Let Me Eat Cake!

Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild is my favorite McCain endorser, bar none. A businesswoman who married into a $600+ million fortune, she backed Hillary Clinton even before she entered the race. Once Hillary slipped, de Rothschild started attacking Obama as an "elitist." She endorsed McCain the week that Lehman Brothers collapsed, just when the GOP needed to present voters with the image of a pearl-necklaced tycoon. You'd have to go back to Billy Carter to find a less useful campaign appendage.

Today, she helps out with a column in the Orlando Sentinel. Swing voters, check this out!

When Bill Clinton turned "welfare" into "workfare" in 1996 and created 22 million jobs for Americans, he said, "We are taking a historic chance to make welfare what it was meant to be -- a second chance, not a way of life." At the time, then-state Sen. Obama called this highly successful policy "disturbing." Now, if elected president, he will re-create a failed welfare system while calling it "tax reform."

Is anyone buying this? Both Obama and John McCain are going to be sending checks to people who don't pay taxes. If this is welfare I've gotten welfare in the form of stimulus checks in 2001, 2003 and 2008, which I promptly split into my savings and checking accounts before going back to... my job. Not helpful to McCain, but still more helpful than her next argument.

The fundamental problem with Obama's stealth economics is that his dogma will not make America stronger or fairer. Today, the top 1 percent of earners contributes 40 percent of the nation's $2.6 trillion tax intake, and the bottom 50 percent pay 2.9 percent of our nation's total needs.

Yes, de Rothschild is warning voters that Obama might raise taxes on her in order to give them money. Please, won't somebody think of the Rothschilds?

McCain's own message is less ridiculous but I stiil think it lacks the concrete here's-what's-good-for-you factor that elected Reagan and the Bushes. Small business owners already vote Republican. Most people would like a tax cut. Obama's the only candidate (apart from Barr) promising them one.

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  • KT||

    This chick is worthless so I'll refrain from commenting on her. Instead I'll note that Obama's quote itself is somewhat disturbing. If he actually said that; I have no idea whether she is truthfully quoting him.

  • Naga Sadow||

    Weigel,

    Don't knock the aristocracy until you try living like one. I dream, oh yes, I dream.

  • Hmmm||

    You have to wonder why she didn't make a similar argument against Hillary Rodham Clinton's tax policy. If I recall correctly, Senator Clinton was strongly in favour of allowing the vast majority of the Bush tax cuts to expire and of repealing many of them ahead of schedule.

    I have never understood how Lady Rothschild could argue that Obama is extremely left-wing. Lady Rothschild spends much of her time in London and is a member of Democrats Abroad. You would think that she would be aware that Obama is arguably to the right of the British Conservative Party.

  • Guy Montag||

    Sounds like an odd thread of class warfare running through the post up there toward the rich lady.

  • ||

    Guy
    You're making a mistake that seems to be common among the right wingers here: confusing Weigel's analysis for a normative argument.

    If Weigel is saying "this kind of thing simply won't sell to the average voter" that is not the same as "this kind of thing is wrong or bad."

    I know it's a funny kind of nuance and today's right doesn't "do" nuance, but hang in there.

  • Kaiser||

    "Obama's the only candidate (apart from Barr) promising them one."

    Promising....but not likely to happen. Not if he plans on following his billions of dollars in new spending. You can't cut taxes and increase spending, it's just not possible. I mean did anyone else notice in the debates how every time Obama was asked the question "How will you cut spending?" He would go into a 2-5min speech on everything he was going to spend money on?

  • Kaiser||

    edit: that last sentence was not a question it was a statement, my apologies.

  • ||

    Look, when a Rothschild calls you an elitist, you're busted. By the way, she was speaking of Obama's personal arrogance, not calling him "elite." There's a world of difference between "elite" and "elit-ist." de Rothschild is from a middle class, American background, not from hereditary aristocracy. She's an attorney by training, smart as a tack and very down-to-earth.

  • SIV||

    Both Obama and John McCain are going to be sending checks to people who don't pay taxes. If this is welfare I've gotten welfare in the form of stimulus checks in 2001, 2003 and 2008

    David Weigel doesn't pay taxes?

  • ||

    FICA taxes are taxes.

    FICA taxes are taxes.

    FICA taxes are taxes.

    This has never been a controversial statement here.

    This is like when you ask "flat taxers" about FICA, and they sort of mumble and change the subject.

  • ||

    The McCain campign in a nutshell.

  • robc||

    Obama's the only candidate (apart from Barr) promising them one.

    So, Weigel, you are voting for Barr now, right?


    FICA taxes are taxes.

    This has never been a controversial statement here.


    Yep. At least one member of the left understands this. Now if you can convince the Democratic Party to run ads explaining that SS is transfer payments from the young to the old.

  • ||

    "You can't cut taxes and increase spending, it's just not possible."

    Kaiser
    Were you the victim of extraordinary rendition for the past eight years?

    Cause that's been going on.

  • robc||

    No "framing" allowed.

  • ||

    Is anyone buying this?

    I'm still cocking my head at the notion that changing welfare laws somehow created 22 million jobs.

  • Mad Max||

    If she switched from supporting Hillary to supporting McCain, I'm guessing she's not a big fan of limited government.

  • robc||

    MNG,

    Not only has it happened the last 8 years (in the bad way), it, at least, is theoretically possible to do it and decrease deficits at the same time. The increases have to be tiny however.

  • ||

    I've never met any other person, left right or center, who didn't realize PAYROLL TAXES were TAXES.

    I've also never met any person who didn't realize that those PAYROLL TAXES go towards Social Security checks.

  • Hmmm||

    KT is upset by Obama's description of the welfare reform bill at the time of its passage as "disturbing". I should note that being disturbed by elements in the bill is not the same as being opposed to the principle of moving people from welfare to work. Bill Clinton opposed certain elements of the bill but accepted it as a compromise. Although you may disagree with the opponents to the bill, they are not necessarily opposed to welfare reform in principle simply because they were alarmed, for example, by provisions of the bill that would deny welfare benefits to legal immigrants who had long been in the country and had previously paid taxes.

  • ||

    "de Rothschild is from a middle class, American background, not from hereditary aristocracy."


    BWA-HAHAHAHAH!


    She's practically Joe the Plumber!

  • ||

    I'm still cocking my head at the notion that changing welfare laws somehow created 22 million jobs.

    Good point.

    The "Help Wanted" signs that finally started appearing in inner cities in the mid-90s did a hell of a lot more to get people off welfare than the reform bill.

  • ||

    Maybe Obama is going to pay for it all the Republican Way.*



    *Let future generations do that shit.

  • ||

    It's an interesting dilemna. Personally, I don't understand where the social justice is in progressive taxation - which means that richer people pay a greater *percentage* of their income in taxes. If we had a flat tax the rich would still pay more, But it would be *proportionate*, which seems to me the essence of fairness. Not sure what the logic is otherwise. It seems to be an incoherent mixture of Marx's surplus value theory (redistribute the 'surplus value' back from the capitalists), and Rawlsian lottery logic. (The people on top are just there by luck, so they don't deserve their earnings anyway).

    Both arguments are pretty easy to dispute, but it's very difficult to tell people that it's not fair for them to get richer people's money redistributed to them. Not a winning position in a democracy. It's unfortunate that we never got fair taxation enshrined in the constitution, cause this seems to me to be an issue where the majority is always going to run roughshod over the rights of the minority.

    The most pragmatic appeal would be to remind people that redistributing wealth isn't just giving them money, it's giving the government vast powers to decide who gets the money, which will inevitably be abused by those making the decisions. Not just corrupt politicians funneling it to their cronies (ala Zimbabwe), but also popular political groups simply voting to give themselves more of it. Total economic disaster down that road. Imagine identity group politics co-mingling with popularly mandated wealth redistribution efforts. More money for blacks. More money for latinos. F---k the rich asian grocers. Etc. Horrifying possibilities.

  • Seward||

    Mr. Nice Guy,

    One cannot do that over the long term. So no, one cannot cut taxes and raise spending.

    robc,

    Now if you can convince the Democratic Party to run ads explaining that SS is transfer payments from the young to the old.

    No, no, no. You see, they keep that money in a vault where everyone has seperate piles of cash assigned to them. :)

  • ||

    Anybody who moved from Hillary to McCain did so for reasons other than taxes.

  • ||

    Hazel,

    It's about social utility.

    Taking the cost of a sandwich from a poor person hurts them more than taking the cost of a yacht from Bill Gates, even if the cost of a sandwich is a smaller % of the poor person's income.

  • Seward||

    joe,

    I've met many people (from various ideological persuasions) who thought that FICA was a mandated savings account, which is not what it is. Indeed, I've seen people get furious with me when I suggested that it was something else entirely.

  • sage||

    Anybody who moved from Hillary to McCain did so for reasons other than taxes.

    Racism, right?

  • ||

    Anybody who goes by the title "Lady" cannot call anyone elitist with a straight face. Especially when her marriage history entirely consists of trading up husbands*.

    * Libertarian disclaimer: Not that there's anything wrong with that, it's her choice. You just lose the right to call people elitist when you marry a Rothschild (for his wonderful personality, I'm certain).

  • robc||

    joe,


    I've also never met any person who didn't realize that those PAYROLL TAXES go towards Social Security checks.


    They dont. This is where all those people are wrong. Payroll taxes go to the general treasury. SS checks are then written from the general treasury. The Supreme Court has decreed this at least twice.

    SS checks come from all taxes, not just FICA. There is no distinction. The tax and the payments are completely unrelated, legally.

  • Seward||

    joe,

    Actually, taking that cost of a yacht hurts the poor because the earner of that money is no longer able to use said money in a productive way. This is in part due to the fact that markets are far better at allocating resources than governments are due to a whole number of factors (e.g., think here of Hayek's theory of knowledge, etc.).

  • SIV||

    Does anyone else find it surprising that David Weigel doesn't pay taxes.I mean in addition to FICA taxes.Everybody else here pays federal income tax, right?

  • Kaiser||

    Mr. Nice Guy

    I didn't mean that it wasn't possible to do. But that it is a very bad idea and it shouldn't be done. Tax cuts and spending cuts should be simultaneous. Of course you could subscribe to the Milton Friedman belief of "starving the beast" but it doesn't work very well in practice. Government isn't known for saying "hey we aren't getting enough money, you know what we should do, cut out the spending to compensate."

  • Seward||

    robc,

    Well, payroll taxes don't even have to be spent on SSI outlays; they can be part of the general budget if I recall correctly.

  • ||

    A businesswoman who married into a $600+ million fortune,

    Now that's what I call a smart business decision.

    I lost the last thread where we squabbled over FICA. Did joe ever agree to the Grand Bargain that everyone come clean, admit that FICA taxes are an income tax AND admit that Social Security is a pay-as-you-go transfer payment?

  • ||

    Seward,

    You are correct. That was Gore's lockbox idea, to prevent them from being spent on general budget items. Right now, they go into the general budget and the budget writes an IOU to SS (yes, the gov't writes an IOU to itself).

  • robc||

    Seward,

    I've met many people (from various ideological persuasions) who thought that FICA was a mandated savings account

    I would be okay (insert standard libertarian disclaimer #whatever) with it if it was. In fact, moving 5% of everyones income into a retirement account (the other 10.3% goes into the general treasury like 15.3% does now) would be my recommendation for SS reform (step 1). Its an inheritable guaranteed account. Moves to living spouses account on death. If no living spouse, goes to estate as cash to be distributed however.

    Now, what should be done with the money? Is it a self-directed IRA-type or is it a government account buying T-bills? Thats implementation details and I obviously have my preferences, but even if it just got T-bill interest rates, that would be okay by me as a step 1.

  • ||

    Yes, de Rothschild is warning voters that Obama might raise taxes on her in order to give them money. Please, won't somebody think of the Rothschilds?

    Not a sentiment that I'd expect to read at Reason. I presume you mean "this won't work," not "what a greedy parasite."

  • ||

    A businesswoman who married into a $600+ million fortune,

    Now that's what I call a smart business decision.

    I lost the last thread where we squabbled over FICA. Did joe ever agree to the Grand Bargain that everyone come clean, admit that FICA taxes are an income tax AND admit that Social Security is a pay-as-you-go transfer payment?

  • ||

    Yes, de Rothschild is warning voters that Obama might raise taxes on her in order to give them money.

    I think the logic here is that nobody who pays taxes has a right to complain about how high they are, yes?

  • Seward||

    robc,

    It would certainly be an improvement on the current generationally funded system we have today.

  • robc||

    RC,

    I think joe is now claiming that no one has ever disagreed with that. Which is weird because I have heard many people disagree with that.

  • Guy Montag||

    David Weigel doesn't pay taxes?

    Come on guys, he is a magazine writer. Have you no respect for folks who just spend all contributing to society without the desire or expectation of riches?

  • Guy Montag||

    I think joe is now claiming that no one has ever disagreed with that. Which is weird because I have heard many people disagree with that.

    What? The joe made some sweeping, false statement that is generating disagreement on a thread? I am almost tempted to read what he said now . . .

  • robc||

    Seward,

    Transition costs would be the killer. I dont have access to the numbers, but I would hope the 10.3% could keep the current system funded while we transferred everyone over.

    My transition would be to mandate everyone born after 1990 change to new system and then buy older people in as they wish (Putting the 5%+interest into their accounts for past years) on a cheapest first system. Try to move a few years worth of people every year.

    The buyins may have to be at some much lower interest rate like 1% or something, which is I think about what SS "earns" as it is calculated now.

  • Seward||

    robc,

    Yeah, I've heard far too many people tell me they think it is like a savings account to think otherwise. And why shouldn't they think that? Words like "insurance," "account," etc. are often used when it is being described.

  • Dave Weigel||

    1) To clarify, in 2001 and 2003 I was a student working odd jobs and didn't pay the government as much as I got, not counting FICA.

    2) From an election-winning perspective, what Rothschild said was stupid. It's less stupid as policy, but tycoons who split their time between London and New York need tax cuts less than... well, shit, than Joe the Plumber.

  • ||

    joe : It's about social utility.

    You mean "for the greater good". What's the difference? The amount of social injustice perpetrate in the name of that much cited cause in incalculable.

    Phrases like "it's for the common good" are almost always an indication that someone's rights are about to be violated, and ought to be treated with immediate suspicion. When politicians utter such things, it generally means "for the good of the people who voted for me."

  • robc||

    Hazel,

    The proper response is:

    Fuck social utility.

  • robc||

    Hmmm....I have a campaign slogan if I ever run for office.

  • Seward||

    Dave Weigel,

    Well, the rich need tax cuts so that they can spend that money on, amongst other things, plumbers. Now there is some social utility!

  • kevin ||

    @ hazel meade

    "If we had a flat tax the rich would still pay more, But it would be *proportionate*, which seems to me the essence of fairness."

    Why should richer people pay taxes on the basis of proportion of income? Do they get a greater proportion of military protection, mail service, etc. based on their income?

  • ||

    You'd have to go back to Billy Carter to find a less useful campaign appendage.

    Nice, Weigel.

  • ||

    robc,

    They dont. This is where all those people are wrong. Payroll taxes go to the general treasury. SS checks are then written from the general treasury. The Supreme Court has decreed this at least twice. You just contradicted yourself. You told me that the money collected from FICA doesn't pay Social Security checks, then told me that the money collected via FICA goes into the fund from which Social Security checks are cut.

    The tax and the payments are completely unrelated, legally. This is my point. FICA is a tax. It works just like every other tax. Hence, saying that people who pay FICA don't pay taxes is incorrect.

  • ||

    This post would be so much easier to understand if we could just presume Lady de Rothschild is an Obama-sponsored saboteur. I hate it when outliers render reality harder to believe than conspiracy theories.

  • Guy Montag||

    Why should richer people pay taxes on the basis of proportion of income? Do they get a greater proportion of military protection, mail service, etc. based on their income?

    Sounds like a fixed-fee argument.

  • ||

    Seward,

    Are you actually saying that every individual poor person who doesn't get a tax cut equal to the cost of a sandwich will see their income go up by that amount if Bill Gates is given a tax cut of a couple million bucks? Because that's just silly.

    BTW, the same dollar amount in tax cuts for a bunch of poor people will stimulate the economoy more than if it was given to one rich person, because almost all of it will be spent on purchases by the poor people, but much of it would just go into the rich person's savings, having much less of a stimulatory effect.

  • Seward||

    joe & robc,

    Exactly what is the point of this argument?

  • ||

    "...image of a pearl-necklaced tycoon..."? Gross! :)

  • ||

    "...who don't pay taxes"

    Name a single person in this entire country who doesn't pay some tax or other. I'm so tired of hearing about the pampered poor and the downtrodden, oppressed rich.

  • ||

    RC Dean,

    Did joe ever agree to the Grand Bargain that everyone come clean, admit that FICA taxes are an income tax AND admit that Social Security is a pay-as-you-go transfer payment? Yes, but I "agreed" to that three and a half years ago, when we were talking about Social Security privatization.

    I used to make the point that ZOMG! there are no funds set aside for the Defense Department in FY 2014! They tell us they're going to fund the military, but there's no guarantee!

  • ||

    What made me laugh about the Billy Carter reference is that neither Dave Weigel nor I were alive to actually witness that.

    BTW, the same dollar amount in tax cuts for a bunch of poor people will stimulate the economoy more than if it was given to one rich person

    True, but tax cuts don't happen in dollar amounts. They happen in percentages. AFAICT, Obama plans on paying for the "big" tax cut by letting the Bush tax cuts expire. However, if one believes that the Laffer curve is true, government receipts will fall at a greater rate than anticipated (because of corporations moving out of the country, cutting salaries, jobs, etc.).

    I'd agree with joe if it were the idle rich we were talking about, but we're mostly talking about increasing taxes on corporate "persons".

  • ||

    kevin,
    We could also have an argument about the fairness of taxation in the first place.
    My point is that there is really nothing 'just' about progressive taxation. Not to argue in favor of a flat tax, or general sales tax or whatever.

    The arguments for progressive taxation strike me as a giant scheme for people to rationalize taking other people's money and still feel good about it. It violates basic notions of fairness and thus necessessites viewing others through a class lens in order to 'otherize' them.

  • ||

    As a self-employed individual, I get to pay the Ponzi Tax twice. Yippee!

  • robc||

    You told me that the money collected from FICA doesn't pay Social Security checks, then told me that the money collected via FICA goes into the fund from which Social Security checks are cut.

    It doesnt "directly and solely" pay SS checks. Interpret, moran. Use your brain. Im not God, my writing isnt literal.

    This is my point. FICA is a tax. It works just like every other tax. Hence, saying that people who pay FICA don't pay taxes is incorrect.

    I agreed with your point. I then made my own point. Which was about SS payments. We had moved on.

  • ||

    If she's smart, she takes no actual salary from anything and therefore pays no FICA taxes at all - only capital gains. And that is a flat tax (15%). How's that for "social utility"?

    15% of her capital gains is a lot more than some poor dude's sandwich. The gov't runs on actual money, not percentages. The percentages are just arbitrary BS to make people feel "equal", as far as I can tell.

  • ||

    FICA taxes are taxes.



    joe, you know that and I know that but most people belive that they're contributions to a pension and disability insurance fund. Some of them even belive that there's a reall "fund to back them up.

    You know you sound like my mother when I tell her how many people believe in creationism. She tells me, "That can't be true, none of the girls I went to Radcliffe with believe that."

  • ||

    If Obama spends anything like GWB (with the similar lack of tax revenue to support it), then he'll just continue the regressive tax system (in addition to our beloved IRS tax system) called "taxing by inflation": 1) The government obtains money, not by taxing but by printing, to spend on programs, 2) fiat money enters economy, 3) prices rise accordingly. It's exactly proportional for everyone (like a flat tax or sales tax) which is really regressive because the poor don't have any exemptions or prebates.

  • ||

    Hazel,

    Look up the term "social utility." It has an established meaning, and you don't know what it is.

    Seward,

    I don't know what the point of this argument is. Whenever I point out that payroll taxes are taxes, people start writing crazy shit.

  • robc||

    As a self-employed individual, I get to pay the Ponzi Tax twice. Yippee!

    Me too. But everyone really pays it twice (subject to the angles of the labor supply/demand curves).

  • ||

    NAL - a sales tax is considered regressive?

  • robc||

    only capital gains

    And she doesnt pay that unless she has net positive gains that she cashes in.

  • BakedPenguin||

    A businesswoman who married into a $600+ million fortune...

    No wonder she's for McCain - sounds like they have a lot in common.

  • Seward||

    joe,

    Are you actually saying that every individual poor person who doesn't get a tax cut equal to the cost of a sandwich will see their income go up by that amount if Bill Gates is given a tax cut of a couple million bucks? Because that's just silly.

    Of course not. No, in markets no one is guaranteed success.

    ...because almost all of it will be spent on purchases by the poor people, but much of it would just go into the rich person's savings, having much less of a stimulatory effect.

    This my friends is one of the bigger economic fallacies that liberals tell themselves. It is almost a kin to the sort of mercantilism that Obama buys into.

    Look, rich people simply do not sit on their money like misers while it collects 1.5% interest in a savings account. On average they either invest in areas which get a far higher rate of return (and in turn that money is available for investment in new businesses, etc.) or they use it for conspicous consumption purposes (and indeed, they spur all manner of innovation by buying new consumer items which in turn quickly drives down the price of those consumer items - think of the venerable example of the VCR or the cell phone). It is a virtuous circle.

  • Hmmm||

    However, if one believes that the Laffer curve is true, government receipts will fall at a greater rate than anticipated (because of corporations moving out of the country, cutting salaries, jobs, etc.).

    Not necessarily. It depends on where we are relative to the nearest maximum of the curve. Do we know whether we are on the right or left of it? Based upon what evidence? (I say "nearest" maximum because the best analyses that I have seen suggest that in the context of a complex system of taxation, there will be multiple maxima and minima, further complicating the picture.)

  • robc||

    Whenever I point out that payroll taxes are taxes, people start writing crazy shit.

    I have to admit, agreeing with you and complimenting you for getting something right is truly "crazy shit". Will try not to do it again.

  • robc||

    Seward,

    Look, rich people simply do not sit on their money like misers while it collects 1.5% interest in a savings account.

    Even if they do this, only a fraction actually sits in the bank. The rest is loaned out or invested or yadda yadda yadda.

  • ||

    robc,

    It doesnt "directly and solely" pay SS checks. Nor did I claim that it did.

    There is no confusion here, we both understand how Social Security is financed; through ongoing annual appropriations from the general fund, which includes income and payroll taxes, and some other revenue sources. There's really no need for anyone to lecture anyone else on that topic, or correct misunderstandings that don't exist.

    Don Mynack,

    15% of her capital gains is a lot more than some poor dude's sandwich. But it is not more than a whole lot of poor people's sandwiches. That's the point - you can cut one rich person's taxes by $2 million, or a million poor people's taxes by $2, and there will be more social utility if you do the latter.

  • kevin||

    hazel,

    I agree with your arguement against progressive taxation, just not that flat rates would be the essence of fairness.

  • LT Nixon||

    You'd have to go back to Billy Carter to find a less useful campaign appendage.

    Didja see that the guitarist from Aerosmith endorsed McCain? That's might be more useless, since everyone knows those guys have sucked ass ever since they got out of rehab.

  • Seward||

    The Anrgy Optimist,

    I'd agree with joe if it were the idle rich we were talking about, but we're mostly talking about increasing taxes on corporate "persons".

    I suspect that most of the rich aren't idle, and those that are don't stay that way.

  • ||

    If we had a flat tax the rich would still pay more, But it would be *proportionate*, which seems to me the essence of fairness.

    Proportionate to what, is the question. Paying taxes proportionate to your height would not be fair, I think we could all agree.

    The point being, of course, that fairness resides in a proportional relationship that is relevant, defensible, etc.

    Saying that taxes proportionate to income is fair merely begs the question of what taxes should be used for, and who should bear the cost (and in what measure).

    Yes, but I "agreed" to that three and a half years ago, when we were talking about Social Security privatization.

    Cool. Then you also agree that the use of terms like "insurance" and "trust fund" in connection with social security is deeply misleading?

  • ||

    Isaac B.,

    joe, you know that and I know that but most people belive that they're contributions to a pension and disability insurance fund.

    The people, such as John McCain and the Republican Party and Lady de Rothschild and the people who shill thehir lines on these threads, who are making the claim that 40% of Americans don't pay taxes know that, too. I'm must calling them out on their nonsense.

  • robc||

    Hmmm,

    Single maxima. Concave downward. Non-chaotic.

    As far as the maxima, I have seen studies suggesting anything from about 5 to 60 percent.

    I personally think 15-20.

    One thing people get wrong is they assume that if Tax X is reduced and we are to the right of the Laffer Curve, that we should look at income generated by Tax X to see if it worked properly.

    It is possible that we could cut the income tax, for example, and federal income tax receipts would go down. However, FICA, sales tax, state income tax, property tax, etc receipts could all go up more than that, which would be a sign we are to the right of the Laffer Curve.

  • robc||

    joe,

    There's really no need for anyone to lecture anyone else on that topic, or correct misunderstandings that don't exist.

    They do exist. Maybe not with you, or anyone else here, but they do exist.

  • ||

    Seward,

    The fact that poor people spend a larger portion of their money on consumer goods, from food on up, than rich people is not a liberal fallacy. It is a well-established, well-understood fact.

    And while your point about investment is a good one, I chose my words carefully, which is why I described the tax cuts' relative effects as "more stimulatory." Stimiulatory has a specific meaing, like social utility. Savings and investment have positive effects on the economy, as you describe, but they are less STIMULATORY than consumer spending.

  • Seward||

    The Angry Optimist,

    Don't stay rich that is.

    robc,

    One thing I have never understood were luxury taxes.

  • robc||

    joe,

    Want to give us that definition.

    I thought stimulatory, with regards to the economy, meant "has a positive effect upon". The only other meaning I could see would be "has a short term positive effect upon". In which case, you might be right about consumer spending.

  • ||

    Prior to the 2008 Stimulus the previous Stimulus checks were limited to the total of PAID income taxes. I clearly remember receiving a check for $151 in 2003 when the stimulus was $300. Why? Because I had paid $151 in federal income tax that year. Those without income tax liability were left to be stimulated the old fashioned way.

  • Seward||

    joe,

    The fact that poor people spend a larger portion of their money on consumer goods, from food on up, than rich people is not a liberal fallacy. It is a well-established, well-understood fact.

    That's not what I was getting at.

    ...but they are less STIMULATORY than consumer spending.

    Even if that were the case, and it isn't, it is no reason for a progressive income tax or to "soak the rich."

  • ||

    robc,

    Having the effect of stimulating production and consumption. Yes, it's a short-term thing.

    Stimulus juices the economy, increase its rate over the short term. Stimulus is more like sugars, and savings/investment, more like complex carbs.

    But before we give over the thread to completely off-topic comments, can I get a big "Yeah Bundy!" for the observations that federal income taxes are not the only taxes people pay; that most people pay payroll taxes; that refunding people's payroll taxes via a check is not welfare, but a tax cut; and that the people claiming that 40% of American workers don't pay taxes and would thus be "on welfare" under Barack Obama's plan are full of crap?

  • ||

    Seward,

    Even if that were the case, and it isn't, it is no reason for a progressive income tax or to "soak the rich."

    No, but it refutes the argument that collecting $X amount from the rich is somehow uniquely awful, compared to collecting it in smaller individual amounts from poorer people.

    The argument for soaking the rich, of course, is that they suck.

    ;-)

  • robc||

    joe,

    Your 3:42 post contradicts your 4:54 post.

    Those people you never met at 3:42 are the people who are making the "welfare" comments at 4:54.

  • Seward||

    joe,

    So, from what economic tome are you getting this definition from?

    robc,

    I suspect that which is more "stimulating" probably depends heavily on the context. In some contexts lower-income "consumers" are just going to just pocket the money and save it or alternatively use it to pay off debt. Whereas in the same circumstance decreasing the tax rate on the wealthy will lead to greater wealth and conspicuous consumption. Either way, during all contexts one is going to get positive benefits from across the board tax reductions; a rising tide raises all boats in other words.

  • Hmmm||

    Wise policy should dictate that they avoid giving refundable tax credits to those who claim the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion. I was rather surprised to receive a rebate earlier this year based upon the salary that I had listed on Line 7 and then claimed as negative income on Line 21 based upon Form 2555 (thus resulting in the rest of my income, a very small amount of bank interest, being well below the standard deduction and leaving me liable for no US tax). I suspect that expats' rebates have less of an impact on the US economy.

  • ||

    Joe-

    FICA taxes are taxes. Indeed, it is an issue that republicans have not exploited. How can a party that claims to champion the poor support the continued highway robbery of the working stiff?

  • robc||

    Hmmm,

    Heh. Aint complicated tax systems great?

    Cash any check they send you, thats my policy.

  • ||

    On a slightly side note, it irritates me to no end that Barack Obama always says that tax cuts are "giving more and more to those with the most"...

    Uh, no, fuckface, it's taking less. The fact that he doesn't see the distinction pisses me off.

  • Seward||

    joe,

    No, but it refutes the argument that collecting $X amount from the rich is somehow uniquely awful, compared to collecting it in smaller individual amounts from poorer people.

    Hmm, uniquely awful? I don't recall making that argument. I do recall making the argument that taxing the rich is bad for poor people simply because markets allocate resources far better than the government does. Indeed, this is directly illustrated by the failure of every consumer-centered stimtulus package that I can think of, including the last one. Redistributing wealth via government fiat is far less effecient than its redistribution via the market.

  • Seward||

    robc,

    Even if we used joe's definition (I'm not quite sure why we should) we should note that the recent economic stimulus effort did not work. I can't think of a single one which has ever worked.

  • ||

    Here's my awesome stimulus idea: keep the Bush tax cuts AND cut taxes on the other "95%". Pay for it with spending cuts.

    Rinse and Repeat.

  • Seward||

    The Angry Optimist,

    Barring lack of access to credit by the federal government spending cuts of any significant size are not going to happen.

  • ||

    Long ago, the United States Supreme Court ruled that one does not have a right to collect social security. The Court rejected arguments that folks make contributions to a retirement or insurance fund. The Court declared such "contributions" taxes.

  • ||

    Seward, lookee here, sir, this is my fantasy and I'll write it however I want.

  • ||

    I've also never met any person who didn't realize that those PAYROLL TAXES go towards Social Security checks.

    Because they don't. Not anymore than the Michigan State Lottery proceeds go towards education. You'd have to be a fool to swallow that kind of nonsense.

  • Seward||

    robc,

    More to the point, even those in favor of these stimulus notions don't see eye to eye necessarily, which may in part explain why there is a debate about what the next stimulus package should look like. Should it be another check, or should it something like what rich people and those with capital do: invest in R&D, etc.?

  • ||

    Helvering v Davis, 301 U.S. 619 (1937).

  • ||

    But joe, doesn't honesty require one to admit that McCain et al get away with that because the Democrats have been telling people for seventy years that FICA taxes are pension contributions?

    And that they go into a "trust fund."

    It's kind of a "reap what you sow" deal.

    Or "chickens coming home to roost".

    The cliches arer endless. And the Democrats have only themselves to blame if people believe what they've been telling them for seventy years

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "Saying that taxes proportionate to income is fair merely begs the question of what taxes should be used for, and who should bear the cost (and in what measure)."

    Divide the costs of legitimate functions of government like national defense by the population of the country and send everyone an exactly equal bill for it.

    And get rid of all the transfer payment programs like social security, food stamps, welfare, etc. None of thase programs are actual services in any sense of the word.

    And, of course, there is absolutely no one alive on the face of the earth who is the least bit capable of proving that any of those type programs have ever accomplished anything worth so much as one cent in value in this country or any other at any time in history.

  • Seward||

    Isaac Bartram,

    Wow. Interesting and useful insight.

  • ||

    ah, Isaac, good job. I was just going to say the same thing, and I'll add to it that the SSA adds to the illusion with those "cards" they send out. Ask joe...I was fooled until a few weeks ago.

  • Seward||

    The Angry Optimist,

    Seward, lookee here, sir, this is my fantasy and I'll write it however I want.

    Many apologies, but tax, spend and/or borrow appear to be the only fiscal operations which the government (at the state or the federal level) can do these days.

  • SIV||

    JCJ,

    Prior to the 2008 Stimulus the previous Stimulus checks were limited to the total of PAID income taxes.

    If this is correct then David Weigel isn't the welfare Queen he claims to be!

  • ||

    R.C.,
    "The point being, of course, that fairness resides in a proportional relationship that is relevant, defensible, etc."

    Your 4:39pm post surprised me. In a good way. I wonder if Hazel has seen this interview with Warren Buffett. Interesting how the worm turns when most of your income is non wage based.

  • ||

    Do they get a greater proportion of military protection, mail service, etc. based on their income?

    Yes. They have more property, which the military, police and fire departments defend. The rich tend send and receive more mail (though the post office is (or at least was until recently) self financed). Plus, they get more benefit from military aid. If I have nothing, we get invaded and all my property is appropriated, I lose nothing. However, Bill Gates loses a shitload. The demand for high quality police and military is much higher for those that have something to lose.

  • ||

    "More to the point, even those in favor of these stimulus notions don't see eye to eye necessarily, which may in part explain why there is a debate about what the next stimulus package should look like. Should it be another check, or should it something like what rich people and those with capital do: invest in R&D, etc.?"

    Untrue. There is no economic debate, only an ideological one. Numerous studies have been done on this subject, and the overwheming majority of them have found that the most effective stimulative policies are extension of unemployment benefits, temporary increase in foodstamps, a boost in federal spending and uniform tax refunds--especially to those in the lower income brackets. Permanent cuts in personal taxes/capital gains, reductions in corporate taxes, investment incentives and infrastructure spending had the least stimulative effects. I don't have any links handy, but if you google the subject, I'm sure there's alot out there on it.

  • ||

    Mo
    Right on. Not to mention when we go to war over "American interests" that is often an interest that concerns wealthy people a hell of lot more than other folks.

    We use roads to go to work and back, the rich use them to facilitate their businesses, you know, like Bukowski said, the ones that let them live in a big house on the hill while all their workers live in apartments. The cops guard our homes and car and for the rich they guard their homes and cars and yachts and warehouses and....So yeah, in a lot of ways the rich benefit more from government, so they pay more for it. In fact, one of the more spiffy libertarian arguments, made long ago by William Graham Sumner, was that government power was bound to be in the service of plutocrats (hence government sucked).

    It always interests me how much folks here decry their own interests. Some of it is admirable principle, but a lot of it is self-delusion. I remember once Taktix was bitching here about Michael Moore criticizing capitalism and I pointed out that not only did Michael Moore make more money last year than Taktix will make in his entire friggin life but the odds are great that Moore's kids will make more money in ten years of their life than Taktix's kids will make in their entire lives. He about shit his pants in anger, insisting he very well could be making Michael Moore money any day.

    Hey Tatix, how's that working out? As I said then, I bet my car keys that I'll be right. Takers?

    I'm not being arrogant or a dick when I say such things, it's just the empirical odds. The odds of anyone on this thread catching not only de Rotchshild but of their kids catching her kids are so small that I can really safely ignore it.

    And I bet that drives you guys nuts. It certainly makes this equal opportunity bullshit you guys talk about sound very theoretical. And most people know that. And so they support government programs to "equalize" things, because the theoretical equal opportunity you guys speak of sounds like bullshit unreality to them.

  • ||

    joe,
    I know what 'social utility' is supposed to mean. I just think it boils down to "the greater good" anyway. You have a good argument about how it doesn't?

    Do you think people only have rights because (or as long as) it benefits society for them to have them?

  • ||

    Another thing.

    There is all this talk of "fairness" in relation to progressive taxation. This is interesting considering that one of the most common retorts I hear from libertarians on H&R is "life isn't fair, deal with it." Seems you guys care about fairness too, but seemingly only when folks that have more than other folks are threatened, not when folks that have less than other folks are disadvantaged.

    Is it fair that a person that is born with a disability should be unable to take care of themselves? Is it "unfair" to force others to help take care of this person?

    Now take the disability and use your imagination (kids who happen to be born into families that don't care for them, kids who happen to be born into backwards geographical areas, kids who happen to be born with a skin color that will mean that many people will pass them over for business opportunities, etc).

    Thinking that the limits of "fairness" are exhausted by what people "voluntarily"* contract for is a truncated view of that concept.


    *TAO, you can insert the Stevenson quote you've been waiting for me to use there ;)

  • ||

    Hazel
    I'll bite.

    What is a right?

  • ||

    I can see a concept of rights that is not tied to utility.

    But a system of rights that is totally divorced from, or worse runs contrary to utility, why would any sane society buy into that?

    "We are a very just society though everyone here is miserable."

    When Cicero said "Let justice be done though the heaven's fall" it sounded lofty but was kinda nuts, donchathink?

  • ||

    Is it fair that a person that is born with a disability should be unable to take care of themselves? No.

    Is it "unfair" to force others to help take care of this person? Yes.

    Any questions? Michael Moore or Marilyn Manson making more than me does not bother me a bit. Those who believe that because I'm comfortable and don't have any dependents (fuck, we pay for your rugrats schooling, why the hell should we give you a tax break too?) should "pay my fair share" to support unproductive members of society can go fuck themselves.

    That's what families, charities and churches are for.

    And those so supportive of progressive taxation (including me) should not only look at social security. Take a gander at tobacco and alcohol taxes. Regressive taxes both. You know the tax on rotgut vodka is the same as the one on Absolut or Stoli, right? You know the tax on cigarettes is higher than the tax on hand rolled cigars, right? How does the left justify that in their minds?

  • ||

    J sub D
    This lefty hates "sin taxes" because they are regressive. I like my Bowman's Vodka and it's a bitch its taxed at the same level as Absolut.

    The guy born with a disability suddenly has much less "opportunity" than the guy born without it, through no fault of his own. If we were to enact social programs taking from the guy not born with the disability to create more opportunity for the disabled guy then we would be equalizing the opportunies, so why is that fair? Because the "normal" guy "earned" his stuff through the capacities he just happened to be born into? WTF?

  • ||

    The greatest legislation passed in my lifetime was the Americans with Disabilities Act (passed by a GOP President btw, this is why I will not be a bit sad if a noble man like McCain wins). Suddenly folks with all kinds of problems that they just happened to be born into have all kinds of worlds opened to them. And you know what? The fucking world didn't collapse around the rest of us. None of us are living in some Soviet Gulag because of the ADA. It equalized life opportunities in the best way. It opened up "liberty" for a whole class of folks.

    I guess the libertarian policy would have been to wait around for private charities to build ramps to courthouses. Yeah, that worked great!

    More about the sin taxes: there are many foolish liberals who are "nanny-state" folks who think they can use taxation to discourage "self-harming" activities of the poor, like drinking and smoking. I don't truck with this kind of leftist for the record. One reason why Sullum is one of my fav writers here.

  • ||

    But MNG, where does it stop. How about the poor child who was never taught a work ethic. He is economically hobbled his whole life because he cant hold a steady job. It's not his fault according to many, nurture being more important than nature in these things. How about the kid with a sub-nomal intelligence. Not retarded, just not too bright. Surely, she's also disadvantaged through no fault of his own. How much do we give her?

    I can't run a 4.4 40 so I'll never make wide receiver money. Do I have a claim on NFL wide receivers? Y'know, to be "fair".

  • ||

    J sub D

    This reminds me of the ongoing debate I have with fluffy.

    I say "If three people are stranded on an island, and they all work diligently at three jobs, and one pans out enough to just feed the guy who does it, the second doesn't pan out at all, and the third pans out so well the guy has enough food for thirty people, and the second guy is starving, is it wrong for the first guy to take provisions from the third to give to the second." It seems daft, I mean fucking daft to say no. On what grounds would you bar this, the sanctity of property? Whuuaah?

    fluffy, like you being the smart libertarian that he is (unlike hustlers like SIV or Guy Montag that think they are fooling libertarians into voting GOP, a GOP pastime) has responded excellently with "what if the first two guys said to the third guy 'look, you are good at what you do, you work and we will periodically take provisions from you and will hurt or kill you if you if you disagree." Hey, I certainly agree that's fucked up.

    I think this is the same thing. I can think of situations where it would simply be unfair to not coerce help for folks, and you can think of gradations where it seems less fair.

    It strikes me that the lesson of this is that any system on the extremes is wrong. The libertarian who says that ANY coercion of someone's "earned property" to help others is "unfair" is wrong, as is the guy who wants to take in any theoretical case of "unfairness."

    And I think what you would have is something like what we do have. Our welfare system and other government programs provide some assistance towards promoting "faireness" and lessening "unfairness" (like the disabled guy, hell we only provide him with some basic benefits, we don't exactly set him up in a mansion) but it doesn't in any way try to right every theoretical unfairness (which would be a bit dat, eh?).

  • ||

    MNG: The problem is that measures of utility, even for society as a whole will vary from individual to individual. Some people value overall technological progress and economic growth. (I want to colonize Mars so I'm one of those). Others value economic and social equality. Others might want to maximize liberty. Others might value social stability (lots of people in traditional non-western cultures do).

    I can think of many instances where a one set of rights may conflict with some one else's measure of social utility. Free speech, or freedom of religion, may conflict with social stability. Economic liberty (obviously) conflicts with social equality. Economic equality may impede overall economic growth.

    If you base rights on social utility you have to decide what definition of utility to maximize. And then you have the question of "who decides", and the issue of majority votes, and it becomes a vicious cycle.

  • ||

    MNG-

    Show me some hard core EVIDENCE that the ADA has been the utopia of which you speak. As you know, a critical thinker likr yourself wouldn't bother citing statistics released by a government agency or studies financed by any entity that is any way subsidized by the state.

  • ||

    The question of who decides is a thorny one. But I'm not talking about (and many utilitarians are not) talking about what Dworkin calls "preference utilitarianism", but about actual utility, well being. In theory at least actual well being is not something that varies according to individual preference but is as objective as 2+2=4.

    You may value colonizing Mars (so do I), another may value lots of sports on TV, but in a society where we are both starving our actual utility is low, though we as a nation may be sending missions to Mars and airing Steelers games 24/7.

  • ||

    Hazel
    I also think we will get much further if you tell me what you think a right is.

    libertymike
    Let me get this straight. You want me to argue what, that post-ADA there are more opportunities for disabled people than pre? I just want to make sure what you are looking for. Because that's the criteria by which I judge its success.

    You don't notice a shit load more ramps on buildings after the ADA?

  • Kaiser||

    "I guess the libertarian policy would have been to wait around for private charities to build ramps to courthouses. Yeah, that worked great!"

    That would have worked had it been left to play out. Not to say it wouldn't have taken much longer than it did once the ADA was in place. It is pretty simple though really: If restaurant A had a handicap ramp and restaurant B did not; after losing a lot of business to restaurant A, restaurant B would quickly build their own handicap accessible place.

    There are a lot of downsides to the ADA though, for the amount of money that is spent every year on making places more "accessible" to the handicapped you could probably just hire a personal assistant to carry them (the handicapped) around all day. Not to mention, some of it is really stupid, I mean brail on an ATM machine? really? I hope there aren't any blind people out driving around trying to get money.

    On this topic of "fairness" (which btw the world is not, and people really should get over it. that is one of the best lessons I was taught as a child) isn't it unfair to treat people differently because of the way they were born? I mean it would seem to me that if it were really fair we wouldn't give special treatment to people just because they were born different than us.

  • ||

    I guess the libertarian policy would have been to wait around for private charities to build ramps to courthouses. Yeah, that worked great!

    I've no problem with the government building access ramps for those in wheelchairs. I have a problem telling the owner of Mike's Bar and Grill that he is legally required to build a wheelchair access ramp on his own property. It's not the government's property, not the rare wheelchair bound patron's property, it is Mike's property.

    Glad to hear you come out against sin taxes. The paternalism that denies the reality of poverty just doesn't seem to understand that no, he's not quitting drinking and smoking, but he will now have less money to take the kids to the game on Friday night. Or the beach on Saturday.

  • ||

    MNG-

    Yes, the coercion of whcih libertarians speak is unfair. It appeals to the more base elements of human nature: envy, hate, sloth, tyranny, mediocrity, love of state, group think and death, among others.

  • ||

    I also think we will get much further if you tell me what you think a right is.

    I'll take a shot at it. Rights are privileges I demand for myself and morally have to demand for others.

    I demand the right to say what I wish. I'm morally obligated to demand the same for others. Even when they are fucking wrong. Hell, I'd give violent felons the right to bear arms the day they exit the criminal justice system.

    Thanks for not calling Guy or SIV libertarian.

  • Kaiser||

    Also another good point that I forgot to mention that J sub D covered. It should not be a LAW that you HAVE to make your place of business accessible. Just like you should be able to allow smoking and server trans fats all day long. Making is a mandatory thing is wrong, imo.

  • ||

    "If restaurant A had a handicap ramp and restaurant B did not; after losing a lot of business to restaurant A, restaurant B would quickly build their own handicap accessible place."

    Maybe, maybe not. A ramp can be quite a capital investment and there are not that many people who need it. But if the Gov says you have to have it or be sued, it gets built. The costs get passed to the rest of us in small increments of increased costs of doing business, but what this insures is that no slimey guy can avoid those costs by saying "hey, fuck those cripples! I can beat the other places that are building ramps by just not building one." Incentives and all that, its econ 101.

    J sub D
    Agree on the sin taxes. More importantly it is the poor guys CHOICE to spend his money on vodka if that is what he wants. I know you might not agree, but I do care about people's liberty...

    I think property rights are only important insofar as they promote other things (like David Hume thought), so I could care less about that it "was Mike's property." How did Mike get property? Did he (or worse, his dad) have a rent-seeking agreement with the government that gave him an advantage that he used to get that property? Did his ancestors many decades ago use force to get an advantage? Was he or his ancestors born with some advanced capacity, or were they lucky at the right time, and got more property? Or yes, maybe they worked for it diligently. The latter may deserve protection, the former, f*ck em, really, I don't respect their "property rights" at all. Anyways, some social values trump property rights, and the fairness of giving these poor (through no fault of their own) folks increased opportunity trumps them.

    libertymike-bullshit. At least make an argument. I can just as easily list noble emotions this coercion is centered around: empathy, fairness, love of less fortunate, etc.

  • ||

    Kaiser
    If it is not a law then Jerk X has an advantage over nice guy y. He realizes there are not enough cripples to pay for the ramp and says fuck em. He then can offer his burgers for cheaper and runs nice guy Y out of business.

    What, you think the market will just automatically reward virtue and punish vice? For a political philosophy which claims to draw upon the "dismal science" libertarians sure can be Pollanyish...

  • ||

    MNG-

    I do not dispute your personal observations. Overall, I remember that handicap accesible ramps and other improvements designed to assist the handicapped were being built and implemented on a pretty wide scale throughout the 1980s. Sure, I can't cite you anything on that-just a broad observation. Besides, just because I have intimate relations with MaryJane does not mean my memory can not be cited as an authoritative source.

  • ||

    "Thanks for not calling Guy or SIV libertarian."

    Hey, J sub D, I disagree with libertarians, I don't think they are rats ;). I know the difference.

    I think libertarians are wrong, but I never question their intentions. While there are some conservatives who have good intentions, most are just really mean persons.

    I totally agree with you about the felons. Served your debt, full citizen I says. It's a crazy injustice that limits those guys. They should be able to vote, own guns, etc when they finish.

    I think is no "more" than a moral claim. When I say "I have a right to free speech" it means nothing more than "it would be wrong for you to limit my speech." And yes I think you are dead on that an aspect of such a moral claim is that it is universal (it would be equally wrong for me to limit your speech)

  • ||

    libertymike
    I'm not saying you are wrong. For many establishments, especially new ones, accessibility made economic sense. I simply argue that the ADA made more establishments do that than would have if it had not been passed. I can easily back that up if you want.

    I like that the establishments MOST affected by the ADA are government establishments: look at the famous SCOTUS cases, they usually involve courthouses, voting places, prisons, etc.

  • ||

    MNG-

    Are you familiar with Solzhitsyn's statement that "the higher the ends, the higher must be the means"?

    Forcibly taking the property of A in order to pay the salaries of B and C who then, in turn, throw a few crumbs to D, ain't quite measuring up to aforestated standard, is it?

    I'll give you that wanting to help the disabled is a noble end. Coercion is not a noble means and in no event is it more noble than its supposed ends.

  • Seward||

    lupan sansei,

    There is no economic debate...

    ...and the overwheming majority of them...

    Which tells me that at the very least a minority of these studies don't agree with that position. Anyway, apparently there is some debate about the efficacy of these actions by the government if only an "overwhelming" ... well, you get my point.

    MNG,

    And I bet that drives you guys nuts.

    Why would it drive me nuts? Indeed, begruding Moore's wealth has never once occurred to me.

    As for the ADA, it has been an abject failure. For example, about same proportion of disabled people are on the job today as they were in 1990.

  • ||

    All of the discussion so far has been very "reasonable" (does this mean we have to puke up any drinks according to H&R rules?). Now I feel all guilty about my aggressive initial post about "libertarians". Damn you guys ;)!

    I'm more used to folks saying "fuck that disabled guy, life ain't fair."

  • Kaiser||

    "If it is not a law then Jerk X has an advantage over nice guy y. He realizes there are not enough cripples to pay for the ramp and says fuck em. He then can offer his burgers for cheaper and runs nice guy Y out of business.

    What, you think the market will just automatically reward virtue and punish vice? For a political philosophy which claims to draw upon the "dismal science" libertarians sure can be Pollanyish..."

    I don't believe that at all. People by nature are greedy and will do what it takes to make more money. All I am saying is that forcing people to build ramps, add hand rails, widen door ways etc etc places an expensive burden on the business owner and limits their personal freedom. Again, is it fair that someone was born with a disability? Not at all, however on the other hand, is it fair to put the perfectly able person into a large financial burden and freedom limiting position just because of previous mentioned persons disability? Again I say not at all.

  • ||

    MNG-

    I can tell that you are a great guy. I believe that you are sincere in wanting to help the less fortunate. Please look upon my posts as an attempt to assist one who is handicapped by an unhealthy appetite for collective solutions. (Just having some fun).

  • ||

    Seward
    Linkey, linkey!

  • Seward||

    MNG,

    I don't have one. It is something I have read and hear before and I don't believe that it is all that controversial. Indeed, I'd say that even many proponents of the law have found it to be wanting.

  • ||

    Kaiser
    I think that is exactly why it is fair: even if the property owner does not have at heart some nefarious reason for owning their property (their father had a rent-seeking agreement, or used force to get property, see Westerns on this), they may have just been born with ability while the other fellow was born with disability. Having the former pay a little to foster opportunity for the latter is an example of promoting equal opportunity.

    libertymike
    Like J sub D you've always been a consistent principled H&R poster and imo a true libertarian, unlike some of the GOP shills here.

    Where collective solutions can be avoided they should be, but where they are the best solutions overall they should not be ingored because they do not fit into "one simple principle."

  • Seward||

    MNG,

    Having the former pay a little to foster opportunity for the latter is an example of promoting equal opportunity.

    On average how much ADA compliance cost? How much is this "little" bit?

  • ||

    Now you are being honest Seward. The main argument against the ADA is that its costs outweigh the benefits.

    Complaince costs many folks a lot. It's worth it as a society, because it is fair to promote equal opportunity to enjoy life to those who cannot through no fault of their own. Fairness is worth the costs, which is why I would bet you would think that a tax to support a police force that kept poor folks from taking rich folks property would be fair....

  • Seward||

    MNG,

    I was always being honest.

    It's worth it as a society, because it is fair to promote equal opportunity to enjoy life to those who cannot through no fault of their own.

    That's basically a circular argument.

    Fairness is worth the costs, which is why I would bet you would think that a tax to support a police force that kept poor folks from taking rich folks property would be fair....

    And vice versa of course. There is a distinct difference between tolerating a nightwatchman state which protects property rights and a welfare state which strips people of their property and gives that property to other members of the society which that state rules over.

  • Seward||

    MNG,

    Before I simply ignore you I would note this seeming disconnect in your statements:

    Having the former pay a little...

    Complaince costs many folks a lot.

    The sad part is that compliance is likely far less effecient in the application of resources to aid the disabled than the market would be.

  • ||

    MNG, TLTG right now. But shyster lawyers (is there any other kind?) have been known to shake down businesses using the ADA. It goers something like this -

    Toilet stall is two inches too narrow. I don't care if you've never had a complaint. The law allows me to sue on their behalf.

    It's a protection racket using the ADA as an enforcer. Slightly less direputable, stadiums get sued because the disabled seating areas don't have good enough sightlines.

    You're traveling along a lonely country road and you come across some roadkill. A dead skunk and a dead lawyer. What's the difference?

    Skid marks in front of the skunk.

  • ||

    Seward
    I'm not sure it is circular, perhaps you can point it out.

    Things should be fair.
    Advantages, and disdavantages, incurred through no fault of the bearer of said, are unfair.
    Policies to mitigate those combat unfairness.

    Making the latter pay to help facilitate opportunities for the former are policies that mitigate unfairness.

    Is that circular? Instruct me.

    "The sad part is that compliance is likely far less effecient in the application of resources to aid the disabled than the market would be."

    Bullshit. For the reasons I said upthread. And empirically, you're just wrong: the ADA forced many places that, per the market had not and were not planning on changing to facilitate the disabled, to do just that. What do you think all those lawsuits were about?

  • Kaiser||

    J sub D


    Or how about the lawyers who have sued websites for not being accessible to the blind? That one was a personal favorite.

  • ||

    I hate shyster lawyers as much as you do.

    But one neat thing about our system is that dangling self interest in front of a lawyer often motivates them to vindicate rights of others. In fact, it is designed to prevent us having full time government paid lawyers to do the same shit.

    Pretty libertarian, eh? "Private attorney generals" its called. Google it.

    Its our government recognizing the importance of the private sector and incentives. Pretty neat, eh?

  • ||

    Kaiser
    There are people who call the police for frivolous, self interested reasons. That is not a good argument for getting rid of the police.

  • Kaiser||

    MNG

    Not to speak on anyones behalf here, but I believe the circularness of the argument comes from the fact that libertarians believe making the able pay for the disabled limits freedom for the abled so that isn't fair, and you believe the opposite. Maybe circular isn't the correct term here but I think at this point we should all just agree to disagree. Everyone here truly believes their position and no one is coming to it out of hate nor spite. I believe MNG has the best of intentions just as I do or J sub D or libertymike or Seward. To me the idea of fairness is sort of a joke. I mean, in theory no one will argue against treating everyone fairly, just as no one could logically argue against the idea of world peace, or curing world hunger. However in practice it isn't possible to implement. And as many things in life comes with many negatives. The ADA is no exception to this rule as many of the negatives have already been pointed out, I will not repeat them here.

  • Seward||

    Kaiser,

    I mean, in theory no one will argue against treating everyone fairly...

    Well, no matter how hard the state and its supporters all the knocks and bruises of life cannot be eliminated, and in trying to do so the state will likely simply bring on unforseen problems and miss oppurtunities which the market would not have (the latter is Bastiat's great insight about the effects of government regulation). This will in turn justify even greater interference.

  • Kaiser||

    Seward


    I completely agree. Hence why I said "in theory" meaning the idea of treating everyone fairly is a great idea, but in practice just not possible for the reasons you have listed and others. Furthermore, personally anyways, I don't believe even if you could actually treat every single person fairly without the negative side effects I would still be against it..I think. The reason being is you need bad in the world so you have something to judge the good against. If we lived in a utopian world where everything was fair, no one went without healthcare, good deeds where just part of everyday life etc etc then there really is no "good" anymore, there is just normal. I hope this makes sense, it makes sense in my head but I smoke pot so explanations get weird sometimes.

  • robc||

    Things should be fair.

    Can you prove this? I dont accept that as an axiom.

  • ||

    Havn't had time to read the subsequent posts, which look very interesting.

    However: In theory at least actual well being is not something that varies according to individual preference but is as objective as 2+2=4

    I disagree with this statement. Physical health, maybe. But "well being"? Way too vague to be described as objectively measurable. Physical health is reasonably measurable. A society based on maximizing the physical health of it's members might not be too horrible a place to live, so long as it was limited to that, but obviously plenty of people would prefer the freedom to sacrifice their physical health for pleasure. Ie. smoking, drinking, risk taking.

    As for definitions of rights. Well, I was speaking kind of loosely, cause I have an idea of what rights *should* be, but obviously there are lots of different definitions and different kinds of rights.

    Lets just use the Stanford dictionary definition:"Rights are entitlements (not) to perform certain actions or be in certain states, or entitlements that others (not) perform certain actions or be in certain states."

    However, I would eliminate "that others perform certain actions", as it conflicts with the entitlement of the individual "not to perform certain actions".

  • Fluffy||

    MNG,

    One major problem with the ADA is that it relies in part on the concept of a public accomodation, which is itself pernicious and unjust.

    I don't believe that the state should try to restrict activities which are not in themselves unjust. It's not an injustice to anyone if I have people over to my house tonight, make them dinner, and charge them money for it. [Assuming that no noise issues arise to disturb my neighbors.] But doing that is against any number of laws, including the ADA, since the bathrooms in my house aren't handicapped-accessible. Every one of the laws that I would be breaking is an unjust law.

    You have all these second-level issues you're trying to regulate my conduct to deal with ["Well, people with disabilities have fewer opportunities, so if I force Fluffy to install handicapped bathrooms and ramps before he calls his house a restaurant, that increases their opportunities, so let's do it!"] but the proper level of analysis is at the first level: Is there anyone who can claim it to be an injustice if I have five able-bodied people to my "restaurant", and no one else? There is not.

  • joe||

    "This campaign in the next couple weeks is about one thing. It's a referendum on socialism," Todd Akin (R-MO) 10/20/08.

    So. How's that going?

  • robc||

    joe,

    So. How's that going?

    As Barr isnt goint to break 1%, not so well.

    Shouldnt you be trolling Republican websites with shit like that?

  • robc||

    Adding to the last post, it looks like the pro-socialism candidates will get at least 98% of the total vote.

  • MJ||

    "Hence, saying that people who pay FICA don't pay taxes is incorrect."

    So joe, what plans are there in the works to cut FICA taxes, for anyone?

    There are not any, and there is not going to be, because of the way FICA payments tie into SS benefits. It is a red herring to say a person pays who pays FICA should get a tax "cut" if all his other tax burdens are already wiped out and FICA rates do not actually get cut.

    Tax credits are not tax cuts.

  • ||

    Haven't commented on joe's SS argument yet, but I will.

    For a long period the entire premise for the justice of social security rested upon the argument that everyone paid into it and (in theory at least) their money was invested in government bonds, and they would earn an old age pension in proportion to their contributions. Hence the widespread misconception that people somehow have individual SS "accounts" which their payments are "saved" in.

    Now if Obama is giving tax credits back to people that haven't paid any *regular* income taxes, and using SS payroll to argue that it's not welfare, then that makes Social Security a form of welfare, since those individuals are no long actively making they payroll taxes. It undercuts the primary basis for claiming that social security is not a wealth redistribution scheme.

  • ||

    ADA issues ...

    MNG: You argue that it's fair to impose a significant cost on restauraunteers in order to make things more equal for disabled people. But if the fairness interest is a generalized one for all of society, then why are the costs imposed only on private business owners. It is blatantly UNfair that some individuals have to pay a very large price to make life more fair for the disabled, while the vast majority of society - including people who vote in favor of the ADA, pay nothing. If the government is going to impose such costs, the FAIR thing to do would be to pay for the improvements themselves and then impose a generalized tax upon everyone in society to pay for them. Forcing private business owners to bear the entire burden, which may be randomly distributed from slight to huge depending on the modifications they had to make, Was grossly unjust.

  • ||

    So the deductions I claim for automobile excise taxes, which I usually receive as a check when I file for a tax refund on April 15, are welfare? Funny, I've never heard anyone call it that before.

  • Guy Montag||

    Thanks for not calling Guy or SIV libertarian.

    That was cute JsD. Wanna point to some position I hold that does not follow with small L libertarianism? How about starting with the way I voted this election?

  • ||

    I love the picture. My god, I'd spread some of my wealth to her.

  • ||

    So joe, what plans are there in the works to cut FICA taxes, for anyone?

    There's a plan from the Obama camp to rebate federal taxes to 95% of households. This will include up to 40% of households who pay no income tax, but do pay payroll taxes. (I think this figure is too high, but it's a starting point).

    We could go back and forth all day about semantics, but there you have it: Barack Obama's plan is to cut payroll taxes for 40% of households.

  • jtuf||

    Conservatives don't mind the wealth that elitists have. They mind the paternalistic attitutde, the hypocrisy of keeping millions in the bank and then forcing other to give to the poor, and the support for regulations that block others from getting rich. It's like when free-love liberals gloat over a Republican sex scandel. Pointing out hypocrisy is the biggest factor.

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