Mitt Romney

Romney and Obama: A Coupla Redistributin' Fools

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Champagne Tower: Obama built that.

I'd have a little more confidence in Timothy Noah's woolgatherer about President Obama's 1998 comments on redistribution if it were not so riddled with obvious errors that are even easier to check now than they were in the early days of the World Wide Web (the graphical and multimedia portion of the internet). 

Setting the stage for his discussion of then-State Sen. Obama's recently rediscovered comments at Loyola University, Noah describes Joe "Anonymous" Klein's novel Primary Colors (published in 1996), James Cameron's film Titanic (released in 1997) and the death of Princess Diana (in 1997) as 1998 events. And the word definitely is definitely not spelled "definitily." 

Noah makes the point that redistribution, like death, taxes, the poor and The New Republic, will always be with us: 

Every president is redistributionist in the sense that redistribution is what government does. It takes tax dollars and reallocates them elsewhere based on what it deems the public good. Part of the public good, the federal government decided long ago, is to help those least able to help themselves, if only (to quote Obama's words in 1998) "to make sure that everybody's got a shot" at economic success. Every president going back at least to Franklin Roosevelt has supported some version of this scheme, some more vocally than others.

There is one way Obama has succeeded as a redistributionist: His health care reform law, assuming it remains in place, will effect a great deal of income redistribution by extending health insurance to many people who couldn't previously afford it, especially through its expansion of Medicaid, the state-federal health insurance program for low-income people. This is not a feature of the law that Obama has made much effort to emphasize, for fear of getting pounced on by Romney (who accomplished a smaller-scale redistribution in Massachusetts with his own health care law). 

This is pretty thin soup. It's true that the process of taxing people and then spending that money means it will get redistributed, more often than not to contractors who have been smart about playing the public choice game.

In case any of this stuff gets corrected…

There's a good discussion to be had about the different ways the two candidates intend to make sure other people get your money, since neither has a very serious plan to let you keep more of your money than you do right now. 

But you don't need to go back to 1998 to find this argument. The two candidates have been working pretty hard over the last week to draw distinctions on this point. Mitt Romney has taken the 47-percent wave as a signal to hit the president harder for his Robin Hood antics. Obama, on the stump and on David Letterman, has ramped up his own econo-populism, held back only by the knowledge that openly vowing to take more money from productive people is hugely unpopular. 

The reality is that both candidates are plutocratic favorites, Romney at $50,000-a-plate fund raisers in sex-party mansions, Obama at Sun King-worthy soirées that literally feature towers of golden champagne bottles. (I suspect that at some point you can be so rich that socialism and capitalism look pretty much alike, and I hope someday to find out.) But there is a difference in their rhetoric, and even TNR-style sophistry can't entirely make it disappear. 

I also like how Noah dates redistribution back "at least to Franklin Roosevelt." This country had about a century and a half of history prior to FDR's ascension, most of it featuring no income tax, large parts of it featuring no central bank, and more than 100 years of it featuring the longest, strongest period of growth in U.S. history, which coincided with gradual long-term strengthening of the dollar. I'd suggest Noah look into it, but I'm afraid he might come back with a piece about how Warren G. Harding landed at Plymouth Rock in 1492, the same year Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows became the highest-grossing film in Bollywood history. 

Here's Obama's 1998 peroration:

Update: Reason Director of Communications Chris Mitchell points out this NBC story noting that the clip above leaves off another sentence in which the president-to-be talks about competition and the marketplace. Given the hubbub over some person's editing of the Romney 47-percent comments, it's fair to include Obama's complete statement. Edited material in boldface: 

I think the trick is figuring out how do we structure government systems that pool resources and hence facilitate some redistribution because I actually believe in redistribution, at least at a certain level to make sure that everybody's got a shot.  How do we pool resources at the same time as we decentralize delivery systems in ways that both foster competition, can work in the marketplace, and can foster innovation at the local level and can be tailored to particular communities.

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  1. Obama usually couches the redistributionist rhetoric in a “I want everyone to have an equal opportunity” so as to shield him from the fact that what he really means is “I want everyone to have the same outcome”.

    Weasel words are weaselly.

  2. Every president going back at least to Franklin Roosevelt has supported some version of this scheme, some more vocally than others.

    And yet… AND YET what trope have we been treated to by our liberal progressive friends ever since? The rich are getting richer, and the poor are getting poorer. I say correlation is causation.

    1. Every president going back at least to Franklin Roosevelt has supported some version of this scheme, some more vocally than others.

      “at least” indeed, since Honest Abe, Railroad Lawyer, was the first President to get the Congress to go along with the relatively new redistributive thing all the cool kids were into: The Marxist Graduated Income Tax.

      Good thing Grant and a new crop of Congressional bench warmers came along and got rid of it for a while.

    2. It’s not working! Quick, more of the same!

  3. It is kinda ludicrous that Mitt Romney and Matt Drudge couldn’t find something more recent than 1998 to rediscover and throw out in a panicked attempt to draw attention away from the 47% disaster.

    The point about redistribution is not thin soup; it is what makes most libertarian economic rhetoric nonsensical. Unless you are an anarchist, you believe in government redistribution. Period. The only difference between you, conservatives, liberals, socialists, and anyone else who isn’t an anarchist, is what and how much is redistributed where.

    1. So false equivalence is Tony’s logical fallacy of today? What will it be tomorrow?

      1. No Matt Drudge and Mitt Romney put out the 1998 video, not me.

        1. Not talking about that Tonycakes

      2. Tony is a logical fallacy.

        1. He has gotten less tendentious. But to begin to understand the motives of servile tony you would have to get into the rather unpleasant subject of daddy-worship and psycho-sexual romantic yearnings for a big, dominating masculine presence. He has to anthropomorphize government and then fetishizes what he wants to believe are protective daddy rituals. Libertarians make him anxious, because they don’t pretend with him. And they don’t show the grateful respect for the protective power of the state. I call him “him,” although this projection of daddy-yearning onto politicians and government is often found in physically maturing women who never grew out of their teenage years.

          1. It only seems like that because I’m in a room full of libertarians. My beliefs are hardly divergent from mainstream liberalism.

            So what is the psychopathology that explains assuming one’s unorthodox and narrow worldview as the sum total of one’s superior correctness over the rest of the world? Too textbook to be interesting. I like mine way better.

            1. Tony said:
              Tony said:
              “So what is the psychopathology that explains assuming one’s unorthodox and narrow worldview as the sum total of one’s superior correctness over the rest of the world?”

              Or, in other words:
              “Wow. Who do you think you are, having a world view outside the consensus I define? Conform, conform! Or, you’re crazy. It’s science!”

    2. Perhaps you just skimmed the blogpost:

      This is pretty thin soup. It’s true that the process of taxing people and then spending that money means it will get redistributed, more often than not to contractors who have been smart about playing the public choice game.

      There’s a good discussion to be had about the different ways the two candidates intend to make sure other people get your money, since neither has a very serious plan to let you keep more of your money than you do right now

      And you’re generally right in a sort of high-speed fly-by way that yes, unless you’re a complete anarchist, we will have some form of ‘redistribution’ with us always.

      Libertarians believe that redistribution should generally not be targeted at transitional, politically favored groups, but should rather be neutral expenditures that help no one in particular, and consequently help as many people as possible in a non-preferential a way as possible. Shorter me: ROADZ!

      Liberals like a more targeted redistribution scheme: taking a few billion of my dollars and giving them to a guy who drives a Lexus with a bumper sticker which reads “Green Jobz 4 Ever!”

      1. I’ve certainly never argued for anything other than expenditures that benefit the public at large. Yet I’m some sort of demonic other. Am I really a libertarian, or are you a liberal?

        It’s still the case that even roads only benefit some people some of the time. We’re not all using all roads at once. Some roads I have paid for I will never use. How is something like social healthcare meaningfully different?

        Each and every expenditure can be the subject of legitimate debate. What shuts the debate down is when libertarians grab their goodies and then declare all other expenditures morally repugnant and not subject to any consideration. It’s a cheap, fallacious way to avoid the consequences of your beliefs.

        1. It’s still the case that even roads only benefit some people some of the time. We’re not all using all roads at once. Some roads I have paid for I will never use. How is something like social healthcare meaningfully different?

          I’ll say it’s not any more meaningfully different than food.

          Why doesn’t the governmnent just cover everyone’s groceries? Electricity? Water? Gas? Cars?

          Because those (including healthcare) generally fall under a consumer product umbrella. Yes, healthcare is a consumer product.

          The point about the roads you make is inapt. While yes, there are roads you don’t use, you may use all of them, anytime you wish. You choose not to out of utility or convenience.

          Healthcare, like other human needs which include groceries, electricity, automobiles and iPods are elastic in nature. What one person needs is not what another person needs, neither by type, quality or volume. So the only choice you have when the government is put in charge of paying for those things is to force everyone into one model. This doesn’t make healthcare better, it makes healthcare worse. That’s the fundamental argument, just as it would with groceries and automobiles.

          1. Government does subsidize people’s groceries (food stamps) and at least the infrastructure for electricity, water, and gas. I don’t think cars should be (I think they should be discouraged by policy actually), but I don’t see why people shouldn’t be allowed to debate if cars are a basic universal need. In a Democratic system, it’s our money to do with what we want. Government allows us to spend it in collective ways for the common good. Disallowing that freedom for frankly the vast bulk of civilization is to eliminate a huge amount of choice in society.

            The road analogy is concrete. Not everyone will need healthcare all the time, but it should be there if they do. It’s an even more basic need than roads. It’s not like an iPod (wtf is an iPod?); everyone will need it eventually. We need it just to be born.

            And you’re just factually wrong that healthcare is made worse by being subsidized centrally. We have many countries’ systems to compare, and your hypothesis just isn’t supported by the evidence.

            1. Tony, tony, tony…. You’re arguing in circles. The healthcare argument today isn’t equivalent to deciding if government should build roads. It’s equivalent to deciding if government should control every aspect of transportation including the building of cars, trains, planes, whatever as well as all forms of energy. It’s also equivalent to deciding whether you can drive a vehicle, whether you can decide to travel to a certain destination and when or whether the government will make those decisions for you. It’s about basic individual freedoms. The government could stick to building and maintaining the “roads” in health care (i.e. ensuring adequate emergency care) or it can take over the whole f’ing operation as you liberals prefer.

              Got it now???

              1. Emergency care is where you draw the line? Okay. I draw it at total care, for reasons of efficiency among other things. It is control of an industry, sure. But that makes it no different from the national defense industry or the education industry or the industry of infrastructure. You’re still not explaining why the line you draw is absolutely morally necessary.

                1. I draw the line for reasons of individual freedom and overall better health care and efficiencies. A free market produces far better goods and services with greater efficiency than a centrally planned economy – health care is no different than any other industry in this regard. This is not debatable unless you are a complete and utter fool (a reality I am beginning to suspect). A couple hundred million people making their own health care decisions is far better in terms of their health and an efficient market (matching supply and demand) than a handful of bureaucrats making these decisions. Then there is the matter of competition which improves overall delivery and innovation – again the advantage goes to the free market.

                  It IS different from national defense – military defense is a proper function of the government and not an industry providing economic goods and services. Education, on the other hand, is a useful example. Education arguably should be largely private and probably wouldn’t be an f’ing disaster today if it was free of government’s stranglehold. Outside of the basic roles of government (military defense, police, roads, courts, etc.), any industry freer from government control or interference functions with greater efficiency and produces better goods and services.

                  Why don’t you want people to be free and have the best health care?

                  Do you just hate people? Or is it some religious faith in the cult of big government?

                  1. health care is no different than any other industry in this regard.

                    An axiom you’re reasserting, not a fact with evidence. If a service is meant to be provided universally, it’s gotta be subsidized to some degree by the public. There is no mechanism in the market by itself to do something like that. Apart from that obvious reality, a planet of evidence suggests just the opposite of what you claim. You cannot find a free-market healthcare system that produces better outcomes at lower cost than all the socialized systems out there. You can make claims all you want about theoretical worlds but it’s just hot air.

                    Defense doesn’t produce goods and services? What are we spending all that money with Lockheed Martin on then? And I don’t know what you’d call a soldier’s job other than service. And calling it a basic role of government is to beg the question. I think healthcare should be a basic role of government, and can prove it works more efficiently when treated as such. But you’re not empirical so you don’t care. It can’t be the case that government can do something better than the market, because you don’t believe that to be possible, a stance no more intellectually justifiable than any religious belief.

            2. Government does subsidize people’s groceries (food stamps) and at least the infrastructure for electricity, water, and gas.

              You’ve argued right past my point and unwittingly swerved into my secondary argument.

              Yes we do subsidize people’s groceries through programs like food stamps. Just like we do with medicare and medicaid. Poor people, indigent people. But the government doesn’t by MY groceries.

              That’s a hugely different proposition from providing a welfare check to a small percentage of the population who fall under a poverty threshhold.

              In a Democratic system, it’s our money to do with what we want. Government allows us to spend it in collective ways for the common good.

              I’m not sure what you mean here. Do you mean my money is our money to dispose of as you please? I think that’s what you might be saying. And unfortunately, it’s not.

              Government allows us to spend it in collective ways for the common good.

              Which unfortunately means anything 51% of the population decides is good. But it’s not, because the government can only spend on things that are within its enumerated powers. And unfortunately, that even includes roads.

              If A state wishes to pursue universal healthcare, and they can muster the votes and tax revenues to do so, let them do it. I hear it’s going swimmingly in Massachusetts.

              1. And you’re just factually wrong that healthcare is made worse by being subsidized centrally. We have many countries’ systems to compare, and your hypothesis just isn’t supported by the evidence.

                Lessee, let’s pick a random one: Canada. Their healthcare system was so bad that their Supreme Court declared the system to be in violation of basic human rights.

                1. One of the greatest paragraphs written on the limits of federal powers, ever:

                  I am not unaware of the great importance of roads and canals and the improved navigation of water courses, and that a power in the National Legislature to provide for them might be exercised with signal advantage to the general prosperity. But seeing that such a power is not expressly given by the Constitution, and believing that it can not be deduced from any part of it without an inadmissible latitude of construction and reliance on insufficient precedents; believing also that the permanent success of the Constitution depends on a definite partition of powers between the General and the State Governments, and that no adequate landmarks would be left by the constructive extension of the powers of Congress as proposed in the bill, I have no option but to withhold my signature from it, and to cherishing the hope that its beneficial objects may be attained by a resort for the necessary powers to the same wisdom and virtue in the nation which established the Constitution in its actual form and providently marked out in the instrument itself a safe and practicable mode of improving it as experience might suggest. -James Madison, the year of our Lord, Eighteen Hundred and Seventy One.

                  Got get a constitutional amendment if you want universal healthcare, Tony. Otherwise, your arguments may politely bugger off.

                  1. Correction, Eighteen Hundred and Seventeen. Dsylxeia stkries agian.

            3. The road analogy is utterly wrong.

              Nearly every road connects to another road. This means that you are not using a particular piece of pavement, but rather a section of a giant webwork in which each road depends on the next to be a useful road. When you use one, you use all.

          2. Continuing on roads vs. healthcare. Road are socially useful for one reason: they increase mobility and thus economic productivity. How isn’t healthcare exactly the same? It’s really hard to argue especially when you’re talking about, say, Polio or another epidemic. Do libertarians make an exception for health emergencies that are obviously social in nature? If so, is that just another caveat that only you are wise enough to adjudicate?

            1. OOOH, Tony knows some of them there 5 dollar words, that must mean that he’s not a complete fucking idiot.

              Right guys?

              Is that what that means?

              Guys?

        2. No, each and every expenditure is not the subject of legitimate debate. There is a world of difference between the incidental “redistribution” that occurs whenever people of diverse means and diverse needs pool resources, and the politicized, targeted “redistribution” that is the object of statist politics.

          TL;DR: Fuck off, slaver.

          1. I think we can both agree it only works if legislators are wisely chosen and their behavior checked by law and educated voters. It’s a bit unfair to judge the wisdom of modern civilization in theory on what Republicans have done to it in practice.

            1. I think we can both agree it only works if legislators are wisely chosen and their behavior checked by law

              Tony, if our legislators’ behavior was checked by law, the Federal Government’s powers would be safe, legal and rare.

        3. Also:

          I’ve certainly never argued for anything other than expenditures that benefit the public at large.

          That’s trivially true, because your definition of a public benefit extends so far as to include “avoiding the parade of horrors that I imagine would result if we didn’t cater to virtually every gimme-gimme constituency with a hand out.”

          1. every gimme-gimme constituency

            Is that how you describe the elderly, disadvantaged children, the poor, veterans, and the disabled? Yeah they make off with so much loot. That’s why the wealthy are barely hanging on to their pretty much historically unprecedented wealth disparity.

              1. You tell me. Is it the top 1% who make 100 times the average member of the bottom 90%? Or the top 0.1% who make 800 times the bottom 90%?

        4. It’s a cheap, fallacious way to avoid the consequences of your beliefs.

          You mean like when Obama treats people who can’t afford to buy health insurance like parasites?

          1. Those ones covered by his expansion of Medicaid?

        5. Tony said:
          “Each and every expenditure can be the subject of legitimate debate. What shuts the debate down is when libertarians grab their goodies and then declare all other expenditures morally repugnant and not subject to any consideration. It’s a cheap, fallacious way to avoid the consequences of your beliefs.”

          In other words:
          “Where I draw the line is great. Where you may draw the line is morally repugnant, unless it’s where I draw the line (if I choose to draw a line).”

          1. I accept the legitimacy of lines drawn other than where I’d prefer. I don’t support everything government does, by a long shot. I just think it should be decided democratically and not autocratically.

            1. Tony said:
              “I just think it should be decided democratically and not autocratically.”

              Well, even if you want it to be decided democratically, you have to realize that people will take drastically different views. Most Libertarians actually want to work within a democratic process. That’s why it’s a political party. So, what’s your point?

              Democrats and Republicans don’t wake up and adjust their views in consideration of how their party’s platform might hurt their opponents’ feelings.

              (I assume you mean autocratic in the “not caring about people’s wishes” sense, not the usual “ruled by a dictator” sense, since that would be hardly a valid description of Libertarians.)

              1. So you agree that how much government spends on what is not decided by rationally deduced moral absolutes but by the democratic process? Then we agree on that. So can we get to why a certain policy is a good or bad idea on its merits without all the stuffing of the moral ballot box?

                1. Just because people agree to a democratic process does not mean they jettison the ideas of what is right and what is wrong. In fact, ethics are totally separate from law, unless you believe in the bizarre ethical theory that what is right and wrong is equivalent to what is permitted and prohibited by law.

                  For example: slavery. Abolitionists fought for the end of slavery because they realized it was morally wrong, long before the government and laws recognized this.

                  Telling people that they must abandon ideas of right and wrong to participate in a democratic process is just silly. And, if you need more examples, please refer to your multiple arguments where you vilify those who disagree with your opinion in matters of public policy in which you describe all debate as “legitimate.”

        6. Tony said:
          “It’s still the case that even roads only benefit some people some of the time. We’re not all using all roads at once. Some roads I have paid for I will never use. How is something like social healthcare meaningfully different?”

          It’s not. They’re both horrible ideas.

          Care about the environment? Don’t like CO2? Guess what? You’re government’s been building roads (essentially subsidizing gasoline-burning cars) for about a hundred years. Also, see railroads and airports. That’s all part of the second largest contributor to CO2 emissions: transportation.

          It’s kinda silly how we blame private enterprise for global warming, and credit the government as the solution to it, and then, turn around, give government the credit for all the pollution-causing transportation we enjoy, and claim there wouldn’t be as much if we had left roads to private industry. It’s irrational and fallacious to try to have something like that both ways.

          1. No it’s not. I can have it both ways. Government and private industry have both contributed to too much greenhouse gas emission. A huge contributor to the problem is car transportation subsidized by government infrastructure and housing policy. So what kind of solution is stopping government policymaking? Let the private market continue by itself, using the existing infrastructure and suburban sprawl as a playing field? There’s no magic rule that laissez-faire would have produced the beter outcome, since pollution is an externality, but I suppose it’s possible.

            Government is always there to blame in my book, since government having the wrong policy is always the problem. There’s no such thing as no policy.

            1. Tony said:

              “There’s no magic rule that laissez-faire would have produced the beter outcome, since pollution is an externality, but I suppose it’s possible.”

              Oh, I think it’s likely. The only way the pollution could have been worse without the government subsidization of transportation, would be if that subsidization was so ineffective that people used transportation less after a century of public investment, then they would have otherwise, with no investment. Being a supporter of the amazing efficiency and power of the state, how likely do you think that is?

      2. “Libertarians believe that redistribution should generally not be targeted at transitional, politically favored groups, but should rather be neutral expenditures that help no one in particular, and consequently help as many people as possible in a non-preferential a way as possible. Shorter me: ROADZ!”

        Actually, I am a Libertarian, and I believe in none of these things.

    3. So Tony is fine with corporate welfare as long as its Obama giving money to politically connected green energy corporations and GM. He’s also fine with Obama raping our Constitution because he’s one of the fabled “Right People” that can be trusted to wisely redistribute wealth.

      1. So, if I personally take money from someone by force and give it to someone who I believe needs it more, have I committed a crime? What about a moral wrong?

        If I can’t do that individually, how many people doing it in concert make it legally/morally okay? Two? Ten? Five hundred? Two hundred million? None?

          1. 50.1%

            1. That would trigger a recount which would proceed until we had 51%

              1. But if we outlaw recounts, then that is no longer a problem. You’d be ok with that right? You’re not an enemy of democracy are you?

                1. So if there are three people in a room, and two of them vote to take the other guy’s wallet, that’s legal and moral? Am I understanding this?

                  1. Yes, that’s liberalism in a nutshell.

                    But it doesn’t end there. If two of them vote that the third person should eat broccoli, they can shove it down his throat.

                    And if two of them vote to take money from the third person’s future progeny, they can do that too.

                    1. What’s to stop them? Magical moral force fields emanating from a copy of The Fountainhead?

                      Limits on private force require a government enforcement system. Democracy is actually the best possible means you can hope for. There is no other system that has ever existed that offers an alternative except one guy with extra muscle shoving broccoli down the other two’s throats without even asking.

                    2. No, no, no. You got it wrong again tony.

                      CONSTITUTIONAL DEMOCRACY (not just plain ole democracy) is the best possible means you can hope for. In a constitutional democracy, government power is limited by a constitution which recognizes individual rights and freedoms. This prevents the government from abusing and violating the dignity of its citizens. But I guess this is meaningless to you as a liberal who believes the constitution can be bent to whatever end you desire and that individuals can be justly ground into hamburger for “the greater good.”

                    3. Oh so there are no concrete moral lines that can be deduced rationally, just a piece of sacred text that says what they are.

                      I believe in constitutional limits too. When I say democracy I never mean simple majorities for everything.

                    4. Yes, moral lines can be deduced rationally and have been set in writing – that’s why there is an f’ing Constitution! The Constitution is all about moral lines, moral lines that government can’t cross. That’s why the framers made it hard to change the f’ing Constitution. Contempt or blatant disregard for these moral lines by the Judicial, Executive and Legislative branches are seriously eroding our basic protections from government tyranny.

                      I’m beginning to realize that you take your freedoms and prosperity for granted. You fail to realize that they are inextricably linked. A loss of basic freedoms inevitably leads to a loss of prosperity and worst of all, tyranny, terrible human suffering and a loss of basic human dignity. Like all so-called “liberals,” I don’t think you will ever get it.

                    5. I agree about freedom and prosperity. You and I just define freedom differently and I have facts on my side. The freedom to be free from taxation isn’t the only, or even remotely the most important, freedom. A lot of freedom can be bought with taxes. And the constitution you claim contains rationally deducible eternal moral truths only grants the power to tax, and says nothing about freedom from taxation.

                      For the sake of argument I’ll say I have no problem with a constitutional system, but a constitution is just a social contract, not a sacred text. Perhaps ours is too hard to amend. It’s still amendable and hence acknowledges its own inevitable imperfection. How do we decide what is correct going forward? Have we finished and created the best possible society? You certainly don’t believe that. The corruption you blame is itself evidence that the constitution is flawed.

                    6. Actually, there are concrete moral lines that can be deduced rationally. This is done, however, independent of any sacred texts. Similarly, sacred texts derived from democracy in no way are required to correspond to what is moral, and frequently do not.

                    7. What’s to stop them? Magical moral force fields emanating from a copy of The Fountainhead?

                      Limits on private force require a government enforcement system.

                      Except we’re talking about a scenario when government is the force, claiming it has a mandate from the majority. You do get that, right?

                    8. Tony said:
                      “What’s to stop them? Magical moral force fields emanating from a copy of The Fountainhead?”

                      You don’t have to be able to stop something to know that it is wrong.

                      “Limits on private force require a government enforcement system. ”

                      Demonstrate this.

                      “Democracy is actually the best possible means you can hope for.”

                      Wow, we’re constantly improving everything except our methods of making political decisions, which is as perfect now as it will ever be. Demonstrate this.

                      “There is no other system that has ever existed that offers an alternative except one guy with extra muscle shoving broccoli down the other two’s throats without even asking.”

                      This is absolutely not true.

                  2. Yes. Why do you hate democracy?

                  3. Pro Libertate, I was being sarcastic and parodying Tony

                  4. So if there are three people in a room, and two of them vote to take the other guy’s wallet, that’s legal and moral? Am I understanding this?

                    That’s my understanding.

        1. You are not legally granted the authority to take things from other people by force. If you think that moral wrong is a serious enough problem to make a legal crime, then you gotta deposit that authority in government and allow it to enforce it.

          The legitimacy of taxation is inherent in the legitimacy of government, which gains that by being a democratic government. Taxation is half of what government does (the other is spend.) That means, at least when it comes to regular business, majority rules. That’s how any group decision making usually happens.

          And it’s actually weird to have anxiety over the 50.1% margin. If it’s that close, just convince a few people to change their minds. If it’s more like 70% then there certainly is a mandate for their preference.

          1. So tony… in your liberal paradise, is there any limit to theft by the government?

            1. Total limit to theft. Yes there are limits to the taxes it takes and the services it should provide. Those limits should be decided by the people democratically and not a quasi-anarchist minority.

              1. So… there is no limit then. Wonderful. Sounds like paradise.

                1. What is your limiting agent???

                  1. A bit of parchment called the Constitution and its Bill of Rights – which did not establish a democracy but a republic. You might want to read it sometime – the words democracy and democratic do not appear in it. However, the words republic and republican do.

                    1. What does that have to do with anything being discussed?

                      The Constitution has allowed the awful parasitic shithole of a society you guys think we live in, so it can’t be all that great can it?

          2. Unless they believe that homosexuals should be institutionalized, then they have no voice, because of rights, or magic or something, man.

            1. The protections civil liberties enjoy were arrived at by secular democratic means too. You’re the ones who believe they come by magic.

              1. Then they can be undone by democratic means, you myopic fuck. Would you turn yourself into the sanitarium if The People voted that you should?

                1. Of course they can be undone by democratic means. Which other method would you prefer they be able to be undone by? Autocratic means? What authority secures such rights immutably? Or does it not matter to you if they are actualized, as long as we acknowledge they are theoretically there?

              2. Tony said:
                “The protections civil liberties enjoy were arrived at by secular democratic means too. You’re the ones who believe they come by magic.”

                Yes, and there was a time when they were not arrived at. Where they not valid then? Clearly they were, which illustrates that these secular, democratic means have nothing to do with what is actually right and wrong. They are just a system in which people resolve how they will attempt to or refrain from using threats of violence against everyone in order to make them obey certain rules and perform certain actions. It only has anything to do with right and wrong to the extent that the participants choose to.

                I can’t figure out if you believe objectively in right and wrong, or if it’s all subjective to you. You seem to think that anyone who believes in objective ethics is engaging in magical thinking. If everything is subjective, then, why should anyone be listening to you?

          3. You are not legally granted the authority to take things from other people by force.

            Susette Kelo no longer believes this.

    4. Obama reminds us daily that he is a redistributionist. Finding older and older evidence is part of the fun, like an anthropology field trip.

  4. I think that is going to be a very cool thing indeed.

    http://www.WorldAnon.tk

  5. OT

    I just read this quote from an editorial written at Huffpost by Babs Streisand, and I felt the need to post it here, as it reaches a level of stupidity I didn’t think was possible. She actually concludes that this country would have a caste system were it not for benevolent “investments” by the gov’t. The country that was the first in history to have upward mobility long before any of the social programs or taxes we have today even existed.

    “Our country, and the notion of the American Dream, was built on the bedrock that government must play a vital role in providing investments that ultimately afford opportunity for all. If everyone was left to fend for themselves, and government failed to take the lead in investing in schools, roads, research and development, space exploration, and the internet, we would have a very different country where the fate of a person’s future would be sealed in the socio-economic status that he or she was born into.”

    1. the bedrock that government must play a vital role in providing investments

      Sayyyy what?

      It’s Babs, seriously. Nothing to see here.

      1. *looks around for Ken Shultz*

        Jesus, what a fucking cunt. I thought she was fucking dead. Well, that does sound eerily like the ramblings of a rotting corpse.

        Can’t we send out some sort of mass email to all the politically meddling has-beens that no one gives a fuck, would they kindly shut the fuck up and please self-immolate, cause that would, you know, at least be like entertaining and stuff.

        1. Do you ever wonder why there are no even halfway mediocre artists on your side?

          1. My side?

            No tony, I don’t. But, then again, I don’t really think like that.

            I feel sorry for those that do.

            You know why? Because theirs is the type of thinking that leads to piles of dead bodies in far off lands and self-congratulatory, smug, back patting back at home, but they’re too fucking dumb to ever realize it. I’d hate to live in such a clouded state.

            1. I’d hate not to have most of the artistic, academic, and scientific communities on my side. It would make me seriously question my beliefs.

              1. Really? You’re that insecure that you would question your beliefs because people you’ve never met disagreed with you?

                That explains a lot.

                1. I don’t assume I’m smarter about a subject than subject-matter experts. That would be arrogance. I’m not saying that if you drop into a society you should see what all the smart people’s political beliefs are and emulate them, but it probably wouldn’t steer you too wrong.

                  1. So if you dropped into 1930s Germany, obviously you’d emulate Martin Heidegger.

                    1. I do appreciate an inventive Godwin!

              2. Wow, what a coincidence that heavily subsidized communities all agree: government works!

              3. “I’d hate not to have most of the artistic, academic, and scientific communities on my side. It would make me seriously question my beliefs.”

                You should Google “argument from authority.” Fallacies get you nowhere.

  6. (I suspect that at some point you can be so rich that socialism and capitalism look pretty much alike, and I hope someday to find out.)

    The obvious upside to being so rich under socialism is the government has eliminated much of the competition.

  7. “Warren G. Harding landed at Plymouth Rock in 1492”

    Way back then, 213 was the clique.

  8. Interesting post over at Not Yet Europe arguing that the missing two minutes. On themRomney tape is an edit, not a malfunction because the camera did not move at all during the gap. You can’t notice vyour recorder has shut itself off, pick it up, turn it back on, and put it back done in exactly the same place. Pretty convincing, I thought. Sorry, linking too hard on my Pad, but give it a look.

    1. I don’t get this particular desperate conspiracy theory. Do you think those minutes contain Romney saying “Just kidding!”?

      1. It’s just always a good thing to point out dishonesty.

        1. I’m sure he was all over James O’Keefe.

          And extremely weak conjecture doesn’t count.

          1. Butthurt Team Blue shill is butthurt.

            1. Uh clearly Romney is extremely, desperately butthurt. Some no-name website clinging to absolutely empty conjecture does not diminish my glee anymore than the painfully obvious desperation of the very visible Drudge.

              1. What’s it like Tony….what’s it like to sit there raging against someone who, well, could not give less of a shit if you lived or died?

                Or, conversely, to endlessly express your love for someone who could not give less of a shit whether you lived or died?

                1. I believe elections matter to my life. I don’t want another Republican recession. I have a job I’d like to keep. Love and hate have nothing to do with it.

                  1. I don’t want another Republican recession.

                    It doesn’t matter which one you vote for in that regard. They both favor the same economic policies.

                    1. True that Romney is a Keynesian, which is heartening. But the Congress that will be clinging to his coattails in the unlikely event he gets elected are crazy people with faith-based economics like you guys. Romney with a Dem Congress isn’t the apocalypse. If nothing else he certainly is malleable.

                    2. crazy people with faith-based economics

                      Lol! If there is such a thing as faith-based economics, it would certainly be Keynesianism that fits the bill.

                    3. But the Congress that will be clinging to his coattails in the unlikely event he gets elected are crazy people with faith-based economics like you guys.

                      Dude, if you REALLY think the majority of people in Congress are against things like the stimuli and QEs, you’re delusional.

                  2. Don’t you work for the State?

                    1. Ironically it’s John who works for the State, while I work for a private corporation dependent on the energy industries.

                    2. work for a private corporation dependent on the energy industries government subsidies.

                      FIFY.

      2. I don’t get this particular desperate conspiracy theory.

        Well, let me help you out.

        The gap conveniently cuts off Romney’s “47%” remarks.

        Mother Jones lied once about the tape (it wasn’t complete, it has a gap of unknown duration).

        The next story was that the gap was inadvertant, and happened as the tape was being made.

        However, the tape itself is inconsistent with that. There is no change in position of the camera at all, and not even any shake or wiggle as it is supposedly turned back on. At the beginning of the first segment, you can plainly see the usual fumbling around as this camera is turned on and placed. The beginning of the second segment has . . . nothing. It just starts.

        Likely, then, that the tape was edited. Why? What was edited out? Why are they lying about it?

        Aren’t you the least bit curious?

        1. Sure, but what Romney said in an unbroken chain of sentences was quite bad enough. Nobody’s talking about anything he didn’t clearly say.

          1. But, I thought editing out relevant bits of a tape was “taking out of context” and inherently dishonest?

            Isn’t that what the stock response to O’Keefe stings always is?

  9. “Redistribution” is taking from group A to benefit group B; to say that *all* taxation is redistribution is obfuscation. Note that Obama didn’t say, “I actually believe in taxation”.

    1. Yeah he was definitely referring more specifically to downward redistribution, specifically for the sake of giving people a safety net to increase the likelihood of their contributing productively to society.

      You guys certainly at least require that of people. If it were mere rational self-interest you celebrated than the moocher would be your hero.

      1. It is not in the rational self-interest of anyone to be a moocher. Only a materialist who can think no further ahead than the end of his nose would believe that it is in one’s interest to live without pride, self-esteem, or moral values.

        1. There are tons of rich people who game the system. Being rich makes that much easier, actually. Does their lack of pride, self-esteem, and moral values make them irrational?

          If you’re poor than rationality has more to do with putting food in your stomach than pride.

          So it’s just as I suspected. You guys aren’t rationalists, you are moral nannies obsessed with sticking your nose in people’s personal business.

          1. Actually, rationality and morality are both totally involved.

            From your comments, you seem to think that it’s totally appropriate to have a system in which a group of special chosen few have the power to make rules, confiscate wealth, distribute it at will, and threaten people with violence if they do not obey. This is perceived as legitimate for no other reason outside of the fact that people can vote for the special people with this power, and an appeal to ignorance: you know of no other possible configuration of humanity that you think is better, so this must be the best it can be, until someone demonstrates to you otherwise. (You should really look up an appeal to ignorance. Here’s a hint: it’s not rationalism.)

            There’s no reason why anyone should think that anything approaching good would come out of such a system, much less that such a system should converge on some objectively defined ideal.

  10. Oh, this looks bad for Obama… so Tony’s here to disrupt the thread and you all played along. Good job, everybody. Hit the showers. And don’t worry if you drop the soap.

  11. Once again, the full context of Obama’s remarks doesn’t help much.

    “How do we pool resources . . . ”

    How, indeed?

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