Smart people saying smart things

Juan Cole: “When Politicians promise ‘Lower Taxes’ they are promising Collapsed Bridges”

The next time you hear politicians campaigning on “lower taxes,” you should realize two things.

First, they don’t intend to lower your taxes, which are probably mostly Social Security. In fact, they might like effectively to raise those taxes by extending the retirement age. They mean they intend to lower taxes for rich people and corporations.

Second, what they really mean is that they intend to deny you basic social services of the sort government provides through your taxes, such as upkeep of roads and bridges. They want to allow the trucking and other corporations who use those resources to escape paying for them (most road degradation is caused by trucks), and pass the cost on to you, either in the form of tolls or of deteriorating infrastructure. I.e., when they campaign on lower taxes they are actually promising you that your bridges will collapse.

Abigail Rine: “Why Some Evangelicals Are Trying to Stop Obsessing Over Premarital Sex”

If this collection of voices is any indication, the traditional battle lines of the abstinence culture war are beginning to blur. A revisionist evangelical view of sexuality appears to be emerging, one that doesn’t revolve around that ultimate youth-group quandary — how far is too far? Although each of these post-purity perspectives diverges from the current evangelical narrative to varying degrees, the common thread among them seems to be a desire for a more holistic sexual ethic, one that remains thoroughly Christian while shifting away from the metaphor of purity to concepts of sexual health and wholeness. What is still unclear is whether these revisions will gain traction within evangelicalism or remain confined to progressive inlets of the evangelical subculture.

Darren Sherkat: “Suspect ‘Science'”

When we talk about [Mark] Regnerus, I completely dismiss the study. It’s over. He has been disgraced. All of the prominent people in the field know what he did and why he did it. And most of them know that he knew better. Some of them think that he’s also stupid and an ideologue. I know better. I know that he’s a smart guy and that he did this on purpose, and that it was bad.

William Lloyd Garrison on willful ignorance, 1853

Those who do wrong ignorantly, do not willingly continue in it, when they find they are in the wrong. Ignorance is not an evidence of guilt certainly. It is only an evidence of a want of light. They who are only ignorant, will never rage, and rave, and threaten, and foam, when the light comes; but being interested and walking in the light, will always present a manly front, and be willing to be taught and be willing to be told they are in the wrong.

Take the case of slavery: How has the anti-slavery cause been received? Not argumentatively, not by reason, not by entering the free arena of fair discussion and comparing notes; the arguments have been rotten eggs, and brickbats and calumny, and in the southern portion of the country, a spirit of murder, and threats to cut out the tongues of those who spoke against them. What has this indicated on the part of the nation? What but conscious guilt? Not ignorance, not that they had not the light. They had the light and rejected it.

How has this Woman’s Rights movement been treated in this country, on the right hand and on the left? This nation ridicules and derides this movement, and spits upon it, as fit only to be cast out and trampled underfoot. This is not ignorance. They all know the truth. It is the natural outbreak of tyranny. It is because the tyrants and usurpers are alarmed. They have been and are called to judgment, and they dread the examination and exposure of their position and character.

Letha Dawson Scanzoni: “There Is More Than One Christian View on Homosexuality”

It is said that the abolitionists found that their religious arguments against slavery tended to be less convincing to most people than the religious arguments of those who justified slavery, simply because of the way most people read their Bibles, taking only a proof-text approach. I think we face a similar situation today in taking a religious position on the question of homosexuality. Many people read the Bible in a mechanical way as though it’s a list of rules, like a traffic manual, with every single verse having the same importance and without consideration of the times, cultures, and conditions in which various passages were written. We need to help people understand more about biblical interpretation, translations, and so on. And we need to examine the principles of Scripture rather than pulling out individual verses without regard to context.

 

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

    Juan Cole: “When Politicians promise ‘Lower Taxes’ they are promising Collapsed Bridges”

    A very effective riposte, I think!

    I remember looking up tax calculators for the USA and rather to my surprise, the effective tax rate on an income circa $3000/month is quite low. I think I worked it out to be around 5 – 10%. The perception that taxes are a crushing burden is becoming less and less realistic all the time with indexation of the tax system amid wage stagnation, which means that even though corporations are no longer giving wage raises in proportion to productivity, in effect the government is still giving them a tax cut every year because income thresholds keep going up*.

    I hope the Dems pick up Juan Cole’s refrain and use it to help push the tax rates on the $250k+ earners back up to Carter’s era. :P

    * This is happening in Canada to such an extent that if you make $20k a year, half that income is not subject to income tax which means that the effective tax rate on income at that level is now around 7%. The true burden on Canadian workers is from the EI and CPP supplemental deductions which have not decreased, as well as from the cost of fuel, which we have to pay world-market prices for even though we are a net exporter of oil.

  • http://flickr.com/photos/sedary_raymaker/ Naked Bunny with a Whip

    It’s a bit easier for me to wrap my mind around it if I think of those politicians as running on a “more potholes” platform.

  • Jim Roberts

    Here’s the thing – taxes really ARE a crushing burden on the middle class because, despite increases in production and technology, wages are stagnant. Locally, gas prices have gone up 35% in the past decade, and my salary hasn’t increased.

    But instead of complaining that we aren’t being paid enough and demanding a fair wage, we complain about high taxes.

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

    You just contradicted yourself. Gas prices aren’t taxes per se, especially considering that in the USA fuel taxes are a comparatively smaller fraction of the total price at the pump when considering Canadian or European fuel taxes.

    $2000 a year in taxes on a $3000/month dual income family is not a crushing burden.

  • Jim Roberts

    Heh. $3000/month. I wish.

    They are comparatively small compared to Canada and Europe. Did you also compare wages and benefits in those two areas to those we get in the U.S.?

    I’m not saying that taxes are too high, I’m saying that when you’re given just less than enough to live on, any amount taken away from that hurts. The problem isn’t the amount taken away, though, the problem is, “Why do we have just less than enough to live on if the companies we work for are making so much money?”

  • smrnda

    Another issue is how taxes are collected. Taxes like sales taxes are regressive “everybody pays the same rate” but a 10% sales tax is taking a bigger chunk of a poor person’s money than a rich person.

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

    All valid points; the point I was trying to make is that it’s people like the $3k/month DINKs who get up on their hind legs and bleat that they’re OMGCRUSHED by taxes when it’s really all the other major expenses in their lives – health insurance costs, for example, as well as paying for gas and heating or air-conditioning as needed.

  • The_L1985

    $3k/month = $36,000/year. Which, again, is more than I earn. Unless you have debt already (admittedly, most of the vanishing middle-class does have a fair amount of debt–which is part of the problem), that’s plenty.

    The problem is that college education is falsely treated as a panacaea instead of as a means of making a higher income possible. Not guaranteed, not even likely with the high rate of people going to college these days, but possible. Which makes it damn-near guaranteed that American adults are going to start out with thousands or tens of thousands of dollars in debt. When you’re trying to pay off your debts, it’s an unfortunate fact that you’re going to focus on how to stop more money going OUT, rather than on the pipe dream of more money going IN.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Despite the fact that it’s true, it’s hard to go around saying “Actually, College is a bad idea for most people” without it sounding like “More people should know their place, resign themselves to spending the rest of their lives as blue-collar wage slaves and give up on ever advancing to the middle class.” As much as college these days is essentially a 30,000 dollar lottery ticket, it just seems kind of aristocratic to tell people to just give up on economic advancement.

  • reynard61

    And it sure doesn’t help when you’ve got guys with multiple degrees telling us that it’s snobbery* for a President to “want everybody in America to go to college”. (Which, by the way, he did not actually say. [Note: Front end advertising])

    *Sorry for using a Breitbart link, but it was the only one that I could find that had the full-context quote.

  • The_L1985

    I know. I just hate that wages have fallen low enough that college is necessary, but not sufficient, for a decent wage.

  • Jim Roberts

    Exactly – I got the feeling we were on the same page on this, but just talking past each other a bit.

  • The_L1985

    $3000/month? That’s half again what I make. My fiance makes less than me. $2000/year may not be a problem now, while we’re still childless, but I don’t know how we’re going to support children.

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

    According to this…

    http://us.thetaxcalculator.net/

    If you punch in $15k a year married filing jointly you guys should be paying like diddly dinkums in income tax.

    Actually, hell, the only deduction quoted by the calculator is SocSec at $95 a month.

  • FearlessSon

    Actually, that brings me to a good point. People wonder why the younger generation has such a lower rate of marriage and has fewer children than the earlier generation. Some claim it is a sign of Satan and how the youth of the country is morally degenerate, but more likely it is precisely these economic factors which make a “traditional” nuclear family difficult to support.

  • smrnda

    The 2 income family is often taken to be the cause of lowered wages (the demise of ‘family wages’) from women entering the workforce but that’s BS. Most women had to work throughout history, it just became news when middle class families had to start relying on 2 incomes.

  • Alaric

    I’ve never understood how politicians get elected by promising to cut taxes. I get that they’re not exactly the greatest thing in the world when you’re paying them, but they’re also what enables life to go on, both in terms of keeping infrastructure up and running (which I hear is already in dire straits and would require a massive amount of time and money to get up to snuff) and to keep the government running (and no matter what your thoughts on how big it should be, a working government is also kind of a necessity). And it’s not as if they’re crushingly high, far from it. Do people want their public services to collapse if it means temporary convenience, or are they just massively uninformed about the actual point of taxes? I’m legitimately flummoxed here.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    There are many people who have utterly skipped the idea that taxes are used (in most cases) to improve their lives and view taxation as, to directly quote a regular here on Slacktivist, “theft at gunpoint.”

  • Mark Z.

    It doesn’t help that, if you live in America, the big-ticket items on the budget are things like upgrading all of the Air Force’s more-than-adequate air superiority fighters to next-gen super-duper-stealth fighters just in case we have to re-fight the Cold War. It’s hard to see the return on investment from that.

    (Oh, it “creates jobs”. And I suppose those jobs have the advantage that they’ll never be outsourced to China. But that’s Bastiat’s broken window fallacy all over again–we could just as well give people jobs not building stealth fighters, which can be done entirely with unskilled labor.)

  • fredgiblet

    I very much doubt that those jobs are immune to outsourcing. I remember a scandal a while back about counterfeit parts showing up in the military.

  • FearlessSon

    The funny thing is that to people who want to “starve the best” the government can never create jobs… unless the government is spending money on military hardware that the military says it does not need more of, in which case it totally creates jobs. *Eyeroll*

  • reynard61

    And no one seems to remember that, when the government *does* get to do large-scale infrastructure jobs anymore (i.e. build a bridge or a building or repair a stretch of highway or a stretch of railroad track in a large city), they generally use *local private contractors* to do the job because it gets touted as being “cheaper” when the work is “privatized” — even though, with a few exceptions*, it almost always ends up costing *more* because of cost overruns because the private contractors couldn’t meet the low bids that they made in order to get the contract.

    *The Hyperfix was an exception because the Federal and State governments wrote a *very* strict contract and *held the contractors to it under threat of both loss of bonuses and a lawsuit if it wasn’t completed on time and on or under budget!*

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

    Also, the Davis-Bacon act usually mandates paying the “prevailing wage” for federally funded projects like that, and that often means non-union workers get paid the local union wage.

  • mattmcirvin

    I grew up in the suburbs of DC. In my experience, defense contractors who vote Republican up and down the line and complain about “government” mysteriously turn into Keynesians on the sole subject of military spending. Probably because the role of government money in this one sector of industry is right in front of their eyes, whereas government spending on everything else is something they see as a competitor for limited funds.

  • FearlessSon

    Probably because the role of government money in this one sector of industry is right in front of their eyes, whereas government spending on everything else is something they see as a competitor for limited funds.

    Huh, I never thought of the competitor angle to it. It always confused me that they could see how this works, but not be able to generalize that principal to other areas of government-invested economic development. I thought, was it a failure of imagination? I had not considered that they might have well imagined it, but consciously rejected it as fewer dollars for them.

  • mattmcirvin

    It becomes really, really clear in the way it manifests in the rhetoric of the right-wing type of space fans (whose attitudes more or less originated in Southern California defense-contractor culture, transmitted via science-fiction fandom). They’ll tell you the reason we don’t have colonies in the asteroid belt today is that the layabout masses ate up all the funds through the welfare state.

  • FearlessSon

    Which is really a pity, because I consider the space program one of the better examples of government spending which grew the economy. The micro-transistor breakthrough alone revolutionized the computer industry and set the stage for its rapid consumption and development.

    But even before it lost a lot of funding, NASA was still only a tiny fraction of the national budget.

    Incidentally, my father considered the space race one of the few “positive” ways that the Cold War expressed itself. It was international competition, to be sure, but far better that countries compete to top each other in scientific achievements as opposed to bullets and bombs. (Granted, the only major difference between a space rocket and a ballistic missile is what payload it is carrying and where it is targeted.)

  • the shepard

    plus, we’ll be in real trouble when the reapers come if we don’t start preparing now.

  • mattmcirvin

    My understanding is that the extent to which microelectronics was a space spinoff is often grossly exaggerated, and the same is true of many other supposed technological spinoffs.

    But the scientific payoff is precious to me. (Note, though, much of that comes from uncrewed missions, not the human-spaceflight program; Apollo was an obvious exception.)

    And those basic-science, exploratory missions are unlikely to be funded by anything other than government. Commercial space tourism as a recreation for rich people is all very well, but it’s not going to tell us much about the universe.

    (There are actually two factions of right-wing space fans: the libertarians who believe that private enterprise could do anything if government wasn’t somehow in the way, and the people who think in more nationalistic terms, want a massive government program but are upset that the government spends money on other stuff instead. Both camps believe that welfare moochers stole their dream.)

  • FearlessSon

    On this topic, today’s xkcd is apropos:

  • Chris Hadrick

    It had a lot to do with George Schultz who Reagan stupidly trusted to balance budgets when he did the opposite via military pork. This was done in the name of fighting communism even though none of the stuff they ordered, tanks and whatnot, were of any use in fighting Russia. They were perfect for invading the Middle East though which was what they ended up being used for.

  • P J Evans

    Go check the calendar on your premise.

  • Chris Hadrick

    the cold war military build up was the decade before the cold war. It made those sort of actions much more likely

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

    He does have a point. The supply-siders were so convinced that if taxes were drastically cut, it would repurpose those funds for all kinds of entrepreneurial activity that the resulting economic growth would swamp the loss of revenue from the tax cuts.

    To make that kind of economic doctrine work on the budgeting side, the size of government necessarily needs to be limited, which the pro-military anti-Communist types Reagan surrounded himself with did not want.

    Reagan’s biggest gamble was that the USA could afford a spending race with the Soviets based on the fact that about 25%+ of the Soviet GDP went into the military, while about 10% of the USA’s GDP went into same.

    It could have gone very wrong if the Soviets had simply refused to even begin joining in and Reagan had doubled down on the spending to try and provoke them.

  • FearlessSon

    He does have a point. The supply-siders were so convinced that if taxes were drastically cut, it would repurpose those funds for all kinds of entrepreneurial activity that the resulting economic growth would swamp the loss of revenue from the tax cuts.

    True, the original intent of the tax cuts for big businesses would be to enable those businesses to pour more of their money into R&D, which would open new opportunities for the market and provide more jobs and more income as it expanded into those new frontiers. I can see the nobility in that idea. However, for most companies, now unburdened by taxes, the easiest way to innovate was to find another, smaller, company who was working on some great new idea and buy them out. Which many companies did, over and over again, as the then-bigger companies got even bigger and took over more. Some companies of similar size ended up merging together so they would not be crushed under the advancing tide of buyouts, furthering the consolidation. A lot of people made a lot of money selling companies during that time, creating new millionaires.

    For a lot of people, the ideas seemed to be working, and the economy started booming, and people were building up stores of private wealth. Unfortunately, the boom slowed as companies ran out of other companies to acquire and the few big companies remaining had less incentive than before to actually innovate, which was one of the few ways small companies used to make it big. Lots of people got laid off during this consolidation, due to becoming redundant in a post-merger company, we hit a bit of a slump at the end of the eighties, and we start to see the crack that would later grow into a gulf of major wealth disparity.

  • Chris Hadrick

    David Stockman’s new book really takes the whole supply side fantasy to task.

  • P J Evans

    The ‘cold war’ had been going on a long time before Reagan became president. And that spending race pretty much bankrupted both countries.

  • mattmcirvin

    It didn’t bankrupt the US, actually. There are a million things the money could have been better spent on (all those things Eisenhower talked about in his farewell address: feeding the hungry, educating children, art and science and infrastructure) but the US managed it all right, all in all. We ended up running a huge debt but it was a manageable amount relative to GDP.

    The fiscal trouble comes when you want huge amounts of military spending *and* low taxes *and* start talking about a balanced budget.

  • J_Enigma32

    Ah, and he* wouldn’t happen to be one of those people all for working people at slave wages under threat of death (well, under threat of death from starvation or work at garbage wages) as well, would he?

    polite laugh Oh, who am I kidding. Of course the asshole is. They always are.

    * Normally, I would feel uncomfortable making this assumption. But Internet Libertarians are almost always affluent, middle-class males, so I feel it’s a safe assumption to make. Just the sort of person you’d expect to hear shouting “Go away, I’ve got mine, fuck you!”

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    There are always exceptions though. My parents are trailer trash (as of moving into a trailer which is literally on the verge of collapse) living just above the bottom rung of living standards, drawing welfare. They’re both libertarians.

  • J_Enigma32

    Which simply blows my mind, too.

    I mean, there’s a certain amount of twisted sense to an affluent white male who’s in technology and middle class (I read theory that the reason internet libertarians are so commonplace is because they’re overrepresented in the techfield and, hey, guess who spends a lot of time online?). I mean, they have theirs, and if you want to be shortsighted and spiteful enough to hack off your own nose, by all means, do so while you gain something in the short term, at least.

    It reminds me of the poor whites in the antebellum south. Here were whites that were dirt poor and abused by the wealthy bourgeoisie plantation owners. They had every reason in the world to link hands with the slaves, help the slaves, and overthrow the degenerate aristocracy that had established itself. But they didn’t. And they didn’t because the bourgeoisie plantation owners – that parasitic tyranny – played to the hate and anger of the poor whites and told them that they were better than the slaves. They were better because they were white. Thus, some of these poor whites became pawns of the aristocracy of the south. They were given a purpose by their masters, to go and hunt down run away slaves, and made to feel superior in a sadistic way over the people they were hunting down. They identified so strongly that even today we’re feeling the ripples of that and the war it spawned, like a hypernova on the sociopolitical topography.

    Self-righteousness is a drug, and like most narcotics, it impairs cognitive functioning, memory retention, and in some cases, social interactions. I figure that if anyone is poor and angry and white, living on welfare while biting the very same hand that’s feeding them (us, the taxpayer), then they’re some type of junkie on self-righteousness. My understanding is that there’s a very well known and legal dealer who pedals this stuff like candy, called “FOX News”. They’re puppets on a string; fancied up Capuchin monkeys with an organ grinder, made to dance and play a little tune for the entertainment of the neofeudal oligarchy that are calling the shots – like they have been for centuries.

  • smrnda

    I’m in the tech field and *not a libertarian* but I’d add that a lot of people in the tech field don’t really seem to realize that civilization cannot be sustained by people working in front of computers. They’re truly clueless as to what the rest of the world does for work and, because they tend to be arrogant, just aren’t interested in finding out. They have some awareness that people have to farm, mine, make things, and stock shelves, but are too self-absorbed to have much perspective.

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

    This phenomenon was especially bad in the 1990s when it seemed like the tech sector was going to be this tidal wave rolling over all the silly n00by non-geek lusers. Back then, a vast majority of people, who had no grasp of the fact that the demand for their labor so far exceeded the supply that wages were going up, convinced themselves it was their own he-man derring-do that got them $100k a year jobs doing Oracle or whatever.

    This psychology is still evident today, as witness people who insist that being a contractor somehow makes them magically ~totally their own independent person~ without bothering with the downsides: exclusion from unemployment insurance, possible lack of inclusion of years worked in social security, and oftentimes lack of protection from employment discrimination laws.

    This tech-sector hero-in-their-own-mind-ism really needs a good balloon puncture.

  • arcseconds

    As a bit of a counter-point, I know quite a few people in the tech field, both professionally and personally, and almost all of them are left wing (to the point where it is almost assumed), and offhand I can only think of one libertarian I have talked to in the last two years.

    I’ve certainly encountered the phenomenon you mention, and I’m sure my experience is heavily determined by local considerations and doesn’t hold true for North America, but I thought it was worth mentioning because it doesn’t have to be like that :-)

    Incidentally, I’ve heard it claimed that back in the days of dumb terminals and one computer per large institution, techies were more often socialists.

  • smrnda

    My perspectives may be a bit off, partly since I don’t work with many Americans but I’d agree. I think the ‘tech libertarians’ are really a small, but disproportionately vocal segment of the field. The problem is that the combination of libertarian economic power with the image of these people as geniuses creates a bad combination when someone wants to draw up libertarian talking points.

  • Jamoche

    In my experience the techy internet libertarians are the ones who aren’t making the 100K salaries but are convinced they ought to be.

  • MarkTemporis

    When you think about it, the one huge computer connected to lots of dumb terminals is pretty socialist itself.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Incidentally, I’ve heard it claimed that back in the days of dumb
    terminals and one computer per large institution, techies were more
    often socialists.

    Wouldn’t surprise me. There was a period where pretty much all of academia was pretty heavily socialist.

  • smrnda

    I had to laugh at ‘independent contractor’ status being some kind of freedom. It’s basically a totally shit deal, and a way people can scam you out of paying money, since if you do work for someone as an independent contractor and they don’t pay you, you have to go out, get a lawyer, spend money you don’t have and SUE THEM.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Related, signing a 1099-MISC is a good way to find yourself being paid a lot less than minimum wage on the grounds that as an independent contractor, you could just work more than 80 hours a week…

  • reynard61

    “(…T)here’s a very well known and legal dealer who pedals this stuff like candy, called ‘FOX News’.”

    Don’t forget those other dealers of conservative wing-nuttery: Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck; and, to a certain extent, Alex Jones of Info Wars infamy. (Though Jones’ swing-and-a-miss crackpotism can come from the left as well.)

  • Baby_Raptor

    Jones was on Twitter the other day saying “If they kill me, don’t get revenge. Just get the info out!”

    Seems a bit crazy, even given the company you put him in.

    Then again, crazy seems to be the environment wherein these people thrive, so…No net loss, I guess?

  • FearlessSon

    I remember talking to a woman in our booth at San Diego Comic Con last year. She was a pleasant enough visitor, we were having nice conversation, and she mentioned how grateful she was for the governmental social safety net, because without it she and her husband would have been out on the street when they went through a rough patch a few years ago.

    The conversation shifts to something related, and she interjects, with firm conviction in her manner and tone, about how she things that big government is a big bully, and they should not be going around telling people what to do or how they can spend their money or what money to give, etc.

    It kind of caught us by surprise. Did she not see the contradictions she was making?

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

    I don’t see it as a contradiction. Big government can be benevolent or a bully. Contrast Finland and the Soviet Union, as examples.

  • FearlessSon

    Err, she was contradicting herself by saying in one breath how grateful she was that the government was so benevolent to her, while in the next breath saying how much it was a bully. There was a whiplash in tone and thought going on there.

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

    You can have a welfare state and still have the government sticking its nose in where it damn well isn’t wanted. Drug Warriors, anyone?

  • FearlessSon

    Yeah, I get that. But in her case, it was not so much “the government is great but it has problems,” it was more like “The government is great!” followed immediately by “The government is awful!”

    The two sentiments can co-exist, but it was not like they co-existed in her to form one mixed feeling, it was like they were entirely separate and she just flipped between them.

  • Space Marine Becka

    Maybe she was saying welfare is good but it’s no business of the goverment how people spend it. Because “small government” always seems to involve a massive bureaucracy to poke into welfare recipients pockets and check they are being properly miserable.

  • smrnda

    With more elaboration, I can see both, but a person who thinks about these issues would probably add more qualifiers. The government is pretty big and intrusive with the war on drugs and heavy-handed treatment of minorities by the police. At the same time, it can’t seem to fix potholes in the street. Neither too big or too small, just doing the wrong things because of bad priorities.

  • arcseconds

    unfortunately, I wonder how exceptional they are. this seems to be quite common.

  • Daniel Björkman

    I don’t know, I’ve met a shitload of female libertarians. They usually identify as feminists and look forward to the day when sexist injustice has been defeated and they can stand proudly side by side by their male fellow Honest Hard-Working People and stomp down on parasites of both sexes, just as nature intended.

  • smrnda

    Being disabled has always prevented me from this, as well as understanding that I’d be labeled a parasite the moment I couldn’t make it into work. I really don’t see a difference between ‘kill the disabled’ and ‘let them die.’

  • Daniel Björkman

    The difference feels very academic to me, also.

  • arcseconds

    A friend of mine’s brother was (or is) a libertarian, living at home with his mother, who was in turn a welfare recipient.

    So, male and (I think) middle-class, but not at all affluent.

    He despised his mother for sponging off the government. Him sponging off her, though, was enlightened self-interest.

    It’s quite possible to be an intellectually honest libertarian (it’s as philosophically sound as any of the other political positions I don’t agree with ;-)) and you can even be well-disposed towards people. But I think I’ve met exactly one largely intellectually honest libertarian, one who wasn’t really but could at least pull off an argument for his position that it was hard to fault, and a small handful of others who had libertarian tendencies but recognized the need for some government intervention in society.

    The rest have been self-righteous, venal fools who would be laughable if their ideology wasn’t so toxic. A couple were so ridiculous as to be outright laughable.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    I’ve met one intellectually honest libertarian. He was an ongoing persona of a very tech-savvy person who had good reasons for hiding behind a persona. So he (or possibly they) was playing a part, and I have no idea what his (or possibly their) real views on anything but computer gaming and modding were.

  • arcseconds

    so… the intellectually honest libertarian was a dishonest concoction?

    I’m a bit confused here :-)

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Well, the concoction was entirely consistent in his beliefs.

    His beliefs also included: sex is a violent contest, everyone you meet online is an ax murderer, online personality tests are accurate, the sexiest women are the most violent, cats are the most awesome beings in the universe, people 12 and under are all annoying and stupid, no one is entitled to any privacy on the internet, all information and software must be free, reproducing if you haven’t always been perfectly healthy in every conceivable way is evil, and the only people worthy of respect are those with technological know-how.

    I’m still not sure if he’s human (or multiple humans) or if he’s a creation of the internet’s collective unconscious.

  • http://algol.wordpress.com/ SororAyin

    May I just say the possibility of the Internet developing a collective unconscious is the most frightening idea that’s crossed my path today.
    BTW: The guy was probably right about the cats.

  • Lori

    I refuse to believe that any creature that makes it impossible for me to breath is the most awesome being in the universe.

  • http://algol.wordpress.com/ SororAyin

    I assume you refer to allergies. I suffer from those as well (though not to cat dander), so I can relate. But, you can always enjoy the feline species through lolcat memes. You gotta admit, those can be pretty awesome.

  • Lori

    Yes, I am very allergic to cats. I like a good LOLcat, but not quite enough to declare cats the most awesome beings in the universe :)

  • smrnda

    Interesting. I wonder if this guy is an AI produced by analyzing libertarian talking points.

  • MarkTemporis

    At least he was right about the cats.

  • arcseconds

    I was told once by someone that the most convincing libertarian she’d ever met was, er, me…

    She had overhead a discussion with a friend of mine, and it seemed she had missed the beginning of the discussion when I said ‘well, there are some arguments that could be made for the position…’

    I felt a bit uncomfortable about that, as you might imagine

  • http://xaonon.dyndns.org/ Jim Wisniewski

    I think it’s partially an availability bias. The beneficial effects of government like infrastructure, environmental protection, etc. tend to be diffuse and (when they work properly) unobtrusive to most people – as long as it’s in good order, how often do you think about the road you’re driving on, or the water coming out of your faucet? Whereas paying taxes feel much more personal and immediate when you write a check on tax day, or see the sales tax on a purchase. So when someone says “lower taxes!” the first thought is “yes please, I hate paying money” rather than “hm, but then who fixes the potholes?”

  • Chris Hadrick

    I don’t think that’s the source of outrage regarding taxes. Rudy Guliani made tangible changes to NYC so no one complained about paying THOSE taxes (which were in fact relatively low) unlike before when David Dinkins had high taxes and did nothing.

    it’s the governments fault that people hate paying taxes, not the peoples. No one would listen to conservatives or libertarians if there weren’t such obvious waste and fraud.

  • Rhubarbarian82

    I feel the same way about people who passionately hate and complain about the IRS. I won’t even call it a necessary evil; it’s just how we pay for our civilization.

    ETA: Admittedly, I’ve never been audited or run into an issues with the IRS, and I don’t want to discount the voices of people who’ve had legitimate run-ins with the agency. I’m talking more about the general IRS hate that only stems from the fact that they’re the branch of the government that handles tax collections.

  • themunck

    Parking attendants suffer the same rap, too :/

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

    That being said in some cities it is often an unofficial policy to leap on even minor issues of lateness to a person’s vehicle i.e. even a minute which normally would fall under de minimus if it were actually challenged in court.

  • smrnda

    I once owed the IRS a lot of money. They were very nice, allowed me to pay in installments, and charged very low interest, I’m talking less than 2%.

    Show me a private sector agency that generous to debtors.

  • Veylon

    C’mon. You know there’s a right-winger out there who will read that comment and say “See! The government lets slackers get away with not paying their due. How Socialist to deny the free market it’s right to profit from this scenario.”

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

    I think it’s usually all the private contractors who file on form 1099s who fall into an audit because they got sloppy with their paperwork who end up seeing it as an excuse to do some good old-fashioned ranting.

    Incidentally, it does not help when MLM-based companies like Amway etc purposely tell the people who hawk their products to abuse the tax system with wanton abandon.

    “LOOK! SHINY WRITE-OFFS!”

    What the Amway shills don’t tell the suckers filing on 1099s is that the only reason their little chunk of the MLM structure turns a profit is because of those deductions. Someone broke this down from IRS records and demonstrated that in fact, most Amway or other MLM members often lose money when the OMGSOCOOL deductions get factored out of the tax filing.

  • smrnda

    My deal was a combination of several independent contractor jobs, accompanied by me being unable to work and disabled, and various deductions not being worth as much as I thought they would be (my medical expenses didn’t quite reach the point where they’d get me a tax break, and I also had other issues in that I’d worked for non US entities, thus complicating my taxes.)

    I’m sure some right-winger will point to my case as the IRS letting a ‘deadbeat’ get through, but it’s more like ‘wow, filing quarterly works until you can’t work in the last quarter of the year!’

    All said, the lesson learned was that no work as an independent contractor is worth the hassle. If anyone wants to classify you as a 1099, tell them piss off.

  • Chris Hadrick

    but you HAVE to pay taxes, you don’t have to, say, buy a boat.

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

    You HAVE to buy food, buster.

  • Chris Hadrick

    his point was that the IRS has better interest rates than, say, loan sharks and thus they are benevolent. The difference is you can not borrow money from loan sharks you have to pay your taxes so there is nothing nice about them offering you low interest rates.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Yes, because borrowing money from a loan shark when they had any other choice is a thing anyone has done ever.

  • Chris Hadrick

    of course they have. the point is the IRS isn’t nice because they have lower interest rates than ,say, banks. banks are lending you money to get a car or a college education, the IRsS is collecting money for the US to spy on it’s own people, bomb Muslims, pay interest on it’s own debt etc

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    How supremely generous of banks! It’s a good thing they never misuse their money.

  • Chris Hadrick

    point isn’t about the character of banks, it’s about the fact that they have a an optional product, loans for thins you want, whereas the IRS’s “product” is mandatory. If a burglar doesn’t smash anything they still robbed your house, they aren’t nice. that’s just an analogy btw ;)

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

    You know, you utterly missed the point i was making about buying food. You need to eat to live, and in that respect the private sector has the same negotiating power with respect to you as the IRS does with respect to you in the realm of taxes.

    I don’t see you complaining about the oligopolistic and monopolistic character of, say, companies like ConAgra.

  • Chris Hadrick

    no because you don’t need to pay taxes to live. I’m totally opposed to corporatism. these companies manipulate the patents and regulations to their benefit.

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

    Uh you kind of do need to pay taxes to live

    What do you think they pay for?

    Cops

    Firefighters

    Soldiers

    Teachers

    All the kinds of people who buttress the framework of a stable, high-income country. If there were no cops you wouldn’t magically pay less in taxes, you’d just have to buy yourself your own private army like some people do in Africa or South America.

    If there were no soldiers you wouldn’t magically pay less taxes, you’d STILL need that private army of yours and probably have to link up with other wealthy landowners to agree to a mutual defence pact.

    And if there were no firefighters or teachers you wouldn’t magically pay less taxes, you’d need to have someone around your house at all times with a fire extinguisher and a long garden hose in the event of a fire, and if that fails, good luck, your house is toast. As for teachers you’d end up having to hire private live-in tutors for your kids if you didn’t want to teach them yourself at least the basics of literacy and arithmetic.

  • Chris Hadrick

    our federal income tax doesn’t pay for any of those things except soldiers of which there are about a million too many along with the whole military industrial complex.

    what benefit for example do I get from helping our government pay interest on the debt that they created?

    “As for teachers you’d end up having to hire private live-in tutors for your kids if you didn’t want to teach them yourself at least the basics of literacy and arithmetic.”

    or send them to the thing called private school

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

    http://i.imgur.com/UCMSnMC.gif

    That would basically be my reaction to you right now.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    You have no more choice when you go to a loanshark than you do when you pay your taxes. The fact that if you don’t do the latter, you’ll be fined by the IRS and given a “benevolent” payment plan, whereas if you don’t do the former, a guy named vinnie will break your kneecaps does not mean that the first one is a free choice and the second one isn’t.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Somehow I suspect that the IRS has less to gain by you going into default, too…

  • Chris Hadrick

    our “civilization” = wars no one cares about, subsidies for stuff we don’t need, interest on the national debt. That’s where your income tax goes

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    So drinkable water, food and drug testing, public schools, public libraries, public parks and beaches, public roads and bridges, public transportation, building codes, garbage pick-up, police, fire department, and the various networks which enable you to get electricity, internet, and plumbing are all stuff you think you can do without?

    I guess you could try Somalia.

  • Chris Hadrick

    I was referring to federal income tax. state income taxes don’t go to fight wars and federal income taxes don’t go to roads and garbage pick up etc

    When they even bother to spend money on those things that is. Our roads and schools are in a pretty sad state and it’s certainly not due to lack of taxation. The govt has other priorities (see first comment)

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    I don’t live in the States, so I’ll let someone else field that one.

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

    Your point, while valid, is an oversimplification.

    Yes, the priorities of the federal and state governments are often misdirected.

    But this argument is not an excuse to insist that all taxes are wrong and that they should not be paid. It is also not going to mean the private sector will come along and miraculously make it all better, the “Probability Broach” notwithstanding.

  • FearlessSon

    My issue with it is that the priorities of the government, however misguided, are often preferable to the priorities of the market, which can be absolutely vile at times.

  • dpolicar

    Yes, precisely.

    I often summarize this by saying that the market is the most efficient device we’ve ever built for consuming resources to produce commodities for consumers. Whether I endorse this depends rather a lot on whether the people and things I care about are consumers or resources.

  • Chris Hadrick

    the priorities of the market are the priorities of people.

  • konrad_arflane

    And the priorities of government aren’t?

  • Chris Hadrick

    is that a joke?

  • konrad_arflane

    No. Both governments and markets are made up of people. Thus, saying that “the priorities of the market are the priorities of people” doesn’t address FearlessSon’s point with any particular cogency.

    The difference between markets and governments is whose priorities are given the most weight, not whether those priorities belong to people or not.

    ETA: Well, *ideally* that’s the difference. In practice, they tend to be a lot more similar than the above would suggest.

  • the shepard

    the priorities of the market are the priorities of the marketers.

  • Chris Hadrick

    No, and my statement wasn’t a Randian market as God thing either. If Mcdonalds makes some sandwich that no one likes they can’t just keep putting it on the menu or they’ll go out of business. That actually happened does anyone remember that? they made this “adult” fancy hamburger or something. Point is people can not by stuff from them if they don’t want but you can’t not pay your taxes if you don’t want. I didn’t want the McIraq camel meat burger but I have to pay for it every year.

    markets can make horrible things to, trick people into buying other than what they paid for, overcharge due to yadda yadda yadda

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    Unregulated markets do stuff like this, Chris: http://blogs.plos.org/speakeasyscience/2012/03/17/cough-syrup-dead-children-and-the-case-for-regulation-2/

    Note that at the time, the company could not legally be held liable for the deaths of those children. They weren’t losing any money, and neither were other companies who, likewise, weren’t bothering to test their products.

  • Chris Hadrick

    I said in the second paragraph that there are other problems with the market. the point wasn’t that markets are great it was that they are subject to the customers choices in a far more direct way than govt is.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Which is why mass consumer outrage has totally harmed Monsanto’s business and caused them to do a complete 180 on all their policies.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Also: Stupid fickle market. I liked the Arch Deluxe. The advertising campaign was ridiculous, but I liked the sandwich itself. Apparently I’m one of the only ones in the entire world. That seems bizarre. Not one country liked that sandwich, but, what, their pathetic Southwestern Chicken sandwich is still around? That thing’s like bread -> one pickle -> tiny chicken patty -> bread for eight bucks!

  • Kubricks_Rube

    I too liked the Arch Deluxe.

  • Chris Hadrick

    Arch deluxe thank you. I never tried one.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Honestly the flop was probably due to the cost ($100 million) and style of the advertising (“Kids won’t get it. They might even think it’s disgusting and tastes bad! LOL!” Uh, WRONG MESSAGE TO SEND TO YOUR CONSUMERS), the actual sandwich not being unpleasant at all. Slab of bacon, mustard/mayo sauce, thick slice of tomato = not bad at all, especially when it seemed like few other companies were serving burgers with bacon at the time. Not a bad idea, worst possible approach: alienate the customers and imply there’s something horribly wrong with the product.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    I’m tryng to recall. As much as we love our tribalism, I think every time I recall an ad campaign based on defining what sort of person a product isn’t for, it backfires.

    See also: Doctor Pepper Ten

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Not helped by how so many advertisements seem aimed at the lowest common denominator.

    “Make Seven! UP YOURS!”
    “WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE~”
    “Whuzaaaaaaaaaaaaaap.”
    “Beauty is only skin-deep, but your skin is what people see and judge.”
    “It’s time to take our freedom back. Don’t let The Man tell you what you can and can’t do. *SMOKE SMOKE SMOKE* Totes not a cigarette commercial *SMOKE*”

    And let’s not forget a certain Kay Jewelers advertisement with unfortunate implications. When proposing to your wife with a piece of jewelry, please don’t buy your step-daughter an identical piece of jewelry…!

    You can tell I don’t turn on the TV unless there’s something very specific I want to watch. -_-

  • FearlessSon

    God I hate those Doctor Pepper Ten commercials. But apparently I am one of those men who already regularly consumes diet soda, which according to their research is a minority, so I am obviously outside of their targets.

    I might grant the company their research suggesting that men buy diet soda less than women, and therefor men buying diet soda is a market that they can expand into, but I disagree with their conclusions about why men are not buying as much diet soda as they could. They seem to think that men equate “diet” with “girly”, so they sell a “low calorie” soda instead of a “diet” one to get men to buy it, backed up by a dumb marketing campaign. But I think it is more than people in general tend to like the taste of diet sodas slightly less than non-diet, and will favor those unless they have some other priority above taste. In the case of women, there is a lot of social pressure to stay slim, and I think we see higher rates of diet soda consumption among women as a result. We have less pressure on that for men, and thus the diet is lower priority and we see less diet soda purchased by men.

    I guess “men think this stuff is too effeminate” was an easier answer for the marketing department to swallow than “we need to change decades of encultured social expectations.”

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    And here I just thought diet soda had a bitter aftertaste that I couldn’t stomach. XD

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

    Hell, I don’t even like Dr. Pepper at all. I think their entire ad campaign is a waste of money.

  • Jamoche

    There’s a commercial running where a woman is pushing a shopping cart and rather snottily commenting that packages have a lot of info on them so why does the government have to get involved and add more? We can make our own decisions! As if any of that info would be there without government influence in the first place, and aren’t decisions easier to make when you have more info?

    I have no idea what labelling legislation is in the works to prompt this, but it’s funded by something with “beverage” in the name.

  • Carstonio

    The priorities of the market are the priorities of people with economic power. You insist that youre not talking about markets as deities, and then in your very next sentence you describe the market’s judgment as just.

  • Chris Hadrick

    no look, stores stock snickers candy bars because people buy them. People don’t buy them because stores stock them.

    whereas a government can decide to subsidize snickers candy bars and let them rot, if they so choose (and things like that have happened). So even though you didn’t want one you bought it via taxation.

    the market doesn’t mean just like Wal Mart and Goldman Sachs. it can be one person selling something to another person or trading even.

  • Carstonio

    My point has nothing to do with direct or indirect subsidizing. Since we’re talking about candy, many food dyes are banned in Europe because they’re unsafe for children. The candy companies continue to use those dyes in the US because they can, even though the Center for the Science in the Public Interest has called for them to be pulled off the market. One company even sells the same product with different colors in different countries based on what’s allowed.

    In a perfect world, it wouldn’t even occur to a CEO to continue to sell these products once the health risk was known. But in the real world, companies can and do place their profits ahead of the well-being of their consumers, or of the larger society. That is why agencies like the FDA exist, and this is one case where the government is failing to do its job.

    But in your world, government wouldn’t have a watchdog function at all. Companies would have no accountability. They could do whatever they please to consumers, who would have no means of redress. Even boycotts would be useless because the nation would be essentially a huge company town, with the corporations holding all the real power.

  • Chris Hadrick

    again, I’m not trying to sell anyone on anarchy, I’m just saying there is a difference between paying taxes and paying somebody for something.

    and corporations hold all the real power now, in case you hadn’t noticed.

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

    Gee, I wonder why

    Maybe because of the kind of right-wing policies you endorse

  • Chris Hadrick

    no, because of the left wing policies you endorse :)

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    Burden of proof rests with the claimant.

  • AnonaMiss

    How do you come to the conclusion that left-wing policies led to corporate power?

    Given that the left wing has priorities that are explicitly anti-corporation (FDA, CPB, EPA) which the right wing is against and has been holding up at every turn; and that the parts of government that the left wing is in favor of – i.e. not military & intelligence – has been shrinking for decades?

    Not that left wing policies couldn’t lead to an increase in corporate power – but the left wing hasn’t done shit in over 25 years, so I’m not really sure how the current situation could be laid at its feet alone?

    I hesitate to ask this because the last time I tried asking you for your reasoning you came back with the idea that the value of gold never deflates, which was so head-poundingly stupid I had to walk away

    but I’m a masochist I guess.

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

    Hadrick fancies that he’s some kind of joker.

  • the shepard

    and how much effect did the failure of that burger have on mcdonalds in the long run?

    mcdonalds is able to successfully drive non-chain restaraunts that produce superior products out of business because of market clout. walmart is able to dominate retail in smaller towns through market clout, despite the fact that they sell shoddier goods.
    the market is set up to support the wealthy and the successful while providing the consumers with the cheapest possible goods. the failure of a single product or line seldom, if ever, has any effect on the businesses.

    claims thst the market is subservient to the consumer is either naive or disingenuous.

  • Chris Hadrick

    market clout? Mcdonalds drives other places out of business because customers prefer food fast and cheap. If they didn’t, Mcdonalds never would have expanded beyond one store.

    “the failure of a single product or line seldom, if ever, has any effect on the businesses.”

    my point regarding the arch Deluxe was Mcdonalds just can’t make it and tell people to buy it. If people don’t won’t it it will go away.

    Unless someone is suggesting the government begin subsidizing Arch Deluxes

  • FearlessSon

    McDonald’s can also afford to lobby for huge government farm subsidization to keep the cost of their raw materials down, then lock in exclusive contracts to get that materials in large bulk purchases which drives down the cost-per-unit but in massed batches that smaller companies cannot afford.

    That is why they are cheap, and that is the kind of economic clout they wield. With it, they can simply undercut most other competition.

  • Chris Hadrick

    I’m glad we are all against farm subsidies. Yes, the scale of their operation can make it cheaper for them because they can buy huge amounts at once, so? It’s the same reason Budweiser is cheaper and worse than craft beers but both are available.

    tons and tons of people at all economic levels do NOT eat at McDonalds because they don’t like it!

  • Rhubarbarian82

    I’m sorry, but you must be at least this tall to ride the ride.

  • Jenora Feuer

    I still remember a radio current affairs program I heard something like thirty years ago (on CFAX 1070 in Victoria), where there was talk about raising property taxes to deal with some school issues (don’t remember all the background after this time). One person being interviewed was against the tax increase, and the actual line stated on the radio was basically: “I don’t see why the government is making us pay for this; they should be paying for it themselves!”

    Even at the age of fifteen, I was just utterly gobsmacked, and my first thought was, “Where do you think the government GETS its money from?”

    There really are people who seem to have completely disconnected ‘taxes’ from ‘government services’ in their heads. As if all tax money gets thrown into a pit and burned, while the money for services just magically appears.

  • Lori

    Was the “they” in “they should be paying for it themselves” the government or the parents with kids in school? I ask because I’ve never personally met anyone who thought the government had money apart from taxes, but I know plenty of people who think all schools should be private so that people who don’t have school-age kids don’t have to pay for them.

  • Jenora Feuer

    I don’t know.

    Certainly the way I heard it at the time made it sound like this was about the former. But I’m well aware of the limitations of my own memory after thirty years (not to mention that this was just one recorded line from a somewhat emotional person, not a detailed argument), so I can’t say it couldn’t have been the latter.

  • FearlessSon

    I know plenty of people who think all schools should be private so that people who don’t have school-age kids don’t have to pay for them.

    Which I presume has the assumption that those who cannot afford education get none. They might counter with an argument about government vouchers, but that just kicks the can down the road because the government is still paying for those vouchers with tax money.

  • Ima Pseudonym

    I’ve met some self-described libertarians in meatspace who argued at length that education was a privilege like any other that should be paid for, that you were only entitled to the degree of education you could afford, and a couple of them actually went so far as to say that universal literacy was not only *not* a right, it wasn’t even particularly *desirable.*

    Corporate feudalism exists, y’all.

  • FearlessSon

    And yet everyone gets an equal vote.

    I do not say this as though equal voting was a bad thing, because I think it is in fact good. But an informed voter base is essential for effective democracy, and universal education is an important part of ensuring a generation of informed voters. When you go down the path of denying universal education, you start to stratify the voting blocks, so that some are much more poorly informed than others, limiting how effectively they can vote, assuming that they feel mobilized to vote at all.

    The only end down that path is an oligarchical system where the deciding power is in the hands of only a few, and I very much doubt such a system can remain benevolent for long. Those who have power tend to seek rulings in favor of the powerful. Only when that power is widely distributed across the population do we get a “rising tide that lifts all boats”, to paraphrase a certain ex-president.

  • smrnda

    They should just say they’re aristocrats battling progress.

  • arcseconds

    Look at all of these places called Victoria:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victoria_%28geographical_disambiguation%29

    Which one is your one?

    I suppose a reasonable person would guess either Victoria, the State of the Commonwealth of Australia, or Victoria, British Columbia. Or maybe the city in South Africa?

    But if you don’t tell me, I’m going to persist in believing you grew up in the crater on Mars….

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

    Googling suggests that Jenora lived in Victoria, BC at the time.

  • MarkTemporis

    As does the C in the callsign for the radio station mentioned. C is Canada, K for the West Coast and W for the East Coast.

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

    Yeah, I Googled the radio station name.

  • themunck

    K is west and W is east? Where’s the logic in that? oO

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    K and W are the letters you get if you add a dash to the end of the morse representations of ‘A’ and ‘N’. Before the civilian networks were allocated, the US had already claimed ‘A’ and ‘N’ for Army and Navy. It was considered desirable at the time for the civilian networks to start with the same morse sequence as the military ones (However, when they standardized callsigns internationally, the US lost ‘A’ to Germany, but kept W, N, and part of K) (ETA: Got this the wrong way around. Germany lost A to the US in 1927). Before the panama canal, civilian ships in the atlantic used ‘K’ and in the pacific used ‘W’, on the basis that ‘W’ made sense for ‘west’. So they reversed the convention for land-based transmitters on the notion that it was a good idea to be able to tell whether or not you were listening to a boat based on the callsign.

    I don’t know if it’s apocryphal or not, but I’ve heard it suggested that the standardization of callsigns in 1912 was motivated by the belief that there was some kind of confusion about who was talking to who in the radio communications during the Titanic disaster.

  • themunck

    *tentatively* I…suppose that makes a certain kind of sense, if you squint at it from the right direction…wait, how does one lose ‘part’ of a callsign letter?

  • WingedBeast

    It’s the same way kids fight eating their vegetables.

    That’s really it. I mean, you can tell a five year old that eating their vegetables helps them stay healthy now and be healthy as they grow up, but come the vegetable time, your average five year old will still fight it.

    Similarly, we understand, technically, that roads, bridges, police, fire department, public schools, emergency rooms, etcetera all take money to build and maintain and all of that takes taxes. But, if you hyper-focus on just the bare fact of paying taxes, then you can forget those other inconvenient parts.

  • smrnda

    Part of the problem is that, even if you point to evidence that taxes were higher under Eisenhower, plenty of people *believe* that we are crushed by too many taxes, regardless of the lack of data supporting the claim. Show these people graphs and they’re just convinced you’re hiding something.

  • FearlessSon

    I remember a few years back, I stopped in a bar while waiting a half hour for a bus. Have a light drink, kill a little time while waiting, etc. Anyway, there was a paper left on the barstool next to me, so picked it up and read a report being done on the then-big Tea Party, right when they were making the backronym about it being Taxed Enough Already. The reporter managed to interview one of the leaders of one of these Tea Party groups, and asked him why he feels he is taxed too much when his taxes have empirically gone down since Obama took office. He admitted that, yes, his taxes were lower in objective terms, but his anger was more about what tax money was being spent on rather than how much of it he was being made to contribute, saying that even if he paid no taxes he would still be angry at the government wasting money on… whatever, he did not really say, to my memory.

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

    I remember that backronym. It seems to have rather been quietly dropped. Apparently well-off senior citizens grousing about being “Taxed Enough Already” was a little too lolarious to carry the day.

  • FearlessSon

    It got dropped when the Tea Party lost its momentum and esteem in the eyes of the rest of the population. But I get the feeling it was first adopted when some of those well-off senior citizens found out, to I am sure was their horror, what “teabagging” actually meant. They could not have that, oh no…

  • reynard61

    I still use the “Teabagger” monicker because, when all is said and done and their policies get enacted, it’s what they end up doing to the rest of us.

    “I’ve got mine, and I want *yours* too!” – The unofficial Teabagger motto

  • FearlessSon

    Ironically, there is evidence that most of the early Tea Party protesters knew exactly what the term meant, with protest signs like “Teabag the government before they teabag you!” and the like. The people who joined it after the initial protest as it gained in popularity were a little less “in on the joke” and took exception when people told them what they were repeating actually meant. Hence the backronyming.

  • smrnda

    I find many of these people are lacking in concrete specifics. It’s being in an echo chamber where nobody demands sound arguments that makes them feel entitled to spout ignorance.

  • FearlessSon

    Altemeyer said much the same in his analysis of the Tea Party. To quote his summarizing point:

    It seemed as if the demonstrators had read the research findings on authoritarianism and then said, “Let‟s go out and prove that all those things are true.” Whatever else the Tea Party movement has accomplished, it has certainly made the research on authoritarianism look good.

  • Carstonio

    The problem is really a simple matter of willful ignorance. Too many of my fellow citizens choose to vastly overestimate the level of spending on public assistance, foreign aid, and the arts. They want to believe that their money is being stolen by dark-skinned loafers, snooty intellectuals, and untrustworthy foreigners.

  • smrnda

    Good point. Regrettably, evidence doesn’t work on these people. I’m only hoping their contempt for the rest of humanity eventually makes them unpopular enough that they’ll have no clout.

  • FearlessSon

    The fact that they resort to filibustering at the national level, pressing legislation that they have no hope of passing, and ignoring legislation they do not like, is the evidence we have that their influence is slipping.

    This congress is the “do nothing” congress precisely because they lack the influence to actually get anything done. Their inaction, or delaying action, is the most that they can do, and the only source of national leverage they have left.

    The push to enact new voting restrictions which disenfranchise ethnic and income groups and make voting more difficult for them is evidence enough that they believe that they can no longer win alone by convincing people of the rightness of their ideas.

    In other words, their self destructive inability to reconcile ideology with reality is causing them to slide into powerlessness, though they scratch and cling in futile desperation.

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

    You know, mass disenfranchisement was a key plank of the perpetual Republican government of America 2014. (-_-)

  • FearlessSon

    That book sounds a little to heavy-handed for my taste. I disliked Bush, but it seemed a huge stretch from there to dictatorship. Yes, he curtailed civil liberties, but there is only so far one can go with that before the population snaps back, which it certainly did in reality.

    Very few were sad to see him leave office at the end of his second term, his popularity starting to plummet shortly after the 2004 election.

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

    That being said, the point of the book was to show the logical extremes to which Republicans would take their strategy to ensure their vision of the USA prevails.

  • guest

    ‘It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion…the indolence and vanity of the rich is made to contribute…to the relief of the poor’. –Adam Smith, progressive.

  • reynard61

    Then again, when was the last time the U.S. Economy followed the Smithian model? Sometime just after the Civil War…maybe?

  • guest

    I was just speaking about Adam Smith at a conference this weekend–it amazes me how the Wealth of Nations, which is based on and argues for economic positions that would now be considered shockingly progressive, has been misunderstood, misinterpreted, and appropriated by the neoliberal right. Someone flat-out asked me during the Q&A how this could have happened, and I really couldn’t give a solid answer–but I do sort-of have a guess now. Smith wrote that one government was wrong once in one situation about one thing, and that’s somehow come to mean that he wrote that all government is wrong about everything all the time.

    The US government did operate on a (truly) Smithian model before the Revolutionary War (and possibly for a little while after)–have a look at this:

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Work-Ethic-Industrial-America-1850-1920/dp/0226723526/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1315844844&sr=8-1

  • guest

    Sorry, I should have written ‘US economy’ rather than ‘US government’, that would have been clearer.

  • FearlessSon

    I am guessing that they use Smith’s writings like they use the Bible: by finding a verse that supports their position and wielding it like a cudgel to clobber their debate opponents by repeatedly hammering on it as an argument to authority. They do not care what the rest of the writing says, and know that most people are not going to bother looking it up, especially if they already like the conclusion so why bother verifying or analyzing context?

  • guest

    It does seem that way…the frustrating thing to me is that out of five volumes they only seem to know two sentences! To be fair, though, the Wealth of Nations is a slog to get through, only something like three people in my audience had actually read it.

  • reynard61

    Two small quibbles with your comment:

    1. That phrase, “neoliberal right”; does it mean what you think it means? In other words, please *define* it and give me an example of someone who might fit that definition because it sounds (to me at least) like a contradiction in terms.

    2. You say that the U.S. government (later you correct this to “economy”) “did operate on a (truly) Smithian model before the Revolutionary War (and possibly for a little while after)”. My quibble is: How long after? Because the book that your link directs to *starts* at 1850, and by that time, IIRC from my own Economics classes*, the U.S. Economy was pretty mature and had, by that time, shaken off pretty much all of its European (especially British) influences.

    *Note: I don’t pretend to be an expert on the Economy. I took two Economics classes (6th grade and High School) and, quite frankly, *neither* of them has proven to be terribly relevant to how today’s Economy works. (I attribute this to the rules having been radically re-written since I left school.)

  • guest

    OK, I’ll help you out here. First off, the neoliberal right:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neoliberalism

    Pretty much any prominent right-wing politician in the US, when not promoting religious fundamentalism, is promoting neoliberal economic policies.

    Second, the book I linked to is, despite the dull title, the best explanation I’ve yet read for the origins of our beliefs about work and the economy. It posits that there were four statements about work and the economy that were actually true during the pre-Revolutionary and Revolutionary period in the US (which of course is the kind of economy Smith and his readers were familiar with), which we continue to believe are true but are in fact no longer true in the industrial economy. We weren’t stupid to believe that, e.g. if you worked harder you’d make more money, but we didn’t change our understanding as the economy changed from the ‘capitalism’ of independent linked small producers (which is what I write about–I argue that we should have a unique descriptor for this economic period, as it is very different from the capitalism we know today) to the command-and-control economy of industrial capitalism.

  • reynard61

    Okay, that Wikipedia article knocked a bit of the rust from the “What I learned in High School Economics class” part of my brain. My Ec teacher classified everything falling into that description as “Market-oriented Capitalism”. (As opposed to “Control-oriented capitalism” like Communism or other systems that planned and/or regulated their Economies down to the last detail.)

    Also; yes, we certainly do need a new name for our current Economic system/period/era. I humbly recommend “Bank$ters Gone Wild!”

  • guest

    I’m actually an 18th century scholar–I’m pointing out that it’s not useful to label a ‘Smithian’ economy ‘capitalist’ because while ownership of the means of production was private, there was not a drive for capital accumulation, and the ‘owner/worker’ relationship was virtually nonexistent. (I actually believe the definition of capitalism is useless for historians–Marx separates ‘slavery’ and ‘capitalism’, but both the Roman Empire and the antebellum South in the US had both). If you are interested in this ‘noncapitalist’ transition period between feudalism and capitalism you can read Paul Sweezy’s contributions here:

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Transition-Feudalism-Capitalism-Paul-Sweezy/dp/8187879998

    or E. P. Thompson’s descriptions here:

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Customs-Common-E-P-Thompson/dp/0850366976

    Both of these scholars are Marxists, so although they go right up to the line neither will actually say there’s a period of economic development between feudalism and capitalism that’s missing a name.

  • Lori

    When we talk about [Mark] Regnerus, I completely dismiss the study. It’s
    over. He has been disgraced. All of the prominent people in the field
    know what he did and why he did it.

    And yet the haters continue to spread Regnerus’ lies. Bryan Fischer used them just today while pitching a fit about the New Yorker magazine cover with Bert & Ernie.

    The tony, elitist New Yorker magazine, read by those who fancy themselves our moral and intellectual superiors, is in effect promoting child endangerment on the cover of its latest issue, and shamelessly using Bert and Ernie to do it. A staggering 23% of adult children of lesbians reported having been sexually molested – unwanted sexual touching or worse – than children
    raised by a mom and a dad. Six percent of children raised by a homosexual father reported being the victims of sexual abuse, which is a rate 300% higher than among the children of married biological parents. It is thus clear from the best in social research that being raised in a same-sex environment poses completely unacceptable risks to vulnerable young children. By promoting same-sex marriage, and using Sesame Street to do it, the New Yorker staff in effect is promoting child abuse. They should be ashamed of themselves.

    Those statistics are Regnerus lies. He said what they want to hear and, as we’ve discussed many times, they don’t care in the slightest about the truth.

  • Kubricks_Rube

    And it’s clear Fischer knows Regnerus didn’t actually study children raised by same-sex parents. Notice how he says “children of lesbians” and “raised by a homosexual” and “same-sex environment” rather than anything about same-sex couples or marriages. Though I’m not sure why he’s bothering to watch his phrasing when he has no problem comparing the outcomes of these broken opposite sex homes with those of intact families.

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

    Guys like that are sheer poison. They’re like George Rekers, gladly taking money and fame to put themselves forth as authorities on the legally permitted destruction of families. (>_<)

  • http://algol.wordpress.com/ SororAyin

    First of all, let me make perfectly clear that I _loved_ the William Lloyd Garrison piece. That said, I must point out that his rhetoric is a little too black-and-white for a modern audience.

    Modern psychological research has given us better insight into cognitive biases and how they work. Many people, when presented with unambiguous evidence of their own unethical conduct, continue to assert that their behavior is perfectly acceptable. Malice toward an oppressed class of people is certainly one possible reason, but there can be others at work. Admitting that there is real oppression going on, that it is wrong, and that we are complacent in it sets up cognitive dissonance. One part of the mind sees the evidence of unethical behavior while another part desperately wishes to maintain the belief that one is a “good” person. Guilt is an intensely unpleasant emotion, so plenty of people will convince themselves that the unethical conduct is really okay after all.

    This is important to keep in mind when you really want to convince someone that their conduct is oppressing others. They may be very morally conscious people. They just don’t want to believe that they are doing anything bad.

  • Monica Swanson

    And, for the opposite of “smart people saying smart things,” Fox News claims that “today’s generation” is made up of entitled people who think they don’t have to work for anything…because an “evil, evil man” named Fred Rogers taught them “you’re special just for being you.”

  • Grey Seer

    …really? They’re demonizing Mr Rogers of all people now? I am too young and on the wrong side of the Atlantic to have ever experienced his show and teachings grown up, but even so, the man was basically a saint.

    How messed up does your world view have to be that you equate ‘Kind spoken man who loved children, encouraged people to be good neighbors to one another, and championed the causes of friendship and kindness’ with ‘evil and worthless’?

    Great Cthulhu is more understandable than these people…

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

    Indeed. I remember growing up watching Mr. Rogers :) Apparently his real life personality was very much like his TV personality – always a kind word for anyone.

  • FearlessSon

    As Randal Monroe once put it:

    “Mr. Rogers projected an air of genuine, unwavering, almost saintly pure-hearted decency. But when you look deeper, at the person behind the image … that’s exactly what you find there, too. He’s exactly what he appears to be.”

  • the shepard

    mr. rogers was, as far ass i have been able to tell, as close to an actual saint as any of us are likely to get.

  • smrnda

    The problem is the demands of the current generation are so modest – something better than minimum wage and health insurance. If this is snotty entitlement, then snotty entitlement is a good thing.

    Another lesson learned – when a privileged person complains about people with attitudes of ‘entitlement,’ they mean people who are sick of getting pissed and shat on for the privileged person’s convenience.

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

    This sounds like someone finally went over the top with the conservative caricature of liberals as being mollycoddlers of children – you undoubtedly have heard the stereotype of those lily-livered liberals who insist on giving every schoolchild a golden star and who allegedly want to do away with grades altogether and blah blah blah.

    This has been a long time in the making, considering criticisms of language education go back to the 1980s when “look-and-say” learning was disparaged as one of those newfangled hoity-toity things that was inferior to good ol’ Hooked on Phonics.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    To be fair, the Look-Say method isn’t as good as teaching phonics. (Admittedly, the period when I was doing a lot of reading about literacy teaching methods was pre-internet, so I don’t have a cite.)

    Just don’t get me started on the so-called “Whole Language” method, which did not fucking work.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Different people learn differently. Whole language worked extremely well for me, and phonics didn’t work for my sister at all.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    Yes, differently people do learn differently. One problem with “whole language” was that the kids who could learn to read just by looking at a page and working things out for themselves tended to be the ones who would have picked up reading by themselves anyway. Meanwhile, the kids who weren’t learning could often fool their teachers by memorizing passages. By the time someone figured out, “Hey, this kid isn’t actually reading — he’s just looking at the first few letters of a word and then guessing based on his vocabulary”, the kid would have to play a lot of catch-up.

    (I had a friend who used to tutor kids in grade school, and has since moved on to teaching at a high school.)

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

    I remember “whole language” being A Thing for a while, and then being quietly dropped by about 1992 or 1993.

  • FearlessSon

    Phonics never worked for me.

    In fact, I thought for my first couple of years of grade school that I must be retarded, because I was so far behind in reading. My third grade teacher though, she was something else. She figured out exactly what I needed. She instructed my parents to have me read Tintin comics to them, and every time I ran into a word I did not know, she said “Don’t ask him to sound it out, just tell him what the word is.”

    And true enough, I would remember a word after a reminder or two and by running into it the third time would have it memorized.

    This did run me into a few problems later in elementary, since I was by then reading well above my grade level, and knew a lot of words by use and meaning, but did not know how to pronounce them.

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

    In that respect, “look and say” seemed to work for you.

    The point of all this is that contrary to the one-size-fits-all mentality endorsed by a lot of right-wing back-to-basics folks speaking of education, the strategy that works best is a cirriculum that handles the majority of children but leaves ample room for a teacher to adjust as needed for individual children who are outliers or who have difficulty coping.

    Of course, this also means smaller class sizes are an absolute must, in addition to better-trained and better-paid teachers.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    I should probably clarify: teaching nothing but phonics is not so great. What seems to work best in a classroom is a mix.

    One of the problems of “whole language” was that its proponents told school boards to throw out their old textbooks and go only with the new teaching fad. I read that quite a few teachers ended up disobeying this, and even rescuing their old books from trash bins.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    I’m surprised this is coming up again now. They were badmouthing Mr. Rogers back in ’08 for exactly the same reasons.

  • http://algol.wordpress.com/ SororAyin

    LOL. Hate to break the news to the Fox crowd (by which I mean I _love_ to break the news), but “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” ran from 1968 to 2001. Anyone aged 50 and younger belongs to a generation that grew up on that show.

  • FearlessSon

    This also goes hand-in-hand with their hatred of national subsidized broadcasting, without which Mister Rogers Neighborhood would not exist. And in some regards it almost did not exist, when the government was considering cutting funding to public television. Rogers himself went before a senate committee and spoke for six minutes and managed to convince them to increase funding for twice what they were planning to cut.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    He also testified in Sony v Universal and saved the videocassette, for what it’s worth.

  • Carstonio

    Maybe the people who read the Bible as a list of rules perceive that interpretation and context undermine the belief that the book is an unquestioned authority (as opposed to believing that the book is authoritative).

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

    It would explain the similarities to the way the US Constitution is fetishized as a kind of immovable document.

  • Charby

    Of course, only to the extent that it agrees with their prejudices. It’s kind of like how people who were adamant that the Supreme Court had to strike that PPACA as unconstitutional a year ago were equally infuriated by the notion that the Supreme Court could ever question the will of Congress when it came to DOMA. To them, the Constitution, the Bible, the concept of judicial review — it only exists when it favors their own beliefs.

  • FearlessSon

    Altemeyer found much the same thing. On the subject of school prayer, his summery was thus:

    So do fundamentalists believe in majority rights or minority rights? The answer is, apparently, neither. They’ll pull whichever argument suits them out of its file when necessary, but basically they are unprincipled on the issue of school prayer. They have a big double standard that basically says, “Whatever I want is right.” The rest is rationalization, and as flexible and multi-directional as a reed blowing in the wind.

  • Charby

    And that’s fine, to be honest. I don’t see any value in creating an inflexible and binary moral code. My problem is though that they claim to have an inflexible, binary moral code but don’t acknowledge that they do in fact make decisions on a case by case basis like most of humanity does. They claim to believe the courts should never countermand legislatures, unless the legislature does something they oppose with in which case courts have a solemn duty to uphold the Constitution regardless of what the legislature says.

    That’s perfectly fine in theory — it makes no sense to argue that the legislature should always have its own way or that the courts should always strike down every law that is passed, but they want to have the certainty of an absolutist position while still being able to change it more or less at will.

  • FearlessSon

    The funny thing about them though is that when they justify why some particular exception needs to be made, they never apply the same reasoning to other cases which they dislike, or they use reasoning on a particular issue which they turn around and discard on another issue without justifying why it applies to one but not another.

    They settle on a conclusion and rationalize anything to support it. Their reason only justifies a fixed conclusion, rather than their reason informing what conclusion they come to.

    In the scenario I quoted above, Altemeyer had done a survey asking people (some of whom had rated highly as fundamentalists and some who rated as low) if Christian school prayer should be mandatory in North America, then if Muslim school prayer should be mandatory in a predominately Muslim country. The (Christian) fundamentalists in the survey said that school prayer should be mandatory in America and minorities should just have to suck it up, and school prayer should not be mandatory in a Muslim country because it would be unfair to religious minorities. But none of them saw the double standard going on in their reasoning.

  • Charby

    Exactly! I think it’s because they come up with their conclusion first (“Christian school prayer should be mandatory here”) then go back and try to construct an ethical framework that would ‘naturally’ lead to that conclusion and only that conclusion, everywhere. It’s kind of like being a strict constructionist or a Biblical literalist — you’ll notice that the Bible or the Constitution never prevents them from doing anything they really care about. However, they are awfully sympathetic when those texts prevent you from doing something you care about.

    (See also: Ron Paul — “Racial discrimination is unfortunate, but the Constitution doesn’t empower the federal government to act in this matter so there’s nothing they can do about it. Too bad.” vs. Ron Paul — “Abortion is bad, so the federal government must take decisive action to restrict it.” even though the Constitution doesn’t empower the government there either.)


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