PART 7: On the Subjects of Taxation and Regulation
Friday, March 16, 2012
Commentary: On December 2, 2011 I was excoriated by a young "conservative" named Mike, who wanted to give me a hiding for my communist views on "unregulated" capitalism. He called me or more precisely my views "ridiculous" I'll let you decide who is ridiculous. His tirade was quite lengthy so I am publishing my response in 9 parts as "A series of letters from Left to Right: Dear Mike Since his attack was full of vitriol I have taken off the gloves as I see no point of entertaining his bombastic rhetoric. Parts 5-9 are in-response to the object of his real distain—my post called "Adam Smith Re-examined."
I have color coded my blog post that he critiqued in red—his critique in blue—and my response to his critique in black.
PART 7: On the Subjects of Taxation and Regulation
On the issue of taxation Smith said:”The subjects of every state ought to contribute towards the support of the government, as nearly as possible, in proportion to their respective abilities; that is, in proportion to the revenue which they respectively enjoy under the protection of the state. The expence of government to the individuals of a great nation is like the expence of management to the joint tenants of a great estate, who are all obliged to contribute in proportion to their respective interests in the estate.”
You said: Which is fine, and our federal government was originally designed with a very fair and progressive taxation system.
Glad you finally got it. Not surprisingly I agree with you. Rich people ought to pay a progressive tax according to the bounty they receive from living in this wonderful country and count their blessings. Source: Adam Smith
Which is the one of the MAIN POINTS of this blog post. Gee whizz by golly—it's nice that we finally agree on something.
The other point my blog makes—is that one of the prime functions of government is to —according to James Madison—regulate factions [special interests]. Source: the Federalist #10
By the way, in case you hadn't heard, even Ayn Randian, free marketer, uber capitalist, Alan Greenspan had a born again moment and admitted that, "deregulation" had NOT worked out as well as he thought, it would.
Mild understatement I'd say, but never the less, in a Congressional Committee hearing Representative Henry A. Waxman of California, chairman of the committee asked Mr Greenspan:
Waxman: “Do you feel that your ideology pushed you to make decisions that you wish you had not made?” Mr. Greenspan conceded, he said: “Yes, I’ve found a flaw. I don’t know how significant or permanent it is. But I’ve been very distressed by that fact.”
and later said: “Those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholders’ equity, myself included, are in a state of shocked disbelief” Sources: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/24/business/economy/24panel.html and http://www.clayjones.net/2011/04/ayn-rand%E2%80%94the-ugly-rejection-of-oversight/
He found a flaw and doesn't know how significant it is? That, euphemistically stated—"flaw"—nearly took down the entire world economy—in my small corner of the world—that's pretty damn significant.
Shock and disbelief! WOW—he's actually shocked that people are—not just—greedy—but, that— they are—shockingly greedy—and immoral when it comes to money.
And I am even more shocked that Mr. Greenspan is shocked—and may I say—distressingly so.
Unfortunately, we are no longer following it.
Yea I know what ya mean—Warren Buffet is paying less than his secretary. GE paid zero taxes on 14 billion dollars profit and got 30 billion back in tax breaks plus 80 billion from TARP. And, Mitt, man how does he get away with 14.9% on 21 million in income—oops "capital gains"— (wink wink). That's 57,000 a month when a guy making 50,000g grand pays 30%. Back in the good old days when—"I liked Ike" and Republicans were still sane—millionaires were paying a nominal rate of 90% and a effective rate of 50%. Boy—That sounds about right—let's go back to to the days of a "fair and progressive" tax system. Where millionaires and—cocoucoughbullshit—excuse my cough— "job creators" paid their fair share.
If he were alive today he would be the first to approve of a tax increase and a “progressive tax system”, because he knew there is no free lunch. “And that, to whom much is given much is required.”
We’ll have to trust in Weber’s intimate communion with Adam Smith to believe that Smith was a closet commie.
You don't have to trust my psychic abilities, actually, I was just reiterating what he [Smith] said about taxation, which you had just agreed with in his statement on progressive taxation when you said—"Which is fine, and our federal government was originally designed with a very fair and progressive taxation system."—Remember? So, what makes you think he was a closet commie? Those are your words not mine. Although it does kind of sound like he's saying each should pay according to his blessings and abilities...whoa..which does sound a bit Marxian...ooooh ya good catch—who knew?
Anyway, "Adam Smith (or Addie as I call him when I channel his spirit) has sometimes been caricatured as someone who saw no role for government in economic life. In fact, he believed that government had an important role to play. Like most modern believers in free markets, Smith believed that the government should enforce contracts and grant patents and copyrights to encourage inventions and new ideas."
"He also thought that the government should provide public works, such as roads and bridges, that, he assumed, would not be worthwhile for individuals to provide. Interestingly, though, he wanted the users of such public works to pay in proportion to their use". Source the Concise Encyclopedia of Economics at the Library of economics and Liberty
Although, Addie, did tell me personally he was wrong about that whole "unregulated" thing. He said greed is too powerful a sin to ever be left "unregulated." He knows that now and he is sorry.
Just what the heck is “there is no free lunch.
Sorry about the free lunch cliche. As my favorite "whatshisrepublicancandidate" would say—oops!
Because you don't recognize the next quote or seem to understand its meaning I must assume that you are not a god fearing man who reads or believes in the bible—so with that in mind I'll explain my cryptic message addressing your amoral godless capitalist ideology.
And that, to whom much is given (the) godless Capitalist much is required (from said) godless Capitalist ’” supposed to mean?
To whom was much given? (given to the) godless Capitalist
All those people with iPods were given much, (not them—they paid for their iPods remember) are they supposed to give back some of the iPods? (no, the godless Capitalist are suppose to pay taxes!)
* By the way—I forgot you're a godless capitalist—that was a reference to the words spoken by my lord and savior Jesus Christ “And that, to whom much is given much is required.” or in another version "For everyone to whom much is given, of him shall much be required." -- Luke 12:48—
Sorry—It's a morality thing from my childhood values training. You know the "values" the ultra Right Wing Conservatives always parade around when they want to show how righteous they are and how immoral others are. And—I know—it's a bit indulgent of me bringing my personal faith into a discussion about economics but for me it's difficult to separate how a person operates in the world and how the consequences of his actions impact the lives of others around him without regard for the repercussions of said actions. My faith informs my values you might say.
And it also it goes to that "moral hazard" economic thing. You know the lack of incentive to guard against risk where one is protected from the consequences of their actions. You know—like not giving a crap about who gets hurt as long as you can profit.
NEWS FLASH: Although a theory has no moral underpinnings—and is amoral by definition—does not mean the practitioners of said theory are exempt from acting morally—or—are at will to act illegally, immorally or unethically. Which capitalist do quite frequently. Its like driving a car at high speeds while you are drunk and injure or kill someone—you can do it—it just ain't right.
Or does “given” have some tortured new definition that means “selling a product for a price someone is willing to pay?”
No! *see above
Or is Weber talking about welfare and charity recipients, because they are given free lunches — literally — in food stamps and school meals, on top of housing and clothing, so they should start paying taxes instead of freeloading off taxpayers and charities? As far as I know, nobody (besides Obama and Bush and the Federal Reserve) gave money to “the rich” or the other despised demographics usually targeted in this class warfare rhetoric.
Giving back to the country that gave you the opportunities—to be a schmuck if ya wanna be—after you pay your f-ing taxes. That's what Weber was talking about. You sound like a deadbeat dad all puffed up and full of rationales why he shouldn't pay child support because his wife is a bitch.
Should pacifists pay taxes that supported the war in Iraq? Your argument is self serving hogwash. Everybody that pays taxes does so even though they disagree with how some of the money is spent. Including such notable Americans as George Washington, Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Thomas Paine, as well as millions of other nameless Americans who built the infrastructure of this country so that future generations would have a better life than they had. Of course you are the exception to the rule—NOT! So, just shut up and pay your taxes.
In all cases, A provided something B was willing to pay for, and money and goods were exchanged. However, A did not create products at no cost out of thin air, and B did not give money to A and receive nothing in return.
To claim otherwise is very dishonest.
I'm dazzled by your brilliance. And your bullshit is absolutely baffling!
Commentary: Dear Mike: First your are wrong Weber understands perfectly the proper role of government and especially the two we are talking about 1. collecting taxes and 2. regulation of factions.
The Government cannot steal what already belongs to it! Money is printed by the Government for the purpose of providing for the general welfare by means of producing a stable currency that allows people to exchange goods and services. Those functions are not meant to be controlled by the few.
You can earn money and save it—but in the broader context of money's main utilitarian function—which is to "circulate" among the people to provide for their essential daily needs—any circumvention of that function is tantamount to assault when carried to its extremes.
The fact that there are children living in poverty who are malnourished in this country is a symptom of that sociopathic disfunction. We spend billions to discover new ways to kill—and let our children starve. We incite a fervor of jingoistic militarism in young men to "fight for freedom" and let them go homeless. We strain at the thought of a fetus being terminated and swallow the condemnation of single mothers that need assistance to feed their children and want to cut even that meager program to the bare bones.
The conservative right, curse the bleeding hearts liberals for caring enough to try and help those in need, at the same time they call for cutting the programs that help the poorest among us—they conversely—want to lavish more wealth on those who need and want for nothing. That kind of "greed"—is the same as "gluttony"—a person fills themselves beyond their bodily needs— not to satisfy their hunger but to feed an insatiable void in themselves that no amount of food will ever satisfy.
"All the Property that is necessary to a man is his natural Right, which none may justly deprive him of, but, all Property [beyond his needs are] superfluous [excessive] to such Purposes [to sustain him] is the property of the Public who, by their Laws have created it and who may, by other Laws dispose of it." --Benjamin Franklin
"All the Property that is necessary to a man is his natural Right, which none may justly deprive him of..." I know that according to Ayn Randian objectivism and its twisted logic the government is trying to deprive you by taxing you. The second part of that thought however, is anything in excess of those needs belong to everyone and when they are not returned you deprive others of the right you so jealously guard for yourself.
I see that quote as an affirmation—of the natural right of every human to be able to meet their daily needs that sustain them—and in our culture that requires money— that you are trying to deprive them of—and by doing so deprive them of their very existence by starving them and foreclosing on them and throwing them out onto the streets.
"All the perplexities, confusion, and distress in America arise, not from defects of the Constitution, not from want of honor or virtue, so much as from downright ignorance of the nature of coin, credit and circulation." Thomas Jefferson to John Adams
Money printed by "a government" of the people, by the people—is for the people and does not belong to you or a certain class it belongs to everyone.
Here's a theoretical problem: You are on a life raft with one hundred men—including yourself—which is stockpiled with enough food—that if shared equally means all will survive, but one of the other men—with a gun—takes 80% of the food which is more than he needs to survive 80 times over. The others beg him to return what he will not need to survive and not one morsel more. He refuses and accuses them of trying to steal his food and tells them to survive on what he left them. He has the power, to steal what was not his alone in the first place, and by taking more than he needs—means some of the others will die of starvation. You are one of the men that survives, sixty others died.
At his trial the man is accused of premeditated murder. He didn't actually shoot anyone he never touched them physically—he just deprived them of the means to survive while he watched them die. Is that a fair charge? Would you knowing the entire story forgive him and refuse to testify against him? If the penalty were death would you speak up and ask the court to spare his life?
The entire premise for money—was to make it more portable so that it could spread the benefits of its effects at greater distances like blood flowing through the body that nourishes all of its parts.
Your unconscionable arguments for hubris and greed exceed the machinations of Caligula at the height of his sociopathic madness. Tax the rich less than the people that work for them to make them more wealthy? Yet everyone of the Republican candidates has a version of a flat tax where they pay less—and the working poor and middle class pay more.
There is no room for the kind of inequity in an democratic egalitarian society such as America.
“I hope that we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country.”—Thomas Jefferson
“Whoever controls the volume of money in our country is absolute master of all industry and commerce…and when you realize that the entire system is very easily controlled, one way or another, by a few powerful men at the top, you will not have to be told how periods of inflation and depression originate.”—James Garfield
"I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. . . . corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed. God grant my suspicions prove groundless"—Abraham Lincoln
“History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments by controlling money and its issuance.”—James Madison
Obviously, each of them saw the dangerous corrupting influences of "capitalism" that you blindly ignore, and their concerns about the concentration of wealth are coming to fruition. I have stated elsewhere that Democratic Republicanism and Capitalism are NOT naturally allies—once one becomes more powerful than the other—and in the long run they are actually the antithesis of one another. Your steadfast attacks on Democracy disguised as attacks against "big government" and zealous defense of capitalism are a manifestation of that struggle. The fact that I recognize that natural antipathy and you don't sets us worlds apart. As for me I choose Democracy and this American Republic. It is after all—what all the dying has been about over the past two hundred plus years—unless you think our forefathers died for the United Capitalist Corporations of America.
End of Part 7 go to:
Series navigation index:
part 1 http://apoliticalcommentary.blogspot.com/2011/12/part-1-dear-mike-series-of-letters-from.html
part 2 http://apoliticalcommentary.blogspot.com/2011/12/part-2-dear-mike-series-of-letters-from.html
part 3 http://apoliticalcommentary.blogspot.com/2011/12/part-3-dear-mike-series-of-letters-from.html
part 4 http://apoliticalcommentary.blogspot.com/2011/12/part-4-dear-mike-series-of-letters-from.html
part 7 http://apoliticalcommentary.blogspot.com/2012/03/part-7-dear-mike-series-of-letters-from.html
part 8 http://apoliticalcommentary.blogspot.com/2012/04/part-8-dear-mike-series-of-letters-from.html
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
On the Failure of Capitalism and the Demise of Democracy
Commentary: The utter failure of Smith's "invisible hand"—has left a deficit of trust—trust—upon which the market depends for their very existence—and that lack of trust has severely undermined the entire world economic system.
The leading proponents of "unregulated free market capitalism"—have failed to realize or have blindly denied that failure—or, even acknowledge that it was due to "a flaw" in Smith's theory.
Which states that: "no regulation of any type—would be needed to ensure the mutually beneficial exchange of goods and services took place, since this "invisible hand" would guide market participants to trade in the most mutually beneficial manner." Source Adam Smith
The last phrase "mutual benefit" requires faith—which is to say—"a trust"—that each individual is acting with absolute integrity.
How can anyone be trusted when they fail to even admit their failure of integrity. Where is the integrity in that omission? There is—no integrity, hence there is—no trust.
Trust is the first thing lost when people are cheated. And the very last thing restored—but ever so slowly and never completely regained. And even that is not possible when there is continued failure to be honest.
Yet, these "unregulated free market" capitalist zealots furiously cling to the obviously absurd idea—that the down turn is due to—Obama,—overbearing government regulation's,—and of course high taxes,—which accounts, "entirely" for the slow recovery.
Nothing they did is ever the source of the problem. They don't even mention G-dubya-B because they know it was a Republican administration that caused the mess—and they were all part of rubber stamping his policies.
They are like a drunken card player with a maniacal need to bet, double down, on a hand that has already been proven a loser; which is a weaker government through tax cuts, and more deregulation.
Here we are three years later and the Republicans are pushing the same medicine that nearly killed us after eight years of their tax cutting binge left us broke and deeply divided, their entire goal is to defeat Obama—not help the economy recover—not create jobs—so they can reapply the same failed policies.
Insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results.
Like a dog chasing its tail—their ludicrous circular logic is on its face staggering—in light of the monumental failure which deregulation caused—along with it the abandonment of concern for moral hazard—in light of their arrogant, euphoric confidence in their own invincibility. Are they stupid? Are they in denial? Or do they have ulterior motives to destroy this Democratic Republic? Because their illogical rationales don't make any sense.
What sane person would argue for deregulation of traffic laws, yet that is exactly where the "unregulated free markets" libertarian argument leads in its extremes—anarchy.
Attitudes lead to choices—choices lead to paths of behavior—paths of behavior lead to actions—actions lead consequences—consequences lead to results. This is not a new idea. It is a reality born of the collective human experience, and one that every caring parent tries to instill in their children.
Their attitude of arrogance; led to choosing; to deregulate banking—deregulation led to the behavior—of ignoring moral hazard and extreme risk taking—extreme risk taking led to creating credit default swaps—credit default swaps led to a total market default—Consequence: failure of the market—and the loss of trust.
The hollow mantras of the radical rights' call for "personal responsibility" is laughable. Where is there even one advocate of their failed theory—standing up and taking responsibility for its failure?
Not one, other than, a mealy mouthed Alan Greenspan who offered a thinly parsed response during a Congressional hearing—by saying: “...I’ve found a flaw. I don’t know how significant or permanent it is. But I’ve been very distressed by that fact.” And later said: “Those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholders’ equity, myself included, are in a state of shocked disbelief”
Really?—A flaw that took down the entire world economy and he doesn't know how significant? He is distressed? My question is he insane?
Really?—He's shocked that people are not just—greedy—but, that they are—shockingly greedy—when it comes to money and unregulated power. What is really shocking is his total lack of remorse, sense of shame and his utter naivete'.
And now, given the four year time span—even the unrepentant Mr Greenspan has regained his utter faith in deregulation.
And what is their behavior in the wake of the havoc they inflicted? It is to adamantly cling to their discredited theory and continue their shameful behavior and call for—more deregulation—a weaker government that will be unable to stop them—and more tax relief for "the poor overburdened job creating" plutocracy—who don't create jobs.
Add to that the disturbing trend of these, "small government, privatizing, deregulators"—who want to—"regulate,"—our sex lives—"regulate," our ability to vote—"regulate," unions and our right to bargain collectively—"regulate" our access to medical care—and "regulate" our educational choices—and the inevitable demise of this Democratic Republic—called America—is not far behind.
If Americans haven't been awakened by now—and the Republicans—either gain the Senate or the Presidency—Americans will deserve the future that befalls it come November.