Sunday salmagundi

Squashed responds to the weird notion — popular among tea-party Republicans — that the poor are “greedy” or “envious”:

I think any reasonable definition of “need” would include things like clean water, clean air, food, shelter, medical care and other things that you die if you don’t have.

Yes. A hungry person is not “envious” for food. A hungry person is hungry for food. See earlier: “The politics of envy.”

Charles Lemos at MyDD catches another example of the premillennial pessimism of RedState’s Erick Erickson:

My world view is pretty simple. I think this world is destined to go to hell in a hand basket by design. I think things are supposed to go to pot. So if Barack Obama wins, I won’t be upset. If Mitt Romney wins, I won’t be running through the streets cheering. I think, either way, it is all part of the design. The world is going down hill. Barack Obama re-elected just gets us down the slippery slope faster in my view. For others, it is Mitt Romney who does.

• I see that the re-election of President Obama has not made David Horowitz any less hateful or delusional:

He’s going to pursue this other chimera of the left, the climate change, because it means control over energy policies. They actually want to control when you turn on your light switch, they want to tax you for the energy that you use. I have to tell you, this is the biggest threat, that environmental movement. That’s the powerful movement because it means control over everybody’s life. They won Obamacare and control your health, now they’re going to control your environment.

This was in a conversation with Horowitz’s fellow anti-Muslim bigot Frank Gaffney. All of which is just to say, again, a big Thank You! to the passive-aggressive conservative who sent me an Amazon credit for Horowitz’s newest book.

• I used that credit to buy Peter Enns’ The Evolution of Adam, which I’m enjoying, and learning from. Would I still have purchased this book had I known then that Enns is a Yankee fan? Of course not. But I will continue trying hard not to allow this to influence my opinion of the book.

President Barack Obama, 2012:

Ayn Rand is one of those things that a lot of us, when we were 17 or 18 and feeling misunderstood, we’d pick up. Then, as we get older, we realize that a world in which we’re only thinking about ourselves and not thinking about anybody else, in which we’re considering the entire project of developing ourselves as more important than our relationships to other people and making sure that everybody else has opportunity – that that’s a pretty narrow vision. It’s not one that, I think, describes what’s best in America. Unfortunately, it does seem as if sometimes that vision of a “you’re on your own” society has consumed a big chunk of the Republican Party.

John Rogers, 2009:

There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.

• “Hospitals bristle at the suggestion they’re gobbling up practices just to charge more.” Meaning, in other words, that hospitals are gobbling up practices just to charge more.

• This is a noble effort to transform America’s evangelical subculture: Reclamation Brewing Co. and the Theology of Beer. A song in honor of that fine project — “There’s a six-pack to hide / on the Oral U side / let’s drive to Oklahoma …”

• So a Christian, an atheist, a Muslim and Jew walk into this conversation about feminism and religion

This is a terrific conversation with Danielle from From Two to One, Libby Anne of Love, Joy, Feminism, Nahida Nisa of The Fatal Feminist, and Erika Davis of Black, Gay and Jewish. Part 2 is here.

Josiah Priest, in 1851: “There is not a sentence in the New Testament which expressly forbids the having and holding of a slave.”

There are many others, but let’s go with Luke 6:31: “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” The Golden Rule is not original to the New Testament, or unique to it, but it’s in there. And no one can credibly claim that the Golden Rule does not “expressly forbid the having and holding of a slave.”

• The New York Times publishes its Sunday Superlatives list, aka the best-seller lists: Check out No. 18 on this list. Eshet Chayil.

• Jobs I do not ever want to do: Field biologist. (Via Ed Yong, who atones for creeping me out with that link by also pointing us to the adorable koala pictured above.)

  • http://xulonjam.wordpress.com/ Xulon

    I work at a Tax Office. One time I finished a young, single woman’s return. She looked at her refund and bitterly said “My friend got $2500 more than that because of the Earned Income Credit.” I said “Yes. You could get $2500 more. All you have to do is make $10,000 less a year and be a single mom.”

    It’s not as glamorous as it sounds.

  • P J Evans

     I just read a newspaper comment that called the EITC a subsidy. My response was that the commenter doesn’t know what it really is. (One year I actually qualified for it: minimum wage, part time job.)

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    David Horowitz’s fantasizing about librulls-wanting-to-control-everything reminds me of these talking points that have been recirculated around the interwebs.
     

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    From the point of view of accounting and economics, it can be considered one to the extent that it indirectly stimulates people taking jobs at a lower wage than they otherwise might, which is why Ronald Reagan (!) of all people called it the best jobs-creating measure ever, and why Clinton expanded the EITC. It’s one of those measures both liberals and conservatives can get behind, because it’s redistributive and puts a little extra cash in a working person’s pocket, and because it allows for employers to expand hiring a little more than they otherwise might.

    The problem comes when companies like Wal-Mart explicitly price it into their wage structure and then go beyond that to force their employees to subsist on government aid just to stay alive, instead of getting a boost up from the government to be able to put some $$ away for a rainy-day fund, or the like.

  • AnonymousSam

    Well. Isn’t that revelatory.

  • Tehanu

    “My world view is pretty simple. I think this world is destined to go to hell in a hand basket by design. ”

    So let’s see.  All history until the last 100 years or so:  half of all children die before age 5.  Now (in non-Third World countries, at least):  most children live to adulthood.  All history until the last 200 years or so:  slavery legal everywhere; now:  slavery still exists but is a crime everywhere.  All history — oh, the hell with it; there’s no need to list all the reasons why Erik Cubed is an idiot as well as a pessimist, unless of course you have an actual reason why it was a GOOD thing that cemeteries were full of infants and toddlers and people could be bought and sold like animals.

  • EllieMurasaki

    ‘Fuck you, I’ve got mine’ is often quite appealing, especially to those who assume that they and their loved ones cannot possibly ever be among the bought-and-sold. Also, did infant mortality vary according to household wealth or income? Because if so, the same impulse would apply.

  • AnonymousSam

    … Even more so when the person in question either consciously or unconsciously believes in the Just World Fallacy. “I’m rich, so I’m smarter and better than you, and all those cemeteries show is that back then people who should have died did and weren’t still around to suck off the welfare teat.”

  • P J Evans

    it can be considered one to the extent that it indirectly stimulates people taking jobs at a lower wage

    The main problem with that view is that you have to get the job first. And then file a tax return to get the refund and the EITC.

  • Parisienne

    Dear Santa

    Please please pleeeeeeeeeease can I have a baby koala for Christmas? I promise I’ve been really, really good.

  • Lliira

    Also, did infant mortality vary according to household wealth or income?

    It varied according to if you had enough to eat, but rich women were in a more precarious position than non-rich women when it came to that. Also, women who don’t eat enough tend not to get pregnant in the first place, let alone stay pregnant (one of the many, many costs of our current diet-obsessed culture.)

    If you were lucky enough to survive to adulthood, you were likely to bury the vast majority of children you gave birth to, which came out to an average of about 7 to 8 out of 10 — for everyone. Women who had enough to eat but were not in a high enough social class to have their childbirth interfered with by men were in the best position for themselves and their babies. And, of course, you had about a 1/10 chance of dying from childbirth in your lifetime yourself. Until the Victorian era, when childbirth was “professionalized”, and the death of women in childbirth rose, in much of Western Europe, to one in two per childbirth. Not over one’s lifetime. If a doctor came near you while you were giving birth, you only had a 50/50 chance of making it out alive.

  • P J Evans

     My great-great-grandfather’s family was locally considered to be unusually lucky, because they only had one kid die before reaching adulthood, out of 13. (Mid-19th century, rural area.)

  • Lliira

     Oh, also: rates of infant, child, and every other kind of mortality plummeted with the late-17th-to-early-19th agricultural revolution, when suddenly nearly everyone had enough to eat. Enough to eat = healthier mothers, healthier babies, healthier children, healthier immune systems. Only one out of thirteen was still very lucky, but by then it would have been surprising if, say, over half your great-great-grandfather’s family’s kids had died, unless there was a smallpox epidemic or something.

    Infant mortality among white people was also amazingly low in the northern American colonies. See: enough to eat. Further, white women were in scarce supply, so they tended to be treated better than they would have been in most of the countries they came from. Again, see: enough to eat.

  • mud man

    Check out No. 18

    Yeah, but “Heaven is For Real” is No. 11, for the 93rd week on. Still got a ways to go …

  • The_L1985

    I am a member of my school’s faculty book club. That was one of the potential options for First Book Selection.

    I decided to join only after it was clear that that revolting excuse for “evangelism” wasn’t going to make the cut.

  • Tehanu

     Actually, no. Infant mortality was roughly the same no matter how rich the family was, because the state of medical knowledge was so primitive.  Queen Anne, around the year 1700, lost all 17 of her children either in childhood, infancy, stillbirth, or miscarriage.  In fact, there are plenty of people alive today, here in America, who lost siblings or parents to diseases or accidents that today would be nothing.  Calvin Coolidge’s son Calvin Jr. died of blood poisoning in 1924 from a blister he got playing tennis.  So — no, they don’t have that excuse.

  • Tricksterson

    I would like to point out , courtesy of the Australia section (and it’s a huge one) of tvtropes Everything Wants To Kill You article that those cute and cuddly critters have razor sharp claws that function as resevoirs of germ carrying filth.  They’re also commonly carriers of chlamidia.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     Also, do you know how mommy koalas feed little koalas? I am not going to go into details, but let us hypothesize the existence of a movie called “The Koala Centipede”

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ mistformsquirrel

    I would just like to say this:

    OMGSPIDERSGAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH

    That is all. >.<

  • Timothy Tankersley

    The idea that events that are inevitable need my input is one I’ve always found to be strange. And the two big examples of this weird idea are those Christians, who think that either they need to fulfill God’s prophecy for Him or else they need to fight against some Anti-Christ, and some Communists, who have revolutions to bring about the inevitable change to communism. Of course, not all think this way, but I’m picking on the ones who somehow think that an event is inevitable *and* that they need to fight for/against it.

  • Turcano

    That’s because our citizenry is notorious for not knowing jack shit about how taxes work.  Speaking of which, it’s Chuck Asay time!

    (To me, this implies the existence of a 100% tax bracket at over $30K a year, but what do I know, I’m just an accounting major.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/jrandyowens Randy Owens

    Are you sure that wasn’t from the guy who does the editorial cartoons for The Onion?

  • WalterC

    To me, this implies that we live in a world where most people will refuse to earn more than $30,000 a year because any additional money will all be seized by state. This, of course, flies in the face of all the millionaires and billionaires running around. Unless every single one of them is committing tax evasion on a staggering scale. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2CUJHSQSQYTYT4DPZSKTVESYNQ B

    I noticed back when they were discussing letting the Bush tax cuts expire for income over $250k that yeah, lots and lots of people don’t understand how federal income tax works.

    “So if I increased my income from $250,000  to $250,001, I’d pay thousands more in taxes!  Why would anyone ever do that?  It removes all incentive to ever earn anything over $250k again!”

    Gah!  TAXES DO NOT WORK THAT WAY!  :headdesk:

  • http://www.facebook.com/jrandyowens Randy Owens

    I must admit, there was a time that I did think tax brackets worked that way, and even went so far as to imagine the logical corrolaries of jobs paying$1/year less than the next bracket and such.  But then, that was sometime around middle school, maybe even elementary*; I got over it.

    * grades 7-9 & K-6, respectively, where I grew up

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Incidentally, one thing that I have from my economics classes is a fairly good Laffer Curve simulator on the CD, and what’s interesting is that if you make the marginal propensity to earn high enough, the curve gets almost flat, which tells you that the top marginal rate can be set at almost any level. It also implies that the desire to earn money becomes relatively insensitive to taxes in the first place, which I think holds true in real life, since Samuelson’s text from the 1990s suggests the real Laffer Curve peaks at a top rate of about 70% and is decidedly asymmetric.

  • Lori

    Re: The NYT bestseller list and in honor of Veteran’s Day (which isn’t quite over yet) I recommend Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken. Louis Zamperini lead a fascinating, heartbreaking life and the story is really good.

  • GDwarf

    I think very few people actually know how tax brackets work. I’ve lost count of all the people who think that you have one tax rate on your entire income that’s determined by your net. They argue that this helps excuse storing all this money offshore, because otherwise the rich would be taxed at 800% or something.

    Heck, until relatively recently *I* thought that’s how tax brackets worked. Somewhere something has gone terribly wrong with civics education, in both Canada and the US.

  • http://dumas1.livejournal.com/ Winter

    It’s not exactly well publicized. If you look at the 1040 form and instructions, they never really discuss how the income tax works. There’s a table of incomes up to 100K with tax amounts for small chunks. There’s no mention of how marginal rates work, it’s all worked out ahead of time so the taxpayer can just look it up and do some sums.

    And they are just a bit confusing. The idea that the rate for a bracket only applies to income over the lower end of that bracket and a new rate starts at the upper end is very unlike most transactions people make from day to day. And media coverage often focuses on an “effective tax rate” over several forms of income, that may be taxed differently.

    All that said, I do agree with you. We can’t have an honest and productive discussion of income tax rates when a large proportion of the people involved don’t understand how they work.

  • AnonymousSam

    In other news, the president of Papa John’s is threatening to slash employee hours purely so he won’t have to provide health insurance for them. -_-

  • Matri

    Somewhere something has gone terribly wrong with civics education
    Civics education leads to more empathy for other people, which in turn will lead to socialism.

    Don’cha know.

  • Turcano

     No, that’s Kelly; Chuck Asay is apparently for real.  However, Chuck Asay has also done a cartoon with a crying Statue of Liberty… to illustrate the evils of florescent light bulbs.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2CUJHSQSQYTYT4DPZSKTVESYNQ B

     I mention it in class as a PSA when discussing progressive taxation for other reasons: “No matter what your political views about taxation are, taxes don’t work that way!”  It isn’t really related to the topic, but it’s a pet peeve of mine. 

     But that covers a very small number of people a semester. :-)

  • reynard61

    “Squashed responds to the weird notion — popular among tea-party Republicans — that the poor are ‘greedy’ or ‘envious:

    “I think any reasonable definition of ‘need’ would include things like clean water, clean air, food, shelter, medical care and other things that you die if you don’t have.

    “Yes. A hungry person is not ‘envious’ for food. A hungry person is hungry for food.”

    The problem, I believe, is in the definition of the word “reasonable”. Yes, to you or I any reasonable definition of ‘need’ *would* include things like clean water, clean air, food, shelter, medical care and other things that you die if you don’t have. The problem is that Teapublicans don’t see the poor as “needing” anything other than a good, swift kick-in-the-pants to get their lazy, shiftless, food-stamp-collecting, good-for-nothing asses out of their ghetto tenements and into the workforce so that they can be good little Randroids/consumers and buy, Buy, *BUY* “Stuff”. (As Billo so “eloquently” put it. The irony being that the poor *already* buy a lot of “stuff” — and often have to pay higher prices for it, which is one of the things that *keeps* them poor!)

    Yes, the poor *will* sometimes buy “stuff” that, at first glance, seems extravagant for “someone of their means”, like an expensive-looking cellphone. But, guess what! Cellphones are no longer the luxury item that they used to be! A “burner” (disposable) phone can look — and even offer some of the features of — an expensive smart-phone for as little as $50. (And Luna knows I’ve been tempted to buy one myself!) Where the *real* “extravagance” occurs is the costs incurred in actually *using* the phone, what with all of the hidden fees that the phone companies tack on in order to jack up their profits. But you know what? Landlines are expensive too! (I should know! I have one!) But I’m guessing that no Teapublican would begrudge me mine because they still have this picture in their head of the Phone Company being this paragon of efficient, humble, cloth-coated Capitalist virtue; while a cellphone in the hands of a poor person probably represents (in their minds, at least) nothing more or less than a way to make the next drug deal. Both types of phones can be used for the same purpose; whether it’s ordering pizza, calling a prospective employer about a job, or setting up a meth buy; but how one is *perceived* as using it seems to be what influences the way the Teapublicans view the poor. And that is, indeed, a sad state of affairs.

    “My world view is pretty simple. I think this world is destined to go to hell in a hand basket by design. I think things are supposed to go to pot. So if Barack Obama wins, I won’t be upset. If Mitt Romney wins, I won’t be running through the streets cheering. I think, either way, it is all part of the design. The world is going down hill. Barack Obama re-elected just gets us down the slippery slope faster in my view. For others, it is Mitt Romney who does.”

    And this is why I’m more inclined to put my faith (such as it is) in a cartoon Alicorn than in the Christian God.

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    I have to thank Nero Wolfe for my knowledge of tax rates; Archie is always going on about how by the end of the year Wolfe only keeps a small percent (thus contributing to his general reluctance to take on cases), but once the tax year resets he has to get back to work to keep the household running.

  • http://www.fromtwotoone.com/ from two to one

    Thanks for linking to the Ms. Magazine Femisphere series on feminism and faith!

  • Vermic

    To me, this implies that we live in a world where most people will refuse to earn more than $30,000 a year because any additional money will all be seized by state.

    I don’t have a cartoon at hand to link to, but yes, Chuck Asay has more than once expressed the fear that if we raise tax rates on millionaires, then nobody will want to be millionaires anymore (a thing he regards as bad, just so there’s no confusion).

    He’s old enough that he really has no excuse for thinking this way.

  • Alicia

    The guy is like 70 years old. He’s been paying taxes for roughly half a century. He must have noticed that there’s a firm line above which no one bothers to work any more. He must have heard rumors about businesses who abruptly closed their doors because their revenues were approaching the magic line at which the government nationalizes them. He must have heard rumors about lottery winners who give away all of their money to avoid cracking that line. He has to have all these stories and citations and anecdotes to support his opinion, right? 

    Or he’s lying.


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