang out in cop bars. He knows on some level that the people he wants to be with have nothing but contempt for him. Being ignored would be the worst, to he'll tolerate being abused for attention, any attention. Pathetic really.

  • ||

    And- the Tonys of the world are incessantly beating the drum of ill-gotten "unearned" wealth.

    If being a hedge fund manager is so fucking easy, why don't you put your money on the table?

  • ||

    That's exactly what you want to do, you just claim it's more morally laudable because you want to transfer wealth upward.

    WTF

  • ||

    "Talk of this sort makes sense only if you assume that all money belongs to the government, which then spreads the wealth around in whatever manner it deems appropriate."

    *************************

    So-called "property rights" are the first, and only, "redistribution" of wealth that is done by the government. There is no property before government. Government comes first, then property.

    All subsequent "redistributions" of wealth are nothing more than a variation on the first redistribution that takes place when "property rights" are initially set.

  • Fred||

    Wrong. Property comes first, because we are born with the natural right to the fruit of our labors. Government is just the shitty means of trying to codify the protection of this natural right.

  • ||

    Whatever the government has "codified," it has exactly zero relationship to the "fruits of our labor," unless you include crewing a slave ship or torching a Pawnee camp "labor," the "fruits" of which are some "natural right."

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Danny,

    Whatever the government has "codified,"


    Government is God.

    unless you include crewing a slave ship or torching a Pawnee camp [as] "labor[...]"


    "When in doubt, equivocate."

    Old Statist proverb.

  • Warty||

    Government comes first, then property.

    Ok, sweetie pie. Run along now.

  • ||

    wow.

    your forensic debating skills are, just, beyond belief.

    Were you Princeton or Oxford?

  • Warty||

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    What, you're surprised that no one takes you seriously? Fucking idiot.

  • ||

    Oh, Yale then. Shucks. How could I have missed it?

  • sevo||

    Danny|4.8.11 @ 12:44PM|#
    "wow.
    your forensic debating skills are, just, beyond belief."

    Pot, meet kettle.

  • ||

    Thanks for the introduction, cauldron.

  • Warty||

    Also, learn to use commas, dickface.

  • Almanian||

    So-called "property rights" are the first, and only, "redistribution" of wealth that is done by the government.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

    Wait, you're serious?

    Well, in that case, "You're a FUCKING MORON, DANNY! I HOPE YOU GET CANCER AND DIE!"

  • ||

    "...GET CANCER AND DIE!"
    [sic; all-caps in original]

    Gee, I wonder why Libertarians always end up in the single digits? Could "likeability" be a problem for them, possibly, maybe?

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Danny,

    Gee, I wonder why Libertarians always end up in the single digits?


    "When in doubt, shift the focus away from the discussion."

    Old Statist Proverb.

  • ||

    ... the discussion being "I wish you would die of cancer?"

  • ||

    I second that.

    See Danny, what you are, along with Tony, and MNG, and every other worthless fuck who comes here to spout your statist bullshit, is a thief who lacks the balls to enter my home and steal from me. Because you lack to courage to actually take my money, you ask the government to do it for you.

  • ||

    Your idiom is most interesting. I think I will borrow it for my reply.

    First: The government is not an enabling mechanism for stealing from you, but a limiting mechanism on stealing from you. To wit, no one would be much deterred from "entering your home and stealing from you," absent the government. The government doesn't just take from you by force; it monopolizes the taking from you by force. Thus the government takes, and makes sure no one else can.

    Second: In dealing with "thieves" would you really want to stand on self-help alone, as you are insinuating? I warrant that you would rather quickly find out who "lacks the balls" to take you on personally, as opposed to who simply "lacks the balls" to take on the government you so ostentatiously revile.

  • ||

    It's not an idiom you craven lickspittle, it's a flat statement: the government steals my money.

    So far my losses to non-state actors are two bicycles and a 20 dollar bill. The state, on the other hand, has consumed 20% of my income for the last decade of my life. With friends like that, who needs enemies?

    As to your second point, I have NRA, GOA, and VCDL stickers on my car, and have been known to tape gently used silhouette targets itemized with the date and weapon used on my back, side, and cellar doors. The front door just has a little sticker that says "Protected by Second Amendment Security". Instead of electronic alarms, I have a noisy, but small dog. Never had any problem.

    By the way, what's it like being so crippled by feelings of insecurity that you can't rely on yourself to defend your home and family?

  • Tony||

    And when someone comes along with a bigger gun than yours and kills your dog and takes your stuff, you will say "fair enough" and not call the police, right?

  • ||

    If my dog gets shot, it probably is the cops.

    Why does it make you feel better knowing that men with badges will write a report listing what was taken, or draw a chalk outline around your body? When seconds count, the cops are minutes away.

    I'm a minarchist, not an anarchist, but your conception of law enforcement is that they are some kind of comic book superhero that's going to arrive after your door is broken down but before you get beat to death with a baseball bat. If cops showed up the way they do in the movies I wouldn't own guns. In the real world though, the best cops can do is investigate and arrest criminals after the fact, which does not restore life to the dead or return stolen property.

  • Tony||

    If my dog gets shot, it probably is the cops.

    Touche.

    But you are pretty dismissive of law and order--I wonder what your empirical basis is. After all, you obviously have never experienced a life without police. Surely there is some major preventative function of having legitimate law enforcement.

  • ||

    You're arguing against a strawman. I never said I wanted a world without police. Mendacity is your forte Tony.

    You, again, are ignoring the fact that police are a reactive institution. They cannot intervene in a crime in progress because even the dumbest criminal does not commit crimes in front of the police.

    I'm not dismissive at all of law and order. I am dismissive of the idiotic notion you seem to have that the cops are Superman and will fly faster then a speeding bullet to interpose their indestructible chest between a mugger's bullet and you. The fact that I have guns doesn't mean I see no need for cops, just as the fact that I have first aid gear doesn't mean I see no need for hospitals.

  • Tony||

    I am dismissive of the idiotic notion you seem to have that the cops are Superman and will fly faster then a speeding bullet to interpose their indestructible chest between a mugger's bullet and you.

    Seems like we're both engaging in a strawman argument.

    You only have the right to use violence to defend yourself and your property because the state, the repository of all legitimate force, has granted it to you. That does not imply a vigilante free-for-all.

  • ||

    If by vigilante you mean someone who stands ready to defend their own life, the life of their loved ones, and their property. More redefining of words from Tony.


    Oh, and the state does not grant rights. I own my self, and I have the right of self-defense. I would still have that right if the tools of self-defense were denied to me.

    I still don't get this bootlicking mindset where the government is God and shapes the world. It seems like you are fundamentally different, in that you wish for a master, something in you calls out to be taken care of.

  • Mensan||

    That, and most people hate being told the ugly truth instead of nice pretty lies about rainbows in every pot and unicorns in every garage.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Danny,

    So-called "property rights" are the first, and only, "redistribution" of wealth that is done by the government.


    Yes, since it was the government that gave you your body.

    This has been "perfunctory contradition week," guys. The economics ignorant have come out of the woodwork like so many cockroaches.

  • ||

    OM --

    Your a priori notions of pre-existing rights is not part of the "science" of "economics" --however defined-- about which anyone else could possibly be "ignorant."

    Here's a quiz: Copyright. A property right. Right? So what is the "natural" right that the government "codifies" as per your "self ownership"?

    70 yrs?

    or 65?

    or 75?

    It's whatever the government says it is. And what can be said of IP ("Intellectual Property") can be said of real property, or chattels, or anything else.

    There is no pre-existing "order" of property with which taxes "interfere" or do not "interfere." Property is nothing more than state action -- an arrangement of violence and coercion that we reach through politics.

  • A Serious Man||

    Hmm, the ignorance is strong with this one. Danny you might want to read some Locke before posting this Marxist horseshit. Government exists for the sole purpose of protecting one's property from jealous thugs like yourself who feel entitled to it. Perversely, it's become more interested in serving moochers, so thank you progressives.

    In the state of nature (i.e anarchy), there was no collective, everyone was only entitled to the fruits of nature and whatever the made using those resources rightly became theirs. So property rights came first, then government. To say otherwise is to be either incredibly ignorant or incredibly dishonest. Take your pick.

  • ||

    How does John Locke square up with actual history and pre-history? Not too well. There never was a "state of nature" or "anarchy" that fits such an account. We were social, and coercively violent -- what you tritely call "collective" -- long before we were even fully human. We evolved this way.

    Your insipid use of the code-word "moocher," which you throw down like a gang signal to show you are part of the Objectivist tribe, says all we need to know about you. You start with pure garbage and end with pure garbage.

  • A Serious Man||

    Yeah, our Founding Fathers weren't thinking of Locke when they wrote the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution. No, Jefferson and Madison were clarvoyantly channeling Marx. They didn't really think we had an inalieanable right to liberty and property, they really meant to say that the state was arbitrarily giving them those rights and that it could remove them just as easily if it served "the greater good".

  • ||

    Oh, now we're back to "The Constitution Dictates Exactly What I Want Without Politics." And Marx as a straw-man to boot. What, no questions about the birth certificate? You're slipping.

    The U.S. Constitution isn't the codification of Objectivism, as much as you want it to be, "Serious." Article I Section 8 codifies the most transparently government-created property rights -- patent and copyright, which illustrate the nature of all property. There is "property" of various types and species because the government says so. Any instances of overlap with the "fruits of one's labor" are a happy -- and exceedingly rare -- coincidence.

    "Property" is not automatically self-defining, and its possession and use is not automatically self-regarding. It is not the equivalent of bodily freedom. It rests on the organization of power -- violence, coercion and intimidation -- to privilge some and to exclude others. It consists of things that are in limited supply -- e.g., land, water. Within the broad boundaries of certain fundamental reasonable expectations (e.g., Takings Clause), it is rightly and morally subject to the political process in all its particulars.

  • A Serious Man||

    " Article I Section 8 codifies the most transparently government-created property rights -- patent and copyright, which illustrate the nature of all property."

    No, it doesn't. The concept of patents and copyrights are fundamentally different from actual, physical property. The former may be invented by the government, but the latter predates it.

    If back then I wandered into the wilderness and built with my own bare hands a house and farm, that land was for all intents and purposes mine. Just because the government "owned" the land does not make my claim to it any less legitimate since I actually put the land to use. That's natural law, which is why pioneers were allowed to go out West and cultivate land.

    You're stretching if you think that copyrights and patents are indicative of how property rights really work. Property is simply utilizing the resources of nature (which are open to everyone) to your own advantage via your own labor and skills. If you can convince other people to voluntarily assist you for compensation, it's still your property. None of this requires government to occurr.

  • ||

    1) There is no "back then." "Back then" is a mythical time and place, with no grounding in reality. It's not even a useful heuristic. What happens if you leave this house in the woods? How long before somebody else can move in? What happens if you come back five years later and it's occuppied? What happens when you die?

    2) Sure, anything can happen without government, until there is a dispute. No disputes, no government. Obviously. But once there are disputes, there is a contest of force. Government comes into play as a way of resolving disputes. So what are the rules? They don't all exist a priori.

    Resources are scarce. Once any given "distribution" of them is "property-ized" by government, for purposes of resolving disputes, we have a "distribution" of wealth. Any modification of that status quo becomes a "redistribution" of wealth. So what? That's politics, and there is nothing illegitimate about it.

  • A Serious Man||

    "There is no "back then." "Back then" is a mythical time and place, with no grounding in reality. It's not even a useful heuristic."

    Tell that to Daniel Boone and the pioneers that settled the American frontier. Again, natural law. If you can tame the land and put it to use, then it's yours.

    "But once there are disputes, there is a contest of force. Government comes into play as a way of resolving disputes. So what are the rules? They don't all exist a priori."

    If there was no government then I would entitled to use force to defend what is rightfully mine. You seem to think that libertarians believe that *ALL* forms of coercion are bad. Not so, since I can legitimately use coercive force to defend my property. Me forcing you off of my land is not the same as you doing the same to me. One's legimitate and one is not. Government may make it easier to settle disputes but it certainly doesn't invent the right in the first place. That's pure statist bullshit.

  • Objectivist||

    Your insipid use of the code-word "moocher," which you throw down like a gang signal to show you are part of the Objectivist tribe, says all we need to know about you. You start with pure garbage and end with pure garbage.

    The only "pure garbage" around here is what is being dumped by you and Tony, shitbreath. Why not eat a box of Exlax and blow your brains out?

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Danny,

    Your a priori notions of pre-existing rights is not part of the "science" of "economics"


    Of course not. Economics only looks at acting man. A prioristic arguments about rights are something else.

    I pointed out a glaring fallacy in your thinking that "property" is derived from government. I point out that you're committng a perfunctory contradiction, which may be due to your utter lack of ssophistication.

    Copyright. A property right. Right?


    Wrong. Thanks for playing.

    It's whatever the government says it is. And what can be said of IP ("Intellectual Property") can be said of real property, or chattels, or anything else.


    Fallacy of composition. Just because government made up a "right" (i.e. Copyright or IP) does not mean ALL rights are made by government.

    Again, you lack sophistication. The error in your logic is glaring.

    There is no pre-existing "order" of property


    Remind me of it when I steal your car - you surely will not mind.

  • ||

    There is no pre-existing "order" of property

    Remind me of it when I steal your car - you surely will not mind.

    *******************

    Speaking of fallacies. The question isn't whether I would mind you stealing a car for which I have 'title' under the rules created by government. The question is whether an increase in, say, the annual excise tax I would have to pay to the government on said vehicle would violate my pre-existing rights. Not necessarily.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Danny,

    The question isn't whether I would mind you stealing a car for which I have 'title' under the rules created by government.


    Sure, government owns the car.

    And your body, if what you argued is correct. You never addressed that hole in your thinking - I don't have to wonder why, though.

  • ||

    "And your body, if what you argued is correct."

    Does not compute.

  • ||

    No copyright, then? Interesting.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Danny,

    No copyright, then? Interesting.


    It's not a right, Danny. Nobody has a right to keep thoughts away from another person.

    You seriously lack sophistication and thinking skills. You have been wasting my time. Fuck you.

  • Warty||

    You have been wasting my time. Fuck you.

    That would make quite an excellent movie catchphrase, wouldn't it?

    CAPT. DICK JOHNSON: You have been wasting my time. Fuck you. [kills villain with a kick to the face]

  • ||

    I think you forgot the commas.

  • ||

    Attention, attention! Will everyone who believes in the validity of copyright law please stop wasting Old Mexican's time? Just stop wasting his time!

  • Tony||

    It's easy to see when OM is losing an argument because he starts stomping his feet and calling names.

  • WTF||

    It's easy to see when OM is losing an argument tired of trying to argue sense and logic to a bag of bricks because he starts stomping his feet and calling names finally stops wasting his time.

  • Vladimir Lenin||

    So-called "property rights" are the first, and only, "redistribution" of wealth that is done by the government.

    I like the cut of this fellow's jib!

  • Mensan||

    Tony|2.16.11 @ 1:11PM|#
    Actually I happened to be born into a well-off family...

    He thinks that since he never had to work for his money, that nobody else did either. If you don't believe that wealth is earned, then it's easy to conclude that everyone has an equal claim to it.

  • Fred||

    +1. It's like Nick "The Jacket" Gillespie has been saying every day for a year or so now: if everybody is so damn worried that they're not paying enough taxes, send in a donation. Little rich kids like Tony are so damn worried about "the poor" that they don't see how they're shitting on the middle class who actually is trying to WORK to CREATE wealth. The rich have more than enough, and the poor, I hate to tell you, are often kept poor because of the way they choose to live, so neither of them can understand the middle class.

  • Dr. Ben Franklin||

    I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. In my youth I travelled much, and I observed in different countries, that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.

  • Tony||

    I'm not interested in making a statement, I'm interested in changing tax policy in order to maximize efficiency and human well-being, so calls to donate to the IRS are just dumb.

    How do progressive policies shit on the middle class? All I want is a little less wealth at the top 5% and a little more in the bottom 95%. And I'd like it to be a little more possible for someone in the working or middle class to graduate to a higher stratum, something that is virtually impossible on the whole in this country, despite fictions of the American Dream.

    We've tried regressive policy for a long time, and all it's done is create vastly more wealth at the top and stagnation everywhere else, which apart from being unfair and immoral, is unsustainable for everyone.

  • Really?||

    All I want is a little less wealth at the top 5% and a little more in the bottom 95%.

    Why?

  • Corporate Drone||

    Because that's how unicorns are born.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Tony,

    I'm interested in changing tax policy in order to maximize efficiency and human well-being,


    An exercise in futility, as stealing does not maximize human well-being.

    We've tried regressive policy for a long time,


    Regressive? You don't know what that means, you haven't lived it. *I* know what regressive means and have seen the results: Mexico's tax policies were and ARE highly regressive, which explains why people are so poor. A secretary bringing a mere $700.00 USD a month is taxed 32% under current law, plus 10% VAT, plus Social Security, plus Payroll Tax.

    You have NO idea, NO clue of what you're talking about. The system in the US has been HIGHLY PROGRESSIVE since the passing of the Income Tax Amendment, so much so that it hampered investment, but not so much personal income.

  • WTF||

    And I'd like it to be a little more possible for someone in the working or middle class to graduate to a higher stratum, something that is virtually impossible on the whole in this country,

    Citation?

  • Crickets||

    *chirp chirp chirp*

  • sevo||

    Tony|4.8.11 @ 1:12PM|#
    "I'm not interested in making a statement, I'm interested in changing tax policy in order to maximize efficiency and human well-being..."

    When an adolescent, or one who's development is arrested at that level, pretends to know what 'maximizing efficiency and human well-being', you are correct in assuming the rest of the statement roughly translates as "WHAAAAAAAAAAA I WANT FREE STUFF!"

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    All I want is a little less wealth at the top 5% and a little more in the bottom 95%. And I'd like it to be a little more possible for someone in the working or middle class to graduate to a higher stratum, something that is virtually impossible on the whole in this country, despite fictions of the American Dream.

    Geez, man, my mother worked two jobs, one basically to pay the babysitter and one to provide for us. She learned to sew because she couldn't afford to buy the clothes were tore up or outgrew. We had no AC and not even fans (try that in a Texas summer) and one space heater in one room. It got marginally better when she remarried but we weren't close to middle class.

    I worked my ass off to save for college, graduated college, graduated from grad school, waited until I could afford children and bought a house I could afford and just as I make it out of the bottom 95% into the top 5% you want to tax it away from me? Fuck you.

  • Fake Tony||

    Now you get to help others because I who have not done as well say so.

  • Tony||

    Nobody wants to take anything away from you. No sane tax policy on earth will make a wealthy person a middle class person. I believe in the Thomas Jefferson approach to taxes: they should pay for the things we buy, and they shouldn't burden anyone. It's not my fault if you think $5 taken from a rich person is equally burdensome as $5 taken from a poor person. It's not.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    Nobody wants to take anything away from you.

    Whew. I thought you were talking about having a little less wealth in the top 5%. Or do you think having less via taxes isn't taking anything away from me?

  • WTF||

    Or do you think having less via taxes isn't taking anything away from me?

    Surprise! Tony really is that stupid.

  • Tony||

    Well you have to pay taxes because you are a grown-up. I'm not talking about taking anything substantial away, or harming your livelihood in any way.

  • .||

    Well you have to pay taxes because you are a grown-up.

    No, he has to pay taxes because if he doesn't, men with guns and tazers will come and take him away to jail.

  • Tony||

    Welcome to being a grown up. Children get more lenient treatment when they break the law.

  • Emperor Wears No Clothes||

    "I'm not talking about taking anything substantial away,"

    Define "substantial."

  • ||

    There is no property before government.

    Without the TSA, there are no airplanes.

  • Big Bill Watkins & Barack O.||

    Dedicated to truth in government.

  • ||

    Tony just loves that sweet, sweet spunk that comes from the government cock.

  • Union Parasites Local 62||

    Not paying us inflated wages for sleeping on our featherbedded jobs is immoral!

  • ||

    Do you take drugs, Danny?

  • ConfederalRepublicBy2030||

    My grandfather was executed by firing squad, courtesy of the the NKVD for counter-revolutionary sentiments, which, as indicated by the letters he wrote to friends, were primarily about taxation and state ownership of the means of production. He wasn't even a libertarian, or anything close. He was a centrist with a tinge of typical Soviet jingoism (in military matters).

    Free men are taxed to pay for national defense, a judicial system, and MAYBE police departments. That's it. Period. Nothing else seems justifiable.

    It's pretty cool that my real name is Alex, not Tony, because I'm not sure I'd survive the depression that would accompany me.

  • Tony||

    Free men are taxed to pay for whatever they democratically decide they want. Why should free men be bound by your restrictions?

  • ConfederalRepublicBy2030||

    Because democratically enslaving your neighbors is, as flowery as it may seem to your convoluted mind, still an act of enslaving your neighbors. You don't get to impose anything on anybody that they do not wish. 99% of the people may not, cannot, and should not determine the lives of the other 1%. That, and the fact that democracy is a consistent trend towards oblivion, and is only justifiable when framed within the confines of supreme law and republicanism.

  • ConfederalRepublicBy2030||

    *that strictly defines what governmental entities may do. Any trespass upon ground they should not be involving themselves in is reason for resistance, and the end-stage of such a situation would, rightly and, in fact, as is the duty of free men, be armed revolution and deposition of government. You do not sit idly by while your neighbor is placed into bondage.

  • Tony||

    Except according to you, you can "enslave" your neighbor as long as it's for "defense, a judicial system, and MAYBE police departments."

  • ConfederalRepublicBy2030||

    Name one person here that wouldn't willingly contribute funds, even in the complete absence of mandatory taxation, towards a judicial system, national defense, and (and I'm not even sure I'm convinced of the worth of the current form of the modern police department).

    I can't. The guy running the local anarchist youth group even told me he would, the reason he's an anarchist being each and every government that has in history been allowed to expand without resistance, but he'd be more than happy to if it was a minarchistic government that legislates solely the basics necessary to defend against fraud, enforce contracts, and punish violence and coercion.

    Fine with me. If you don't wish to pay, go to the nearest court, and declare that you no longer consent to being taxed. I guess we've solved it then. ;)

  • ConfederalRepublicBy2030||

    * expand without resistance has ended in catastrophe. This is why a vigilant, informed, ready-to-take-arms citizenry, prepared to fight and die for themselves and their fellow man, would never even have to exercise violence and revolution.

    A people that remain watchful and suspicious of their power-hungry servants doesn't permit them to reach levels of tyranny anywhere near the kind that necessitates rebellion.

    And the absence of such convictions is the reason that over 200 years since the founding of the Republic, dozens of millions of our neighbors demand our disarmament, that deathly taxation be imposed upon as, and that we grow and learn and live and die according to the terms our servants seem to think they possess the authority to establish.

    This is why in the 21st century, in the great land of the free and home of the brave, the people whose posts we have consented to establish, in order to secure the blessings of liberty, have usurped the very lives of their masters, and presume that it is their right to sit upon a distant hilltop and debate the degrees to which they will rape and deprive us of our lives, liberty, and happiness.

    I call that an abomination. I call it the most uncivilized, barbaric of things. And if anybody ever shows up at my door with a badge demanding that I surrender my rifle, or that I forfeit my property in the name of the common good, I'm going to die then and there.

    And if my spirit breaks and I cower in a corner instead, it will be for the freedom and life that I made and determined for myself that will make me wish to survive more than ever, not because I value the scraps my government seems intent on giving me in exchange for my very livelihood.

  • Tony||

    And if you happened to be born in North Korea, you'd be Kim Jong-Il's bitch. You are afforded this fantasy life as a gun-toting warrior for individualism because you live in literally one of the freest societies that has ever existed. You don't know how you would fare under a minimal government. How do you know your water supply won't be poisoned, and suppose you were poor, how would you get educated? Government can be evil but it's always going to be there in some form, so you might as well take care that it's the best one possible.

  • ConfederalRepublicBy2030||

    Roflmfao. I was awake for 45 hours without sleep when I wrote that, but I'm pretty sure, after checking it, that I didn't miss anything. Insults don't really accomplish anything, so let me make another reply.

    """""And if you happened to be born in North Korea, you'd be Kim Jong-Il's bitch."""""

    But I wasn't born in North Korea--North Korea is what happens when your style of government is permitted to flourish. If I was a North Korean today, I might be one of the few that know something, but chances are that I'd be a perfectly indoctrinated minion. I'm not sure what your point is.

    """""You are afforded this fantasy life as a gun-toting warrior for individualism because you live in literally one of the freest societies that has ever existed."""""

    I'm Soviet-born, and I sure as fuck don't need some kid ascribing to me a lack of gratitude and realization that he thinks I'm suffering from. I know precisely how fortunate I am.

    Ans you're exactly right. The United States of America are (it's a union of sovereign states; "is" can only be justified when referring to the federal government) the freest, most morally upright, prosperous, and extraordinary society, idea, nation, country, and/or creation that has ever blessed the human race. Even today's version of it. Right Now. And it's not even close, not even in the same galactic cluster, to what it should be and how it was envisioned at its birth.

    The only point you've managed to make, therefore, is that all of humanity toils in the anguish of tyranny, and most of humanity is, in practical and technical terms, a civilization of slaves. That the freest, best country ever happens to be not-so-free is just an illustration of how fucking terrible the world is.

    """""You don't know how you would fare under a minimal government. How do you know your water supply won't be poisoned, and suppose you were poor, how would you get educated?"""""

    I'd fare just fine - free men forming voluntary associations to achieve collective goals, by all measures of logic and according to the very nature of human society, would be infinitely better than delegating any of these things to the state, from education to assessing whether or not that drink in your cooler is "bad enough to prohibit by law".

    My water supply won't be poisoned because if it is, the PRIVATE entity, on equal footing with me in its legal position, would get raped in the ass with a huge, metallic, studded chainsaw (metaphor, obviously) by the basic state that will exist. A company poisons my water on purpose, causing harm, they get themselves thrown in jail, and their company would probably dissolve. If it's accidental, shit happens. I guess they'd pay me damages, since any contract I sign would include these provisions in them, as they should.

    As for education, eliminating the state's involvement in it and the regulation that has been making it ludicrously expensive and ineffective would pretty much solve such issues anyway. Not to mention that charity also exists on extraordinary, titanic scales that liberals don't see to notice.

    In Soviet schools, before the Commies started gently sucking the West's balls and and easing restrictions and ignoring their own edicts and ideology, your parents got sent to labor camps if you questioned the validity of the curriculum. In the United States, public schools suck in EVERY SINGLE aspect. Every one. It's been discussed on this website in dozens of articles. It's been demonstrated by entire continents. I'm not sure what you're trying to horseshit about here.

    """""Government can be evil but it's always going to be there in some form, so you might as well take care that it's the best one possible."""""

    Absolutely, the best possible in every conceivable sense being a minimalistic government that's powerful in the few powers it can justifiably claim, and powerless in all other matters. I think I've turned you around. Maybe.

  • ConfederalRepublicBy2030||

    *

    """""You are afforded this fantasy life as a gun-toting warrior for individualism because you live in literally one of the freest societies that has ever existed."""""

    It isn't a fantasy. There' absolutely nothing wrong with toting guns. Free men own weapons that permit them to defend themselves and enforce their sovereignty, and collectively fight for themselves and each other against their governments or with their governments assisting them in repelling foreign aggressors. None of this is a fantasy. None of this is, in any way, objectionable or negative. In fact, it sounds pretty terrific to me.

  • BigT||

    @confedby2030 - nicely put! You should be a speechwriter.

  • ||

    The biggest slavers are our private corporations and businesses. Many of them rely on labor to do the actual work and skim profits by ripping off both employees and customers. Lately many of them are shipping their work to other countries so they don't have to pay any taxes at all.

  • TheCheeseStandsAlone||

    "There is no such thing as “the nation’s wealth.” Wealth is not collectively owned, nor should it be".

    Yeah...I get it...

    Wealth should be privately owned:

    "Personal" ownership of wealth =
    60 plus-trillion dollars
    in Wall Street financial
    capital assets = 15% capital
    gains tax break = mortgage crisis =
    Great Recession...

    Yeah...I get it...

  • A Serious Man||

    You're new here, aren't ya?

  • prolefeed||

    Well I think it's morally monstrous to make people starve for the crime of having poor parents

    So you're against the liberal nanny-statists who want to ban cheap fast food calories for poor people?

    When the predominant concern of statist fucks is how fat the poor people are getting, then your rhetoric about poor people starving is not reality-based.

  • Tony||

    Well that's just a rhetorical point. But rampant obesity is not a sign that the poor are living it up. In countries where food is accessible, obesity is prevalent among the poor because of the dense but low-quality food they can afford to eat.

  • Christopher Holte||

    It's not the Government that has the easy attitude towards "other people's money." It is the officers with their banking, private trust, and conglomerate offices, charged with protecting our money and who seem to have "boundary issues" with "other people's money." Yes our other representatives, officers, and executives are sometimes guilty of kleptocracy, but the most flagrant violators are the people who have money, but inevitably prefer using "other people's money" to gamble with derivatives, Wall Street funds, monopolies, and everything but actual invention and productive innovation.

    Then they have the chutzpah to accuse the rest of us of "stealing" from them when we try to get them to give some of it back.

    Money says "In God We Trust" -- and that is the only god these folks seem to worship.

  • Christopher Holte||

    It's not the Government that has the easy attitude towards "other people's money." It is the officers with their banking, private trust, and conglomerate offices, charged with protecting our money and who seem to have "boundary issues" with "other people's money." Yes our other representatives, officers, and executives are sometimes guilty of kleptocracy, but the most flagrant violators are the people who have money, but inevitably prefer using "other people's money" to gamble with derivatives, Wall Street funds, monopolies, and everything but actual invention and productive innovation.

    Then they have the chutzpah to accuse the rest of us of "stealing" from them when we try to get them to give some of it back.

    Money says "In God We Trust" -- and that is the only god these folks seem to worship.

  • ||

    The funny thing is that this argument is backwards -- it is not the Federal Government or State governments who have boundary issues with "Other People's Money" it is wall street, our giant conglomerates, our wealthy speculators, and others; all of whom have problems keeping from converting "Other People's Money" into their own accounts while all the while swindling the rest of us out of house and home. They complain and moan about "regulation" because they are criminals and thieves.

  • CatoTheElder||

    "Forty-seven percent of American households pay no federal income tax at all"

    If Social Security and Medicare are to become means-tested welfare programs, then this oft-repeated statement becomes a lie.

    FICA and Medicare taxes are disproportionately levied on the incomes of the non-wealthy. If their payment does not confer a right to future benefits, then they are simply another form of income tax.

  • قبلة الوداع||

    thank u

  • aisile||

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