L.B.: Executive Intelligence Review

Left Behind, pp. 151-154

The opening sentence of Chapter 9 clearly establishes that this is not a flashback:

Buck's subconscious waking system failed him that evening, but by 8:45 p.m. he was back in Steve Plank's office, disheveled and apologetic.

So it's not a flashback. This scene occurs after the mass disappearances.

We are in the executive offices of a premier newsmagazine, the top editors gathered to discuss upcoming stories. This is not a flashback. Emotions are high. They're tossing around words like "historic" and "monumental."

Yet none of them so much as mentions that more than 2 billion people aren't there anymore. No one mentions the vanishing of every kindergartner, every first-, second- and third-grader, every toddler and infant on the planet. No one mentions the dozens of plane crashes, the scores of rail disasters, the crippling of their own city — of every city.

Instead they're focused on what's really most important: The Jews.

It's all about the Jews. Those Jews are up to something, and no doubt it's something Jewish.

Every journalist in the room wants a piece of this story. Besides Buck and Steve, there's Juan Ortiz, "chief of the international politics section." Ortiz thinks this story should be his, since "Jewish Nationalists" and "one world government" are issues he's been "following for years." But religion editor Jimmy Borland wants a piece of this story, too, as does financial editor Barbara Donohue. They all realize that whether the subject is international finance or multinational politics, the Jews are behind it all. "Global Weekly" is looking more and more like "Executive Intelligence Review."

This is all rather insane and offensive. Buck is convinced that there is a hidden connection between a meeting of Orthodox Jews who want to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem, and a meeting of Jewish Unitarian "ecumenicalists," and a meeting at the U.N. proposing a single world currency. And he's pretty sure that connection has something to do with mysterious international financier and political puppeteer Jonathan Stonagal.

Buck is apparently connecting these dots on the basis of nothing more than a hunch. I cannot imagine what would prompt such a hunch, why Buck — or, for that matter, LaHaye and Jenkins — would assume that these things must all be connected. That assumption only makes sense if one accepts as true the Bizarro-world, anti-Semitic conspiracy theories of the John Birchers and LaRouchies and the rest of the tinfoil hat crowd that spends its days muttering about the Trilateral Commission, the Rothschilds and Rockefellers, and the string-pulling Jews behind it all.

In other sections of the book, L&J seem to want to distance themselves from such conspiracy theories, but they don't seem to appreciate the way those crazed theories are woven into the fabric of their own grand scheme.

The weird and paranoid obsession with "the Jews" in this passage is troubling. But what may be even more disturbing is that this is not a flashback. All that death and chaos, all those grieving parents, doesn't even register with these characters, or with their authors. The editors of "Global Weekly" are planning the same set of stories they had planned before calamity struck and their world was utterly changed.

One wishes this scene could be read as a satire on the cluelessness of journalists, but that is clearly not the intent. Buck is here, again, held up as a model of insight. We're supposed to admire the way he focuses on the big picture of the underlying (Jewish) conspiracy behind it all.

All of these meetings in New York were scheduled before the global calamity. Yet — despite the shutting down of nearly all commercial aviation, despite the fact that every parent involved in these meetings is now grieving a lost child, despite the fact that their agendas, like all pre-disappearance agendas, would now seem irrelevant — none of these meetings is postponed, rescheduled or canceled.

There is a sense that the actual, physical world does not matter. The people who live in that world do not matter. All that matters is the grand scheme, whether that scheme is the conspiracy of international financiers or the divine scheme of an arbitrary series of "prophetic" events.

The authors behave as they imagine God behaves. They have a plot that must move forward and they will advance that plot even if it means causing, then callously disregarding, the suffering of billions of people. Plot trumps — and tramples on, and violates — character. Here, once more, Bad Writing and Bad Theology intersect.

  • Adam

    “In other words, freedom of private entities to move limits govt power (and is thus evil), and any negative side affects of regulations are the evil corporations fault and not the saintly govt’s, because it is the moral responsibility of private entities to just shut up and take whatever the Almighty State sees fit to dish out.”
    Well, no, but if the state is something we are (to some extent) using to guard our own safety from the depredations of the corporations, then we can reasonably use the state to stop corporations moving around. The corporation of course has no “rights” (whatever they are) since society is the matrix of rights.
    While it serves the purposes of society to ascribe certain rights to individuals (free movement, freedom of speech, etc), nonetheless these rights are limited by their purposes – if a right starts endangering the structure of society, it ought to be curtailed. Rights are not after all natural, but socially determined. One does not start off with a set of individuals with formed personalities, each of whom has developed separately and brings goods into society; rather, people are formed by society and the goods produced are a product of society. So the goods, if they ‘naturally’ belong to anyone, belong to the society, and should be disposed of to benefit the society.

  • ProfessorPlum

    “Yes, I’ve been nothing but a total drain on society my whole life”
    Finally, some honesty.
    My advice is: convert all your money to gold, then go find a nice cave in Nevada somewhere where you can live out the rest of your days, caressing your gold in privacy. The rest of us will try to carry on without you, somehow.

  • Scott

    Finally, some honesty.
    What’s the moral difference between you calling me a drain on society and a Republican calling someone on welfare a drain on society? The fact is, you don’t know a damn thing about my life, yet you feel qualified to judge it and enforce changes to make it suit you. Liberals are no different than conservatives on that.
    Well, no, but if the state is something we are (to some extent) using to guard our own safety from the depredations of the corporations, then we can reasonably use the state to stop corporations moving around. The corporation of course has no “rights” (whatever they are) since society is the matrix of rights.
    Can we then curtail the movement of individuals to enforce curtailing their rights as necessary (i.e. refuse to let them leave a country if they will go somewhere else and abuse their right of free speech, for example)?
    While it serves the purposes of society to ascribe certain rights to individuals
    Great, corporations are immoral because the consider people to be means to an end, but govt is justified because people (and their rights) are really just a means to an end.
    Rights are not after all natural, but socially determined
    Then a Republican, conservative society can throw people in jail for sodomy, since they would have determined the ‘right’ to privacy is equally socially determined. As the GOP has been winning elections, they get to determine rights. Every argument you make for imposing your morality also holds for Bush imposing his.
    people are formed by society and the goods produced are a product of society. So the goods, if they ‘naturally’ belong to anyone, belong to the society
    Hell, bring back slavery if we all belong to ‘society’. If people belong to society, then people are property of others.

  • Adam

    “Can we then curtail the movement of individuals to enforce curtailing their rights as necessary (i.e. refuse to let them leave a country if they will go somewhere else and abuse their right of free speech, for example)?”
    We do, and must, curtail certain ‘rights’ to prevent abuses and harm to others. We have limits on where some people can move (e.g. criminals). We have curtailments of the right to liberty, similarly. The right to privacy is sometimes limited, and while often this is without just cause, sometimes it is necessary. In England we have very strict controls on when people can have their lines tapped, for instance. Generally, phone-tapping is bad. But sometimes, when there is as they say a “clear and present danger”, it is acceptable to do it. Again, people have a ‘right’ to life, but there are, unless one is an absolute pacifist, circumstances in which one would kill another person.
    “Great, corporations are immoral because the consider people to be means to an end, but govt is justified because people (and their rights) are really just a means to an end.”
    No, what is meant here is that there are some things that are generally desirable, like liberty and a comfortable standard of living and the free movement of information. And these things are only desirable because they benefit people. There is no society apart from people. Further, the government is not the same as society, and we always need to be sure that government does not become a separate self-serving elite, as you might argue it has done, and I might agree to an extent. Government exists only as the administrative arm of society.
    On the other hand, the government is more likely to serve the interests of the people than is a corporation.
    “Then a Republican, conservative society can throw people in jail for sodomy, since they would have determined the ‘right’ to privacy is equally socially determined. As the GOP has been winning elections, they get to determine rights. Every argument you make for imposing your morality also holds for Bush imposing his.”
    No, because, as should now be clear, the gov’t is not society. Rights are an artefact, or a figure of speech if you will, for “things which should as a rule be conditionally guaranteed for individuals, in order to ensure that society runs well”.
    The first thing to note about this rough definition is that the right is a guarantee that can, however, be void if it obstructs a greater good (that is, a greater good for actual individual people, not the Greater Good ™). This is like the examples above in which rights are seen to be limited.
    Second is that rights are a convenient shorthand for those guarantees that ensure society runs well. These are things like the stable control of the means of production (since even autocracy is better than chaos), just treatment of all, and the free flow of information. Rights _specifically are not_ a ticket to organise society to suit oneself, if one has the political power to do it. I do not wish to “impose my morality”, but I believe (as does anyone) that I know what is right and wrong to some extent. Among the things I think are right are the guarantees I just mentioned.
    Your argument that all my reasons apply equally well to Bush is invalid because my “social goods” are better than his. Of course he could say the same, but while mine would probably lead to a better society (by any criteria you like as long as it weighs the experiences of all equally), his is going inevitably to lead to a corrupt and immovable bureaucracy in which the State = Society, and thus distrust of Bush is disloyalty to “America”. I thik we can agree this is a problem. My way of doing things would not equate the State with Society, and I think a major problem with Western democracy (yours and mine) is that people are insufficiently aware of what the State is. It is not the country, it is certainly not the people; handled right, it should, I think, be a useful tool to achieve things that need doing, and no more.
    “Hell, bring back slavery if we all belong to ‘society’. If people belong to society, then people are property of others.”
    You will of course notice that I said that while people were formed by society, it is the goods that belong to society. I am not implying that people belong to anyone or anything. In fact, since property is only one of the convenient fictions we use to organise the way we live, how could they?

  • Scott

    Further, the government is not the same as society… as should now be clear, the gov’t is not society…his is going inevitably to lead to a corrupt and immovable bureaucracy in which the State = Society…
    Thus invalidating every argument that the govt can do X by appeals to ‘society’ – if they aren’t the same, then they can’t be swapped back and forth in argument. The more power govt has, the more state == society.
    Your argument that all my reasons apply equally well to Bush is invalid because my “social goods” are better than his. Of course he could say the same, but while mine would probably lead to a better society
    Better as defined by you. The fact that the left considers itself sufficiently morally superior to be in charge and others disagree is proof of superior liberal morality, and thus proof that liberals are right. “We believe it, that proves it true”.
    You will of course notice that I said that while people were formed by society, it is the goods that belong to society
    If people are formed by ‘society’, then they are owned by ‘society’, which is why society gets to determine their rights. One flows from the other.

  • Adam

    First, the point you make that gov’t and society canot be swapped back and forth in an argument – I said that “government is not the same as society… [but o]n the other hand, the government is more likely to serve the interests of the people than is a corporation,” that is, gov’t should be, ideally, an administrative section of culture. I also said that a major problem with democracy is that it is not clear how gov’t can be made a more obedient servant of society.
    Second. My explanation of what I regard as important things to safeguard in society said “the stable control of the means of production, just treatment of all, and the free flow of information”. I assume you don’t disagree with those.
    Do you disagree with my analysis of where Bush-style gov’t will lead?
    Third: you say that the ownership of people by society ‘flows from’ the fact that people are formed by society (I assume you don’t dispute that this is a fact?) This is no more the case than that my son is my property just because I formed him. You must see that your argument here is absurd and seems to betray a rather feudal mind. Particularly given that I said that property was a convenient fiction only.
    You also seem to think that society can do things to people. Society is only people. It is not a goblin king dictating our rights. It is the creative collectivity of individuals. Where else do you imagine rights to come from? They are not an immanent property.

  • JR

    Better as defined by you.
    Here we are again with you. If someone talks about the common good or a societal goal, you like to break it down to that single person, wielding his or her moral arguments as a totalitarian cudgel to force other unwilling people to do things they don’t want to do. It doesn’t matter if 50 percent, 75 percent or 85 percent of the public thinks something is a good and worthy goal, as long as there is one holdout in a cave somewhere clutching his silver coins and muttering about “threat of force,” then nothing should be done.
    At its heart, your argument, as I understand it, is that there is no legitimate social compact. No network of social responsibilities that people as a group can apply to each other. At least, you don’t believe that such responsiblities can be morally imposed on you by someone else. In your view, those responsibilities can only be accepted and taken on by an individual.
    If there are 10 people in a community who think it is bad for old people to be poor, then those 10 should band together and support old people. Leave you and those with your same mindset out of the solution. If one of those 10 happens to be rich, then so much the better for the old folks, but leave everyone else out of it.
    Which is why you would like to see the idea of “common good” changed to a 90 percent agreement rule. Your ideal society, such as it would be, would throw out the constitution’s imperative to “ensure domestic tranquility” and to “promote general welfare.” Unless we interpret those terms completely differently than we have in the past 200+ years.
    And even if your 90 percent majority on a subject was reached, then nothing should be done if those cave-dwellers didn’t want to participate, because we wouldn’t want to use the “threat of force” against them.
    Scott, I think you are a funny man (or woman.) Really. You tickle me. Your ideas are absurd and would require people to throw out our entire governmental structure, to change the meaning of long established terms, to twist the meaning of words into unrecognizable pretzels and to abandon social programs that have succesfully and inarguably staved off hunger and despair for millions of people.
    You can’t possibly think your ideas have any chance of being adopted in the America of today or of the likely future, but you keep throwing them out there and arguing, like a little dog with a bone at a dinner party. Serious people are having serious discussions about how to address societal ills. And you are over in the corner barking and growling at people to stay away from your bone. Snapping and yipping and growling. Ooh, so fierce he is, that little terrier.

  • Scott

    Do you disagree with my analysis of where Bush-style gov’t will lead?
    I don’t consider govt by you and govt by Bush to be the only two allowable choices.
    people are formed by society (I assume you don’t dispute that this is a fact?)
    I do dispute it. People are not born as blank slates to be turned into whatever society wants them to be.
    You also seem to think that society can do things to people. Society is only people. It is not a goblin king dictating our rights. It is the creative collectivity of individuals. Where else do you imagine rights to come from? They are not an immanent property.
    The creative collectivity of individuals comes from those individuals – society is just a label. It can’t wield actual authority, only flesh and blood individuals (the goblin kings) can.
    Where else do you imagine rights to come from? They are not an immanent property.
    Either we can resinstitute slavery or there are things ‘society’ can’t do to individuals – i.e. rights society can’t take away.
    If there are 10 people in a community who think it is bad for old people to be poor, then those 10 should band together and support old people. Leave you and those with your same mindset out of the solution. If one of those 10 happens to be rich, then so much the better for the old folks, but leave everyone else out of it.
    Yep.
    Ooh, so fierce he is, that little terrier.
    No worse than your impotent railings against ‘corporations’ and your desire to spend the income of your betters.

  • Scott

    If someone talks about the common good or a societal goal,
    How many people have to agree to make a goal ‘common’ or ‘societal’? I say at least more than a sporatic 51% depending on turnout on a given election day.

  • JR

    No worse than your impotent railings against ‘corporations’ and your desire to spend the income of your betters.
    Snap, snap, grrr.
    There is a nearly infinitely better chance that a living wage law will get passed in my community than that you can throw out the entire societal order, overturn the Constitution and all federal laws and change the meaning of moral to “keep your hands off my bone.”
    Or that, say, Congress will pass Medicare reforms that give poor and old people better access to health care. And I think the looting of the Social Security system has been succesfully staved off for the time being. I’m certainly not happy with the direction of social justice in this country, but the side seeking more social justice has won some battles recently.
    How about yours? Get many Libertarians elected recently? Or maybe you aren’t a Libertarian because they are too liberal for you. What would you call yourself?
    And the little touch about my “betters” was classic. Tell me more about my “betters.” Who are they exactly? I bet they are rich aren’t they?

  • Scott

    There is a nearly infinitely better chance that a living wage law will get passed in my community than that you can throw out the entire societal order, overturn the Constitution and all federal laws and change the meaning of moral to “keep your hands off my bone.”
    And better odds that the GOP will continue to win elections than I get what I want – that doesn’t make the GOP right, either. Or does it?
    And the little touch about my “betters” was classic. Tell me more about my “betters.” Who are they exactly? I bet they are rich aren’t they?
    Your betters are anyone not looking to validate himself and feel less impotent by forcing his morality on others. Your peers are Robertson and Falwell.

  • JR

    Your peers are Robertson and Falwell.
    Oh my. Scottie, you do go on. I mean, you do recognize that it is all very silly don’t you? You and your merry band of Libertarians or Scotterians, I guess, drawing up intricate charts outlining how the right and the left are actually exactly the same, morally equivalent, trying to oppress you, steal your bone all under “THREAT OF FORCE!!!”
    I mean, there isn’t a town in America where the Libertarians, let alone the Scotterians, have managed to convince people to put them in charge. Your ideas and theories have never been put into play anywhere. They are untested and in anything short of a complete societal collapse, untestable.
    Maybe you have a vision where your idealogy runs free and in that dream world, brave, strong Libertarian men stride across the landscape, tanned and free and wealthy, with a six-gun on their hip, silver dollars in their pocket and a lusty Libertarian woman hanging on their arm and their every word. A fresh scent of freedom blows across the plain as each man takes charge of his own destiny, relying on others only as far as building the next stretch of interstate — like a barn-raising, with miles of concrete and asphalt and billions of dollars of disposable capital.
    It would be like an ongoing performance of Oklahoma! There may be poor and there may be elderly, but they aren’t part of your proud, Darwinist, mainstream culture, instead relegated to the sidelines where they might die or possibly be taken care of by wealthy entrepreneurs soft-hearted enough to feel pity and with enough disposable income to make a difference. And the poor and the elderly are probably very, very grateful for the the help they do get with a lot of bowing and scraping and “Yessirs” and “Thank you sirs.”
    Your fantasy land is all so inspiring. But it isn’t real. And it isn’t achievable. And if your idealogy did take over, the world would look a lot more like Mad Max than Oklahoma.

  • Scott

    “THREAT OF FORCE!!!”
    Mock all you want, but never object when the right passes its social legislation which is also backed up by threat of force. If its OK for you, its equally OK for them.
    And it isn’t achievable.
    Your socialist paradise where selfless govt bureaucrats throw off all human moral limitations and become philosopher kings isn’t achievable. It’s possible for me to be left alone; it’s impossible for your leftist superstate to avoid being corrupted by power. People are people – they’re just as self interested when working in govt as they are when working in evil corporations.

  • JR

    People are people – they’re just as self interested when working in govt as they are when working in evil corporations.
    Which, I think, is the crux of your philosophy as you have described it here. You can’t imagine people overcoming their self-interest enough to ever be genuinely concerned about the interests of others. Government is all a big scam, you seem to be saying, a way for people to enrich themselves at others expense. Everyone is using their position and any authority they may have as a way to improve their station in life. A bureacrat only does his or her job well enough to be eligible for rewards, never because they believe in the cause they are purportedly working for. Or at least, those people are so rare as to be a minimal percentage of government workers.
    You seem to believe that taking your money at gunpoint to buy a meth fix is exactly the same thing as taking your money through taxes with the threat of prosecution to fund social programs. It is all a threat of force.
    I find your bleak view of people’s motivations just as sad as I find the conclusions you draw from them absurd.

  • Scott

    You can’t imagine people overcoming their self-interest enough to ever be genuinely concerned about the interests of others….I find your bleak view of people’s motivations just as sad…
    Power corrupts, and power attracts corrupt people. That doesn’t mean that nobody ever helps anyone else out voluntarily, but I’m sure as hell not going to accept someone’s claims to be selfless as qualification for power. Bush claims to be a wonderful guy, too. My view of both parties probably isn’t any lower than your view of just one of them (the GOP) is.
    You seem to believe that taking your money at gunpoint to buy a meth fix is exactly the same thing as taking your money through taxes with the threat of prosecution to fund social programs. It is all a threat of force.
    Yep. I find it hypocritical to strut around talking about ‘compassion’ while ignoring what you have to threaten to do to people to fund said ‘compassion’. Basically, you have to threaten to make some people worse off than those you’re trying to ‘help’ (if prison was better than poverty, the poor would be committing crimes and turning themselves in to be volunarily imprisoned).
    If it’s only money, and we need to help those in a worse situation than you, then pardon everyone jailed for tax evasion.

  • Lurker

    What I find hilarious about Scott’s ideology is that it has never been practiced at all, anywhere, at any time in history. Shit! The anarchists and collectivists have better historical batting averages than the goofy lolbertarians. Of course the anarchist revolutions were starved of resources or crushed by force, but they were pretty successful before being drowned in blood.
    What’s also amusing is that Scott pretty much admits he favors plutocracy, beliving those with more money are better than everyone else.

  • Scott

    What I find hilarious about Scott’s ideology is that it has never been practiced at all, anywhere, at any time in history.
    Freedom of religion was a new concept at one point in history, too. Wanna go back to a State church because of that?
    What’s also amusing is that Scott pretty much admits he favors plutocracy, beliving those with more money are better than everyone else.
    No, actually what I’m saying is that the left isn’t any better than anyone else, including the right – you cannot buy your way into Heaven w/ someone else’s bank account.

  • Lurker

    Freedom of religion was a new concept at one point in history, too. Wanna go back to a State church because of that?
    Pfffff. Get back to me when you at least have a plausible outline for a small lolbertarian sanctuary (besides GUV’MINT BAD, CORPORATION GOOD).
    Also, I’d like to know why corporate power is good and government power is bad. From where does a corporation derive its power? Why is the top-down command structure of the corporation an okay thing, while the more bottom-up structure of our government bad? Why, in your opinion, is corporate welfare fine and dandy, while social welfare is meanace? Why is the exercise of plutocratic power legitimate, while the exercise of government power is a threat to freedom? Do you consider the legal fiction of a corporation to be acceptable?

  • none

    At this point we might as well ask Scott what he thinks Ayn Rand’s vagina looks like, as it has just about as much to do with the Left Behind analysis at this point…

  • none

    At this point we might as well ask Scott what he thinks Ayn Rand’s vagina looks like, as it has just about as much to do with the Left Behind analysis…

  • Scott

    If govt is the collective expression of The People or of Society, why aren’t liberals as submissive toward elected conservative Republicans as I’m supposed to be when they gain power?
    Why are tax hikes “taxing ourselves” and not stealing, but benefit cuts are not “us voluntarily reducing our own benefits” but are instead “stealing from the poor”? Didn’t the poor consent to reduced benefits collectively at the ballot box, just like I would have for the tax hike?
    Why is the govt us and we are the govt when it’s about leftist fiscal policy, but when it’s conservative social policy the govt becomes ‘them’ imposing ‘their’ morality?
    Why do people who consider rights to be determined by society think the whole “illegal combatant” thing is wrong (which it is, but then I don’t believe society determines rights) despite the fact that our society seems to be just fine with it?
    …while the more bottom-up structure of our government
    That’s nothing more than a statement of religious faith.
    From where does a corporation derive its power?
    People voluntarily working for it and buying its products. Even people with finite choices can more easily avoid Exxon than they can avoid the IRS, DEA (War on Drugs throws the poor in jail for pot but cuts Bush’s niece a break for her illegal prescription pills despite being run by Compassionate Government), or Dept of Defense.
    Besides, it’s not about ‘corporations’, it’s about voluntary exchange, and forcing me to participate in your dreams of remaking society to suit you isn’t voluntary.
    Why, in your opinion, is corporate welfare fine and dandy, while social welfare is meanace?
    If it’s handing the corporation a check, it’s just as bad. I just don’t consider ‘allowing’ some to keep a buck to be taking that buck from the more ‘deserving’.
    Why is the exercise of plutocratic power legitimate, while the exercise of government power is a threat to freedom? Do you consider the legal fiction of a corporation to be acceptable?
    Govt is just a legal fiction, too, and our “plutocratic power” is just rhetoric.
    At this point we might as well ask Scott what he thinks Ayn Rand’s vagina looks like, as it has just about as much to do with the Left Behind analysis at this point…
    Fair enough, but I’m not the one who brought up the subject in this thread.

  • Ken

    “What his grandchildren do in 60 years with their lives will be interesting to watch. Their grandchildren will wield extreme political and societal clout, without any effort on their part or ties to the workers below them. ”
    They will if the political messages they spend that money to disseminate are convincing to voters. If they instead spend their lives partying and living it up on Grandpa Bill’s money, their political and social clout will be nil.
    “Ah, and of course you would have to narrowly define the idea of a crime, eh? If a poor man broke into a rich man’s house and stole $100 from his kitchen drawer, then it would be a crime.”
    Hell, yes.
    “But if a rich man takes $100 from 10,000 workers’ paychecks, is that a crime?”
    You mean the paychecks that he’s giving them in the first place? If he’s withholding money that he’s contractually obligated to give them, that’s a crime. Otherwise, no.
    “What if a corporation he controls knowingly underfunds my pension plan so it can give the CEO a multi-million dollar bonus?”
    That would be fraud. Of course he could have avoided that situation by not offering a pension plan in the first place and giving you cash instead.
    “Are we still talking about a crime or just good business? How about if the whole board votes itself huge bonuses for succesfully merging with another company, then lays off 10,000 workers, taking hundreds of millions of dollars of their future income?”
    If they could produce the same thing with 10,000 fewer workers, then we’re all better off if those 10,000 workers work on something else. And no one has an obligation, legal or moral, to employ any workers at all, even if he employed them last week.
    “I suspect you will say that only the first example is a crime. I disagree. Thus the concept of social justice. Which you dismiss. The rich can steal millions with the swipe of a pen and be the toast of the town.”
    Only if you deliberately misrepresent the meaning of the word “steal”.

  • Harv

    Look, this discussion is going around and around – and also devolving into personal insults, which is bad form. Maybe you guys need to call a truce for a second? Stick to the issues; that is what makes a good debate.
    From my own POV, I think you need some measure of public/private balance. You simply can’t effectively run a country without taxes and government-sponsored programs – there are too many shared needs (trash collection on one end of the scale, schools and social programs for the dispossessed on the other). By the same token, allowing private individuals/organizations to set up similar programs (private roads, schools, etc.) is useful in that they take at least some of the burden off the public sector/taxpayer. That is what I think makes America work so well – you have choices.
    However, I do think as a citizen of the country/state/local community, taxes are a necessity, as are the programs they fund. The key underlying philosophy is that each pays their *fair* share – so the rich pay more – not exorbinantly so, but their fair share is more than those in lower economic strata.
    I think some of the problem is that people at every level always feel they are overtaxed – they don’t understand the “common good” principle anymore. In my town, lots of older folks, many well off due to property values skyrocketing, which due to the rep of the public school system, complain about our “high” taxes, and accuse the schools of ripping them off. What I think they fail to see is that the town is such a nice place to live *because* of the public schools! They teach children well, which in turn results in those children being solid citizens of the town, which results in the town maintaining a good lifestyle which in turn makes the town a nice place for all the people to live.
    So if you want the schools to keep that up, you need to fund them – the only way to do that (with state and federal aid being drastically cut) is to pay taxes! Yes, they are not *their* children, but every member of the town is *responsible* for the town’s common good. Me, it is tough to pay the “high” taxes (they really are not that high; I have seen much higher) but I see it as investing in the town’s future. It’s my duty and responsibility as a citizen, regardless of whether I send my kid to the public school or not.

  • Doctor Science

    the ‘discussion’ here is making my head spin, and not in the good way, but i’m just dropping in to rec an book: Wealth and Our Commonwealth : Why America Should Tax Accumulated Fortunes, by William H. Gates, sr. (mr. bill’s father). good for historical background, and also explains why the author thinks not having an estate tax would be bad for his grandchildren (short answer: they might turn out like paris hilton).

  • Devon

    Blah blah blah.
    Blah, blah blah rich blah blah moral blah blah rights! Blah poor blah blah blah taxes blah blah compassion. Blah blah blah, blah social security blah fairness blah blah force blah blah. Corporate blah blah blah, society blah blah blah, blah blah blah 49%??? Blah blah threats, blah blah society blah blah, blah blah Bush.
    but blah blah schools blah, blah blah government?
    Blah?!?! Blah blah blah STFU!! Blah blah.
    Blah blah blah sound blah blah fury blah signifying blah blah blah nothing.

  • Scott

    good for historical background, and also explains why the author thinks not having an estate tax would be bad for his grandchildren
    Mr. Bill’s father is an estate lawyer – he makes his living helping the rich avoid estate taxes.
    Anyway, as I’m currently in Rita’s probable trajectory, I’m signing off for now. I have food, water, and enough ammo to keep some leftist from redistributing it. :-)

  • jhlipton

    Scott, you do realize you’re on a blog that’s pretty much dedicated to the idea that one guy CAN tell everyone else how to live, and if they don’t, they’re not very nice. The comments here are based on how we implement the things that guy told us to do (whether we agree on exactly **who** that guy was). If you don’t think that guy was in favor of redistributing wealth, put forward that idea.
    Otherwise, might I suggest you peddle your “morality” someplace a bit more appropriate? This Robertson and Falwell you keep mentioning seem to follow your morality more than the guy above — I think they’d welcome you with open arms.

  • Scott

    Scott, you do realize you’re on a blog that’s pretty much dedicated to the idea that one guy CAN tell everyone else how to live, and if they don’t, they’re not very nice. The comments here are based on how we implement the things that guy told us to do (whether we agree on exactly **who** that guy was). If you don’t think that guy was in favor of redistributing wealth, put forward that idea.
    No, I distinctly remember Jesus telling people to watch their own morality (the board in your eye) instead of that of their neighbor’s (the speck in his eye) – that makes people just want to show how superior they are to those neighbors.
    Otherwise, might I suggest you peddle your “morality” someplace a bit more appropriate? This Robertson and Falwell you keep mentioning seem to follow your morality more than the guy above — I think they’d welcome you with open arms.
    No, leftist and rightist Christians both say “Jesus wants X” to justify throwing you in prison if you don’t do X. Jesus said let him who is without sin cast the first stone, not let him who wins 51% of the vote in the last election cast the first stone.

  • Duane

    Um.. I think jhlipton was referring to Fred, not Jesus.

  • none

    Thank you so much for reading these books and telling us what’s going on. It saves me from having to read them, and that is a blessing.

  • Lurker

    It looks like Scott has accepted that corporations have a top-down command structure, which then brings up the obvious follow-up question: is this structure of power legitimate? If so, why?
    It also appears that he is not challenging the legal fiction of corporate power. Does this mean that corporate legitimacy is on par with governmental legitimacy?
    Thirdly, does voluntary association mean that employees should have the right to negotiate their terms of employment? (Protip: If you want to avoid the DEA, IRS, NSA, CIA, FBI, ATF, etc. you can always move somewhere else)
    Fourthly, do voters have the ability to effect government? What does this indicate about the power of the populace?

  • Doctor Science

    Mr. Bill’s father is an estate lawyer – he makes his living helping the rich avoid estate taxes.
    um, no. Mr. Bill Senior never “made his living” doing anything except marrying into one of Seattle’s wealthiest families. He used to work as a trusts&estates lawyer, but that was never how he got most of his money and it certainly isn’t where he gets it *now*.
    To imply that Bill Sr. is in favor of the estate tax because it makes money for T&E lawyers is absurd on several points.
    First, getting rid of the tax will not impoverish T&E lawyers — as a group, they stand to make even more money setting up and adminstering larger trusts than they do by helping the rich dodge the tax. T&E has been the cash cow of the legal profession for hundreds of years, no shift in the tax laws will stop it now.
    Second, Mr. Bill’s Senior’s family would see a gigantic financial benefit from eliminating the estate tax. If you actually read his book, you’d see that his personal concern is more that he’s known too many worthless rich kids all his life, he knows from personal observation how too much money and the expectation of too much money can mess people up, and he doesn’t want that to happen to his grandchildren.
    Basically, though it is in his direct financial interest to eliminate the estate tax, he feels that it’s in his family’s mental-health interest to keep it.

  • ChristianPinko

    Estate Tax opponents often complain that we liberals “hate the rich.” Well hating the rich isn’t nice — but why is hating the rich so much worse than hating the poor? Why is greed so much more pardonable than envy?
    Libertarians impose their moral values just as much as anybody else does. It’s just that they use the market to do it. Listen to talk-radio hosts ranting that the poor “deserve” to be homeless and hungry, and you can see that libertarians are generally more vicious and merciless in imposing their values than any liberal Democrat.
    The great libertarian illusion is that the “market” can do no wrong, but the state is perpetually misguided (even though the “market” is nothing but a system of rules and regulations created by the state). So if the actions of the market condemn some people to poverty and other people to fabulous wealth — well, we must submit to the inscrutable will of our divine master, the market.
    I’ve never met a Democrat who was as blind and mindless in his/her bondage to the state as Scott is in his bondage to the market. How dare he call other people pagans! — it’s obvious that his God is the market, and to his God he will gladly sacrifice untold numbers of poor people.
    We live in a country where millions are forced to work every minute of every day just in order to survive at the edge of malnutrition and hunger — and THIS is the “freedom” that libertarians would scheme to bring to the rest of us, whether we like it or not.

  • Scott

    It looks like Scott has accepted that corporations have a top-down command structure, which then brings up the obvious follow-up question: is this structure of power legitimate? If so, why?
    It’s not the ‘structure’, it’s the ability to leave it w/o having to move to another country. Which is harder (even for the poor) to avoid, ExxonMobil or the DEA?
    He used to work as a trusts&estates lawyer
    The prosecution rests.
    Libertarians impose their moral values just as much as anybody else does. It’s just that they use the market to do it….and THIS is the “freedom” that libertarians would scheme to bring to the rest of us, whether we like it or not
    The usual “you’re imposing your morality on me by stopping me from imposing my morality on you” BS. Social conservatives use the same argument about the left ‘forcing’ them to live in a moral cesspool by not enacting their pet social legislation. Left == right.
    even though the “market” is nothing but a system of rules and regulations created by the state
    The market is a bottom up (y’all like that term, right) creation of individual free exchange. If the govt is so damn “bottom up”, then why blame Bush for everything that goes bad (like Katrina relief) and demand a leftist savior like another Clinton to “focus like a laser” on the economy and save us all single-handedly?
    What you pagan govt worshippers don’t understand is that when you make the govt the source of all things (including individual people as mere creations of ‘society’, of which govt is the collective expression), the moral judge of all things (you’re judged morally by whether you suppport govt, and things are moral or not depending on whether they’re blessed by govt – it’s taxation if govt does it, armed robbery if not), and the thing Larger Than Ourselves to which we must belong (a big argument on TheRightChristians.org before it went under), then you’re creating your own god. This is particularly so when you talk about what we ‘owe’ it, instead of recognizing it as a creation of mere humans that we can cut back at will w/o having to be fair to it as a separate thing in and of itself (govt has _no_ rights at all), and accepting no limits to govt power when held by people you agree with (wanting to limit Bush w/ arguments you don’t accept when it involves limiting Gore or Kerry aren’t limits on govt, they’re limits on your political opponents).

  • Scott

    things are moral or not depending on whether they’re blessed by govt
    I forgot the claim that people ‘blessed’ by working for govt are morally superior to those working outside it, instead of being just like everyone else (some good, some bad and wanting to order others around, some working there just because the govt happened to be hiring at the time).
    The creation myth (govt was instituted volunarily to Do Good, instead of existing because someone got conquered) absolves govt of all wrongdoing, just like fundies make excuses for natural disasters w/ an omnipotent good God. Govt does good, by defn. If govt does bad (or fails), it is therefore the fault of the individuals responsible, because theory said they are supposed to Do Good. Govt, by defn, can only do good and only individuals can do bad. Govt gets credit when its people do right (because that’s what theory says they’re supposed to do), individuals get blame when its people do wrong, because those individual people failed to do “their jobs”.
    Therefore, the NYPD saving people during 9/11 was The Govt doing good, but the NOLA PD looting after Katrina was local corruption. Both left and right think Abu Ghraib was the work of a few bad apples (the right blames the MD Natl Guard, the left thinks the bad apples are Bush and Rumsfeld), but not the fault of ‘government’. Enron reflects on all corporations, but no tyranny that ever existed reflects on the Federal Government of the United States of America, because govt, like God to the fundies, is by definition good and all evil is the fault of individual sinners not cooperating w/ it.

  • Keith T.

    It occurs to me that the appeal of Left Behind books by their target audience, despite its horrible style, logistical, and continuity shortcomings, is largely the same phenomenon that attracts them to the Bible, with all its style, logistical, and continuity shortcomings.
    Reading Slacktivist’s page-by-page refutation of LB reminds me a lot of reading Ken Smith’s Ken’s Guide to the Bible.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X