I have some interesting correspondents on Facebook and elsewhere that I seem compelled to try to have cogent discussion with. In hopes that doing so isn't totally wasted (which it often seems to be at the end of such exchanges), I'm going to start reposting them here for your edification and (ahem) enjoyment. Please feel free to comment!
This one was started by a picture post that noted that 53% of Democrats had a favorable view of socialism and said that therefore 53% of Democrats were idiots. My replies are started with single dots, and my frined's comments have multiple dots:
- That's it, Bill. Keep looking for a growing share of a dwindling market - that ought to work out well for you...
- ·· When 53% of registered Democrats are too stupid to realize that Socialism has never proven to be successful when put into practice, and Capitalism is what grew the standard of living in America to be the envy of the world and the reason people still want to immigrate here more than anywhere else, we have a real problem. And the hard left is rapidly creating a completely unsustainable government here based on the failed European model that everyone in Europe is rapidly trying to get away from. Even Vladimir Putin is amazed that Obama was re-elected and that Americans are pushing forward towards certain economic crisis that will affect everyone's financials in a very negative way. When the Russians are warning us you know we have gone too far to the left.
- Bill, more than 53% of registered Democrats (and growing numbers of Republicans) are smart enough to realize that it's an exaggeration richly deserving of ridicule to call the policies of a middle-of-the-road Eisenhower Republican "Socialism". You guys are just angry because we've finally decided that while answering accusations of idiocy in kind is almost as impolite as making them in the first place, it's better than watching the country we love turned into a banana republic.
- ·· "from each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs". The essence of Socialism, straight from Karl Marx. We already have an extreme progressive tax code where 50% pay nothing and the top 5% pay 70% of the taxes, yet we have a President after winning a second term continuing to campaign not about how to stop the government waste, excess and fraud but how the top achievers are not paying their "fair share". That is not middle of the road policies, nor is a complete government expansion and power grab of the health care system "middle of the road". We are now stuck with a government that is promising the people things it cannot deliver, or pay for. We are already spending over 100% GDP and Obamacare is not fully implemented. Medicare and Social Security are going bankrupt faster than predicted and no Democrat is offering any solutions. Our national debt is heading for 20 Trillion, and the President wants to do away with the debt ceiling so he can authorize spending increases without Congressional approval. We have been lucky so far that the interest rates on our debt have been low, but that will not last and when the rates start going up the interest payments on our debt will be greater than all of the Country's entitlement programs and there will no longer be any way to ever reach a balanced budget. That does not sound like sound, "middle of the road" policies to me. We are becoming more and more like a Banana Republic.
- Top marginal tax rate proposed by the Obama administration: 39.5% Top marginal tax rate during the Eisenhower administration: 91% (this doesn't take into account the fact that a rapidly increasing share of the income of the top 5% is generated by capital gains, which are taxed at 15%.) Who's the "socialist"?
While we're at it, the share of financial wealth (net worth minus home value) owned by the 5% you claim (falsely) pay 70% of the taxes: 72%. We rank first among developed countries in income and wealth inequality, and ahead of such paragons of democracy and economic fairness as Russia and Iran. We haven’t quite gotten to the level of the banana republics or the central African failed states yet, but we’re getting there, and our tax policy is a primary cause.
As to your assertion that "...the President wants to
do away with the debt ceiling so he can authorize spending increases without
Congressional approval", it's unalloyed bullshit, and if you don't know
it, you certainly should. The debt ceiling doesn't authorize spending a nickel –
that was, is, and will be Congress’ job, in the appropriations process. The
debt ceiling authorizes paying bills the Congress has already incurred, and the
main reason we “…have been lucky
so far that the interest rates on our debt have been low…” is that we have
always paid our debts, so US treasury bills are considered by credit markets to
be the best debt in the world.
The so-called “fiscal cliff” is mostly hogwash designed to stampede the ignorant into creating even more inequality in our economy, but if you really wanted to trash the US economy (and the world’s, by the way), you couldn’t pick a faster and better way to do it than by defaulting on US debt and undermining the US dollar as the world’s reserve currency. Even the threat of doing that causes massive uncertainty and raises our cost of borrowing.
In that context, such threats are like children playing with firearms, and the debt ceiling legislation has gone from being the stupid and pointless political kabuki theater it used to be to the equivalent of leaving a Glock on the coffee table at a five-year-old’s birthday party. In 2011, the Republicans in Congress proved to have the same maturity as those five year olds, and put a bullet in the toaster. Now, they’re wrestling over the gun again, and if they were those five-year-olds, you would take it away from them before something more important than the toaster got shot. That’s what the president and the adults in Congress are trying to do – take the gun away from the five-year-olds.
- ·· Wealth inequality is made worse by all of Obama's policies. The more regulations that become hurdles to starting new businesses is the primary cause of this. Progressive policies favor large monopolies, free market capitalism encourages start-ups and competition. The more it costs to start a new company, the less new companies will be formed, and the legacy companies are the only ones left in the market, so the rich keep getting richer.
The only way you would get a fair tax policy that would fairly address wealth, not income, success or achievement would be to eliminate the income tax and do a consumption based national sales tax. Then nobody would be able to bitch about "fair share", or "makers and takers". Everyone would have skin in the game, and those with large disposable incomes would fairly pay the majority of the taxes.
- Very clear, and equally clearly wrong. Wealth inequality is much greater than it was when our tax rates for the highest income groups were higher. It's much lower in countries which are actually socialist (we're not, and Obama hasn't ever advocated that we become so). We rank 32nd out of 35 in income inequality among the OECD countries, ahead of Mexico, Turkey, and Chile - all of those with the least inequality (Sweden, Denmark, Norway, etc.), and the economic powerhouses of Europe (Germany, the Netherlands, etc.) are social democratic countries with tons of regulation and mixed economies.
- ·· Who cares about income inequality? It is none of the governments business how much money you do or don't make. What matters is opportunity for prosperity, not trying to level the net worth of people by destroying the wealth of successful people. That is what is wrong with Democrats is all of their policies are about re distributing existing wealth (because government cannot create wealth) instead of working towards creating NEW WEALTH by making it easier and cheaper to get a new idea to market, so entrepreneurs can start new companies and hire people. Liberal economics tries to fill a half filled swimming pool by scooping buckets of water from the deep end and pouring it in the shallow end. Allot of energy is expended but you get no closer to the stated goal of filling the pool. You need a hose with a fresh supply of water to fill the pool. That fresh supply is ideas, innovations, materials and techniques that Americans are capable of generating but not as long as the government hobbles them with taxes and regulation.
Democrats act as though if someone makes allot of money it comes at someone elses expense, which is absurd. By one person becoming successful it does not make another person poorer. There will always be income inequality, and if this country wants to have less poor people than maybe we should stop importing poverty from other countries and require a minimum education level or skills to be eligible for citizenship.
- When income
inequality gets bad enough, it represents a significant contributor to
inequality of opportunity, and a violation of the social contract that
maintains civilizations. For a simpler answer to your question, the 80% or our
population who have
to try to build a future out of 7% of our wealth care about income inequality,
and even some of those who are in the other 20% can recognize an enlightened
self-interest in seeing to it that such lopsided distribution of wealth doesn't
cause the society they (we) live at the top of to collapse.
We're miles from my original comment and your original attempt at defense of your post here, and I'm done chasing you around with new facts, so you get the last word. I'll leave you with the thought that if only 53% of Democrats have a good opinion of socialism in a society where 80% of the people live on 7% of the wealth, you're still doing pretty well.
- ·· Where is this "social contract" you speak of? Please forward me a copy. Government can only make people poorer since it has no ability to create wealth. It does have the ability to create a regulatory and financial environment to allow economic growth and prosperity for those people prepared to go to work and trade on their skills, but people will always have to be responsible for their own wealth creation. By creating a "paid consumer" class of people it does nothing to reverse income inequality, it only increases dependency and shrinks the middle class. Taxing the wealthy to make them poorer is not the answer, better education and opportunities for average people to become more prosperous is. But none of the Democratic policies do anything to stimulate small business, they only seek to tax the hell out of big business and wealthy individuals. And that is pure Socialism right out of the Communist Manifesto.
I didn't answer this last post on Facebook because I really am done with chasing this argument in that context - it's been a cavalcade of subject changes and hand-waving on the other end, and I'm tired of it. Here, though, I get the last word - "I paid for this microphone":
The social contract is enshrined in every law and foundational document that orders this country, from the Magna Carta forward. It's also described in some detail by the moral philospher and justifier of capitalism Adam Smith, in both Wealth of Nations and his less known work, the Theory of Moral Sentiments. Copying is difficult, and since the request is rhetorical, I won't bother, but maybe a Google search? As to the rest of the wingnut doctrine that is included in the last post, we don't tax the wealthy to make them poorer, we have a progressive taxation that hits the wealthy harder because they have received the most from society's organization, and can most easily afford to pay the bills associated with maintaining it. As to "...pure Socialism right out of the Communist Manifesto", the ignorance in that remark speaks for itself.