I Remember It Like It Was Next Week

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In the latest issue of Harper's, Lewis Lapham has a long, tiresome essay on the "Republican propaganda mill"–which, to judge by one of the accompanying graphs, includes the foundation that publishes Reason. (No wonder we find ourselves praising the president so often.) Lapham briefly mentions but otherwise ignores ideological divisions on "the right," lumping together "the Catholic conservatives with the Jewish neoconservatives, the libertarians with the authoritarians, the evangelical nationalists with the paranoid monetarists, Pat Robertson with the friends of the Ku Klux Klan." According to Lapham, all are part of the same conspiracy against decency and compassion, bound together by a common "resentment" (of what, exactly, he doesn't say). It tells you something about Lapham's acuity that he sees George W. Bush as a faithful disciple of Barry Goldwater. The main thrust of the piece is that all conservatives are stupid and closed-minded, with the possible exception of Irving Kristol.

Perhaps the most revealing part of the article is the paragraph where Lapham pretends to have heard the speeches at the Republican National Convention that does not open until a week from today. Referring to "the platform on which [George W. Bush] was trundled into New York City this August with Arnold Schwarzenegger, the heavy law enforcement, and the paper elephants," Lapham writes:

The speeches in Madison Square Garden affirmed the great truths now routinely preached from the pulpits of Fox News and the Wall Street Journal–government the problem, not the solution; the social contract a dead letter; the free market the answer to every maiden's prayer–and while listening to the hollow rattle of the rhetorical brass and tin, I remembered the question that [Richard] Hofstadter didn't stay to answer. How did a set of ideas both archaic and bizarre make its way into the center ring of the American political circus?

True, the issue is dated September, but I got my copy in early August, and Lapham must have written those words in July. Didn't it occur to him that his readers might notice he was claiming to have witnessed an event that had not occurred when the magazine went to press? Evidently, Republicans are not the only ones Lapham thinks are stupid.

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  1. Hey, I think you’ve just outed joe!

  2. Tiresome indeed. I happened upon that issue of Harper’s in the laundromat, of all places, and I couldn’t make it halfway through Lapham’s piece. Too bad that forced me to miss his time-traveling account of the RNC.

  3. I don’t think it’s that Lapham regards Harper’s readers as idiots. He’s just tunneled so far up his own ass that it no longer matters what the Republicans actually say at their convention – Lapham’s mind is already made up. He could have written this essay in January.

  4. Lapham jumped the shark years (and years) ago. Too bad, Harper’s used to be an interesting read.

  5. the principles of freedom are “archaic and bizarre”.

    That’s the left beyond liberalism, Evan. It’s where the Democratic party rightfully fears to tread, which is why they’re falling out of step with the lockstep leftists who can’t tie their own shoes without an act of Congress.

    “If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.”

  6. surely it’s not impossible that he got an advance draft of one or more speeches? it’s not as if they’re just making them up on the spot, notwithstanding al sharpton.

  7. surely it’s not impossible that he got an advance draft of one or more speeches? it’s not as if they’re just making them up on the spot, notwithstanding al sharpton.

    Two months in advance? Doubtful. Very doubtful.

  8. and while listening to the hollow rattle of the rhetorical brass and tin

    Rich – perhaps if he said, while “reading” the hollow rattle, I’d buy that line. But here he’s playing Glass, pretending to have “heard” the “speeches” in “Madison Square Garden,” not having reviewed them at his desk.

  9. Lapham is truly the dullest righter outside of livejournal. It takes an awful lot of adult-virgin/D&D enthusiast-type repression to be that condescending: everytime I start to read his stuff, I have flashbacks of that same, base repulsion I had watching Hillary Clinton’s Senatorial campaign. Someone should introduce his collected works to Dale Peck…

  10. Lapham is truly the dullest righter outside of livejournal. It takes an awful lot of adult-virgin/D&D enthusiast-type repression to be that condescending: everytime I start to read his stuff, I have flashbacks of that same, base repulsion I had watching Hillary Clinton’s Senatorial campaign. Someone should introduce his collected works to Dale Peck…

  11. Lapham should write for the Independent, which has covered several of President Bush’s speech in the past tense several hours before the speeches were made.

  12. Hey, if John Edwards can channel the thoughts of just-about-to-be-born fetuses (whom he doesn’t think are persons under the law) months after the event, why should we balk at believing in Lapham’s clairvoyance?

    Libertarians are such skeptics.

    Kevin

  13. Speaking of ideological confusion, earlier this year Kerry said that Bush wasn’t really a conservative, but a “radical libertarian.” I nearly fell off my chair.

  14. Bottom line: the dude lied. A big, fat, wretched lie.

  15. What is it with persons whose initials are L.L.?
    Lyndon LaRouche did far more damage to Libertarians than SBVT is doing to Kerry, and Libertarians suffered for the innocent reason they also have “L” as an initial.
    Imagine some alternate history: Suppose Lyndon Jonson had been Lyndon Larson–equally Texas Swedish.
    Bill Moyers, author of the first scurrilous TV ad (for Lyndon Jonson, implying Goldwater was itchin’ to pull the nuclear trigger) might have helped elect the first US President (other than Truman) who really was itchin’ to drop the “big one.”
    Then where would we all be? Crispy critters.
    The only Prez with the last initial of “L” was Lincoln–War Between the States. Suspension of habeus corpus. Scared yet?
    Today, intitials getting near the perilousness of L.L. are J.F.K.
    Repent! The End is Nigh!

  16. P.S. It’s enough to give one the G. B’s. of the “W” variety!

    AaaaahEeeeee!

  17. Clearly I was on to something when I let my Harper’s subscription lapse. That was a couple of years back. Good move, eh?

    — Alan Cole, McLean (Fairfax County), Virginia, USA.

  18. And it’s a good thing I’m not Japanese or I’d be Luthress.
    Latch out Rowdog!

  19. If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace…

    Hear! Hear! And, I should like to add that without liberty, there will be very little wealth anyway…except for perhaps, what is stolen.

  20. Lois Lane, Lana Lang, Lex Luthor, Lois Lemaris, Lewis Lapham, I think I see a pattern begin to emerge here…

  21. You people make me sick, what with your advocation of freedom and personal responsibility. You act as though the average person was capable of making good decisions for themself!!!

  22. PapyaSF:

    Yeah I remember that….damn near died laughing after I saw that. If Bush is a “radical libertarian” then I need rethink my whole political philosophy.

  23. My! This is a very unconvincing post. But I’m sure it will give a few libertarians a hard-on, simply because you’ve banged on a redistributionist.

  24. Shannon, you have what I call “Liberal in Your Head Disease.”

    Is there such a thing as “Conservative in Your Head Disease”, and could you possibly have it?

    I’m not arguing for higher taxes on the wealthy for its own sake, but as a means of relieving the tax burden on the poor and middle class.

    And we are not arguing against higher taxes on the wealthy for its own sake, but as a means of shrinking the number of poor we have and increasing the number of middle class and rich.

    The way to help wealthy people is to have as many people as possible spend as much money as possible, because wealthy people tend to sell them the things they’re spending their money on.

    And the way to help people spend money is to ensure they have money, which jobs tend to provide. And who provides the most jobs in this country? Small business (read “the rich”).

    It’s a balancing act. We may be out of balance either way, but I see only one side (the tax cut side) arguing their side in that debate. Certainly you haven’t convinced me that taxes on the wealthy are too low with your non sequiturs about who can more easily pay higher taxes.

  25. unbelievable. i’ll bet it doesn’t even phase most harpers subscribers. which says something, could you imagine the reaction the WSJ did that? secondly, he’s even more of an idiot than his idiocy affirmed because this nonsense about small govt and social contracts may have played well during Reagans time but not under any of the Bush’s, especially this one. what a silly moron.

  26. For those who let their Harper’s subscription lapse, I thought the article about Clear Channel a number of months back was worth reading.

  27. OTT but I must respond to one of Joe’s comments.

    Hey Joe, Relieving tax burden on the poor? I thought that if one made less than a certain amount of income per year then they were relieved from paying taxes.

    Anyway, all that entitlement programs have managed to accomplish over the years is to make Hollywood actors, producers, directors and rock/ rap/ pop stars rich! Something not spoken too often, actually, the entire entertainment industry is responsible for impoverishing the public.

    Priority economics: Get the poor & middle class hooked on entertainment while requiring government pay for their basic necessities this way the poor & middle class will have more money left over to spend on actors, producers, directors and rock/rap/pop stars and all the marketing crap for each product.

    My proof, the billions made, PER YEAR, by the entertainment/music industry from a product that yields little or no return.

    Perscription drugs cure disease but what does watching “the day after tomorrow” actually deliver? People will spent $300 to see a two hour madonna concert but will not use that same money to pay for good health insurance? Michael Moore’s propaganda film Fahrenheit 9/11 earns 100 million plus in less than four months, that money could have been used to pay for and abundance of health insurance for the working class but is instead enriching Michael Moore. Why is this happening?

    If one thinks that the entertainment industry provide jobs and income for the masses, look at the earning of the top 5% stars as opposed to the
    bottom 95%. And, because everything in Hollywood is outsourced these days, the entertainment industry has managed to absolve itself from paying its fair share of the TAX BURDEN!

  28. Joe, again:

    You’re neglecting to mention that FICA payroll taxes have already been cut significantly since 1975, in the sense that the Earned Income Tax Credit was specifically designed to offset FICA tax payments, along with other basic expenses, for low-income people.

  29. Well done, Jacob.

    People like Lapham should reread their Sartre, especially the concept of “reification.” They have indeed been turned into objects.

  30. You can read my review of Lapham’s September piece in my blog entry from last May.

  31. Someone explain to me why one’s labour should be taken by force to pay for things he considers contrary to his moral code; namely: war, capital punishment, prisons…

  32. I don’t think this Lewis Lapham thing is funny. The guy is a bigger liar than Jayson Blair at the New York Times.

    Jayson Blair was fired. Will Harper’s tell Lewis Lapham: You’re fired

    Or should I tell Harper’s: You’re unsubscribed.

    I really hate liars!

  33. …and Reason continues its slide down the dirty bowl of republicanism…

  34. jc, Mick McMick, if we’re talking tax policy, then it’s best to limit the other variables and focus on tax policy. If the sum total of needed tax receipts was half of current receipts, I’d still argue that the system of collecting that money should be progressive. The proper size and scope of government – save it for another thread, and focus!

    Say what, spending by lower income people goes more towards things with high social utility – keeping roofs over people’s heads, keeping the car running so they can get to work, putting food in the kids’ bellies – than spending by upper income people. Now, I realize that buying stocks and luxury goods has positive economic effects, but so does the same amount of spending by lower income people. But on the plane of utility, a hundred mothers being able to get more fresh fruit into their kids’ diets has more value than one millionaire being able to get the really good leather in his plane, or adding to his portfolio.

    Jeff, the wealthy who own the businesses benefit from having more customers with more money to spend. I call this theory “trickle up economics.”

    syn, “I thought that if one made less than a certain amount of income per year then they were relieved from paying taxes.” That’s because you are so eager to be duped by Republicans, that you’ve forgotten about the payroll tax (hint, the jumping off point of this discussion), which takes a bigger bite out of most Americans’ paychecks than the income tax. So interesting how the taxes that hit rich people the hardest (income, inheretance) are in the forefront of the conservative mind, but those paid by poorer people just slip your minds!

    Duck, despite the EITC, each of the income quintiles continues to pay roughly the same % of their income in taxes – about 20%, with figures slightly higher for the top and the bottom, and those in the middle paying slightly less. It was a step in the right direction, though.

  35. t.b.

    Perhaps you would like to tell us where you think we’re wrong, or come to the defense of Lapham.

  36. >>Someone explain to me why one’s labour should be taken by force to pay for things he considers contrary to his moral code; namely: war, capital punishment, prisons…

    Because that’s the way it is. Quit whining.

    As for LL’s piece: The entire magazine is responsible for this nonsense. LL did not get his item into Harper’s on his own. Editors approved it, copy editors cleaned it up, and someone got it to fit on the page. Everyone who saw the piece as it was being produced knew that LL was making stuff up.

  37. Shorter part time slave: Distribution of the tax burden? Hey, look over there!

  38. No investment, no business. No business, no jobs. No jobs, no customers or product.

    Without the incentive to invest, you have to rely on state control of capital to move the wheels of the economy. And that is as realistic as a perpetual motion machine.

    Kerry & Co. say that they will only raise taxes on families making more than $200K. This ignores the fact that $200K in Alabama might seem like a lot, but if you live in New York, this does not translate into the high life.

    These guys are among the richest people who have ever run for office. They make Bush’s money look like spare change. They are simply rolling in it. And they have been using tax shelters and scams that they themselves have authored to retain that wealth, while you and I pay for it all. And they want to make sure we stay down here with the common rabble.

    That’s why the multi-millionaires like Barbra Streisand and Michael Moore and Ted Kennedy and outright multi-billionaires like George Soros and Steve Jobs are all Democrats: they want to maintain the current system that preserves their Czarist wealth, while the servants all remember their place.

  39. “….ignoring the fact that the payroll tax hasn’t budged (a higher tax than the income tax for most Americans, not paid at all by the upper middle class and above)..”

    I call B. S. on this one, Joe. Where did you come up with this novel idea? Most salaried and wage-earning, middle class pay the MAXIMUM payroll tax.

  40. I talked to Mr. Sullum two weeks from now about this very problem, telling him that if he didn’t appreciate Lapham’s humor, it was best to say so, rather than assume the fantasy of time was a lie. Sullum didn’t laugh.

  41. What part of pretends to have heard the speeches at the Republican National Convention” is giving you trouble?

    My God, man. If you want to criticize his points, at least be honest about it. He wasn’t claiming to have actually heard voices from the future as you appear to suggest. He wasn’t attempting to deceive anyone. He was in fact using a common literary device.

    Back up and think about the concept of intellectual honesty if the huzzahs from the sheep choir haven’t inflated your ego beyond redemption.

  42. joe :

    In order for consumers (read: poor working mothers) to be able to spend money on essential goods and services, those goods and services must exist. In order for these goods and services to exist, someone must produce them. That someone (unless you propose returning the lot of us to a subsistance life-style) will be rich.

    By disproportionately taxing the rich, you limit their ability to provide goods and services. This creates scarcity, which in turn raises prices. Which means that the consumers (read: poor working single mothers with ten children) will be paying more for those essential goods and services.

    In other words, even though you have placed more dollars in the hands of the poor by reducing their tax burden, you have done them no good, because they must now spend more to obtain these goods.

    Wealth is not, and never has been, determined by the amount of green cotton-based paper one hoardes. Wealth is determined solely by production. Those who produce the most are the richest, and by appropriating their capital for taxes disproportionately, they produce less. Disproportionately less. Thus, you have harmed the entire economy, and done no good for the poorest.

    The sad fact of the matter is that wealth is generated by the wealthy, and trickles down from them to the less wealthy who work from them, and then to the middle class (who work for the less wealthy) and lastly to the poor (who work for all of the above). If you take money from the poor, they have less to spend. If you take money from the rich, they have less to sell to the poor. Either way, the poor are hurt.

    The advantage of the former over the latter is that, by not taking money from the rich (at least, not doing so disproportionately), you promote investment both in increasing overall production, and in the infrastructure required to generate such production. In other words, the poor gain little benefit in the short term, but over the longer term we all gain from a stronger economy.

  43. …if we’re talking tax policy, then it’s best to limit the other variables and focus on tax policy.

    This is nonsense, too. Milton Friedman’s advice, that to figure out the true incidence of taxation on the commonweal, sum all the budgets of all level of governments and figure out what percentage of national income that is, is still good. What isn’t paid for by taxes and fees is borrowed, and paying the debt service inflates budgets. It isn’t as big a problem now as years ago, but we also still have the hidden tax of inflation eroding our assets and effectively cutting our wages.

    Assuming that businesses pass on as much of a tax as they possibly can in prices, and that widowed processed-foods heiresses have clever accountants who would die before their client paid the top tax rate on her next marginal dollar her investments earned, the average schmoe is paying 30-50%* of his unadjusted gross income in direct or indirect taxes. Just about the only way to lower the hit is to consume less, and save more, than is normal.

    The only way to reduce tax burden for everyone is to economize. We missed a great chance starting in the late 80’s when we spent the “peace dividend” on pork and other nonsense. Yes, the budget was temporarily in surplus, but at too high a level. That the military operations initiated since 9/11/2001, justified or not, have ballooned the deficit shouldn’t distract us from all the similarly expanded domestic spending. Whatever kind of Congress and President we get in 2005, they will be tempted to “enhance revenue” somehow.

    Kevin

    *depends on the greed of your state and local govt., and whether you can shelter any income or lots of it.

  44. No one has commented on the most important revelation–if Lewis Lanham can see into the future, what advice does he have for those of us invested in the stock market.
    Buy or sell in August, Leew, and what are the hottest stocks going to be.

  45. No one has commented on the most important revelation–if Lewis Lanham can see into the future, what advice does he have for those of us invested in the stock market.
    Buy or sell in August, Leew, and what are the hottest stocks going to be.

  46. “Say what, spending by lower income people goes more towards things with high social utility – keeping roofs over people’s heads, keeping the car running so they can get to work, putting food in the kids’ bellies – than spending by upper income people. Now, I realize that buying stocks and luxury goods has positive economic effects, but so does the same amount of spending by lower income people.”

    I remember walking around the slums in Colombia back in 1976. I could see color TVs in some of the shantys, looking through the cracks between the plywood and scavanged planks that made up the walls. Back home in the US, I only had a black and white TV, but somehow people living in poverty could afford large color TVs–and basically nothing else.

    So I call “bullshit” on the idea that the spending done by the poor is somehow more important. In fact, to the extent it is based upon government hand-outs, it represents money not earned, and that kind of money tends to get spent on on the latest “cool junk”.

    Once more, Joe: the rich invest, providing the basis for the poor and middle class wage. That, in my opinion, is some of the most valuable spending of all. But then I don’t work for the government, and I actually worked in companies where some rich bastard investor was paying my salary.

  47. Joe: a hundred mothers being able to get more fresh fruit into their kids’ diets has more value than one millionaire being able to get the really good leather in his plane

    Depends… Does the kid’s dad work in the leather business?

    I don’t have a plane, but I am a millionaire, and I do have really good leather in my cars…

    In the last year remodeling my house I have employed dozens of people — no, dozens of moms and dads — ranging from professionals (architects, lawyers, engineers) to middle-class (contractors, craftsmen) to lower-class (laborers, including legal immigrants).

    While they’ve been working on my project, they’ve felt confident enough in the future to have an “extra” baby, they’ve bought cars and $$$ equipment, they’ve expanded a small business, they’ve sent their kids to better schools and colleges, and two recent immigrants have bought their own homes. Probably even bought some fresh fruit, too.

    All of their activities, of course, imply further economic activity — paying toy-makers, hiring help, paying car-makers, hiring teachers, etc.

    BTW, I paid for this project out of capital, with the obvious implication: overtax capital and I could not have hired these guys. Jeez, overtax capital and I would not have made the money in the first place.

  48. “By disproportionately taxing the rich, you limit their ability to provide goods and services.” If increasing taxes on the rich were the only element of my proposal, it probably would have that effect. However, what I’m talking about is raising the taxes on the rich (back to the levels of the 1990s, btw, let’s not get hysterical here) in order to PUT MORE MONEY IN THE HANDS OF THEIR CUSTOMERS.

    Thus, there won’t be the scaricity, because there won’t be the decrease investment dollars, because the businesses the wealthy run will see higher receipts. Keep in mind, I’m not talking about 70% marginal rates or anything like it.

    kevrob, your post seems to be getting at deficits, which have to be paid by tax dollars anyway. Also, as joe is a deficit hawk, and has stated that the purpose of taxation is to pay for government spending, your point isn’t really relevant to what I’m talking about.

    Don, most of the money the rich invest (must you call them bastards? Most of them are perfectly decent people), they acquire by selling stuff to the poor and middle class. More money in the hands of the poor and middle class will trickle up to the rich, as they spend it on stuff the rich produce. But in the mean time, it will buy greater social utility.

  49. Jesus fucking Christ, Oppresser, are you completely illiterate? How many fucking times do I have to discuss the benefits of investment, and parallel the economic boon of wealthy people’s spending to the economic boon of other people’s spending, before you fucking pricks will have an honest fucking conversation?

    You’re repeating back to me points that I ALREADY FUCKING MADE IN SEVERAL DIFFEReNT COMMENTS, YOU FUCKING IDIOT!

    I think you’re ducking the issue because you know you can’t win.

  50. While it is entirely within the realm of possibility that Lapham has managed to develop his frontal lobe such that he can foresee events, it is more likely that he procured a copy of the upcoming RNC’s script. That’s right, the words for each and every speech, questions to be asked by the press corps, as well as stage directions. I believe this ‘script’ was accidentally posted on the RNC website alongside the accidental leak of the delegates and the corresponding hotels they’d be staying in.

    http://www.polistyrene.com/

  51. “That’s because you are so eager to be duped by Republicans, that you’ve forgotten about the payroll tax (hint, the jumping off point of this discussion), which takes a bigger bite out of most Americans’ paychecks than the income tax. So interesting how the taxes that hit rich people the hardest (income, inheretance) are in the forefront of the conservative mind, but those paid by poorer people just slip your minds!”

    Whenever Republicans talk about doing something about the payroll tax, the Democrats and AARP cry like stuck pigs. Reforming SS is something the Dems don’t want on the table. And they have done a good job of demonizing anyone who does try to bring it to the table.

  52. I ALREADY F… …IDIOT!

    Reasoned debate. How heartwarming.

    Efficient schools. Educated citizens, who learn the value of mutual respect. I don’t mind paying for that, even though I may send my kids to private schools.

    Garbage collection. I don’t mind paying for that.

    (Unarmed) police to maintain the peace. I don’t mind paying for that.

    Major roads. Privatise them. Let the user pay. Let the costs of transport of vegetables be born by the vegetable eaters.

    Fire departments. A kind of insurance. I can accept paying for that.

    Zyklon B, or whatever it is executioners use nowadays. Nope. Not gonna pay for that.

    The phone company. The post office. Privatise.

    Sidewalks. No problem.

    The things I use, I’ll pay for. (Either privately or publicly.) The things I can accept morally, I’ll pay for.

    There are some goods which are “public”. Sidewalks are more efficiently provided by communities than by individuals. / I can’t imagine a market in sidewalks. / Wherever there’s a monoply of an essential service, I don’t mind the community running that service. I don’t mind paying my fair share. I don’t mind being billed for that.

    But to have someone hold a metaphorical gun to my head, obliging me to pay for “services” which violate fundamental individual rights?

    This debate seems to me to be an argument about who should be raped more. Violating my property rights is violating my rights.

    “…(T)hat’s the way it is. Quit whining.”

    Lie back and enjoy it, in other words.

  53. Well, I went to the site Peter Mellman posted and other than random
    assaults on people he hates there was nothing there.

    Pretty good lie really. The idea is I suppose that most people won’t
    check up on the link he provides and some will believe it.

    (Especially those that want to believe it.)

    Since it’s a good story some will repeat it and doubtless soon
    day I’ll run into someone that’s quite sure this all really occurred.

  54. Hard to believe the time tested strategy of “tax cuts when the economy in recession” flabbergasts so many of you guys & gals.

    Or the concept that “the people who pay the taxes get the tax cuts” is so completely foreign, especially to people here.

    The goal of tax policy, simply, should be to raise the funds required to finance the legitimate functions of the government in the manner least harmful to the national economy.

    The idea that “Some have too much, so we should take more from them” is a social justice debate – Who gets to decide how much is “too much”? Why should they have that power?

    Last I saw, the Federal Government’s take of the National Economy hasn’t dropped below historic levels – even with the tax cuts, the Federal Government is not starving for money.

    Where I will fault Bush is his failure to take on the Congress on anything on the domestic side.

    He hasn’t taken on the Senate Democrats on judicial appointments; he hasn’t taken on the spenders on any domestic program; he signed McCain / Feingold when he should have vetoed it.

    I can understand the political calculation:

    “I have enough fights on my hands prosecuting the War, I don’t need to add to those fights – and perhaps alienate some Republicans I need on the War – by picking fights with the Congress on the Domestic side.”

    I just don’t happen to agree with it.

    He’s gotten no credit for his Domestic approach, no credit for the “new tone”, no credit for the prescription drugs bill, no credit for any of this stuff.

    Democrats hate him because they didn’t get everything they wanted – and even if they did, they’re so consumed with hatred about the other stuff that it doesn’t matter.

    Meanwhile, those who are concerned about spending are disgusted – and because some of them don’t care about the War or even oppose it, his focus on priorities other than theirs is maddening.

    Really, trying to deal with “The American People” is probably a lot like trying to herd cats – we want it all & we want someone else to pay the price.

    On spending, for example, a lot of you want Bush to charge the machine gun nest with a water pistol – – and you don’t care if he’d get shot dead politically in the process.

    Understand this – the political culture in Washington is to spend other people’s money. Always has been, always will be, because no one has figured out a way (yet) to make themselves more popular politically by NOT giving this group or that group something.

    Figure that one out & maybe we’ll get somewhere.

  55. That’s a pretty neat trick, Lewis. Can you let me know if the Cubs or the Rangers will make the playoffs? I’d like to arrange airline/stadium tickets as far ahead as I can. What price is Intel at? I was thinking of selling but knowing what it will be next week would help. What is Kerry’s latest Cambodia explanation? With the extra time bloggers will be able to tell him how close to the truth he is this time.

  56. Wouldn’t it be easier to take up a collection and buy joe a copy of “Economics in One Lesson”? Then everyone could simply offer the page or chapter number of the argument being put forward. It might not convince him of your viewpoint, but at least it would save a lot of typing.

  57. Earth to joe

    John Maynard Keynes is dead and so are his economic theories.

  58. “Taxing the rich” is a strategy that has already been tried and it failed. Don’t you recall the song “Taxman” by the Beatles:

    “Let me tell you how it will be. There’s one for you, nineteen for me.”

    George Harrison wasn’t kidding. The top tax bracket in Britain in the 1960’s and 70’s was 95%.

    I’ve known a few people who would be regarded as “rich” and, believe me, they aren’t stupid. Money flowed out of Britain at an alarming rate and many prominent Britons became “tax exiles”. They voluntarily left the country rather than pay confiscatory taxes on their income. The British economy went into a slide until Margaret Thatcher came into office and reformed the tax code. The tax exiles came home, tax revenues went up and the economy recovered.

    The moral of the story is that people are willing to pay their share of taxes as long as it is perceived as “fair”. That is one of the reasons why the US has one of the highest tax collection rates in the world (no, it’s not because of the IRS). People generally feel that they are paying their “fair” share. If you go after the rich, they will simply move their money out of the country, or they will have their friends in Washington pass additional tax write-off’s to effectively move their tax burden back down to acceptable levels. If you think any group in our society will pay more than their fair share, then you are kidding yourself.

    Also, lest you think that the “poor” in our society are paying more than their fair share, I have family and acquaintances who qualify as disadvantaged or poor and they pay little, if any income tax. None of them complain that the income tax is unfair. Their biggest tax burden is sales tax, but that is another discussion thread.

  59. Best Lex Luther spoof ever..

    (Profanity Alert)

    http://www.seanbaby.com/superfriends/luthorb.htm

  60. Joe says:

    What was dishonest, Shannon, was the Bush campaign’s use of the single mom waitress as the alleged major recipient of the tax cut.

    Not recipient, beneficiary. The extra $500 which the government isn’t taking from her makes more difference than the $77,000 it isn’t taking away from the people at the top end. The extra $1200 or whatever (I haven’t sweated the number; I just know I have more) the government isn’t taking from me enables me to eat out a little more ofter, and maybe leave her a little more tip (multiplied by everyone at the restaurant).

  61. “How did a set of ideas both archaic and bizarre make its way into the center ring of the American political circus?”

    Let’s see. First there were these guys, sometimes called the founding fathers, and they came up with this thing called the constitution . . .

  62. I like Vanya’s post, but it leaves the false impression that most of Bush’s spending and tax cuts are going to the middle class. In fact, his m.o. is to include just enough middle class benefits to allow him to sell policies that mainly benefit rich individuals and large corporations as being targetted towards the middle class. From the 2001 tax bill to the prescription drug benefit, you’d never guess from the way he describes his policies that the first gave most of its benefits to the wealthy, or that the latter consists mainly of subsidies for big pharma.

  63. “How did a set of ideas both archaic and bizarre make its way into the center ring of the American political circus?”

    what i like about this statement is that it showcases how each side of the circus thinks the other side is running everything. imma fuckin’ victim, imma fuckin’ victim, blah blah blah.

    it’s like listening to a christian talk about how they’re being oppressed by the culture and government (because they weren’t allowed to force people to act the way they want them to in regards to naughty bits, et al). or someone complain about how media is too consolidated…while writing on a fucking blog!

  64. joe,

    I like Vanya’s post, but it leaves the false impression that most of Bush’s spending and tax cuts are going to the middle class.”

    That depends on how you measure it. If you measure it in dollars terms you are correct but that is dishonest. Since the top 20% of income tax payers pay 80% of the taxes almost any cut will result in most of the dollars going to the wealthy. Cutting everybody’s taxes by 10% for example would lead to 80% of the money staying with the wealthy.

    A better measure judge of the “progressiveness” of a tax change is the change in the overall tax burden shouldered by each income quintile. According to CDO in 2000 the share of the percentage of the income tax paid by each quintile ran (-1.6,1.5,6.4,15.3,78.4). After Bush’s evil tax cuts it ran ((-2.7,-0.1,5.4,15.2,82.1). The wealthiest 20% are now carring 3.7% more of the income tax burden than they did under Clinton.

    Getting people to focus on dollar amounts instead of ratios is one means of controlling peoples thinking about taxes and as bonus ignites much politically useful envy. One news story that made the round last week said that with the Bush tax cuts the wealthiest 5% got to keep $77,000 while the average middle class household only got to keep $500 or so. Well duh! To get a 77,000 tax cut you would at a minimum have to have an income in excess of $77,000 dollars in the first place! As a means of evaluating tax policy the story was useless. It’s only purpose was political.

    And joe, I hate to break it to you but any free market oriented approach to any government program can be spun as benefit to corporations. Leftist always ask the wrong question. They ask, “Will the rich benefit disproportionally from policy X ? ” when they should be asking, “Will most citizens be better off than they are now with policy X ?”

  65. What was dishonest, Shannon, was the Bush campaign’s use of the single mom waitress as the alleged major recipient of the tax cut.

    What was dishonest is pretending that “income taxes” are “all taxes,” and ignoring the fact that the payroll tax hasn’t budged (a higher tax than the income tax for most Americans, not paid at all by the upper middle class and above), while the inheretance tax has disappeared (almost all of which is paid by the elite fraction of the wealthy), and state and local taxes (almost all of which are regressive or flat) are rising to make up for shortfalls in federal aid.

    And I’m to go way out on a limb, and say that not taxing dividend income, but continuing to tax the paychecks of people who work for a living, benefits corporations and wealthy people – and that ain’t spin.

  66. Gee, joe, I guess then one would have to conclude that the most dishonest group were the Pols that foisted the Social security system on us in the first place. That’s why we have the payroll tax, after all.

    Are you going to make the sensible suggestion that Social Security be ABOLISHED. I doubt it.

  67. Joe says: “a hundred mothers being able to get more fresh fruit into their kids’ diets has more value than one millionaire being able to get the really good leather in his plane”

    In other words, joe treats money (the productive effort of others) as a given and seeks to distribute them as if HE were the owner of those things. He does not. The lives and effort of others are not his property to dispose of as he sees fit. No man is his PROPERTY. No man is joe’s SLAVE.

    Yet that is the premise joe proceeds from. He takes it as given that it is PROPER to dispose of other peoples lives and efforts to achieve what HE considers ‘better’ ends.

    And what does he define as ‘better’? NUMBERS. 100 mothers take precidence over one man. THEY have more “value” than HE does. As such, the man is ‘properly’ subjugated to meet the needs OF those 100 mothers. In other words, joe makes the needs of others the JUSTIFICATION for the slavery he takes for granted. He IMPOSES need as a mortgage upon the lives of others.

    Rights? No such thing. Freedom? Pishaw. Sovereignty? You are not your own owner. You are a slave! You serve a purpose – MY PURPOSE – nothing more.

    Joe is nothing more than a tin horn dictator wannabe. He is not to be treated as if he is acting reasonably or rationally. He is to be swatted – just as one swats a mosquito carrying a deadly disease. For what he seeks to justify and impose is JUST as deadly.

  68. All the rest is just smoke and mirrors.

  69. state and local taxes (almost all of which are regressive or flat) are rising to make up for shortfalls in federal aid.

    This is another annoying Democratic canard — am I supposed to feel bad because my federal tax dollars are no longer bailing out the citizens of states who can’t control their spending? If the voters of California want to ballot-initiative themselves billions upon billions of new spending, that’s great, but they can pay for it, not me.

  70. “Are you going to make the sensible suggestion that Social Security be ABOLISHED. I doubt it.”

    No, merely that the tax funding it should, at the very least, be flattened.

  71. And Isaac, the New Deal Democrats who created Social Security were perfectly up front about the fact that it was to be funded by contributions from all workers. They never pretended otherwise.

  72. I, too, let my Harper’s subscription lapse. It had become repetitious instead of incisive. In the latest issue I bought (from a news stand) Lapham leads a group of prominent liberals in a discussion of how to rebuild a liberal political movement in the USA. One of their conclusions was that they need to do it at the grassroots especially in the Democratic Party. So, how many Democratic precinct chairmen did they invite to their group discussion? None.

    The most egregious comment was one of Lapham’s. He complained that “the reactionary right…enjoys the services of a propaganda ministry funded over the last thirty years by romantic billionaires who believe that they are out to save the country from godless liberalism.” That is a highly hypocritical remark since Mr. Lapham’s magazine is funded by a foundation established by a billionaire, John D. MacArthur.

  73. joe writes:

    ” payroll tax hasn’t budged (a higher tax than the income tax for most Americans, not paid at all by the upper middle class and above)”

    If you are speaking of Social Security tax and medicare tax, that is simply false. It may be capped, but all wage earners pay the tax. Furthermore, why shouldn’t it be capped? The benefits received are capped.

  74. You correct, I wrote that wrong. The tax is regressive, but to a lesser extent than my sloppy post suggests.

    It shouldn’t be capped, because capping requires the rate to be higher. Lose the cap, drop the rate. It comes down to whether you’d rather collect taxes from people who can afford easily afford them, or from people who are hurt by them.

  75. joe,

    ” It comes down to whether you’d rather collect taxes from people who can afford easily afford them, or from people who are hurt by them.”

    Remind me again joe, how did that waitress build the restaurant she works in?

    People like you always seem to imagine that taxes on the wealthy come out of their consumption spending. You think that raising taxes means fewer limousines and swimming pools. But the wealthy consume on a small fraction of what they earn compared to other income groups. In fact, most millionaires are (1) self-made and (2) live a middle class life style. For the wealthy, capital is their tool, what they use to do their work. High taxes on capital and income from businesses means less overall economic activity and that hurts the poor the worst and not only in economic terms.

    The waitress whose welfare you are so concerned with has a job in the first place because somebody risked their capital to build and equip that restaurant. If that restaurant fails, the waitress has lost nothing but her job but the investor has lost everything he put into it. Placing a wildly disproportionate share of the tax burden on investor means that fewer marginal projects will get funding and that means you’re waitress never gets a job in the first place.

    You stance on tax policy seems to be dictated by emotion, by some quivering moral outrage over “fairness.” You should be asking, “Emperically, under what tax policies are the poor and working class all around better off?”

  76. “Yeah, and ‘wealthy people’ are most often the ones who provide the jobs that pay the salaries that make the country run.”
    –Felix

    By the same token, an apologist for planned economy in the old USSR could have told a free market advocate that the government “provides all the jobs” in that country.

    Such an argument simply assumes as a given the fact that some people are in a position to “provide” the jobs that others need, without daring to look too closely into how they got in that position.

    Maybe banking laws that restrict the ability of working people to organize their own credit have something to do with it, hmmm? When the state’s capitalization requirements, licensing, and other entry barriers limit labor’s access to capital, and force it to sell its labor in a buyer’s market, it’s no wonder some people have so much capital to dispose of, and others don’t.

  77. Yeah. What Shannon said.

    Sidebar: Not to mention that the odds of success in the restaurant business are infinitesimally tiny and all out of proportion to the capital investment required. IOW, you gotta be nuts to open an eating establishment. 🙂

  78. joe

    Just as SS was sold as a pension scheme rather than a welfare scheme, the payroll tax was sold as a contribution rather than a tax. You were supposed to get back what you paid in (according to the propaganda).

    Ending the cap for “the wealthy” would require raising their benefits or ending the charade.

  79. joe, you do realize you are talking about pyramid schemes, don’t you? Social Security and Medicare have winners and losers by design. All you’re doing is changing the caluculation on who the winners are and who the losers are, the system can’t have more winners and fewer losers unless you want the scheme to fizzle out sooner. If you want the scheme to keep going you have to have fewer winners and more losers.

    This whole idea of “you have lots of money, you shouldn’t mind losing some” becomes a moral issue rather than one of fairness. But since it’s been the m.o. of both parties for decades, I guess it shouldn’t surpise anyone when the rest of the political system, including justice, operates on a quasi-religious basis rather than logic and fairness.

  80. Shannon, you have what I call “Liberal in Your Head Disease.” You’re so used to winning arguments with the liberal in your head, that when you encounter an actual liberal, you assume that I must be offering the same arguments. Well, I’m not.

    I’m not arguing for higher taxes on the wealthy for its own sake, but as a means of relieving the tax burden on the poor and middle class. Yes, dollars in the hands of millionaires do good things. Dollars in the hands of working class people do even better things. I wish we could leave all the dollars in all the hands, but we need a certain amount of them to fund things like fire trucks and tanks and Social Security.

    The way to help wealthy people is to have as many people as possible spend as much money as possible, because wealthy people tend to sell them the things they’re spending their money on.

    The second best way to help wealthy people is to convince them not to invest in restaurants. TWC is right.

  81. I emailed Lewis to ask if I could go for a ride in his time machine. I attempted to be humorous with him by leaving the door open for him to reply.

    “My Libyan source for plutonium has dried up since Gadaffi flip flopped.”

    Don’t know if it will work out as I showed the article to my progressive friend who found nothing odd or wrong with what Lewis wrote.

  82. Yeah, and “wealthy people” are most often the ones who provide the jobs that pay the salaries that make the country run.

  83. I have to say, several years ago i met and had a drink with lewis lapham. I am hard-pressed to recall a more dour aristocratic person.

    he is one of the few people who is as he writes. A total dick.

    funny foot note: Hitchens was there too (it was some writers thing in NYC and the reception afterwards was at Joes pub, FWIW).

    hes exactly what yu’d think he’d be like too: brilliant, argumentative, drunk, nicotine addled….

  84. He’s lumping libertarians together with authoritarians (among everyone else)? Is everyone outraged by this as I am?

    Harper’s should not have published such dribble. Scary indeed.

  85. “Harper’s should not have published such dribble.”

    Hahahahahahahhaha. I might need another post to finish my “comments”.

  86. joe,

    The problem with your approach is that you consider all the tax burden as necessary, your 3 examples bear that out since you cherry picked somewhat ncessary items (well, 2 anyway, SS isn’t all that necessary) instead of the thousands of negligible ones. You could also reduce the tax burden by reducing spending on silly pork items and leave the crazy ideas like Iowa Rain Forests and museums to the private investment in time and money of crackpot millionaires or starving artists or mad middle-class scientists.

  87. According to joe: Yes, dollars in the hands of millionaires do good things. Dollars in the hands of working class people do even better things.

    Care to explain just what those “even better things” are and just how the working class touch renders them so good?

  88. Those darn L.L.’s Nothing but trouble, even the cute ones.

    http://www.nealadams.com/DC/superman/superman.html

  89. >I’m not arguing for higher taxes on the wealthy for its own sake, but as a means of relieving the tax burden on the poor and middle class. Yes, dollars in the hands of millionaires do good things. Dollars in the hands of working class people do even better things.

    One little problem with communism: it doesn’t work. Double blind studies have confirmed.

    Tax cuts spur the economy. Tax increases cause recession and inflation. Arguments to the contrary are based solely on emotion, mostly jealousy.

    Hey, I know. If you want a “fair” redistribution, how about this:

    Anybody who has over 2 billion in assets should have those assets taxed at 50%. Nobody else pays any taxes at all. Well that would be fair for almost every single American wouldn’t it?

    After all, who could ever actually need more than 2 billion dollars?!

    But Kerry and Edwards wouldn’t want to share _their_ wealth with low-life scum like you and me. They want to share YOUR “wealth,” and prevent you from ever climbing out of your social stratum.

    What’s tragic is that those who whine “the gap between rich and poor is greater than ever” and “there are more people at the poverty end of the spectrum” (and other lies) don’t realize that all they are doing is condeming the welfare state that they have foisted off on us for the past 50 years.

  90. Joe,

    (erases as superfluous long and involved discussion of how payroll-tax payments are tied to benefits)

    What Isaac Bertram said.

  91. Clearly the Republican National Convention is like Cambodia: if you think about it long enough, it’s as if you were there!

  92. Harper’s is no different from the Washington Post, Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw, Peter Jennings, and the other so-called “media elite” (although they aren’t the “elite” they used to be!). Their pre-conceived notions are their reality and they refuse to budge even when faced with the truth!
    Where are all these media outlets when it comes to debunking the garbage put out by the Kerry camp? Moveon.org has a staffer associated closely with Kerry – yet it is Ginsburg leaving the Bush-Cheney camp with nothing being noted in the “mainstream” press about Kerry’s staffer!
    Oh well, fortunately there is the internet, Fox News, and other media outlets out there telling the stories. People will find the truth and the monopoly of the networks and Washington Post and its ilk is over – thank heavens!

  93. Why hasn’t this writer, Lewis Lapham, been fired? Oops,sorry, I guess it’s okay to make believe in an editorial when it is about a Republican, better yet, a Republican president.

    What has happened to journalism?

  94. Why hasn’t this writer, Lewis Lapham, been fired? Oops,sorry, I guess it’s okay to make believe in an editorial when it is about a Republican, better yet, a Republican president.

    What has happened to journalism?

  95. Why hasn’t this writer, Lewis Lapham, been fired? Oops,sorry, I guess it’s okay to make believe in an editorial when it is about a Republican, better yet, a Republican president.

    What has happened to journalism?

  96. Being able to quote a G.W. Bush speech before he has given it, is easy. Let’s be realistic here, the man does not have a deep intellect, and his speech writers know they must keep things simple and appeal to emotions instead.
    A fake smile here, a silly smirk there…and who cares what the hell he says.
    People believe what they WANT to believe, even when the truth hits them over the head like a dead smelly fish.

  97. Nice to see everyone here addressing the central points of Lapham’s piece. Or not.

    Olin Founation: The New York-based John M. Olin Foundation, which grew out of a family manufacturing business (chemical and munitions), funds right-wing think tanks like the American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the Manhattan Institute for Public Policy Research, and the Hoover Institute of War, Revolution and Peace. It also gives large sums of money to promote conservative programs in the country’s most prestigious colleges and universities.

    An organization which provides major funding for the AEI and Heritage Foundation is somehow not funding the right?

  98. Well, old LL (and I don’t mean Lois Lane) certianlly does take the stupidity of Americans for granted…. except in one case……and that would be in the case of——

    S H E R R Y P A R S H L E Y

    STUPIDEST, NEUTRO-GENDERED, LOOKS LIKE BOWEL CANCER DIARRHEA FROM EATING PIZZA, BANANAS AND UNCOOKED PUTRID MAGGOTY GROUND MEAT.

    but don’t get me started. i could get on a roll.

  99. It would be fantastic if Gov. Arnold, who is mentioned in this hit piece by name, held up a copy of the magazine at the convention. Maybe before he began his speech. And mocked the hell out of it. He’d be the one to do it: “Those girly-men who write for Harper’s…”

    🙂

  100. It would be fantastic if Gov. Arnold, who is mentioned in this hit piece by name, held up a copy of the magazine at the convention. Maybe before he began his speech. And mocked the hell out of it. He’d be the one to do it: “Those girly-men who write for Harper’s…”

    🙂

  101. Well, it isn’t as if the speeches will be any surprise!

  102. Let me make clear at the outset that I am not one of you. I linked in via Drudge to see how I managed to miss this Harper’s scoop on the convention speech since I’m a regular subscriber and reader of the magazine. Soon as I got here, I saw immediately what this was all about. You folks don’t get what a rhetorical device is, do you? That figures.

  103. Let me make clear at the outset that I am not one of you. I linked in via Drudge to see how I managed to miss this Harper’s scoop on the convention speech since I’m a regular subscriber and reader of the magazine. Soon as I got here, I saw immediately what this was all about. You folks don’t get what a rhetorical device is, do you? That figures.

  104. Yes you are all right who defend the President. He was a prep cheerleader in college with medicore grades to match. Then he morphed into a lush for a deacde or more and lost millions of other people’s money in oil schemes. Then based solely on his family name he became Governor of Texas, a largely ceremonial role.

    He cannot even speak English properly let along run the country. His lying and manipulation brings political sleeze to new highs. He is a complete moron whose idiotic ideas have caused the death of 1000 young people and thousands of other casualities. He will go down in history as the most disastrous president of modern times…who was installed by the Supreme Court…not chosen by the electorate.

  105. Maybe it would be good that the Republicans continue to be held to a different standard. Maybe it would be good if someone like Kerry were elected to please the “anybody but Bush” crowd, though I personally think Nader is a better “anybody.” George Orwell had a fairly good picture, but perhaps instead of 1984 it should have been 2014 and the likeable JFKerry gets his start as Big Brother in 2004 and George W. Bush gets to be the arch-enemy of the state. Lapham would get to be a big shot in the Ministry of Truth (Minitrue, if I remember my Newspeak, the dumbed down English employed to make words like equality, freedom, and responsibility obsolete). At Minitrue, it wouldn’t matter if Lapham wrote before the fact, the fact is what Minitrue defines it to be. Come to think of it, the only things missing are the nationalization of the press and the change of name. Orwell just got the names and dates wrong.

  106. Yes you are all right who defend the President. He was a prep cheerleader in college with medicore grades to match. Then he morphed into a lush for a deacde or more and lost millions of other people’s money in oil schemes. Then based solely on his family name he became Governor of Texas, a largely ceremonial role.

    He cannot even speak English properly let along run the country. His lying and manipulation brings political sleeze to new highs. He is a complete moron whose idiotic ideas have caused the death of 1000 young people and thousands of other casualities. He will go down in history as the most disastrous president of modern times…who was installed by the Supreme Court…not chosen by the electorate.

  107. THATS SNORPHT. WITH A ‘T’ FOR ALL YOU PSYCHO-BLOGGING BLATHERERS THAT HAVE NOTHING BETTER TO DO THAN PRETEND “I’M SO RICH AND IMPORTANT”.

    RICH AND IMPORTANT PEOPLE DO NOT WASTE THEIR TIME REPLYING TO LITTLE NERDY TYPES THAT SHOULD BE STUDYING SOPHOMORE SOCIOLOGY OR FLIPPIN DEM BURGERZ.

    ‘cept of course….for me.

    Snorpht

  108. Lapham’s article, “long and tiresome”? So why do you give it so much ink? He doesn’t consider the Right stupid–just venal. mymoneymymoneymymoney….

    And…oops…I just found a WMD…gotta go…

  109. Isn’t Lapham’s real name Ellsworth Toohey?

  110. Sounds like it was a rhetorical device meant to illustrate how predictable convention (Republican in the case) speeches are. If that’s the case but you’re holding him to a literal standard, then it is you who are being closed-minded.

  111. The Democratic Creed:

    If I get caught in a lie,

    It was only rhetorical.

    When Bush says clearly

    “I’m going to go to war,”

    We assume he is lying

    So when he does what he says

    That makes him a liar!

    Bush lied, who died?

    Uday and Qusay, but that’s beside the point.

  112. Sounds like it was a rhetorical device meant to illustrate how predictable convention (Republican in the case) speeches are. If that’s the case but you’re holding him to a literal standard, then it is you who are being closed-minded.

  113. Sounds like it was a rhetorical device meant to illustrate how predictable convention (Republican in the case) speeches are. If that’s the case but you’re holding him to a literal standard, then it is you who are being closed-minded.

  114. I would accept an increase of 10% in my income tax burden if everyone else would and I could be assured it would go to lower the taxes on the “below $30000 income group” I am just a wage earner and travel the USA and CANADA and listen to “RUSH’ on 476 different radio stations so far

  115. I would accept an increase of 10% in my income tax burden if everyone else would and I could be assured it would go to lower the taxes on the “below $30000 income group” I am just a wage earner and travel the USA and CANADA and listen to “RUSH’ on 476 different radio stations so far

  116. TWO MONTHS IN ADVANCE, LAPHAM RECIEVED THESE SPEECHES? IS THIS ANOTHER KERRYISM OR AN ALGORISM?

    “THE BOOGEYMAN IS GONNA GITCHA IF’N YOU DON’T WATCH IT.” FAVORITE DNC CLAIM.

  117. I would accept an increase of 10% in my income tax burden if everyone else would and I could be assured it would go to lower the taxes on the “below $30000 income group” I am just a wage earner and travel the USA and CANADA and listen to “RUSH’ on 476 different radio stations so far

  118. TWO MONTHS IN ADVANCE, LAPHAM RECIEVED THESE SPEECHES? IS THIS ANOTHER KERRYISM OR AN ALGORISM?

    “THE BOOGEYMAN IS GONNA GITCHA IF’N YOU DON’T WATCH IT.” FAVORITE DNC CLAIM.

  119. I would accept an increase of 10% in my income tax burden if everyone else would and I could be assured it would go to lower the taxes on the “below $30000 income group” I am just a wage earner and travel the USA and CANADA and listen to “RUSH’ on 476 different radio stations so far

  120. Lapham is one of the finest minds writing in America today. Period. Agree or disagree with any single point he makes, he articulates a brilliantly insightful perspective with grace, wit, and precision. Few in the world of letters can compare.

  121. Albert G.

    Where did you find that WMD? In your underpanties? Did you make poopie again, is THAT why you ‘had to run’? To the ‘little liberals’ room?

    Do we really have the time for this? Shouldn’t you be studying to pass the AIMS test? Want to flip burgers your WHOLE life.

    Now, back at it Alburd:

    2 x 2 = 5.

    K A T spells pune-ty

    do mo kidz ya’ll have da mo well-fair u gonn git 2 cop dat mo bedda stash.

    u down wit dat Alburd?

  122. Lapham is one of the finest minds writing in America today. Period. Agree or disagree with any single point he makes, he articulates a brilliantly insightful perspective with grace, wit, and precision. Few in the world of letters can compare.

  123. I would accept an increase of 10% in my income tax burden if everyone else would and I could be assured it would go to lower the taxes on the “below $30000 income group” I am just a wage earner and travel the USA and CANADA and listen to “RUSH’ on 476 different radio stations so far

  124. Two truths:

    1. Conservatives are blandly predictable. Lapham may be pulling a professor Trelawny, but does anyone doubt that his prediction is perfectlay accurate?

    2. Conservatives are refighting the battles of the 70s. Despite having complete control over the government and an unrivaled political machine, they still walk around with chips on their shoulders, reliving the slights they received at fancy colleges three decades ago.

    There is nothing to conservatism, and even less to libertarianism. A pragmatic case for libertarianism is plausible, but the ontological tripe that passes as the norm here is the mirror image of Communism.

    Comparing taxation to slavery both demonizes a necessary government power while diminishing a real moral atrocity.

    I wish you all the burden of the top tax bracket.

  125. Widespread and rapidly growing unemployment among youth in Laos has driven tens of thousands of them to flee to Thailand and other neighboring countries where they fall prey to exploitative and inhumane treatment by their employers and criminals; while the land-locked Laotian economy continues to weaken due to decline in foreign investment and its weak capability to compete with its neighbors in the export markets. The situation is further aggravated by the continued denial of US NTR while such privilege is enjoyed by its stronger immediate neighbors, including Vietnam and Cambodia.

    US NTR for Laos is not a panacea for its social economic problems, but it will put Laos on a level playing field with its neighboring countries on which to compete for a share of the U.S. markets. This in turn will stimulate domestic and foreign investment in Laos and give the country a fair chance to provide decent jobs for its youth and thereby help reverse the current ill treatment and suffering they have had to endure, both in Laos and in neighboring countries.

  126. Widespread and rapidly growing unemployment among youth in Laos has driven tens of thousands of them to flee to Thailand and other neighboring countries where they fall prey to exploitative and inhumane treatment by their employers and criminals; while the land-locked Laotian economy continues to weaken due to decline in foreign investment and its weak capability to compete with its neighbors in the export markets. The situation is further aggravated by the continued denial of US NTR while such privilege is enjoyed by its stronger immediate neighbors, including Vietnam and Cambodia.

    US NTR for Laos is not a panacea for its social economic problems, but it will put Laos on a level playing field with its neighboring countries on which to compete for a share of the U.S. markets. This in turn will stimulate domestic and foreign investment in Laos and give the country a fair chance to provide decent jobs for its youth and thereby help reverse the current ill treatment and suffering they have had to endure, both in Laos and in neighboring countries.

  127. The statement that I hear often is that the gap between the rich and poor is widening. Do the math. If everyone’s income increased by 10%, the dollar amount of gap between the rich and poor always increases. The only way the gap will decrease is with a failing economy and I don’t think anyone is proposing that.

    I always hear statistics about past incomes and the differences between what a middle class person made 10-20 years ago compared to today. There are three kinds of lies, lies, damned lies, and statistics.

    All I can say about taxes is that when I got divorced and because I had to cash out my 401K and pension to pay for everything that was decided by the court that I owed more than half of what I earned that year just in federal taxes. Most of what went on paper of my earnings to come up with that is just that, paper. That tax was due immediately. Luckily, some investor in business has been able to employ me so I can pay those taxes.

    Progressive taxes seem to the the only morally acceptable form of theft by otherwise very nice and well meaning people.

    This might be a bit simplistic but many of us live our lives simply and it seems simple and fair to pay a flat tax. Let everyone pay thier fair share, nothing more, nothing less. The rich and poor are here to stay and in my humble opinion, no utopian scheme will change this.

  128. Widespread and rapidly growing unemployment among youth in Laos has driven tens of thousands of them to flee to Thailand and other neighboring countries where they fall prey to exploitative and inhumane treatment by their employers and criminals; while the land-locked Laotian economy continues to weaken due to decline in foreign investment and its weak capability to compete with its neighbors in the export markets. The situation is further aggravated by the continued denial of US NTR while such privilege is enjoyed by its stronger immediate neighbors, including Vietnam and Cambodia.

    US NTR for Laos is not a panacea for its social economic problems, but it will put Laos on a level playing field with its neighboring countries on which to compete for a share of the U.S. markets. This in turn will stimulate domestic and foreign investment in Laos and give the country a fair chance to provide decent jobs for its youth and thereby help reverse the current ill treatment and suffering they have had to endure, both in Laos and in neighboring countries.

  129. Yeah… this Lapham guy is probably the same idiot who said that the Iraqis would welcome us with candy and flowers, and that we’d find all these weapons of mass destruction once we invaded the country.

    What a jerk!

  130. I know lots of extremely wealthy people. Most of them are very nice. Thanks to my extensive travels in Nepal, I know lots of extremely poor people, too. Most of them are very nice, too.

    One of my extremely wealthy Nepali friends owns an antique hand-carved desk. She’s not a writer (just an exploitive capitalist) and she doesn’t really need this desk. She’s got any number of utilitarian desks. This desk is superfluous to her needs, if you will. (Plus, her spelling is lousy.)

    For the poor of Nepal, fuel for cooking is hard to find. The shortage is one of the reasons for deforestation.

    The Maoists are at the gates.

    My request is this: Please justify the possible decision to take the desk by force, break it up into firewood, and distribute the pieces to the poor.

    (This is not a hypothetical, btw.)

  131. Yeah… this Lapham guy is probably the same idiot who said that the Iraqis would welcome us with candy and flowers, and that we’d find all these weapons of mass destruction once we invaded the country.

    What a jerk!

  132. “If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.”

    Who wrote this quote?

    It is inspiring.

    R H

  133. The statement that I hear often is that the gap between the rich and poor is widening. Do the math. If everyone’s income increased by 10%, the dollar amount of gap between the rich and poor always increases. The only way the gap will decrease is with a failing economy and I don’t think anyone is proposing that.

    I always hear statistics about past incomes and the differences between what a middle class person made 10-20 years ago compared to today. There are three kinds of lies, lies, damned lies, and statistics.

    All I can say about taxes is that when I got divorced and because I had to cash out my 401K and pension to pay for everything that was decided by the court that I owed more than half of what I earned that year just in federal taxes. Most of what went on paper of my earnings to come up with that is just that, paper. That tax was due immediately. Luckily, some investor in business has been able to employ me so I can pay those taxes.

    Progressive taxes seem to the the only morally acceptable form of theft by otherwise very nice and well meaning people.

    This might be a bit simplistic but many of us live our lives simply and it seems simple and fair to pay a flat tax. Let everyone pay thier fair share, nothing more, nothing less. The rich and poor are here to stay and in my humble opinion, no utopian scheme will change this.

  134. “If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.”

    Who wrote this quote?

    It is inspiring.

    R H

  135. Um, Paul, you can give 10% of your money to charities that help the poor WITHOUT THE GOVERNMENT TAKING THE MONEY FROM YOU.

    Not only that, you have the ability and the power to do the research and pick which charities you will or will not support, rather than have the Government force you to give money to new social projects.

    Why are you unhappy with the status quo? Do you need to give other people’s money to charity without their consent? If your only complaint is the Government doesn’t forcibly take enough of your money to help the poor, then get off your butt and do it yourself…

    Robert

  136. Roy:

    Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. I can sum it up in one word: Hallabjah.

    I’m sure Michael Moore mentioned it in his movie, no?

    And in 1998, MAdeline Albright and Sandy Berger didn’t hold a national town hall meeting trying to get the US to go to war with Iraq? Then Clinton and Albright and Berger were liars too. Did Michael Moore mention that?

    Tell us about Hallabjah. Since you must know something we don’t tell us all about Hallabjah. What happened?

    Hallabjah, Hallabjah, Hallabjah

  137. Roy:

    Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. I can sum it up in one word: Hallabjah.

    I’m sure Michael Moore mentioned it in his movie, no?

    And in 1998, MAdeline Albright and Sandy Berger didn’t hold a national town hall meeting trying to get the US to go to war with Iraq? Then Clinton and Albright and Berger were liars too. Did Michael Moore mention that?

    Tell us about Hallabjah. Since you must know something we don’t tell us all about Hallabjah. What happened?

    Hallabjah, Hallabjah, Hallabjah

  138. The dialogue on this page is like Swift Boat Veterans for Truth versus Michael Moore. That’s American politics these days: obfuscation rather than analysis, character assasination rather than debate. Canada’s starting to look pretty good.

  139. Deliver my mail…..Protect my shores……Leave me the hell alone……..Words from a liberterian.

  140. The dialogue on this page is like Swift Boat Veterans for Truth versus Michael Moore. That’s American politics these days: obfuscation rather than analysis, character assasination rather than debate. Canada’s starting to look pretty good.

  141. The dialogue on this page is like Swift Boat Veterans for Truth versus Michael Moore. That’s American politics these days: obfuscation rather than analysis, character assasination rather than debate. Canada’s starting to look pretty good.

  142. I won’t be voting for Bush and Co., but I remember very well why I dropped a subscription to Harpers years ago and much of it had to do with the arrogant, but know-it-all and narrow minded (in the guise of open minded) drivel from Lewis Lapham.

  143. I won’t be voting for Bush and Co., but I remember very well why I dropped a subscription to Harpers years ago and much of it had to do with the arrogant, but know-it-all and narrow minded (in the guise of open minded) drivel from Lewis Lapham.

  144. Lantz: Are you suggesting that Canada is dictating the American Debate so their country doesn’t look that terrible?

    🙂

    Canadian espinoge is my favorite.

  145. harpers is by all means not what it was ..someone fell into the gutter.there is nothing profound about this article

  146. What is wrong with you people? What decade do you live in? Leftist commie pigs, isn’t that something that left with the McCarthy era?
    I think that this gentleman could very well likely lump all of these people into one category, because the ideologue of all these people is the Christian god, which Bush feverishly uses as a driving mechanism of his propaganda. The Bush foreign policy stance seems to continuously sponser states that in the future will turn their backs on us, and throw all the “humanitarian aid” back in our faces in the form of terrorism, eg there’s a great picture of Rummy shaking hands with Saddam, its online, I am sure you can find it. This policy continues to move forward, supporting oppressive dictatorships in foreign lands where we have no business dictating policy, and placing a clamp on these countries rights to have an actual democracy. This continues to fuel the fire for fundamentalists that want to kill every American man, woman and child. We must wake up and realize these morons are effecting the everyday people, because we will feel the brunt of the force, not the neocon ignorant gluttonous government.
    As an American I am also offended that we now have to have UN regulators to monitor our elections, the most “democratic” nation in the world. Its pathetic that the peoples voice no longer matters. Welcome to the New World Order indeed, where your vote no longer counts, you’re duped into thinking you have a choice, and we continually have to look over our shoulder, because of some poser from the NE, that makes like he’s from TX, playing John Wayne pisses the entire world off. WAKE UP FOOLS, your making our bed, and soon we will all be lying in it. Just remember also Romans thought they were invincible too.

  147. harpers is by all means not what it was ..someone fell into the gutter.there is nothing profound about this article

  148. harpers is by all means not what it was ..someone fell into the gutter.there is nothing profound about this article

  149. harpers is by all means not what it was ..someone fell into the gutter.there is nothing profound about this article

  150. What is wrong with you people? What decade do you live in? Leftist commie pigs, isn’t that something that left with the McCarthy era?
    I think that this gentleman could very well likely lump all of these people into one category, because the ideologue of all these people is the Christian god, which Bush feverishly uses as a driving mechanism of his propaganda. The Bush foreign policy stance seems to continuously sponser states that in the future will turn their backs on us, and throw all the “humanitarian aid” back in our faces in the form of terrorism, eg there’s a great picture of Rummy shaking hands with Saddam, its online, I am sure you can find it. This policy continues to move forward, supporting oppressive dictatorships in foreign lands where we have no business dictating policy, and placing a clamp on these countries rights to have an actual democracy. This continues to fuel the fire for fundamentalists that want to kill every American man, woman and child. We must wake up and realize these morons are effecting the everyday people, because we will feel the brunt of the force, not the neocon ignorant gluttonous government.
    As an American I am also offended that we now have to have UN regulators to monitor our elections, the most “democratic” nation in the world. Its pathetic that the peoples voice no longer matters. Welcome to the New World Order indeed, where your vote no longer counts, you’re duped into thinking you have a choice, and we continually have to look over our shoulder, because of some poser from the NE, that makes like he’s from TX, playing John Wayne pisses the entire world off. WAKE UP FOOLS, your making our bed, and soon we will all be lying in it. Just remember also Romans thought they were invincible too.

  151. How nice – We get the regular load of horseshit from Harper’s, but we also have the advantage of getting it prepackaged!

    Lapham, you’ve got to be a grade-A moron to write a story like this in advance. Schmuck.

  152. What is wrong with you people? What decade do you live in? Leftist commie pigs, isn’t that something that left with the McCarthy era?
    I think that this gentleman could very well likely lump all of these people into one category, because the ideologue of all these people is the Christian god, which Bush feverishly uses as a driving mechanism of his propaganda. The Bush foreign policy stance seems to continuously sponser states that in the future will turn their backs on us, and throw all the “humanitarian aid” back in our faces in the form of terrorism, eg there’s a great picture of Rummy shaking hands with Saddam, its online, I am sure you can find it. This policy continues to move forward, supporting oppressive dictatorships in foreign lands where we have no business dictating policy, and placing a clamp on these countries rights to have an actual democracy. This continues to fuel the fire for fundamentalists that want to kill every American man, woman and child. We must wake up and realize these morons are effecting the everyday people, because we will feel the brunt of the force, not the neocon ignorant gluttonous government.
    As an American I am also offended that we now have to have UN regulators to monitor our elections, the most “democratic” nation in the world. Its pathetic that the peoples voice no longer matters. Welcome to the New World Order indeed, where your vote no longer counts, you’re duped into thinking you have a choice, and we continually have to look over our shoulder, because of some poser from the NE, that makes like he’s from TX, playing John Wayne pisses the entire world off. WAKE UP FOOLS, your making our bed, and soon we will all be lying in it. Just remember also Romans thought they were invincible too.

  153. Maybe Joe needed an advance on his expense account?

  154. I have to say that I have thoroughly enjoyed this thread.. I happened upon this from another site. I have read both sides of this arguement and I tend to agree with the majority on the board. My questions are more of a basic, ignorant, if you will response/query. How is “wealthy” and “poor” defined within the framework of these statements. I feel I fall solidly within the middle class… 125-145k… and I can’t say that Bush has helped me when it comes to payroll taxes. Between my wife and myself we paid in enough taxes to choke a medium sized horse… and I hear of many friends and/or acquaintances receiving 1000-4000 bucks back a year that make a third of what my family makes in a year. Where do I fit into this overall scheme of taxation? I sure can’t afford to pay more… besides.. we shouldn’t have to pay for things we don’t like or need… right?

  155. What is wrong with you people? What decade do you live in? Leftist commie pigs, isn’t that something that left with the McCarthy era?
    I think that this gentleman could very well likely lump all of these people into one category, because the ideologue of all these people is the Christian god, which Bush feverishly uses as a driving mechanism of his propaganda. The Bush foreign policy stance seems to continuously sponser states that in the future will turn their backs on us, and throw all the “humanitarian aid” back in our faces in the form of terrorism, eg there’s a great picture of Rummy shaking hands with Saddam, its online, I am sure you can find it. This policy continues to move forward, supporting oppressive dictatorships in foreign lands where we have no business dictating policy, and placing a clamp on these countries rights to have an actual democracy. This continues to fuel the fire for fundamentalists that want to kill every American man, woman and child. We must wake up and realize these morons are effecting the everyday people, because we will feel the brunt of the force, not the neocon ignorant gluttonous government.
    As an American I am also offended that we now have to have UN regulators to monitor our elections, the most “democratic” nation in the world. Its pathetic that the peoples voice no longer matters. Welcome to the New World Order indeed, where your vote no longer counts, you’re duped into thinking you have a choice, and we continually have to look over our shoulder, because of some poser from the NE, that makes like he’s from TX, playing John Wayne pisses the entire world off. WAKE UP FOOLS, your making our bed, and soon we will all be lying in it. Just remember also Romans thought they were invincible too.

  156. slave 1. A person who is held in bondage to another; one who is wholly subject to the will of another; one who is held as a chattel; one who has no freedom of action, but whose person and services are wholly under the control of another.

    slavery 1. The condition of a slave; the state of entire subjection of one person to the will of another.

    2. A condition of subjection or submission characterized by lack of freedom of action or of will.

    Bondage 1. The state of being bound; condition of being under restraint; restraint of personal liberty by compulsion; involuntary servitude; slavery; captivity.

    Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, ? 1996, 1998 MICRA, Inc.

    Is the taxpayer subject to the will of another? Does he have freedom of action insofar as his services are concerned? If he fails to provide the service the state requires, does he risk being wholly under the control of another?

    Must he submit to the the will of others? Is he restrained, compelled?

    And when the draft is reintroduced (and there is talk of this)…

    Comparing taxation to slavery both demonizes a necessary government power while diminishing a real moral atrocity.

    How is taxation as it is practised in most countries a “necessary government power”?

    Do governments get their just powers from the consent of the governed?

    The legitimate powers of a government come from putting into a common pot certain natural rights which the individual may not be able to exercise fully. The individual still holds these rights, but he lends them to his agent, the government. (Paine)

    Can a government legitimately do what the individual cannot?

    If an individual steals from me or forces me to work for him, isn’t this an “atrocity”? If the state does it, is it any less atrocious?

    Does the fact that one is not aware of the violation of his fundamental rights or acquiesces to it make the violation any more acceptable?

    There are degrees of horror. I’ll grant you that. But any persuasive argument in favour of the sort of taxation you people are talking about can, with little difficulty, be extended to the question of the draft. And the draft is, in my opinion, about as horrendous a moral atrocity as is possible to imagine.

  157. Hey Dave – nice blather that ignored every point I made, but pretended to address them. Do you practice at such evasion and smearing, or does it simply come naturally to you?

    Come on – if you are going to take the perspective of the House Slave and try to justify the actions of your slave master to a bunch of abolitionists, at least present an ARGUMENT. As it stands, you post’s reliance on logical fallacies simply indicates you do not have a leg to stand on – and that you KNOW it.

    In other words, you abdicate the argument without ever participating in it.

    Thanks 🙂

    Being generous, and assuming you are merely ignorant of the link between slavery and taxation, I will suggest you try reading. On this topic, a good read is from – gasp – an ACTUAL slave – Frederick Douglass. He makes quite clear the fundamental link you ‘poo poo’ with your off handed and unjustified dismisal.

  158. “…how does cutting taxes on lower income people count as redistribution?”-joe

    It does not, normally. However that is only one part of your tax scheme, which you say needs to be balanced out by increased levels of taxation on higher income classes. This attempt at balancing tax burdens means de facto, that the money is going from the higher tax bracket to the
    lower (ignoring, for the moment, the practical problems of successfully setting up such a balance). Furthermore the amount of tax paid is dependent on one’s income. You assume that high income people are just going sit around and take the tax hit (instead of finding tax shelters or producing less), as well as assuming that the increased disposable income of the lower income people is going to flow back and make up for the increased loss to tax. If the business is in staples; food, clothing, etc., perhaps it will. If the business is one geared toward higher income customers, say luxury goods, industrial products and the like, then it will take a double hit from the higher tax: it will have a smaller percentage of profits to keep and a customer base with less disposable income. In the end, the tax will hurt the workers of such businesses by putting their jobs at risk.

    The tax code is a poor instrument of social change, the results of high progressive taxes, do not match the intent (unless the intent is to beggar the nation economy). As a general rule, taxes should be as low and proportionately distributed as possible, anything else creates an arbitrary, unjust system and encourages cheating.

  159. Joe: More money in the hands of the poor and middle class will trickle up to the rich, as they spend it on stuff the rich produce.

    Agreed: putting money in the hands of the poor & middle class is a very good thing. That’s why we hire them and pay them salaries.

    And the beauty is that this salary is calibrated precisely to their skills and place in the market, and not to some bureaucrat’s retrograde priorities.

    Joe: what I’m talking about is raising the taxes on the rich … in order to PUT MORE MONEY IN THE HANDS OF THEIR CUSTOMERS …… [which] will trickle up to the rich

    Thank you for thinking of my interests, but I must politely decline your kind offer.

    Reality #1: I will happily pay $X in salaries to the people who work their butts off to do stuff I value. I wish there were more of them. I’m looking at the latest contractor bill, and it’s more than I paid in taxes all last year. No complaints there.

    Reality #2: I will not happily pay $X in taxes for some gov’t redistribution scheme. What I will happily do is pay my tax people cX to try to shelter the remaining (1-c)X, out of this country if necessary. RayD & others nailed this.

  160. Joe: Jesus fucking Christ … completely illiterate … fucking … fucking pricks … [dis]honest … fucking… FUCKING … YOU FUCKING IDIOT … you know you can’t win.

    On second thought, given that life is short, can anyone suggest a reason why I (or anyone else) should continue to converse with this foul-mouthed crank? Buh-bye.

    Warm regards,
    Capitalist “If-I’m-Such-An-Idiot-Then-Why-Am-I-Rich” Oppressor

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