Why I Support Progressive Taxation

Taxation

This may come as a surprise: I am in favor of a progressive tax. Now, before you burn me at the stake or rush to the mailbox to mail me my Communist membership packet, allow me to explain.

I support the FairTax bill, which would eliminate payroll and income taxes, and replace them with a flat rate national sales tax (about 23% inclusive). “But wait!” you say. “How is it progressive if it is flat?” Well, it is only applied to what you spend above and beyond the basic necessities of life. So if you are very poor and can only afford the basics, you pay no taxes. How it works is that at the beginning of each month, the head of each household will receive a “prebate” check “preimbursing” him or her for the estimated amount of tax dollars they would pay on the basic necessities of life for their household. If you only spend what you need to get by, your tax amount will equal your prebate amount and you will pay no net taxes. Now, as you start to look at people who spend more and more of their discretionary income on non-essentials, their total inclusive tax rate starts at zero, and starts to slowly increase, the more they buy. The more you buy, beyond the basic necessities of life, the greater the effective sales tax you pay up to a maximum percentage of the actual sales tax (if you want to get picky, there is essentially a horizontal asymptote on the graph which is at the set tax rate, so you’ll just get really really close to it if you spend a lot… say 22.99999%).

This is a progressive tax system, because the more you spend, the higher percentage you pay. Those evil rich people who buy airplanes and yachts will pay the most, and poor people will pay the least (that is to say: nothing). Isn’t this what the Left wants? Well, it’s what they said they wanted at least, so allow me to defend it, for those Conservatives and Libertarians who are opposed to the idea of progressive taxes.

Progressive taxes are opposed because they punish achievement. They punish excellence and hard work. But you must consider the effect that a completely flat tax system would have on the poor. The people who, after buying the things they need and are left with nothing, will have a very hard time breaking that inertia. They likely won’t have time to learn new skills, because they don’t have any significant discretionary income. They have to keep going to work just to put food on the table. A tax on the basic necessities of life is a severe handicap to one’s ability to break out of that cycle. It is essentially a tax on living, which is abhorrent both from a moral standpoint (Liberals’ objection) and from an American philosophical standpoint (Conservatives’ and Liberterians’ objection). By removing the tax on living, minimal earners are given a better chance to break this inertia, and have a greater chance of increasing their income by paying for additional education, or, have a greater chance of being able to save for their retirement. This lifting of the “life tax,” as I am now going to call it, is universal. No one should have to pay a tax on the things needed for basic survival. Thus, the total effective tax rate is progressive, but the tax rate on discretionary income is flat. Poor people get their tax burden removed, and all discretionary dollars spent are taxed equally.

It would seem that Liberals would be in favor of this, right? The tax burden for the poor goes away! Ah, but you have been fooled into thinking that elimination of the tax burden for the poor is what Liberals have been after. That they are opposing the FairTax so vehemently is evidence that this was not their goal. See, it is not progressive enough for them. But how can it not be progressive enough? The poorest people pay no tax, and actually, if they shop carefully for the basic necessities of life, they could actually pay less in taxes than the amount of their “prebate” check, which would mean that their net income would end up being more than their take home pay! So obviously, Liberals’ beef can’t be with the lower end of the progressiveness… it must be with the upper end. Ah… now we get to the crux of the matter. The FairTax doesn’t punish the rich enough. The Liberals in this country have declared war on the concept of the individual. In the words of Hillary Clinton, “We must stop thinking of the individual and start thinking about what is best for society.” To them, society is not comprised of individuals, but of a collective body. Achievement is contrary to the concept of collectivism. Excellence is a statistical outlier to them that needs to be corrected. When you allow people to excel, others must invariably excel less. Liberals are not after equality opportunity, they are for equal results, by means of unequal opportunity. And that is why they oppose the FairTax. The FairTax not only removes inertia from the poor, it removes the punishment of achievers. They would rather saddle the poor with a tax on living, than suffer the injustice of letting overachievers keep their rewards. The goal is sameness. The goal is uniformity. Until we’re moving the poor up and the rich down and taking away the rewards that cause people to pursue excellence, they won’t be happy. They aren’t concerned with individual rights, but with the collective “right” for the richest and the poorest members of society be artificially made similar until we’re all indistinguishable oat grains in a lukewarm bowl of porridge.

Comments

  1. says

    I’ve already been on record opposing the prebate. Once you get the government involved in sending out checks each month to every single taxpayer, regardless of income, you’re only asking for trouble.

    First off, the perception: People will be receiving checks to pay for the essentials of living. They’ll forget that it’s really their own money coming back to them and begin to believe it’s an entitlement — something the government owes them!

    Second, many poor/low-income taxpayers won’t be paid by Direct Deposit and will instead have their checks mailed to their homes where they’ll be stolen in the mail, or taken from them by force, or just sent to the local liquor store for their own idea of “essentials”.

    Last, and most obvious: If the Treasury or IRS or whomever tasked to handle the prebate system grows that department of the government, have you really accomplished that much in decreasing the size of bureaucracy? I think not.

    All that aside, if a prebate is absolutely necessary to make the Fair Tax palatable for you “progressive taxation” types, then I’ll take it because it still represents a huge improvement over the current system.

  2. says

    It doesn’t take an army to mail out the checks, and most would be done with direct deposit. If you don’t see this as a reduction in government, then you need to go look at the size of the IRS again. ;-)

    In a way, it is an entitlement… the government is entitled not to tax them for simply living.

    The problems with check distribution that you mention are minor. One solution is to give out a debit card that is filled up automatically.

    The point of the prebate is simple: you shouldn’t have to pay a tax to stay alive.

    You can’t solve that by eliminating tax on essentials, because essentials aren’t always being bought out of necessity. And you can’t cover it by figuring it into the tax rate, because necessities comprise a different percentage of expenditures for each person.

  3. says

    At this point, in normal circumstances, virtually all Federal cash benefits are distributed via electronic funds transfer or reloadable debit card. The IRS is the only agency I can think of from which you might still get a check.

    The “prebate” is a good idea, but it’s very ripe for abuse. If it can be made not so, then we might be on to something.

  4. says

    Well, it’d be done by social security number, so that would cut down on a lot of abuse. And there’s no way it would be abused as much as our current income tax system is.

  5. says

    How would a number for the “basic necessities of life” be reached? And what constitutes a “basic necessity?” Is a car a necessity in today’s age, or still a luxery? What types of cars become luxery? What types of foodstuffs become luxery items as opposed to nessesities (going back to the liquer store example).

    i dunno… the prebate thing seems like it would be too difficult to even negotiate. Many basic foods are sold without a sales tax already, so they could just apply that concept on a larger scale?

    i havn’t really given a lot of thought to this, i’ll admit, so take what I say cum grano salis.

  6. says

    Keaven,
    It is set at the poverty level, for each household size, and indexed thereafter to inflation.

    There is no “hm, is this necessary, is that?” You get enough money to refund the tax dollars that you would spend up to the poverty level. So basically, every dollar that you spend up to the poverty level for your family size is tax free. Thus, no one is taxed for merely spending what they need to keep themself at that level. And thus, there is no government-imposed barrier keeping people below that level. They have only themselves to blame if they can’t earn enough to stay out of poverty.

    take what I say cum grano salis.

    Warning: This blog is now under a severe caudex linguae Latinae watch until 5pm! :-D

  7. says

    You get enough money to refund the tax dollars that you would spend up to the poverty level.

    ohhhh… okay, i see now. Thanks for making that more clear :) And i guess the prebate system could work… since we have a model for it already (the Social Security Administration mails checks out every month).

    As has been said before, there are many potentials for fraud though. If its limited to each Head of Household… how do they know how a house is split up? Meaning, here in Washington, DC there are many, many row houses that have one street address (1016 13th Street), but where the owners rent out the basement as an appartment, so there are two virtual addresses (1016-A and 1016-B 13th Street). Since my boyfriend and i can’t marry, and have different last names, what’s to stop us from saying that i’m the head of household at 1016-A, and he’s the head of household at 1016-B?

    • That’s a bad example, i know.. since we would file independantly anyway, but you get my point
  8. says

    Hrm, I like the idea here, but I have the same concerns about the potential for abuse. However, I seriously doubt the left’s rejection of the idea is solely because it doesn’t punish the so-called achievers enough. It’s always easier to villify the opposition when you make them out to be evil, crazed nutbags with no real point.

  9. says

    Well, crooked politicians (but I repeat myself) will be wary of eliminating the special tax benefits that they grant through what basically boil down to glorified bribes from lobbyists. Were corporate taxes to be repealed, they wouldn’t have as much to “sell.” Now, this sort of activity crosses both parties, but it is primarily the left opposed to the FairTax bill. Why? Traditionally, there are two reasons for the left to oppose things relating to economics. 1) it doesn’t provide enough of a handout to the poor. Left-leaning politicians promote a more socialist agenda, which requires people who are dependent on the government. Handouts to the poor get votes. 2) it doesn’t hurt the rich enough. You say that you doubt this is the sole reason, but surely you do not discount it entirely. The left supports the death tax, overwhelmingly. After all, handouts to the poor have to come from somewhere. “Work harder, millions on Welfare depend on you,” and all that.

    Achievement shows independence. Achievement shows individuality. These are antithetical to the Socialist values of dependence and collective good. If people start being achievers, they might start to get crazy notions about not needing the government to provide for them.

    I don’t think that they lack a point, I just reject their point. I cannot believe that achievers should be forced to make sacrifices in order to prop up underachievers. I believe in the individual, and individual freedoms. I believe that people should be free to excel or to fail on their own merits. As soon as you start punishing success and rewarding failure, you are destroying individual liberty, which is the only kind worth having.

    Maybe you can come up with a good reason for the Left to be opposing it. There are people on the left who can’t wrap themselves around the idea that corporations are made up of people so that there is no such thing as a “Corporate tax.” So many on the left get hung up on the fact that these taxes will all go away. Just remember that a tax on a corporation is a tax on everyone who works there and on everyone who owns their stock. as well as on everyone who buys their product.

    If you have any other objections, I’d love to hear them.

  10. says

    I find the idea of “achievers shouldn’t have to give nothin’ back they don’t want to” to be nothing more than a rationalizion for selfishness. I can only compare a society built upon such a foundation as equal in all respects to the so-called “worker’s paradise” of Soviet Russia: a good line of PR, but absolutely deplorable in actual practice.

    The problem with it is that the attitude you’ve expressed produces widespread suffering for all but a select few who “are more deserving” for whatever particular reason is given by the espoused philosophy (“wealth” in this case). (And that isn’t even dealing with the underlying belief in “hard work makes you wealthy” being America’s own modern fairy tale.)

    As a moral foundation, when financial success and failure are used to measure the value, worth, and dignity of a human being, instead of compassion — when a person’s life and quality thereof can be callously dismissed because they haven’t “succeeded” on their own — it is a broken and inhuman ideal that is simply indefensible.

    It is morally bankrupt as a foundation for a free society to function under, and has absolutely nothing to do with so-called “liberty”…unless you’re talking about YOUR liberty, on the broken backs of the rest of the world, which isn’t American liberty at all.

    Liberty may be all well and good as a goal, but it is not the epitome of perfection nor the divine salve for all the world’s ills; there are many things as important as and some more important than personal, individual freedom.

    I am also opposed to certain of the premises you espouse in making your case: such as the belief that welfare makes people dependent on the system or the government. This is not a fact borne out by historical trends, from the Great Depression through today, which clearly showcases that welfare is simply a step to independence for the vast majority (and those few for whom it is not are also those whom can not function normally in society because of physical or mental handicaps).

    Maybe you can come up with a good reason for the Left to be opposing it.

    Why don’t you ask someone on the Left? I personally don’t know enough about the idea itself or the Left’s reaction to it to make an informed comment on this specific subject.

    I DO know, however, that villification and stereotyping of an entire group is short-sighted and does not lend itself well to rational understanding or interaction with the real world (hence my original comment).

    Something similar applies to your rather bizzare statements regarding “Socialist” values…if you can’t attack the opposition directly, make something up, attribute it to them, and then attack them on that point? You know and I know that’s wrong-headed. Socialist values have nothing to do with creating quiet sheep, but providing for those less fortunate: that is, values based on compassion and equality, not control and dependence.

    There are people on the left who can’t wrap themselves around the idea that corporations are made up of people so that there is no such thing as a “Corporate tax.”

    Perhaps the Left does understand all the points you raise about corporations being made of people, taxes, etc., and their objections are about something not quite so inane and obviously irrational. Call me crazy, but in nearly all venues the opposition doesn’t disagree because they’re complete idiots, even though it may be easier to argue against them by trying to paint them as such.

  11. says

    I find the idea of “achievers shouldn’t have to give nothin’ back they don’t want to” to be nothing more than a rationalizion for selfishness.

    Selfishness needs no rationalization. Selfishness is our natural state. Our most primal goal is to ensure our own survival.

    The problem with it is that the attitude you’ve expressed produces widespread suffering for all but a select few who “are more deserving” for whatever particular reason is given by the espoused philosophy (“wealth” in this case).

    We’re talking about America, right? Richest nation in the world. The citizens in America we consider to be in poverty would actually be middle class in most other nations of the world. Our standard of living is phenomenal.

    As a moral foundation, when financial success and failure are used to measure the value, worth, and dignity of a human being, instead of compassion — when a person’s life and quality thereof can be callously dismissed because they haven’t “succeeded” on their own — it is a broken and inhuman ideal that is simply indefensible.

    We’re not talking about dignity or human worth. We’re talking about how you put food on the table. You can do it yourself, or you the government can force other people to provide for you.

    Liberty may be all well and good as a goal, but it is not the epitome of perfection nor the divine salve for all the world’s ills; there are many things as important as and some more important than personal, individual freedom.

    Not to me. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness reign supreme.

    welfare is simply a step to independence for the vast majority (and those few for whom it is not are also those whom can not function normally in society because of physical or mental handicaps).

    Explain New Orleans, with 30% of people on Welfare. Certainly they can’t all be between jobs.

    Perhaps the Left does understand all the points you raise about corporations being made of people, taxes, etc., and their objections are about something not quite so inane and obviously irrational.

    They support higher taxes, but don’t like to say as much. They talk about “cutting tax cuts,” which makes about as much sense as saying that you want to “cut your haircut”… that is to say, grow a ponytail. They’re in the awkward position of needing to increase taxes on the middle and upper classes in order to give payouts to the poor, but they need the middle and upper classes to vote for them, so they can’t come out and say that they support higher taxes. But, if they tax corporations, they are effectively taxing people, except that they can say that they are not. And yes, some of them are actually so brainwashed as to believe that corporate taxes are different from personal taxes.

    When the government started taking taxes from your paycheck before you even got it, that was an important step in making people numb to taxes. After all, you never “have” the money, so you don’t miss it. Corporate taxes work the same way. You don’t realize that you are personally being taxed, so you don’t object.

  12. says

    Selfishness needs no rationalization. Selfishness is our natural state. Our most primal goal is to ensure our own survival.

    Which is just another rationalization for selfishness. See, rationalization is arguing that something “bad” is actually something good, which is exactly what you’re again doing above. Note no widespread spiritual system developed by humanity, including the general set of morals followed by many atheists (humanism), considers selfishness — regard for one’s own welfare to the disregard of the well-being of others — to be a virtue, or even a defensible behavior.

    And if that doesn’t convince you, you should also note that you are flat-out wrong on two levels regarding your defense: biological and ethical.

    Biologically, we are a communally-wired species. Selfishness — personal survival at the expense of others — is actually an abnormal trait in the species (as it is with most primates, and most other mammals as well). Thus any argument that selfishness is our natural state is false based on the genetic psychology of our species.

    (Tangentially, in the discussion on Price Gouging, you were also the one who noted that forced charity meant a person did not have much trust in their fellow man, implying that this was foolish. Advocating selfishness as our natural state seems to fly right in the face of that statement, because you can’t trust people if people are inherently selfish.)

    Ethically, just because something is one way does not make it right. So, if selfishness were our natural state and our most primal goal, that still would not make it a correct or positive behavior. As an example, my having a temper does not make acting out on that a correct or positive behavior. Your argument even has a name: it is called the Naturalistic Fallacy.

    Thus, as I stated earlier: the creed your are espousing ends up being nothing more than an indefensible rationalization.

    Not to me. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness reign supreme.

    And thus the problem: compassion, honesty, community, fairness (or integrity), etc. aren’t on your list, making life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness nothing more than a patriotic front for tyranny and despotism. Empty words, because in that context they mean nothing more than “Me, me, me and nobody else!” Look into the history of Soviet Russia or Nazi Germany sometime for similarly aligned: patriotic and grand ideals being used to justify some of the most disgusting horrors of our century.

    Life, liberty and happiness as guiding forces are meaningless without basic human decency as their foundation.

    We’re talking about America, right? Richest nation in the world. The citizens in America we consider to be in poverty would actually be middle class in most other nations of the world. Our standard of living is phenomenal.

    I’m sure that’s the way you see it, but I doubt you’ve ever actually lived in poverty yourself or had many friends who have, mainly because things aren’t quite so easy-breezy for the poor as you’re making it out to be.

    Your favorite catch-phrase about the American poor being richer than people in poor countries is meaningless hyperbole: they aren’t living in those other countries, they’re living here, and they are poor here, where daily living is also more expensive than it is in those other countries.

    A conservative estimate from ACNielsen is that one third of Americans, including a good chunk of the middle class, live paycheck to paycheck. That means the family in question has no extra or disposable income. and that the loss of even one paycheck can (and does) result in eviction, starvation, repossession, and/or a furthering debt spiral that eventually leads to all these: Homelessness Grows as More Live Check-to-Check.

    Honestly, your rhetoric above sounds an awful lot like pre-Civil War plantation owners: “These slaves have it better than they know, they’re fed, clothed, have a place to live, and a good job to keep the soul healthy. It would be worse for them over in Africa, so they have no reason to complain. They have it good.”

    We’re not talking about dignity or human worth. We’re talking about how you put food on the table. You can do it yourself, or you the government can force other people to provide for you.

    Since you can’t always do it for yourself, yes, I believe the government and the community has a responsibility to do it for you…being that they are your government and your community, and thus have a responsibility to and for you.

    If you don’t believe that, I say move yourself out into the middle of the wilderness and live all on your own, because you don’t belong in a community using community resources and complaining about having to contribute to the general welfare and functioning of that community. I honestly think anyone who doesn’t believe in community values should be severed from the community and what they have to offer: electric power, water, sewer, police protection, restitution by law, public roads, etc. If you need that stuff, you can get it built, working and maintained on your own.

    However, I also note that Christ said, “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me,” when discussing how one must treat one’s fellow beings. He also noted “‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” Fiarly good indicator that Christ didn’t hold with the idea of “if you can’t do it for yourself, too damn bad.”

    Also note Hubert Humphrey, along with various others such as Gandhi and and Thomas Jefferson (and various Biblical prophets) who have uttered something similar to this, about government, society and men in general, “The moral test of a government is how it treats those who are at the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the aged; and those who are in the shadow of life, the sick, the needy, and the handicapped.”

    Explain New Orleans, with 30% of people on Welfare. Certainly they can’t all be between jobs.

    Really? Do you understand regional economics? Have you ever been in an economically depressed area? Do you understand poverty and its causes at all (I mean beyond the fantasy where the poor are only so because it is their own fault)?

    I live in an area which had a similarly high welfare rate, because our area’s main source of revenue and the driving economy of our entire region shut down. We lost hundreds of jobs, and it being the primary economy of our area, we lost many more jobs in addition to that because the supporting economic infrastructure was no longer there.

    Obviously, there were not enough jobs available to support all those who were out of work — we were losing jobs instead of gaining them — and those jobs that were available were not enough to support a family on. Hence, admission to welfare rolls skyrocketed.

    Now, you come up here and try to tell those people that their poverty was their own fault, you’ll get yourself lynched by a mob who won’t take kindly to your insinuations about their work ethic (since many of those guys and gals had been in the workforce for twenty years or more).

    So yes, in fact, all 30% of them could be for numerous reasons that have nothing to do with them being too lazy to find work. Realistically, the majority could be since many if not most welfare recipients are also working but don’t make enough to support themselves.

    Some smaller number (statistically, 1% – 3% of the population) are people on the system because they are either trying to abuse it (ie: too lazy to get a job, or defrauding welfare) or are fundamentally unable to participate in the workforce for physical or psychological reasons.

  13. says

    Your favorite catch-phrase about the American poor being richer than people in poor countries is meaningless hyperbole: they aren’t living in those other countries, they’re living here, and they are poor here, where daily living is also more expensive than it is in those other countries.

    The standard of living is also higher. The increase in the cost of living is less than the increase in wealth. You only care about poverty in relative terms, which is pointless. No matter how well-off people are, some will always be worse-off than others. Complaining about poverty in relative terms is circular reasoning, much like saying “oh no, the poorest 20% of people are poorer than 80% of people!”

    Since you can’t always do it for yourself, yes, I believe the government and the community has a responsibility to do it for you…being that they are your government and your community, and thus have a responsibility to and for you.

    So, man is born into slavery to his fellow man, merely because others exist?

    If you don’t believe that, I say move yourself out into the middle of the wilderness and live all on your own, because you don’t belong in a community using community resources and complaining about having to contribute to the general welfare and functioning of that community.

    People putting food onto their table is not general welfare that is any of my business. If you’re talking about things like the cost of running street lights and policemen to direct traffic, then yeah, that’s general welfare that I get a benefit from, and should be expected to pay my share if I want to continue to benefit from it. The idea that I should be paying extra to support those members of society who cannot support themselves is a familiar idea. “From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.”

    So yes, in fact, all 30% of them could be for numerous reasons that have nothing to do with them being too lazy to find work. Realistically, the majority could be since many if not most welfare recipients are also working but don’t make enough to support themselves.

    Nah. They’re just lazy. Once again:

    The Louisiana Weekly reported in 2001 that a free Welfare-to-Work program designed to teach people on Welfare the skills they would need to be a functional member of society had been available for five months but not one single person in New Orleans had signed up.

    They’re dependents. Why is it so surprising that all the people on Welfare in New Orleans are not getting jobs in their new areas of residence, but those who were not on Welfare are being employed instantly?

    However, I also note that Christ said, “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me,” when discussing how one must treat one’s fellow beings. He also noted “‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” Fiarly good indicator that Christ didn’t hold with the idea of “if you can’t do it for yourself, too damn bad.”

    Arguments for theocracy fall on deaf ears. Jesus was not a politician. He did not want to institutionalize charity in government. He wanted to be charitable of their own free will.

    Which is just another rationalization for selfishness. See, rationalization is arguing that something “bad” is actually something good, which is exactly what you’re again doing above. Note no widespread spiritual system developed by humanity, including the general set of morals followed by many atheists (humanism), considers selfishness — regard for one’s own welfare to the disregard of the well-being of others — to be a virtue, or even a defensible behavior.

    Selfishness is survival. Survival is the main goal of living beings. It has nothing to do with spirituality or morality. (Again: arguments for theocracy fall on deaf ears.) I will not live in a society where compassion isn’t a virtue, but is a pair of government-imposed shackles that punish individual achievement for the “common good” (i.e. the survival of unachievers). I will not be constrained by a vain Communist struggle against evolution. I will not pay money so that lazy, stupid people can have a litter of kids that they cannot support. I will not reward people for not taking advantage of a free market system. I will not twist the virtue of compassion into a system of keeping people in a perpetual state of dependence.

    And thus the problem: compassion, honesty, community, fairness (or integrity), etc. aren’t on your list, making life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness nothing more than a patriotic front for tyranny and despotism. Empty words, because in that context they mean nothing more than “Me, me, me and nobody else!” Look into the history of Soviet Russia or Nazi Germany sometime for similarly aligned: patriotic and grand ideals being used to justify some of the most disgusting horrors of our century.

    Wrong. Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany sprang up out of desire for the public good… out of the flawed political systems of Communism and Socialism. You argue that individualism (i.e. selfishness) is a recipe for disaster, but it rather seems that communism and state-dictated compassion are the things that lead to such tyranny.

    (Tangentially, in the discussion on Price Gouging, you were also the one who noted that forced charity meant a person did not have much trust in their fellow man, implying that this was foolish. Advocating selfishness as our natural state seems to fly right in the face of that statement, because you can’t trust people if people are inherently selfish.)

    I am a supporter of voluntary charity. Charity is not a natural thing. Go watch animals in Africa. The lions eat their fill, and the hyenas get the remains. No charity there. But our country is very religious, and morality is important to people. Thus, people voluntarily will help those in bad situations. This is not something that is owed. This is a free gift. You seem unable to distinguish religious/spiritual belief from political/economic systems. The political system in this country is based on individualism (you may disagree with the merits of such a system, but that’s what it is). My religious beliefs encourage compassion. I will not force my religious beliefs on others, and I do not expect them to force theirs on me.

    Once again, we both hit the wall, because you believe in communism/collectivism, and I believe in individualism. I’m about as likely to start spouting Marx as you are to start spouting Rand. You believe that American poverty is something imposed on people, and I believe it is apathy. We’re just spinning our wheels.

  14. says

    Again, what you’re talking about isn’t even evolution. What you keep talking about is the dead-end, disproven, hyperbole of Social Darwinism, which the Naturalistic Fallacy just adores. And while that might be good for your politics, it has squat to do with reality. As well, I notice you retreated right back to defending selfishness using the Naturalistic Fallacy, despite everything stated about its non-viability as a defense and the errors of it as an argument.

    Charity is not a natural thing. Go watch animals in Africa. The lions eat their fill, and the hyenas get the remains. No charity there.

    For various developmental reasons, humans are one of the very few animals that shows charity to creatures outside its own species, so while the lions might not share charitably with the hyenas, they will practice charity among members of their own species. Note especially primates, as well as wolves and dolphins, and other highly social animals commonly practice charity, the caring for the poor, injured, or weak members of one’s species, and it is thus quite natural (there are also numerous well-documented cases of such species showing charity to — taking care of — non-members).

    But again, regardless of the biology — even if the biology supported your statement — the argument itself is just another iteration of the Naturalistic Fallacy: “Because in nature…” and thus no more valid as a basis for an opinion as is any other logical fallacy.

    Regarding claims of “theocracy”: well, I provided a secular quote as well, and said nothing about a theocratic state, so it’s a nice strawman. Regardless, I understand your main thrust is that the government shouldn’t force morality on people.

    Yet what about murder, theft, rape and the associated consequences of these actions? That sounds an awful lot like enforced morality to me…or is it just SOME morals you object to being enforced by the government?

    You seem unable to distinguish religious/spiritual belief from political/economic systems.

    First the Naturalistic Fallacy, then a strawman, and now an ad hominem attack…

    Nowhere am I confusing the two. Unless you are claiming that because I brought morality into the discussion, or because I mentioned Christ once (ignoring that I mentioned Thomas Jefferson and Hubert Humphrey in the same breath), I’m suddenly advocating a theocracy.

    No, the bit about Christ was in direct response to the “if they can’t put food on the table themselves, too bad” attitude you display constrasted with your Christian faith. The rest was a notation that numerous political thinkers (and otherwise) believe that how one treats and considers the poor (etc.) is a very valid mark by which to mesasure the success of a government.

    And regarding that topic specifically: the whole problem with your opinion on the poor is that it denies all facts.

    You continue to proclaim the poor, the homeless, the welfare recipients of the world are simply lazy, dependent, unachievers, in direct defiance of both numerous studies and a broad body of anecdote to the contrary.

    I earlier pointed you to the APA study; did you read it?

    It completely overturns the idea you (and many libertarians) propose, that welfare leads to dependence or that a free lunch damages the ability or desire to get done for yourself: “Analyses indicate that 56 percent of AFDC support ended within 12 months, 70 percent within 24 months, and almost 85 percent within 4 years.” Over half of recipients are off of welfare within one year, and all but 15% within four years. Culture of dependence, indeed.

    As to your commentary about welfare recipients breeding huge litters of brats they can’t pay for…unsurprisingly, you are again wrong: “43 percent of welfare families consisted of one child, and 30 percent consisted of two children. Thus, the average welfare family is no larger than the average nonrecipient’s family.” That means 27% of welfare recipients either have no children, or more than two, hardly incontrovertible proof of your argument!

    But there’s more proof of your error: as a group, African Americans have a higher percentage of welfare recipients among their numbers as compared to whites. According to your logic about the poor, this seems to indicate African Americans are more lazy than white people. Now, to dodge that bullet, you might claim more of the black population is poor because of other factors, like racism perhaps.

    In which case, you are arguing that blacks are poor because of some reason other than laziness, but white people are just lazy. Of course, that’s complete nonsense (as well as being racist). If, however, African Americans are not more lazy, if there are mitigating factors that cause poverty, then being poor and on welfare isn’t all neat-and-tidily bound up with being lazy as you keep claiming.

    So…you’re wrong. Most simply because every study you can find on welfare and its impact on people shows that your derogatory stereotyping is as far from the truth as it is possible to get.

    Nah. They’re just lazy. Once again:

    You have one single incident to which you point as “proof”: this program in New Orleans that no-one signed up for, and your claim this vague and undetailed recitation somehow proves all other data false. Even if something else is not going on regarding why no one signed up for this program, then we’re talking about an anamoly, as well as you making the mistake of believing the part is the whole (referred to as “synedoche”).

    Tell the former CEO sleeping in his Mercedes Benz that he’s homeless and poor because he’s lazy, or the middle-class family of four that are suddenly swept into poverty and into a one-bedroom apartment (or their car) by the loss of a job due to family illness or a collapsing economy that it’s their own fault. Yeah, they’re all lazy, dependent, unachievers looking for an easy-ride handout…

    Come one up here, Mark. I’ve got a whole ton of miners who suddenly ended up in poverty and had to use welfare after the mines closed down who will take issue with that argument, and because we are talking about miners, here, and they aren’t all touchy-feely and pacifist they’ll not mind lynching you for making accusations about their work-ethic (around here, that’s a very serious accusation to make because area tradition prides itself on the work-ethic).

    But you keep ignoring little details like these very common situations (hard-working Americans living in poverty)…well, I’m sure I won’t be the last person to tell you this: sticking your fingers in your ears and screaming “LAZYLAZYLAZY” doesn’t mean the world works the way you want it to.

    Your continued repetition of false rhetoric in railing against the poor is more than obvious, it is simply offensive: offensive because it is built on willful ignorance and small-minded bigotry. I don’t care how you defend your stance, I don’t care how wrapped into your politics it is, I don’t care if it offends you that I am calling you out on it, because I get to count myself as someone who has been on welfare and so find your statements personally offensive and simply wrong.

    Well, I’m not living in a fairy tale world where hard work magically equals wealth and achievement, because I know better. Not only have I watched people work themselves to the bone and be none the better for it, but I also know numerous people who needed the safety net of welfare to get them through a rough spot in life, to put food on the table, and are taking care of themselves perfectly fine now. I also know many, many families where the sole parent or both parents work and are either still living in poverty and/or require help from welfare to survive and take care of their family; laziness is not a factor in any of these cases. Believing that the poor are just poor because they’re lazy is nothing short of a willful divorce from reality.

    You can deny the world is round all you would like, but the preponderance of evidence is clearly to the contrary. Dismissing anything which does not fit your view of reality (as you have dismissed numerous data points that do not support your stance) does not make you right, no matter how much or how loudly you continue to repeat your disproven opinion.

    I doubt, in fact, that any rational argument or anything like actual facts will sway your opinion, but I can hope it does. On the other hand, I’m betting that it would take you actually ending up in poverty for some length of time to drive it home. So here’s to hoping.

    The standard of living is also higher. The increase in the cost of living is less than the increase in wealth. You only care about poverty in relative terms,

    No. I actually care about real poverty, which is that stuff that makes people less able to live functionally with everything necessary to their survival and health (both physical and psychological…because there’s also a difference between just surviving and having a quality of life. I’m sure you’ll start creating strawmen about big screen TVs and such right about…now). You can keep claiming “Easy ride! Easy ride!” but that doesn’t make the reality match your abstraction any more closely.

    As I said before, it is glaringly obvious you yourself have never been poor or lived in poverty, or had any friends who have.

    So, man is born into slavery to his fellow man, merely because others exist?

    You have a pretty bizzare notion of enslavement. I expect that next we’ll be hearing how children are parasites and parents should not have to care for them if they don’t want to (because that’s enslavement!). Of course, I’m also sure there’s some “reason” why this isn’t the case in that specific situation.

    Man is always enslaved to his fellow man. No one man is the guide of his own destiny, precisely because we are surrounded at all times by billions of other human beings whose choices and actions affect us and shape our collective world. So yes, you are enslaved to your fellow man because others exist. When Peter up the river starts dumping chemicals in the water and killing the fish in your drinking water, you’re affected.

    Government, society, community, “enslavement” is what keeps you from having to drink Peter’s poisoned water or even deal with it in the first place.

    Wrong. Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany sprang up out of desire for the public good… out of the flawed political systems of Communism and Socialism. You argue that individualism (i.e. selfishness) is a recipe for disaster, but it rather seems that communism and state-dictated compassion are the things that lead to such tyranny.

    Right…because selfish, greedy, incompassionate individuals have always been of the greatest benefit to society and consistently done the most good.

    You’ll note that if we go back in time, we see various Native American tribes who were all Socialist and/or Communist and yet…no atrocities! Imagine that. And we all know how evil and terrible Canada is, crushed beneath the government’s evil Socialist progrom!

    Nazi Germany and Socialist Russia did not arise because of trying to institute the common good. They arose because of human nature: the downfall of any system of government, with power being consolidated in the hands of a few (and the same occurs with unregulated capitalism). Check out America pre-Civil War and during the turn of the century if you want to see Democratic Capitalism as the supporter of atrocities.

    Oh, and let’s nevermind the terrible state-dictated atrocity of freeing the slaves! Or Child Labor laws! Or the right to religious freedom and protection from harrassment and discrimination! What horrible tyrannies those are! Truly, it is dragging our society into a controlling mire of enslavement and the loss of liberty!

    Also, you do realize of course that the places you keep referring to as horrible and evil examples of do-gooder economics were privately owned states that used the term Communist or Socialist because it was politically more acceptable than “totalitarian dictatorship” and because the US and other capitalist-funded systems were trying to paint communism out to be “The Great Evil” as part of a political campaign?

    BTW, I wouldn’t quote either Marx or Rand — Marx because I’ve never read him, so I can’t say whether he has anything I’d want to quote or if he makes enough sense to. Rand because her philosophies are based on seriously flawed premises, and I’d have better luck quoting the “Repent Now! The End is Near!”-sign man on the corner, or maybe Freud.

  15. says

    Regarding claims of “theocracy”: well, I provided a secular quote as well, and said nothing about a theocratic state, so it’s a nice strawman. Regardless, I understand your main thrust is that the government shouldn’t force morality on people.

    Yet what about murder, theft, rape and the associated consequences of these actions? That sounds an awful lot like enforced morality to me…or is it just SOME morals you object to being enforced by the government?

    This country was founded on the principles of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Murder, theft and rape are all violations of those. So yeah, I object to the government enforcing morals that directly contradict the principles upon which the country was founded. Forcing me to provide for people to whom I owe no debt is a violation of those principles. No one has a right to demand support from a random stranger, but that is what Welfare is.

    You continue to proclaim the poor, the homeless, the welfare recipients of the world are simply lazy, dependent, unachievers, in direct defiance of both numerous studies and a broad body of anecdote to the contrary.

    You have chosen to focus on those in transient poverty. When I talk about the poor, I’m talking about those who make a lifestyle out of it, not those who are having a bad year. The chronically poor are underachievers, in the capitalistic sense. Whether or not they live fulfilled lives is up to them. No doubt, some people are content to live in poverty. If, however, someone is chronically poor, and wishes they were not, and is not in the process of raising themselves out of poverty, they are lazy, and they are dependent. Even people who work hard at low-end jobs can be lazy if they consistently fail to make good on their desire for self-improvement. If there is something you want, and you aren’t willing to put in the effort to get it, you are lazy.

    Tell the former CEO sleeping in his Mercedes Benz that he’s homeless and poor because he’s lazy, or the middle-class family of four that are suddenly swept into poverty and into a one-bedroom apartment (or their car) by the loss of a job due to family illness or a collapsing economy that it’s their own fault. Yeah, they’re all lazy, dependent, unachievers looking for an easy-ride handout…

    Anyone is smart enough to become a CEO is smart enough to invest money, or ought to be. Heck, sell the Benz. If a family becomes poor because of job loss maybe the providers in the family should develop more job skills, or get a job in a more stable sector, or start a savings account. This is poverty that could have been prevented, had they been willing to plan ahead.

    Come one up here, Mark. I’ve got a whole ton of miners who suddenly ended up in poverty and had to use welfare after the mines closed down who will take issue with that argument, and because we are talking about miners, here, and they aren’t all touchy-feely and pacifist they’ll not mind lynching you for making accusations about their work-ethic (around here, that’s a very serious accusation to make because area tradition prides itself on the work-ethic).

    No one who works as a miner suddenly ends up in poverty. They’ve been on that path for a long time. They could have: moved, stayed in high school, gone to community college, self-taught themselves at the library, learned from a childhood in a mining town that mining isn’t exactly a bright future. The single incident that completed their journey towards poverty may not have been their fault, but they set the stage with every life decision they made up until that point.

    “Analyses indicate that 56 percent of AFDC support ended within 12 months, 70 percent within 24 months, and almost 85 percent within 4 years.” Over half of recipients are off of welfare within one year, and all but 15% within four years. Culture of dependence, indeed.

    Yes, but this is for one stay. At any given time, nearly half (43.4% in 1996) have received AFDC support before. Repeat customers, as it were.

    as a group, African Americans have a higher percentage of welfare recipients among their numbers as compared to whites. According to your logic about the poor, this seems to indicate African Americans are more lazy than white people. Now, to dodge that bullet, you might claim more of the black population is poor because of other factors, like racism perhaps.

    There was a study done where two groups of Blacks took the same test. One group was asked to specify their race on the test, and the other wasn’t. the group who was asked their race did significantly worse on the test. This tells me that Blacks have a negative self-image problem. That explains a lot of the achievement gap and the varied dependency rates. They also have a subculture that glamorizes crime, shuns responsibility and de-emphasizes education. Racism still has a minor effect, although that is largely geographical, and not exclusive to Blacks. I certainly wouldn’t get a fair chance in Detroit as a White person, but then I wouldn’t ever live in Detroit.

    You have a pretty bizzare notion of enslavement. I expect that next we’ll be hearing how children are parasites and parents should not have to care for them if they don’t want to (because that’s enslavement!). Of course, I’m also sure there’s some “reason” why this isn’t the case in that specific situation.

    Certainly. Because children are a responsibility that is sought. That’s different than expecting those children to owe someone else, merely because they were born. If you are born into debt, that is slavery.

    Man is always enslaved to his fellow man. No one man is the guide of his own destiny, precisely because we are surrounded at all times by billions of other human beings whose choices and actions affect us and shape our collective world. So yes, you are enslaved to your fellow man because others exist. When Peter up the river starts dumping chemicals in the water and killing the fish in your drinking water, you’re affected.

    Government, society, community, “enslavement” is what keeps you from having to drink Peter’s poisoned water or even deal with it in the first place.

    This is a simple crime issue, and it misses the point. When Peter squanders his life’s savings, and starts living on the street, expecting others to provide for him implies that they owe him something because of a shared humanity, that they are slaves to Peter simply because they exist.

    No. I actually care about real poverty, which is that stuff that makes people less able to live functionally with everything necessary to their survival and health (both physical and psychological…because there’s also a difference between just surviving and having a quality of life. I’m sure you’ll start creating strawmen about big screen TVs and such right about…now). You can keep claiming “Easy ride! Easy ride!” but that doesn’t make the reality match your abstraction any more closely.

    There are people in Africa dying of malnutrition, and you’re worried about Americans’ psychological health? It’s not enough that the average person under the poverty level in America owns a car and a TV and a microwave… they need a shrink?

    You’ll note that if we go back in time, we see various Native American tribes who were all Socialist and/or Communist and yet…no atrocities! Imagine that. And we all know how evil and terrible Canada is, crushed beneath the government’s evil Socialist progrom!

    American Indians had wars all the time. And Canada’s Socialist health care system is horrible, with long waiting lists (many years for a hip replacement, for instance), and poor quality of care. Doctors salaries are capped, so when the doctors hit their limit for the year, they just stop working. It is illegal to seek or give private medical care. So even if you have the money to pay for the care you need, you are forbidden from seeking it. I’ll gladly take Canada as your shining example of Socialism.

  16. says

    Perhaps I should start with the whole bit about miners and the “bad choices” and the “bad career choice” thing…needless to say, you might as well carry a big, blinking “IGNORANT!” sign around with an arrow pointing right at your head, given how complete a mismatch with reality your rhetoric is for this area.

    Mining is one of the best paying jobs of our region, with full benefits, and most of the guys who start there are still there 20 and 30 years later (ie: excellent job security). The closings came completely unexpectedly and uncharacteristically for mines that have been in operation for decades.

    I won’t even get into the conservative junk parable about Canada’s “long waiting lists”, except to note that my numerous Canadian friends and family always find it immensely laughable, and which provides no small source of amusement to them whenever they hear American Conservatives trying to pass it off as gospel.

    Regardless, none of this even covers your inability to comprehend and respond to points of discussion without rushing off into left field to “dispute” them with such fancy “quick, change the subject!” or “quick, ignore the point!” footwork. For example, because Native American tribes warred…Socialism is evil and doesn’t work?

    Recall you stated originally that Socialist states simply led to the abuse human rights because they were fundamentally flawed systems. When examples to the contrary were provided, suddenly you’re swinging hard to avoid the idea that Socialism isn’t automatically evil or broken by bringing up a non-sequitur as a response, posing something unrelated and irrelevant to the point of social abuse as though it somehow disproves the argument!

    And if the propensity to war is going to be used to say: “It’s BAD! It’s BAD!” then I must note how Captialist Democracies are just as bad for starting and engaging in all sorts of wars and police actions themselves throughout history…

    I feel like I’m having the following conversation:
    “I hate that woman, she’s a mean, selfish bitch.”
    “She won nicest person of the year award last year and donates half her income to charity.”
    “Yeah…well, she dresses slutty.”

    Let’s not forget your about-face on poverty, either. You go from claiming that welfare recipients and the poor are just lazy losers hooked on using, to backpeddling by retroactively “redefining” the poor, poverty, and welfare recipients you are talking about to a very small and specific segment of the population, even among the poor/welfare recipients.

    Regardless, it’s simple: either poverty generally isn’t the fault of the poor, and thus all the propaganda about hard work, success, investment, etc. is invalid for the majority of cases because they aren’t guarantees, or poverty is the fault of the poor because hard work and so forth will result in success, welfare serves undeserving losers, and your rhetoric is true.

    You can’t have it both ways, as much as you’re trying given the provable falsehood of the latter, since I’ll note that all the data on the subject points to the former situation rather than the latter.

    But all this apologistic definition is just more jumping around by you to avoid the logic bullet that puts your initial “poor = lazy (and thus why should I help them because they deserve it)” rhetoric to a much needed final rest.

    Also, the application of basic math to the percentage of “repeat customers” you reference above reveals that it continually declines by the year/number of times the individuals are on welfare (that is: the final result is not 43.4% come back to it and stay on it for life).

    Now, go and compare this to poverty rates and poverty retention in countries without social welfare programs (hint: the numbers of those in poverty who remain so are much higher in comparison to countries with social welfare programs).

    Other than that, your statements bear absolutely no resemblance to nor understanding of any reality in which anyone real might live, and only deepens my growing realization that when it comes to economics or real life, you have absolutely no experience with or understanding of either, nor (apparently) do you care to.

    Simply, your “if only” and “should haves” (or similarly paraphrased) statements — such as arguments about planning ahead, choosing a better job, etc. — are empty platitudes based on thoughtless dismissivness and way too much unrealistic idealism.

    There are so many ways in which such things simply do not work out the way a person thinks or believe or it seems they “logically” should — if everyone were just so smart, like you — that even beginning to try and explain it would be like trying to give you the education you apparently were never given by your parents, and I don’t have that kind of time.

  17. says

    How many Americans go to Canada for major medical procedures? How many Canadians come to America? Your friends and relatives can laugh all they like… doesn’t change the fact that people have to wait longer for procedures in Canada, or that often, while they are waiting, there are doctors who are on 2 or 3 month-long vacations because the Canadian government caps their salaries, and they don’t want to work for nothing.

    Social welfare reduces poverty? Tell that to the French with double the unemployment of America, where those in poverty are so devoid of hope for self-determination that they’ve taken to mindless destruction.

    Poor = Lazy is a simplification. Poor could also equal apathetic, or mentally handicapped. But for the vast majority of people who are poor, and wish they weren’t, yeah, laziness is the culprit. Poverty, more than anything else, is a state of mind. That’s why when poor people win the lottery, you read stories 5 years later about how they are financially ruined, they’ve lost all their friends, and their life is as bad or worse than it was before they won the money. That’s why people like Donald Trump can rise out of bankruptcy to earn millions. These aren’t coincidences.

    Simply, your “if only” and “should haves” (or similarly paraphrased) statements — such as arguments about planning ahead, choosing a better job, etc. — are empty platitudes based on thoughtless dismissivness and way too much unrealistic idealism.

    How is that unrealistic? Millions upon millions of Americans plan ahead, invest, further their education and seek promotions in order to improve their financial status. Why do you think that people come to America from all over the world to work and live? Freedom equals opportunity, and America has more of both than any other country in the world. Yeah, that freedom comes at a price: you only have yourself to blame if you fail. But it is worth it, because humans aren’t rats that are content to be incubated with free health care and government-provided safety. Because “give me liberty or give me death” isn’t a reference to suicide, but a recognition that the human spirit rots in a freedomless life-simulator.

    Look, I get it, you’re no fan of individualism or capitalism. Our differences in opinion pretty much all boil down to that point, and it is an essential one. I don’t have the time, the energy, or (more importantly) the inclination to rehash the individualism/collectivism freedom/security debate with you ad nauseum and endure your insults.

  18. says

    Actually, I have nothing against individualism. My ancestors, the Norse and the Finnish, were highly individualistic and prized it alongside self-responsibility and similar traits. Their societies were also intensely collectivist/socialist in nature, because they recognized the need and value of such a system and those behaviors as well.

    The virtue of individualism can be prized and centralized in a socialist state, as history proves. Anyone who believes otherwise simply hasn’t examined the issue thoroughly enough to comprehend the intricacies of either subject, or has decided exaggerated, polarized stances are the only possibilities and thus closed themselves off to such examination.

    Second, I wouldn’t need to “insult” you if you weren’t jerking me around with your arguments; I do not take the use of various logical fallacies in argument, dodges, subject-changes, and similar what-not lightly in debate. I find it both insulting and dishonest, intellectually.

    Such as the two examples you give above about the wealthy and the poor: you claim two specific cases are the norm, yet not all self-made millionaires who lose everything rise back to the top, nor do all poor instant-millionaires blow all their cash (or do so for the reasons you suggest they do, 95% of which have absolutely nothing to do with laziness — facts that even a modicum of research on the issue of sudden financial windfall reveals).

  19. says

    Anyone who believes otherwise…

    I realized this morning after I woke up that statement sounds like I’m targeting you with the statement. That wasn’t my intent, it was just badly written on my part. I should have obeyed my cardinal rule and waited a day before posting, for editing and self-review.

    Also, one comment about “insults” I realized earlier today: for a guy concerned about and aggravated by people insulting him, you toss off a lot of insults yourself towards whole groups — lazy, foolish, etc. — with little concern about it.

  20. says

    Actually, I have nothing against individualism. My ancestors, the Norse and the Finnish, were highly individualistic and prized it alongside self-responsibility and similar traits. Their societies were also intensely collectivist/socialist in nature, because they recognized the need and value of such a system and those behaviors as well.

    You cannot be both “highly individualistic” and “intensely collectivist/socialist.” One philosophy cannot gain ground without the other ceding it. You could say that you highly value the portions of each philosophy that you’ve used to construct your hybrid monster of a system of government, but neither philosophy is really respected, as they are each tainted with their antithesis.

    The virtue of individualism can be prized and centralized in a socialist state, as history proves. Anyone who believes otherwise simply hasn’t examined the issue thoroughly enough to comprehend the intricacies of either subject, or has decided exaggerated, polarized stances are the only possibilities and thus closed themselves off to such examination.

    What you are talking about is a false tribute. How can you honor the individual as you force him to make sacrifices for the common good? How is individualism being honored as you take money away from people who have earned it and give it to those who have not? How do you honor individualism as you create a nanny state that protects people from their own stupidity by restricting their freedom? You want to pick the benefits of individualism, but aren’t willing to accept its downside (personal responsibility.) You want the benefits of socialism (a guaranteed minimum standard of living) but aren’t willing to give up personal self-determination. The resulting balancing act is a tedious journey with undefined goals. You must seek your perfect blend of two polar philosophies with no possible barometer with which to measure your success. You end up trying to figure out how you can gain the most social benefit without people realizing that their freedom is being taken away from them, with only your feelings to guide you.

    And I won’t hesitate to call out underachievers for being just that. If you can’t make it in this country, you only have yourself to blame. You can either do something about it, and become an achiever, or you can bitch and moan about how your mere existence constitutes a public debt to you (lazy) or you can decide that you’re happy being poor (apathetic).

  21. says

    Well, I guess I can lump you into that category that simply hasn’t explored the issues enough. There’s a difference between individualism and selfishness, a difference you don’t seem to grasp, and which lies at the root of your argument about their mutual exclusivity in a society.

    There are two types of individualism: enlightened self-interest and greedy individualism. Yet the only brand of “individualism” you appear willing to accept is the one that lets an individual do whatever they want, and nevermind anyone else. Apparently, any society whose principles include social considerations are inherently “not free.”

    Of course, you flop back to the other brand of freedom when it suits your argument/interests (which I’ve found is pretty typical for Libertarianism, and thus I find your “directionless goal” comment to be fairly ironic in that respect). You basically claim that because greedy individualism cannot exist within a collectivist state, that enlightened self-interest cannot also. History proves that contention wrong, however.

    You are also back to your original circular reasoning: that the poor are poor because they are lazy, and they are lazy because they are poor. As evidenced by the APA and numerous studies, people are poor not because they are lazy, but because they have a lack of money, which can be the fault of numerous circumstances (almost none of which have to do with laziness).

    The fact is that one cannot always simply “get an education” or “move somewhere better”. Such solutions are trite and idealistic at best, ignoring the actual realities of life and society.

  22. says

    Any society that places social considerations above individual rights is imperfectly free. You cannot provide for society’s wants and needs without removing individual freedom. You may think that taking things away from their owners and giving them to the waiting hands of society’s parasites is acceptable, but I do not. If that is what “enlightened self-interest” is, then I want no part of it.

    I’m all for charity, and for people helping each other out. I’m just against forcing people to be charitable if they don’t want to be. I do not think that there mere fact that people are poor is enough to take freedom away from everyone one else so that they can provide for the deficits of the poor.

  23. Jim Fleming says

    Sorry, but I see this TAX is a criminal assessment on those least able to afford it, the working poor.

    A much BETTER alternative, I think, and one I have been talking about for more than 20 years, is a simple 2% TRANSACTION TAX. Each party to EVERY transaction pays one percent. It is collected at the zip code level, and split one-quarter to the city, town, whatever, one-quarter to the county, one-quarter to the state, and one-quarter to the fed.

    That would settle the whole problem of taxing the internet, plus it would get rid of ALL other taxes, and there would be more money to go around than anyone can imagine.

    Imagine – you KEEP 99% of what you earn. You pay only 1% on every purchase, and since this is based on how much money changes hands in the total national economy each year, it is has an economy of scale that is out of sight.

    Imagine, over a THOUSAND TRILLION dollars is changing hands in this country every year, at this present time.

    You think the Fed could learn to live on FIVE?

Trackbacks

  1. takes a moment to discuss his other blogs. Orson ruminates on the social damages of Hurricane Katrina. Sarah publishes a new page dedicated to recommended purchases for “anyone starting out in music.”Mark discusses progressive taxation. And, Tom discusses the possibility of flash drives replacing hard disks in laptop computers. Copyright © 2004-2005 MacManX.com. This Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material

  2. [...] Owen encounters his first openly hostile support requester. Bonnie moves her blog to bonniewren.com’s root directory. Brian discusses Microsoft and quality. Khaled compares Photoshop to The Gimp. Jon discusses Google’s new blog search engine. Michael takes a moment to discuss his other blogs. Orson ruminates on the social damages of Hurricane Katrina. Sarah publishes a new page dedicated to recommended purchases for “anyone starting out in music.” Mark discusses progressive taxation. And, Tom discusses the possibility of flash drives replacing hard disks in laptop computers. [...]