Libertarianism is based on false premises.

It makes no sense to assume the premise that all financial outcomes are perfectly aligned with merit. Two people that are just as smart and work just as hard are not going to have identical results. Some people are luckier than others. Before you’re born if you don’t know who you’re going to be, wouldn’t you hedge your bets, agree that no one should take home the whole pie, so that you don’t end up totally screwed?

And even if the market magically operated perfectly, it’s only an exchange process highly dependent on initial conditions. The only way anarcho-capitalism makes remote sense is if the there was a just initial distribution. Instead power is concentrated in the hands of those holding the most leverage over the rest of us whether sitting at (or behind) the levers of political power or on top of a hole in the ground.

American libertarianism just seems to be based more on some folk story of economic markets instead of actually looking the economic research coming to light.

Dan Pink “The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us”

 

American Psychological Association, “If I Were a Rich Man . . .”

http://www.apa.org/research/action/rich.aspx

 

Wealth, Income, and Power

http://sociology.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/wealth.html

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There Is an Alternative

The people are starting to awaken.

“Their complaints range from corruption to lack of affordable housing and joblessness, common grievances the world over. But from South Asia to the heartland of Europe and now even to Wall Street, these protesters share something else: wariness, even contempt, toward traditional politicians and the democratic political process they preside over.

They are taking to the streets, in part, because they have little faith in the ballot box.”[i]

Given the state of the world it seems increasingly clear that radical change is necessary to avert catastrophe.

What’s next? What do we do next? What’s the endgame?

We are all in this together, we just have not all realized it yet. More of us are realizing that the structures that we have grown to depend on to organize society are broken. How can we organize ourselves as earthlings?  How do we keep ourselves alive as a species—we do have urgent collective problems to address—while maximizing each and every individual’s opportunity to lead a fulfilling self-determined life?

We have seen enough TED talks by now. We know there is a better way. But we do not need a final blueprint, we just need a process. Here is the key question: How do we decide how we collectively decide once we have decided we can collectively decide? If we are all in this together shouldn’t there be a platform for every human to be able to talk, submit ideas, vote up the ideas they like, vote down the ones they don’t? What is stopping us from having websites hosting disputation arenas where open and public policy debates can rage with a critical public eye watching and calling out unfounded assertions and ideologies when they see them?

“We need some way to thoroughly critique ideas, plans, opinions and policies, letting good ones rise while fallacious ones lose repute. The Internet seems to offer potential for a new style of debate, by establishing disputation arenas for truly extended and meticulous appraisal of a topic, moderated by groups or individuals whose passionate avocation is for neutral intellectual rigor. The more interesting the arguments, the more attention each arena would receive, and the less likely that adversaries could turn down invitations to take part.

How to prevent the artful evasions we see so often in political debates? Superficial and brief, these pointless glamour shows reward charismatic prevarication more than argument, and evidence plays almost no role at all.

One of the internet’s great virtues may be its potential for relentlessness. Unlike debates in the real world, there would be no two-hour time limits. Extended online confrontations might last weeks or months, shepherded by proctors whose picky personalities (we all know the type) won’t let go of a logical inconsistency on this side of frozen hell. Ideally each side would doggedly pursue its opponents, forcing them to relent and give real answers — while reciprocating the favor.”[ii]

These types of extended debates can provide the quality information that informed humans need to able to meaningfully self govern. Let’s use the implicitly democratizing power of the internet infrastructure to create an open-source society. We can experiment on formats (and use relevant research) and find the ways that best allow the best ideas to be heard and implemented. We can take inspiration from the open source movement to create a peer to peer government. Iceland has taken major strides in drafting a new constitution with transparency and public input. Let’s allow ourselves the possibility to create this together as a planet.

“Advocates of these approaches often, by analogy to code, argue for a “central codebase” in the form of a set of policies that are maintained in a public registry and that are infinitely reproducible. “Distributions” of this policy-base are released (periodically or dynamically) for use in localities, which can apply “patches” to customize them for their own use. Localities are also able to cease subscribing to the central policy-base and “fork” it or adopt someone else’s policy-base. In effect, the government stems from emergent cooperation and self-correction among members of a community. As the policies are put into practice in a number of localities, problems and issues are identified and solved, and where appropriate communicated back to the core.”[iii]

Decentralizing power as much as possible, limits as much as possible, the possibility and temptation to abuse power.

If we do not take advantage of the fact that we currently outnumber the super rich 9,999 to 1, advantages in cybernetics and gene therapy  and other technologies could very well nullify that numerical superiority and result in terrible new weapons being developed and used by the ultra-wealthy few against us free range serfs . Among the technologies already developed are packs of robots designed to hunt down humans[iv] laser[v] and microwave cannons[vi] etc. As things currently stand, the most heavily propagandized population in the history of the human species[vii]—Americans—seem unlikely to wakeup in time to prevent utter chaos as the most globally powerful state nominally under their control as citizens instead continues to cause civilization to break down in the short term interests of the government’s corporate hijackers. That is, unless mind enhancing techniques or other technological silver bullets hit the popular market in time for civilization to thread the needle so to speak and narrowly avoid energy and environmental implosion.[viii] Humanity faces a stark choice: evolve or die. Introspection has not been the average American’s strong suit. Resignation, however, is not an option. What we choose to do now matters more than ever.


[i] Kulish, Nicholas. “As Scorn for Vote Grows, Protests Surge Around Globe.” The New York Times, 27 Sept. 2011. Web. <http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/28/world/as-scorn-for-vote-grows-protests-surge-around-globe.html?pagewanted=1&_r=2&hp&gt;.

[ii] http://www.davidbrin.com/disputation.htm Disputation Arenas:

Harnessing Conflict and Competitiveness for Society’s Benefit

By David Brin, Ph.D.

This unusual article looks at how truth is determined in our four “accountability arenas” — science, democracy, courts and markets. It was lead article in the American Bar Association’s Journal on Dispute Resolution (Ohio State University), v.15, N.3, pp 597-618, Aug. 2000. Copyright © 2000.

[iv] “Packs of robots will hunt down uncooperative humans – Short Sharp Science – New Scientist.” Science news and science jobs from New Scientist – New Scientist. Web. 26 Nov. 2009. <http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/shortsharpscience/2008/10/packs-of-robots-will-hunt-down.html&gt;.

[v] How It Works: The Flying Laser Cannon | Popular Science.” Popular Science | New Technology, Science News, The Future Now. 13 Mar. 2008. Web. 25 May 2011. <http://www.popsci.com/node/19965&gt;.

[vi] Page, Lewis. “US Justice Dept Builds Microwave Heat-ray ‘rifle’ • The Register.” The Register: Sci/Tech News for the World. 10 Oct. 2008. Web. 25 May 2011. <http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/10/10/justice_dept_microwave_rifle/&gt;.

[vii] Cnn, Taylor Gandossy. “TV Viewing at ‘all-time High,’ Nielsen Says – CNN.” Featured Articles from CNN. 24 Feb. 2009. Web. 25 May 2011. <http://articles.cnn.com/2009-02-24/entertainment/us.video.nielsen_1_nielsen-company-nielsen-spokesman-gary-holmes-watching?_s=PM:SHOWBIZ&gt;.

[viii] http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/global-warmings-terrifying-new-math-20120719

Why We’re All Going To Die

“Those who make peaceful evolution impossible make violent revolution inevitable.”- John F. Kennedy

 

The only way out is through. Global society is dependent on artificially inflated energy resources—i.e. oil—that are directly leading us toward total collapse. Technology is being used to most efficiently maximize wealth of the largest corporate conglomerates at the expense of the social fabric and a living environment. The biosphere is in fact collapsing. The technology exists to solve our technical problems but the solutions do not seem like they will be effectively put to use. The power structures concentrating money off the status quo are too entrenched. Each human is called on to become more aware.

‘The problem that confronts us is that every living system in the biosphere is in decline and the rate of decline is accelerating. There isn’t one peer-reviewed scientific article that’s been published in the last 20 years that contradicts that statement. Living systems are coral reefs. They’re our climatic stability, forest cover, the oceans themselves, aquifers, water, the conditions of the soil, biodiversity. They go on and on as they get more specific. But the fact is, there isn’t one living system that is stable or is improving. And those living systems provide the basis for all life.[i]

 

Given the state of the world it seems increasingly clear that radical change is necessary to avert catastrophe. While I can find common cause with primitivists and really everyone that truly values life more than nominally against the current highly efficient destruction of the biosphere, to assert that the only way forward is to abandon technology and civilization entirely, knowing full well that that relationship with the planet would require that only a fraction of the current human population exist, is to be almost as willing as the current immoral system to sacrifice the lives of countless individuals for some given end. Of course those ends differ as greatly as night and day, but there is an equivalent “ends justify means” conceptual orientation. Civilizational primitivism, or a return to an idealized hunter gatherer society as the operating organizational framework, cannot be our first choice. It might be the only option many are left with if civilization collapses, but if it is at all possible to shift the course of civilization away from the maximization of externalities (the accumulating environmental and social costs) in pursuit of monetary gain toward instead a technologically facilitated re-embedding and reintegration of human society into the natural world, billions of lives might depend on the outcome. We have to try.

Zooming out, we are confronted by a situation in which philosophy in general has become increasingly viewed as largely irrelevant to both the concerns of everyday persons and the needs of the scientific community. If we care about truth, we care about the state of the world and the relationship the human species has to it. We must not forego combating untruths and misinformation wherever we find them, least of all here, but we should not spend all of our time in our ivory tower bogged down in abstract and esoteric debates that ignore the very real suffering of real persons. As members of an interconnected species we are all in this together. We are behooved to treat each other how someone like Carl Sagan would; with recognition that indeed now more than ever we are all in this together as a species, with all our eggs in one basket. We are one bad asteroid strike from having all the intelligent life we have found in the universe wiped out.[ii]

Seeing the world through a zero sum lens is ultimately counterproductive and in an increasingly interdependent global community with problems that need to be addressed globally it is only a matter of time until the most efficient and possibly only route to human flourishing is sought and reached: global human cooperation and the end of war.

It is of absolutely fundamental importance for the vast majority of the human species to realize our common humanity. It is not an exaggeration to say that our lives depend on it. As technology continues to give individuals more power, and the corresponding effect that we have on other persons and the world expands, the question of what we choose to do with our power will decide more than just the fate of our species, but the biosphere as a whole. Since the Cold War era, it has been within the capability of our species to destroy itself and take most of the planet with us.

Serious progress is being stymied by short-sighted oligarchic money power.

 

The crash has laid bare many unpleasant truths about the United States. One of the most alarming, says a former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, is that the finance industry has effectively captured our government—a state of affairs that more typically describes emerging markets, and is at the center of many emerging-market crises. If the IMF’s staff could speak freely about the U.S., it would tell us what it tells all countries in this situation: recovery will fail unless we break the financial oligarchy that is blocking essential reform. And if we are to prevent a true depression, we’re running out of time.[iii]

 

So the next step is taking back our country. For those of you in denial of the desperate need to do so consider,

50 million Americans are now living in poverty, which is the highest poverty rate in the industrialized world; 30 million Americans are in need of work; Five million American families foreclosed upon, 15 million expected by 2014; 50% of US children will now use a food stamp during childhood; Soaring budget deficits in states across the country and a record high national debt, with austerity measures on the way; [and] Record-breaking profits and bonuses for [the financial oligarchy].[iv]

 

Glenn Greenwald quotes The Atlantic,

“‘Squeezing the oligarchs, though, is seldom the strategy of choice among emerging-market governments. Quite the contrary: at the outset of the crisis, the oligarchs are usually among the first to get extra help from the government, such as preferential access to foreign currency, or maybe a nice tax break, or — here’s a classic Kremlin bailout technique — the assumption of private debt obligations by the government. Under duress, generosity toward old friends takes many innovative forms. Meanwhile, needing to squeeze someone, most emerging-market governments look first to ordinary working folk — at least until the riots grow too large.’

The real question is whether the American public is too apathetic and trained into submission for that to ever happen.”[v]

 

Since before the recession, Elizabeth Warren of Harvard has been warning us of the collapse of the American middle class. Two income families today have less money after fixed expenses than single income families did a generation ago. We all know families that have dealt with divorce, but we may not have realized that we know more families that have gone through bankruptcy.[vi]

 

American civic education requires a transformative breakthrough. Current US wars are unlawful to an Orwellian degree. The US economy is transferring unprecedented wealth of trillions of dollars every year to a financial elite within corporate cartels that have captured their government regulators. Civic education in both of these areas is crippled by colluding political and corporate propaganda.

These are factual claims easily verified as objective data, and substantiated by recognized experts within the Harvard community.[vii]
The cost of not dealing with inequality will continue to grow. Marketwatch.com part the Wall Street Journal digital network even published an article titled, “Tax the Super Rich now or face a revolution.”[viii] All the major sociological conditions for modern revolution are already satisfied:
1. A quick decline in a prosperous nation

2. Open class war perpetrated by the upper classes

3. Intellectuals making common cause with the lower classes

4. “Atrocious government malfeasance in the face of precipitously declining fortunes” or widespread corruption

5. Leadership failure amongst the ruling classes to confront the truths bearing down on us

6. Mismanagement of the economy and fiscal irresponsibility

7. And the government no longer exercises force in a way that people find fair or consistent.[ix]

 

In fact all these conditions were met while Bush was still in office. The election of Obama was a failed opportunity to show people that their votes mattered; that there was hope of reforming the system from within.

Meanwhile, the fact of the matter is, we have very little idea of the kinds of potentials that will be technologically unlocked in the next five to ten years. There has been some speculation and analysis regarding the ways in which some technologies would alter our relationship with the larger world as individuals at the granular level, but we have very few tools to reasonably predict how these developments will fundamentally change the overall structure of society. And it seems likely that they will. We are facing changes greater than the onset of agriculture.

In addition to growing uncertainty about the external world, there are already internally limiting factors. The class of true statements that most of us find interesting are those that are not trivially true. They often say something about larger chunks of reality or how we would like to think these relate to each other, or how they might be organized into some structural whole. The only problem is that the more a statement or argument purports to say, i.e. the larger the scope of the claim, the more likely that our cognitive and perceptual tools will have a relatively diminished ability to verify such a claim. So the biggest and most important assertions that we make consciously, and even more importantly subconsciously; the stories, doctrines and patterns that we are most likely to use to guide our behavior because they are the context into which we place our entire identities, these concepts are precisely those most likely to be untrue.

Our only effective response to these uncertainties is collective, super-organismic really. A single neuron is structurally incapable of picking out the salient features of the environment to protect the life of a complex multi-cellular organism. It can only do so through organization with other neurons such that there is a constant bi-directional feedback loop in the system.[x] Similarly the human species having stepped outside of external predatory constraints like a colony of bacteria in a flask will grow until the resources to sustain human life are consumed and the species will collapse unless we become collectively organized to behave intelligently in the environment that the species finds itself (to say nothing of the cannibalization of the many by the few). No lone prophet or thinker will be able to show us the way. And if our collective process begins to have a homological and not merely analogical relationship with multi-cellular organisms there are certain things that we might predict about its development. If consciousness is itself a certain special kind of sensory apparatus of complex processing for which it acts as a global workspace for various parts of the mind to communicate with each other,[xi] the most noble goal that philosophy can aspire to is to work toward becoming this global workspace for our species. Philosophy can and should be the place through which the species comes to know itself. To take this project seriously is to take the sensory apparatus of the species seriously. The only sensory apparatus of the species worth its salt is scientific because it is the only reliable and transmissible form of relatively accurate information about the universe including us. It is not difficult to speculate on the various organs of a nascent superorganism. Humans have organized into progressively higher order units. There does not seem to be any good reason to assume that to be a trend that does not continue.[xii]

However, depending on how one defines purpose, function may or may not be a helpful aspect in how one contemplates one’s existence, but it can describe how we got here and where we might be going. No story has a happy ending because all your achievements are going to dissolve and you are going to die; no matter how many millions you have in the bank it becomes meaningless.[xiii] We are not here for the story we tell ourselves about who we are. Our life has no externally dictated meaning. We breathe meaning into our lives on a moment by moment basis. Likewise just like a fractal we can see self-similarity of this pattern on a larger scale, zooming out arbitrarily far, certainly past and including the level of any superorganism. Life itself has no externally dictated meaning. Meaning is breathed into life on a moment by moment basis by the fields of awareness that inhabit it. But at the end of the day, we don’t really know. Our individual conceptions of the universal will always fail us. Like infants we may be able to hold a certain field of view, but incapable of containing the context that makes sense of everything.

However to shift back to what we can make sense of, if we do not take advantage of the fact that we currently outnumber the super rich 9,999 to 1, advantages in cybernetics and gene therapy  and other technologies could very well nullify that numerical superiority and result in terrible new weapons being developed and used by the ultra-wealthy few against us free range serfs . Among the technologies already developed are packs of robots designed to hunt down humans[xiv] laser[xv] and microwave cannons[xvi] etc. As things currently stand, the most heavily propagandized population in the history of the human species[xvii]—Americans—seem unlikely to wakeup in time to prevent utter chaos as the most globally powerful state nominally under their control as citizens instead continues to cause civilization to break down in the short term interests of the government’s corporate hijackers, unless mind enhancing techniques or other technological silver bullets hit the popular market in time for civilization to thread the needle so to speak and narrowly avoid energy and environmental implosion. Humanity faces a stark choice: evolve or die.[xviii] Introspection has not been the average American’s strong suit. Resignation, however, is not an option, I will end on a quote from “10 Steps to Defeat the Corporatocracy” by Bruce Levine:
Historian Lawrence Goodwyn has studied democratic movements such as Solidarity in Poland, and he has written extensively about the populist movement in the United States that occurred during the end of the 19th century (what he calls “the largest democratic mass movement in American history”). Goodwyn concludes that democratic movements are initiated by people who are neither resigned to the status quo nor intimidated by established powers. For Goodwyn, the cultural and psychological building blocks of democratic movements are individual self-respect and collective self-confidence. Without individual self-respect, we do not believe that we are worthy of power or capable of utilizing power wisely, and we accept as our role being a subject of power. Without collective self-confidence, we do not believe that we can succeed in wresting away power from our rulers.

Thus, it is the job of all of us – from parents, to students, to teachers, to journalists, to clergy, to psychologists, to artists and EVERYBODY who gives a damn about genuine democracy – to create individual self-respect and collective self-confidence.[xix]


[i] The Man of the Hour | Politics | Vanity Fair.” Vanity Fair Magazine | Vanity Fair. May 2007. Web. 25 May 2011. <http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2007/05/dicaprio200705&gt;.

[ii] If it is a large enough asteroid to destroy human life, it is likely to destroy bottle-nosed dolphin life as well (the second most intelligent species on the planet). Leake, Jonathan. “Scientists Say Dolphins Should Be Treated as ‘non-human Persons’ – Times Online.” The Times | UK News, World News and Opinion. 3 Jan. 2010. Web. 01 Feb. 2011. <http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/science/article6973994.ece&gt;.

[iii] Johnson, Simon. “The Quiet Coup.” Atlantic Magazine. Web. 12 May. 2010

[iv] “We, as a population, have been acting against our own interests and fighting amongst ourselves, while the Economic Elite, who control our society and media system, are left unquestioned and unchallenged, operating behind the scenes, beyond the spotlight, above the law, concentrating wealth and resources, at our expense, in unprecedented fashion.

Other than to create and control popular opinion and keep us politically passive, the mainstream media exists to keep people consuming and spending their hard-earned money. That is the bottom line.

Every time you turn on the TV, you have to realize that the entire mass media system is an elaborate psychological operation to keep you passive and make you feel secure in spending your money. That’s why TV pundits and talking heads are paid huge salaries; they are experts in duping us and playing us for fools. We are all being played. We aren’t free citizens; we are indebted wage slaves. That may sound much too harsh for a population that has been propagandized for hours a day, every day of our lives, but it is the truth. As the brilliant John Dewey said, “We live exposed to the greatest flood of mass suggestion that any people has ever experienced.”

Who needs reality when you have American Idol, Disneyland and celebrity sex scandals?

Until we can block out these distractions and face reality, our future and living standards will continue to spiral downward.

. . .

I know the game is rigged against us, but I also know that we ultimately have the power. We are 99% of the population. It’s just a matter of organizing together and exercising our will. It comes down to our ability to inform and inspire our family, friends and neighbors. It comes down to us overcoming our own passive unwillingness to STAND UP for our own rights, which is part of the reason we are in this crisis to begin with. We are at a point in American history where the stakes have never been higher. I wish we could just turn away and ignore it, but I know we can’t. Our very way of life is under attack. It is the very unfortunate reality of our current crisis.

Will we WAKE UP and acknowledge this, or will we continue to sleepwalk in ignorance to a slow death?”http://ampedstatus.com/the-financial-oligarchy-reigns-democracys-death-spiral-from-greece-to-the-united-states

[v] Greenwald, Glenn. “What Collapsing Empire Looks like – Glenn Greenwald – Salon.com.” Salon.com – Salon.com. 6 Aug. 2010. Web. 16 Feb. 2011. <http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/08/06/collapse&gt;.

[vi] Warren, Elizabeth. “The Coming Collapse of the Middle Class.” Youtube. The Graduate Council Lectures: The Jefferson Memorial Lectures, 31 Jan. 2008. Web. 13 May 2010. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=akVL7QY0S8A&gt;.

[vii] Carl, Herman. “Open Proposal to US Higher Education: End Unlawful War, Oligarchy Economics with Education.” Examiner.com. 28 Apr. 2010. Web. 13 May 2010. <http://www.examiner.com/x-18425-LA-County-Nonpartisan-Examiner~y2010m4d28-Open-proposal-to-US-higher-education-End-unlawful-war-oligarchy-economics-with-education-1-of-4&gt;.

[viii] Farrell, Paul B. “Tax the Super Rich Now or Face a Revolution Paul B. Farrell – MarketWatch.” MarketWatch – Stock Market Quotes, Business News, Financial News. 29 Mar. 2011. Web. 25 May 2011. <http://www.marketwatch.com/story/tax-the-super-rich-now-or-face-a-revolution-2011-03-29?pagenumber=1&gt;.

[ix] Robinson, Sara. “When Change Is Not Enough: The Seven Steps To Revolution | OurFuture.org.” Today’s Ideas & Actions | OurFuture.org. 20 Feb. 2008. Web. 25 May 2011. <http://www.ourfuture.org/blog-entry/when-change-not-enough-seven-steps-revolution&gt;.

[x] Hawkins, Jeff. “Jeff Hawkins on Artificial Intelligence – Part 1/5.” Lecture. YouTube – Broadcast Yourself. 23 June 2008. Web. 01 Feb. 2011. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oozFn2d45tg&gt;.

[xi] “Global Workspace Theory.” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 01 Feb. 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_Workspace_Theory&gt;.

[xii] I have skirted the issue on our merger with technology and the question of black swans entirely.

[xiii] Tolle, Eckhart. “The Flowering of Human Consciousness.” Lecture. Sherwood Auditorium, La Jolla, CA. 5 Mar. 2001. Google Videos. The Power of Now Teaching Series. Web. 01 Feb. 2011. <http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=2546949894540352546#&gt;.

[xiv] “Packs of robots will hunt down uncooperative humans – Short Sharp Science – New Scientist.” Science news and science jobs from New Scientist – New Scientist. Web. 26 Nov. 2009. <http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/shortsharpscience/2008/10/packs-of-robots-will-hunt-down.html&gt;.

[xv] How It Works: The Flying Laser Cannon | Popular Science.” Popular Science | New Technology, Science News, The Future Now. 13 Mar. 2008. Web. 25 May 2011. <http://www.popsci.com/node/19965&gt;.

[xvi] Page, Lewis. “US Justice Dept Builds Microwave Heat-ray ‘rifle’ • The Register.” The Register: Sci/Tech News for the World. 10 Oct. 2008. Web. 25 May 2011. <http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/10/10/justice_dept_microwave_rifle/&gt;.

[xvii] Cnn, Taylor Gandossy. “TV Viewing at ‘all-time High,’ Nielsen Says – CNN.” Featured Articles from CNN. 24 Feb. 2009. Web. 25 May 2011. <http://articles.cnn.com/2009-02-24/entertainment/us.video.nielsen_1_nielsen-company-nielsen-spokesman-gary-holmes-watching?_s=PM:SHOWBIZ&gt;.

[xviii] Tolle, Eckhart. A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose. New York: Plume, 2006. Print.

[xix] Levine, Bruce. “10 Steps to Defeat the Corporatocracy | Economy | AlterNet.” Home | AlterNet. 20 May 2011. Web. 28 May 2011. <http://www.alternet.org/economy/151018/10_steps_to_defeat_the_corporatocracy/?page=entire&gt;.

“Libertarian left” vs “libertarian right” perspective on recent history

[S.S]

So Obama’s new jobs bill (still not introduced into Congress) is to tax the crap (1.5 Trillion) out of business.

 

The rest is another stimulus that’s half the size of the last one.

We may need to honestly ask if our president has suffered brain damage…Like ·  · Monday at 4:11pm · Privacy:

  •  
    • [J.A.] What’s your plan?

      Monday at 4:16pm · Like

    • [thinkahol] http://motherjones.com/mojo/2011/09/6-dumb-arguments-against-taxing-rich-explained

      Monday at 4:21pm · Like

    • [S.S.] A 10% (+/-) tax cut for a year off of income tax, across the board.

      No capital gains tax for two years.

      Spending cuts as necessary, though it isn’t like we’re currently balancing the books anyway.Monday at 4:22pm · Like

    • [S.S.]

      Unlike [thinkahol], I’m actually going to show some work instead of posting someone else’s piece of un-researched crap as an “argument”. Here’s your article with response:

      “On Saturday, the Obama administration unveiled the “Buffett Rule,” a proposed tax on millionaires and billionaires named after celebrity investor Warren Buffett, who has long argued that the federal government should demand more of the wealthy. The millionaires tax is certain to become a major point of contention in the 2012 presidential campaign, and Republicans have wasted no time in heaping it with calumnies. Here are the six most popular conservative arguments against a progressive tax code, and why they’re wrong:”

      This wouldn’t be the same Buffet who owes over a billion in back taxes which he’s refused to pay thus far and is fighting? Oh yeah, it is the same hypocritical bastard.http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/29/warren-buffett-taxes-berkshire-hathaway_n_941099.html

      “It’s class warfare!

      Yeah right. Three decades of laissez-faire economic polices have allowed the rich to double their share of the national income while paying tax rates a fifth lower than before. The result, notes Kevin Drum, was “wage stagnation for everyone else, a massive financial collapse that ravaged the middle class, an enormous deficits that they’ll be asked to pay off eventually.” If the millionaires tax is the only blowback, the wealthy should count their blessings.”

      They are talking out of their ass with no facts to back up their analysis. Even so, it is irrefutable that the “wealthy” pay way more taxes in dollar amounts and percentages, produce more jobs than the so called “middle class”. There is no such thing as “their share” of the income. Income is not a finite, fixed item. Wealth isn’t a zero sum game, and any idiot who can’t even understand that fundamental reality of economics isn’t qualified to make change at the cash register.

      “It’s a tax on small business

      “Don’t forget that most small businesses file taxes as individuals,” House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said on Fox News Sunday. “So when you are raising top tax rates, you are raising taxes on these job creators.” Except when you aren’t. ThinkProgress’s Pat Garofalo points out that fewer than 2 percent of the nation’s small businesses fall into either of the top two tax brackets. Plus, many of the small business filers in the upper brackets are merely investors who have nothing to do with running the business. And if small businesses don’t want to pay taxes as individuals, they can file always as corporations.”

      Anyone who quotes ThinkProgress with a straight-face and thinks it will be a convincing argument to their opponent deserves to be slapped for it. Be that as it may, they apparently don’t realize that the “investments” these small corporations make is taxed under “capital gains” which Obama wants to raise. Furthermore, filing a business under corporate tax laws is way more complicated than personal tax laws and requires much more time and expense to prepare. Finally they deceitfully mention that almost no small business falls in the top two tax brackets, but Obama’s plan will negatively impact more than the top two brackets.

      “It reduces incentives to work and invest

      Experience shows otherwise. As Nancy Folbre points out over at Economix, ‘average annual rates of growth in gross domestic product in the high tax era between 1950 and 1980 exceeded those of the last 30 years. Increases in the top tax rate under President Bill Clinton were followed by robust economic expansion.'”

      What they cleverly failed to mention was that even with the higher tax rates, total taxes collected as a percentage of GDP was still roughly the same, which means that corporations found ways of hiding their money when the tax system got too oppressive, or they moved their money off shore. Also, ever tax increase was followed in a couple years by a recession. If Bush is still responsible for our economy, then you can’t claim that the recessions were unrelated to the previous market conditions (i.e. higher taxes). Finally, the so called “rich” in the upper tax margins mysteriously had a tendency of disappearing when taxes started getting punitive.

      “It’s an unstable source of revenue

      A recent essay in the Wall Street Journal argued that the high volatility of upper-level income makes it impractical to rely on taxing it. But this concern is vastly overblown and can be easily dealt with by establishing rainy day funds.”

      “It’s unfair

      In the libertarian view, the rich are entitled to their gains because they worked for them. But this ignores how structural changes in the economy such as globalization, financial deregulation, and the rise of the knowledge-based economy has disproportionately rewarded the wealthy. At the same time, we’ve failed to reinvest in government programs that once leveled the playing field, such as financing for community colleges and public universities.”

      A bunch of unsubstantiated drivel. I defy anyone to show how one measures the wealthy being “disproportionately rewarded” because of their wealth. Wealthy are taxed at a higher percentage, and produce more jobs than those in lower brackets. That is fundamentally unfair. To try to measure some mythical value of “knowledge-based economy”, “reward”, and punish these richer individuals with higher tax rates is absurd. Even if one could measure such qualities, they certainly aren’t directly proportional to your wealth, so how can you devise a progressive tax system to fairly tax people off of them? Why do we even care if they playing field is level. Life isn’t fair. To be unfair to one group of people so that someone else gets a “fair” chance isn’t fair either.

      “The rich will leave the country

      Good riddance, writes Don Peck in a recent Atlantic essay on how to save the middle class: ‘America remains a magnet for talent, for reasons that go beyond the tax code; and by international standards, none of the tax changes recommended here would create an excessive tax burden on high earners. If a few financiers choose to decamp for some small island-state in search of the smallest possible tax bill, we should wish them good luck.'”

      One more absolutely mind numbing paragraph. The wealthy create jobs, and pay a substantial amount of taxes right now. If you remove them from the market, you lose large job markets, and a lot of current taxes. If the wealthy are leaving because they feel that the tax system is punitive and disincentivizing them, then why would anyone else try to make wealth after they leave? Who wants to be the next guy to get robbed? Besides, once the wealthy leave, the middle class will have to take up the slack of the tax burden. Don Peck is an abosolute idiot.

      Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Owes Taxes Going Back To 2002

      http://www.huffingtonpost.comA little over two weeks ago, Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett, the third-ri…See More

      Monday at 4:54pm · Like

    • [W.A.] If nothing else I think this is the longest post I’ve ever seen. Good solid analysis and reason.

      Monday at 6:31pm · Like

    • [A.O.], [S.S.] pls re read your posts… I chastised you a while back aboiut [sic] name calling and you denied doing it… again reread your posts. you have decent counter points but lose all ground gained with name calling.

      Monday at 6:35pm · Like

    • [S.S.]

      ‎@[A.O.], I’m not calling anyone on this thread names. I am calling out some of the idiots quoted in the article.

      I get really irritated when someone responds to a post of mine with an article and no actual, personal analysis. Especially when the response comes from a super lefty source. If you want to try to convince me, then quote from a source that either leans my way or is at least somewhere in the middle (see my huffpo referrence above). Secondly, spend the time to explain why your source relates or refutes something I wrote.

      While you’re right, that my response would go much farther to convince my opposition if I didn’t resort to name calling, there are places for that (a certain board you and I are a member of, for instance). My page I prefer the rant/op-ed.

      As to my original post, I am seriously wondering about the competency of this President and his ability to make rational decisions. How you can make a bill which is supposed to create jobs, which primarily taxes those who create jobs, is beyond me. Furthermore, I’m really pissed off about the constant lies this President is telling about this bill and the detractors.Monday at 7:16pm · Like

    • [thinkahol]

      ‎@ [S.S.], I didn’t mean to irritate you, that’ just what happens. I didn’t have the time to take out of my day to refute you point by point like last time, but I wanted people to have access to a more credible alternative view point (yes thinkprogress is more credible than you).

      First whether or not Buffet is a hypocrite for doing the things that the wealthy do in their own best interest at the expense of everyone else while stating publicly his opinions about how the U.S. government could provide the services the people overwhelmingly want by making his shenanigans more difficult, is entirely immaterial to the discussion. Wanted to get that out of the way because it has no bearing on the actual policy discussion.

      1. the article:

      “It’s class warfare!

      Yeah right. Three decades of laissez-faire economic polices have allowed the rich to double their share of the national income while paying tax rates a fifth lower than before. The result, notes Kevin Drum, was “wage stagnation for everyone else, a massive financial collapse that ravaged the middle class, an enormous deficits that they’ll be asked to pay off eventually.” If the millionaires tax is the only blowback, the wealthy should count their blessings.”

      your response:

      “They are talking out of their ass with no facts to back up their analysis. Even so, it is irrefutable that the “wealthy” pay way more taxes in dollar amounts and percentages, produce more jobs than the so called “middle class”. There is no such thing as “their share” of the income. Income is not a finite, fixed item. Wealth isn’t a zero sum game, and any idiot who can’t even understand that fundamental reality of economics isn’t qualified to make change at the cash register.”

      There isn’t even anything controversial about those facts about the last few decades. It’s mind-blowing to just dismiss them out of hand for not having evidence, without having any evidence of your own.

      You’re clearly just not understanding the use of “share.” At any given moment there exists a distribution of income in society. The percentage amount of income of any given segment of society, is their “share” of income. That percentage amount of income, or share can obviously change through time. No one was claiming that the total amount of wealth stayed the same. People are talking about percentages out of the 100% pie. So in that sense it very much is zero sum, there is only one pie being talked about and you and I can’t both have it in its entirety at the same time. “Using 2007 post-tax dollars, the wealthiest 1% of the US population increased their share of the nation’s income 120% between 1979 and 2007. The top 20% grew their share about 30%, while every other income group decreased their share. Most notably, the bottom 20% lost about 30% of their share of the nation’s income.”

      http://www.marketingcharts.com/direct/wealthiest-americans-dramatically-increase-income-16296/

      2. the article:

      “It’s a tax on small business

      “Don’t forget that most small businesses file taxes as individuals,” House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said on Fox News Sunday. “So when you are raising top tax rates, you are raising taxes on these job creators.” Except when you aren’t. ThinkProgress’s Pat Garofalo points out that fewer than 2 percent of the nation’s small businesses fall into either of the top two tax brackets. Plus, many of the small business filers in the upper brackets are merely investors who have nothing to do with running the business. And if small businesses don’t want to pay taxes as individuals, they can file always as corporations.”

      your response:

      “Anyone who quotes ThinkProgress with a straight-face and thinks it will be a convincing argument to their opponent deserves to be slapped for it. Be that as it may, they apparently don’t realize that the “investments” these small corporations make is taxed under “capital gains” which Obama wants to raise. Furthermore, filing a business under corporate tax laws is way more complicated than personal tax laws and requires much more time and expense to prepare. Finally they deceitfully mention that almost no small business falls in the top two tax brackets, but Obama’s plan will negatively impact more than the top two brackets.”

      According to the AP:

      “–$405 billion from limiting the itemized deductions for charitable contributions and other deductions that can be taken by individuals making over $200,000 a year and families making over $250,000;

      –$41 billion from closing loopholes for oil and gas companies;

      –$18 billion from requiring fund managers to pay higher taxes on certain income;

      –$3 billion from changing the tax treatment of corporate jets.”

      http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Obama-would-raise-taxes-to-apf-336304616.html?x=0

      With these expected results:

      “Goldman Sachs says it will raise 2012 GDP by about 1.5%–before any multiplier effects. Moody’s chief economist Mark Zandi thinks the effect on 2012 GDP will be about 2%. Expect more estimates in the 1-3% range for 2012; smaller for 2013.”

      http://www.freakonomics.com/2011/09/09/obamas-jobs-bill-a-reasonable-plan/

      That sounds pretty reasonable, especially since there are concerns about a double dip recession, and it’s the recession itself that is the second biggest cause of the deficits preceded by Bush’s legislative agenda:

      http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2009/08/deficit_numbers.html

      http://www.wvpolicy.org/downloads/IB110410.pdf

      3. the article:

      “It reduces incentives to work and invest

      Experience shows otherwise. As Nancy Folbre points out over at Economix, ‘average annual rates of growth in gross domestic product in the high tax era between 1950 and 1980 exceeded those of the last 30 years. Increases in the top tax rate under President Bill Clinton were followed by robust economic expansion.'”

      your response:

      “What they cleverly failed to mention was that even with the higher tax rates, total taxes collected as a percentage of GDP was still roughly the same, which means that corporations found ways of hiding their money when the tax system got too oppressive, or they moved their money off shore. Also, ever tax increase was followed in a couple years by a recession. If Bush is still responsible for our economy, then you can’t claim that the recessions were unrelated to the previous market conditions (i.e. higher taxes). Finally, the so called “rich” in the upper tax margins mysteriously had a tendency of disappearing when taxes started getting punitive.”

      You didn’t refute anything that was said. Average annual rates of growth between 1950 and 1980 did exceed those of the last 30 years. Increases in the tax rate under President Clinton was indeed followed by “robust” economic expansion. Higher taxes incentivize long-term embedded wealth building because they lessen opportunities for get rich quick windfall profit at the cost of gutting companies and communities and pawning off the husk. The unimaginable wealth concentration at the very top destabilizes the entire economy as larger pools of money are changing hands under conditions of less transparency resulting in financial crises like the one we just experienced. Not to mention the concomitant growth of financial interference in our political process as both parties kowtow to the deepest pockets to fund acceleratingly expensive ad-campaigns.

      http://www.ourfuture.org/blog-entry/2010041625/13-ways-90-percent-top-tax-rate-fixes-economyTuesday at 3:14am · Like

    • [thinkahol]

      ‎4. they said:

      “It’s an unstable source of revenue

      A recent essay in the Wall Street Journal argued that the high volatility of upper-level income makes it impractical to rely on taxing it. But this concern is vastly overblown and can be easily dealt with by establishing rainy day funds.”

      “It’s unfair

      In the libertarian view, the rich are entitled to their gains because they worked for them. But this ignores how structural changes in the economy such as globalization, financial deregulation, and the rise of the knowledge-based economy has disproportionately rewarded the wealthy. At the same time, we’ve failed to reinvest in government programs that once leveled the playing field, such as financing for community colleges and public universities.”

      you said:

      “A bunch of unsubstantiated drivel. I defy anyone to show how one measures the wealthy being “disproportionately rewarded” because of their wealth. Wealthy are taxed at a higher percentage, and produce more jobs than those in lower brackets. That is fundamentally unfair. To try to measure some mythical value of “knowledge-based economy”, “reward”, and punish these richer individuals with higher tax rates is absurd. Even if one could measure such qualities, they certainly aren’t directly proportional to your wealth, so how can you devise a progressive tax system to fairly tax people off of them? Why do we even care if they playing field is level. Life isn’t fair. To be unfair to one group of people so that someone else gets a “fair” chance isn’t fair either.”

      I’m tired so I’ll quote Sam Harris:

      “Of course, this is just an economic cartoon. We don’t have perfectly efficient markets, and many wealthy people don’t create much in the way of value for others. In fact, as our recent financial crisis has shown, it is possible for a few people to become extraordinarily rich by wrecking the global economy.

      Nevertheless, the basic argument often holds: Many people have amassed fortunes because they (or their parent’s, parent’s, parents) created value. Steve Jobs resurrected Apple Computer and has since produced one gorgeous product after another. It isn’t an accident that millions of us are happy to give him our money.

      But even in the ideal case, where obvious value has been created, how much wealth can one person be allowed to keep? A trillion dollars? Ten trillion? (Fifty trillion is the current GDP of Earth.) Granted, there will be some limit to how fully wealth can concentrate in any society, for the richest possible person must still spend money on something, thereby spreading wealth to others. But there is nothing to prevent the ultra rich from cooking all their meals at home, using vegetables grown in their own gardens, and investing the majority of their assets in China.

      […]

      How many Republicans who have vowed not to raise taxes on billionaires would want to live in a country with a trillionaire and 30 percent unemployment? If the answer is “none”—and it really must be—then everyone is in favor of “wealth redistribution.” They just haven’t been forced to admit it.”

      http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/how-rich-is-too-rich/

      5. they said:

      “The rich will leave the country

      Good riddance, writes Don Peck in a recent Atlantic essay on how to save the middle class: ‘America remains a magnet for talent, for reasons that go beyond the tax code; and by international standards, none of the tax changes recommended here would create an excessive tax burden on high earners. If a few financiers choose to decamp for some small island-state in search of the smallest possible tax bill, we should wish them good luck.'”

      you said:

      “One more absolutely mind numbing paragraph. The wealthy create jobs, and pay a substantial amount of taxes right now. If you remove them from the market, you lose large job markets, and a lot of current taxes. If the wealthy are leaving because they feel that the tax system is punitive and disincentivizing them, then why would anyone else try to make wealth after they leave? Who wants to be the next guy to get robbed? Besides, once the wealthy leave, the middle class will have to take up the slack of the tax burden. Don Peck is an abosolute idiot.”

      If it was just a function of having money equals job creation then we could have massive job creation as corporations are sitting on close to $2 Trillion. Businesses expand and people are hired when demand for products increases (and this expansion can even be paid for by taking out a loan). If there isn’t enough demand there is no incentive to expand hence the $2 Trillion. Slashing budgets and putting more people out of work is probably the worst thing you could do right now. There is no demand because as poverty increases the number of consumers declines.

      http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704312104575298652567988246.html

      It’s always theft when money is taken from those who can most afford it for some reason. “We now live in a country in which the bottom 40 percent (120 million people) owns just 0.3 percent of the wealth. Data of this kind make one feel that one is participating in a vast psychological experiment: Just how much inequality can free people endure? Have you seen Ralph Lauren’s car collection? Yes, it is beautiful. It also cost hundreds of millions of dollars. “So what?” many people will say. “It’s his money. He earned it. He should be able to do whatever he wants with it.” In conservative circles, expressing any doubt on this point has long been synonymous with Marxism.

      And yet over one million American children are now homeless. People on Medicare are being denied life-saving organ transplants that were routinely covered before the recession. Over one quarter of our nation’s bridges are structurally deficient. When might be a convenient time to ask the richest Americans to help solve problems of this kind? How about now?”

      http://www.samharris.org/site/full_text/a-new-years-resolution-for-the-rich/

      I’m all for making the transition to next generation of collective decision-making processes, but until then infrastructure is real, costs money, and benefits everyone. And the people that have benefitted most from our societal arrangements have benefitted most, by definition, and are therefore in the best position to keep society functioning.

      This type of thinking:

      “If the wealthy are leaving because they feel that the tax system is punitive and disincentivizing them, then why would anyone else try to make wealth after they leave? Who wants to be the next guy to get robbed?” It just clearly isn’t born out in reality. The wealthy overwhelmingly don’t move due to tax hikes.

      http://reason.com/archives/2011/04/29/the-truth-about-taxes-and-the/singlepage

      And the poor and middle class would pay more taxes if inequality hadn’t gotten as bad as it has. And yes inequality is bad for everyone.

      Meanwhile in the real world:

      “banks take risks, get paid for the upside, and then transfer the downside to shareholders, taxpayers, and even retirees. In order to rescue the banking system, the Federal Reserve, for example, put interest rates at artificially low levels; as was disclosed recently, it also has provided secret loans of $1.2 trillion to banks. The main effect so far has been to help bankers generate bonuses (rather than attract borrowers) by hiding exposures.”

      https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/taleb1/English

      The fact of the matter is banks just got trillions and you’re saying none of it should be siphoned back into the economy in taxes.

      http://theamericano.com/2011/04/28/biggest-legalized-theft-middle-class-american-wealth/

      Really the monetary system itself is debt generating instead of wealth generating with legality of fractional reserve lending.

      http://www.monetary.org/the-1930s-chicago-plan-vs-the-american-monetary-act/2009/08Tuesday at 3:15am · Like

    • [thinkahol]

      ‎”Nobel laureate Milton Friedman would become the proposal’s best-known champion.

      This proposal was the shift from banking industry creation of “money as debt” through loans (technically “credit” and not money because it exists only and always as increasing and unpayable debt in the macro economy), to the government creating debt-free money for the direct payment of public goods and services. This policy has several extraordinary benefits (details in the links):

      http://www.examiner.com/la-county-nonpartisan-in-los-angeles/open-proposal-to-us-higher-education-end-oligarchy-economics-save-trillions-with-education-3-of-4-1#ixzz1YUBlV93hTuesday at 3:16am · Like

    • [S.S.]

      I’m going to only post relevant parts of your response as this thread is getting ungodly long already.

      “First whether or not Buffet is a hypocrite for doing the things that the wealthy do in their own best interest at the expense of everyone else while stating publicly his opinions about how the U.S. government could provide the services the people overwhelmingly want by making his shenanigans more difficult, is entirely immaterial to the discussion. Wanted to get that out of the way because it has no bearing on the actual policy discussion.”

      Is is relevant since the law is going to be named after him, he is pushing it, and he’s a damned lying scumbag. Not only is he trying to dodge taxes that he supposedly is worried about rich people getting out of, unless his secretary is being cheated by her accountant, she’s still not paying as much, percentage-wise, as Buffet.

      “There isn’t even anything controversial about those facts about the last few decades. It’s mind-blowing to just dismiss them out of hand for not having evidence, without having any evidence of your own.

      You’re clearly just not understanding the use of “share.” At any given moment there exists a distribution of income in society. The percentage amount of income of any given segment of society, is their “share” of income. That percentage amount of income, or share can obviously change through time. No one was claiming that the total amount of wealth stayed the same. People are talking about percentages out of the 100% pie. So in that sense it very much is zero sum, there is only one pie being talked about and you and I can’t both have it in its entirety at the same time. “Using 2007 post-tax dollars, the wealthiest 1% of the US population increased their share of the nation’s income 120% between 1979 and 2007. The top 20% grew their share about 30%, while every other income group decreased their share. Most notably, the bottom 20% lost about 30% of their share of the nation’s income.””

      They did not define what they meant, whether it was some sort of “entitled to” or actual “income”. Even if the Rich did increase their wealth, their conclusions are wholly unfounded as to the effects it had on the market and other classes. They do not support their observations. Since they proposed this hypothesis, the burden of proof lies with them.

      “According to the AP:

      “–$405 billion from limiting the itemized deductions for charitable contributions and other deductions that can be taken by individuals making over $200,000 a year and families making over $250,000;

      –$41 billion from closing loopholes for oil and gas companies;

      –$18 billion from requiring fund managers to pay higher taxes on certain income;

      –$3 billion from changing the tax treatment of corporate jets.”

      http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Obama-would-raise-taxes-to-apf-336304616.html?x=0

      With these expected results:

      “Goldman Sachs says it will raise 2012 GDP by about 1.5%–before any multiplier effects. Moody’s chief economist Mark Zandi thinks the effect on 2012 GDP will be about 2%. Expect more estimates in the 1-3% range for 2012; smaller for 2013.”

      http://www.freakonomics.com/2011/09/09/obamas-jobs-bill-a-reasonable-plan/

      That sounds pretty reasonable, especially since there are concerns about a double dip recession, and it’s the recession itself that is the second biggest cause of the deficits preceded by Bush’s legislative agenda:

      http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2009/08/deficit_numbers.html

      http://www.wvpolicy.org/downloads/IB110410.pdf

      That is only a partial list of the changes. Furthermore, on what basis to do find this “reasonable”? How badly do the rich have to be screwed for you to be happy? What is their fair share? Define this. We can’t have a legitimate argument about how much the rich have to pay if you don’t define what is fair. They already pay more percentage wise of their income, and they pay more per capita than lower brackets.

      “You didn’t refute anything that was said. Average annual rates of growth between 1950 and 1980 did exceed those of the last 30 years. Increases in the tax rate under President Clinton was indeed followed by “robust” economic expansion. Higher taxes incentivize long-term embedded wealth building because they lessen opportunities for get rich quick windfall profit at the cost of gutting companies and communities and pawning off the husk. The unimaginable wealth concentration at the very top destabilizes the entire economy as larger pools of money are changing hands under conditions of less transparency resulting in financial crises like the one we just experienced. Not to mention the concomitant growth of financial interference in our political process as both parties kowtow to the deepest pockets to fund acceleratingly expensive ad-campaigns.

      http://www.ourfuture.org/blog-entry/2010041625/13-ways-90-percent-top-tax-rate-fixes-economy&#8221;

      I did too. If taxes were higher, and GDP was higher, but the overall dollar intake from taxes remained roughly the same, it means that Corporations were finding ways to dodge the higher tax rates so that they paid about the same as before. Furthermore, the article made a bunch of unsubstantiated claims about how this really didn’t hurt growth, but they didn’t even deal with the negative impact to the economy within 5-8 years of every tax increase. I pointed out that these same people want to still blame Bush for the economy of today, so they don’t get a free pass on how taxes effect the future economy within the same window.

      Obama would raise taxes to pay for his jobs bill – Yahoo! Finance

      finance.yahoo.comWASHINGTON (AP) — In a sharp challenge to the GOP, President Barack Obama propo…See More

      Tuesday at 5:35pm · Like

    • [S.S.]

      ‎”I’m tired so I’ll quote Sam Harris:

      “Of course, this is just an economic cartoon. We don’t have perfectly efficient markets, and many wealthy people don’t create much in the way of value for others. In fact, as our recent financial crisis has shown, it is possible for a few people to become extraordinarily rich by wrecking the global economy.

      Nevertheless, the basic argument often holds: Many people have amassed fortunes because they (or their parent’s, parent’s, parents) created value. Steve Jobs resurrected Apple Computer and has since produced one gorgeous product after another. It isn’t an accident that millions of us are happy to give him our money.

      But even in the ideal case, where obvious value has been created, how much wealth can one person be allowed to keep? A trillion dollars? Ten trillion? (Fifty trillion is the current GDP of Earth.) Granted, there will be some limit to how fully wealth can concentrate in any society, for the richest possible person must still spend money on something, thereby spreading wealth to others. But there is nothing to prevent the ultra rich from cooking all their meals at home, using vegetables grown in their own gardens, and investing the majority of their assets in China.

      […]

      How many Republicans who have vowed not to raise taxes on billionaires would want to live in a country with a trillionaire and 30 percent unemployment? If the answer is “none”—and it really must be—then everyone is in favor of “wealth redistribution.” They just haven’t been forced to admit it.”

      http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/how-rich-is-too-rich/&#8221;

      Sam Harris would seem to mostly agree with me. However, that is beside the point. You didn’t respond to my critique of the issue at hand. The article is trying to justify stealing more money from the rich because of some imaginary “disproportionate advantage” caused by the wealth. My questions still stand. How can you tax that which you can’t measure? How can this wholly arbitrary decision be applied fairly across the rich? For instance, one guy makes his money by having the corner on a natural resource. Another guy makes the same money by building a product people love (Apple). If such an imbecilic measurement were valid, we’d have to say the guy who got lucky with the resource cornered market, had way more “market advantage” than the guy who created a product people liked, even though they ended up with the same wealth. Once again, how much is their “fair share”. If you are going to claim they owe more, explain how you arrive at that conclusion.

      “If it was just a function of having money equals job creation then we could have massive job creation as corporations are sitting on close to $2 Trillion. Businesses expand and people are hired when demand for products increases (and this expansion can even be paid for by taking out a loan). If there isn’t enough demand there is no incentive to expand hence the $2 Trillion. Slashing budgets and putting more people out of work is probably the worst thing you could do right now. There is no demand because as poverty increases the number of consumers declines.

      http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704312104575298652567988246.html&#8221;

      Ask your President who thought throwing around stimulus money would magically create jobs…

      We’re arguing chicken or egg, but I have the advantage. People get money through work or having jobs. They get jobs because business needs to hire them. If a business can’t find a demand, they fail, problem solved. You continue to perpetrate the lie that businesses can “sit” on money. This just isn’t true. Unless they hold this money in a vault, it is getting invested, which means it’s moving. Furthermore that wealth is not keeping anyone else from creating new wealth. The fact that you don’t understand how wealth is created means you will never be able to grasp any macro economic principle until you resolve that. Wealth is created by someone being able to produce something better or cheaper than the other guy, and the other guy having something he can produce better or cheaper to pay the first guy with (with both parties wanting the opposite guys commodity). There is nothing preventing anyone from finding a new niche and filling it. As long as you believe you are helpless unless some corporation or government gives you a job or money, you’ll always be someone else’s doormat.

      “It’s always theft when money is taken from those who can most afford it for some reason. “We now live in a country in which the bottom 40 percent (120 million people) owns just 0.3 percent of the wealth. Data of this kind make one feel that one is participating in a vast psychological experiment: Just how much inequality can free people endure? Have you seen Ralph Lauren’s car collection? Yes, it is beautiful. It also cost hundreds of millions of dollars. “So what?” many people will say. “It’s his money. He earned it. He should be able to do whatever he wants with it.” In conservative circles, expressing any doubt on this point has long been synonymous with Marxism.

      And yet over one million American children are now homeless. People on Medicare are being denied life-saving organ transplants that were routinely covered before the recession. Over one quarter of our nation’s bridges are structurally deficient. When might be a convenient time to ask the richest Americans to help solve problems of this kind? How about now?”

      http://www.samharris.org/site/full_text/a-new-years-resolution-for-the-rich/&#8221;

      Once again, this is not the rich peoples fault. Many who are poor deserve to starve to death. Let’s be blunt. They don’t spend their money well, the make constant, stupid decisions, they deserve to fail or survive on their own merit. Once gain, your quote is promoting class-warfare between those who have money and those who don’t. Those who have money are paying way more taxes already. How much is their fair share? Answer the bloody question instead of just saying “more”.

      Also when Lauren bought his cars, he spent money into the market…I thought that’s what you lefties and Keynesians wanted. He put money into the system…Or, does it only work if the government steals it from him and then uses it to fund the Presidents vacations? Why do we assume that when the government takes more money that it goes to the poor. It doesn’t most of the time. It is used to subsidize future government bloat.

      Most of the rest of your argument is against crony capitalism and the Federal Reserve. However, it is precisely the government’s meddling and the current progressive tax system which allows these abuses and loopholes. A flat, no exceptions, tax would not allow loop holes. A government staying out of the system and not giving bailouts or favoring any particular business would prevent the items you describe. I want the Fed gone. I want the market to right itself or not, by itself.

      The Blog : How Rich is Too Rich? : Sam Harris

      http://www.samharris.orgSam Harris, neuroscientist and author of the New York Times bestsellers, The End…See More

      Tuesday at 6:00pm · Like

    • [thinkahol]

      I’m going to try to give brief answers to the ongoing questions and try to narrow our conversation at the end.

      ok, Buffet. The point I was trying to make was that we were trying to have a discussion about policy not politics, and that those are separate things. I don’t care if he’s a scumbag, if he never existed we could have the rest of this discussion just fine.

      “Even if the Rich did increase their wealth, their conclusions are wholly unfounded as to the effects it had on the market and other classes. They do not support their observations. Since they proposed this hypothesis, the burden of proof lies with them.”

      I think this chart summarizes their position:

      “That is only a partial list of the changes. Furthermore, on what basis to do find this “reasonable”? How badly do the rich have to be screwed for you to be happy? What is their fair share? Define this. We can’t have a legitimate argument about how much the rich have to pay if you don’t define what is fair. They already pay more percentage wise of their income, and they pay more per capita than lower brackets. ”

      I didn’t read the full bill did you? If there are changes that you wish to add to the discussion please do. Anyway the rich (and especially the richest of the rich) are doing better after taxes than they have ever done, so I really think it’s premature to talk about them being screwed. I think this comes from a place of considering all taxes unfair which I’ll address below.

      “If taxes were higher, and GDP was higher, but the overall dollar intake from taxes remained roughly the same, it means that Corporations were finding ways to dodge the higher tax rates so that they paid about the same as before. Furthermore, the article made a bunch of unsubstantiated claims about how this really didn’t hurt growth, but they didn’t even deal with the negative impact to the economy within 5-8 years of every tax increase. I pointed out that these same people want to still blame Bush for the economy of today, so they don’t get a free pass on how taxes effect the future economy within the same window.”

      So you’re willing to grant that average annual rates of growth between 1950 and 1980 did exceed those of the last 30 years and that Clinton tax increases were followed by economic expansion. You never really explained this from your perspective. What you seem to have pointed out is, that if you’re right, tax increases have only a short term effect negative on the economy before it adjusts.

      You kind of went on a tangent after this Sam Harris quote (and I’ll get to that), but I still want to know how you respond to this:

      “How many Republicans who have vowed not to raise taxes on billionaires would want to live in a country with a trillionaire and 30 percent unemployment? If the answer is “none”—and it really must be—then everyone is in favor of “wealth redistribution.” They just haven’t been forced to admit it.”

      http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/how-rich-is-too-rich/

      “Ask your President who thought throwing around stimulus money would magically create jobs…”

      http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2010/feb/17/barack-obama/obama-says-stimulus-responsible-millions-jobs-save/

      more to come

      http://cdn.front.moveon.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/who-got-wealthy-LARGE.jpg

      cdn.front.moveon.org22 hours ago · Like ·

    • [thinkahol]

      Sam Harris:

      “And yet over one million American children are now homeless. People on Medicare are being denied life-saving organ transplants that were routinely covered before the recession. Over one quarter of our nation’s bridges are structurally deficient. When might be a convenient time to ask the richest Americans to help solve problems of this kind? How about now?”

      http://www.samharris.org/site/full_text/a-new-years-resolution-for-the-rich/&#8221;

      You:

      “Once again, this is not the rich peoples fault. Many who are poor deserve to starve to death. Let’s be blunt. They don’t spend their money well, the make constant, stupid decisions, they deserve to fail or survive on their own merit. Once gain, your quote is promoting class-warfare between those who have money and those who don’t. Those who have money are paying way more taxes already.”

      Do you really think that personal failure is a legitimate hypothesis in explaining shifts in poverty on the scale of millions of people? I’m sure that the increase in poverty has absolutely nothing big banks making bad bets and crashing the economy.

      You’re being quite ridiculous here. “[P]oor people deserve to starve to death.” Really.

      “Harvard researchers say 62% of all personal bankruptcies in the U.S. in 2007 were caused by health problems—and 78% of those filers had insurance.”

      http://www.businessweek.com/bwdaily/dnflash/content/jun2009/db2009064_666715.htm?campaign_id=rss_topStories

      Are you sure many of their children deserve to starve?

      Can you seriously say with a straight face that any child deserves to starve? What could any child do to deserve that? Our society deems it to be inhuman to starve murderers to death. How could you knowingly choose to starve children to death? How could it possibly be illegitimate for a society to collectively, democratically choose to not let children starve to death?

      To say I’m promoting class warfare is to start following the game a little late. Over the last 30 years, “After-Tax Income For The Top One Percent Of Earners Has Skyrocketed.”

      http://mediamatters.org/research/201109210020

      People are comparing modern poverty to The Great Depression:

      http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/279-82/7472-photographing-the-great-depression-then-and-now

      “Consider simply these two facts. First, at the end of the second world war, for every dollar Washington raised in taxes on individuals, it raised $1.50 in taxes on business profits. Today, that ratio is very different: for every dollar Washington gets in taxes on individuals, it takes 25 cents in taxes on business. In short, the last half century has seen a massive shift of the burden of federal taxation off business and onto individuals.

      Second, across those 50 years, the actual shift that occurred was the opposite of the much more modest reversal proposed this week by President Obama; over the same period, the federal income tax rate on the richest individuals fell from 91% to the current 35%. Yet, Republicans and conservatives use the term “class war” for what Obama proposes – and never for what the last five decades have accomplished in shifting the tax burden from the rich and corporations to the working class.

      The tax structure imposed by Washington on the US over the last half-century has seen a massive double shift of the burden of taxation: from corporations to individuals and from the richest individuals to everyone else. If the national debate wants seriously to use a term like “class war” to describe Washington’s tax policies, then the reality is that the class war’s winners have been corporations and the rich. Its losers – the rest of us – now want to reduce our losses modestly by small increases in taxes on the super-rich (but not, or not yet, on corporations).”

      http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/09/20

      To talk about this jobs bill as if it has suddenly introduced class power struggle dynamics into American society is absolutely absurd.

      “How much is their fair share? Answer the bloody question instead of just saying ‘more’.”

      It’s not up to me to decide alone what the tax rates of the wealthiest Americans should be. In a republic questions like that are for the people to decide democratically. But we can clearly see that looking back higher tax rates certainly didn’t bring armageddon, quite the contrary.

      I can probably fit the rest in one more20 hours ago · Like

    • [thinkahol]

      ‎”Also when Lauren bought his cars, he spent money into the market…I thought that’s what you lefties and Keynesians wanted. He put money into the system…”

      Consumption certainly is one of the necessary requirements for growth. And in a recession especially people are suffering due to lack of employment options until the economy grows fast enough to provide enough jobs for new people hitting the job market (and catch up for previous lost jobs). That he chose to spend his money on cars isn’t the issue. It just calls attention to the strange premise that a free market some how magically comes to the “best” outcomes. One of the only legitimate jobs of government is to democratically choose the boundaries of market competition so that it best coincides with the interests and will of the people. The market is only sensitive to money (only one system of value humans conventionally use for purposes of exchange).

      “Or, does it only work if the government steals it from him and then uses it to fund the Presidents vacations? Why do we assume that when the government takes more money that it goes to the poor. It doesn’t most of the time. It is used to subsidize future government bloat.”

      You’ve actually conflated government with unaccountable government. Accountable government is actually legitimate because it actually expresses the will of the people. Unaccountable government (ours is toward that end of the spectrum) is by definition illegitimate if we agree that government derives its legitimacy from the consent of the governed.

      “Most of the rest of your argument is against crony capitalism and the Federal Reserve. However, it is precisely the government’s meddling and the current progressive tax system which allows these abuses and loopholes. A flat, no exceptions, tax would not allow loop holes.”

      Are taxes by definition illegitimate? Because it sounds like you’re saying that taxes on the people who can afford taxes most is stealing. But you haven’t explicitly said that all taxes are somehow morally wrong. So it sounds like you’re saying that rich people are somehow getting a raw deal. Is that right so far?

      Let’s talk about what’s fair:

      Because I’m when I take a glance around at life, I’ve never been immediately struck when spending time with wealthy people, that Gee Whiz it must really be rough making enough money that after taxes I’m still richer than I’ve ever been. Or more modestly that after taxes all I’m really struggling for is higher status for myself or my children (and I don’t really have to worry about being homeless or going hungry, or my children being either).

      Call me heartless but I’m not losing any sleep over that class; they are doing quite fine, thanks for asking.

      If you’re going to talk about meddling in the economy don’t pretend that 90% of it favors large corporations. Additionally, loopholes are a function of corruption. As wealth has concentrated into fewer individuals and corporations they have exercised that money power and gotten even more tax breaks and loopholes.

      “A government staying out of the system and not giving bailouts or favoring any particular business would prevent the items you describe. I want the Fed gone.”

      Government can’t stay out of the system (as the system stands). They tried that, and it has consistently failed. There is not a single historical example of a modern market being sustained without the force of government. Allowing unlimited concentration of capital undermines a free market. Money is a form of power that when concentrated enough, given the human condition, is inevitably used to tilt the playing field. Throughout human history oligarchies have always been the biggest threat to the free market.

      http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2006/06/allocation-vs-markets-ancient-struggle.html

      “I want the market to right itself or not, by itself.”

      I feel like that is quite a statement. Let’s not put all our eggs in that basket and just hope for the best. How about we don’t genuflect before the altar of capital as if it is God. 

      Elizabeth Warren on Debt Crisis, Fair Taxation

      http://www.youtube.comElizabeth Warren discussing the debt crisis, fair taxation and other important issues as part of her talking tour.

      19 hours ago · Like ·

    • [thinkahol]

      I feel like it’s ridiculous to have a deficit that’s largely a result of an economic downturn caused by big banks, Bush’s tax cuts for the rich, unpaid for wars (fought by our poor), and unpaid for medicare give-away to drug companies, with rising healthcare costs looming on the horizon causing predictions of long term budget deficits, and instead of putting bankers that committed criminal fraud in jail, ending Bush’s tax cuts for the rich, ending Bush’s (and now Obama’s wars), and replacing our current health-care system (which has the highest cost and almost worst outcomes of any developed nations healthcare system) with a demonstrably cheaper and better one, Republicans tell us that we have to raise taxes on the poor, cut Social Security and Medicare, and strike down our remaining environmental laws (that have demonstrably saved millions of lives), or else the big businesses sitting on almost $2 trillion in cash won’t start hiring, even though they won’t start hiring anyway until demand increases (which it can’t because too many people are too poor).

      But if you raise any taxes on the rich (or even end Bush’s “temporary” tax cuts) it’s “CLASS WARFARE!” even though the rich have already won.

      Also regarding the amount of money corporations and the wealthy are sitting on, and it’s relation to providing capital for our economy please catch up to speed on tax havens. You may have heard of them.18 hours ago · Like”