Third Party & Independents Archives

July 23, 2007

Unplanned America

Capitalism in America has made America a powerfully wealthy nation. Capitalism has also led to America becoming the largest most unplanned and undesigned nation in the world. Signs of this are so pervasive, we fail to even notice it.

Our airports - clogged and delayed beyond patience. Our roads and highways, clogged and delayed beyond patience. Our urban neighborhoods clogged by youth delayed in education, beyond patience. Our doctor's offices and hospitals clogged and delayed beyond patience.

Absence of the obvious are also telling signs of capitalism chasing dollars instead of government chasing a planned and deliberated national design. Border security - absent. Health insurance for 47 million Americans - absent. Quality public education for all children - absent. Ability to cope with natural disasters like Katrina - absent. Independence of nations with OIL hostile toward us - absent.

10's of millions of our nation's homeowners and ranchers are either seeing property values drop out of their control, or ever rising property taxes forcing them to sell. Our urban centers watch new waves of economic flight occur with each new working generation, as suburban areas become new urban blight, and rural areas become new suburban areas in an unplanned sprawl that is taxing our ability to police, commute to work, and create, let alone maintain, any sense of neighborhood and neighborliness.

Capitalism chasing the dollar is now demanding our government underwrite Coal as the energy source of the future. This is ludicrous. Coal was the fuel America most wanted to get rid of 35 years ago as a result of pollution and fouling of our nation's and planet's environment. Capitalism is chasing a new nuke plant in every area of the country, despite 3 Mile Island, Chernobyl, and the nuclear accident just last week in Japan, not to mention the fact that we haven't a clue how to dispose of the nuclear waste already accumulated, in a safe and cost effective manner.

Should capitalism be in charge of designing America's energy future? Should capitalism be in charge of our health care system? How about the design of our cities, suburbs, and neighborhoods? How about capitalism's newest area of absence of design, private education for K-12? Capitalism doesn't design such things for efficiency, social and cultural solidarity, or longevity. American capitalism plans such things for obsolescence and profit.

It doesn't have to be this way. Capitalism should provide what is needed to fulfill our designs and dreams. They should not dictate what those designs and dreams should be. We allow it to be this way.

But, we can stop allowing it anytime we the people decide to. We can demand lasting value for our consumer and tax dollars, both in our purchases, and of our government's representatives. We can demand an exchange in which business and corporations may profit from us consumers ONLY if they deliver sound consumer, community, and national value for our dollar.

The Japanese have known for decades this is what American consumers crave. Which is why they now dominate our marketplace in reliable, longer lasting vehicles, electronics, and upper class toys. The Japanese corporations invest in Japan's educational system, and theirs is rapidly producing an inordinate number of top notch engineers, designers, and innovators for such a small population. If their language was as pervasive in the world as English, they would be a direct competitor with the U.S. for college and university students from foreign lands.

It is important that our government call in industry leaders for consultation when designing everything from building codes to fuel efficiency standards. But we the people, through our representatives, should design those codes and standards for maximum value. American capitalists will design them for maximum replacement cycles.

But, through our campaign finance system, our legislators don't just consult with them, they actually ask capitalist industries to design social and national policy. Big Mistake! Huge! This is precisely why it costs American taxpayers $350 for a bolt in a military machine, or $200 for a military toilet seat. When the capitalists control government decision making, it is not the nation that benefits, but, that small subset of the population called capitalist investors.

We need our capitalists and investors. But we also need an independent government in charge of and capable of deciding the design for our nation's infrastructure so that it has lasting value, and so enduring quality can be built into our roads, bridges, buildings, homes, utility infrastructure, energy infrastructure, health care infrastructure, urban and neighborhood environments which place work close to home, and destratify economic classes so they can get to know and work with each other and solve common problems, instead of distrusting and campaigning against each other.

To get that kind of government requires a very different kind of politician. One who is educated, creative, and committed by personal investment in, and loyalty to, our nation's future and all her people, to bring about the best possible designs for America's future. This kind of politician cannot be beholding to capitalist investors for election or reelection. And it is usually going to be a bad idea to elect a capitalist, or worse, in the case of our President, a failed capitalist wannabe, to public office.

A future unplanned for, as we all know, is a future likely wasted by disorganization, lack of focus, and priority. And our government, is without question, responsible for our nation's future; its viability, its survivability, and its quality. We need politicians capable of bringing the best minds from all areas of expertise together for information and ideas, but, who will them self, assume the responsibility for designing the best future possible for all of America's future citizens.

Capitalist investors concern themselves primarily with a small segment in the market for their product and service from whom they can maximize their profit potential. Capitalist investors make horrible national planners and designers. It is important for us voters to bear this in mind when we step into that voting booth to decide our nation's future.

Posted by David R. Remer at July 23, 2007 01:04 PM
Comments
Comment #227188

David,

Good article, although seem to have changed your mind on this subject half way through. At first, you directly blamed many problems on capitalism. But then you realized the real cause: corrupt government. It took a few tries, but you finally hit the nail on the head.

You’re right when you say we need a new type of politician. All those problems you brought up exist because we allow bribery of our government. So-called “campaign donations” from businesses must be outlawed. Only hardcore party-supporters see these as anything other than bribes.

Posted by: TheTraveler at July 23, 2007 04:32 PM
Comment #227189

Nope, Traveller, didn’t change my mind or argument. I began the article praising capitalism for what it does best, and went on to point out that government policy and management is what they do worst in most cases. Nothing inconsistent and no U-turns involved.

Government requires a very different focus and has a different responsibility than that of a capitalist investment business manager.

Of course, I agree with you entirely regarding the legal and illegal bribery and blackmail which is the foundation of our campaign finance system.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 23, 2007 04:57 PM
Comment #227199

While I believe that capitalism is better than any other economic system, out of control capitalism, one that controls government, is very dangerous. It’s just as dangerous as socialism and communism. Both of which is an economic system. Not a form of government. Despite what some folks would like to have us believe.
In order to keep politicians from being controlled by out of control capitalism major reform in campaign finance is needed. Businesses and special interest needs to barred from contributing to political campaigns. As long as these are allowed to bribe politicians with large contributions to their campaigns capitalism will continue to control the government.

Posted by: Ron Brown at July 23, 2007 06:23 PM
Comment #227211

David

In the U.S. economy we believe in evolution instead of intelligent design. Our economy is the result of millions of small decisions, experiments, success and failure. It make no sense to those who try to figure out who is in charge, but clearly large scale cental planners have done a much worse job of creating wealth and general prosperity than our freer market has produced.

The best way for the government to plan is to create conditions where the people can plan for themselves.


Posted by: Jack at July 23, 2007 08:24 PM
Comment #227214

David,

Great article. Now here’s why it’s all wrong… (the short response by necessity)

The first major flaw with this political theory is that planned economies make even worse choices than ‘unplanned capitalism’. Planned economies are notoriously poorly planned — every time it’s tried!

Secondly, the kind of ‘planned economy’ which you would hail as our salvation has already been tried. It’s called corporatism. We can thank Mussolini for discrediting precisely this kind of government/capitalist partnership. Your preferred form of government is in fact a part of history which you may want to study. It is economic fascism.

It is important that our government call in industry leaders for consultation when designing everything from building codes to fuel efficiency standards. But we the people, through our representatives, should design those codes and standards for maximum value. American capitalists will design them for maximum replacement cycles.

But, through our campaign finance system, our legislators don’t just consult with them, they actually ask capitalist industries to design social and national policy. Big Mistake! Huge! This is precisely why it costs American taxpayers $350 for a bolt in a military machine, or $200 for a military toilet seat. When the capitalists control government decision making, it is not the nation that benefits, but, that small subset of the population called capitalist investors.

Thirdly, the ‘unplanned capitalism’ you are speaking of isn’t unplanned at all. When a property owner sells his land to a developer who builds a shopping mall it is in fact highly planned. What you refer to as unplanned is in fact your determination that what others do with their private property should be your decision rather than theirs.

This is a far more egregious shredding of the constitution than any imagined phone tapping ‘scandal’.

By necessity planned economies will have to resort to limiting both free speech and private property in order to ‘plan’ the economy. It is a new version, ‘sheep’s clothing’ if you will, of old ideas, David.

Posted by: esimonson at July 23, 2007 09:40 PM
Comment #227215

Fourthly, moving from ‘unplanned capitalism, which, even by your account has made America a wealthy and powerful nation, would in fact have the effect of making America a third world nation in a short period of time.

Posted by: esimonson at July 23, 2007 09:46 PM
Comment #227216

David,

I may be way off base here, but I personally believe the hold capitalism has on our society today amounts to little more than the hold our European ancestors had on indigenous Americans. With certain exceptions (such as this electronic ink machine) most of what feeds the capitalist machine is “bobbles and beads”.

One example that comes to mind is video games ———- they hold someones attention just like any other new shiny toy, that is to say NOT LONG! They’ve also resulted in a level of physical inactivity that has contributed to a decline in the health of our nations young.

You’ve already mentioned the MIC so I’ll not beat that dead horse other than to say, WASTE. I’ve personally witnessed waste running rampant in both a state government bureaucracy and in a neoliberal corporate environment.

In the case of the state bureaucracy the result was providing less of the services that we were there to provide. In the case of the corporation the result was outsourcing to Mexico, increased workloads and reduced safety standards for laborers, and ultimately the lay-off of 75% of the American workforce, while we in even lower management, R&D, etc. enjoyed handsome bonuses.

My third and final part of this rant has to do with OIL! I graduated from high school at the age of seventeen in 1969. I was a poor boy but my grades and my fathers deceased veteran status earned me two scholarships and a few other perks, but I wouldn’t have been able to complete even my basically community college education without Greyhound and Continental Trailways.

Now you can’t get anywhere in rural America unless you own at least one car……….I know because I can’t drive! Jimmy Carter was the last POTUS to really push conservation. Given our ever growing population step number one in reducing our dependence on foreign oil and reducing our negative effect on the environment is conservation.

The Cheney cartel’s made conservation a freakin’ joke. I know two business owners (hardware & floral) that opted for Suburbans to replace their fleets of minivans because of Bush-Co tax breaks. OTOH they certainly served the capitalist interests………very temporarily.

The effect of capitalism is always temporary. Every time the capitalists come to visit they must offer the newest and shiniest bobbles and beads!

The most recent blend of politics and capitalism (beyond the MIC) is the notion that privatization of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, etc. will result in improved coverage and lower costs even though facts surrounding the Medicare part D plan and Medicare Advantage plans point the other way, not to mention the 17 to 18% of Americans lacking any health insurance at all.

Still, they keep dangling those bobbles and beads in front of us and we keep biting just like fish at the shiny spinning bait. And just like the fish we’ll continue to be filleted unless we learn.

Posted by: KansasDem at July 23, 2007 09:49 PM
Comment #227217

Boy, Jack, did you miss the thrust of this article. Just where in this article did you find your projection of a Communist cabal designing a central plan for all people to obey and comply to?

Paranoia strikes deep. I know, I know, I didn’t spell it out in detail so a fearful conservative could climb over their fear. You see, Jack, in America we have a host of researchers and academics who have studied in depth the sociological and psychological impacts of various community designs. We have similar experts who have studied the economic and financial impacts of our varied urban designs and absence thereof, and some newer ones based on proven more productive and efficient models, from home to work commutes to energy efficiency in design and implementation.

What I suggest in this article is that we elect politicians who will consult with and heed the advice of researchers, and who can recognize the validity of their data if it’s there, AS OPPOSED to letting the for profit developers design the codes and layouts for maximum sales with little to no regard for maximum quality and durability.

Guess you missed this clear implication that all voters have to do is insist that politicians listen good old American know how, instead of good old American greed. Hope that helped you over whatever seeming fears of marxist conspiracy you may have projected into this article.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 23, 2007 09:55 PM
Comment #227218

David:

What country to you see that is governed according to your standards?

Craig

Posted by: Craig Holmes at July 23, 2007 10:15 PM
Comment #227220

Craig, what, you want America to follow other country’s model all of a sudden? WoW! What happened to good old American ingenuity and creativity and leadership into territory none others have dared tread in the name of a better way. Oh, yeah, I forgot. We sold it to the Japanese, who now use it in our Toyota and Honda manufacturing plants to provide better cars, better jobs, and better pay to American workers than American companies can.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 23, 2007 10:25 PM
Comment #227221

esimonson,

I’m curious where the underpaid, uninsured, and undereducated play into your scheme of things. Do I dare even mention those who are incapable of caring for themselves?

Shouldn’t there be some balance, or rather some reasonable controls so we stop moving towards a society who’s only motivation is monetary domination? Or is the ultimate goal to be the one who dies with the most money and assets?

As wealthy as we are as a nation we couldn’t prevent a few idealogical extremists from hijacking airliners and turning them into weapons. We seem to be unable or unwilling to care for all of our own countrymen or their families and most shamefully we’ve failed to even provide proper care to our veterans.

With a national debt approaching 70% of GDP and looming disasters regarding the elderly, disabled, and poor we have to decide whether or not we want to be the worlds next huge disgrace. Will we be the Darfur of the future?

Posted by: KansasDem at July 23, 2007 10:31 PM
Comment #227224

David:

Sorry, I am just curious. What country do you like that governs according to your standards?

Craig

Posted by: Craig Holmes at July 23, 2007 10:39 PM
Comment #227226

Craig, reread my last reply. The answer is in there. I have to work at these articles and replies, it is only fair to ask readers to do a little thinking about them, IMO. I never respected the answers given to me so highly as those which I was led toward but had to take the last step/s on my own.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 23, 2007 10:50 PM
Comment #227228

Craig, good question to David. I mostly appreciate David’s posts and research, however, I would like to hear him state (1) a country (2) that it is a process/model he’d like to see instated.

Posted by: Edge at July 23, 2007 11:07 PM
Comment #227232

David:

I think the question is fair. I also think it is fine if you prefer another way of doing economics. There must be somewhere on earth that you can point to and say, “here, this is a place that does economics the way I think they should be done.”

I know what you are against. I want to know what you are for. I want the name of a country whose economic policies reflect your beliefs.

Craig

Posted by: Craig Holmes at July 23, 2007 11:41 PM
Comment #227236

David, great article, except for the obvious (gee, we are in the Independent part of the blog) 3rd party tilt. Sorry, I won’t be sold on the Third Party line until a third party comes along that isn’t at one extreme or the other. Until that happens, no third party candidate will be electable, and thus I will not support them. I would rather try to change from within. Evolution rather than revolution, if you will.

Craig and Edge: Why does David need to point out a country that does things the way he thinks is good? America itself was an experiment in a new way of doing things, or at least based on an old way that hadn’t been tried in 1500 years. Checks and balances, republican representative structure, a two house Congress, these were all brand new ideas in the late 18th century. So why can’t American forge ahead and remake herself in a new mold, one that truly befits a world leader of the 21st century? Find the balance between the forces of capitalism and the needs of the people and of the Earth. That is the path to tread.

L

Posted by: leatherankh at July 24, 2007 12:09 AM
Comment #227242

“Why does David need to point out a country that does things the way he thinks is good?”

BAM!

You’ve got it leatherankh! IMO it’s not a matter of trying to be “like” anyone else. It’s looking at what we are and trying to be better.

Almost anyone knows that nothing stands still. We can either move forward or backward, certainly we’ll experience periods where we go back and forth and side to side, but for some reason we seem to be stuck on stupid right now.

Most of America’s strength has been acquired since the controls introduced by FDR took affect and ever since then SOME of the capitalists have been trying to destroy every program that has resulted in us becoming numero uno! Like it or not we’re all in this together.

Unless we add support to the weakest links in our society we will fail just as other nations have failed.

Posted by: KansasDem at July 24, 2007 01:04 AM
Comment #227244

Like I said, David does his homework. If this is theory then call it that. IMO we need to stand by what we say as represented.

KansasDem, standing by our weakest links in society has never been a success. You balance standing by them with pulling their collective arses up by the boot straps. Plenty of Americans want you to stand by them without any accountablility. Where is the accountability man? A bloke has to stand for his own rights, not wait for someone to stand on their own behalf.

Posted by: Edge at July 24, 2007 02:10 AM
Comment #227245

KansasDem,

I have absolutely no problem with taking care of those who need our help. In fact, I spend a lot of my time doing just that.

However, the problem comes when you force someone else to do it by legally putting a gun to their head to do so. I’ve never really been able to support that kind of ‘help’.

Posted by: Rhinehold at July 24, 2007 02:21 AM
Comment #227248

KansasDem,
One example that comes to mind is video games ———- they hold someones attention just like any other new shiny toy, that is to say NOT LONG! They’ve also resulted in a level of physical inactivity that has contributed to a decline in the health of our nations young.

You know, I’ve noticed something: Democrats treat video gamers exactly the same same way Republicans treat homosexuals.
Gaming doesn’t make people violent and it doesn’t hurt out health.
You would think it would be the Reps coming out against video games, but for some reason it’s usually democrats. Hillery is a good example.

Posted by: TheTraveler at July 24, 2007 03:35 AM
Comment #227250
The first major flaw with this political theory is that planned economies make even worse choices than ‘unplanned capitalism’. Planned economies are notoriously poorly planned — every time it’s tried

How about some real examples instead of a blanket statement????

Posted by: Rachel at July 24, 2007 07:45 AM
Comment #227252

David

Decision makers consult experts, but they make the decision. Those sociologists who study the poor gave us the war on poverty, which we lost. Those experts on economics often do not understand the dynamism of the system they study. If you let experts run things, things will be run as well as most university departments.

I am not sure we disagree, so let me explain what I am saying. Experts are very often narrow and poor at making choices. That is how they got to be experts in their fields. Theirs is a different skill set from decision makers. They should be consulted - yes - consulted.

Some things should not be planned at all by governments, or planned only in broad lines of infrastructure. We probably disagree on the details of this.

We probably also disagree on the general state of America. I think it is very good. Whatever we have been doing is working well in comparison to what most others are doing. That does not mean that we should not seek constant improvement or learn from the experience of others, but our system is not broken. It requires constant work, but it does not require radical change.

Consider environment. This is the one we always complain about. 40 years ago, we identified a serious problem with pollution such as so2, shoot, CO, NOx etc in the air and sewerage and chemicals in the water. We largely solved those problems. The air and water in the U.S. is cleaner than in most places in the world (and I have been to many). Recently we have identified CO2 as a problem. 40 years ago, scientists and experts mostly agreed CO2 was harmless (listen to the experts, right). I have confidence that after a short time we will address this problem, as effectively as we addressed acid rain in the early 1990s. After we do that, we will identify another problem. Identifying and solving problems is a sign of success.


BTW - re science - I was talking to my son about dinosaurs the other day. It seems that most of the science I learned back when I was a kid is wrong. They even changed the names of many of the dinosaurs. That is the way science is. It changes and is never settled. That is why you can never “let science decide”. Experts in the pseudo sciences like sociology or econometrics have an even worse record when it comes to deciding. That is why good decision making - consulting experts but not relying on any particular ones - is such a useful and rare skill.

Posted by: Jack at July 24, 2007 07:52 AM
Comment #227254

Perhaps the VA used to be run efficiently…it still may be efficient, but, according to the lawsuit being filed against it, it isn’t functioning for our sons & daughters who are returning from Iraq:

Yet, the lawsuit says, Nicholson and other officials still insisted on a budget in 2005 that fell $1 billion short, and they made “a mockery of the rule of law” by awarding senior officials $3.8 million in bonuses despite their role in the budget foul-up.

Today, the VA’s backlog of disability payments is between 400,000 and 600,000, with delays of up to 177 days to process an initial claim and an average of 657 days to process an appeal.

Posted by: Rachel at July 24, 2007 08:00 AM
Comment #227269

Jack, would you send a NASA mission into space without a mission design to insure its success? If not, I fail to see any logic in the position that government should be absent a mission design for its various policy directions and areas of responsibility. Government already takes its design from wealthy special interests, and it is having extremely bad consequences.

We need to raise the caliber of our politicians such that they are capable of understanding and synthesizing the information from the experts into a cohesive plan that minimizes waste and failure, very much as NASA mission managers do. We would do no less for a Mission to Mars or the Moon, why should we tolerate less for the mission of charting America’s future?

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 24, 2007 11:59 AM
Comment #227277

David

NASA is a technical and scientific venture. Those you can plan. Economic and social things are harder. There are many more players and they do not agree on basic goals and values.

We are both reasonable guys. I bet if we each made a list of the things most important for a just, fair and prosperous society, one that we would NOT participate in personally to keep us disinterested, it would be very different. We have litte consensus on goals and values so making a program to reach them is hard.

Beyond that, in NASA you are talking physics. Physics is probably the hardest (i.e. most rigorous) of the sciences. When you start dealing even with biology you have more variations and less knowable outcomes. By the time you go to sociology, you really do not have science at all.

Charting America’s future cannot be a science either. It is based on values and reasonable disagreements. The system we have now allows for more pluralism than any other large scale system I have seen or even heard of. It allows the most people the largest range of choices BECAUSE it does not impose an overall plan on us all.

Posted by: Jack at July 24, 2007 01:32 PM
Comment #227278

David:

The reason government does not do the planning you want done is that business is against it. Business pays legislators to write - sometimes business itself writes the legislation - that helps business.

Republicans go along with this because business is where they get their campaign money. Democrats don’t like this but they do it too in order to get campaign money.

The only way of achieving what you want is to take the power of money out of campaigns. The best way to accomplish this is to have government fund campaigns. This has been a liberal goal for a long time.

Posted by: Paul Siegel at July 24, 2007 02:27 PM
Comment #227279

Paul, that is precisely what I wrote in my article. That is what has to be changed. Jack and conservatives opposed to national planning don’t realize it is already being planned, just extremely badly by the highest bidders on election campaigns. It is one of the primary reasons America has no follow through on a lot of legislation, like the 1986 Amnesty and border security law, or Social Security and Medicare reform. The wealthy special interests won’t allow it. America the nation and her people suffer for it in a host of ways, the least of which is paying taxes and getting little back from them as promised by the politicians.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 24, 2007 02:44 PM
Comment #227280

Jack said: “Those you can plan. Economic and social things are harder.”

And JFK said “We do these things not because they are easy, but, because they are hard.” Great words those. Too bad Republicans fight them so adamantly. Ironic that Republicans support the impossible like Iraq, but, won’t support the merely difficult, for their own nation.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 24, 2007 02:47 PM
Comment #227292

David

It is not only hard to plan the economy. It is impossible and the attempt is undesirable. Let firms plan. Let individuals plan. Let NGOs plan. Let government create the infrastructure and protect the rule of law needed for these enterprises. Government can plan that part if they need to plan.

You are right when you say it is being planned. It is planned by the people, by firms and by NGOs. In other words, it is planned by the American nation, not by the American government. This is how it should be. The government has enough trouble planning for itself.

Posted by: Jack at July 24, 2007 04:13 PM
Comment #227301

Jack said: “Let government create the infrastructure and protect the rule of law needed for these enterprises.”

But, that’s my point. Corporations and other wealthy special interests block infrastructure, force other infrastructure and draft the laws TO FAVOR THE CORPORATION! Not the nation’s future, not the American people, and NOT our Constitutional form of government designed to insure NO minority interest or Group controls the power of government.

Health insurance lobbyists are complicit in keeping America from resolving the health care crisis and that component of the unsustainable Medicare/Medicaid entitlement program. The oil industry has been complicit in preventing America from moving toward energy independence. The Pharmaceutical industry has single handed been forcing taxpayers to underwrite far cheaper sales of their product to every other nation of the world EXCEPT this one, which pays a premium.

This is not sound government policy and not a sound path toward our future, Jack. It has to stop.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 24, 2007 05:57 PM
Comment #227317

Jack said: “In the U.S. economy we believe in evolution instead of intelligent design.”

Questions:

Who is the ‘we’ in the U.S. economy you mention above?

Evolution as in natural process, or evolution by building upon previous designs which worked and improving them? Crucial question. What worked before had a designer. What worked before may not work now. What will be needed to work tomorrow should be left to chance of evolution, or expertise in design and problem solving?

Intelligent design as in NASA? Intelligent design as in the Trump Towers? Intelligent design as in traffic flow analysis and intersection lights altering their pattern according to the needs of the traffic flow density, speed, and direction?

Intelligent design as in paying for our expenses today and using surplus to invest in tomorrow? That kind of intelligent design.

Or, are you talking about the intelligent design of Oil Companies reaping tax subsidies while experiencing historical record breaking profit years? Or, the intelligent design of Haliburton bilking the American people for billions and hightailing it to the Dubai in the UAE while the absconding is good? Or the intelligent design of voting booth counters capable of rigging results without accountable backtracking mechanisms? Or the intelligent design the Ag, construction, and service industries lobbying Congress for open borders during a time of war and potential attacks from illegal entrants into our country?

Intelligent design is precisely what I am asking for. Intelligent action is judged by its results. Put a cook in charge of baking up an atomic weapon, and you won’t get what you asked for. Putting corporate lobbyists in charge of national policy and legislation is the same analogy. Governments goals and responsibility is not making a profit for corporations. Government’s responsibility is to meet the needs of the nation as intelligently, efficiently, cost effectively, and durably, as possible. These are not the goals of corporations. Hence they will be irresponsible, often in the extreme, regarding the goals of government laid out in our Constitution, and have proved to be so, in thousands and thousands of ways.

We have to stop putting profit makers in charge of national defense, in charge of education, in charge of tax policy, in charge of border policy, in charge of elections. For that is precisely the role of corporate and other wealthy special interest lobbyists, to take charge of policy for their own benefit, not the nation’s, not the people’s, and not the nation’s or the people’s future, but, for their next annual shareholder’s profit statements.

Their seat at the table should be in offering the products and services government requires to meet its obligations. Not defining what those obligations are.

Classic example. Border Security. Our nation needs it, our people need it. 9/11 proved it. No brainer. Government should be taking counsel from the private sector on what technologies exist and at what cost and effectiveness per cost, to meet that obligation. Our Government SHOULD NOT be buckling to private wealthy and corporate special interests to NOT INSTALL border security. Yet, that is precisely what has happened.

6 years after 9/11 and we have secured what, 300 miles of border? That is what happens when government allows corporate and wealthy special interests to design America’s future.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 24, 2007 08:01 PM
Comment #227318
Health insurance lobbyists are complicit in keeping America from resolving the health care crisis and that component of the unsustainable Medicare/Medicaid entitlement program.

I’m sorry, but isn’t Medicaid the program that progressives hold up as an example of how great the government is in operating a program, especially a health care one? Aren’t some of the plans predicated on expanding medicaid/medicare?

How do I resolve that one group of people say that these programs are awesome and another say that it’s failure and unsustainability that requires a change?

Posted by: Rhinehold at July 24, 2007 08:02 PM
Comment #227326

Rhinehold, good question to which there is a fairly simple answer, by way of example. Let’s say I make widgets, and I make 100 widgets a day very efficiently and with high quality. Also assume for the sake of argument, I am the only person with the knowledge to make these widgets. I make these widgets for 50 cents and sell them for $1. I am making $50 in profit every day (100 widgets times .50 per widget profit.).

OK. I look down the road and see that the demand for my widgets is going to increase by 1000% in 10 years, which will require that I increase the size of my facility to make widgets by 400%. That will cost me $20 per day profit to save enough to sell this small facility and buy a much bigger facility. But, instead of saving that $20 per day, I choose instead to buy a bigger house, and limousine, and a Villa on the Riviera over the next 10 years.

That is how one can explain that I am best widget manager in the U.S. and at the same time the worst manager the business world has ever seen.

Medicaid is very well and efficiently run. But, there is an enormous increase in demand just around the corner, and the inflation of health care costs is eating into Medicaid’s ability to serve the present population, let alone the increased demand for it coming just around the next decade’s corner with a rapid growth in the aged in our country.

Government is not taking the steps necessary to meet the increased demand coming nor, to combat health care cost inflation driven by the health insurers, health care contractors, and health care investors and managers. And failure to do so will be catastrophic for our Parents and grandparents, and our economy. You cannot remove 20-40 million consumers and tax payers from the economy and tax rolls and hope that the economy or the government can hold up under the crushing loss consumer dollars and federal revenues.

This is why the Fed Chair Ben Bernanke said several months ago, that “the time to act on entitlement spending is 10 years ago.” And each year we delay means a greater hit to our economy and government balance sheet 10 thru 45 years from now.

Alan Greenspan is even more direct, now that he is no longer beholding to any administration for a job. Greenspan said a failure to act effectively and responsibly on this could result in the end of democratic capitalism.

These men are not crackpots. They are the best, brightest, and most experienced our economics world has to offer.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 24, 2007 08:47 PM
Comment #227327

David

It is a question of how and who makes decisions. In the evolutionary decision making, decisions are decentralized and many different experiments are going on at the same time. Those things that work well are copied and multiply. Those things that do not are discarded.

It is very difficult for government, which is by nature a rule making and top down organization, to make decisions in this fashion. Just laws, by their nature, apply uniformly. There is no room for experimentation. We need law and we need government, but we need them in their proper limited places.

Government is status quo. It is not innovative. The U.S. is very innovative because the government, generally, knows its place.

When you mention planning for traffic etc, I agree. LOCAL governments should certainly plan those things. We would expect specific rules to be different in different places as they experiment and meet different preferences. The problem is we try to Federalize these things and make rules for the whole country. If you keep these sorts of plans local, I have no problem.

When you talk re government failures (oil subsidies, border policy etc) I agree. But I understand that the solution is LESS government in general. Government consistently fails at tasks regarding the distribution of economic goods. Maybe it should stay out of that business. Maybe it could do a better job of the things it needs to do (like border control you mention) if it would stay away from things that are none of its business. Rhinehold covers some of these points.

Re surplus and deficit, BTW, government should really run neither a surplus nor a large deficit. The Federal government needs some debt in order to manage the money supply. All currency is a form of government debt. Beyond that, it should not invest in anything besides general infrastructure. We the people can take care of the investing.

Posted by: Jack at July 24, 2007 08:47 PM
Comment #227330

Jack said: “Government consistently fails at tasks regarding the distribution of economic goods. Maybe it should stay out of that business.”

There is that Republican denial of reality that prevents me from ever becoming a Republican. Should, could, would, does not describe reality, it describes ideology.

Jack, let me ask a very straight forward rhetorical question. If the government, one year from today, ended all entitlement programs, Would the American economy survive the retirement of the baby boomers?

Answer, absolutely NOT! It would collapse. Millions and millions of health care, government, insurance, and medical manufacturer workers would be thrown out of work. And the loss of their consumption dollars would affect the earnings of 10’s of millions of others. It would create an economic depression that would make the Grapes of Wrath sound like a fairy story with a happy ending.

Almost 70 years of economic system building now underwrites the economy we have today. The time to ask whether or not government should provide services for tax dollars of the kind we have today, was 70 years ago. We have an economy in which the government is the largest employer, providing trillions of dollars of service to the economy on everything from defense contracts to agricultural subsidies for failed crops and drought, to Social Security and Medicare. That is the reality, Jack.

You may wish to abandon that reality, but, it is insane to advocate doing so without a realistic assessment of the consequences of that action. Screw the ideology man. We are a mixed economy and with tremendous economic challenges before us just a decade away, this is no time to chuck it all and start over from scratch saying to hell with the effects upon the American people, let alone the world’s populations whose economies depend in part upon our own.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 24, 2007 09:05 PM
Comment #227336

David,

I don’t know anyone saying we should ‘immediately pull out’ of entitlements. I also haven’t heard anyone suggest that those who can’t take care of themselves shouldn’t be taken care of by the government now (though I think a long term goal to replace that spending with groups like the Red Cross should be considered when and IF it appears possible) but instead of looking at what we are doing wrong you suggest we continue down this same path that has put us in this place to begin with and EXPAND upon it?

For healtcare specificially it is precisely the lack of choice in the system that has caused the runaway costs that we see today. The doctors and nurses do not see the profit that are collected on the backs of the patients, it’s the insurance providers and HMOs. I would much rather look at what the problem is and resolve it instead of using the situation to incite MORE class hatred and expand the use of government into our decision making just to gain power for politicians, such that we are seeing today. You complain about the politics being involved in the decisionmaking now but want to INCREASE the politics involved?

But I’ll bite, how would you suggest that ‘big business’ is blocked out of the political process so that it’s interest are no longer represented and ‘the little guy’ is who government is for?

Posted by: Rhinehold at July 24, 2007 09:48 PM
Comment #227342

David

I do not propose eliminating entitlements. We need to control their growth and introduce more market mechanisms to allow people more freedom to choose and take care of themselves. We need for most people to take care of themselves most of the time. Those who cannot or will not do so need help, but it should not be the default option.

We also need to reform those systems like SS that were set up to address a set of problems very different than we have today.

I do not want to get rid of government. I want it to be in its place. Government and the rule of law are essential to a market economy. But government cannot properly innovate or create wealth. It is a wealth consumer and redistributor. That is the role of government. And we must remember that wealth must be created before it can be consumed or redistributed.

The private economy is the goose that lays the golden eggs. As long as government does not take too much or try to take the goose apart, everything is okay. When government begins to think it is actually in the golden egg business, we got problems.

Posted by: Jack at July 24, 2007 11:01 PM
Comment #227346

Rhinehold, said: “you suggest we continue down this same path that has put us in this place to begin with and EXPAND upon it?”

Where did I suggest that? Expanding it is not possible. Ending it is not possible. Either option leads to a failed economy in less than 2 decades.

And that two decades that puts is in the thick of the retiring babyboomers, as well as a monumental national debt, is precisely why we can’t phase out the mixed economy system we adopted in the 1930’s. There just isn’t time anymore. It’s why Bernanke said ‘The time to deal with the entitlement crisis is 10 years ago.’

The only option now is to take decisive and quick action to mitigate the harm that is coming. A great many laudable steps have been proffered to do just that. More will be needed.

But the very first steps to be taken by our government are to allocate benefits ONLY to those needing them, raise taxes and cut spending and start producing surpluses to offset later deficits, and take dramatic actions to lower, or halt this health care system inflation, that is annually moving up the timetable on how soon entitlement spending creates huge debt and debilitations to our economy, and/or human casualties for lack of medical treatment.

A universal health care system can take the burden of health care off of corporations and business, provided they raise wages for non-wealthy workers by a commensurate amount, to be allocated directly into medical savings accounts from which workers may draw upon for the deductibles, and medical and preventive expenses not covered by the universal health care system. Private health care providers contracting with the Federal Government for provider status must become non-profit organizations.

These initial steps can and will mitigate the effects of retiring boomers on the economy, at one time keeping them in the economy as consumers (preventing their bankruptcy due to medical expenses) and preventing millions from having to die or suffer for lack of resources and access to medical care.

Universal health care taxes will need to be implemented ASAP on a progressive scale. Those with the most to lose financially in 15 to 20 years will be those seeking investment returns in 15 to 20 years, in the face an of an economic depression if we fail to act. Taxes hurt. Depression destroys. This is a no brainer to all but those who believe they will be invulnerable to the crisis of inaction, like Haliburton which is moving to Dubai, or the Trump, Bush, Cheney, and Kennedy families who already have enough wealth to remain wealthy in the wake of a depression.

There is no way working Americans can, or will, cut back on current quality of life sufficiently to voluntarily save for the next 10 to 20 years to fund their own medical care through self-insurance. And if we do nothing, private health insurance will be affordable only to the wealthier Americans. That is a political reality that is inescapable.

But, our government can begin being honest with the American people and warn them that in 20 years, regardless of how effective new reforms are, the more personal savings they have for medical care and retirement, the more comprehensive medical care they will be able to afford. It is therefore, in their and their children’s best interest interest to start saving now, and government in partnership with private investment firms can and should offer low risk saving vehicles for this purpose.

These are only some of the first steps to be taken. Following these will be the need to increasingly narrow the coverage offered by universal single payer health care system. This will be necessary from the rising costs resulting from increased demand for long term care as retired boomers age. The system will increasingly become a necessary medical procedure only system, with perhaps a 50% matching of private saved funds for procedures not covered but for which future healthy condition is threatened (ie preventive health care procedures).

But, as complex as this or other prophylactic steps sound and as politically unsavory as these sound, the consequence of inaction is many, many times worse, for workers, their families, businesses and corporations, and our nation as a whole. Every year we delay increases the costs to everyone and the nation, up to and potentially including, an economic depression the likes of which America never wants to write into its history books.

Perhaps our politicians are waiting until after the 2008 elections to get started. Perhaps that too is an inescapable reality. But, if voters don’t demand planning and action from the candidates BEFORE they are elected in exchange for their vote, the risk of inaction grows very much higher.

Whether one agrees or disagrees with Michael Moore’s movie “Sicko”, its timing could not be better. The alarm bell has been rung. It only remains to be seen if the American people and their government will respond, or sit back complacent in the knowledge that others have cried the sky is falling, and the sky remains above.

But, skies do fall history shows. Ancient Rome, the USSR, the unstoppable Nazi Germany, the British in India, Imperial Japan, the American Civil War, the 1960’s, Viet Nam. America is vulnerable, and those who say it can’t happen here, very likely said that very same thing prior to Sept. 11, 2001. They now live in a new reality, and ironically continue to say, it can’t happen here.

Polls show however, that the majority of Americans know better. Hopefully that dramatic dissatisfaction with government today, will translate into a demand for reform and change which meets the challenges ahead, instead of allowing politicians to continue to play it politically safe till the next election, and the one after that, and the one after that.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 24, 2007 11:58 PM
Comment #227347

David:

The coming age wave has many solutions. You mention some of them.

I believe the answer is complex and requires many smaller solutions to “get her done”.

From what I understand, it’s not so much the baby boomers as it is longer life. Please don’t ask me which Bernanke speech, but it came from him. He said basically this problem will still be with us “long after babyboomers have passed from the scene”.

Basically, we need a debate about what is an appropriate government response to longer life. If longer life were uniform, I would say just move retirement age to say 70 for starters. There is a problem with that. Although we are moving to an informational society, we are not completely there. Many jobs are traditional in that the contain manual labor with bodies that give out long before 70.

Also, with Social Security some depend more on it than others. In general I would be for leaving SS the same for lower income workers and adjusting it for higher income workers. I would also be for making SS taxable for wealthier americans.

I think we need to means test Medicare. We need to stop subsidizing the wealthy on medicare.

We also need to uncover why medical expenses are rising so much. Capitalism can bring the costs down, but we have to break up the monopolies. I know we have a huge difference of opinion on the scope of the entitlement crisis. However is medical expenses continue to rise above the rate of GDP growth, watch for the trend of going overseas for medical procedures to mushroom. I can see clinics on both our northern and southern boarders for many procedures. (I know they are there now, but I mean in greatly expanded form). These “Walmart” hospitals staffed with foreigners will do for medicine what china has done for the junk we all can’t live without.

If you look at medicine as a commodity it has had a long bull market. Wow it looks to me like it’s time for it to come down. We need to break up the monopolies and get some competition in there.

I think we need to continue with pro growth policies. We are outstripping Europe in economic growth. That increases the tax base and long term increases government revenue.

I think we need targeted immigration reform that allows younger high trained immigrants a shorter line. This increases revenue.

I don’t believe we need budget surpluses. I do however believe we need smaller deficits that are less than the growth of GDP. This will allow the debt to grow at a slower rate than the rest of the economy. There is no reason not to do this with the economy doing so well.

I could go on and on, but that’s enough for now.


Craig

Posted by: Craig Holmes at July 25, 2007 12:20 AM
Comment #227348

David:

Thought of something else. I disagree with you that a huge fiscal crisis is coming. I mentioned this to you before. We are nearing the zenith of babyboomer power in congress. We are voting now for programs we want but aren’t going to be the ones to pay for them.

In only about 13 years, the tide will turn and a majority of Congress will not younger than babyboomers. The chance of them voting for bankruptcy is zero. They will vote to cut benefits long before then.

A better call to action I think is that if the house is in order and we have reasonable proposals that are well funded, there is less of a chance of the next generation to cut out benefits. Right now with no action, it appears we are all still smoking pot if we think the next group is going to say “OF course we will bankrupt ourselves so you can live well.”

The big crisis isn’t going to happen because it’s in our interest to fix this thing before a crisis comes.

Craig

Posted by: Craig Holmes at July 25, 2007 12:25 AM
Comment #227354

Jack said: “I do not propose eliminating entitlements. We need to control their growth and introduce more market mechanisms to allow people more freedom to choose and take care of themselves. We need for most people to take care of themselves most of the time. Those who cannot or will not do so need help, but it should not be the default option.”

I agree.

Jack said: “But government cannot properly innovate or create wealth.”

Tell that to defense contractors and their workers and investors. Tell that to the staff and administrators and employees receiving a government paycheck and benefits for essential government services. Tell that to the corporations which take patents on research and development funded by tax dollars. Tell that to the foreign investors floating our national debt.

Sorry, Jack, but your comment is absurd on its face. Of course government can, and does, promote innovation (University R&D), create innovation (NASA), and create wealth. In fact, I have never known any wealth to be created and kept without the essential service of some kind of government to mint the money to pay the army to protect and defend its currency printing presses. Whether Feudal or Democratic Republic, all forms of government create wealth.

Adam Smith was very clear about this. Industry cannot prevail in ownership and non-slavery employment without government to create the monetary system and protect it, which is the reward for industry, in any society that leaves the barter system. It is the lawmaking apparatus of the government and its ability to extract taxes that gives it the wealth apparent that justifies government borrowing.

Would you lend money to homeless unemployed person with the expectation or receiving it back with interest? Of course not. Neither do foreign and American investors loan the government money on the perception that it cannot create wealth when the loans become due. Government creates the very environment for industry to thrive from which the government may extract wealth in its own name to conduct business with foreign nations. Our U.N., NATO, APEC, and NAFTA are predicated on the premise of governments ability to create the wealth necessary to join such exclusive organizations. It if were not so, corporations and businesses would conduct and create trade agreements and international contracts solely and independently.

You cannot separate government from wealth creation anymore than you can separate employees from employers and say one or the other is responsible for wealth creation. They create wealth in partnership with each other. To be more specific, aside from becoming an employer and redistributor of wealth via taxation on some and distribution to others), the bulk of commodity or service industry is performed by individuals in the private sector, but, which could not ensure the rewards of that industry or commerce without the services and enforcements of contract by the government. The government is also the provider of the currency which permits non-barter commerce to occur, and as provider, it is also the regulator of the worth in part, of that currency, as appropriate to the aggregate demand for it, and the representative value of it. Too much currency devalues it, too little increases its value, and thus, with the trading of currencies and bonds, the governments do in fact create wealth and sometimes destroy it (as with the runaway inflation of Brazil in decades past, partly as a result of continuous overprinting.)

An underlying principle implied again and again in Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments is that society (and government, which codifies conduct which impartial observers of that society would condone and applaud) creates and reinforces the moral sentiments and imperatives that permit contracts to be implemented and carried out amongst its members and, between its members and itself, in a trusting, predictable, and just result of exchange. In this regard, government creates or destroys wealth commensurate with its ability to enforce contracts of exchange and the codes governing their creation.

Republicans are especially fond of saying only the private sector can create wealth and therefore wealth belongs to the private sector, and Libertarians go further and say distribution of wealth should be left to those who in the private sector hold it.

Of course, these ideas negate and neglect the reality and true nature of wealth and the indispensable role government plays in both its creation and destruction, if mishandled. And therefore these simple ‘conservative’ ideas about wealth are false. Wealth is a very complex subject, as is the concept of money, as is wealth ownership.

As one wise Buddhist said long ago, humans being mortal cannot own wealth, they can merely borrow it from those that passed before them or, suffer over its absence.

Take for example the constantly misunderstood and for all intents and purposes simple minded statement that America is the wealthiest nation on earth. Can a nation have wealth? Is a nation something other than the sum of its people, their interactions and the geography found between their borders and the resources it provides? When we say America is wealthy, do we mean every American is wealthy? Most Americans are wealthy? All the important people are wealthy? Or, is America wealthy in measure and ways beyond the sum of the assets of its private citizens? In natural resources? In acreage per capita? In innovation and creativity? In borrowing capacity? Or, in its absence of poverty compared to other nations as many immigrants view it?

Is a person who dons a $4000 suit and drives a Rolls Royce and hires an attorney to file bankruptcy due to the inability to pay their bills, wealthy? Is America wealthy if its government cannot meet its contractual obligations to its own people for money borrowed and extracted in taxes, or its foreign creditors?

I think this clearly makes the point, that government is inextricably linked to, and an integral part of, what constitutes the process of wealth creation, Jack. Wealth is not the sole province of the private sector, not by a long shot, nor can it be, nor should it be. Just as health is not a product of the heart, the liver, the brain, or the toe, but, of the aggregate condition of the whole living being. Is one healthy if one is not dying of cancer today. Is one healthy today if one is going to die of cancer in a year?

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 25, 2007 01:52 AM
Comment #227355

Craig said: “The chance of them (post boomer generation) voting for bankruptcy is zero. They will vote to cut benefits long before then.”

Craig, I highly recommend you read Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments so you can understand clearly why what you suggest is an impossibility. The idea that workers will vote for the suffering and premature deaths of their parents and grandparents without health care or dignified retirement accommodations, is absurd on its face. Seriously, read Adam Smith, he goes into lengthy detail on why this didn’t happen then, and won’t happen now, in a democratic republic.

What you suggest could only occur in an authoritarian society where but a few would have that kind of defect of character to cause it, and the power to implement it.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 25, 2007 02:21 AM
Comment #227357

Craig said of Bernanke: “He said basically this problem will still be with us ‘long after babyboomers have passed from the scene’.”

What I think you missed is his premises, Craig, is if we try to solve the problem with immigration to increase the work force, or, we fail to reform it toward balance of current revenue input plus inflation associated with the payments plus private savings, the problem will be with us ‘long after babyboomers have passed from the scene’. We will serially recreate the problem generation after generation.

Bernanke is not opposed to safety nets. He is for Congress and the White House devising a balance between current revenue funding and private savings equal to contractual and personal obligation for payments down the road. Private savings he says must become an integral part of funding future quality of life. And he is absolutely correct.

While he did not say this, I took it as implied that he thinks a stable population creates far less problems than an infinitely growing one, as options to constantly increase the work force through immigration would entail. Population growth increases demands upon limited resources and government. I don’t think Bernanke supports increasing demands upon government or tapping out our resources. Do you?

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 25, 2007 02:42 AM
Comment #227363

David

There is a big difference between creating conditions for wealth and innovation and creating wealth and innovation. It is no coincidence that the most innovative countries are those with relatively smaller government and lighter regulations.

Let me emphasize again that I am not against government. The free market cannot exist w/o government and the rule of law. I respect government. But I understand that government and the nation are not the same.

In the case of your example of defense contractors, government certainly has not created wealth there. It has taken wealth from some citizens and given it to others. Whether or not we think this wealth transfer is justified is not the issue. The fact is government has just moved the money.

In the case of universities, government provides funds and infrastructures for others to work. The universities increase knowledge, but strictly speaking they do not innovate. Innovation comes when somebody takes those ideas and makes them do something that people in society need or want. Many discoveries take decades before they actually become innovations in the sense of being useful.

Re foreigners lending the government money - they do that because they know the government can tax its citizens and its citizens are productive. Governments whose citizens are poor cannot get the same sort of loan treatment.

BTW - you believe this too. You are always critical of the current government and you say that they are managing poorly. Yet foreigners continue to lend to us at favorable rates. Why? Becuase they understand that the wealth of the U.S. is produced by its people, not its government, but that the government has the ability to tax that wealth… or maybe they just think Bush is doing such a fine job that they should feel comfortable lending money.

I think you and I have a fundamental disagreement about the nature of agency. Government’s role is to enforce the rule of law and help create the conditions by which the people can create wealth. It is an essential role and our government generally does a decent job of that compared to most others. But it is not wealth creation.

When government tries to manage something directly, it usually does a poor job. It is not that the government is bad, but it is not their role. A banker might be very successful in figuring out which investors should get loans. He may help his clients make millions, but he would be foolish indeed to try to manage their firms himself.

Re trade agreement etc - again I say that is the role of government. Government has its role and the people and firms of the U.S. have theirs. Just as I would be uncomfortable with particular firms making agreements that bind the whole country, I am uncomfortable with government trying to manage the ordinary affairs for particular firms.

SO let me sum up. Government is an essential part of society and of a market economy. It performs roles that others cannot, such as maintaining a monopoly on the legitimate use coercion, rule of law and reasonable regulation. But government is not the nation. It is a type of service organization for them, but that does not mean it is in business to meet their ordinary means. That it cannot do. If you ask government leaders to try to give you all you want, some will try. Some will even be sincere, but they just cannot do it because they are not wealth creators. They can only give you what they have taken from somebody else by means of taxes and coercion. Government has an important, but limited role to play.

Posted by: Jack at July 25, 2007 07:06 AM
Comment #227382

Jack said: “In the case of your example of defense contractors, government certainly has not created wealth there. It has taken wealth from some citizens and given it to others.”

Oh, I see, so for you, in order for government to create wealth, it must do so for everyone? Why don’t we ask the private sector to do that, if that is the standard? This poppycock. Government creates tremendous wealth for lobbyists, and retired Congresspersons who become lobbyists. Were it not for government, there would be no lobbyists. Thus, government does indeed create wealth by, as you say, giving tax dollars to select individuals and organizations. They are wealthier for having received the government checks, are they not?

Your ideology is interfering with your ability to accept reality, Jack. You just used the words “wealth transfer” referring to government action. The recipients of that wealth transfer are wealthier due to government. Logic, Jack, dictates that government created wealth for those recipients. And as I said earlier, government can also take or, destroy wealth in its management of society.

NASA engineers innovate and create all the time, Jack. So do research chemists employed by government contracts, and hydrogen fusion has been subsidized in part by government. Government and some of its employees and sub-contractors innovate and create for government all the time Jack. The CIA and NSA have had many of their inventions occur as a direct result of government spending. Government funds innovation and creation, Jack. The private sector does so as well and in much greater volume. But, don’t let ideology get in the way of recognizing what is glaringly obvious, Jack. Without government sponsorship and wealth creation many innovations and creations we enjoy today would not have been invented or created when they were, if at all.

Jack said: “Becuase they understand that the wealth of the U.S. is produced by its people, not its government, but that the government has the ability to tax that wealth… or maybe they just think Bush is doing such a fine job that they should feel comfortable lending money.”

Poppycock. Government prints money. Circulates money into the private sector, and takes some of it back, which it uses to pay off the interest on its debts. Those are the facts, Jack. Government LITERALLY creates money, and money is an aspect of wealth. It is true that private sector industry does the lion’s share of giving value to that money through production of products and services. But the government is also integral to the product development cycle for many innovations, and ALL of government provides services which also give value to the money.

Government at one time absconded by law with most of the Gold in this country, and issued paper money to the people as an IOU.

He who has the gold has wealth, Jack. The miners may have dug it out of the ground, but, government became the keeper and owner, by law, of the gold. Hence, government created its wealth of gold through legislation just as mining companies created wealth for its owners by hiring miners to dig it up for them. Government employees don’t have to dig the gold out of the ground to acquire the gold’s wealth anymore than the investors in a gold mining company have to.

There is just no getting around this glaring fact of reality, Jack, unless one wears ideological blinders and does verbal gymnastics with words like wealth, currency, creation, and IOU’s.

Jack said: “I think you and I have a fundamental disagreement about the nature of agency.”

We do indeed. According to you, the miner who digs gold for a paycheck and the mining company that hired him, who turns the gold over to the government or bank in exchange for paper IOU’s is creating wealth through the employee’s industry. But, the government employee who works for a government paycheck at NASA creating a space probe, is creating wealth for themself BUT the government that hired him is NOT creating wealth for that employee as the Mining company does for its employees? That is sheer nonsense, Jack, and blatantly contradictory and illogical.

The government hires people to make weapons, then forges treaties and agreements with other governments to sell those weapons to the other countries for a price to be repaid the U.S. government (foreign aid), then taxes the weapons sales of the manufacturer in return for having created a market for those sales. Sure sounds like a middleman sales facilitator to me, Jack. And our government’s foreign aid loans and trade packages create enormous wealth for very large numbers of people who would otherwise not have that wealth.

Government and private industry are inseparable, Jack. One does not survive long without the other. We don’t say of a partnership in a company where one partner serves as production manager and the other as accountant, that the production manager creates wealth for the company and its employees but, the accountant partner does not.

Reality Jack, in fact, does not fit well with your ideological projection of what you want to believe it should be. But, the reality is, any entity that pays others for industry creates wealth for its employees. Government creates wealth. In the U.S., it creates wealth in some fashion or another for almost every American living here.

I acknowledge the wealth created for me by the government everytime I enter an Interstate freeway, which cuts my travel time significantly, allowing me to engage in my business for profit with far more customers per day than if that Interstate Highway system did not exist. You on the otherhand, refuse the gratitude that is due your government for having facilitated your wealth in such a direct manner at a pittance of personal cost. Your bias against your government is part of the Republican ideology. Republicans refuse to acknowledge the wealth their government creates for them, so they can fight the government’s asking for its pittance for services and products created for your use and which facilitates your wealth creation.

Such cognitive dissonance is expensive to maintain Jack. Such denial of reality carries a very heavy cost. As our nation is now finding out and the cost will only grow crushingly over the next 40 years. Government is our partner which if treated with respect, honesty, and firmness of expectation in propriety, can enhance all our lives.

Treat our government as adversary, which Republicans do, and define it as the enemy, and I assure you Jack, the enemy will only grow stronger feeding on the weakness of its adversaries’ ideologies and blind spots to reality.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 25, 2007 03:29 PM
Comment #227392

David

If you grow a cob of corn, you create wealth. If you assemble a product, you create wealth. If you and I make a voluntary trade that makes us both better off, we create wealth. If I force you to give me something, I just transfer some of your wealth to me. If I force you to give some of your wealth to a third party, I also merely create a transfer and not wealth. If the government does that, the result is the same.

Wealth creation means a positive sum. Creating something does that. Growing something does that. A voluntary trade where both feel they have gained does that. Taking from one to give to another is merely a transfer.

Re money - do you believe the government owns the people’s wealth? It “allows” us keep some and take backs what it wants. I believe the people own their wealth. Since we are not owned by the government, neither is our production. We give some to government to provide rule of law, common defense etc, but it is our wealth.

We also disagree about the role of government. I repeat, government plays an essential role in a market economy. But government role is to provide infrastructure and rule of law and is generally not a producer. It should not be. Government gets its funds by means of coercion. We usually do not think of taxes in that way, but try not paying them and you will find out how it is. If people are trading freely, nobody is coerced because they all feel they are better off. They have the choice. If government gives you the option of paying only the amount of tax you feel is fair, then government could be in this category too. But it is not.

Posted by: Jackj at July 25, 2007 06:26 PM
Comment #227393

Jackj, government creates money, the absolute bedrock core of wealth in this economy. To deny this simple fact, is, well, truly amazing.

When government hires an employee, it creates wealth for that employee, no less than if a mining company hires and employee to dig.

Sorry, your comments reflect a huge misunderstanding of what constitutes creation of wealth. Issuing a paycheck creates wealth for that recipient. All of America’s wealth comes from basic ingredients, human labor, natural resources, innovative and essential services exchanged for money. Government creates wealth by creating time savings services and providing those to the public, so they their time is free for other pursuits, just as a taxi service creates wealth by speeding a stock broker from one exchange to another to conduct business, as opposed to the broker walking from one exchange to the other. The taxi service creates wealth both for the taxi service and driver and the broker through time saving.

Government performs this same wealth creating service by insuring each American does not have to build their own road in front of their residence, or fight al-Queda on their doorstep, freeing them to pursue other wealth creating activities through time saving services provided by government.

The government employee receives wealth, the subcontractor for government work receives wealth, the citizen receives wealth in the form of time savings in exactly the same way a taxi service creates wealth for all parties to the transportation from point A to point B.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 25, 2007 06:38 PM
Comment #227395

Jackj asked: “Re money - do you believe the government owns the people’s wealth?”

The government printed the money the people have, it controls the supply of the money available for the people to have, and it executes policies and regulations designed to protect the IOU value of the money people have.

One more point, and this is crucial: The people own the government. The government serves the needs of the people. The people in the measure of dollars at their disposal, own the IOU value of those dollars. Money is just printed paper. The government gives that paper value, and in this regard, the government controls in part, a big part, the value of wealth held by the public.

You think if you have 1 million dollars in cash under your bed, you are wealthy? If you are wealthy, it is because the government printed those dollars, backs those dollars with exchange value, and protects those pieces of paper from counterfeit which means if counterfeit, that 1 million dollars under your bed is worthless fire kindling. Amazing how government creates wealth that way in the form of human capital services rendered unto its people.

With regard to wealth, the government of, by, and for the people is the people, and the people are the government in a democratically elected form of government. One cannot say logically that wealth is the people’s and government does not own the wealth. The government is the people, and in America for a little while at least, we enjoy the wealthiest government and nation in the world, both of which are the people plus all contained within our borders.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 25, 2007 06:50 PM
Comment #227397

David

Sometimes I put Jackj because I am typing the next line and do not notice till it is too late.

Currency and money supply is one of the responsibilities of goverment. Money is a store of value and means of exchange. Government has the responsibity to manage it wisely, but it does not follow that government owns that value.

Currency is a form of government debt. It borrows the money from the people and in return provides those services above.

Currency protection is one of government’s most important responsibilities, BTW. When it cheats or falls down on the job, all hell breaks loose in the economy. A low inflation rate is good; too much inflation is the government stealing wealth from the people and it pretty soon wrecks the economy.

You are right that government controls wealth through it’s control of the money supply. But that is not the same as creating wealth. If I write a check to you that you and you treat it as value to exchange (and can find others to take it) neither of us has created wealth, only debt.

Posted by: Jack at July 25, 2007 08:37 PM
Comment #227400

Jack said: “Government has the responsibity to manage it wisely, but it does not follow that government owns that value.”

It does however own the assets of the national park system, BLM lands, coastal areas, wildlife refuges, worth trillions. So, let’s not get carried away by the notion that because government does not own the holdings of the private sector, that it has no holdings of its own. Try entering Area 51 if you think the government has no asset wealth of its own. And yeah, yeah, you can parse this out to say what assets the government holds, it holds in trust for the people. But, that is malarkey.

If the majority of Americans voted for the government to sell all its assets and distribute the proceeds to the people, it would never happen. It would be considered a revolution and the government long ago passed laws regarding trying to instigate a revolution.

In reality, government is an organization with the greatest asset wealth of any other. Kind of like the Catholic Church in that regard. Catholics only think it is theirs held in trust. Try prying that wealth from the Vatican’s army or the ArchBishop’s council.

Jack said: “It borrows the money from the people and in return provides those services above.”

Sorry, Jack, your comment is just flat our wrong again. You cover bonds, but left out the levying of taxes - without interest as a loan would generate, and without contractual obligation to return that money to the person paying it.

And there is no quid pro quo on the levied taxes to provide an equal sum of taxes paid by Mr. A, back to Mr. A, as could be implied by your quote above.

Your last paragraph I could not decipher. You write me a check and I cash it or pass it on to another who cashes, your wealth decreases, the check casher’s increases. Wealth is both lost and created by the transaction. Same with taxes. The government is enriched by the collection, and to the extent that the government buys what it wants and not what the people want (black ops budgets for example) it exercises choices with its wealth according to its needs and wants. Also, in Congress voting themselves a wage increase. Happens frequently.

Government does indeed create wealth for 10’s of millions of Americans, and decreases wealth for many more than that. Your ideology is still blinding your comments to reality, Jack.

You talk of what you think economics ‘should be’, according to Jack. I talk of the reality that is, and economics is about realities Jack. You can continue to replace reality with what you think someone once said it should be, but, it doesn’t change what is, Jack. A rose by any other name smells as sweet. Our economy and government are not the simple black and white definitions you wish applied. I have given you numerous examples of how government creates wealth, decreases wealth, increases wealth, for both itself and others, both foreign and domestic in residence.

You don’t have to accept reality, Jack. But, if you don’t, trying to convince others of your fantasy will be difficult, and trying convince a majority will be impossible, as the Republican Party found out in Nov. 2006.

You can fool all the people some of the time, some of the people all the time, but, you can’t fool all the people all the time, Jack, which is what Republicans had hoped to do with their Reaganomics supply side trickle down simple model lie about how that rising tide would lift all boats.

There comes a time when such fantasy is tested against reality by the majority and the fantasy is rejected. Fantasies don’t permit control over reality, they lead to disastrous mistakes and errors in decision making, because they aren’t rooted in the reality of what is.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 25, 2007 09:50 PM
Comment #227401

David

I am not sure what we disagree about (besides the basic value).

The last paragraph I agree with but interpet differently. If it creates wealth for 10s of millions and decearles it for many more, it is destroying wealth in balance.

Re my check example - a dollar is like a check from the government. You never actually cash it and in fact you cannot anymore.

Posted by: Jack at July 25, 2007 09:59 PM
Comment #227402

David:
“I acknowledge the wealth created for me by the government everytime I enter an Interstate freeway, which cuts my travel time significantly, allowing me to engage in my business for profit with far more customers per day than if that Interstate Highway system did not exist. You on the otherhand, refuse the gratitude that is due your government for having facilitated your wealth in such a direct manner at a pittance of personal cost. Your bias against your government is part of the Republican ideology. Republicans refuse to acknowledge the wealth their government creates for them, so they can fight the government’s asking for its pittance for services and products created for your use and which facilitates your wealth creation.”

Well said! I couldn’t agree with you more. In fact, I agree with the entirety of that post to Jack. But you know what? Not everyone who has been very successful at creating wealth thinks like Jack does, or shares the rest of the Republican and Libertarian mindset you are actually describing in your post (IMO).
Thankfully, a large number of incredibly successful people are more than willing to acknowledge the role that government has played in their success. They want that fundamental role to continue on into the future, rather than let it be killed off by those who are hostile to the idea of government investment and infrastructure. This is because they understand it is the only way that those who weren’t born with silver spoons in their mouths can ever hope to have even half a chance to succeed, as they have.

Check this out:
Forbes 400 Richest Americans: They Didn’t Do It Alone
Private Wealth Counts on Public Investment, Infrastructure

Here’s a quote:

“Some Forbes 400 billionaires want to pull up the ladder behind them,” says Scott Klinger, co-director of Responsible Wealth. “They received government help, but don’t want anyone else to. The myth of self-made wealth is used to justify tax cuts for the rich and reduce public investment in the very institutions and infrastructure that not only enable more Americans to become wealthy, but are crucial to a strong and growing economy.”

You can download the full report on the above page. I did awhile back, and found their honesty very heartening.

Here’s another link, featuring some more quotes from several famous entrepreneurs: It Takes a Village to Make a Millionaire
New Report Blasts Myth of the Self-Made Man

Posted by: Adrienne at July 25, 2007 10:22 PM
Comment #227442

“United for a Fair Economy”

*sigh*

Why is it seemingly unfair that someone might work hard and get rewarded for that work in today’s society? Instead there are those that seek to villify that person, working hard to create a better future for their family, seeking to destroy that because there are those who have less…

Posted by: Rhinehold at July 26, 2007 10:44 AM
Comment #227445

Rhinehold:
“Why is it seemingly unfair that someone might work hard and get rewarded for that work in today’s society?”

That isn’t the issue. The issue is not allowing this country to become comprised of rigidly stratified castes. We were founded on ideals that told us that all men are created equal, that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness were to be unalienable rights, and that the government would naturally to provide for the common welfare rather than choose to ignore it. Therefore, encouraging a caste system of “haves” vs. “have-nots” in this nation (such as Libertarians advocate for), is actually Unamerican, and should automatically be viewed as an obvious waste of human potential amongst our citizens, and an invitation to dangerous instability.

“Instead there are those that seek to villify that person, working hard to create a better future for their family, seeking to destroy that because there are those who have less…”

“Vilify”? “Seeking to destroy”? My what overwrought hyperbole.

United for a Fair Economy is a national, independent, nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. UFE raises awareness that concentrated wealth and power undermine the economy, corrupt democracy, deepen the racial divide, and tear communities apart. We support and help build social movements for greater equality.


Responsible Wealth — Who We Are
We are leaders in business, community, government, philanthropy, academia and finance. We are among the wealthiest 5% of Americans, the primary beneficiaries of the robust growth of the American economy. We are united by our common concern that despite a booming economy, many are not sharing in the prosperity.

Founded in 1997, Responsible Wealth is affiliated with United for a Fair Economy (UFE), a national non-profit devoted to putting a spotlight on the dangers of excessive inequality of income and wealth in the United States.

Our work is focused on four areas:

* We advocate fair taxes.
* We support a living wage for all.
* We call for greater corporate accountability.
* We promote broadened asset ownership for all Americans.

Why We Take Action

The over 400 members of Responsible Wealth have joined together to speak out publicly to change a growing set of rules tilted in favor of us, large asset owners, at the expense of all others in society. We believe an economy and a democracy which tolerates a widening gap between rich and poor and which concentrates economic and political power in the hands of a few is not sustainable.

We act from conscience and from long-term self-interest. The growing disparities of wages and wealth seen in America and throughout the global village are not healthy for society or for business. As we near the close of the century, we see, throughout our own nation and many other nations, an unraveling of the social fabric, characterized by a loss of community, strained and broken families, loss of loyalty from or to employees, the scapegoating of the poor and vulnerable, and blighted neighborhoods choked by long-periods of disinvestment. We see the increasing polarization of society in which growing numbers at each end of the economic spectrum live behind bars or behind gates.

Healthy businesses and healthy communities have common needs. These can be found in several important words shared in the lexicons of both business and community-building: equity, security, trust, covenant, mutual, and bond. These words define the characteristics of the society and economic system that is needed to carry us into the next century.

Healthy markets need stability and order, elements that are threatened by the social breakdowns that accompany large disparities of wealth and power within a society. This has been exhibited most recently by the growing anarchy in places like Indonesia, Russia and Mexico. Healthy markets need a broad and diversified base of viable customers, a goal thwarted when society’s poor are systematically excluded from the marketplace.


Posted by: Adrienne at July 26, 2007 01:03 PM
Comment #227448

Adrienne,

Suggested reading: Outing the L-Word parts 1 thru 3, by Andrew S. Taylor.

You can find them at www.trueblueliberal.com or www.bestcyrano.org or just google.

You’ll be glad you did.

Posted by: KansasDem at July 26, 2007 02:06 PM
Comment #227451

Thanks for the recommendation, KD. I’ll definitely go check it out.

Posted by: Adrienne at July 26, 2007 02:17 PM
Comment #227452
Therefore, encouraging a caste system of “haves” vs. “have-nots” in this nation (such as Libertarians advocate for), is actually Unamerican, and should automatically be viewed as an obvious waste of human potential amongst our citizens, and an invitation to dangerous instability.

And again, another example of people who do not understand a) what the libertarians advocate for and b) that the government is not the only, or even the best, way of dealing with these issues.

Posted by: Rhinehold at July 26, 2007 02:26 PM
Comment #227453

“that the government would naturally to provide for the common welfare”

You’ve got that a little backwards Adrienne.
We were founded on the ideals that govt was to

provide for the common defense
promote the general welfare

Give and encourage basically.

“The over 400 members of Responsible Wealth have joined together to speak out publicly to change a growing set of rules tilted in favor of us, large asset owners”

Speak out?
Complain how nobody is doing enough to help the poor and then go eat a hundred dollar meal and go back to your estate.

I’m sure those in need would rather have these people practice what they preach.

Posted by: kctim at July 26, 2007 02:43 PM
Comment #227472

kctim, the preamble uses the word “promote” but the actual text of the constitution (section 8) says “provide.”

Posted by: American Pundit at July 26, 2007 06:53 PM
Comment #227474

Rhinehold it seems, IMHO, Adrienne has hit the nail on the head as far as what the libertarians preach. What are we missing?
Its the misuse of the Government by the uber rich via the “free speech” of bribing the legislature that causes the inequalities. Imagine a fair trade agreement that takes into consideration the environment and workers as well as the multinationals. Maybe we could compete with a level playing field.

Posted by: j2t2 at July 26, 2007 07:32 PM
Comment #227488

Thanks AP, for saving me the trouble of having to point that out for Tim.

j2t2:
“What are we missing?”

Libertarians (and Libertarian leaning Repubs) often claim that folks like us don’t really understand their views. But it’s not nearly as hard to grasp as they’re always claiming. From what I’ve read of their views, the achievement of Libertarian goals would be certain to create an American caste system.

“Its the misuse of the Government by the uber rich via the “free speech” of bribing the legislature that causes the inequalities.”

Exactly. Then pair that with their stated desire to remove all forms of government assistance with education and educational facilities (such as public libraries), public assistance with healthcare — well, basically anything with the word “public” or “government” in it — to be replaced with words like private, for profit, required toll or fee, etc. Anything that gives a helping hand or leg up to those not born into wealth or lucky enough to have already made a fortune. It’s a recipe for creating a rigid, starkly stratified caste society.
As if this country isn’t ‘dog-eat-dog’ enough…

“Imagine a fair trade agreement that takes into consideration the environment and workers as well as the multinationals.”

Indeed. :^)

“Maybe we could compete with a level playing field.”

Yes. Which would give us a true meritocracy — a real fighting chance at “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” for everyone. At the very least, it would promote dignity and opportunity for all — even amongst the not as meritorious (or lucky, or well connected).

PS. to Kansas Dem — I went and searched out those three essays by Taylor. Excellent pieces, clearly and concisely written! Thanks for turning me on to his work. I will now look forward to reading Part 4 which is to be focused on the subject of Objectivism.

Posted by: Adrienne at July 26, 2007 10:34 PM
Comment #227491

Let’s see.

The libertarians want an end to all corporate welfare, farm subsidies to rich farm owners, an end to tarrifs designed to protect business who refuse to change and compete in a global market and ensure that all people have the same advantages, and disadvantages, provided to them by the government resources that ‘public’ money, a term used for wealth stolen from the citizenry at the point of a gun, are used for.

Of course, that also means we don’t believe in practicing robin hood policies that force wealth from one person to an other at the point of a gun as well. I guess that means we’er mean selfish bastards, except that most of us are highly charitable people, *giving* our time and money to help those who really need help instead of institutionalizing theft and charity so that it no longer has any real meaning to anyone who participates in it.

There should be no personal income tax. ‘Public funds’ should be collected from corporations and sales/service taxes that use the governmental infrastructure. There should be governmentally directed (at a state level) programs that use privately contributed money to help those who need it. I don’t have much of a problem in incentivising the giving to these charities, but when we FORCIBLY take charity from our neighbors it only breeds resentment and anger at the very people who we are trying to help until we end up with a view of the poor and needy that we have today.

Of course, I know I’m a bastard, being a libertarian and wanting to see the cost of goods come DOWN for everyone so that the poor and needy can afford the things they need (not necessarily everything they want) by eliminating hidden income taxes in all of the goods we purchase, but I’ll take the hit for that.

Yup, we LOVE the ‘caste system’ because we’re heartless bastards that want the unwashed masses to have to beg and scrape for our help. Not that we think help would be better served by not having class warfare initiated with them on one side and the people who could be helping them on the other for political gain, like the democrats have proven they are about, but instead provide services like mentoring programs and education over handouts… No, that couldn’t be it at all, we just hates those peoples.

Btw, just a small clarification, there is a difference in equality of opportunity and equality of results… Just something to think about.

Posted by: Rhinehold at July 26, 2007 11:01 PM
Comment #227492

kansasdem,

Your comment is an excellent example of what’s wrong with david’s desire for a ‘planned economy,’ whose primary goal is to subject economic decisions to the whims of political pressure, attitudes, and dare I say, ignorance (as in disinterest).

I may be way off base here, but I personally believe the hold capitalism has on our society today amounts to little more than the hold our European ancestors had on indigenous Americans. With certain exceptions (such as this electronic ink machine) most of what feeds the capitalist machine is “bobbles and beads”.

One example that comes to mind is video games ———- they hold someones attention just like any other new shiny toy, that is to say NOT LONG! They’ve also resulted in a level of physical inactivity that has contributed to a decline in the health of our nations young.

In david’s belief system about the economy it is not unreasonable to expect political decisions to be made based on comments just like this which might curtail or outlaw products or services by folks who actually have no interest in them.

What david doesn’t like about ‘unplanned capitalism’ is that there are decisions being made that contradict his philosophy. This kind of political ideology sees the market, meaning everyday people as well as corporations, making the ‘wrong decisions’.

In your opinion video games are not worth the resources used to create and consume. In a planned economy this might very well be a political decision. ie based on an opinion not on the demand of consumers.

This is the primary reason why all planned economies are dismal failures. Putting politicians in control of economic decisions is always a bad idea.

And no matter what david thinks this is exactly what his idea would do. All the talk about ‘the people’ being in charge is moot when everything is managed, controlled, and funneled through the politicians.

Posted by: esimonson at July 26, 2007 11:48 PM
Comment #227494

David,

Many of your exchanges with jack consist entirely of just saying he is delusional and not dealing with reality. This is not an argument!

The reality is that your idea has been tried, david. It doesn’t work. To the extent that it is tried in varying degrees of purity and adherence to leftist doctrine it generally destroys the economy.

Let me explain.

The central premise of your article is that it is not enough for two parties to agree to exchange goods and services - these decisions must be submitted to the collective for approval.

This is what you are advocating.

Posted by: esimonson at July 27, 2007 12:01 AM
Comment #227497

I’m not going to keep arguing with the Libertarians and Neo-Conservatives here about their unshakable (and IMO, irrational) belief in letting the “free market” answer all of Life’s Greatest Questions.
Instead, I thought maybe some of you will be interested in reading the essays by Andrew S. Taylor that Kansas Dem recommended to me:
‘Outing the L-word’
Part 1.
Part 2: Nature,Power and Hierarchy
Part 3: Money

Posted by: Adrienne at July 27, 2007 12:21 AM
Comment #227500

esimonson, you have said what you think I have said. I will let your words stand for comparison to mine.

We have a mixed economy, Europe has a mixed economy, even China has bought into a mixed economy. Every modern nation on the planet has bought into the mixed economy.

Holding an opinion against the reality of the rest of the world is not that uncommon, and I am pleased there are folks such as yourself keeping everyone else ready to defend their assumptions and conclusions, which I have done amply here.

It is healthy. But, your comment on a transaction involving only 2 parties takes place billions of times each day. Also, transactions in which the government is also a party, number in the billions. That is the reality. And the vast majority of humans living on this earth recognize their interdependence and the benefits of belonging to civilization, which justifies the cost of belonging.

All those people, and your wish to transact as if they didn’t exist. Kind of an inherent contradiction. But, minority views are healthy. Thank you.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 27, 2007 12:51 AM
Comment #227502

esimonson said: “Your comment is an excellent example of what’s wrong with david’s desire for a ‘planned economy,’ whose primary goal is to subject economic decisions to the whims of political pressure, attitudes, and dare I say, ignorance (as in disinterest).”

In fact, I argued just the opposite. Since you missed that, it seems pointless to debate you further. You either didn’t read all that was said, or, you will project what you want to see on whatever is said. In either case, reality is not where your comments derive their content from.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 27, 2007 12:54 AM
Comment #227503

Rhinehold, the major flaw in your entire argument is your assertion that government takes from the public without their consent. The reality is, the people can vote taxes out anytime they choose. They haven’t, and they don’t. Ergo, taxation is by consent of the public.

It is a substantial flaw in your view in democratically elected governments.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 27, 2007 12:58 AM
Comment #227506

Rhinehold said: “Why is it seemingly unfair that someone might work hard and get rewarded for that work in today’s society? Instead there are those that seek to villify that person, working hard to create a better future for their family, seeking to destroy that because there are those who have less…”

Rhinehold, where are these efforts to kill Bill Gates and take what he has to distribute to the poor. Sorry, I just don’t any evidence of it. I don’t resent any wealthy person’s wealth. I recognize however, that their wealth was obtained using the human, legal, and governmental resources which bear a cost. Hence, it is just and fair, that Bill Gates remunerate the government (people) in part, for the benefits he received in developing and protecting his wealth.

Think of all the many government and public resources in play to protect him and his wealth from attack. Military, police, SEC, Banking Commissions, FCC, and the protections for his product shipped to customers, Postal Service, highways, trains, planes, communications. Bill Gates uses an enormous number of government services to protect his freedom and right to create wealth from robbers, murderers, highway robbery, and to protect his communications, and then there are Patent Office services which protect his product from counterfeiting.

All of those services carry a cost to the people. Given his wealth and vast amount of services he uses, it is only fair that Bill Gates pay considerably more in public tax to protect his massive wealth and freedom to conduct business without unjust interference.

Libertarians don’t like to see the reality of wealth, and how absolutely dependent wealth is upon government and public services. They prefer to view the transactions that create wealth as between the buyer and seller alone. Of course, that gross over-simplification of what happens ignores the reality that business has many hidden players working to ensure the transaction is fair, just, and protected from criminal intent and influences.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 27, 2007 01:10 AM
Comment #227511

Rhinehold, Because I hear this at the point of a gun arguement so often I wonder if everything that could result in being on the wrong end of the gun is also not part of the libertarian world view? From your previous post in this thread:
“…provided to them by the government resources that ‘public’ money, a term used for wealth stolen from the citizenry at the point of a gun,…”
“Of course, that also means we don’t believe in practicing robin hood policies that force wealth from one person to an other at the point of a gun as well.”

If I were to drive my car to fast, shout obscenities, walk down the street intoxicated and so on and so forth I could ultimately be forced at the point of a gun to go to jail and/or to pay up. Most of the time, however, most people dont end up at the point of a gun for these things, much like taxes.
Should all of these things that are against the law also be done away with so as to remove “the point of a gun” problem ? Or is it just the taxes that libertarians find so offensive that the must resort to this “point of a gun” rhetoric as a way of overstating the issue?

Posted by: j2t2 at July 27, 2007 01:40 AM
Comment #227528

Very true AP, but was she rewritting the preamble or Art. 1, Sec. 8?
Neither one actually says the govt would naturally provide for the common welfare of individuals, but Art. 1, Sec. 8 does say govt will provide for the defense and general welfare of the United States.
And the preamble does say: promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves.

So, since she was talking about our founding and our unalienable rights, I thought it was only fair to point out that govt providing for the general welfare of each individual is not an unalienable right bestowed upon us by the Constitution.

Posted by: kctim at July 27, 2007 11:22 AM
Comment #227532

kctim, the constition says the government must provide for the general welfare of all its citizens. It’s very clear.

Posted by: American Pundit at July 27, 2007 12:33 PM
Comment #227534
Most of the time, however, most people dont end up at the point of a gun for these things, much like taxes.

True, because they know what the ultimate result would be if they allow it to be carried out. If you were given a parking ticket and knew that the ticket had no bite (ie, no ultimate result via force) then would you pay it? Why?

Should all of these things that are against the law also be done away with so as to remove “the point of a gun” problem ? Or is it just the taxes that libertarians find so offensive that the must resort to this “point of a gun” rhetoric as a way of overstating the issue?

It is no overstating of the issue. ‘Government’ is the only organization that we give legal dominion over our lives. Our government can, if we don’t do what the laws state, end our lives or take away our freedoms through force. This does not mean that there should be no laws or that I’m advocating anarchy (as some love to try to suggest of libertarians) but it does mean that we should only employ this organization to deal with things that we believe should have this power. Protecting ourselves from theft, rape, etc are no brainers. Protection of our rights from others, ie freedom of speech and religion, etc. I think we can all agree on those.

However, should we be using the government to dictate every aspect of our lives? What we ingest, what we watch on tv, what video games we play, what we do in our bedrooms, what charities we give to, how the money we earn is spent beyond a reasonable running of the infrastructure and enforcement of laws, etc?

Right now the populace will vote for things to be done because they don’t understand the ultimate power they are using to wield these laws. What exactly they are giving up by supporting them. Or perhaps they are aware and don’t care. Either way, there is a reason that the Constitution is a detailing of what Government can do, not a listing of what the populace is allowed to do or what Government can’t do. By default, and detailed in the constitution, the government is only allowed to do what is specifically detailed that it can do in the constitution. If it is not there then we either have to amend it to allow it (like giving the government the right to tax our incomes) or we have to find those things unconstitutional (like was done with most of the New Deal in Roosevelt’s time).

Does this mean that we shouldn’t be taking care of our poor and needy? No, of course not. But it does mean that, IMO, we shouldn’t be collecting taxes on incomes. That taxation should be done when necessary and in a way that is right, not what is expedient and can be used as a tool for political parties to expand their power.

It also means we shouldn’t have nearly the number of laws on the books that we do. When are we going to find that we have enough laws? Each year the congress makes laws and if they don’t make enough of them we label them as a ‘do nothing’ congress. Yet, at some point don’t you think that enough of our lives is legislated and our choices taken away? Or perhaps we are beyond that point?

The basic libertarian view is this: We the people should be free from government intervention in our lives as long as we are not interferring in the rights of others to do the same.

Simple, I know, but it is what we view any decision of the use of government in our lives through. If a new law is proposed, we examine it with that viewpoint in mind, as opposed to the other parties who think either ‘how can we expand our political powerbase with this law’ or ‘how can we reduce the other party’s political powerbase with this law’.

The funny thing is that most americans, if you state it like that, would consider themselves as libertarians IMO. SO, the way to counter that, the other parties simply call libertarians ‘loonies’ or ‘selfish’ or some other nonsense and dismiss the arguments we make insted of dealing directly with the issues at hand. Ensuring that our views aren’t heard by the populace through debate exclusions and other tactics that the well funded majority parties practice. Something that we do to ourselves through matching public funds, something that the Libertarians refuse to accept because of something that is little thought of by the two major parties… pricincple.

But, that’s just how I see it I suppose. If becasue of these views someone wants to label me as a ‘selfish loony’ then I’ll have to take the hit on that one too…

Posted by: Rhinehold at July 27, 2007 12:36 PM
Comment #227535
Rhinehold, the major flaw in your entire argument is your assertion that government takes from the public without their consent. The reality is, the people can vote taxes out anytime they choose. They haven’t, and they don’t. Ergo, taxation is by consent of the public.

By a majority, yes. But what I find interesting with this argument of yours is isn’t it directly opposed to the point of your post? I mean, if we keep voting in people who are supported by the money of big business to run or, as you suggest, not run our lives in a planned way, isn’t that what the public wants? So what is the point of your post?

I understand, you are trying to change people’s minds to see things the way you see that they are. Well, aren’t libertarians like myself simply doing the same thing? Yet, you dismiss our views because the public obviously wants to live this way but are outraged that the same is happening with big business?

And yes, you might argue that ‘big business’ has confused the minds and hearts of the citizenry… but again, I suggest the same is done by the two major parties so that they can have a wedge issue between the classes…

So I’m just a little curious why you are making this argument…

Posted by: Rhinehold at July 27, 2007 12:41 PM
Comment #227536
Libertarians don’t like to see the reality of wealth, and how absolutely dependent wealth is upon government and public services. They prefer to view the transactions that create wealth as between the buyer and seller alone. Of course, that gross over-simplification of what happens ignores the reality that business has many hidden players working to ensure the transaction is fair, just, and protected from criminal intent and influences.

No, we do acknowledge and accept this fact and embrace it, David. That is why we are not anarchists or believe in the dissolution of government, these are the very reasons we NEED government in place. However, it is how these things are funded that we are concerned about. Right now, most highway money is funded through taxes on gasoline. Libertarians have no problem with duties and fees on things that directly fund the infrastructure of our country. It is when we start funding things with income taxes that clearly shouldn’t be or should be funded other ways that we undestand the principles that we are allowing further intrusion into our lives by an organization that we have given dominion over our lives to that libertarians get outraged.

How do you see libertarians as not understanding and embracing the facts that our country must have an infrastructure and basic laws in place in order to enjoy freedoms? Other than the frings element that each party has, the anarchist-libertarian group that wants to attach themselves to the party thinking that they are furthering their cause? And how are they more defining of the libertarian party than the socialists and fascists of the two major parties?

Posted by: Rhinehold at July 27, 2007 12:47 PM
Comment #227538

Rhinehold said: “The basic libertarian view is this: We the people should be free from government intervention in our lives as long as we are not interferring in the rights of others to do the same.”

This is the part of the Libertarian philosophy that almost drew me in to become a Libertarian. I agree with this logic entirely. Where it breaks down however is in the treatment of minority views. This is Libertarian’s blind spot.

When a minority group (like Libertarians) are negatively affected by a majority decision (like income taxes), Libertarians use that philosophical defense to make the case that their injured status should be sufficient to nullify the majority and end income taxes.

By that logic, criminals should be able to nullify criminal statute law so that the government does not have authority to lock them up in prison.

The fallacy of the argument lies in the fact that whatever laws or actions any government takes, there will be a minority for whom the law or action will affect negatively. To use the argument that government should not impinge upon the lives of others, is an advocacy for no government, or so little government as to allow anarchy to breed in a plethora of ways.

A poll taken in 2000 or 2001 of wealthy Americans showed that the majority had no problem with raising their taxes if it would bring our country out of recession. Should the minority of the wealthy who opposed their taxes being raised have ruled the day? Fact is, it did. The Republicans cut their taxes, despite the majority having been willing to help bring recession to an end through increased taxation.

This was a classic case of Libertarian rule, and as our 9 Trillion dollar national debt now attests, that single Libertarian action by Republicans has cost the entire nation dearly by increasing its debt by more than 50% and nearly doubling its interest payments on that debt annually.

Libertarian philosophy ultimately results in rule by the minority, which is antithetical to our Constitution and democratic form of elections. The minority makes the case the majority is attempting to impinge upon their freedom and voila!, the majority loses the power to act in the interests of the majority, by Libertarian philosophy.

This is precisely why our Constitution enumerated minority rights in the Bill of Rights, to both limit the power of the minority to override the majority, while protecting necessary minority rights in a society governed by the majority.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 27, 2007 01:08 PM
Comment #227540

Rhinehold said: “However, it is how these things are funded that we are concerned about. Right now, most highway money is funded through taxes on gasoline. Libertarians have no problem with duties and fees on things that directly fund the infrastructure of our country.”

Yes, Rhinehold, I recognize that Libertarians are opposed to wealth redistribution. It is why I oppose the Libertarian Party on so many of their issues. Libertarians oppose estate taxes, income taxes, and safety net entitlements, because they permit the government to prevent monopolization of wealth by a small number of people. I know Libertarians don’t want to see it this way, arguing “No, we oppose monopoly too!”

But, the outcome of Libertarian opposition to income taxes, estate taxes and entitlement safety nets, is a monopolization of wealth in the hands of a minority of citizens. It is the dark region within Libertarian philosophy in which they fear to peer or, self-examine. To do so would undermine the basic premise of their philosophy.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 27, 2007 01:16 PM
Comment #227541

AP, I beg to differ. The word GENERAL in general welfare does not mean ALL of its citizens. There is a large difference in saying the ‘welfare of all’ and the ‘general welfare’. The drafters took great pains and multiple rewrites to get their wording correct. And they chose not to say “all of its citizens” which are your words, not theirs.

The word ‘general’ means most, not all. For obviously to mandate a government to insure the welfare of every individual would have resulted in a government with tremendous intrusive powers such as the British had, which the colonialists sought to overthrow. To secure the welfare of every individual would mean giving the government the authority to peer into the lives of every individual to assess their condition. That is clearly NOT what the founding fathers had in mind.

General welfare referred to the public condition, not the condition of each and every individual.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 27, 2007 01:24 PM
Comment #227545

Again, David, Libertarians are not opposed to safety nets and helping the poor when necessary through a variety of means, they just don’t think it needs to be done through income taxes. And until a few short decades ago, our constitution supported this view.

As I stated before, I would rather see much of this support come from voluntary charity instead of forced charity because of the resentment and inability for this assistance to be limited. As soon as you start instituting wealth redistribution there is an every constant struggle on how much should be redistributed. Where is the line? Should that be left to ‘majority rule’ or should we find other, better, less incindiary ways of doing this?

It obviously does NOT work as we are doing it now. We have an expanding class of the poor, and have since we started this experiment. Yet, our taxes keep increasing and getting less and less for our efforts. It is CLEAR to me that we need a better way. But because of the wedge issue that has been created for the two major parties, they can’t afford to actually solve any issues or relenquish power that the government has been given over our lives.

Posted by: Rhinehold at July 27, 2007 01:45 PM
Comment #227547

Btw, David, wealth can and will be redistributed by the natural process of our free market economy. Luxury taxes and other sales taxes will ensure that that wealth gets redistributed, as well as the knowledge that most jobs in this country are a result of that wealth being employed to create more wealth.

However, once a person has acquired wealth, is it the job of the government to take that wealth from them if they choose hold on to it like a miser? Is that the type of country we want, where the masses can remove wealth from someone just because that person has it and the majority wants it?

Posted by: Rhinehold at July 27, 2007 01:52 PM
Comment #227556

Rhinehold said: “they just don’t think it needs to be done through income taxes. And until a few short decades ago, our constitution supported this view.”

So, ask yourself, why did it change, if it was the right approach not handle assistance through tax revenues.

The answer is because the Eleemosynary system failed to provide assistance to millions out of reach of what I call “most help for the buck”.

Private charitable giving will always try to focus giving on where it will help the most people. Simple economics. If $10 will help 10 people here, but, only one person there, the $10 will go to where ten people will be aided. Those out of reach of the ‘most help for the buck” are not served by private charity. Perfect example: Tennessee Valley Authority. Another is the Mississippi Delta where the expense to reach them, and assist them and where development costs to underwrite their aid is cost prohibitive.

Only public assistance for infrastructure can aid those in the Mississippi Delta suffering terrible poverty.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 27, 2007 03:01 PM
Comment #227559

Rhinehold said: “Btw, David, wealth can and will be redistributed by the natural process of our free market economy. Luxury taxes and other sales taxes will ensure that that wealth gets redistributed, as well as the knowledge that most jobs in this country are a result of that wealth being employed to create more wealth.”

Sorry, that is pure Libertarian propaganda. Luxury taxes wouldn’t pay for the food stamps program. Sales taxes disproportionately affect the poorer and don’t affect the wealthy at all in terms of redistribution, since the bulk of the wealth of the wealthy is channeled into investments paying back dividends well beyond sales taxes paid out. Food, transportation, homes and contents, energy, and Wal-Mart stuff makes up the bulk of all purchases. The wealthy’s contribution to that sales tax revenue is extremely small. Hence, government revenues from sales taxes from the wealthy is very small. Hence, little wealth distribution through sales taxes.

The numbers tell the story, Rhinehold. There is a maxim I realized in Economics class, Income which isn’t taxed, is income which is sheltered. Hence, without income tax, redistribution of wealth is minimized to the maximum extent. Which of course leads to plutocratic oligarchy as a governmental system, and undermines a democratic republic.

The problem with political rhetoric is that it is aimed at voters who are not educated or experienced enough to think the consequences of such slogans through to their logical conclusion. I assure you, if you do some research, you will find that the issue of national taxation options and what they would lead to, were debated and researched extensively prior to the income tax being adopted as a Constitutional Amendment.

The reasons a national sales tax was not adopted then, are just as valid today. Rule by oligarchy was not what our Constitution intended, and why a national sales tax was never adopted. And should never be.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 27, 2007 03:16 PM
Comment #227560

Rhinehold said: “Is that the type of country we want, where the masses can remove wealth from someone just because that person has it and the majority wants it?

Absolutely! But not because of wealth envy, because the Bill Gates of our nation benefit tremendously in the protection of their wealth by the very taxes they pay for its protection. Bill Gates would not have such wealth very long without the government protections afforded by the Patent Office, highway police patrols to protect shipments, the SEC to protect his investments, the Banking Rules to protect his savings, the local police to protect his person, mansion, and family from black mail, extortion, kidnapping for ransom, and a plethora of other benefits afforded him, and his wealth, like the courts, road maintenance to insure his deliveries of products, and on and on and on.

The wealthy may take all these government protection services for granted, but, there are enormous costs associated with such protections. And the idea that the poor working person should bear the majority of cost to protect the wealthy is ethically reprehensible unless one believes Feudalism is the preferred model for organizing society.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 27, 2007 03:23 PM
Comment #227564

I’ll try to condense this a bit:

So, ask yourself, why did it change, if it was the right approach not handle assistance through tax revenues.

Because at the time the number of poor vs the number of people able to help was way out of whack because of bad fiscal policy and an unregulated stock market (something I am not for, btw, the stock market must be regulated to be of any value). And we didn’t have the infrastructure we have now to support the type of programs I am discussing. And further, we weren’t aware of the evils that we were going to create by creating that system. Just as we created prohibition about the same time and discovered that it didn’t work and was worse for us, so we have discovered the same with the income tax. The amendment should be rescinded and OTHER forms of paying for what we need should be thought about.

Remember, there was discussion at the time that a max 1% income tax should be put in the laws but was scoffed at because the thought was that high of a tax rate would send the population to Washington with pitchforks and torches. We are taking too much wealth out of the system, into the hands of those running the running the government, making the middle men rich. Why do you think it cost SO MUCH to live in Virgina just outside of the capital?

Sorry, that is pure Libertarian propaganda. Luxury taxes wouldn’t pay for the food stamps program. Sales taxes disproportionately affect the poorer and don’t affect the wealthy at all in terms of redistribution, since the bulk of the wealth of the wealthy is channeled into investments paying back dividends well beyond sales taxes paid out. Food, transportation, homes and contents, energy, and Wal-Mart stuff makes up the bulk of all purchases. The wealthy’s contribution to that sales tax revenue is extremely small. Hence, government revenues from sales taxes from the wealthy is very small. Hence, little wealth distribution through sales taxes.

Now who is participating in propaganda? We’ve talked about the Fair Tax many times and even though it has been listed as the ‘most progressive tax program’ offered at this time you still cling to the view that sales tax hurts the poor when it would actually help them more to eliminate the hidden income taxes we pay on every good now and only pay taxes on higher priced items, leaving necessities untaxed. They would actually pay LESS taxes if that were done.

Of course, that ignores the harsh reality that the middle class pays almost all taxes in the long run, once the economy cycles around. But that discussion is for another day. If you want to lighten that tax burden for the poor and middle class you have to lighten the tax burden for the wealthy too, something we won’t look to because that would mean we have to cut waste and unnecessary public spending in order to do that. When was the last time that this country spent less one year than the year before. Unless we start doing that we will never get past the debt issues we have. Ever.

The wealthy may take all these government protection services for granted, but, there are enormous costs associated with such protections.

Yes, but actually a small percentage to what we are paying in taxation now. This is the biggest propaganda of all, since more than half of our budget goes to entitlement programs now. Another huge percentage to national defense. You are trying to say that in order for us to pay for our protections that we need to exist as a country we have to have a huge bloated budget that does not do what it is promised to do. That is NOT the case, as I’m sure you most likely suspect, but for some reason people are willing to put up with the excessive spending of our tax dollars in order to make sure the ‘wealthy’ pay their fair share. That is what it is all about.

Private charitable giving will always try to focus giving on where it will help the most people. Simple economics. If $10 will help 10 people here, but, only one person there, the $10 will go to where ten people will be aided. Those out of reach of the ‘most help for the buck” are not served by private charity.

Which is why I suggest public direction for private donations. WE take in so much money though volunteer organizations that if we just got those groups together through an umbrella governmental group to help direct those funds we could eliminate waste and help alleviate the taxes we pay today. But it doesn’t ‘force the rich to pay their fair share’ does it?

The reasons a national sales tax was not adopted then, are just as valid today.

Actually, the reasons for an national income tax are no longer valid either, but we still have it don’t we?

And no, at the time there was no way to ensure a national sales tax would be implemented properly. Today we can do it and do it in a much fairer way than an income tax. But it won’t be examined because of politics, because people who support the forced redistribution of wealth for the sake of doing it, not for the benefits it would create, will ensure that fear is instilled in all of those who they can get to. You know, ‘they are wanting to kick grandma out of her house, steal food from your children, etc’. And yes those are actual arguments I’ve heard from the democrats in past elections…

BTW, if we take your ‘planned society’ to it’s logical conclusion, a loss of all rights would come into play to make it work. Why, wouldn’t it be more efficient if we didn’t allow McDonald’s to sell crap? Or, if more people lived in certain areas of the country than others? Or didn’t have this type of car or this type of shoe? In fact, think of the money we would save if everyone wore a certain uniform, we wouldn’t have to have all kinds of outfits and colors for everyone, it would even help with theft…

How much if freedom worth? Is it worth being a little less ‘efficient’?

Posted by: Rhinehold at July 27, 2007 05:48 PM
Comment #227565

david,

Your replies are evasive. Does everyone who disagrees with your utopian future to be labeled ‘out of touch with reality’?

I can understand your apparent claim to absolute truth but…

Arguments such as the following are highly flawed:

Rhinehold said: “Is that the type of country we want, where the masses can remove wealth from someone just because that person has it and the majority wants it?”

Absolutely! But not because of wealth envy, because the Bill Gates of our nation benefit tremendously in the protection of their wealth by the very taxes they pay for its protection. Bill Gates would not have such wealth very long without the government protections afforded by the Patent Office, highway police patrols to protect shipments, the SEC to protect his investments…

As a principle to follow this is highly flawed. What if we are to apply this to all of our rights? Why stop at merely abridging our economic rights? We can say the same thing, make the same argument, about free speech as well.

Surely without the rule of law and enforcement provided by the government provides a benefit and allows us to excercise our free speech, thus government is the provider of free speech, isn’t it? (This is what you are claiming regarding Bill Gates wealth.) Shouldn’t we be able to curtail, to take away the free speech of others simply because the majority desires it? Yes or no?

You attempt to ascribe a benefit as emanating from government and then claim that this means that government can take it away is dubious at best.

The crux of my opposition to your ‘planned economy’ is precisely that a ‘democratic’ tyranny is a tyranny nonetheless. I don’t care if you call it participatory economics, Anarcho-Syndicalism, socialism, or a mixed economy (heavily weighted to the socialist side of the mix)… it is still wrong. And the test of reality has been mighty clear on this fact.

Posted by: esimonson at July 27, 2007 05:54 PM
Comment #227567
Rhinehold said: “Is that the type of country we want, where the masses can remove wealth from someone just because that person has it and the majority wants it?”

Absolutely! But not because of wealth envy, because the Bill Gates of our nation benefit tremendously in the protection of their wealth by the very taxes they pay for its protection. Bill Gates would not have such wealth very long without the government protections afforded by the Patent Office, highway police patrols to protect shipments, the SEC to protect his investments…

As a principle to follow this is highly flawed. What if we are to apply this to all of our rights? Why stop at merely abridging our economic rights? We can say the same thing, make the same argument, about free speech as well.

Thanks for reminding me about this…

This may be the type of society that David wants to live in but not me. See, I understand that the wealthy enjoy the protection of their rights, just like everyone else, and also afford themselves of the infrastructure. But that wasn’t what I asked about. These services should be paid for by all that use them in some form or another.

I specifically asked if we wanted a society where the money was taken because the majority just simply wanted it and they had it. And I think his answer to that question sums up his view nicely that YES he does want that type of society, one that would never allow someone to retain the wealth that they earn. Not because they need to pay for the services they use but simply because they have it and ‘we’ want it.

Posted by: Rhinehold at July 27, 2007 06:27 PM
Comment #227568

Rhinehold said: “We are taking too much wealth out of the system,”

Sorry, my entire life in America has been spent under the system you say takes too much wealth out of the system, and I have witnessed my country continue to prosper beyond expectations dreamed of decades ago. Your argument fall on its face.

Entitlement spending is clearly the most threatening domestic problem we face. And the numbers show that raising taxes as the only solution to solve it, would bankrupt our nation in this century.

But, that means we need a more complex and multi-faceted solution. It does not mean eradicating the mixed economy which has made America the wealthiest nation on earth since the 1930’s. Also, one cannot ignore success. Every modern industrial nation of large size in the world today has adopted the mixed economy approach. If other models were capable of this kind of success, why are no other major nations built on them?

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 27, 2007 06:38 PM
Comment #227569

esimonson, again your argument falls flat on its face. I use public resources many thousands of times less than Bill Gates and Microsoft.

But, you want to argue that Bill Gates and Microsoft have no higher obligation to fund public resources than I do. It is a preposterous argument for anyone with a capacity for rational thought or sense of fairness (i.e. rational as in ratios, use more pay more!)

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 27, 2007 06:45 PM
Comment #227570

Rhinehold said: “This may be the type of society that David wants to live in but not me.”

This is in fact the nation you do live in, Rhinehold. The wealthy do pay more than the non-wealthy. And have for as long as you have lived here. So what is preventing you from applying for an exit visa?

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 27, 2007 06:48 PM
Comment #227572

David,

Of COURSE the wealthy pay more, a flat percentage of sales tax would take care of that based on the fact that these people purchase more…

Are you suggesting I think that each person should pay $100 to cover their services?

It is the taking of wealth simply because they have it that I object to. And yes, we live in that country now, which is why I want to change it.

Just as you want to change it.

Yet, I don’t reach for the hyperbolic ‘if you don’t like it, get out’ argument. I want to change it from within, just as you. We can disagree but your assertion that ‘my way would not work’ is problematic since I apparently am not explaining it well enough for you since you keep attempting to misrepresent what I am saying…

Posted by: Rhinehold at July 27, 2007 06:58 PM
Comment #227574

Rhinehold, YOU were the one who said: “This may be the type of society that David wants to live in but not me.”

I simply responded with the question: Why you have not applied for an exit visa yet?, since you said you Don’t want live in this system.

So, Rhinehold, you would be for a purchase tax on investments and any others services which the wealthy engage in?

And how does a sales tax address estate inheritance that was tax exempt in investment shelters? If you don’t address it, you end up with a monopolization of wealth into very few hands.

And as many opposed to a sales tax have pointed out, a sales tax capable of producing revenues sufficient to cover current spending without deficits, would have to be very high or, require the government to cut spending in the extreme.

Do you believe federal government should impose a high sales tax which would harm the poor, and prevent the lower middle class from saving?

If you think they should not be prohibitively high for modest income workers, then what spending cuts do you believe should be made to bring the reduced revenues within balance so deficits did not occur?

To engage in this discussion, numbers are important. Total 2007 estimated revenues: 2.4 trillion dollars. Here is the breakdown:

$1.1 trillion (+12.1%) - Individual income tax

$884.1 billion (+7.4%) - Social Security and other payroll taxes

$260.6 billion (+15.5%) - Corporate income tax

$74.6 billion (+1.3%) - Excise taxes

$28.1 billion (+0.7%) - Customs duties

$23.7 billion (+9.2%) - Estate and gift taxes

$48.4 billion (+14.0%) - Other

This equals approximately $163,265.30 per year in sales tax per worker on average.

Spending, what would you cut?:

* $699 billion (+4.0%) - Defense
* $586.1 billion (+7.0%) - Social Security
* $394.5 billion (+12.4%) - Medicare
* $367.0 billion (+2.0%) - Unemployment and welfare
* $276.4 billion (+2.9%) - Medicaid and other health related
* $243.7 billion (+13.4%) - Interest on debt
* $89.9 billion (+1.3%) - Education and training
* $76.9 billion (+8.1%) - Transportation
* $72.6 billion (+5.8%) - Veterans’ benefits
* $43.5 billion (+9.2%) - Administration of justice
* $33.1 billion (+5.7%) - Natural resources and environment
* $32.5 billion (+15.4%) - Foreign affairs
* $27.0 billion (+3.7%) - Agriculture
* $26.8 billion (+28.7%) - Community and regional development
* $25.0 billion (+4.0%) - Science and technology
* $20.1 billion (+11.4%) - General government
* $1.1 billion (+47.6%) - Energy

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 27, 2007 07:29 PM
Comment #227587
So, Rhinehold, you would be for a purchase tax on investments and any others services which the wealthy engage in?

If it ended the income tax, yes.

And how does a sales tax address estate inheritance that was tax exempt in investment shelters? If you don’t address it, you end up with a monopolization of wealth into very few hands.

Wealth that will eventually dry up and be used by those who inherit it. Do you really think that double-taxation is a great idea? Just so that you get get more money out of those ‘selfish rich’ people? Once inherited it will be spend or invested and taxes will be collected when it starts to be used.

And the reality is that those who don’t create wealth or are unable to create wealth cannot keep it either. That is why, though the ‘rich are getting richer’ those rich are usually not the same rich as the previous generation. There are very few truely wealth families that last more than a few generations. And there is nothing WRONG with that, as the old saying goes, and they don’t need to have that wealth seized by the government just because they are smart enough and work hard enough to keep it. It is not easy to keep wealth.

And as many opposed to a sales tax have pointed out, a sales tax capable of producing revenues sufficient to cover current spending without deficits, would have to be very high or, require the government to cut spending in the extreme.

And has been pointed out many times, that is complete bunk. Unless we aren’t going to listen to the likes of Dr. Dale Jorgenson of Harvard University…

Do you believe federal government should impose a high sales tax which would harm the poor, and prevent the lower middle class from saving?

If the sales tax is not applied on necesseties, as is done in may states without a sales tax, or the Fair Tax system is used that would give everyone a rebate check based on how much they would consume each month, I don’t see a problem.

Especially if it matches the drop in prices that would result if the income tax is dropped. The hidden taxation that exists in all goods and services we use now would nearly equally match the increase in sales tax. The poor would actually see a drop if the income tax is dropped and the sales tax is not applied to necessities.

Do you have something against removing the taxes that the poor pay now for their goods that they need to survive?

If you think they should not be prohibitively high for modest income workers, then what spending cuts do you believe should be made to bring the reduced revenues within balance so deficits did not occur?

To engage in this discussion, numbers are important. Total 2007 estimated revenues: 2.4 trillion dollars. Here is the breakdown:

$1.1 trillion (+12.1%) - Individual income tax

$884.1 billion (+7.4%) - Social Security and other payroll taxes

$260.6 billion (+15.5%) - Corporate income tax

$74.6 billion (+1.3%) - Excise taxes

$28.1 billion (+0.7%) - Customs duties

$23.7 billion (+9.2%) - Estate and gift taxes

$48.4 billion (+14.0%) - Other

This equals approximately $163,265.30 per year in sales tax per worker on average.

Spending, what would you cut?:

* $699 billion (+4.0%) - Defense
* $586.1 billion (+7.0%) - Social Security
* $394.5 billion (+12.4%) - Medicare
* $367.0 billion (+2.0%) - Unemployment and welfare
* $276.4 billion (+2.9%) - Medicaid and other health related
* $243.7 billion (+13.4%) - Interest on debt
* $89.9 billion (+1.3%) - Education and training
* $76.9 billion (+8.1%) - Transportation
* $72.6 billion (+5.8%) - Veterans’ benefits
* $43.5 billion (+9.2%) - Administration of justice
* $33.1 billion (+5.7%) - Natural resources and environment
* $32.5 billion (+15.4%) - Foreign affairs
* $27.0 billion (+3.7%) - Agriculture
* $26.8 billion (+28.7%) - Community and regional development
* $25.0 billion (+4.0%) - Science and technology
* $20.1 billion (+11.4%) - General government
* $1.1 billion (+47.6%) - Energy

I would cut each budget by 3%. Not the amount of increases that you have listed, but the past budget, cut it by 3%, except for the 2 we can’t touch, Social Security (we have a legal obligation) and the interest on the debt (again, not something we can cut).

Hope that helps.

Posted by: Rhinehold at July 27, 2007 10:22 PM
Comment #227624

Rhinehold said: “Wealth that will eventually dry up and be used by those who inherit it. Do you really think that double-taxation is a great idea?”

Guess you missed the part where investments are tax sheltered and hence not subject to being taxed once. And you want those vast sums inherited without being taxed. Hmmm….

And just how does one ‘dry up’ billions of dollars of personal wealth? For that matter, how could generations dry it up given tax shelters and investment returns on its investment.

I don’t think you understand the investment world, Rhinehold. A little research into the matter could be a real eye opener.

Rhinehold said: “There are very few truely wealth families that last more than a few generations.”

Now, you really are pulling statements out of the air to make your argument. If you are going to invent your own facts, there is not much point in debating you. Honest debate requires playing by certain rules, inventing your own data for the sake of argument is not one of them.

The last names of the inheritees change over time, Rhinehold, but the wealth does not dry up over time, it increases, and is divided amongst successive generations in the family. Rockefellers and Duponts and Kennedy’s have seen a number of generations. The wealth is still there in the families, distributed over a larger number of family members, many dozens in fact. But when you are talking 100’s of millions or billions, the dilution effect is minimal, except for those few too stupid, arrogant, or defiant to learn the rules of investing from their high priced financial advisers. (An occasional hazard in wealthy families which doesn’t get much press.)

The wealth of the mob of the 1940’s through 1990’s is still intact in many families as well, now that they have protected that wealth in legitimate concerns like Las Vegas Casino Hotels, thanks to Lucky Luciano’s paving the way.

Rhinehold said: “The poor would actually see a drop if the income tax is dropped and the sales tax is not applied to necessities.”

I hear your words. But, I don’t see any supporting numbers. I could say: take all the money from the rich, give everyone 1 million dollars, and let everyone start off from the same place, and all will be well. But, we both have enough common sense to know that that will not be the outcome.

What I do hear in your words is an opposition to a progressive taxation scheme in which those who earn more pay more. Though, I commend you for acknowledging that a tax on all wealthy transactions such as tax services, attorneys, stock, bond, and other investment transactions is appropriate if the income tax is ended.

There is a political reality to be faced though even if we were to pass a sales tax with that tax on the wealthy persons. The political reality is that the wealthy can lobby and influence legislation in their favor, and such taxes on wealthy transactions would not last long, leaving the non-wealthy subsidizing government when per capita, a wealthy person receives far more government services than a non-wealthy person.

The progressive income tax succeeds in large part, in insuring the wealthy actually pay for their many untalked about government services and protections for their wealth.

The flat tax has appeal to some. Everyone pays the same rate on income. But, the political realities will come into play in our system where lobbyists and wealthy campaign donors will unflatten the tax in a pretty darned hurry if it passed.

Alternative tax methods cannot succeed in fairness and equitability as long as our current lobbying and campaign finance system exists. Too much legislative power rests in the hands of the wealthy. The current income tax system has the benefit of occasionally allowing the non-wealthy to have sway over legislation and wealthy lobbyists and campaign donors at the polls, demanding the rates on the wealthy increase, especially during times of large deficit and debt as we witness today.

In fact, I would argue that our deficits and debt are the primary reason an alternative tax system is just not in the political cards. The people would not trust it or the politicians who promoted it. Some polls also suggest this is the case.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 28, 2007 06:52 AM
Comment #227625

Rhinehold, you would cut funding for our already disintegrating road and bridge infrastructure by 3%? That infrastructure is vital to interstate commerce.

You would cut 3% on education? We don’t spend nearly enough on education as it is to provide our nation’s future needs. We are already becoming dependent upon H1b Visas for brain power and foreign students in our universities.

Government decisions have been responsible for large job losses in the last decade. You would cut unemployment compensation by 3%. Which unemployed would you not help? Or, do you think unemployment compensation is sufficient to permit workers to keep their homes or transporation or health insurance if unemployed for 11 weeks? When government decisions like Free Trade agreements throw Americans out of work, don’t you think the government has a responsibility to assist the unemployed in keeping their homes and transportation until they are reemployed?

At a time when our nation’s national security is being compromised by our dependence on oil, you would cut energy research and development programs by 3%?

Such simple answers as 3% across the board, can never result in viable solutions. Spending is about priorities. Anyone with a paycheck and bills knows this. I can’t just elect to cut my mortgage payment 3% with everything else. Neither can a representative government. Priorities. What are your spending priorities, Rhinehold? Do they match what the public could accept.

These are the nitty gritty questions to be asked. Economics in this country is a political activity. Perhaps it shouldn’t be, but, the reality is there nonetheless.

I hear Bush and Romney talk about how great the economy is, and some of it is true. But, then I also hear public opinion polls say the majority of Americans feel very financially insecure. Perhaps that is why conservatives are losing political favor so rapidly these days. Conservatives find it very difficult to speak from where the majority live.

With all this wealth in America, you would cut services to the poor and middle class by 3% along with the wealthy. It just doesn’t resonate well with the majority of Americans, Rhinehold. In other words, it is not politically practical. And if conservatives want to move the country, they must become politically practical, and appeal to the majority’s concerns. Elections do still matter in America, despite Diebold’s best efforts to the contrary.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 28, 2007 07:13 AM
Comment #227630

David,

You are going to tell me that you REALLY think that a 3% cut would result in roads falling apart and people going hungry, stupider children, more than now?

All I can say to that is you don’t really know how government budgets work then. There is so much waste in those budgets that I imagine we could cut them by much more than that and still operate the intrastructure of this country.

You see, at the end of every budget cycle, each department makes sure to spend everything they have in their budget. If they were to show that they didn’t spend every penny allocated to them the previous year then they fear that their budget would be cut. So spend spend spend on anything they can think of.

We have also been increaseing spending by more than the cost of inflation for every item you listed for decades. The numbers just do not add up. Specifically, we are spending more for POLITICAL reasons, to increase the power each party has, so that they can buy our votes. It isn’t the rich in this country you should fear, it is the government. They are the ones with the true power, Washington DC is just a money pit. How many ‘poor’ politicans have we seen recently? Staffers? Lobbyists? We have centered so much wealth in one area, ripe for the picking, that it is almost impossible for these people not to swoop in and suck off as much as they can like a tick on the side of a dog.

I am quite confident, and I’m sure if you ask most people they would agree, that by simply trimming the graft, kickbacks, earmarks, inefficiencies and waste of our federal government we could EASILY cut each budget by 3% and still provide better than current services, giving us a chance to start paying off the debt and eventually cut taxes.

BUT, the problem with that is that if the government actually resolved anything, or did anything positive like that, they would lose their wedge issues and as a byproduct not be able to sell to people who buy into that crap that we NEED to keep raising taxes to pay for all of these things that THEY need. And people like you feed into that very system, saying ‘hey, you can’t cut spending, our country would fall apart!’

BTW, you will find that it is going to end soon. As an example, here in Indianapolis recently a reassment occurred and the property taxes went up by as much as 400% for nearly everyone in the city/county. And on top of this the mayor was calling for a special income tax increase. We heard about how we needed this for pay for the police we need and services we use, etc. But the facts just don’t add up. People are starting to ask the question “What the hell are you doing with all of the money you have now?” In fear the governor threw out the reassessment in the hopes that they can do a more gradual increase of our taxes over the next few years to get more out of us, but it is too late now, the cat it out of the bag and people are going to start demanding better spending habits and cutting back on ‘services’ that are not necessary. I think you’ll find that most americans are going to start seeing through the garbage like you and the democrats have been passing out that we ‘need’ all of thise money spent just the way it is, oh and double-digit percentage increases each and every year.

So, if you really think we need every single penny we spend on any program to be spent just like it is, please detail what that money is going for and we can begin to talk. You act for some reasons as if I don’t understand economics or how budgets work, but trust me, I understand all too well having dealt with federal budgets in the past.

Posted by: Rhinehold at July 28, 2007 10:00 AM
Comment #227636

Rhinehold said: “You are going to tell me that you REALLY think that a 3% cut would result in roads falling apart and people going hungry, stupider children, more than now?”

Rhinehold, look it up, man? Our bridges and overpasses in this country are falling apart. And many secondary roads are sad disrepair. This was big news before Iraq. And here in Texas, a state with a reputation for some of the best roads in America, many aren’t great anymore, despite what Gov. Perry says, especially in urban areas. And rural bridges are being closed or having tonnage restrictions imposed every year. Saw this in Colorado just a few weeks ago in a national forest area near Wolf Creek Pass.

Cutting spending will not repair them.

You said: “There is so much waste in those budgets that I imagine we could cut them by much more than that and still operate the intrastructure of this country.”

I think the key words are “I imagine”. When you have some evidence to support such imaginings, get back to me. I agree there is waste. But saying that does not repair bridges and secondary roads, Rhinehold, does it? Neither will cutting the budgets without FIRST cutting the wasteful way in which Congress allocates our tax dollars. Don’t put the cart before the horse.

I am acutely aware Rhinehold, of how the corrupted system works. Cutting the spending does nothing to end the waste or corruption. In fact, cutting spending will only increase the corruption and waste. Law of supply and demand and our lobbyist campaign finance system.

I know I keep reiterating this in many of my comments, but, priorities are extremely important here. Putting spending cuts higher on the list than ending the corruption and waste will only exacerbate our problems. It is why America MUST adopt an anti-incumbent strategy at the polls, if we are ever going to get our politicians to rearrange their priorities in OUR, the taxpayer’s, favor.

Rhinehold said: “We have also been increaseing spending by more than the cost of inflation for every item you listed for decades. “

Duh! That’s what you get when you increase population from 250 million to 300 million in a few decades, Rhinehold. Population growth takes an ever heavier toll on existing infrastructure and requires expansion of new, WHILE maintaining the old. This is something conservatives and liberals often don’t get, who advocate growing our population as a solution to our problems. Ask China how that worked out for them. Not too well.

You said: “The numbers just do not add up.”

Maybe, maybe not. But, trend line does. Add 50 million people to 250 million, and you have to add
at least 20% to the taxes and spending. Add a large percentage of that 50 million in low wage workers with large dependent numbers and you have to increase that spending cost to fight poverty and neglect.

You said: “It isn’t the rich in this country you should fear, it is the government.”

But, you contradict yourself immediately when you say: “We have centered so much wealth in one area, ripe for the picking, that it is almost impossible for these people not to swoop in and suck off as much as they can like a tick on the side of a dog.”

Or, are you really apologizing for wealthy people buying power for their own ends, and shifting the blame on their wealthy counterparts, ambassadors to wealth, if you will, who run for public office?

Government is power. Wealth buys power. Power without wealth will soon have it if the non-wealthy voters either, aren’t paying attention or, are deceived at the polls by PR and Marketing firms hired by candidates, (both of which are applicable).

Pretty well sums up American politics over the last 100 years in America. Was a time you didn’t have to be wealthy to run for public office in the federal government. The people would support a candidate from their own ranks.

You said: “I am quite confident, and I’m sure if you ask most people they would agree, that by simply trimming the graft, kickbacks, earmarks, inefficiencies and waste of our federal government we could EASILY cut each budget by 3% and still provide better than current services, giving us a chance to start paying off the debt and eventually cut taxes.”

Well, it would surely help. But, what would be equally effective and doubly better in combination is to shift our priorities. America could do with less elective wars to fight. Quarter trillion saved right there. IS Space Exploration going to pay anywhere the dividends that the same dollars in quality education and national education standards would? NO! Is 50 billion in foreign aid to Pakistan going to yield the national security that a secure Southern Border would? Doubtful. With such mobile military forces, is maintaining 712 US foreign bases and stations appropriate anymore? NO.

I agree, Rhinehold, cut the waste, pork, and corruption. But, also prioritize. America acts like Bill Gates with more money than he could possibly dream of spending. But, America, unlike Bill Gates, is carrying an almost 9 trillion dollar debt. Bill Gates’s wealth is net. It is long past time for America to act like a responsible middle class wage earner. But, the only way that is going to happen is if voters in ever greater numbers remove growing numbers of wealthy incumbents and start electing educated talented folks from their own income levels with the mandate to solver our nation’s problems instead of creating ever more and bigger ones.

Like it or not, more American wealth has meant more American debt, trade, national, and personal. More GDP growth has actually meant stagnant real wage growth for the middle class. More foreign involvement has meant less security at home. More population has meant more social and infrastructure problems. More imports means more trash. Billions upon billions of pounds in mounds of it. I read a large percentage of recyclables picked up are just being dumped, and not recycled at all. No infrastructure to handle the load. More, more, more. America is addicted to more. Well problems, accidents, and unintended consequences come in More sizes too! And that is what we are reacting to here.

Priority one, grow the anti-incumbent movement.
Priority two, grow the ranks of independent voters.
Priority three, demand a balanced budget for reelection.
Priority four, Home Land Security first, Foreign nation security second.
Priority five, reform entitlement programs, and convert them to true safety net programs, not insurance for all regardless of wealth programs.
Priority six, reform the tax system into 3 tiers, each with a flat rate on income. Lower third, Middle Third, and Upper third each with a progressively higher rate. Make loopholes of any kind illegal.

These do not have to occur sequentially, but, to the extent possible concurrently. But, who’s listening to me, I am not running for office. I can’t afford to.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 28, 2007 11:47 AM
Comment #227638

David,

We’ll have to agree to disagree again it appears. It seems that you see the problem as being people with wealth wanting to retain it and influincing the use of the governmental police power to enforce it. I see the problem as the fact that we have given the government that power in the first place.

Posted by: Rhinehold at July 28, 2007 12:19 PM
Comment #227644

Then we would agree on the solution. Remove wealthy influence from government, giving them equal voice as any other citizen? If we agree on that solution, it’s not that important if we agree on how it came to need this remedial action.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 28, 2007 01:04 PM
Comment #227692

David, and Rhinehold, great exchange of posts here. Very good reading. (I agree with David overall.)

You two seem to be at the end of your discussion, but I’d be interested to know how you two (or anyone else who would like to comment) feel about the Federal Reserve System/Banks?
Do you think it’s Unconstitutional? Do you think it’s nothing but a debt machine? Seeing as it is both quasi-governmental and quasi-private, do you feel it is a form of control that never should have been created at all? Do you feel it is too secretive? Does it serve a purpose that you can agree with? Does it only screw things up?

I’m just curious as I’ve been reading opposing viewpoints on it lately, and I’m finding that I can see valid points that seem to lean in completely opposite directions — which is rather weird for me.

Posted by: Adrienne at July 28, 2007 10:51 PM
Comment #227697

david,

methinks you are sidestepping my point david.

esimonson, again your argument falls flat on its face. I use public resources many thousands of times less than Bill Gates and Microsoft.

So your economic freedom as well as other rights like freedom of speech should be less at danger?

But, you want to argue that Bill Gates and Microsoft have no higher obligation to fund public resources than I do. It is a preposterous argument for anyone with a capacity for rational thought or sense of fairness (i.e. rational as in ratios, use more pay more!)

You may be conflating other arguments in this thread, or are merely assuming that is my argument but it isn’t because I said no such thing in my last comment.

For one thing, your balance sheet is a little lopsided. Whatever else Microsoft does they also provide benefits and services just like you argue that the government does, directly and indirectly.

Even though I may not buy a microsoft product I surely benefit from others using their products. I benefit from the gainful employment of not just every employee who works for Microsoft, but of myriads of programmers and service companies who use Microsoft products and create programs or hardware that run Microsoft products.

Just as you say that without government Microsoft couldn’t exist. I agree! Without the legal and economic framework developed over several centuries of western civilization modern capitalism couldn’t exist.

And yet it is precisely the foundation of this legal and economic framework that you wish to hew and hack until the tree falls down. (Though you insist it is an improvement.)

What you are advocating is virtually unlimited political control of the economic liberties of every citizen. Attempting to argue that ‘only the rich’ will have their economic liberties crushed and confiscated merely proves my argument.

Posted by: eric simonson at July 28, 2007 11:25 PM
Comment #227751

Hmm. I guess neither one of you has an opinion to offer on the Federal Reserve…?

Posted by: Adrienne at July 29, 2007 04:07 PM
Comment #227754

I said: “I use public resources many thousands of times less than Bill Gates and Microsoft.”

You replied: “So your economic freedom as well as other rights like freedom of speech should be less at danger?”

My economic freedom and other rights tax government services far less than Bill Gates, therefore, Bill Gates should bear an inordinately higher rate of cost to protect those freedoms and rights, which his wealth depends so directly upon.

Think of it as a user fee. Republicans and Libertarians like user fees. My use of the patent office, national transportation systems, police services, FBI, State Department, International Trade offices, and host of other government services Bill Gates & MS use and rely upon, is so miniscule compared to his and Microsoft’s. Hence, Bill Gates and Microsoft’s government user fees (income taxes) should be vastly greater than mine.

I Pay MS directly for the services they produce which I elect to benefit from. Duh!

Income tax is how we all pay for the costs of government. And wealth is a fairly accurate measure of the amount of services and benefits a person or company enjoys at the public’s government expense.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 29, 2007 04:18 PM
Comment #227761
Hence, Bill Gates and Microsoft’s government user fees (income taxes) should be vastly greater than mine.

Or, we could add direct fees to those services that they would pay…

It seems to me that you agree that those services should be paid for by those who use them, yet you want to tie who much they pay for those services on something arbitrary. It doesn’t make much sense to me personally.

Yes, I do like user fees, because the person using a service is the one directly paying for it, it can be tracked, and if the use of that service goes down the need for that service goes down and the money going TO that service then goes down. Or up if it is used more.

Instead we take money from income, put it into a big pile, and have a huge political fight about how it gets spent. Many things get overfunded and many more get underfunded.

You say that ‘wealth is fairly accurate’ yet user fees are exactly accurate. Why do you want to just be fairly accurate for? If not to do as I suggested before, just take money from the people who have it simply because they have it?

Yes, I do like user fees and sales taxes since they are a) much more stable through economic downturn and b) relate to the services that are being used by the people using them. Between these taxes and property taxes to pay for local services that are harder to identify, what do we really need income taxes for, other than to make some people who can’t stand it that others have it feel better?

Posted by: Rhinehld at July 29, 2007 04:55 PM
Comment #227764

I agree with Adrienne: this has been one of the better give-and-takes that I’ve read in awhile.

Thanks to all (and especially David) for illuminating some complex issues.

Posted by: black & red at July 29, 2007 05:11 PM
Comment #227769

Rhinehold said: “It seems to me that you agree that those services should be paid for by those who use them, yet you want to tie who much they pay for those services on something arbitrary.”

In theory, one can measure Bill Gate’s police protection consumption against mine, and devise a formula that will yield a commensurate user fee for him and me. But, in practice, such valuations don’t lend themselves to discreet cent/per protection minute ratios.

User fees CAN be effective for services in which only a small subset of the population access those services. But, user fees come with a bureaucratic and red tape processing and enforcement cost. You want to explode the size of government and government payrolls, try to implement a user fee approach to all government services. Just annually auditing and modifying user fees according to actual costs and revenues would create 10’s of thousands of new government jobs and departments within agencies. Bad idea.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 29, 2007 06:35 PM
Comment #227770

black and red, thank you for the kind comment.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 29, 2007 06:36 PM
Comment #227773

Adrienne, I will try to tie your question into the topic of this article, which is the consequences of an unplanned America, whose future is determined by the whims and directions of profit oriented activity.

The Federal Reserve is essential to our economic system. It is essential for two reasons: 1) fiscal policy has always failed to fight inflation effectively, and 2) left on its own, capitalism has inherent to it, boom - bust cycles. Boom - bust cycles are mandated by chasing the last possible dollar of profit to the breaking point, at which investments in future sales and production go bust on the sudden drop in demand, which creates the bust. We just witnessed this boom - bust cycle in action with the unregulated sub-prime mortgage industry.

The Federal Reserve, via modification of interest rates in partnership with Treasury’s money supply control, anticipates boom - bust cycles and reduces the peaks and troughs, making economics and markets less volatile, and to some degree more predictable, at least in the short and medium term view.

It is no panacea, and cannot act to rectify bad fiscal policy like trade deficits, national debt and deficits, and personal debt and risk assessment. But, without the Federal Reserve, volatility would benefit a few, and harm large numbers of people over time through growth and recessionary cycles with higher peaks and significantly deeper troughs.

The Fed is one of those organizations in which planning was actually fairly well developed and implemented. Though some will surely disagree, citing the Fed as interfering with pure capitalism and anarchic enterprise which seeks to exploit all possible persons and avenues for the very last penny of profit to be had and let the buyer, consumer, and investor look to their own safeguards individually (caveat emptor).

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 29, 2007 06:54 PM
Comment #227781
But, user fees come with a bureaucratic and red tape processing and enforcement cost.

I am sure it is LESS than created by the IRS and without the power. The threat used by the federal government of an ‘audit’ is one of the most dangerous ones because it is backed by death. IF someone were to have their wages garnished, they can only be garneshed 10% of their gross. UNLESS it is the federal government, in which case they give you 10% of your gross and the rest goes to them.

The added advantage of using service based fees is that we can evaluate each service much more detailed and determine which ones are doing well and which are in need of new leadership, etc. Right now, pulling money out of the money pit is near impossible to allow for accurate oversight. Nevermind how much is being funneled to corporate or PAC payoffs, graft, waste and black ops.

Posted by: Rhinehold at July 29, 2007 08:08 PM
Comment #227799

I consider IRS garnishing wages a far less onerous response to law breaking than being sent to prison, don’t you?

Your argument rests on opposition to the law of a democratic society and the fact that that society enforces its laws? Pretty contradictory position for a Libertarian who also believes the laws should be enforced, don’t you think? Must just be the notion of government by majority consensus that raises your ire, is that it?

For me, there are laws I don’t agree with, like recreational drug useage. I would smoke a joint or two a day if it were legal. It isn’t, so, I don’t. The benefit of course, is that my daughter has been raised by law abiding parents and who has no interest in illegal drugs of anykind. I call that a fair trade off, with my daughter the big winner.

I have learned that the benefits of living in this democratic society far outweigh my losses in personal freedom of choice. Far, far, far outweigh the losses. A price I am very comfortable with paying.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 29, 2007 08:53 PM
Comment #227817

?

I have learned that the benefits of living in this democratic society far outweigh my losses in personal freedom of choice

Wow.

I guess that is the biggest difference between how we view our society.

Sooo, why is it not ok for our government to tell women they don’t have a choice to do what they want with their own bodies if you don’t have the view that government shouldn’t have dominion over us like this? Or do you just pick and choose when it os and when it isn’t? I don’t smoke pot either, I’m not a lawbreaker by any means, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think it’s wrong for the government to enact prohibition, they might think they can elimninate other things I do do. In fact they have, they are now telling me I can’t play poker online. Why? Well, it was part of securing our ports…

*shrug* I can’t think that the government shouldn’t tell us what to do unless we are encroaching on other’s lives and then not stand up for everyone’s rights. That would make me unprinicpled. Even if I don’t think people should do those things (I don’t smoke but I don’t think it should be illegal, etc.)

Posted by: Rhinehold at July 29, 2007 11:34 PM
Comment #227839

Rhinehold asked: “Sooo, why is it not ok for our government to tell women they don’t have a choice to do what they want with their own bodies if you don’t have the view that government shouldn’t have dominion over us like this?”

Government has no right, under our Constitution to take liberty without a compelling and overwhelming justification based on the welfare of the nation at large or majority assent.

There was a time when states banned abortions. Then the Congress overruled the states making abortion legal. Then challenges rose to the Supreme Court, and the Court decided. Our Constitutional system has addressed this issue. And its fair.

It is a false hypothetical question to ask: “why is it not ok for our government to tell women they don’t have a choice”. In reality and history, this question has already been answered.

Those who don’t believe in abortion are not forced or coerced by anyone else to have one. And the law protects those who seek an abortion from coercion or obstacle by those who don’t believe in abortions. It is a settled issue under rule of law system. Our system arrived at a fair decision for all. Bombing planned parenthood clinics is an extreme example of anti-abortionists who don’t believe in, nor accept our Constitutional System rule of law which has answered the question.

If a majority of Americans convene an Article 5 Convention and make abortion illegal through amendment, I will live with that decision as well.

I believe in our system. Those decisions which I oppose which are arrived at by our legitimate system, give me cause to ask others to reconsider the issue. But, I won’t condemn the system nor those who abide by the law.

You won’t hear me decry the 2000 election decision for President, for example. I greatly regretted Bush having become President, I lived under him as governor and knew he would be a poor President. But, he became President through Constitutional means, struggling through horrible application of our election laws (accountable transparent voting systems which hanging chads did not provide).

When Gore declined to fight the results, the issue was over, as far as I was concerned. The system worked. I didn’t like the result, but, I will live and accept the result, because it was arrived through our rule of law and the honest intent of that law.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 30, 2007 09:34 AM
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