Black Rage

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In response to an audience member question, unfunny comedian Lewis Black sputters that government is awesome and Amtrak is terrific because his father worked in D.C. and his father was a good guy; because Enron collapsed and was, after all, a private company; and he growls something about "it" not being "Clinton's fault that he picked a schmuck." Or something. It's incoherent and joke-free, but the Upper West Side audience laps it up as the questioner—the only moron sitting in the TimeWarner Center at Columbus Circle who believes in free markets!—is put in his place. Here's the video (via Breitbart):

When asked about his political affiliation, Black told this website that "I'm a socialist, so that puts me totally outside any concept … the Canadians get it. But seriously, most people don't get it. The idea of capping people's income just scares people." Of course, I expect that Comrade Black is donating a Canadian portion of his millions to the government, so as to set a good example to the rest of the comedic bourgeoisie.

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  1. Never have found him funny.

  2. I’d like to see a copy of Black’s contract for that lame teevee show. I’m sure he made sure the gaffers and coffee girls are guaranteed a paycheck equal to his.

  3. Why is this a post?
    An unfunny comedian appears on a second tier cable news program.I got all that from the text. Why would I even want to watch the video?
    FAIL

  4. But he is a Grammy Award winner! Doesn’t that give him the same cred as a Nobel Prize winner?

  5. PB,

    Um, I think the concept is that the government should be redistributing the income, not the artist. If the government is failing its duties then the poor rich Socialist is not at fault.

  6. “Outstanding Soul, Spoken Word, or Barbershop Album of the Year”

  7. The reason for this post is clear: to make sure the world knows, once and for all, that that blowhard jackass is NOT funny.

  8. “Unfunny” is right.

    Him and Bill Maher.

  9. Black was on SNL, which automatically means he sucks. Even Mark McKinney sucked after he went on. If your show can suckify even a Kid in the Hall, you are fucked.

  10. He said a funny thing once or twice on the Daily Show, but that show he has now (had? I don’t follow these things) is godawful. Thanks for the newsflash though that he’s an idiot.

  11. Wow, thanks for bringing this blockbuster to our attention.

  12. I wonder if Black submits his material to the Canadian government to be pre-screened for signs of “hate speech”; I mean, after all, they get it, right?

  13. But what does Carlos Mencia think?!?!

  14. De De dee

  15. Obligatory trolling snarky comment:

    Well, at least Black admits that he’s a socialist, unlike some writers at Reason 😉

  16. Black was on SNL, which automatically means he sucks. Even Mark McKinney sucked after he went on. If your show can suckify even a Kid in the Hall, you are fucked.

    Thanks a lot, Epi… I had finally repressed any memory of McKinney’s stint on SNL, and you had to go bring it up again. For the love of God please don’t also mention a certain actor of “This Is Spinal Tap” fame who may or may not have been on SNL on or about the same time as McKinney.

  17. Black brings up an issue often discussed here.

    Government: inherently bad, or bad due to bad actors?

    He goes with bad actors.

    This is due to a conceptual inaccuracy.

    Government is a set of rules.
    People attempt to craft and implement those rules, but government is not the people…it is the rules.

    Government failure occurs when the rules are either inadequately crafted or implemented.

    Since all human institutions are imperfect, some failures will always occur.

    Opinions differ on whether this makes the endeavor (crafty rules to make things work better) a worthwhile activity.

  18. Government: inherently bad, or bad due to bad actors?

    Yes.

    Unless you meant that as an exclusive or?

  19. Both he and rarely-funny Ben Stein grew up not too far from each other in the very serious DC suburb, Monkey County MD. (Black is 4 years younger according to the intertubes.)

    Coincidence? I think not.

  20. Neu,

    Not disagreeing, but there is a third force inherent in your construction. That is the willingness and ability to enforce those rules. If you think that both bad actors and bad rules are a synergistic problem, then restricting the ability of bad rules to be effectively enforced by bad actors is a viable notion. Is this not a workable definition of small government?

  21. Like most funadamentalists, you market fundies have no sense of humor, especially when it comes to your cherished dogmas. Did you hear the one about all the banks being nationalized?

  22. Black seems to suck nowadays, but his candy corn bit should be required viewing every Halloween. Lest we forget.

  23. Actually, I found a couple of his spoken word albums very funny.

    And he’s on board with the “both parties suck, and the only thing worse than one party doing something is both of them working together.” Sure, he’s coming from the opposite end of the political spectrum, but with the friends that libertarians have…

    Oh, wait. Libertarians don’t have any ideological friends.

    Well, in any case, carry on your hate, fellas. Whatever makes you feel good.

  24. Bold Hero, I was going to bring up the candy corn bit too. That thing is hilarious.

  25. Black actually has quite a bit of funny material. As long as he doesn’t get political, he’s really good. Especially when he’s just expressing his misanthropy. And, as OBH mentioned, his hatred of candy corn.

  26. “Of course, I expect that Comrade Black is donating a Canadian portion of his millions to the government, so as to set a good example to the rest of the comedic bourgeoisie.”

    Why do people who dislike socialism always use this as an argument? It’s the economic equivalent of the “if you love it x so much, why don’t you marry x” schoolyard taunt. It is completely tendentious, and in any other context would be laughed out of the building, yet every post ever written about the eeeevviiiiillllsss of socialism always contain some line similar to this one.

    Stupid. There are many good arguments against socialism – that isn’t one of them.

    And Lewis Black does indeed have many funny bits – his take on the Janet Jackson/Superbowl kerfluffle is priceless. And he got in some pretty whacks at Rick Santorum as well.

    But what do I know – I’m just a socialist.

  27. Oh fergawdsakes! Some of Black’s material, his political stuff included, is funny and some isn’t. (Politics aside, the same could be said of Drew Carey, South Park, Penn & Teller, Dave Barry or any other humorists / comedians / etc. who, thanks to their politics, tend to get unadulterated praise in some libertarian quarters that shall remain nameless but begin with a lower case “r.”) So Black’s actual political views suck? I’m shocked, shocked!

    Next!

  28. dadanarchist,

    Sorry, but it is the ultimate “put your money where your mouth is” argument against advocates of redistribution of wealth. Anyone who wants to be taken seriously advocating the theft of my money had better be broke after giving away all of his.

    More succinctly: Robin Hood in a BMW can suck my fat cock.

  29. it’s more like “if you love it so much, why don’t you do it?”

  30. There’s some goose and gander in there too.

  31. “Sorry, but it is the ultimate “put your money where your mouth is” argument against advocates of redistribution of wealth.”

    What? He should donate money to the government? To be a socialist requires that you live as an itinerant bum? That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.

    Putting your money where your mouth is, would be advocating socialist policies, but not complaining about paying higher taxes to support those policies.

    Or not taking available deductions. Which would require Mr. Black to send me his tax returns; which I doubt will be happening.

    Mr. Black doesn’t have a BMW – he lives in NYC.

  32. Mr. Black doesn’t have a BMW – he lives in NYC.

    Made your way into his DMV records? And why can’t I see his IRS records? He promotes incitement to theft, but his finances are sacrosanct?

    I suppose you don’t take any deductions, either, right? What about a tip? 18% for fine government service. “Here you go, buy the boys at the Pentagon something nice.”

    Tyranny by popular acclaim remains tryranny.

  33. “And why can’t I see his IRS records? He promotes incitement to theft, but his finances are sacrosanct?”

    Why don’t you write to him and ask. I’m guessing he’ll have a few choice sputtering words for you.

    “Mr. Black doesn’t have a BMW – he lives in NYC.”

    Jesus, apparently glibertarians are completely humorless. I have no idea if he owns a fucking car – nor do I know if he has granite countertops. Nor do I care. My point is that this is totally immaterial. He is a comedian, not a policy maker.

  34. Does Mr. Black agree to a salary cap, dadanarchist?

    I’ll be busy laughing my ass off now.

  35. “The idea of capping people’s income just scares people.”

    Us poor wittle babies just don’t get it like Canada does.

  36. Am I glib or humorless? I can’t keep track without the help of a massive government bureaucracy…

  37. He’s funny. And as far as issues go, he’s more interesting than most comedians.

  38. By the way, speaking of glib…

    Today is National Latino AIDS Awareness Day.

    Strangely, someone’s website is oddly quiet on the subject.

  39. “I’m sure SugarFree doesn’t drive on public roads, and would never call the Fire Department.”

    It’s like that.

  40. Honestly up until the “I’m a Socialist” comment, I loved Lewis Black. I have watched his specials, loved “back in Black” on The Daily Show, and even read his autobiography. His bit about his dad working in government should have been expanded to include how his dad lost faith in that same government after Watergate, and how his brief work as a junior clerk in some government program led him to understand how stupid and inefficient big government is. I don’t know why he’s proclaiming Socialism now; is it possible he’s being hyperbolic?

  41. He is funny (or was several years ago when I last heard anything from him). Libertarian minded folk would have pretty limited choices of entertainment if socialist political views disqualified people from being funny or talented.

  42. Well, since I am already paying for them, I feel fine using them. And I don’t have a problem with roads or Fire Departments, as I’ve stated repeatedly.

    But feel free to keep conflating anarcho-capitalism and libertarianism. It’s so intellectually stimulating in its dishonesty. As is conflating socialism and the advocacy of the strong collectivist welfare state. I didn’t bring up the “s” word, though, did I?

    “When will joe release his tax returns and clear up this cloud of accusations and finger-pointing?”

  43. A little too much socialism has helped slow down the economy, so a lot more should make things better.

  44. “the advocacy of a strong collectivist welfare state”

    stupid articles

  45. Well, since I am already paying for them, I feel fine using them.

    And I’m sure Black can come up with a similar excuse. He has to live in a non-socialist world, too.

    And I don’t have a problem with roads or Fire Departments, as I’ve stated repeatedly. Um, your personal political opinions aren’t really the point of the comparison. I just picked your name to make it clear who I was responding to.

    Blah blah blah, joez terrible and dishonest. Care to address the point, or what?

  46. I’m sure Solzenitzen never enjoyed using the toiletries and bathroom facilities the Soviets provided, or his daily rations and a bed to sleep on every night. That guy was a fucking whiner.

  47. What? He should donate money to the government? To be a socialist requires that you live as an itinerant bum?

    How can this be the dumbest thing you ever heard when it is so true?

    Oh, you must be thinking about the elites at the top, and the performers, etc. who get nicer apartments because they are a bit more equal.

  48. For drunk and incoherent I still prefer Hitchens.

  49. “Does Mr. Black agree to a salary cap, dadanarchist?”

    Why in the name of Bakunin would I know? Again, ask him. I think salary caps wouldn’t work, but I’m not Mr. Black

  50. Guy Montag thinks you have a really good point. So there’s that.

  51. Lewis Black gets angry and curses a lot, and that’s his brand of humor. Personally, I think he should shove himself up his own ass and stay there.

  52. “Oh, you must be thinking about the elites at the top, and the performers, etc. who get nicer apartments because they are a bit more equal.”

    What are you talking about? I don’t think anybody is advocating the reestablishment of the DDR. Black obviously meant social democracy when he said socialism, because he immediately pointed to Canada, not Cuba.

    I’m sure this is all a devious sleight-of-hand by Mr. Black to pave the way for a nefarious socialist regime that will take away your xBox and limit you to one brand of Cheez-flavored corn puffs.

    Once again, I’ll merely point out that he is a comedian.

  53. Care to address the point, or what?

    Hyperbole has its place in arguments and you employ it all the time. But that said…

    It’s a disingenuous argument. I’ll grant that. But there’s a kernel of truth in criticizing someone with plenty of money advocating that everyone else have their money looted for the benefit of everyone else. And advocates of the collectivist welfare state that take deductions, or actually “cheat” on their taxes, should be welded into a Hyundai and thrown into the ocean. I don’t think a “put up or shut” argument is inherently unfair.

  54. The danger is when a comedian forgets that the audience really wants to laugh. If they can laugh at the expense of something they disagree with, great. If they can laugh at the expense of something they agree with, even better. But the key is to make sure you’re funny.

  55. Libertarians live in the ultimate sniper’s nest of political positions. While joe has a point, SugarFree’s right: there really is no example of a behavior that is mandatory to undertake in order to not be a libertarian hypocrite. After all, any services you use that are provided from the government you have an out for, because you pay taxes. Anything else, and you can just say “that ain’t my bag baby”.

    In this way, Libertarians get to avoid the searing criticism normally directed towards political extremists (like their fellow travelers in extremism, the socialists). Doesn’t make the criticism of how socialists living in an essentially capitalist world any more right, but at least it highlights the asymmetry.

    Personally, I think the fact that a libertarian can go along to get along (that is, all those not childishly vowing to flee the country) is a feature, not a bug. Any philosophy in which hypocrisy can be minimized is, I think, a sign of robustness. But I think it is approximately as childish to say “Look, Lewis Black takes a good salary, what a bad socialist” as “Look, he’s wearing a sweater with wool AND polyester fibers, what a bad Jew”.

  56. Guy Montag thinks you have a really good point. So there’s that.

    And you were on the side of Lefiti yesterday.

    Go on, joe. Play your Liberal Card!

    (It’s actually a cute idea, so don’t fear the rickroll. My links are occasionally bad, but I don’t roll no ricks.)

  57. Once again, I’ll merely point out that he is a comedian.

    Apparently, so are you; an unfunny, nonsensical one, just like Black.

  58. I love his take on drinking during his standup in Madison, Wis:
    “I come to Madison a lot, because I’ve discovered that you people apparently have some sort of federal grant for drinking … I don’t know if you’re using some of that farm subsidy money, but you pay less for liquor here than anywhere else on the fucking planet. Even with the plane ticket, it’s cheaper than drinking in New York. It’s like New Year’s Eve every fuck night. How do you know when it’s New Year’s Eve here? That’s the mystery to me. ‘Oh, New Year’s Eve, that’s when we drink with hats on.’ ”

    Too bad he’s just another political douchebag.

  59. “Apparently, so are you; an unfunny, nonsensical one, just like Black.”

    Zing! When you got nothing else to say…

  60. “Too bad he’s just another political douchebag.”

    Why is he a political douchebag? Because he stated his opinion, which you disagree with?

    Bakunin’s tears, what a low threshold for douchebaggery.

  61. “Look, Lewis Black takes a good salary, what a bad socialist”

    To be clear, I don’t think Black is a bad socialist for making money. I think he’s a bad socialist for not distributing it on a private basis like he advocates for the government to do on an involuntary basis.

    I’d also like to know if if he ever voluntarily capped his own salary.

    And, still, no one has explained how I am both glib and humorless.

  62. SugarFree | October 15, 2008, 12:48pm | #
    Care to address the point, or what?

    Hyperbole has its place in arguments and you employ it all the time. But that said…

    It’s a disingenuous argument. I’ll grant that. But there’s a kernel of truth in criticizing someone with plenty of money advocating that everyone else have their money looted for the benefit of everyone else.

    Most socialist advocate for a progressive taxation that puts the majority of the burden of paying taxes on those with the most resources. While a rich socialist advocating a flat tax may be criticized, I am not sure how someone saying “rich people like me should pay our fair share” are open to the same criticism.

    And advocates of the collectivist welfare state that take deductions, or actually “cheat” on their taxes, should be welded into a Hyundai and thrown into the ocean. I don’t think a “put up or shut” argument is inherently unfair.

    If you believe the deductions are valid, why is it invalid to accept them?

  63. SugarFree | October 15, 2008, 11:27am | #
    Neu,

    Not disagreeing, but there is a third force inherent in your construction. That is the willingness and ability to enforce those rules. If you think that both bad actors and bad rules are a synergistic problem, then restricting the ability of bad rules to be effectively enforced by bad actors is a viable notion. Is this not a workable definition of small government?

    Yes.
    The debate between socialists and libertarians is about where to draw the line if you keep the argument on these terms. [not true if you include anarchists or the anarcho-capitalist or the anarcho-syndacalist variety in the debate]

  64. If you believe that the government should redistribute money, not that the redistribution of money should depend on the whims of the wealthy, then the level of a socialist’s private charity bears no resemblance to his level of hypocrisy.

    If he didn’t pay his taxes, or worked against efforts to raise taxes and fund public programs, then you’d have a charge of hypocrisy.

  65. Sugarfree,

    In other words, both socialists and libertarians want the government to be just big enough, but not too big. There are, however, widely divergent disagreements about the definition of “just big enough” and “not too big.”

  66. “I’d also like to know if if he ever voluntarily capped his own salary.”

    Kropotkin’s beard, write him a letter or email – do you think anyone on this board is his personal accountant or biographer or something? Why the fuck would we have any idea?

    Glib: Elemenope has this one covered.
    Humorless: The fact that you have a broken sarcasm detector (something I have noticed to be widespread among Randroids).

  67. Why is he a political douchebag? Because he stated his opinion, which you disagree with?

    Yes. His opinion is stupid.
    Next question, fucktardio.

  68. If you believe the deductions are valid, why is it invalid to accept them?

    That’s an inescapable “money where your money is” moment right there. If you think the government would do a better job with someone else’s money than they would, and you aren’t going to pony up your share? But I would back off to 100% deserved deductions are OK. (Gotta keep the social engineering aspect of the tax structure intact, after all.) But a tax shelter? Money shuffling? Mortgages structured to take advantages of write downs? See the welding/ocean idea above.

  69. “Yes. His opinion is stupid.
    Next question, fucktardio.”

    Ha ha, brilliant! It’s a perfect definition of true political douchebaggery, and in action. It’s almost Hegelian in its perfection!

  70. The fact that you have a broken sarcasm detector (something I have noticed to be widespread among Randroids)

    Wow, you are dumber than I thought if you are calling NutraSweet, or anyone else participating in this thread with you, a Randroid. You just blew any credibility that you might have had out of the water.

    I’d insult you more severely but I’m really, really busy right now.

  71. and he growls something about “it” not being “Clinton’s fault that he picked a schmuck.”

    The funny thing here is that I’m not sure if Black is talking about Al Gore, Robert Rubin, or Hillary.

  72. dadanarchist,

    We’ll make a deal. You don’t called me a Randriod again, and I won’t call you a suppurating cuntsore.

    Objectivism and libertarianism are not the same thing, no matter how convenient is it to your feeble arguments to equate them.

  73. Sugarfree,

    Again, the charge of hypocrisy only arises if you believe the particular tax shelter etc… is an invalid work-around. If you buy into the reasoning behind the particular tax shelter, you can still advocate for taxation without hypocrisy while taking advantage of a legitimate rule that provides a positive result for the overall system.

    Tax fraud from someone advocating higher taxes = hypocrite.

    Socialist paying their taxes according to the agreed upon rules of the society, not a hypocrite.

    No?

  74. Becareful Epi, he is going to draw Pareto out of his holster any post now.

  75. Ahem, there is nothing stopping anybody in the USA from donating any amount of money they like to any government agency that they think should be getting extra money.

    Years ago there was a 1 for 1 tax offset for this, but that went away. Not sure if it is still a deduction, thought the last time I looked it up it did count for deductions, but not swearing to it nor to that being the case now.

    Those interested, IRS.gov is your friend.

  76. “or anyone else participating in this thread with you, a Randroid.”

    I’m happy to retract, if you can tell me why. I don’t read H n’ R that often, so I don’t know everyone’s ideological preferences. But I’m temping today, and bored, so….

    Reading more of SugarFree’s comments, I see that we disagree more in how to go about doing things, less than about what to do.

    So I’m happy to retract my glib Ayn Rand insult.

  77. While a rich socialist advocating a flat tax may be criticized, I am not sure how someone saying “rich people like me should pay our fair share” are open to the same criticism.

    I’ll grant that. But his comments about capping salaries don’t really feed into the notion he’s talking about progressive taxes.

    And I’ll not get into the inherent unfairness of progressive taxes for everyone’s sake.

  78. Socialist paying their taxes according to the agreed upon rules of the society, not a hypocrite.

    Is minimizing private charity through crowding it out through tax policy is a feature of Social Democracies and not a bug? A few earlier post by others made me wonder if some actually think that way, I’m curious what your opinion would be given the tax shelter argument you made.

  79. bleh could have written that much better — Is minimizing private charity by crowding it out through tax policy a feature of Social Democracies and not a bug? A few earlier post by others made me wonder if some actually think that way, I’m curious what your opinion would be given the tax shelter argument you made.

    I’m typing my ass off right now so I can leave early today.

  80. “But his comments about capping salaries don’t really feed into the notion he’s talking about progressive taxes.”

    My guess is he’s probably pointing towards CEO bonuses and salaries.

    “the inherent unfairness of progressive taxes for everyone’s sake”

    Here we agree. I favor a flat tax with no deductions or loopholes of any kind, and an elimination of the sales tax. Across the board, whether for individuals or corporations.

  81. [Disclaimer: the following message is a bad knock-knock joke. The owners of this website neither agree or disagree with its content. ]

    [knock-knock]
    Who’s there?
    A socialist.
    [slight pause]
    [knock-knock]
    Who’s there?
    A socialist.
    [slightly longer pause]
    [knock-knock]
    Who’s there?
    A comedian?
    [short pause]
    I thought you said you were a socialist?
    Exactly.
    [rim shot, cymbal crash]

  82. Socialist paying their taxes according to the agreed upon rules of the society, not a hypocrite.

    Yes. But there are degrees and gray areas of tax legality. A true tax shelter is not like taking a deduction. It is a legal construction created for the express purpose of lowering one’s tax burden. It certainly violates the spirit, if not the letter, of socialist advocacy.

    Can we all agree that we are not talking about Black anymore and get away from those complaints? I’d like to thank him for at least stimulating an interesting conversation.

  83. Look, let me just save everyone a lot of time and trouble:

    The only funny comedians are Steven Wright and Eddie Izzard.

  84. FH,

    Mel Brooks is the funniest human being to ever walk to earth. But the guys you mention are okay.

  85. “A true tax shelter is not like taking a deduction. It is a legal construction created for the express purpose of lowering one’s tax burden. It certainly violates the spirit, if not the letter, of socialist advocacy.”

    And, you could continue, tax shelters are legal constructions incentivized by the current state of the tax code. It is worth the while, and not overly difficult, for wealthy people to shelter their income because of the complexity of the tax code.

    While a simplified tax code would not necessarily eliminate sheltering, it would remove part of the incentive. And the IRS, instead of having to go through all the returns and deductions, could focus more of their energy on going after tax cheats.

  86. In other words, both socialists and libertarians want the government to be just big enough, but not too big. There are, however, widely divergent disagreements about the definition of “just big enough” and “not too big.”

    (Granting all confusions over relative size) how could you have a socialist state without a fairly robust state with a lot of rules that have to be strictly enforced? (I’m gonna call that “big government.”)

    The wiki definition (which is not bad and gets away from a lot of the standard conflations):

    Socialism refers to a broad set of economic theories of social organization advocating state or collective ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods, and the creation of an egalitarian society.

    How would any of that be possible with a “small” state unless you assume that every one is an honest actor? (Can we also accept that everyone in an organized state being an honest actor is a stupid fairly tale?) Even egalitarianism by itself would require a large apparatus to guarantee equality of outcome.

  87. And the IRS, instead of having to go through all the returns and deductions, could focus more of their energy on going after tax cheats.

    Facetious analogy alert: Does locking your doors at night make you a robbery cheat?

    As long as the government tramples minority opinion in forced taxation, there is nothing morally wrong about cheating on your taxes. The law and morality Venn diagram barely touches as is.

  88. How would any of that be possible with a “small” state unless you assume that every one is an honest actor?

    Some socialists, like Marx, wanted to do away with central government altogether. The ball bearing factory would be owned by a “government” consisting of a council of workers. Socialism is about public ownership, of which ownership by a national government is just one variety.

    That’s the theory, anyway. That it probably can’t work that way doesn’t really go to what socialism is, or what socialists believe. A lot of political philosophies break down when exposed to the real world.

  89. Mel Brooks is the funniest human being to ever walk to earth.

    Agreed, up until “Spaceballs” and every other shit-smeared ball of dead bunnies he made after that.

  90. “Facetious analogy alert: Does locking your doors at night make you a robbery cheat?”

    I realize you are annoyed at me after my unfair quip, but read what I wrote.

    Why is it “robbery” to go after American citizens shifting their incomes overseas to avoid paying taxes in a flat-tax system?

    Unless you think all tax is theft. While true, if you want to avoid paying taxes, I suggest you get to work on a rocketship or a time machine.

  91. “A lot of political philosophies break down when exposed to the real world.”

    I’d say every political philosophy breaks down when exposed to the real world.

  92. It’s almost Hegelian in its perfection!

    Gee, we’re all impressed with your allusion to 19th-century determinist philosophy. You must have a real edu-ma-cation.
    Write like a human, you viscous pool of cunt snot.

  93. “Write like a human, you viscous pool of cunt snot.”

    Vile ignorance is bliss, I guess.

  94. I realize you are annoyed at me after my unfair quip, but read what I wrote.

    Not at all. The “facetious analogy” was mine, you see.

    I subscribe to the “Excessive taxes are theft” construction, by the way. Taxes I agree with, I cheerfully pay. All others are taken from me by force and I have no obligation to help a thief carry home my TV. Even a flat tax won’t make redistribution of wealth, government waste and abuse, war hobbists, and abusive laws and police policies go away, or even make them fair. A flat tax is better, but it could still be set so high as to fund the areas of government that exist beyond my meaningful constent.

  95. “Even a flat tax won’t make redistribution of wealth, government waste and abuse, war hobbists, and abusive laws and police policies go away, or even make them fair. A flat tax is better, but it could still be set so high as to fund the areas of government that exist beyond my meaningful constent.”

    Agreed.

    My only question is how do we determine what taxes are “legitimate”? I could just as easily decide that all taxes are illegitimate, rather than some are illegitimate. What set of principles do we use to determine legitimacy.

    There seem to be two, to me at least: a, or in this case, the Constitution; and popular sovereignty as embodied in a democratically-elected body. And the two problems with those approaches are the ones that we have now: what the Constitution means is open to interpretation, especially in areas it does not explicitly address; and democracy tends towards corruption and the tyranny of majorities, especially in a society as complex and diverse as ours.

    I am broadly sympathetic to your point of view; I’m just not sure how we make your position viable in a complex, modern society. My pessimism applies also to my own preferred economic/political arrangement, anarchist-communism.

  96. A lot of political philosophies break down when exposed to the real world.

    There is an elephant in the room.

  97. I’m just not sure how we make your position viable in a complex, modern society.

    Me neither. Dictatorship, mass disenfranchisement, people growing the fuck up might do it; they all sound fairly unpalatable or impossible. It’s not realistic. But a guy’s got to have goals, you know?

  98. Didn’t the Canadians just vote yesterday, and the conservative side won?

    I guess they wanted change.

  99. Didn’t the Canadians just vote yesterday, and the conservative side won?

    Funny how that’s been happening a lot in the usual bastions of socialism over the last couple of years or so.

  100. But a guy’s got to have goals, you know?

    Yeah, I’ve been working on that dictatorship thing for years now. The only thing it’s proved to me is none of y’all are quite as dumb as I suspected, because nobody will support me for the position. I guess it’s back to making indestructible robotic killers to enslave the lot of you.

  101. “Government is a set of rules.
    People attempt to craft and implement those rules, but government is not the people…it is the rules.”

    With guns and bombs and tanks and a monopoly on coercion. Plus the ability to print money.

    Which kind of affects those rules.

  102. Funny how that’s been happening a lot in the usual bastions of socialism over the last couple of years or so.

    This sums it up rather well, I think.

  103. “Why is it “robbery” to go after American citizens shifting their incomes overseas to avoid paying taxes in a flat-tax system?”

    Okay, I’ll bite. Because the USA doesn’t rule the fucking world?

  104. Sugarfree,

    I was using socialist more colloquially, but if we go with that horrible wiki definition, then we are talking about communism or something close to that. Which, strictly, is a stateless society. Can’t get government smaller than that.

    But I already tried to exclude anarchists from the discussion.

    Libertarianism = anarcho-capitalism-lite
    Socialism = anarcho-syndicalism-lite

    Both agree that there should be just enough, but not too much government since the utopian anarchistic versions of their belief won’t work.

    Is that a fair characterization?

  105. Come on he had one funny line that I can recall.

    Not sure of the exact quote but he basically said the Dems and Repubs always seem to have the same idea. On side says we have a crappy idea and the other yells we can make it crappier. That is a very true statement.

    Besides that I agree he is not funny and way off base. Another “celeb” with more money than sense who hasn’t taken it upon themselves to redistribute their wealth on their own.

  106. atrevete | October 15, 2008, 3:32pm | #
    “Government is a set of rules.
    People attempt to craft and implement those rules, but government is not the people…it is the rules.”

    With guns and bombs and tanks and a monopoly on coercion. Plus the ability to print money.

    Which kind of affects those rules.

    While most societies utilize these mechanisms to enforce the rules, they are not logically required. Government is the set of rules. The rules could exclude each of the things you cite. Typically there are also rules for how rules are enforced and who can enforce them.

    A well crafted set of rules will recognize that people will use force to coerce others. A set of rules for who can apply that coercion in what circumstances can reduce the amount of coercion that takes place. A poorly crafted set of rules will increase that coercion.

    An admission: I find Rothbard to be a pretty shallow thinker.

  107. Elemenope – problem with your graph is it implies that, with Obama likely to win, people are looking at the Democratic Congress saying “this is working!”

  108. Hogan,

    The graph needs tweaking…

    It should be:

    Elect a Democratic congress.
    This isn’t working well enough, we need a democratic president too.
    Fuck that didn’t work.
    Maybe a Republican congress.
    Fuck that isn’t working well enough either, maybe a Republican President too…

  109. Needed to disrupt the sign wave

  110. An admission: I find Rothbard to be a pretty shallow thinker.

    Hmm. Well, a professor of mine once warned against thinking anyone at that level as a strictly shallow thinker, and I’ve taken that advice fairly to heart. In any top tier thinker, I try to search for at least one nugget of insight, and haven’t been disappointed yet.

    Granted, some people’s nuggets are *way* smaller than others. Rothbard possessed a smallish nugget.

  111. LMNOP,

    In my mind a smallish nugget= shallow.

    Rothbard chipped a smallish nugget off of the surface of the boulder of truth.

    Deeper thinkers find the gems hidden within.

  112. Unfunny is a good word to describe Lewis Black. Overrated, obnoxious, loud, kitschy, and brazenly stupid also come to mind.

  113. Advocates of heavy wealth redistribution often use their politics as a case for personal morality. The hypocrisy charge is justified in those cases.

    Richard Dawkins, for example, despite being a very intelligent man, will argue that because atheists are more likely to support universal healthcare than the religions, there is no correlation between faith and morality.

  114. “Okay, I’ll bite. Because the USA doesn’t rule the fucking world?”

    That’s cool – they can surrender their citizenship and apply for a resident work visa like everyone else.

  115. Communists love to claim that a communist society is inherently a stateless society, because they hold the erroneous view that private property is a construct of the state. This ignores a great deal of historical evidence and philosophical thought on the subject, most of which tends to support the idea that at least some private property stems from sources other than collective permission. A true communist (and here we assume that communism is egalitarian) society would, if the citizens were relatively peaceable, require a state to prevent the inequalities that naturally arise in human interactions. If the citizens were not peaceable, then the most violent individuals would eventually establish themselves as “the state”. This has been the most common occurrence historically in communist experiments.

  116. “”Of course, I expect that Comrade Black is donating a Canadian portion of his millions to the government, so as to set a good example to the rest of the comedic bourgeoisie.”

    Why do people who dislike socialism always use this as an argument? It’s the economic equivalent of the “if you love it x so much, why don’t you marry x” schoolyard taunt. It is completely tendentious, and in any other context would be laughed out of the building, yet every post ever written about the eeeevviiiiillllsss of socialism always contain some line similar to this one. ”

    It’s similar to the leftist meme, that when one says one is for the (for example) Iraq war, the canned response “then why aren’t you there, fighting it. Why haven’t YOU voluntered.”

    same “logic”

  117. economist,

    If the citizens were not peaceable, then the most violent individuals would eventually establish themselves as “the state”. This has been the most common occurrence historically in communist experiments.

    This is a feature of all anarchy.
    Nothing special about communism in this respect.

    Communism, like any anarchistic system, is an abstract construct that can’t be implemented successfully. Anarcho-capitalism is no different.

  118. because they hold the erroneous view that private property is a construct of the state

    Not quite accurate.
    They hold the view that the state is a construct of those with property to enforce their claims to that property. In this they agree with libertarians.

    A shallow observation.
    Communism and libertarianism are natural enemies because their worldviews are very similar, but they disagree on the implications of that world view.

  119. “Why do people who dislike socialism always use this as an argument? ”

    Because the guy in the cube next to me believes in capping salaries. So when i asked him what would he do if his salaery were capped at 40k? He said “I’d move”. I pointed out to most of the country we are rich, but he says “it’s not relative, I’m not rich”.

    People only want to cap salaries above their own.

  120. I have always worried about Lewis Black’s health, he seems like he might have a heart attack up on stage! I would very much like to examine him and make sure his heart can handle the work he does.

    Yours Truly,

    The Doc

  121. I didn’t read any of the other comments, but I want to say that Lewis Black couldn’t be more wrong about government, but he is a brilliant comedian.

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