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Will Obama ever stop looking for someone else to blame?

Four years ago this month President Barack Obama told Jay Leno that one thing he wanted “to break is a pattern in Washington where everybody is always looking for somebody else to blame.

Seems he was talking to the late night talk show host the way some people talk to a therapist by projecting their own problems onto others.  Not since Nixon have we seen a president so obsessed with his “enemies.”  As the sequester goes into effect, a “combative” Mr. Obama, reports the AP’s Jim Kuhnhenn, “blamed Republican lawmakers Friday for failing to stop automatic spending cuts that were to begin kicking in later in the day, calling the cuts ‘dumb, arbitrary.’

Barack Obama is always looking for somebody else to blame.  And this week, he is trying to shift the blame for his (and his party’s) failure to control spending (and avert the sequester) onto Republicans.

In his column today, Charles Krauthammer reminds us that the Democratic Senate
hasn’t passed a budget . . .

. . . in four years. And the White House, which proposed the sequester in the first place, had 18 months to establish rational priorities among accounts — and did nothing.

When the GOP House passed an alternative that cut where the real money is — entitlement spending — President Obama threatened a veto. Meaning, he would have insisted that the sequester go into effect — the very same sequester he now tells us will bring on Armageddon.

Republicans need to keep challenging the president to put forward his plans to cut spending (remember that was part of the “balanced approach” he favored to address our nation’s debt crisis*) because nearly every voice in the legacy media seems intent on ignoring the president’s spendthrift record.

The blame here lies with the president and his party.  Instead of working with Republican leaders over the past 18 months to try to reach a compromise on spending, he spent that time demonizing them.  As is doing so today.

Will Americans continue to join him in shifting the blame?

*And the Republican-led House already voted to raise taxes.

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43 Comments

  1. Will Obama ever stop looking for someone else to blame?

    Short answer: No. Narcissists never stop blaming someone else for their problems or issues.

    Comment by RSG — March 1, 2013 @ 7:04 pm - March 1, 2013

  2. The man child was spoiled rotten, and it shows in the way he acts, as a petulant teenager.

    Comment by davinci — March 1, 2013 @ 7:50 pm - March 1, 2013

  3. No, because that is the entire POINT to the “sequester”. This was a politically brilliant proposal by Obama. If the economy looked like it was going to take a double dip, Obama could refuse to compromise, allow the sequester to take effect, and then blame all the economic ills that come to pass on the sequester.

    If the economy looked like it was going to pick up, he could swoop in at the last minute, make a compromise, and take credit for the economic upturn.

    Barack Obama is a very, very small little man.

    Comment by crosspatch — March 2, 2013 @ 4:44 am - March 2, 2013

  4. Will Obama ever stop looking for someone else to blame?

    This is a question framed through the lens of believing that Obama does not understand how to be President.

    First, Obama is not nearly so “sharp” as people prefer to think he is. Obama has the street smarts of an amoral person and he confounds people who can’t imagine or understand his world.

    Barack Obama is always looking for somebody else to blame.

    Actually, Obama always has somebody in place to blame. He does not leave his fingerprints, he finds/invents the fingerprints of others.

    Bipartisanship=Obama’s way. Balanced approach=Obama’s way. Tax and spend=Republicans not being responsible. Deficits=paying for Republican profligacy. Poverty=the rich preventing the economy from working from the bottom up. Rich=stealing from the poor. Iran’s nukes=US arrogance. Sequester=tax loopholes for the rich. Last minute crisis talks=Republicans refusing to address the underlying issues and causing the last minute crisis. The bully pulpit=explaining the crisis created by the Republicans and what they will do next if they are not stopped.

    Obama is not “looking” for someone to blame. He knows who to blame. He knows how to blame them. He knows:

    “All this was inspired by the principle–which is quite true within itself–that in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation. For the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down, a fact which is known to all expert liars in this world and to all who conspire together in the art of lying.”
    —Adolf Hitler , Mein Kampf, vol. I, ch. X

    There is a charisma of mystery that goes along with a powerful presence, strong rhetorical delivery skills, an ability to “speak” to the sheeple, identifying the “hurt” and speaking to the pain, a core of ideologically driven advisors and enablers, an ability to project a sense of common mission and base populism that every demagogue and authoritarian personality has and discovers how to use.

    The “looking for someone else to blame” theme is almost a tacit admission that we do not want to deal with Obama as being a polished and dedicated usurper. We don’t want to sully the conversation with references to tyrants, fascists, dictators, despots, etc. either by word or implication.

    But Obama is a usurper and a ringleader and a “fundamental transformation” ideologue. The problem is that Obama never identifies the route and landmarks of the new direction he favors. He couches it all in emotive language such as fairness, social justice, and so forth.

    How does he view the Constitution? He has spoken on this in the past and it is clear that he sees it a “incomplete” and wanting in terms of social welfare. Who does he appoint to the Supreme Court in regard to how their views of the Constitution coincide with his? How does he manage his “role” with the legislative branch? Does he submit plans and legislative blueprints to the Congress or does he issue Executive Orders, grow the government by regulation, make recess appointments, use Czars and ignore the Cabinet?

    Where are his fingerprints? Does he stand behind actions or does he sidestep actions to keep his options open if things go awry? Does he command or manipulate? Does he manipulate in person or does he have a squad of capo-regime underbosses who take the blame if blame can not be assigned elsewhere?

    John McCain and Mitt Romney both avoided confronting Obama’s actions and his methods. Each of them pretended that Obama is no different from any President who proceeded him in the office.

    Aside from Obamacare, Obama’s record is all of his own invention: he has not gotten us into war, he has not had a depression, he has kept unemployment from being disastrous, the stock market has not crashed, the infrastructure has not collapsed, global warming has not consumed us, the rich have been kept from devouring the poor, bubonic plague has been kept from our streets, the coasts are not soaked in oil, children are not starving, blah, blah, blah.

    And remember that all of these disasters would have happened if Obama had not blocked the Republicans and kept them from carrying out their evil deeds.

    Among those who are over sensitive to political correctness, there is a general reluctance to confront the reality of evil intent.

    Obama and the Progressives are manipulating us deeper and deeper into state socialism without openly and honestly explaining their road map and giving the people the information to decide the direction of their representative democracy.

    For years and years, liberals have had to move to the center to be elected and then implement their leftist shenanigans through deceit and chicanery.

    ACORN, Eric Holder, and the origins of and method of passage of Obamacare are all examples of fundamental manipulation of the long established assumptions that when the President swears to uphold the Constitution he is not, in fact, planning to circumvent and ignore it.

    To wonder about Obama’s “blame game” is to basically misunderstand the man altogether.

    Comment by heliotrope — March 2, 2013 @ 3:11 pm - March 2, 2013

  5. Of course he isn’t going to stop blaming others. He doesn’t have to either because left wing Americans are under his spell and take him for his word. To Obama and Democrats George Bush and Republicans are the answer to what’s wrong with our country in spite of evidence to the contrary. The sequester is just one example in a long line of instances that prove this.

    Comment by Kyle Blu — March 2, 2013 @ 6:07 pm - March 2, 2013

  6. Obama is a narcissist-and narcissists never take responsibility for anything-even when they say they are, they manage to add a “yes, but . . .” excuse that essentially absolves them of blame.

    Comment by Just Me — March 3, 2013 @ 2:38 pm - March 3, 2013

  7. From the original post: “The blame here lies with the president and his party.”

    Isn’t that playing the same blame game you are accusing Obama of playing, just in reverse?

    Comment by Brubeck — March 3, 2013 @ 3:42 pm - March 3, 2013

  8. Excellent post Heliotrope. Showing the consistency of Obama’s actions with Hitlers words is sobering. That McCain could call Obama “friend”, Romney could have a pleasant meeting with the man, and Boehner would try to negotiate in good faith after all Obama has done shows how big the blindspot Republicans (and a large portion of the American populous) have to the nature of this President.

    Comment by David — March 3, 2013 @ 6:39 pm - March 3, 2013

  9. Isn’t that playing the same blame game you are accusing Obama of playing, just in reverse?

    Considering Obama is actually to blame, no.

    Comment by Rattlesnake — March 3, 2013 @ 9:13 pm - March 3, 2013

  10. Great post heliotrope. Question for me is (again and again) — what do we do about this? I am very worried about 2014. Unless there is more organization by libertarians and republicans, it is game over. All signs point to that. I have been searching high and low across the net to find the organizing network on the conservative side, but no success yet. Conservative movements seem to be too busy fighting themselves — while the left appears very monolithic in their agenda and voice.

    Comment by Jane Austen — March 4, 2013 @ 9:44 am - March 4, 2013

  11. Jane Austen,

    I very deeply share your frustration. Some talk is emerging about building an aggressive media of our own to “get the message out.” In other words, evangelize. My worry is that we are so deep into the culture of complacency and big government programs that a “repent and be saved” message is not in the cards.

    Of course, making the case for “taking responsibility for ones own life” does not have to be all sack cloth and sandals, but it is difficult, at best, to try to persuade people away from their addictions.

    My constant wonder is focused on how anyone with common sense can not see the impossibility of the Progressive promises. I have a sister and a mother-in-law who each dislike deficits, welfare addiction, lawlessness, pork barrel spending, etc. and are die-hard Democrats. Both are smart people. But, they hate guns, support women’s rights, are disdainful of religion, don’t like war and are positive the Republicans are in it for themselves and the rich. Attempting to even talk about their close-minded beliefs is like trying to open Fort Knox with a wet noodle.

    Meanwhile, I am watching one Republican governor after another cave by accepting ‘free’ federal money which is borrowed at the rate of 46 cents on the dollar and devalued by printing bogus money at the rate of $58 Billion dollars a month and has all manner of strings attached to it. While these same governors struggle to get their own state economies in order, they governors willing and knowingly flash mob the empty treasury like hooligans at the mall when the doors open for the iconic Nikes that lure them in like free cocaine.

    Robin Hood and his merry band of thieves use the government machinery to grab the money through constantly expanding taxation and they buy votes and support from the victims they cultivate and feed. As in all bureaucratic transfer blueprints, what comes in as a dollar goes out in a few pennies. The difference between income and outgo feeds the machine.

    Our government promotes welfare and social justice on the basis of a pyramid scheme. Some get raised up at the cost of tearing others down. All pyramid schemes have a tipping point which is reached when those taking from others begin to outnumber (outweigh) those who are paying into the scheme.

    We are at the point where we have a growing critical imbalance between takers and makers, but there is also a bloated third group and that is made up of the corps of paid government workers who are engaged in the costly shuffle of taking a dollar in and sending a few pennies out. In a sense, they are “self-employed” within the system so long as there is a positive balance in effect.

    Just how you get through to the takers who want and are demagogued to expect more of other people’s money is beyond my ability to pin down. Dr. Ben Carson and Glenn Beck have promoted a resurgence of the Judeo-Christian ethic and encouraging the people to be more responsible and self-reliant. Mark Levin and Rush Limbaugh make sure responsible and self-reliant people who will listen understand what is happening. The MSM is so liberal agenda driven that they avoid even “noticing” any weaknesses or hypocrisy that would harm the agenda. In fact, the MSM is engaged in lying by omission, telling half lies, blatantly lying and echoing talking points.

    I don’t think it is past the point where the country can be lead out of this crisis being made worse. However, the minute anyone steps forward to address the issues, the political machine demagoguery lets fly in the most intense and vicious ways.

    Obama could go on national TV and snort cocaine off the top of the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office and then declare himself pardoned for all crimes he may have committed or may commit in the future and he would not be impeached for it. He is effectively and essentially untouchable.

    We have to keep Obama from gaining the House in 2014 to keep the Constitution dam from total collapse and flooding us with statist socialism. Hillary is no Obama. Biden is no Obama. The 2016 Demonrats have their work cut out for them. They are going to lose their Teflon Don and some mere mortal is going to be chosen to carry the water.

    If the Demonrats keep power in 2016, it is over.

    Manning the ramparts is not going to stop the statist guerrilla insurgency that is “fundamentally transforming America.” First, they are not playing the game by standard rules. Secondly, not only do they mask their objectives, they are ardent liars who seek to deceive.

    From my perspective, that leaves us with needing a candidate who will cut through the static and flak and confront the demagoguery that is so necessary to these guys. My preference is to expose their overreaching through soft ridicule in the way in which Reagan was such a master.

    All speculation of what should be done or where the solution lies is moot so long as professional politicians on the Republican side are content to be back benchers and just settle for what they take home from being a part of the government machine.

    I would like to see the minutes of the meetings Orin Hatch had with TEA Party representatives that led him to come out full force against the TEA Party. (Of course, he had no meetings whatsoever. He followed his survival instincts and had no interest whatsoever in the TEA Party core values.)

    We are taken for granted by establishment Republicans in the same way the Demonrats own minorities. The difference is that the Demonrats pay their serfs.

    Comment by heliotrope — March 4, 2013 @ 12:42 pm - March 4, 2013

  12. I don’t think it is past the point where the country can be lead out of this crisis

    I couldn’t say; meaning that yeah, it might be too late.

    All I know is, letting the regressive (NOT progressive) forces of American collectivism change me, is not the answer. I have to keep my house in order, and I have to keep telling the truth about what I see happening outside it. And those tasks are a lot, but not too much; they’re all I have to do.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — March 4, 2013 @ 1:47 pm - March 4, 2013

  13. What surprises me reading this thread (and this blog in general) is how little is required to make someone a “taker” in the eyes of commenters here. For example, universal health insurance is simply the idea that no American should face sickness or death for lack of money. Every other wealthy country has some form of universal coverage. We’re generally not talking about freebies to loafers here — most uninsured people work or are members of workers’ households. In fact, a well-designed safety net can facilitate the market: if losing your job doesn’t mean losing your coverage, for example, then you are free to move to a start-up or maybe start your own business.

    It is certainly legitimate to argue about the form of universal coverage: If you want to say we should have adequately funded health savings accounts for everyone combined with catastrophic coverage rather than the Affordable Care Act, that is a perfectly fair argument. But now we’re in the realm of how best to implement a shared goal. What I don’t understand is the assumption here that any sort of universal coverage, however achieved — or other aspects of even a rudimentary safety net, like food stamps — represent a step on the road to Communism. This mentality is particularly odd to me since the richest Americans have been increasing their share of the national income — if Obama and the Democrats are closet socialists, they are really bad ones.

    Comment by Brubeck — March 4, 2013 @ 2:20 pm - March 4, 2013

  14. universal health insurance is simply the idea that no American should face sickness or death for lack of money-that productive/prudent Americans should be forced (operative word ‘forced’) to pay for lazy/imprudent Americans-

    FIFY

    What I don’t understand is the assumption here that any sort of universal coverage, however achieved — or other aspects of even a rudimentary safety net, like food stamps — represent a step on the road to Communism

    com·mu·nism
    2.a. A system of government in which the state plans and controls the economy…claiming to make progress toward a higher social order…

    That dovetails with Kevin Williams’ definition of “socialism”, which is the term I sometimes prefer: “socialism entails the public provision of non-public goods…[and] the use of central planning to implement that policy.”

    if Obama and the Democrats are closet socialists, they are really bad ones

    Indeed. We have a name for them, “limousine socialists”. But, it was ever thus. Modern “democratic” socialism is, in practice and therefore in fact, a trick of the aristocracy (the non-productive rich, the ‘trust fund baby’ types and other rent-seekers) to keep themselves safely ensconced in wealth and power, oppressing the poor – and deceiving the poor about it (or at least buying their votes).

    The real redistributionism in Obammunism and all socialism is, again, the forced redistribution of wealth from producers (be they rich, middle class or poor) to looters (be they rich, middle class or poor). Producer vs. looter: that is the real class distinction; the real class system.

    The ‘trust fund baby’ has a moral right to the wealth that they were rightfully given. But not to have wealth magically always ‘there’ for them, after they’ve done nothing to maintain it. In other words, they have no moral right to use government as a weapon to re-distribute new wealth to themselves, squash up-and-comers, keep the poor weak and dependent, etc.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — March 4, 2013 @ 3:19 pm - March 4, 2013

  15. BTW, recently I saw the movie, _Hunger Games_. It is a wonderful (if unintentional; I’m not sure) commentary on the future America that Obama and the Left are leading us toward. In that world, the good people (honest, productive and loving) are relegated to the boonies, what we would call the ‘red states’, where some of them are periodically ‘reaped’ as human tributes to the central government. While the dishonest, parasitic people are the ‘normal’ type, the people who live closer to the central government: effete, callous, power-worshipping, and self-congratulating on how modern and enlightened they are.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — March 4, 2013 @ 4:17 pm - March 4, 2013

  16. ILoveCapitalism: So the full-time worker who is uninsured because his job doesn’t offer insurance and he can’t afford individual coverage is a parasite, a looter? And the executive who makes millions and walks away with a golden parachute for millions more, despite overseeing poor performance at his company, is a producer? What about the guy who gets a tax deduction for the interest paid on the mortgage on his expensive home, while the renter of modest income gets no such tax benefit — maker or taker? What about the wealthy guy who lives off dividends and capital gains and thus pays lower tax rates than the working man of much lower income who, again, gets no such tax break on his salary?

    You focus like a laser on attempts by government to help the poor and middle class and ignore the benefits that the wealthy get all the time. You also ignore the fact that, whatever problems exist now, the entire economy almost collapsed under an administration that shared your no-tax, no-regulation philosophy. People on the far right AND the far left want the world to be simple and to have all the answers pop neatly out of their preferred “ism,” but real life just doesn’t work that way.

    Comment by Brubeck — March 4, 2013 @ 4:43 pm - March 4, 2013

  17. So the full-time worker who is uninsured because his job doesn’t offer insurance and he can’t afford individual coverage is a parasite, a looter?

    Nope.

    You left out a crucial piece: If, in addition to what you said, he holds a gun to somebody’s head and says, YOU MUST PAY MY INSURANCE/COSTS…then yes, at that point, he is a parasite, a looter. Hint: Government is a gun.

    The ethical principle here is that job is worth what the job is worth – and what the employee has agreed to take for it. Employer-sponsored insurance is ultimately just another form of pay. If the employer and the employee agree on a pay package without it, that is their right to do so (as private actors). And then yes, it is very much up the employee to obtain insurance on his own, or to save for a rainy day, etc.

    Insofar as insurance is too expensive:, the question you ought to be asking is, why we don’t have vibrant, competitive insurance markets? Hint: Because government has arranged it, so that we won’t. Obamacare was/is a big additional step down (not up), in that regard.

    Insofar as the employee doesn’t have more/better job opportunities, you should be asking whose fault that is. Hint: either the employee’s, OR – insofar as government policies hold back the economy and make employment and job creation artificially difficult and expensive, as today – the government’s. Again, Obamacare is a step backward, there.

    You focus like a laser on attempts by government to help the poor and middle class and ignore the benefits that the wealthy get all the time.

    Wrong again. I am just as critical of welfare for the rich, as I am for the poor. It’s called consistency, Brubeck.

    You also ignore the fact that, whatever problems exist now, the entire economy almost collapsed under an administration that shared your no-tax, no-regulation philosophy.

    Wrong again. The last administration to share my philosophy was the Harding administration in 1921, and under that administration, the economy roared back so effectively from a terrible depression, that most people have forgotten the Depression of 1920 ever existed.

    The next closest was Reagan, again a good time for the economy. If you’re talking about Bush, you’re nuts, because Bush was a Big Government guy (who expanded entitlements) and a major regulator, sort of a proto-Obama in domestic policy. Hint: google “Sarbanes-Oxley” sometime.

    And the executive who makes millions and walks away with a golden parachute for millions more, despite overseeing poor performance at his company, is a producer?

    I couldn’t say, without more info. First, it is likely none of my business: whatever deal the executive worked out with the company is a deal between consenting grownups, just like the deal in your worker example. Second, IF the executive embezzled or committed fraud, there are criminal laws for that (under which he should be prosecuted) or tort laws (under which he should be sued). Third, insofar as government has created additional, artificial barriers to entry in the executive labor market (and in some ways, it has; Sarbanes-Oxley comes to mind again), then *government* has restricted the supply of qualified executives and so partly caused the pay situation that you deplore.

    What about the guy who gets a tax deduction for the interest paid on the mortgage on his expensive home, while the renter of modest income gets no such tax benefit — maker or taker?

    Depends if he does something productive for his money (or steals, say, or lives off a sinecure). Also depends if he pays a lot of taxes, more than most people do.

    In principle, the mortgage interest deduction should not exist, while at the same time, tax rates should be lower for everyone.

    What about the wealthy guy who lives off dividends and capital gains and thus pays lower tax rates than the working man

    There again: dividends and capital gains are income and should be taxed as ordinary income, HOWEVER, ordinary income rates should be much lower. The ethical crime there is not that dividend and capital gains rates are a bit low-ish; it’s that ordinary income rates are insanely high.

    People on the far right AND the far left want the world to be simple and to have all the answers pop neatly out of their preferred “ism,” but real life just doesn’t work that way.

    So smug, and yet you didn’t refute my points, offering only straw men unrelated to my actual views. :-)

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — March 4, 2013 @ 5:19 pm - March 4, 2013

  18. No, government is not a gun. It would be if we were a dictatorship like North Korea, but we are not — we govern ourselves. If we, through government, democratically and within our Constitution, make a decision to provide for the common defense, or to ensure a basic safety net, there is nothing inherently unethical or unfairly coercive about those decisions. We should always be wary of government growing too big or too powerful, but we should also be wary of concentrations of economic power.

    On your last point, you are 100 percent correct — my comment about people wanting answers to pop out of isms, with the implication that you were one of those people, was smug, unfair, and uncalled for. I apologize.

    Comment by Brubeck — March 4, 2013 @ 5:56 pm - March 4, 2013

  19. No, government is not a gun.

    Yes, it is. All governments are a territorial monopoly on the legalized use of physical force. “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun” – Mao Zedong. But the same is true for democratic governments. When government says “We are going to tax Peter, to cover Paul’s medical costs/insurance” or whatever else, government takes what is, by definition, Peter’s. And it does so by force: Peter, and/or his banker, have no choice but to comply; otherwise they will land in jail (just ask Irwin Schiff). And they can be legally shot, if they refuse to go.

    Comment by Jeff (ILoveCapitalism) — March 4, 2013 @ 6:04 pm - March 4, 2013

  20. (continued) I gotta say, this is THE key ethical point in politics. I was a flaming liberal, for a couple decades. Until one day, I came to understand that (1) government is force, no matter how I tried to slice it or dice it or rationalize it; and (2) using force to take things from people is wrong. Those insights reorganized everything else, for me.

    It also happens that the free-enterprise, libertarian-conservative system is the best one practically, not just morally. But discussing the reasons for it would take us into a different set of issues – about objective reality, morality flows from reality, the truly moral is the truly practical, etc.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — March 4, 2013 @ 6:13 pm - March 4, 2013

  21. Well, Tom Brokaw does think Obama is to blame.

    Comment by B. Daniel Blatt — March 4, 2013 @ 9:45 pm - March 4, 2013

  22. Brubeck,
    Let me take a shot at addressing your questions in a different way (I share ILoveCapitalism’s sentiments, but I was once more liberal in my views – more John Stuart Mill kind of liberal. I will speak for myself, but there may be others who will agree with some or many parts of what I say.
    1) Most people who are for individual liberty and free enterprise do not object to some safety nets. Even Hayek and Friedman supported it in some form or the other (e.g., negative income tax). I, for one, do not want to live in a society where some people suffer and the rest of us watch — but what we choose to do about it is a matter of charity and personal choice, not a government mandate. Even if we all come together and agree to do a set of things and tax ourselves for it, the devil is in the detail. If you run some scenarios with numbers, you will quickly see that there are finite resources and we have to pick and choose wisely what safety nets we can afford and which issues we want to tackle. Today, we try to do a lot of things – and by spreading resources thinly across them, we suck at almost all of them and actually make problems worse by setting up bad incentives that drive unintended consequences. Education is declining, poverty is where it was, chronic homelessness persists, black unemployment rate (which tracked or was lower than that of whites in the 20s and 30s) is increasing – and we have destroyed inner cities. There is never enough money, and we want those who have money to pay more. Again, if you look at the economics, even if you hike the top marginal rate dramatically, it won’t solve the problem. I believe the economics are straightforward. We can take X% of the income from the top 1% to take care of the bottom Y% of the pyramid (my preference is that we take care of people who cannot take care of themselves – i.e., disabled, orphaned children, infirm). If you want to do more, you have to raise X to the point that is palatable to people who are paying, calculate what that gets you, and what we can afford with that. That’s how we need to decide what issues we will tackle. The picture I painted is simplistic (we can make choices across different levels of pyramid, but no matter how complicated we make the tax code, it is the same concept – you will eventually find that you have to choose wisely what you do based on what you can afford). Up until the first world war, government did the minimum needed and the only time we had high taxes was to pay for a war, and we quickly dropped the taxes once we were whole. We have created a monster today. Therefore, we have a mess where 50% of the earners pay 98% of the federal income tax revenues and we don’t have enough money to do everything the government wants to do. And as Ben Carson said, when everyone doesn’t have skin in the game, majority can decide to coerce the minority. This is why, it is simplest to keep the scope of the government small — and do the rest through charity.
    2) There are very few things that are a birthright. The human race was born into grinding poverty – so poverty was not an exception, it was the rule (I am paraphrasing Sowell). So many things we call rights today – right to food, shelter, healthcare – are not really rights given to us by anyone or the constitution; we always had to earn them. The best society we can hope for is the one that will allow each of us to do that (fulfill our basic needs and pursue a higher state of happiness) the best we can, without infringing on others’ pursuit of their happiness (i.e., guaranteed equality of opportunity, not equality of outcome). Everything else we offer each other – guaranteed standard of living, safety nets – is gravy. I agree that in an evolved society, we would want to offer each other safety nets, but with the recognition that that is what we are doing and with a dialog that respects different perspectives in the process. Most rhetoric from the left today misses this point completely – according to the left, many of these things are rights; there is no cognition of the cost of these rights and who bears them. On top of that, anyone who asks questions or protests faces ridicule. It is bizarre to me that the right we don’t seem to honor is the right of people who pay large proportions of their incomes in taxes to ask questions – they get ridiculed and called names when they ask what results all this spending is producing. Another reason for solving problems through charity, not through government.
    3) On universal healthcare, same questions apply. It is a noble aspiration, but there are a number of questions we gloss over. What level of coverage? At what cost? Who pays? How do we think through all the incentives, implicit and explicit? What are we going to give up in its place? Personally, I don’t believe it is federal government’s business (I would much rather see it be dealt with at a lower level where citizens can hold people accountable for efficiency and effectiveness). I don’t for a moment believe any of the cost estimates – we were wrong by orders of magnitude on our estimates of Medicare/Medicaid costs. We will pay the price in higher premiums, all kinds of taxes, and higher prices on various goods and services. If our goal is to give access to healthcare to those who don’t have it, there are more transparent ways to do that by creating a separate pool, track the costs separately and tax ourselves. The way this is being done obfuscates all cost drivers. Friedman says that when you spend someone else’s money on someone else, you have no incentive to be either effective or efficient. That statement explains the issue with most state-run enterprises and mandates. One thumb-rule is that any law that begins with the word “affordable” will cause prices to rise dramatically.
    4) It is my belief that we can have capitalism or we can have socialism. Trying to be half pregnant like we have been for decades now is a recipe for disaster. It requires a lot of discipline to agree what we will spend on and honor that contract and not let things get out of control. And I honestly believe this is best done at the community level. Each community (or a slightly higher level of aggregation if there are scale effects) is in the best position to decide for itself how they will take care of their elderly, their sick, and their poor. I am less likely to think of a neighbor I help as a taker and they are less likely to take it for granted. At the national level, everything becomes too abstract. It twists definitions to the degree where now the President of the country claims we are “subsidizing the rich” when they are in effect, paying much greater than their share. Letting you keep what you earn is now called a subsidy – this is such a far cry from where we started as a nation.
    5) Politicians are professionals whose currency is votes. We put so much power in their hands that we set ourselves down a path that is hard to reverse. We have created a federal government that has deep pockets (it can tax us and it can print), therefore we have nurtured and grown a number of special interests that feed on it. If you look at any sector where prices have risen exorbitantly – be it college tuition or healthcare – you will find at the root of it the mal-incentives and moral hazard created by the ultimate payer with deep pockets. We have set up numerous mechanisms for wastage (legal maneuvering to comply with tons of regulation, lawyers to help you sue and help you defend, keep you in compliance, you name it). We have the Washington/Wall-Street financial complex – those who watch markets are much more aware of the levels of corruption in this collaboration. It surprises me that people are naïve enough to think that democrats help poor people and Republicans are fiscally responsible – right now, they are the same party and they will respond exactly the same way to incentives.

    In a nutshell, the issue is not about not wanting others to have their basic needs met. I think most people would be moved to help those in need – people just want the freedom to choose (how and how much). The issue is empowering the federal government to take from some and give to others. If you have a chance to, please watch Ron Paul’s farewell speech to congress. I don’t think we will ever find another politician who will say what he said – as someone on ZeroHedge said, he is the one that got away.

    Comment by Jane Austen — March 4, 2013 @ 11:47 pm - March 4, 2013

  23. Brubeck,
    Apologies for taxing your eyes with the absence of lines between paragraphs — for some reason, paste from the word processor took them out.

    Comment by Jane Austen — March 4, 2013 @ 11:53 pm - March 4, 2013

  24. heliotrope,

    ’16 will be too late — if democrats take the house in ’14 and stack the supreme court, there may be no turning back after that.

    On the difficulty of the message, I agree. I think though that there has to be a way to educate people on two fronts (our founding fathers were counting on at least the second one, if not the first):

    (1) Some basic economic princples so they can see the economic impact of what they are supporting

    (2) History of our country. It is amazing how little of it people really know and understand. It wasn’t until I started studying it in earnest (because I was upset about some policy decisions) did I discover what a truly amazing experiment the founding of this country was (despite all the flaws). I have hope that seeing the present through an understanding of the history will really change perspectives.

    Please take that into consideration as you are thinking about this media campaign. Educating in a simple and clear way could go a long way — I think that is one of the reasons Ben Carson’s talk resonated with folks. Issue with Rush and some others is that there is too much heat there — it causes people to shut down. When I hung out with liberals, Rush had such a terrible reputation with them that all I heard was how horrendous and inhuman he was. When I finally heard him, I was shocked to realize I agreed with a lot of what he said.

    Comment by Jane Austen — March 5, 2013 @ 12:12 am - March 5, 2013

  25. Jane Austen,

    You are spot on about basic economic principles and simple facts of history. For many years, I have repeated a quote from Einstein: “Things should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”

    Demagogues oversimplify and use their bigotry to go for the jugular. Conservatives too often forget to keep repeating the principle involved.

    The amazing “fact” about Limbaugh, Coulter, Beck and the other people the liberals hate is that publish their words with footnotes and transcripts so that it is all there—-context, sources, etc. I have never encountered anyone who deconstructed any of them and showed them to be liars, misinformed or actually venal. Compare that to the daily feast that Obama supplies to them.

    Dr. Ben Carson is an obviously humble man and that is his strongest armor. He delivered stunning blows to the Obamessiah without appearing partisan, aggressive or arrogant. He has got the temperament part of the formula for what is needed. His example is important.

    Bret Baier and Fox News are doing a fine job at bringing up and discussing the issues. They are too cautious, by my standards, but they may be just the right tone for gaining an ear.

    Comment by heliotrope — March 5, 2013 @ 7:58 am - March 5, 2013

  26. Jane Austen @ #22: Super comments and dead right. What we at the local level do to help the afflicted is usually forgotten or ignored by those who want to sit back and have a squad of big government employees cut checks and handle the various health, poverty, food stamp, housing, job training assembly lines.

    Comment by heliotrope — March 5, 2013 @ 8:03 am - March 5, 2013

  27. Jane Austen, good comments, thanks!

    we can have capitalism or we can have socialism

    A key issue here is that capitalism requires the possibility of failure (to keep everyone focused on what is real, what is efficient, what is productive/helpful, etc.). And the possibility of failure is not real, unless some people – hopefully, or usually, those people who have done a poor job – sometimes actually fail.

    Many Americans want a failure-free society, meaning a society where THEY will be bailed out and never have to suffer any blows to their “self-esteem”. That is incompatible with capitalism. Many Americans – be they rich, middle-class or poor – are willing to use force (government), to obtain their bailouts at the expense of others. That is incompatible with morality.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — March 5, 2013 @ 10:17 am - March 5, 2013

  28. Thanks for the lengthy responses. I am swamped with other stuff at the moment but will definitely reply, hopefully later today.

    Comment by Brubeck — March 5, 2013 @ 10:21 am - March 5, 2013

  29. And the executive who makes millions and walks away with a golden parachute for millions more, despite overseeing poor performance at his company, is a producer?

    Comment by Brubeck — March 4, 2013 @ 4:43 pm – March 4, 2013

    Yes, what about them?

    Under terms of the February loan restructuring, two private investors — Argonaut Ventures I LLC and Madrone Partners LP — stand to be repaid before the U.S. government if the solar company is liquidated. The two firms gave the company a total of $69 million in emergency loans. Argonaut is an investment vehicle of the George Kaiser Family Foundation — headed by billionaire George Kaiser, a major Obama campaign contributor and a frequent visitor to the White House. Kaiser raised between $50,000 and $100,000 for Obama’s 2008 campaign, federal election records show.

    So Brubeck, you voted for and endorsed golden parachutes for millionaire and billionaire executives that oversaw poor performance at their companies — at taxpayer expense.

    What about the guy who gets a tax deduction for the interest paid on the mortgage on his expensive home, while the renter of modest income gets no such tax benefit — maker or taker?

    Yes, what about him?

    This, of course, is the same Charlie Rangel who failed to report $75,000 in income he’d received from a three-bedroom, three-bathroom rental property he owns in the Dominican Republic. At the time, Rangel owed back taxes on the property for at least three years.

    This is also the same Charlie Rangel who took a “homestead” tax break on the home he owns in Washington D.C. for several years. Problem is, Rangel simultaneously occupied multiple rent-controlled apartments in New York City.

    And lest we forget the time he (ahem) forgot to include the sale of a D.C. home on his annual financial reports; the “discrepancies” in the reported value of a home he owned in Florida (anywhere between $50,000 to $500,000, depending on who you ask); or the inconsistencies in his reporting of his investment funds.

    Then, of course, there’s the Congressional parking space that Rangel used to store his Mercedes Benz (for free) for years. Fairly small potatoes when you look at the other ways Rangel’s avoided paying taxes over the years, but under IRS rules, Congressional parking spaces are considered imputed income, and therefore can be taxed. Rangel, however, never paid a dime.

    So Brubeck, you voted for and endorsed tax deductions, PLUS rent control, PLUS outright tax evasion and avoidance, for not one, but multiple expensive homes and Manhattan apartments for a multimillionaire.

    What about the wealthy guy who lives off dividends and capital gains and thus pays lower tax rates than the working man of much lower income who, again, gets no such tax break on his salary?

    Yes, what about him?

    It’s a recurring theme for the president. In a 2009 speech, Obama focused his ire on “a building in the Cayman Islands that had over 12,000 businesses claim this building as their headquarters” — a building called Ugland House. Obama said, “And I’ve said before, either this is the largest building in the world or the largest tax scam. And I think the American people know which it is: The kind of tax scam that we need to end.”

    Well, guess who was involved in the “largest tax scam” in the world? Jack Lew. According to the New York Times, Lew’s Cayman Islands fund was based in “the notorious Ugland House, a building whose mailboxes are home to nearly 19,000 corporate entities, many of them tax shelters.”

    So Brubeck, you voted for and endorsed wealthy guys living off dividend and capital gains AND using what you excoriated as “tax scams” to pay lower rates.

    If we look at these three examples, the common thread throughout is that they are all “progressives”, endorsing and supporting the concept that you, Brubeck, are entitled to take things that you don’t have from others that do at government gunpoint.

    So clearly you have no objections to these types of behaviors on a moral or objective basis, and are indeed more than happy to vote for and support individuals engaging in them — provided those individuals endorse your belief that government should be used to force others to give you what they have earned.

    Heliotrope deems statements such as yours to be demands for piety dances. In that case, I think it only fair that you entertain us with one.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — March 5, 2013 @ 2:39 pm - March 5, 2013

  30. It also happens that the free-enterprise, libertarian-conservative system is the best one practically, not just morally. But discussing the reasons for it would take us into a different set of issues – about objective reality, morality flows from reality, the truly moral is the truly practical, etc.

    This would be an excellent discussion to have. The best way to persuade people that capitalism is the best system, in my opinion, is to start with the fundamental philosophy on which capitalism is based—objective reality and the natural rights that emerge from it (for the benefit of the ignorami—rights that can be neither created nor destroyed. That is, you cannot just decide that you have a right that you don’t have, just like you can’t the right someone does have away from him or her).

    One time I was having a discussion with someone on the role the government has in the media. This guy was a CBC reporter (so he is Canadian) and probably educated. I was (as were other people) making the argument that the media is beyond the government’s legitimate functions, and he seemed to have no idea what I was talking about. He revealed his astonishing ignorance on the subject by saying the following (this is a direct quote): “The liberty stuff is an American thing.” Given that he must be educated and probably has above average intelligence, the average person is probably even more naive that an objective reality that supersedes government authority (including authority given to the government democratically) even exists. If they did, I bet they would be more receptive to the ideals of limited government.

    Comment by Rattlesnake — March 5, 2013 @ 4:09 pm - March 5, 2013

  31. That is, you can’t take the rights someone does have away from him or her. And he is a CBC reporter.

    Comment by Rattlesnake — March 5, 2013 @ 4:11 pm - March 5, 2013

  32. By the way, this video is a great introduction.

    Comment by Rattlesnake — March 5, 2013 @ 4:15 pm - March 5, 2013

  33. RS, good one!

    You’re right, I’ve been talking about natural law. And natural law is indeed ‘revealed’: not by God, but by the human mind as it does a logically correct examination of nature, including human nature. Lefties often forget that our natural rights *precede* government, logically and morally.

    you can’t take the rights someone does have away from him or her

    Well, not morally. You may be able to do it legally, though; in which case, your victim is living under your legalized tyranny, which deserves (morally) to be overthrown.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — March 5, 2013 @ 9:42 pm - March 5, 2013

  34. Jeff (ILoveCapitalism), I see a couple of problems, or at least issues, with your point of view. One, what is the status of the United States of America? Under your view, there is no difference between the IRS enforcing tax obligations and the robber at the door, but that negates the idea of the US as a democratic polity in which the IRS is enforcing rules that all of us, including the taxed person, have implicitly agreed to be bound by. The robber is different — neither the taxed person nor anyone else has agreed to be bound by rules giving the robber rights to the property of others. This is why I distinguish between democracies and dictatorships — North Korea’s government is equivalent in moral status to the robber, trying to exercise power and take property to which it has no right.

    Another problem is that property rights in large part are created by the polity in the first place. I understand your point about natural law, and I am sympathetic to the idea that certain basic human rights related to life, liberty, and even property exist independent of even a democratic polity and its Constitution. However, natural law doesn’t get you, for example, the limited liability corporation — that’s a creature of the state (certainly a wise one), so if someone has income from corporate shares, there is no natural law problem with taxation on those earnings. And that’s just one of the myriad examples of property law in a modern state that have massive implications for the distribution of wealth and are far beyond anything you can derive from natural law theory.

    Of course, one big problem with natural law arguments is that what is objectively true is inherently subjective. For example, one of the leading natural law theorists is Robert George of Princeton, who thinks that natural law prohibits same-sex marriage. I think his position is not only wrong but bigoted, akin to the old arguments that natural law prohibited marriage across racial lines. But plenty of people agree with George based on the same sort of natural law arguments that you are advocating here.

    Empirically, I think that capitalism is the best system for producing wealth, but I don’t agree that the completely laissez-faire version of capitalism works best. I think that well-designed regulation and safety-net programs can not only make capitalism fairer but also more efficient (Pigouvian taxes are good examples), and certainly can help safeguard it against popular backlash. That’s not to say that poorly designed regulation can’t destroy efficiency and work against fairness — of course it can. I don’t believe that private charity has proven historically to be sufficient for dealing with poverty and needs like health care.

    There is lots more to say, but I will stop there for now. Except for this: North Dallas, just because you can find some politician that you think I agree with, or someone who has contributed to such a politician, who has engaged in a certain behavior, that doesn’t mean I have to support that behavior or am somehow hypocritical in criticizing it or pointing out its consequences.

    Comment by Brubeck — March 6, 2013 @ 12:19 am - March 6, 2013

  35. However, natural law doesn’t get you, for example, the limited liability corporation — that’s a creature of the state (certainly a wise one), so if someone has income from corporate shares, there is no natural law problem with taxation on those earnings. And that’s just one of the myriad examples of property law in a modern state that have massive implications for the distribution of wealth and are far beyond anything you can derive from natural law theory.

    That is just a minutia. People are entitled to their property, which is what income is. As for the rest, it can be covered either without any government involvement at all, or with contract law. Furthermore, there is no possible way for all of people’s natural rights to be protected 100% of the time, which is what I would argue is the justification for taxation and the operation of the government in the first place (as long as the government is minimal, this is the scenario that would result in the most protection of people’s natural rights).

    Of course, one big problem with natural law arguments is that what is objectively true is inherently subjective.

    That is absurd. Just because people don’t know what the objective reality is, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist (or, in other words, that it is subjective). What is subjective is people’s interpretation of natural law. No, it isn’t black and white, and there always has to be debate as to what it entails. But, regardless of what laws people create, it is always there and it is always unchanging.

    I don’t believe that private charity has proven historically to be sufficient for dealing with poverty and needs like health care.

    And this should be the concern of taxpayers why exactly? As long as there is equality of opportunity (which, I would argue, there is with nothing more than school vouchers), taxpayers should not be forced to be concerned with poverty or other people’s healthcare. If they are, they can donate their own time or money to private charities.

    Comment by Rattlesnake — March 6, 2013 @ 12:46 am - March 6, 2013

  36. Rattlesnake, you don’t think an inability to afford health care, safe neighborhoods, or healthy foods, just to pick a few examples, and the potential resulting poorer health and premature death, affect equality of opportunity, particularly for children?

    Comment by Brubeck — March 6, 2013 @ 10:09 am - March 6, 2013

  37. The government not paying for those things isn’t equivalent to them being inaccessible (except for safe neighbourhoods, since policing is a legitimate government function).

    Comment by Rattlesnake — March 6, 2013 @ 12:09 pm - March 6, 2013

  38. Rattlesnake: Yes, as a practical matter, the government not paying for, say, health care, does mean precisely that it is inaccessible for some people. Now, for most goods we don’t care about that: most people can’t afford private jets, and many can’t even afford airline tickets, and we don’t ask the government to pay for those. The question is whether certain things are so important — food, education, health care, for example — that we do want the government to provide it to those who can’t afford it. I would say yes– heck, I might even say yes as a matter of natural law (and thus we are back to how to judge among competing visions of natural law).

    Comment by Brubeck — March 6, 2013 @ 12:52 pm - March 6, 2013

  39. Now, for most goods we don’t care about that: most people can’t afford private jets, and many can’t even afford airline tickets, and we don’t ask the government to pay for those.

    Comment by Brubeck — March 6, 2013 @ 12:52 pm – March 6, 2013

    Actually, Brubeck, your Obama Party and your Barack Obama ask for exactly that.

    If the US Airforce did all airline food, it would be strawberries dipped in dark chocolate and grilled chicken salads all round.

    Unfortunately this luxury is reserved for top US politicians alone, as new documents detailing Nancy Pelosi’s travel expenses reveal.

    The former House Speaker was showered with a cornucopia of gourmet food and alcohol as she travelled over 90,000 miles around the world in just nine months last year – all courtesy of the US Airforce (USAF).
    On one overseas excursion, her office even wrote to the USAF asking for strawberries dipped in dark chocolate as a birthday treat.

    The documents, uncovered by political corruption watchdog Judicial Watch, reveal that the US taxpayer was billed for $101,429 (£64,000) in Mrs Pelosi’s in-flight services over a period of two years.

    One internal Air Force email sent on March 25, 2010 said: ‘The speaker’s office is requesting egg salad sandwiches on wheat toast with fruit (watermelon, etc) for desert [sic].

    ‘It’s the speaker’s B-Day tomorrow so we’re also asking for something like chocolate covered strawberries (dark chocolate preferred)…’

    Another member of the Air Force staff immediately replied: ‘Copy all. We’ll plan something for the birthday and take care of the meal.’

    Another documents revealed an order for six raspberry chocolate cups, costing almost $16 (£10), and one for pasta spinach salad with grilled chicken. There were also orders for a variety of nuts, cranberry juice, raisins, dipping chocolate and spring water.

    And:

    Two Gulfstream jets that the FBI told Congress would be used primarily for counterterrorism efforts have been used by Holder and Mueller for business and personal reasons – to the tune of $11.4 million – according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report requested by Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa.

    The GAO report states, “From fiscal years 2007 through 2011, three individuals who served as Attorney General (AG) and the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) accounted for 95 percent (659 out of 697 flights) of all Department of Justice (DOJ) executive nonmission flights using DOJ aircraft at a total cost of $11.4 million. Specifically, the AG and FBI Director collectively took 74 percent (490 out of 659) of all of their flights for business purposes, such as conferences, meetings, and field office visits; 24 percent (158 out of 659) for personal reasons; and 2 percent (11 out of 659) for a combination of business and personal reasons.”

    So what we have here is a whole slew of multimillionaires for whom the government is buying private jets stocked with liquor and gourmet food, all of which the Barack Obama Party and Barack Obama have demanded and all of which the Barack Obama Party and Barack Obama scream the spending is absolutely essential. Indeed, it is so essential that Barack Obama is demanding that taxes be raised on working families to pay for it.

    So the question, Brubeck: if helping “the poor and hungry” is so important to you, why are you spending millions of dollars on liquor-stocked private jets for multimillionaires instead?

    Furthermore, according to Politifact, the average American in the middle quintile of income pays 15.5% of their income in taxes — or, if you use an average US salary of $50,000, about $7,750 per year.

    So do you think thirteen families’ worth of taxes was better spent on buying liquor and chocolate-covered strawberries for multimillionaire Nancy Pelosi?

    Do you think it was better to take $7,750 from narly 1,500 families so that Holder and Muller could jaunt around in private luxury jets?

    Do you agree with Pelosi and Barack Obama that it is better to take those families’ money to buy her liquor and chocolate-covered strawberries and buy Holder luxury jet time than it is to allow those families to keep that money and spend it themselves?

    And do you also agree these families should be paying even more?

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — March 6, 2013 @ 3:46 pm - March 6, 2013

  40. One, what is the status of the United States of America? Under your view, there is no difference between the IRS enforcing tax obligations and the robber at the door, but that negates the idea of the US as a democratic polity in which the IRS is enforcing rules that all of us, including the taxed person, have implicitly agreed to be bound by.

    Comment by Brubeck — March 6, 2013 @ 12:19 am – March 6, 2013

    Do they, now?

    Claire McCaskill admits to $287,000 in unpaid taxes on private plane

    And my personal favorite:

    Now, back taxes have been a problem for the Obama-Biden administration. You may recall early on that Tom Daschle was the president’s top pick to run the Health and Human Services Department. But it turned out the former Democratic senator, who was un-elected from South Dakota in 2004, owed something like $120,000 to the IRS for things from his subsequent benefactor that he just forgot to pay taxes on. You know how that is. $120G’s here or there. So he dropped out.

    And then we learned this guy Timothy Geithner owed something like $42,000 in back taxes and penalties to the IRS, which is one of the agencies that he’d be in charge of as secretary of the Treasury. The fine fellow who’s supposed to know about handling everyone else’s money. In the end this was excused by Washington’s bipartisan CYA culture as one of those inadvertent accidental oversights that somehow never seem to happen on the side of paying too much taxes.

    And under Geithner’s expert guidance the U.S. economy has been, well, wow! Just look at it.

    Privacy laws prevent release of individual tax delinquents’ names. But we do know that as of the end of 2009, 41 people inside Obama’s very own White House owe the government they’re allegedly running a total of $831,055 in back taxes.

    So what is plainly obvious, Brubeck, is that you vote for, support, and endorse a system in which Obama Party members and “progressives” can ignore paying taxes with the full blessing and support of Barack Obama and the IRS.

    Now answer this question: why can Obama skip out on his taxes and I can’t? Why can Obama’s donors, staff, and Cabinet members skip out on their taxes while simultaneously acting in high government roles that grant them the power to have me imprisoned for doing the same?

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — March 6, 2013 @ 9:53 pm - March 6, 2013

  41. One, what is the status of the United States of America?

    It’s not a free country anymore. It’s no longer the greatest country on earth, “the land of opportunity.”

    Freedom dies by ten thousand cuts, and has been dying in the U.S. for decades, so you’d think it would be hard to pinpoint the exact cut that made the U.S. non-free. But it isn’t. It was last year, when the “mandate” part of Obamacare was found, wrongly, to be constitutional. Never before in U.S. history has the federal government been able to mandate that free people must positively do action X, just because they exist. Such mandates are a mark of un-free countries. Obamacare contains one, which SCOTUS excused (by tortured, wrong logic) under the government’s power to tax. In reality, the mandate in Obamacare violates the heart of centuries of contract law (that contracts must be entered into freely, with both parties having the full right to refuse to enter).

    Under your view, there is no difference between the IRS enforcing tax obligations and the robber at the door

    No, there is a difference: The IRS does it under the color/FORCE of law; the ordinary robber does only under his own force. The IRS’ robbery is legal; though whether it is moral, is a question to be analyzed separately (see #33).

    but that negates the idea of the US as a democratic polity

    “Democracy” is a Greek word whose original sense was, I believe, something like “tyranny of the majority”. The U.S. is not supposed to be a democratic polity. It is supposed to be a republican polity, that is, a limited government, which happens to use the democratic method (majority votes based on “one man, one vote”) to select its officers, legislate, etc. That is what I stand for, as distinct from (or opposed to) democracy.

    in which the IRS is enforcing rules that all of us, including the taxed person, have implicitly agreed to be bound by

    But I haven’t. My consent to IRS rules, implicit or explicit, was never sought. I abide by them, under compulsion: because I know that not enduring that particular set of violations of my rights, is going to trigger greater violations on me.

    Another problem is that property rights in large part are created by the polity in the first place.

    No. Property rights are natural rights which are recognized, protected, extended or applied by the polity. Not created.

    natural law doesn’t get you, for example, the limited liability corporation — that’s a creature of the state

    So, what? I never claimed that government/law was without value, or without a role to play. It’s true that the LLC is a more sophisticated form than you would have by yourself, on a desert island, and we needed government to create that. But that’s just a function of time and population (leading to complexity). The moral and conceptual *base* of the law concerning LLCs still is, or ought to be, the protection or application of natural property rights in that set of situations which the law covers.

    if someone has income from corporate shares, there is no natural law problem with taxation on those earnings.

    Sure there might be; depending on what taxation’s moral status is, in general.

    Some say that all taxation is wrong; government should be funded on user fees. Example: If you want future court services in redressing grievances on contracts you’ve entered into, then you pay court fees in advance, like insurance; but you can opt out, in which case, you suffer the consequence of not having court protection.

    I don’t agree with that position, because there is a “free rider” problem, even in court services (I benefit from your turning to the courts rather than to your own muscles, even in disputes not involving me), and especially in national defense, where it is impractical (and arguably wrong) to protect some citizens and not others.

    Thus, I do accept compulsory taxation – for government’s PROPER FUNCTIONS. And those proper functions are: police, courts and military, for the impartial protection of individual rights to life, liberty and property. Compulsory taxation is excusable if it is used sparingly, only for government’s proper and essential functions.

    But what we have today goes so far beyond that, it is indeed robbery. Forced re-distributionism is a violation of people’s rights, and so not one of government’s proper functions. The taxes which fund that part of government (which is the greater part, today) do have the moral status of robbery.

    myriad examples of property law in a modern state that…are far beyond anything you can derive from natural law theory.

    Your operative word there is, ‘derive’. Show me law that doesn’t *derive* ultimately from natural law / natural rights, and I’ll show you law whose existence is unjust. The fact that you’ve forgotten the chain of derivation (or never learned it, etc.) only means that you haven’t taken the time to understand it (or perhaps were mis-educated, etc.).

    one big problem with natural law arguments is that what is objectively true is inherently subjective

    NOT. AT. ALL. Anybody who says that, is just wrong. I don’t care if they’re from Princeton.

    …plenty of people agree with [mistaken positions] based on [some] sort of natural law arguments…

    …which remain objectively mistaken positions; mistaken arguments. That is why we have the process which is known variously as “debate”, “the marketplace of ideas”, and/or “free speech”.

    We have disagreed on enough basic premises, that I can stop here. (Addressing the rest, won’t do much.)

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — March 7, 2013 @ 12:27 am - March 7, 2013

  42. P.S. Brubeck, what your arguments here:

    Another problem is that property rights in large part are created by the polity in the first place.

    if someone has income from corporate shares, there is no natural law problem with taxation on those earnings.

    myriad examples of property law in a modern state that…are far beyond anything you can derive from natural law theory.

    really amount to or point to, is this: if your property X uses legal forms which were created or supported by government action, then government has first title to its benefits; government has every right to tax it as much as government wants, leaving you as little as government cares to leave you.

    I can only describe such a philosophy as totalitarian. I reject it utterly. It voids all property rights (since everything is touched by some government legal form at some time, and since a thing is not your property, if you don’t enjoy first claim on its benefits).

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — March 8, 2013 @ 4:25 pm - March 8, 2013

  43. What’s up, I check your new stuff regularly. Your humoristic style is awesome, keep doing what you’re doing!

    Comment by virtual office north carolina — March 12, 2013 @ 5:27 am - March 12, 2013

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