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Atlas Mugged

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Columnist Ron Hart looks forward to an Obama administration and writes:

I want to appease the new administration and not be too productive. So, upon Obama's passing his new redistribution plan, I will slow my work schedule, lay off a few people (Obama's got their back) and let someone else bust his tail since I will now be able to get "redistributed wealth" from those poor fools who are ambitious, energetic, work hard and have made good decisions.

I cannot wait, as I need a break. And it will be nice to not be vilified by politicians. It will feel good to be liked again.

Wish me luck for the next few years. I am looking forward to a respite from hard work, taxes and creating jobs. It is a lot of responsibility that I will be able to "shrug." It is just as well, as I am tired of following my dreams anyway. It involves so much effort. I will see where those dreams are in four or eight years and catch back up with them then.

He also has a bead on McCain's next gig: "John McCain has probably all but signed a deal to become the next Viagra spokesman. He can soon spend time trying to locate all 12 of his homes."

More here.

NEXT: The Certain Loser this Election

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  1. So where’s the hidden valley for people like him? Wasilia?

  2. One of the great libertarian myths: “working hard” equals money and success. So…..if I put forth more or less effort, money will magically come my way? Not at my occupation. There is a long-term benefit and I understand the basic concept, but slacking off on the job does not result in less income. It results in no income.

    I can work really hard or expend minimal effort at my job. I will still not make the amount of money I’d like to make.

    Do teachers work harder than collection agents? To plumbers work harder than scientists? Do politicians work harder than CEOs?

    Do entrepreneurs work harder than wage-earners? Oh yeah? Even entrepreneurs who operate at a loss.

    It’s time to dispense with this myth once and for all.

    Further, only a libertarian would regard progressive taxation as a redistribution plan.

  3. That was fast instasilly!

  4. I’ve never read Ron Hart before. If this is a fair sample of his work, he can quit entirely, as far as I’m concerned.

  5. I know how Ron Hart feels. I’ve decided to switch from science teacher to “artist”. Why bother building the backbone of society only to be dennounced as evil.

  6. “One of the great libertarian myths: “working hard” equals money and success. So…..

    One of the great liberal myths: “all success is totally random based on nothing more than birth, so of course smart people like us should get to spread it around”.

    I am curious about how many jobs columnists create, tho.

  7. Waaahhhh!!!! If Bush wins, I’m gonna leave the country.

    – Ron Hart’s bizarro twin, 2004.

    No, you’re not. STFU.

    It is interesting how all of these temper tantrum fantasies wingnuts are indulging in involve screwing people below them on the totem pole, just to show ’em!

    I’m going to stiff my waitress! I’m firing everyone with Obama stickers on their cars! I’m so obsessed with having a little more money that I’m going to stop earning it entirely!

    Sure you are. It’s the only decent way to protest the raising of the highest marginal tax rate three.point.something points, to where it was during the 1990s.

    And, what Alan Vanneman said.

  8. I will see where those dreams are in four or eight years and catch back up with them then.

    ripped from Mitch Hedberg

  9. Further, only a libertarian would regard progressive taxation as a redistribution plan.

    Of course not, silly! Clearly, they mean to keep it all for themselves, blowing it all on hookers, meth and fat 22″ rims. I know I would.

  10. The thing that really bothers me about all these people complaining about Obama spreading the wealth around is the implication that (1) it’s an idea that has never been implemented before in America and (2) it would not be happening if McCain is elected; both of which implications are patently false.

    The fact is, we have been spreading the wealth around since we adopted a graduated income tax. The only difference being the current severity of redistribution. To suggest that America will somehow become socialist because we elect a president who is actually honest about that borders on retarded.

    [Disclaimer: voted for Barr, but favor Obama as a probable winner over McCain.]

  11. “The John Galt Plan,” Wesley Mouch was saying, “will reconcile all conflicts. It will protect the property of the rich and give a greater share to the poor. It will cut down the burden of your taxes and provide you with more government benefits. It will lower prices and raise wages. It will give more freedom to the individual and strengthen the bonds of collective obligations. It will combine the efficiency of free enterprise with the generosity of a planned economy.”

    50 years ago that was meant to be ironic. Today it’s the standard boilerplate of both major parties. Few Americans would challenge the inherent contradictions.
    That’s how low we have sunk, philosophically.

  12. Yeah, “I’m going to lay off all the dirty libruhs and go on welfare!” is the right wing “I’m moving to CANADA!”

  13. Obama is going beyond progressive taxation. He is taking money from group A and handing it directly to B. Its welfare for the masses. Appealing to the ghetto trash in all of us might work.

  14. Charity extracted under the threat of jail is the truest form of charity.

  15. Except, BDB, that things like laying off people actually do happen at the margin, despite joe’s fantasy that businessmen are just whining because “they have less money”.

  16. Charity extracted under the threat of jail is the truest form of charity.

    Sure! Because, after all, morality by stripping away all possible choices but the good ones makes us all better people, right?

  17. TAO–

    Sure, but not specifically to “people with Obama bumperstickers” or whatnot. Layoffs are politically blind.

  18. Would someone explain to me:

    1. Why is it that returning tax rates on the rich to a little bit higher than they were in the 1990s (and to nowhere near as high as they were before Reagan came along) is going to have a negative effect on the economy and jobs? People worked and lived and thrived in the 1990s (more freely than they do now, I would say), didn’t they? Why is it, if the GOP mantra on this issue is true, that job rates and tax rates are independent of one another?

    2. Why is Obama’s plan to make a few tax credits fully refundable unfair? Isn’t it the current system that is unfair (as it requires a person to make a certain amount of money before the government cuts him a check for whatever makes him credit-worthy, such as a child)? Why is this “socialism,” and not rather an acknowledgment that the government has decided that certain social goods are worth backing with money (we may disagree with that decision, but it has been decided nonetheless) and that fairness dictates that, since it costs a poor person just as much to provide for the basic needs of a child (for example) as it does a person with greater means, it shouldn’t just be only the person with the greater means get the money.

  19. I don’t know if this is meant to be taken seriously or as hyperbole because I don’t know the author at all. I thought it was funny either way though.

  20. I can work really hard or expend minimal effort at my job. I will still not make the amount of money I’d like to make.

    That says more about the kind of job you are willing to settle for than the value of hard work, instasilly.

    Maybe you should work hard at finding/qualifying for a better career path, or opening your own shop?

    Why is it that returning tax rates on the rich to a little bit higher than they were in the 1990s (and to nowhere near as high as they were before Reagan came along) is going to have a negative effect on the economy and jobs?

    Because higher taxes on the investing class means the diversion of capital from uses that will be more economically productive, that’s why.

    Why is Obama’s plan to make a few tax credits fully refundable unfair?

    It depends on what level of “progressivity” you think is unfair; his plan increases the progressivity of the tax burden.

    More fundamentally, though, it increases a systemic problem, by bringing us closer to the day when a majority of citizens pay little or nothing in taxes, while cashing government checks of various kinds.

  21. “Why is it that returning tax rates on the rich to a little bit higher than they were in the 1990s (and to nowhere near as high as they were before Reagan came along) is going to have a negative effect on the economy and jobs? People worked and lived and thrived in the 1990s (more freely than they do now, I would say), didn’t they? ”

    All taxes have a negative effect on the eeconomy to the extent that the government spends the money less efficiently than the private sector (always). Just because the economy didn’t come off the rails instantly on the day the law raising taxes was signed doesn’t mean crap. Your goal is obviously to tax right up to the point that the economy barely struggles along – to which I reply: fuck you.

  22. “Your goal is obviously to tax right up to the point that the economy barely struggles along”

    A French King (I forget which) called this “plucking the feathers from a chicken without making it squeal”. That’s about right.

  23. “Why is Obama’s plan to make a few tax credits fully refundable unfair? Isn’t it the current system that is unfair ”

    hmm – can say yes to both options?

    “the government has decided that certain social goods are worth backing with money (we may disagree with that decision, but it has been decided nonetheless) and that fairness dictates that…”

    The muggers have decided to take our wallet and watch – isn’t any argument about fairness pretty silly after that?

  24. domoarrigato,

    There is no action so reprehensible that the government cannot justify it to its groupies.

  25. The current system is unfair because income tax should only do what it was originally designed for–apply to only billionaires and even then at a 1% rate, not 40%.

  26. Ethan:

    1) So, you think it’s a good idea to raise taxes in a recessionary environment? With likely price deflation? With a tax raise on businesses making whatever Team Obama has decided this weeks number is? Why don’t you tell us why corporate taxes are a good idea in the first place?

    2) How are Obama’s tax credits, with no decrease in spending, sustainable? I am betting the tax credits are the first thing they push back, since the math just doesn’t work without massive cuts somewhere (the military) and that can’t happen with Obama’s pending War with Pakistan. And excuse me, fairness? If you want to talk fair, how is fair that you think I should pay more money to government and you shouldn’t? If you want to pay more, go ahead. I don’t want to – why do you think I should?

  27. Layoffs aren’t politically motivated? At the margins, they just might be. Historically, examples abound of businessmen taking actions that don’t maximize their profits – like turning away black travelers from your motel.
    My boss is particularly looking forward to the “card check” union elections because, without the secret ballot, he’ll now know exactly who voted for the union. And one isn’t much of a conniver if one can’t figure out a way to retaliate against such people without running afoul of the law.

  28. SF,

    QFT

    Call me an a-hole, but I refuse to contribute to charity while my income gets redistributed forceably. I pay 20-30k more in taxes than I can ever hope to beenfit from public services – so thats plenty of charity from me.

  29. “My boss is particularly looking forward to the “card check” union elections…”

    good for him. If I owned a business that unionized – I would shut the doors the very next day. Eat it.

  30. Obama is going beyond progressive taxation. He is taking money from group A and handing it directly to B. Its welfare for the masses. Appealing to the ghetto trash in all of us might work.

    What a load of bull. The GOP has been a big user of tax credits and not considered it welfare, i.e. child tax credits, EITC, education tax credits, etc. It only became socialism when a Democrat came along and found out, “Hey, people like lower taxes.”

  31. Hart writes like PJ O’Rourke, and is very well followed and liked. He is in 40 papers in the south and carries the torch for us to the masses. It is hard for him to get too REason magazine technical with all of this, but be assured, there is no smarter writer working today.

  32. “The Republican argument of the moment seems to be that the difference between capitalism and socialism corresponds to the difference between a top marginal income-tax rate of 35 per cent and a top marginal income-tax rate of 39.6 per cent”
    http://www.newyorker.com/talk/comment/2008/11/03/081103taco_talk_hertzberg

    Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, 1776:
    “”The necessaries of life occasion the great expense of the poor. . . . The luxuries and vanities of life occasion the principal expense of the rich, and a magnificent house embellishes and sets off to the best advantage all the other luxuries and vanities which they possess. . . . It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion.”

  33. I’ve seen this quote being copied and pasted by liberals on just about every blog (one of the rarer examples where they spam instead of conservatives), and Smith is talking about a very specific situation in that passage. Not society at large.

  34. Taxes are NOT charity. Most of it goes to public works, medicare, social security, and education. Very little goes to charity. I agree that NONE of it should go to charity, but the case is exaggerated.

    Domarrigato, I’d like to point out a long list of benefits that you get: police, fire, education, libraries, roads, freeways, airports, public transit, unemployment insurance, social security, disability, student loans, ….the list goes on and on. Do the math. Do you really think that people who can’t afford to build their own private roads or pay the cops or firefighters every time they need help should simply lie down in a ditch and die?

    As for Dean,
    You assume that all power over my economic fate (being hypothetical, btw) lies with me and that all opportunities are there for the taking. They simply are not. Again. Do the math.

    Notice that I didn’t ask for a handout or even sympathy. Just a recognition that wage-earners are not lazy sods who deserve financial failure due to a perceived lack of will.

    May Ayn Rand roast in hell. 🙂

  35. Hart is damn good and fun to read. He does CNN and talk radio as a reasoned alternative to the hard right and left. He is an ex-Goldman Sachs guy, taking his career like a Michael Lewis did after Soloman Bro. He is totally cool. Let’s not eat our own Alan.

  36. Could we have just one fucking day of no one conflating libertarianism and anarchy? One fucking day, please? I realize that it would force most of you liberals to actually have to justify funding your Robin-Hood fantasies through theft, but the burden should be on you in the first place.

    It’s really very simple: Taxing me beyond the government services I use is theft. Dress it up all pretty if you like, but theft it remains.

  37. “Most of it goes to public works, medicare, social security, and education. Very little goes to charity.”

    Entitlement programs are largely charity – I will never see a nickle from social security or medicare. School board taxes are charity, since I have no kids, and will have to send them to private school in my (terrible) district when I do. The police in my town are corrupt a-holes who harrass normal citizens, lobby for bigger pensions, and can barely handle the small amount of crime they do have. the roads are terrible. I got unemployed this year, actually, and the money I got for four months was less than 1/8th of that I have paid into it since starting work. Government “services” are worse than useless – and mostly benefit low income people: not me. I stand by my original assessment.

  38. “It is interesting how all of these temper tantrum fantasies wingnuts are indulging in involve screwing people below them on the totem pole, just to show ’em!”

    Once again, the benevolent and wise ubers-fuhrer of city development that is the all-knowing, all-caring joe explains that people that disagree with him are, of course, selfish, stupid and mean.

    joe knows what it takes to make a society work: People like joe. Through his efforts, and the efforts of other like-minded people, we have practically eradicted poverty and economic dis-equilibriums in parts of this country (I like to call them the “joe-states”). joe’s way of thinking is popular in urban areas, especially in the northeast and mid-western rust belts. And if any of you doofuses read and understood like joe does, you would know that those are the areas of great prosperity and huge growth in our nation.

    Look at the great joe-tropolises of Detroit, Cleveland, Philadelphia, NYC, Baltimore and Buffalo. These places are thriving blue-collar paradises. It is in theses locales that the “joes” have had their greatest influence. Here the poor and down-trodden are given a hand up, a fair chance and the tools to succeed. joe and his fellow-travellers have done so much to help these people: good-paying jobs are plentiful for all-comers, rents are cheap and healthcare is ultra-affordable. The “joes” have stopped the selfish scum from using and abusing those less fortunate and as a result the joe-states are much better off than they would be without the “joes”.

    Now some people, otherwise known as idiots, rednecks and selfish scum, think that it is entrepreneurs and risk-takers that drive wealth-creation. joe knows better. Journalists, lawyers, communty-activists, city planners, academics and life-long politicians make our country great. Any failures that we might experience are the fault of those who stand in their way. It was George Bush the Lesser who brought about the environment of absolutely un-fettered laissez-faire capitalism that has brought us now to the precipise of economic and social catastrophe. Only a return to the policies of Carter and FDR can bring back the great times we experienced in the 30s and 70s.

    Barack Obama will bring joeism to the masses, and America will once again become one big Buffalo, Baltimore or Chicago. God bless joe! And vote Obama, you racist a-holes!

  39. While Ron Hart is exaggerating here, his basic point is sound, though the effects are usually not seen until the long term (10 years+).

  40. “You assume that all power over my economic fate (being hypothetical, btw) lies with me and that all opportunities are there for the taking. They simply are not. Again. Do the math.”

    What is not in your hands? Other than the fact that you have to pay part of your income to the government. Even the shittiest of jobs can be turned into amazing wealth with hard work and determination. Sure it may take a year or even a few years of just the essentials. No going out to eat, or to the bar. No vacations or other extravagant spending, but with time, effort, and some knowledge you can make millions in this country.

  41. Sugarfree,
    No, because everyone knows that all libertarians are anarchists. And atheists. And that we patronize whores and drug dealers.

  42. And that we piss in public places.

  43. I’m not really sure, though, how a journalist being less productive is necessarily a bad thing. See the New York Times and Washington Post for MSM examples.

  44. economist,

    I refuse to use public toilets. It’s a matter of principle, dammit.

  45. “Notice that I didn’t ask for a handout or even sympathy. Just a recognition that wage-earners are not lazy sods who deserve financial failure due to a perceived lack of will.”

    Oh – forgot this. Fine, I recognize wage earners are great and proud hard-working Americans with no lack of will. Why am I supposed to write them a check for this again?

    I won’t support the demeaning of the ameircan worker by offering them charity which they clearly do not need, and are obviously and rightfully too proud to ask for.

  46. Well sugarfree, you’re more principled than I am.
    I use public toilets,
    and piss on the seats.

    And then, just for fun, I walk around in summertime saying “How about this heat?”

  47. Careful, domo, you’re sounding like a wingnut. joe might come after you.

  48. bigbigslacker | November 3, 2008, 9:02am | #
    Obama is going beyond progressive taxation. He is taking money from group A and handing it directly to B. Its welfare for the masses. Appealing to the ghetto trash in all of us might work.

    What Mo said.

    Gullible isn’t a word in the dictionary, ya know.

    I got unemployed this year, actually, and the money I got for four months was less than 1/8th of that I have paid into it since starting work. Government “services” are worse than useless – and mostly benefit low income people: not me. I stand by my original assessment.

    Interesting math.
    Wonder if the existence of that program provided you with benefits beyond the cash value of the checks cut directly to you for those 4 months. I wonder if you are calculating the overhead, for instance. I wonder how you benefit from living in a community made up of workers with a basic education. Yadda yadda.

    Just because you are unable to recognize the benefits that many government programs provide you with, does not mean that you don’t benefit. No man is an island…yadda yadda.

    You should change your moniker to Daniel Plainview.

  49. SugarFree | November 3, 2008, 10:15am | #

    Could we have just one fucking day of no one conflating libertarianism and anarchy? One fucking day, please?

    I doubt it. Libertarians love the “taxation is theft” meme too much for that.

  50. joe,

    Sugarfree, at least, is explicit in his elaboration of that meme…

    “Taxing me beyond the government services I use is theft.”

    This allows for an actual discussion about what government services he uses and how they should be paid for.

  51. Once again, the benevolent and wise ubers-fuhrer of city development that is the all-knowing, all-caring joe explains that people that disagree with him are, of course, selfish, stupid and mean.

    Stiffing your waitress because you don’t like her politics is stupid and mean. Firing employees because you don’t like their politics is stupid and mean. Fantasizing about how awesome it’s going to be when you get to put people out of work just to show ’em is stupid and mean. Yup. Stupid. Yup. Mean. Does that hurt your widdle feelings? To effing bad.

    Followed by blah blah blah, lot’s of bullshit about how terrible the wrong sort of people are, and how all the problems in America are my fault.

    Big, salty ham tears, asshole. This is the best election ever.

  52. “Wonder if the existence of that program provided you with benefits beyond the cash value of the checks cut directly to you for those 4 months. I wonder if you are calculating the overhead, for instance. I wonder how you benefit from living in a community made up of workers with a basic education. Yadda yadda.”

    Interesting math on your part to assume there are all these benefits. Yeah – I took the money – I consider it getting 1/8th of my mugging back. If I could write a check that would eliminate the program entirely – I would happily pay 10 times the amount involved.

    Basic education? Your assumption is that because government supplies education, I should be greatful for the tangential benefits and support the government. I assume that basic education would be supplied regardless of government action – so I do not feel indebted to government for providing a low quality, high cost form of it that I currently “enjoy”

  53. joe, the vast majority of libertarians here do not use the “taxation is theft” meme. However, we are all of a minarchist bent, and see taxation as merely a necessary evil, and something to be discouraged, overall.

  54. Appealing to the ghetto trash in all of us might work.

    Oh, ok. Just don’t ever, ever claim that anyone is using dogwhistle racism, or the guy who’s obsessed with me but won’t post a handle might cry.

    Ghetto trash. Loud and clear, asshole.

  55. I do not feel indebted to government for providing a low quality, high cost form of it that I currently “enjoy”

    How you feel is not a good metric of how much you benefit.

    You confuse your subjective valuation with some sort of objective measure of benefit, perhaps.

  56. I would say that taxing someone beyond the benefits they can be reasonably proven to derive from government programs is theft.

  57. Neu,

    I really have been trying to get them onto the more productive “Excessive taxation is theft” line for a while.

  58. economist,

    Then the vast majority of libertarians here shouldn’t take it personally when someone slaps down the fringe-of-a-fringe who do argue that.

  59. This is the best election ever

    Are you for real?

    The best election ever was between Bush I, Clinton and Perot. No one in there to really hate; Cold War’s over, easy, cheap war won in a matter of days.

    We have two occupations going on, massive debt and both candidates want to merge Economics and State (don’t worry, you won’t hear the “f” word from me, even though that’s what it is).

    Probably one of the worst elections ever.

  60. economist –
    “Careful, domo, you’re sounding like a wingnut. joe might come after you.”

    Yeah – I ate my wingnut crunch for breakfast this morning. joe doesn’t need to come after anyone – his boy is holding all the cards. But then again, he might still be sore enough at me for some of the beatings I gave to him last week.

  61. Ghetto trash. Loud and clear, asshole.

    You retard. Ghetto trash these days is color-blind. Take a Midol, joe, your cramps are irritating today.

  62. Once you start qualifying the “taxation is theft” line, its logic collapses.

    If a mugger took $100, but spent $60 to fill a pothole in front of your driveway, would only $40 have been theft? How about if it he gave it to a really, really great charity?

    Of course not.

  63. Well, joe, then don’t say “libertarians love the ‘taxation is theft’ meme”. Be more specific. The anarcho-capitalists love the “taxation is theft” meme.

  64. Ghetto trash these days is color-blind.

    Uh huh. You were talking about Warsaw. Not.

  65. Sugarfree…

    I count two compatriots using your meme on this thread.

    Keep up the good fight.

    taxing someone beyond the benefits they can be reasonably proven to derive from government programs is theft.

    As an economist, what method would you propose for calculating that benefit? It seems a complex problem to measure objectively.

  66. That’s fair enough, economist.

  67. Uh huh. You were talking about Warsaw. Not.

    It wasn’t even me talking about it, joe. I just recognized that your bitchy hypersensitivity was misplaced.

    It is funny, though, that you hear ghetto trash and think “black folks” whereas I hear it and think “lazy, self-entitled losers of any race” and yet we’re the racists.

    Gotcha

  68. Once you start qualifying the “taxation is theft” line, its logic collapses.

    Not completely.
    It just morphs into the same meme as the one used to say that workers are underpaid/exploited by employers, that monopolies are able to overcharge for their goods, etc…

  69. joe,
    I consider some taxation to support a minimal state to be a necessary evil. Functions that I consider legit, mainly for efficiency reasons: Police, courts, defense, infrastructure, basic scientific research, and even basic education. Honestly, joe, aren’t liberals supposed to be the ones that are OK with ambiguity and complexity?

  70. If a mugger took $100, but spent $60 to fill a pothole in front of your driveway, would only $40 have been theft? How about if it he gave it to a really, really great charity?

    If you want to make a moral equivalency between Congress and a mugger, we can have fun with that.

  71. Thank you for your answers.

    …higher taxes on the investing class means the diversion of capital from uses that will be more economically productive, that’s why.

    The last month shows that to be an erroneous hypothesis. When people have a lot of money, some of them will choose to invest it in very high-risk derivatives and financial instruments. They efficiently brought the financial system down, I’ll give you that.

    his plan…increases a systemic problem, by bringing us closer to the day when a majority of citizens pay little or nothing in taxes, while cashing government checks of various kinds.

    Does it? Is that even possible?

    All taxes have a negative effect on the eeconomy to the extent that the government spends the money less efficiently than the private sector (always).

    As a religious belief, that is a very powerful claim. As an empirical notion, it’s nonsense. I would say that most of the time private markets are more efficient, but not always. And even the most private of markets are subject to at least some form of government regulation, so even in the best cases the private sector scores the goal, but the government gets an assist.

    Just because the economy didn’t come off the rails instantly on the day the law raising taxes was signed doesn’t mean crap.

    What a wonderfully insulating notion. So now whenever something good happens economically you can say it was due to those tax cuts back then somewhere. Your belief in low taxes can thus never face disconfirming evidence. Take care, though, as this cuts both ways. Whenever anything bad happens your opponent can blame it on Reagan’s or Bush’s tax cuts.

    Your goal is obviously to tax right up to the point that the economy barely struggles along – to which I reply: fuck you.

    My goal? What are you talking about? You have no idea what my notion of a fair level of taxation would be. Perhaps it would surprise you to realize that I thought taxes were way too high before Reagan. Also, the only evidence you have (my earlier post) shows that I want the economy to be in great shape.

    I simply wished to make a point about fairness. If that makes you fly into profanity and hysterics, well, I’m sorry about that.

    hmm – can say yes to both options?

    Well, sure. One can think that the very idea of using the tax code (via all the various credits) to address social issues is an error. I have some sympathy for that view. But my question concerned the reality of the situation. So, to amend my question: IF we are going to have these credits as a way of helping people create/furnish/develop certain social goods, isn’t it less unfair to not require a certain level of income before we start cutting the checks? (The people taking the credits already have more money than similarly situated people who would also get the credit were it not for their poverty, so this is a government program giving money to people with greater means and withholding it from those with less.)

    The muggers have decided to take our wallet and watch – isn’t any argument about fairness pretty silly after that?

    Well, I don’t consider taxation to be analogous to mugging (or to robbing) in any relevant way. While I cannot freely avoid paying taxes and must do so under the policy that is in place when my taxes are due, I am free to attempt to get the government to change its policies through various means.

    So, you think it’s a good idea to raise taxes in a recessionary environment?

    I think that when it comes to tax policy, general questions such as this one and the claims they engender don’t get us very far. So I guess my answer would be “sometimes.” Look, at any one time the tax rates are X, and everyone thinks that any change to X will result in their particular theory kicking in. I am skeptical that this is the case. What is much more likely is that the general tenets of people’s beliefs about taxation are true of extreme changes to the tax code, and that within the range of likely policies the effects are not likely to be significant, except on things that the tax code is really designed to change (the revenue of the government, for instance). Conservatives realize this and that is why they peddle the lie that revenue goes up when taxes go down.

    Also, the effect of the tax code on the economy is not the only issue at stake in determining tax policy. Other issues include a fair spreading of the burden of funding government activity (I think we could probably agree that at least some of the federal government should be funded) and simplicity of the tax code.

    How are Obama’s tax credits, with no decrease in spending, sustainable?

    Well, there are going to be tax increases on the wealthy. And by sustainable I assume you mean in a budget sense. But tax cuts on the wealthy also are not sustainable in a budget sense as the current state of our finances reveals. Someone has to pay those bills. It will be the rich this time around.

    I am betting the tax credits are the first thing they push back, since the math just doesn’t work without massive cuts somewhere (the military) and that can’t happen with Obama’s pending War with Pakistan.

    You might be right. But I wasn’t talking about what will be, but only about what should be (on a very specific tax issue).

    And excuse me, fairness? If you want to talk fair, how is fair that you think I should pay more money to government and you shouldn’t?

    Who says I think that?? I think that everyone who can should pay their fair share. As it stands currently, middle class taxpayers, when all taxes are taken into account, pay a greater proportion of their income to the government than do the rich. They deserve a tax cut.

    You may find it unfair that persons with more should be asked to pay more, i.e. that taxation should be proportionate to income. I do not. Most people agree with me. So why do you find it unfair?

  72. It is funny, though, that you hear ghetto trash and think “black folks” whereas I hear it and think “lazy, self-entitled losers of any race” and yet we’re the racists.

    Gotcha

    Ah, yes, the “you’re racist for noticing my racism” dodge. Always so convincing.

    I haven’t seen that since some asshole decided that the best strategy was to play dumb when called on “malt liquor and rimz.”

    You got shit. It really doesn’t convince anyone when you whip your head around, bark for ten minutes, then ask “What dog whistle?”

  73. economist | November 3, 2008, 10:44am | #

    joe,
    I consider some taxation to support a minimal state to be a necessary evil.

    And I consider a higher level of taxation to support a larger state a necessary evil.

    Once again, the question of whether of not someone taking your money is a theif does not depend on how that theif spends the money.

  74. Neu Mejican 10:41 am,
    That’s the main reason why we tend to be skeptical of government. It’s hard to prove exactly what benefits people derive. Assuming that marginal benefits from various services tend to decline at higher outputs, and it’s impossible to make the tax burden perfectly proportional to benefits derived. However, there tend to be certain things that most people would be willing to pay for the benefits of if the benefits and costs were internalized. For example, I would be willing to pay 10% of my income to have an effective national defense, local police and courts, as well as the current gas tax to maintain the infrastructure.

  75. I wish malt liquor would stop getting such a bad rap. Little Kings are not as bad as you remember.

  76. joe,
    The difference is that you think welfare, entitlements, and a variety of other programs that benefit specific individuals at the expense of others are legitimate functions of the state. My view is that people should only be taxed for things from which they derive a proportional (or greater) benefit.

  77. joe – you know what? If you want to instantaneously project the worst notions about people on to someone, that says a whole lot more about you than it does them.

    Oh, and your profanity and nasty attitude are so. overwhelmingly. dispositive. Keep it up, man, you’re looking good out there.

  78. The standard liberal attack line is to snipe at your opponent when he had zero intent on what you’re accusing him of. And no matter how truthful his denials of the behavior, joe just points to it as more evidence.

    Frankly, when I hear “ghetto trash”, I think of Jerry Springer guests…which last time I checked crossed the broad and beautiful array of colors in this nation.

    But my denials mean nothing…because joe can read minds!

  79. joe,
    Actually, your mugger example pretty closely approximates an inverse of our current federal government. That is, of the amount they take from me (in annual income taxes, not counting Fica), 40% is used for something that I actually consider a legit benefit to me while 60% is stuff I would be just as happy without.

  80. Angry Optimist,
    Let it go. While I believe you, I can see where joe drew his conclusion. And it’s impossible to change joe’s conclusions once they are made.

  81. econmist,

    That is, indeed, the difference – at least, on a policy level. There are certain opinions and beliefs and values that we differ on, in kind or degree, which are prior to those policy differences.

    TAO,

    joe – you know what?

    Since you started posting here, you’ve displayed a great deal of anger and not the slightest bit of optimism?

    If you want to instantaneously project the worst notions about people on to someone, that says a whole lot more about you than it does them.

    Dude, “ghetto trash.” Barack Obama wants to take money from harworking people and give it to ghetto trash. Yeah, I’m projecting. I’m making that whole thing up.

  82. AO,
    Even when rednecks live in the ghetto, for some reason it’s not called the ghetto.

  83. No, it’s ok, because I’m not using hoary old racial stereotypes to refer specifically to black people; I’m using them to refer to low-income people as a whole, to make them SEEM like black people.

    So it’s not racist. You see?

  84. The last month shows that to be an erroneous hypothesis.

    Not really. No one said all investements were good, but when you dry up the pool of investment capital via taxes, you dry up the pool for productive investments as well as bad ones.

    his plan…increases a systemic problem, by bringing us closer to the day when a majority of citizens pay little or nothing in taxes, while cashing government checks of various kinds.

    Does it? Is that even possible?

    Yes, it does. We get closer all the time, Ethan. The tax burden in this country is borne overwhelmingly by a small percentage of citizens, and the percentage of citizens who pay little to no tax to the federal government grows all the time.

    The income tax is almost there. You start refunding people’s FICA taxes, and you’ve taken a big step toward a broken polity, where a plurality of voters have no stake in doing anything other than raising taxes on others and benefits for themselves.

    The difference is that you think welfare, entitlements, and a variety of other programs that benefit specific individuals at the expense of others are legitimate functions of the state. My view is that people should only be taxed for things from which they derive a proportional (or greater) benefit.

    This, of course, the correct interpretation of the General Welfare clause.

  85. Delete “even” from the last post.

  86. Well, this thread is shot all to hell. SYG, I’m going home.

  87. Ethan,

    Nicely put.

    Economist….

    However, there tend to be certain things that most people would be willing to pay for the benefits of if the benefits and costs were internalized. For example, I would be willing to pay 10% of my income to have an effective national defense, local police and courts, as well as the current gas tax to maintain the infrastructure.

    Okay. It seems that most people are willing to extend the list a bit beyond the one you propose.

    What method is best for reaching a compromise that allows us to pool our money to provide the benefits of living in a community?

    In other words, since the sense of “fairness” seems to be intimately tied to taxation, how do we decide what is fair given that there is no way to objectively measure fairness?

    Seems representative democracy with an engaged citizenry is gonna be imperfect but the most likely to get us there. It will be important that we have people who see minarchy as the goal involved in the debate, but there also need to be some who see the potential benefits of increasing certain services.

    To me it is the decision making process that is primary…not the results. A fair and reasonable process allows for pragmatic goals to be set and for dynamic solutions to those goals to evolve over time as part of an ongoing discourse.

  88. Since you started posting here, you’ve displayed a great deal of anger and not the slightest bit of optimism?

    Pot, meet kettle.

    FWIW, I believe in dog-whistles. I just think that you leapt to that way too fast. Part of it is, is that you’re older, so you don’t know how the word “ghetto” has evolved with younger people.

    But the other part is that you’re really eager to toss your standard attack lines on people, probably because it makes you feel really self-righteous inside to be a “defender of the ‘oppressed'”.

  89. Ethan,

    “All taxes have a negative effect on the eeconomy to the extent that the government spends the money less efficiently than the private sector (always).
    -you replied
    As a religious belief, that is a very powerful claim. As an empirical notion, it’s nonsense…”

    My ‘always’ referred to the entire statement – it’s always true that less efficient spending is a net negative economically. It didn’t mean that all government services could be provided more efficiently by the private sector.

    I recognize that some services are better of in the public domain – but would prefer to keep those minimal, and provided at the lowest possible level of government. I am annoyed by wasteful spending in my town – but I can do something about it – like run for office. Federal spending on stuff that my (stupid) town government could do at 1/3 the cost is mostly waste, abuse, and theft.

  90. Ito make them SEEM like black people.

    Whoops. There’s your problem right there. You have a bad habit of playing Miss Cleo, you know that?

    “ghetto” means different things to this generation, old man. Every once in a while you should shut your mouth and learn something.

  91. Hart said in a column wryly, “if Obama is President he will stiffle free speech as hate speech and he (Hart) will be an enemy of the state by committing such a crime…he (Hart) said : “and I do not want to committe a crime of being racist..since, as we know, only blacks commit crimes.” Smart irony and for those that catch his deep humor, knee slapping funny while making his point.

  92. TAO,

    “ghetto” means different things to this generation, old man. Every once in a while you should shut your mouth and learn something.

    You admit that there is a difference in usage and yet you are giving joe a hard time for interpreting the phrase the way you would expect his generation to interpret it?

    Really?

    I think there is quite a bit of false indignation on both sides here…but that’s just me.

  93. Well, Neu Mejican, I would suggest adding a house of Congress elected by taxpayers, with each vote being weighted by how much the individual pays. I wouldn’t want the other two houses abolished, of course.

  94. Neu,

    To me it is the decision making process that is primary…not the results.

    The means do not justify the ends. A bad result from democracy is just as bad as one resulting from a dictatorship. And democracy without minority protections is just the tyranny of the mob.

  95. economist,

    An important point is that government tends to benefit some fraction of the population greatly (consider agricultural subsidies as an example) while harming others an insigificant way (the price of an item has increased incrementally due to a tarriff). The deal is that the federal and state governments are chock full of measures like that and they can be in large part because of the general nature of what is now expected of the government.

  96. Neu,
    How dare you suggest that there could be false indignation on “both sides”. It’s obvious that joe is absolutely 100% in the right and AO is completely wrong *sarcasm*.

  97. domoarrigato,

    Sorry, I see how I misunderstood you sentence now.

    Cheers

  98. There’s some really bad math in that column.

  99. There would, of course, be some difficulty in implementing a taxpayer-house, such as how to count tariffs, but I think the overall idea would at least be an improvement on the current system.

  100. “I would suggest adding a house of Congress elected by taxpayers, with each vote being weighted by how much the individual pays”

    Wasn’t this supposed to be the point of the Senate? To protect the rich against the mob (whereas the House protects the mob against the rich)?

  101. NM – I guess I should be more understanding, but the idea that bigbigslacker was being racist, and was assumed without the requisite knowledge for what the term means.

    “Ghetto trash”, in the context I understand it, is a wonderful mix of “ghetto dwellers” and “white trash”…or, like I said, Jerry Springer guests.

  102. economist | November 3, 2008, 11:08am | #
    Well, Neu Mejican, I would suggest adding a house of Congress elected by taxpayers, with each vote being weighted by how much the individual pays. I wouldn’t want the other two houses abolished, of course.

    Sounds like a “House of Lords” to me.

    The means do not justify the ends. A bad result from democracy is just as bad as one resulting from a dictatorship. And democracy without minority protections is just the tyranny of the mob.

    True enough, means don’t justify the ends, but I am talking about the “fairness” metric. If a fair process is used, the results are fair, even if piss poor…perhaps?

    But, of course, a fair process would include the minority protections you mention.

  103. economist,

    What is interesting about most government redistribution schemes is that they largely benefit people who are not the economically downtrodden. That’s not particularly surprising of course; the real poor don’t have that much political muscle.

  104. By the way – I think it incredibly revealing that arguments of “tax is theft” and income redistribution inevitable result in racially charged arguments. It why the welfare state works “better” in places like sweden where everyone looks the same – people don’t mind the goverment redistributing as much when the recipients are like enough to them to be thought of as family. When it’s a neighbooring tribe, on the other hand….

  105. TAO,

    So what is the relationship/ distinguishing usage differences between…

    “White Trash”
    “Ghetto Trash”
    “Trailer Trash”

    “That’s so Ghetto.”

    Are any of them tied to a racial group.
    Or is it just classism that motivates their usage?

  106. “John McCain has probably all but signed a deal to become the next Viagra spokesman.”

    My thoughts exactly…Happens to all the old “my turn” Republicans who run impotent campaigns.

  107. well, White Trash is generally tied to white people, but it doesn’t (necessarily) denote a particular class. You can be white trash and live in a McMansion. Classifying people that way speaks to the WASP-y tendency to look down your nose at “new money, lack of manners and sophistication-type people”.

    Trailer trash, of course, talks about the trailer park. I think generally this is a term for white people, but I’ve definitely heard it used without reference or regard to color (i.e. hurled at blacks and Hispanics).

    Ghetto trash is generally used at poor folks in the urban centers.

    All of them are less racially-charged and more charged with an accusation of a lack of sophistication.

    When someone says “X thing is so ghetto”, you might as well assume they’re saying “This car/house/whatever is a piece of shit”.

  108. Neu Mejican,
    Nonsense. The nobility of England did not pay the vast majority of the taxes.

  109. FYI: I am pretty sure that Ghetto Trash is defined on the Urban Dictionary.

  110. Xenu XXV demands an end to the discussion of whether or not “ghetto trash” is a racial slur (see thread on psychological study where I reveal my true identity).

  111. The means do not justify the ends. A bad result from democracy is just as bad as one resulting from a dictatorship.

    In itself, yes. But it really isn’t, since a democracy has built right in to itself a nonviolent process for resolving the matter. And thus the importance of process.

  112. ecomonist,

    Well, unlike French nobles*, English nobles did pay taxes. What portion of the tax burdened they shouldered I cannot say, however, things like land taxes were probably never as important as tariffs and various taxes on goods.

    *Some of these folks did pay taxes, but the general rule was that they did.

  113. When people are deaf, dumb and blind/
    They get left behind/
    Imaginin’ the ghettos of the mind.

  114. economist,

    Er, ah…

    …didn’t.

  115. Neu,

    Fairness is a slippery concept. In any situation of compromise, a charge of unfairness can be leveled. But I don’t think that a progressive tax scheme can ever be considered fair. A flat tax is “fairer” in my mind, but still profoundly “unfair” in the since that the rich would still pay in massive excess to the benefits they receive. (Benefits of rule of law may increase for the rich, but they still must reach a point of paying more than they are “worth.”)

    If paying on a progressive scale is going to justified as “They can afford it” or “They owe the poor for being rich” then it would be best for advocates of progressive tax structure to abandon the fig leaf of “fairness” as a argument.

  116. Seward, I know the English nobility payed some taxes, however, most taxes were levied on goods and services, which fell predominantly on the commoners.

  117. Ethan,

    But it really isn’t, since a democracy has built right in to itself a nonviolent process for resolving the matter. And thus the importance of process.

    It’s a good argument if you leave out: And democracy without minority protections is just the tyranny of the mob.

    If 50.000000001% think it’s OK to violate your human rights, then you have no problem with that, right?

  118. Ethan,
    A lot of times that process doesn’t work. And all governments are backed up, ultimately, by force or by the threat of force.

  119. “ghetto” means different things to this generation, old man.

    No, it means exactly the same thing, but some people are using it in a less-pejorative manner. When you add “trash” to the phrase, you do so to put the pejorative back in.

    “Ghetto trash”, in the context I understand it, is a wonderful mix of “ghetto dwellers” and “white trash” So, let me get this strraight:

    You admit that “Ghetto trash” means “white trash,” except instead of “white” people, it refers to “ghetto” people, who are different from “white” people.

    “Ghetto trash” is like “white trash” and “trailer trash,” except the part where the last two are about white people, and “ghetto trash” isn’t.

    Nope, no racial connotation there.

    So, why do you think he picked “ghetto trash” instead of “trailer” or “white?”

  120. it refers to “ghetto” people, who are different from “white” people.

    No, joe. “Ghetto” is a broader, more inclusive term, not an exclusive term. Caveat: it’s exclusive as to the locality of the individual, obviously.

    why do you think he picked “ghetto trash” instead of “trailer” or “white?”

    Who knows?…oh, except you, of course, because you’re the Paladin of the Oppressed, so you must get your hackles up every time you feel like getting off.

  121. “Tweeeet!”

    *dog backflips through flaming hoop*

    “Good boy!”

  122. Wasn’t this supposed to be the point of the Senate? To protect the rich against the mob (whereas the House protects the mob against the rich)?

    No, the point of the Senate, which was appointed by States, was to protect the States against the federal government.

    since a democracy has built right in to itself a nonviolent process for resolving the matter.

    And, of course, any state has built right into itself the mechanism for resolving differences of opinion via the use or threat of force. The fact that said force is brought to bear on a minority with the enthusiastic support of a majority softens the jackboot not at all.

  123. If 50.000000001% think it’s OK to violate your human rights, then you have no problem with that, right?

    I have a problem with that. What gave you the idea that I wouldn’t? Oh yeah, your cartoon-world definition of democracy. The process you describe isn’t our process, or the process of any modern democracy.

    A lot of times that process doesn’t work. And all governments are backed up, ultimately, by force or by the threat of force.

    Yes, the process doesn’t always result in the policy you or I want. But that’s why the process is important–it gives you an alternative to taking up arms. Of course, sometimes the results get so bad that an uprising is the only alternative (see also Locke, John). I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that an increase in the tax rate to 1990s levels for the rich, a tax cut for the middle class and fully refundable tax credits for all do not justify a violation of anyone’s rights or even an instance of the process “not working”. Rather, the situation would be one where some people didn’t get what they wanted from tax reform. They should, if they are upset enough, work via the available process to convince others it is a bad idea. Good luck to them.

  124. Further, only a libertarian would regard progressive taxation as a redistribution plan.

    Progressive taxation + medicare/medicaid + welfare (corporate and individual + social security + public schooling + public transportation = weallth distribution.

    And if your job doesn’t pay well enough, who’s fault is that? Is somebody forcing you to remain in it?

  125. No, joe. “Ghetto” is a broader, more inclusive term, not an exclusive term.

    Riiiiiigggghhhhhhht. Hence, the widespread use of the term in heavy metal and country music.

    Who knows?… Everybody who isn’t actively lying to himself.

  126. And, of course, any state has built right into itself the mechanism for resolving differences of opinion via the use or threat of force. The fact that said force is brought to bear on a minority with the enthusiastic support of a majority softens the jackboot not at all.

    I am not sure the “jackboot” talk is relevant to the current tax proposals. Iraq, secret prisons, warrantless wiretapping, torture, the suppression of science for ideological reasons, these are things for the jackbooted.

  127. Ethan,

    You support mob rule when it’s your mob doing the ruling. Color me shocked.

  128. Who knows?…oh, except you, of course, because you’re the Paladin of the Oppressed, so you must get your hackles up every time you feel like getting off.

    Yeah, I get pissed off my race-baiting. Fucking sue me.

  129. Iraq, secret prisons, warrantless wiretapping, torture, the suppression of science for ideological reasons, these are things for the jackbooted.

    Yes, paid for by the taxes you love so much. Your disconnect would be fascinating if not so drearily commonplace among liberal apologists that haunt this board.

  130. Once you start qualifying the “taxation is theft” line, its logic collapses.

    If a mugger took $100, but spent $60 to fill a pothole in front of your driveway, would only $40 have been theft? How about if it he gave it to a really, really great charity?

    Of course not.

    100 percent agree with joe. It took me a while to realize this, but that’s when I became an anarchist.

  131. You support mob rule when it’s your mob doing the ruling. Color me shocked.

    Nothing I have said even remotely implies that I support mob rule. I said two things here today, that if we are going to have credits everyone should be eligible (for reasons I denoted) and that there is a process for determining the minutiae of the tax code and thus that if you don’t like any of the likely results of tax reform you have the option of changing them. How this means I support mob rule you’ll have to explain.

    Me: [Iraq, secret prisons, warrantless wiretapping, torture, the suppression of science for ideological reasons, these are things for the jackbooted.]

    Yes, paid for by the taxes you love so much. Your disconnect would be fascinating if not so drearily commonplace among liberal apologists that haunt this board.

    First of all, I’m not a liberal. Secondly, what on earth is your point with this post?? Nothing I said implies that I love taxes; in fact, if you paid attention at all you would have seen that I think that not long ago taxes were way too high. What is the fact that taxes paid for all those bad things I listed supposed to imply? More specifically, what do YOU think it implies? Are you saying that because I think there should be at least some taxation that I have to support everything taxes pay for? What are you, an idiot?

    I think that some taxation is necessary. I also think that the government should not spend tax money (or any money) on secret prisons or elective wars. Show me the contradiction there.

  132. I personally have posted “ignorant, hillbilly, whackjob preacher” no less than 50 times at H&R and not once was I called out by the uber-sensitive joe for it.

    ignorant hillbilly – OK.
    ghetto trash – racist.

    Understand now, TAO?

  133. Paying a tax credit to somebody who doesn’t pay taxes is an oxymoron. It is a transfer payment in that case.

    In a world with six billion plus, paying people to have children they can not afford is flat out immoral.

  134. Ethan,

    Are you saying that because I think there should be at least some taxation that I have to support everything taxes pay for?

    You are the one who has fetishized “fairness” today. And suggested that anything done by a democratic process is just hunky-dory with you. A democracy that does not protect the minority from the whims of the majority is mob rule. You are fine with that sort of democracy, ergo, have fun with your mob.

    You have things you don’t want to pay for, I have things I don’t want to pay for. One of us is fine saying that forcing to people to pay for things they don’t agree with just because a bare majority of people think it’s a “good” is a violation of personal sovereignty, and the other doesn’t.

    A properly constrained government wouldn’t have the money to have secret prisons or welfare for the able-bodied.

    As to your specific taxes question: I love how cutting spending never even comes up.

  135. Two statements which are not contradictory:

    A democratic process provides a fair way of settling disputes.

    and

    Minority rights should be protected from the will of the majority.

    The second statement doesn’t require you to dismiss the first; it just serves to restrict the scope of its application.

  136. J sub – I got it now. “Ghetto trash”, according to joe, offends one of his sacred-cow “oppressed groups”, whereas ignorant hillbilly (and I famously skewered “yokels” for a while there, too) goes after the Republicans traditional “oppressed victimhood group”, so it’s OK.

    You’re such a hack, joe. Go fake your outrage somewhere else. It’s been explained to you that the term you’ve got your panties in a bunch about doesn’t mean what you want it to mean, but you insist on mind-reading for the sake of manufactured holiness.

  137. You are the one who has fetishized “fairness” today.

    Actually, I simply made an argument about what I thought was fair. How that “fetishizes” fairness you’ll have to explain.

    And suggested that anything done by a democratic process is just hunky-dory with you.

    Actually I said the opposite. I think that in most cases the various policy proposals do not leave human rights in the balance, and so the proper response to a policy you do not like is to work to change it. To say that if you don’t like Obama’s tax policies the only justifiable option is to work within the system to change it is not to imply that there are no issues where the result of democracy violates persons’ rights. In fact, our democracy has determined that people have certain rights, and it is harder to change those rights than it is to change the details of particular policies. This is as it should be, because mob rule is an ugly thing.

    A democracy that does not protect the minority from the whims of the majority is mob rule.

    Couldn’t agree more. Which is why it is so odd that you thought I believed the opposite.

    Like Joe said (it bears repeating so that it may sink into your skull):

    “Two statements which are not contradictory: (1) A democratic process provides a fair way of settling disputes and (2)and minority rights should be protected from the will of the majority.”

    See? Those two statements provide a large part of the basis of our current system. It’s not so hard to figure out.

  138. joe,

    It’s a functional pair.

    The majority should be protected from the will of the minority with power(leads to democracy as a solution).

    The minority should be protected from the will of the majority (leads to constitutional protections).

    Can be re-written as “Those with power should be restrained from abusing those without power.”

    Abuse, therefore, needs to be defined.

  139. The end should look like this:

    A democracy that does not protect the minority from the whims of the majority is mob rule.

    Couldn’t agree more. Which is why it is so odd that you thought I believed the opposite.

    Like Joe said (it bears repeating so that it may sink into your skull):

    “Two statements which are not contradictory: (1) A democratic process provides a fair way of settling disputes and (2)and minority rights should be protected from the will of the majority.”

    See? Those two statements provide a large part of the basis of our current system. It’s not so hard to figure out.

  140. Ethan,

    Of course the conceptual challenge is to see government as a process with rules rather than a group of people separate from the society.

  141. “White Trash”
    “Ghetto Trash”
    “Trailer Trash”

    The key word is “trash”. Not all people that live in a trailer are trash. Not all people that live in a ghetto are trash. Not all white people are trash.

    I throw out “trashburger” on occasion too. All low forms of life. These are the types that need two receipts because they can’t put their smokes on the WIC card. The more people you have met that fit this description, the less respect you have for them.

    Trash with the “gimme” mentality will find Obama’s message very appealing. I find it appealing. It’s tempting even for people who believe in working for everything they have. And there’s the real insult.

    But I am a bigot. I have a harsher view of white people that behave that way. That’s the soft bigotry Bush spoke of. I’m guilty.

  142. I said

    A democracy that does not protect the minority from the whims of the majority is mob rule.

    and joe said:

    Two statements which are not contradictory: (1) A democratic process provides a fair way of settling disputes and (2)and minority rights should be protected from the will of the majority.

    Ethan,

    What a “Gotcha” you played on me! joe stating exactly what I said as a positive statement rather than a negative one really put me in my place. Wow, I’m reeling.

    That was sarcasm, in case you are having a hard time figuring that out.

    “Those with power should be restrained from abusing those without power.”

    Neu gets it right, although we’ll quibble over the definition.

  143. joe,

    Dude, Urban Dictionary is your friend. I’ve seen the term applied to just about every skin color imaginable.

  144. What a “Gotcha” you played on me! joe stating exactly what I said as a positive statement rather than a negative one really put me in my place. Wow, I’m reeling.

    Again, I can’t see what on earth you are on about. I stated that the democratic process is a good way to nonviolently settle disputes. You attack me for supporting mob rule and the oppression of the rights of minorities. I simply pointed out (and Joe pointed out) that the former does not imply the latter. And yet somehow I was trying to “put you in your place.” All I was doing was disagreeing with your claim that supporting the democratic process as a way to settle grievances implies that I support mob rule. Everything else is in your imagination.

  145. Ethan,

    I stated that the democratic process is a good way to nonviolently settle disputes.

    Until it turns violent (as democracies do from time to time).

  146. joe stating exactly what I said as a positive statement rather than a negative one

    Let’s ask him. Joe, was your 12:42 post intended as support for SugarFree’s posts here, or not?

  147. Of course the conceptual challenge is to see government as a process with rules rather than a group of people separate from the society.

    Indeed.

  148. Of course the conceptual challenge is to see government as a process with rules rather than a group of people separate from the society.

    I think the real challenge is to keep the people ensconced in government from becoming a separate class. A challenge that we have failed in the US, IMO.

  149. A significant portion of this thread is devoted to a debate on whether “ghetto trash” is a slur against black people. This has led to a cartoonish exchange of semantic arguments that has left me wondering if the people involved are really that obsessed. Let it go.

  150. Go fake your outrage somewhere else.

    That’s funny, TAO, I thought you’d decided you “touched a nerve.”

    I’ll keep calling bullshit on this stuff right here, thanks. Deal.

    bigbigslacker,

    The key word is “trash”. Not all people that live in a trailer are trash. Not all people that live in a ghetto are trash. Not all white people are trash.

    And yet, the commenter decided to go with “ghetto trash.”

    Ethan,

    The comment you refered to was meant as a rebuttal to what SugarFree seemed (to me at least) to be arguing – that the democratic process does not confer legitimacy on a decision or policy, because the democratic process doesn’t protect the rights of the minority.

  151. hotsauce,

    I disagree with your beliefs about taxation, but they are intellectually honest and logically consistent.

  152. joe,
    You’re using a slippery slope fallacy here. That if I support some (limited) taxation for limited, logically determined purposes, I must support all taxation for all purposes. This would be kind of like telling you that because you support taxation, welfare, and a variety of government interventions, you should also necessarily be OK with the government confiscating all wealth and redistributing it evenly, in other words, that you must necessarily be a communist. Some here have used it to attack your positions, and you’ve pointed out (correctly) that your position is not communism. But don’t go and use the same line of reasoning to claim that I’m being logically inconsistent and dishonest if I take a position that disagrees with yours somewhat, but doesn’t go to a particular extreme (in this case, anarchism).

  153. Or, to sum up, if you’re going to claim that you are being logically consistent and honest in being a liberal but not a communist, I can claim that I’m being logically consistent and honest in being a libertarian but not an anarchist.

  154. logical consistency is a crutch of the unimaginative.

  155. And yet, the commenter decided to go with “ghetto trash.”

    “White trash” and “trailer trash” aren’t very inclusive. The vermin that wants it all for free are better described as “ghetto trash”. If I meant “porch monkeys”, then that’s what I would have wrote.

  156. Why is it that returning tax rates on the rich to a little bit higher than they were in the 1990s (and to nowhere near as high as they were before Reagan came along) is going to have a negative effect on the economy and jobs?

    Because if you raise the top marginal tax rate, then people who are capable of earning income at that rate will have a bigger incentive to spend more time with their families, take vacations, etc. while being less economically productive — which at the margins hurts the economy and job creation.

    If you tax something more, you get less of it.

  157. prolefeed,

    If you tax something more, you get less of it.

    Which is why I feel like discussions of meaningful tax reform should be centered around replacing the income tax (including payroll taxes) with a tax on material throughput.

    We currently tax labor. This encourages us to find ways to get things done with less labor.

    If we taxed material throughput (think carbon tax), we would find ways to get things done with less material throughput.

    That’s the thumbnail.
    Better details available here.
    http://www.natcap.org/sitepages/pid20.php

  158. Bloody vaginal belch!

  159. Neu Mejican,
    I would be interested in your proposed tax shift, provided it was revenue neutral.

  160. economist…

    Follow the link for the details.
    I don’t believe it is fair to describe it as revenue neutral as it could easily result in a lower tax burden overall.

    It would be wise to implement it in a way that it is at least revenue neutral to start with.

  161. You have things you don’t want to pay for, I have things I don’t want to pay for. One of us is fine saying that forcing to people to pay for things they don’t agree with just because a bare majority of people think it’s a “good” is a violation of personal sovereignty, and the other doesn’t.

    Actually, we both are, with respect to some things. For everything the government funds, there is someone out there who opposes it. Thus, there is someone out there who opposes what YOU believe to be an appropriate use of government funds (let me venture a guess: a large military). Thus you are okay with people paying taxes for things they don’t believe in at least in some cases. “No one should be taxed to fund things they don’t believe in” is simply not a feasible public policy.

    A properly constrained government wouldn’t have the money to have secret prisons or welfare for the able-bodied.

    A side question: if you had to end secret prisons or welfare for the able-bodied, which would it be?

    As to your specific taxes question: I love how cutting spending never even comes up.

    I think spending should be cut in many areas. There, now all that leaves for you to do is to find whomever it is your comment was directed towards.

    By the way, I asked Joe about his “two statements” post. In case you missed it, here’s what he said: “Ethan, the comment you refered to was meant as a rebuttal to what SugarFree seemed (to me at least) to be arguing – that the democratic process does not confer legitimacy on a decision or policy, because the democratic process doesn’t protect the rights of the minority.”

  162. That’s funny, TAO, I thought you’d decided you “touched a nerve.”

    Wrong thread.

    And yet, the commenter decided to go with “ghetto trash.”

    bigbigslacker is “the commenter” you smeared without asking, joe. And here he is explaining it to you and you still think he’s some kind of racist.

    Do you pay attention at all?

  163. Would this settle the dispute: type “ghetto trash” into Google Images and see if any white people show up in the results?

  164. Ethan,

    I don’t think that would be a valid way to go.
    The images are not tagged based on the image content, per se.

    You would be better with a search for the text and an analysis of topic and related terms.

  165. Right you are. Just a thought.

  166. Neu,

    …[I]t could easily result in a lower tax burden overall.

    If tax burdens–and therefore, tax revenues–go down, then wouldn’t spending also have to go down? I’m not confident that it would happen–would the government tie its hands lilke that? More likely, higher taxes elsewhere, or more borrowing would ensue.

  167. Yerbaff,

    If tax burdens–and therefore, tax revenues–go down, then wouldn’t spending also have to go down?

    Ask GW Bush.

    Seriously though, read the link for details.

  168. Yerbaff,

    Didn’t mean that to be too flip.

    But the scheme could have the effect of reducing the revenue to government, putting downward pressure on expansion/spending.

    The simplicity of the taxation system would reduce costs on collecting taxes, giving more bang for your tax buck since enforcement is easier.

    Some people have worked to figure out the details.

    e.g., http://www.carbontax.org/

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