Like so many who oppose government ownership and control of the means of production (among other things), I was born without the ability to believe in Global Warming. One day, one day maybe there will be a cure.
Isn’t everything liberals want distortive of free market economics, increasing the cost or responsibility of government at some end of society ? Not to say that all liberals are socialists, but that if there were a socialist puppetmaster over the world, liberals would be his favorite marionettes.
That’s really rather a distortion, 4-7. It’s a fairly common liberal position, for instance, that drug addicts should be put into a treatment program, rather than in punitive incarceration. Liberals also tend to oppose attempts to ban things like burning a flag, under the banner of freedom of speech. How are positions such as these distortive of free market economics?
A Gore parody, posted by a Bush-disliker, in which Gore pokes fun at his Inconvenient Truth, as if (wink, wink) its really An Inconvenient “Maybe” or An Inconvenient “Possibly”, slickly packaged as “Truth” for mass consumption?
Has the Trojan blog gone soft? Centrist? What’s next, Alasdair penning poetry to Barack Obama? Joe Mama waxes nostalgic for Joe Biden? A random guest post from uber-’moderate’ Hillary Clinton?
I tell you what, this moderation and open-mindedness on the part of David (and certain others who I won’t mention), well, it may be educational and interesting and foster discussion -
- but it doesn’t get ratings, man. A knock-down, drag-out fight over something like the definition of majority, that brings em out.
Mike, perhaps I should say things liberals support but conservatives do not. A case could be made for the drug treatment to a conservative if it is a viable alternative to incarceration (a purely governmental function), which means the inevitable wealth transfer to support free treatment for the drug-addicted poor (because of course those who could afford treatment would not be given the free ride) would like incarceration inure to the general welfare (more enjoyment of public peace for the taxed capital class because of a decrease in recidivism).
It just seems to me that most everything I see liberals supporting involves giving more legal claims to the poor (i.e. claims they cannot make in the free market) (and denying giving a legal claim to the poor should not and does not foreclose private assistance) or claims that diffuse the ability of government to do what it is meant to do, provide for the common good (national defense). I am not saying liberals oppose national defense, but liberalism seems rather doveish about it. I am not ascribing to anyone a certain intent - however, the pattern suggests they favor big government that interferes with private economic affairs, but oppose a strong goverment that ensures private economic affairs run as freely as possible. Each hand supports the other - as government becomes increasingly unable to safeguard the free market (i.e. NYT undermines national defense with each issue), fewer have access to wealth, increasing the number of people seeking legal benefit claims (while forcing a smaller number to bear the burden of the wealth transfer). In my theory (I seem to hover around the term “PRESSURE THEORY”) it is cyclical, and each branch will serve the other until the beneficiaries of government reach critical mass, either by political power or outright need the capital class is effectively if not legally eliminated.
Perhaps it’s a bit insane. If I am wrong, well good.
that’s why I think the FairTax is a good idea for poor and rich alike (www.fairtax.org). By taxing only non-necessaries consumption at the retail level, one takes all their income and can build wealth through safe investments without ever being taxed on capital income. The free availability of capital in the United States and the disappearance of tax compliance costs by corporations would increase the size of the capital market both in supply and demand, probably resulting in more jobs, higher wages, more disposable income for when one DOES want and have the power to enter the non-necessaries consumer market. Now that’s a cycle and a pattern I could get behind.
of course. I am not so well read on this things so I suggest people check out the website because I bend like a wet noodle to anything but the most elementary of economic arguments.
So according to 4-7, free markets must be so pristine that the government can’t regulate emissions from private companies. Maybe U.S. defense contractors should also be allowed to sell nukes to the highest bidder, because, after all, you don’t want to interfere with the free market. Right?
Ok 4-7, I’ll go to the defense of modern liberalism for you. Some thoughts in no particular order.
1) Regarding “government ownership and control of the means of production,” I really don’t think there are very many closet Marxists among the liberal ranks. I can’t prove this, but I know plenty of liberals and read quite a few as well, and I think your average American liberal is still pretty darn capitalist. This is less true of European liberals, but that’s (mostly) their problem.
2) The economy of any free democratic society will be some mix of capitalism and socialism. Too socialist is economicly inviable, too capitalist is politically impossible. Of all the western democracies, the U.S. is (unless some exception escapes me) the most capitalist. I think we do pretty good, but all our economic arguments are about whether we should be a little more or a little less like our more socialist European friends. A drastic change in either direction is really unlikely.
3) You seem to be saying that, not only do liberals want to drag us down into some socialist workers paradise hell, but that it’s actually happening. While first stipulating that I’m no economist either, this seems exactly backward. I mean, under Nixon we had price controls and a top marginal income tax rate of something like 70%. By the end of Bush I, the top-rate was down to 31%. Clinton raised it a little, but also implemented welfare reform. Bush II cut taxes again. (and wants to eliminate the estate tax) The corporate tax rate has decreased over the same period as well. So, in what ways is our economy not more purely capitalist than at any time since before the New Deal?
4) What’s wrong with a little socialism anyway? A central premise from which most liberals argue is that one’s achievement in life is due in no small part to circumstance and luck. I know many conservatives think that’s silly, but to most liberals (myself included) it appears almost self-evidently true. Starting from that premise, it makes perfect sense to design an economic system which keeps in mind what Rawls called “the veil of ignorance.” We can’t plan for or work for the circumstances we’re born to. I personally was born with a smart brain, to parents who cared about my education and could afford to live in a district with good schools. I’m simply not willing to say to kids who don’t have the same advantages, “well, that’s tough. Pull yourself up by your bootstraps or fall.”
5) To which a good conservative will reply, “but why should we force people to support the poor? Why not rely on private charity for that task?” I have a pretty strong libertarian streak, so I’m not entirely unsimpathetic to that argument. But, it really won’t do. First, what society has ever provided a decent standard of living to it’s poorest members through charity alone? (”Are there no poor houses? Are there no prisons?”) Second, even supposing private charity could prevent utter destitution, is it really ever going to provide quality health care or education? And third, why is democraticaly “forcing” people to part with some of their hard earned cash so very much worse than all the other things we force upon individuals for the “good of society”? (like drug prohibition, to name but one.)
Having looked through your fairtax link, I have to confess that it doesn’t seem horrible on its face. It at least meets one of the basic requirements for any liberal tax plan: that spending on basic necesities is not taxed. Of course, without studying the plan in great detail, there are any number of questions that I just have to take their word for. (Revenue neutrality for starters.) And that’s just how it will have to be. One can only choose to care about a limited number of issues, and taxation isn’t high on my list.
We’d have a shot, maybe, but speaking for myself there are several things I’d need to practice, such as sighing effectively. I feel that a good sigh is important to get things going on so-called issues-based shows.
Another thing that would NEVER work - good posts, Aaron. This thread will be gone soon, replaced by Starlight Vistas, a few thoughts before it goes.
Your five points were by and large good ones, only one additional to add to 4-7’s post at 7:35 PM: while I (as a Republican) don’t think you’re wrong, I am not sure that matters are as simple as you represented them.
You argued that government meddling in the allocation of capital is a necessarily vicious cycle that ultimately undermines the whole process; it would be much better to let only the Invisible Hand decide where the money flows.
In the 5.5 years of Bush Administration fun, there has been one massive example of such government intrusion in the private flows of capital: the Prescription Drug Plan, an albatross on the future tax base of America.
Suppose, for argument’s sake 4-7, that you were highly successful and accumulated a lot of capital. The question is then: what do you do with it? Monetize it and shove it under your mattress? Buy gold (and shove it under the mattress)? Probably you would invest in large corporations with most of it, if you’re like most people.
Suppose further you invested in a ‘Pharmaceuticals’ fund this year (perhaps Fidelity’s FPHAX). I wouldn’t recommend such a thing generally, but it would turn out that your investment generated significant additional wealth this year (2x the S&P 500) in large measure due to the old folks rushing to get themselves into this unfair government program.
At long last - my point is that the appropriate consumer base for the vast majority of companies is broad, not deep. The Invisible Hand may say that money would be redistributed automatically (in the form of extreme generosity such as Bill Gates’ and Warren Buffett’s).
In principle, however, we can’t count on people being as generous as Buffett and Gates. In fact, in inflation-adjusted dollars, no other rich person has ever come close to those two.
Therefore, while government overplays their hand, at times criminally so, I agree with Aaron that government has a role in the proper functioning of a capitalist economy, to ensure that the consumer base is more broad, less deep.
Your five points were by and large good ones, only one additional to add to 4-7Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s post at 7:35 PM: while I (as a Republican) donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t think youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re wrong, I am not sure that matters are as simple as you represented them.
Sorry, in this paragraph I switched from addressing Aaron to 4-7.
“In the 5.5 years of Bush Administration fun, there has been one massive example of such government intrusion in the private flows of capital: the Prescription Drug Plan, an albatross on the future tax base of America.”
Don’t forget the Republican Congress intervening in the Terri Schiavo case. God forbid our elected officials should deal with issues like healthcare, war, North Korea, Iran, Russia, China, education, illegal immigration or the deficit when there are steroids in baseball and PG-rated Christian movies to deal with.