Monday, October 03, 2011

This Things I Believe

I am sometimes asked to explain how/why it is I don't go about referring to myself specifically as a political "libertarian" anymore; usually in the context of an accusation that I (and others) mainly dropped it because it's been adopted by the so-called "Tea Party" and thus no longer "cool" - which, to be fair, is at least partially accurate...

The thing of it is; while I am mostly simpatico with "small-L" libertarians on policy and civics details, where we seem to differ is when it comes down to broader worldview.

Simply stated, it strikes me that "name-brand" Libertarianism as it exists now is about "freedom" in general but regards absolutist ECONOMIC freedom - in the form of low-to-nonexistant taxation - as the most important form thereof. And while I'm as averse to wasteful spending as anyone I can't quite go there with them. Entertained as I am by the fantasies of "Atlas Shrugged," Galt's Gulch (or Rapture, for that matter) is not my vision of a better world.

The "better world" I'M striving for is a world free not from the frequently irritating but largely practical economic limitations of a shared society; but rather freed from the unnecessary boundaries of outdated systems of "morality" and/or "consequences" rendered no-longer-mandatory by science.

To place it in less flowery language: My "highest freedoms" are the freedom of individuals to eat, drink, smoke, shoot WHATEVER they want (with the ALL IMPORTANT caveats of adulthood and responsibility) and to fuck, marry, divorce WHOEVER they want (with the ALL-IMPORTANT caveats of adulthood, consent, sound-mind, etc) impeded by as few unnecessary consequences as possible; and if a tax-funded "social safety net" is part of the aparatus necessary to make such freedom-from-unecessary-consequence possible... then, quite frankly, Uncle Sam can HAVE my goddamn money.

I dunno if there's a "name for that position, but it's mine.


Nathan said...

If the state doesn't have any money, how would it stop anyone from doing those things?

gCrusher said...

Well put. Thank you.

Sean said...

I've always used the term 'civil libertarian'. Although I understand many like to throw that term around as an insult.

TheAlmightyNarf said...

"I dunno if there's a "name for that position,"

Pretty much text-book Social Liberalism.

Will said...

Libertarians don't want the government to have no money but not as much and a small government, less convoluted, and more basic.

While there is no set solution to the tax problem with libertarians; ask 10 libertarians and you'll get 8 or 9 different answers.

Personally, I'm in favor of Fair Tax in which we have no tax but sales tax. Sure, the national sales tax would be rather astronomical compared to what we have now but you'd never pay a single penny to the government anywhere else.

But, like Narf said, sounds like you're a social libertarian.

Kent said...

I've always considered that people who can sum up their political view in one word DESERVE to have their political view summed up in one word.

Good to see someone take the time to explain their belief rather than state a one word thought terminating cliche.

Bobby said...

This article's title is totally a Simpson's reference

SonofRyan said...

I;m sorry but the "Fairtax" plan is utterly idiotic. Not only would it cause a significant economic contraction by targeting consumer spending, the basis of our economy, much more important it would target poor people disproportionately. Sales taxes tax the poor more proportionately than the rich and that is nothing resembling fair.

Sylocat said...

Yeah, the "Fair Tax" is bullshit.

But you know what I'd like to see? I'd like to see a taxation applied not to SALES transactions, but FINANCIAL dealings, such as the stock market, &c.

Don't tax the people who actually build stuff and do things. Tax the people who get rich off other people's profits without producing anything. Those are the REAL parasites. All the welfare queens in the world don't bleed this country as much as a single high-profile stockbroker who has never actually MADE anything in his life.

Ryan said...

You're a centrist on money and a radical on social freedom. And that's a good thing - check out "Don't Think of an Elephant" if you haven't already, that'll clarify why you're struggling to work out a political ideology.

I, on the other hand, am a straight-up socialist. It's never been cool, but it's still the right answer.

And oh my GOD is the "Fair Tax" nonsense. It's exactly zero steps away from taxing the poor to support the rich.

I understand that some Republicans are like that because of misguided beliefs about religion, but the libertarian faith in free markets is really the silliest thing in the conservative arsenal, because it claims to be rational despite its self-evident foolishness. That's why Ron Paul will never win anything or be taken seriously. No matter how much integrity he has, believing in fairies is still wrong.

TheAlmightyNarf said...

@ SonofRyan

The only way a higher sales tax would disproportionately effect poorer people would be if poorer people spent a disproportionately large amount of their income on non-essentials (as just about every sales tax and proposed sales tax in the country I've ever heard of exempts essentials like food, medication, or education). If it disproportionately effected anyone, it would be people who irresponsibly spent beyond their means.

And, while it may not be "fair", I think forcing the wealthy to pay higher sales taxes in the US is still a better option than them not declaring their income in the US to pay any taxes on at all.

I also don't think it would effect consumer spending much since, in principle, people shouldn't actually be paying a significantly different amount in taxes. People should still have approximately the same buying power. They'll simply adjust their expectations for what a given amount of money can buy.

@ Sylocat

I'm fairly certain those are taxed.

biomechanical923 said...

Bob's political philosophy in a sentence:

"I should be able to do whatever I want with impunity, and rich people should give me all their money."

SonofRyan said...

1. Very few state sales taxes except essentials currently and I don't believe the FairTax plan would either, this is why it is inherently regressive.
2. That's like saying "oh, well people are going to break the law so why have the law at all" that's a ridiculous assertion and the issues is not proper enforcement of tax law an tax law being somewhat too complicated, rather than an issue in general.
3. Nearly 10% of people's spending not affecting things? I find that hard to beleive
4. Biomechanical: No, it's "I should be able to do anything I want that's not hurting anyone with impunity" which isn't really such a weird thing to say and "Rich people benefit disproportionately from society and so they should help those who've been disproportionately left behind by society," Your argument is a strawman.

Laserkid said...

I can respect that opinion even if I don't fully agree.

I've been reffering to myself as liberetarian because it is the "closest" to me. I once upon a time considered myself conservative but I don't really fit that bill. I can agree with them on many moral issues but then turn switchblade when they try to go to moral enforcement (such as abortion which I find to be completely morally abhorrent - however I think outlawing it helps no one).

I think the governments are necessary - but being that they are run by people they are at best inherently inept, and at worst inherently corrupt (or corrupting - I think the far vast majority of politicians on either side do go to the job with the intent to make the country better).

However, the one thing governments are inherently good at is keeping themselves around through military and political might. This is why it is good to have them around if they are well restricted enough - it keeps royal douchebag dictators from ruling over others from anarchy. Given this some taxing is well within reason and I would not say they shouldnt tax stuff.

I would say that governments need to be watched carefully and both spend and tax as little as they can get away with. I have no idea what that amount actually is and am well open to debate on this - but I think the US government has gone well past the rails.

I like that the democrats want the government to protect people. This is its natural function. I do not like that they expand this into areas it need not go to that ends up with constrained freedoms.

I like that the republicans want to keep government taxing and spending under control. I don't like that they fail miserably in this regard by their own policies and that they want to strongarm laws that restrict freedoms.

In short I don't like the left or the right of the US political system all that much - I am more sympathetic to the right then I am at the left but this very well may be because thats where I started (if you talked to me ten years or more ago I would be calling myself a conservative and taking far more ridiculous right wing stances then I do).

Let me put it to some hot button issues.

Abortion - morally abhorrent, but should not be made illegal due to the damage such an action would do.

taxation - I generally preffer a flat tax, but failing that - NO ONE should have to pay more then a quarter of their income to the government - but loopholes need to be closed up. Part of the tax problem is because the rates are so high the truly rich people hide their money in loopholes and the people between grades of pay get hammered for no good reason.

religion - Outside of historical peices in the government that are already there that tearing down would destroy history and heritage the government should not be evoking religion in its buildings, currency, or other things. However, no one should ever be prevented from making any private religious display anywhere.

illegal immigration - does need cracking down on, but there should be some serious looking at streamling the legal immigration system such that it is not so obtuse that people turn to illegal immigration as a feel of necessity. This would end a ton of issues all around.

guns - some form of gun control is not just reasonable but damn smart - a wait period, block for felons, even a required test to show competency with the weapon I am down with. the concept of outright banning guns is a terrible idea - those who commit crimes with guns generally don't care to follow laws that say they can't have guns if they're already willing to ignore laws against murdering or assaulting someone. All gun bans do is keep guns out of the hands of law abiding citizens who might use it for their or others' defense.

gah this is getting long

tldr: I dont agree fully with bobs stance but I respect it and my stance in general is to be extremely careful with any government as rulership is inherently corrosive.

Anonymous said...

Consentualist- a person who believes that all authority comes from the consent of the governed, not the from the approval of a majority of the governed, but from the consent of each individual capable of giving consent for the use of force against their person. Consent and permission are not the same thing.

Do you really mean the “if” concerning a safety net? Would you approve a bankruptcy court deciding which individuals, who were not being helped by a non-proselytizing charity, deserved the government social safety net? Would you stick with the legislative wealth transfer scheme to make yourself feel better about helping the poor? Do you believe that government, and hence the use of force is the first or last line of defense in the social safety net?

When it comes to deciding where the money for a such a social safety net comes from, I can't stop you from volunteering your money. Will you come after my money with force, or will you fund your social safety net from our money? Our money would be taxes from people who use the social contract. Professionals like doctors use reserved words that we have all agreed belong to the collective. People who use public occupancies, like restaurants, use reserved words and health inspectors to regulate food. This is our money. You can avoid being a professional by calling yourself something else. You can avoid being a restaurants by being a private club or personal residence. You can't avoid using your body for labor in order to live. A consentualist recognizes no legitimate tax on involuntary action.

I think therefore I am a sentient being. You think therefore you are a sentient being. We think and therefore are equal. My ability to control you is equal to your ability to control me is equal to my ability to control me is equal to your ability to control you is equal to what is consented. If you do not recognize the need for my individual consent, then my original assumption that you are a sentient being is in doubt. Except for immediate and exigent self defense, a sentient being must offer a “due process” of notice of harm and the opportunity to defend actions as those of sentient being. When no reasonable doubt exists that a being is not acting as sentient being, that being is deemed an animal. An animal with any dangerous power; like the the cunning of a human, the might of tiger, or the lethality of a deadly bacteria; is legally a monster. A monster not in captivity may killed as a threat to sentient beings.

anarchist- a person who opposes the use of organized violence even when the use of organized violence may be a legitimate use of self defense. See also animal.

minarchist- a person who opposes the use of organized violence against their own person, but not necessarily against others. See also animal and hypocrite.

Regligionist- a person who allows a belief system impervious to logic to influence their own actions, inactions, public approvals, public disapproval, or any combination thereof. See also animal, theist and atheist.

Theist- a person who without logical proof believes God exists; God created the universe; God speaks through oracles, prophets and holy texts even though, if God exists, God created logic to identify such oraculorism as inconsistent with a singular truth; and that the soul exists. See also animal and hypocrite.

Atheist- a person who without logical proof believes God does not exist even though absence of evidence is not evidence of absence; God did not create the universe even though absence of evidence is not evidence of absence; God does not speak through oracles, prophets and holy texts; and the soul does not exist even though the lack of the possibility to affect a future outcome means the absence of thinking as a solution, the absence of consequences for actions, and represents an organized form of nihilism, implicitly denying the ability of any sentient being to exist. See also animal, monster, corporate externality, and limited liability.

biomechanical923 said...

Your rebuttal in favor of impunity kinda goes right out the window, considering that Bob is trying to claim the right to shoot anything he wants.

Also, the rich do not benefit disproportionately from society, the benefit they receive is proportional to the value of the goods and services they provide.

Instead of whining about rich people having more money, maybe more people should actually contribute to society by inventing a new product, providing a valuable service, or selling something.

Over-taxation of the rich is a punishment against people with intellectual property.

biomechanical923 said...

Quote: Moviebob

"...freed from the unnecessary boundaries of outdated systems of "morality" and/or "consequences" rendered no-longer-mandatory by science."

Free of "consequences", eh??

Translation: "I should be free to do something stupid and get hurt or sick, and you should have to pay my hospital bill"

Will said...

Yes, lets sit here and make massive jumps from little snip-its of Bob's formed opinion.

Also, the fair tax is rather fair. The rich who buy these massive houses, boats, and whatnot would end up paying massive amounts of taxes while the poor, who wouldn't be buying too much anyways, would end up paying very few taxes. Fair tax would end up targeting the rich much more than other groups.

Without any other taxes, people would be receiving more of their money that they rightfully earned, thus more incentive to spend more money, and thus stimulating the economy and supporting the government at the same time.

Sean said...

I'd say you're actually pretty ensconced in the Western mainstream, Bob.

Which places you weirdly in the United States of course... but not so much in Australia or most of Western Europe.

Well, except the shooting bit.

TheAlmightyNarf said...

@ SonofRyan

1. That's simply untrue. As much as I loath using the site, Wikipedia has a good break down of this. Thirty states except food out right, and 8 others have lowered sales taxes for food (and 5 having no state sales tax at all). In fact, only 8 states don't reduce taxes on essentials in some way.

I, personally, would not support any fair tax that didn't.

2. The real problem isn't a "loophole". It's that people don't necessarily have to declare their income in the US, and that's just a reality of living in a global economy. Money is fungible, and the place it comes from is fungible. I don't see how we can actually force that issue in any sort of legal way.

And bitching and moaning about how the wealthy won't play ball the way we want them to isn't going to help anything. I choose to except that they're never going to pay a cent in taxes more than they have to, and want to see practical solutions that try to work around that. It doesn't have to be a fair tax, but what we're doing now simply isn't working.

3. No, it's a negligible amount of spending. The difference between paying, let's say a 25% income tax or a 25% sales tax on everything should end up being pretty nil. Ultimately the same amount of taxes are being paid on the same amount of money.

Nixou said...


Speaking of libertarianism, have you read this:

It's an interesting case, not merely because he changed his worldview when part of his ideology stopped being merely abstracts and became a real threat to his livelyhood, but because he candidly admits it.



"I like that the republicans want to keep government taxing and spending under control"

That's a lie.
The republicans claiming that they want to keep spending under control is a lie, has been since at least Reagan: The US federal budget was 72% larger when he left than when he took office, and the same pretty much happened under Bush Junior. And don't go blaming the democrats in Congress for it: the cumulated budgets passed under Reagan were actually lower than the budgets he requested.

Republicans do not want to keep the government spending under control: they have not wanted this ever since the voodoo-supply-side-economics became their official dogma (which has become like the immaculate conception for Catholics: everyone knows it's bullshit, but we're still not supposed to say it out loud).

What they want, right know, is to sabotage the federal government so that there will be enough voters pissed enough to give them back the White House, but you can bet the skin on your ass that should a republican be back in the White House, he will start not taxing and spending too much again: this is a safe bet, because in the end this is what his voters want.

In the US as in every other wealthy countries, public spending is actually very beneficial to pretty much all right-wing voters, so when right-wing politicians are in charge, they rarely try to cut spending, because if they genuinly tried it, they would lose most of their voting base. And the supreme irony of it all is that if republican voters started to believe that their elected official are not merely playacting the budgetary hawks but actually believe in their own rethoric, they would stop voting for republicans: isn't it prodigious? You've got a political party that has gone so far down the rabbit hole that now it's only way to be successful is to be transparantly dishonest.

Laserkid said...

@ Nixou: what part of "I don't like that they fail miserably in this regard by their own policies" did you not catch? ;)

I recognize full well the republican party as a whole is just as bad about spending as the democrats are - this is in fact one of my greatest frustrations with them.

Ryan said...

You know how I know a fair tax is a lie? Because it's called a fair tax. When you create a Sales Tax - which is regressive - and rename it using Orwellian doublespeak, you're doing that to hide the fact that you're shifting costs to the middle class and the poor. It's just as easy for the wealthy to evade taxes on retail sales as it is for them to evade taxes on anything else...but a "fair" tax would definitely increase the amount of tax the bottom 90% would pay. Reducing the tax on necessities only goes so far. The other, related problem with taxing consumption is that it leads to less economic activity, which is bad for the overall economy. In fact, taxing anything generally means you get less of it. So...let's tax the living hell out of Hedge Funds, Derivatives, and Shadow Banking generally. Let's also tax lobbying, political contributions over $2000 to any candidate or PAC, and add 1% per employee to the corporate taxes of any corporation that outsources jobs. Problem solved.

TheAlmightyNarf said...

@ Ryan

Sales tax is actually pretty near imposable to avoid in any significant way and remain a resident. If you want to purchase any product, property or service in the country, you pay a sales tax... if you want to import in, you pay a tariff. The only way to avoid it would be to quite literally up and leave the country. Hardly as simple as hiring a tax lawyer and filling out some paper work to get out of income taxes.

And there's absolutely no reason for it to increase taxes on everyone else... The majority of American's pay a 25% income tax, so a 25% sales tax shouldn't leaving them paying significantly more.

"The other, related problem with taxing consumption is that it leads to less economic activity,"

I would love to see some empirical evidence toward that effect.

I mean, yes, a higher sales tax would make things cost more. But, that comes with eliminating income tax and leaving more disposable income. Proportionally exactly enough more income to account for the higher sales tax.

Mister Linton said...

other, related problem with taxing consumption is that it leads to less economic activity, which is bad for the overall economy. In fact, taxing anything generally means you get less of it.

Wow, you summed up exactly why the fair tax is a good idea. Right now we heavily tax productivity not consumption. While some people incorrectly think high consumption=healthy economy, the truth is high productivity=healthy economy.

Nixou said...

"what part of "I don't like that they fail miserably in this regard by their own policies" did you not catch? ;)"

failing would imply that there was actually the intent to make good on the promise to keep spending under control.

Making a promise that you intend to fulfill, then failling to do so is one thing.
Making a promise that you already intend to not fulfill is what republicans have done consistently for the last 30 years: that's not a failure, that's a fraud. Or that would be a fraud if republican voters were duped by their elite's rethoric, except that I'm pretty certain that it is all kabuki theater: republican politicians pledge that they will be controlling spending during their campains, and republican voters vote for them because they know that they will never make good on that pledge.

Ryan said...

Well, we have the lowest taxes on productivity ever, and we're living in an economic paradise now, so...oh wait, that's not true at's though supply-side economics are...wait for it...NOT helpful at all!

Get it through your heads, income-defense zealots: your policies have been tried. They don't work.

Poor people make less money than rich people and pay fewer taxes. If you raise the price of everything and eliminate income taxes, the benefit accrues disproportionately to the wealthy, of whom there are fewer, which means that the ability to sell value-added goods to most of the population is constricted. Less consumption means weaker profits, which in turn hurts productivity by reducing incentives to produce. It's just math.

biomechanical923 said...

Wow.... I actually agree with Ryan on something.
Supply side economics doesn't work, but not for the reason you said.
Supply Side economics is the "theory" that greater economic prosperity will come from lowering taxes and deregulating business, which would allow them to produce more goods at lower cost to the consumer.
Supply Side economics doesn't work because ALL big businesses create artificial scarcity to keep their prices up. It's a huge scam.

However, all of this is no excuse for the general "fuck the rich" attitude that's ubiquitous to this generation. As I said earlier, it seems like mostly spite at the fact that they fail to produce any intellectual property of their own.

SonofRyan said...

1. Biomechanical, please, stop this social darwinist BS that the reason all rich people are rich is due to them producing something useful and contributing to society. There is nothing to support that that is the case always or even the majority of the time. Income is not productivity and you need to stop pretending it is. In fact, as a rule, productivity (measured in terms of worked hours, the most objective measure I can think of) tends to drop off at high income levels due to being easier to substitute leisure hours for work hours at that point.

2. The idea that rich produce intellecutal property and everyone else doesn't is idiotic. There is no reason to hate the rich because they are rich, I agree with you. It is a reason to hate the rich if they are rich and then refuse to contribute back to the society that has given them so much, and to not understand that the marginal welfare gained by them by a bit of additional money is far outweighed by that of the same to a starving person.

3. Narf, while some states not taxing food is all well and good, then there happens to be the issue of what qualifies as a "nessecity" I would argue education and healthcare count, and I think many/most libertarians I know would disagree with me. The idea of what "nessesity" is is utterly arbitrary. Secondly it is still regressive as poor people will generally spend most of their money for consumption as they do not have enough money to invest with whereas the rich do, it's still regressive.

biomechanical923 said...

SonofRyan, please stop spouting this nanny state BS that people shouldn't need to work for a living unless they feel like it. Healthy, able-bodied adults need to have a marketable good or service to offer in exchange for money or wages.

Atomic Skull said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TheAlmightyNarf said...

@ Ryan

It took my like 5 seconds of research to find the US has fairly average income tax (many countries with more many countries with less). Sure, the the income tax in the US is at one of the lowest point it's been at since initiated. But, it's hardly that low compared to other countries around the world.

And it turns out that there are in fact a few countries out there without any income tax at all. Bahamas, British Virgin Islands, Andorra, Monaco, and United Arab Emirates seem to be doing perfectly fine without it... in fact, they're all doing extremely well with very strong economies. Andorra specifically has an almost nil unemployment right now. And UAE has a higher GDP per capita than the US does.

@ SonofRyan

I agree that education and healthcare should count. Thankfully the state I live in also agrees with that, as do many others.

I really don't give a shit what "many/most libertarians" think. Fair tax isn't a "libertarian" cause... it's a "our current tax system isn't working" cause.

The entire system is arbitrary as it is. However, I don't think a commonly agreed upon standard for necessities would be all that hard to come up with.

I can't think of any reason at all why purchasing an investment shouldn't be subject to sales tax. I mean, money earned from investments are subject to income tax now... why not subject them to sales tax?

Anonymous said...

I think you're well within the mainstream of modern libertarian thought. I'm not so far away from your deviations from libertarian orthodoxy (particularly viz. support of the welfare state), and I felt perfectly at home in the institutional libertarian advocacy world, when I worked for a free-market oriented think tank.

Anarcho capitalism isn't the only way to skin this cat. Sure, you have your share of Rothbardian minimal staters that view taxation itself as theft, or antisocial Randroids, but the movement also boasts more moderate followers of Hayek and Friedman. Both of them had no qualms with the welfare state, and where they did have problems with it, quarreled with their top-down and anti-market implenetations rather than the justice of wealth redistribution. Friedman, for example, proposed the negative income tax, which morphed into the Earned Income Tax Credit, a notable bipartisan policy of achieving income redistribution without unduly distorting markets or eliminating incentives to work. This kind of leftist libertarianism is, on the economic front, more concerned about ferreting out the corruption that often takes place when corporations dictate regulatory policy and unleashing competition where government action has insulated hoary organizations from the dynamism of a capitalist economy in areas like international trade and school reform. And they're still sympatico with your civilly libertarian concerns, and indeed on certain issues like the end of the drug war and the expansion of the surveillance state in the wake of 9/11, the only political actors that are taking those issues seriously.

Get thee to Will Wilkinson, start listening to the Cato Institute's daily podcasts, and see if you don't think there's room under the tent for you.

Ryan said...


The countries you're talking about are tiny, wealthy places whose economies are based on tourism, government largesse, and attracting Corporate headquarters by offering tax shelters. I invite you to suggest to an economist that the United States look seriously at the Bahamas as our new economic model and see how that goes for you.

Another few seconds of research, for example, would turn up the fact that 80% of the UAE's population lives in a state of permanent indentured servitude...which is pretty much what would happen to the United States under a deregulated economy.

If you want a fair tax, create one that corrects for the nonsensical assumption that a teacher who works 80 hour weeks deserves 1/100 of the pay and none of the benefits of a CEO who works 4.

And I'd echo the disdain for the argument that the rich create intellectual capital. Do some internet research on how patent law gets used in this country, and by who. Or some research on the way Japanese factories kick Americans' butts by using the intellectual capital of their workers instead of treating them as machine parts.

The cult of wealth is a false idol. Hose 'em, hose 'em good.

Nixou said...

"Bahamas, British Virgin Islands, Andorra, Monaco, and United Arab Emirates seem to be doing perfectly fine without it... in fact, they're all doing extremely well with very strong economies."

Andorra and Monaco are fictional entities: they are pretty much tiny french districts who are kept into a pseudo-sovereignty because it suit France's interest to maintain a couple of puppet states at its borders. the British Virgin Islands are a confetti of the British Empire and very similar to Monaco & Andorra. These "coutries" exist only because France, the UK, and the EU are backing them up, so in the end, these are financed by heavy taxation.
Bahamas economy relies on tourism and finance, which works because it is a tiny tropical country with a small population. As for the Emirates, their wealth comes from oil and natural gaz which are exploited by, guess what: a State Owned Company. So, your examples include a bunch of subsidized puppet states, a tiny country of 300.000 people which takes advantage of its size and unique location, and a quasi-communist federation of emirates: I am less than impressed.

biomechanical923 said...


Yet again, you show that your political views are not based in logic, but rather in knee-jerk emotional spite.

"Fuck the rich, it's not fair. It's not fairrrrr wahhhh"

What's the point of moving up the ladder if higher taxes are going to result in you being paid the same on every level?

SonofRyan said...

1. Biomechanical, you're putting words in my mouth, this plus your blatant ad hominem attacks on me and Ryan show you're not worth talking to, please come back when you're willing to have a civil discourse.
2. NARF, honestly, the countries you brought up are honestly pretty unrelated. Most of them don't really qualify as countries in most sense of the world being glorified cities, and Ryan is right in that at least one of those countries make money by helping people ignore national and international financial laws, which is generally tantamount (or not tantamount, depending on the case) money laundering. UAE is a state that doesn't have taxes because the state takes all the revenue from the oil and gas industry, no a relevant model to most countries.
3. Narf, also the fair tax system isn't fair as well because also taxing higher incoems at higher brackets also accoutns for the disproportionate percent of the overall economy they have, not just that they spend more.
4. Anonymous, no, I will not get me a CATO podcast. CATO has shown itself to be unwilling to put it's poltiical veiws before facts in it's denial of climate change simply cause that would require government intervention, I cannot respect an organizatio that ignores fact's that blatantly. Also libertarianism, certainly the example of the CATO institute, enjoys ignoring market failures like the inability to cope with enviromental externalities.

biomechanical923 said...


I think you don't know what an ad hominem is, since I never used one in this thread. But if you want out of this conversation because you don't have a leg to stand on, and are pretending to be insulted, then feel free to leave.

TheAlmightyNarf said...

@ Ryan

My point wasn't that these countries are necessarily good models for the US to follow. My point was that a country can have a perfectly stable economy without income tax by surviving on high sales tax, tariffs, and other alternative revenue streams which you've suggested is imposable.

When it comes to issues of taxes and government revenue I don't care much about ideology, and I most certainly don't give a shit about what's "fair". I care about practical solutions to real world problems.

The wealthy of our country are never going to pay as much as they should pay in taxes. That's the simply reality of the world we live in, and there's nothing anyone can do about it. However, we can get them to pay some taxes over the no taxes they pay now, and a high sales tax does that. Is it perfect? No. Is it "fair"? Not really. But, you know what? I don't give a shit. It improves the federal revenue without substantially effecting the middle and lower class. And bullshitting around trying to increase the income tax rate for people who don't pay income tax anyway will never do that. You might as well raise the income tax for Martians and unicorns for all the good it'll do. It's a complete waste of time and "feel-good politics" at it's absolute worst.

For all the talk I hear about getting the top 2% to pay more in taxes will help most of our country's financial problems, all I'm suggesting is that we actually get the top 2% to start paying some taxes in the first place.

"If you want a fair tax, create one that corrects for the nonsensical assumption that a teacher who works 80 hour weeks deserves 1/100 of the pay and none of the benefits of a CEO who works 4."

The cold hard reality is that there just isn't as strong a demand for teachers as there are for CEOs, otherwise they would be paid as much. As long as there are thousand of unemployed teachers out there willing to work for whatever their local BoE will pay them, all the while new teachers are trying to enter the work force faster than old ones are retiring, their situation isn't going to get any better.

@ SonofRyan

3. I'm not sure I really follow what you're getting at there. I mean, what exactly is their stake over the economy if not the money they spend? That's where economic power comes from... spending. Money sitting in a vault doesn't influence anything.

jake said...


This Libertarian believes in both market failures and climate change (though he says that while it's a big deal, it's not that big of a deal.)
This might be an interesting read for you, in that he's very moderate about his libertarianism, like the fact that he also supports a safety net, though probably smaller then you want.

Ryan said...


I don't disagree with you because of ad hominem attacks, I disagree with you because I don't think what you're saying is true. I think you're assuming that because I see economic injustice as a problem that means I'm whining, because if *you* were to complain about not having enough money, *you* would be whining. But remember that a difference between us is that I'm a socialist. I really don't believe the world is by necessity a bloodthirsty competition for resources in which he who dies with the most iPods wins. I really do believe that a world in which people come together to pay for public goods like health care, unemployment insurance, etc. is a better one, and I think that higher incomes are, by virtue of representing a much greater benefit from those same public goods, fair game for higher taxation. The CEO of Ikea still seems interested in running his business even with a top tax bracket of 60% (that's 24% higher than ours, and 21% higher than Obama is talking about taxing anybody), which is one of many examples I can give you illustrating why the "Job Creators" argument is *actual* whining by people with too much cash and very little sense of social responsibility.


Right. You don't care what's fair, you care about "real world solutions". People who are being treated unfairly tend to care about what's fair, and people who benefit from unfairness tend to talk about "real world solutions". I think it's awesome that you're privileged, but I think it's not so awesome that you think that means caring about fairness is for suckers. Your moral laziness is bad for other people; to them, *you* are a "real world problem".

Take a couple of minutes to google the tax share paid by the wealthy in America. What you'll find is that they, in fact, pay a pretty significant portion of Federal Revenue, not "nothing".

*Corporations* avoid taxes more successfully, but even they contribute a fair amount of money to Federal coffers. If they and the individually wealthy *didn't* pay so much, they wouldn't spend so much of their time and resources trying to prevent tax increases.

Meanwhile, the reason teachers aren't paid better is that education is a public good rather than a commodity. The economics of teaching have less to do with scarcity than they do with State budgets. I don't have a good explanation for CEOs, but I suspect their ballooning compensation has less to do with normal market forces than you make it sound, since the United States' bizarre idea that a CEO should earn 300x the wage of a worker is relatively exceptional.

biomechanical923 said...


You seem to be under the impression that CEO's do nothing all day but sit around counting money and sexually harassing their secretaries.

The fact of the matter is that the CEO provides a more valuable service than the low-level worker, and is entitled to profit more.

If a burger flipper makes a bad burger, the business may lose one customer. If the CEO makes a bad decision, the business can lose millions of dollars.

Shareholders wouldn't agree to pay CEOs so much unless they agreed that the position was worth it, they would just hire somebody cheaper and split the dividends.

Ryan said...

You're right: market forces are what make CEOs so grotesquely overpaid. Therefore, the government should regulate those forces to avoid the unjust outcome that results.

Anonymous said...

"1. Biomechanical, please, stop this social darwinist BS that the reason all rich people are rich is due to them producing something useful and contributing to society. There is nothing to support that that is the case always or even the majority of the time. Income is not productivity and you need to stop pretending it is. In fact, as a rule, productivity (measured in terms of worked hours, the most objective measure I can think of) tends to drop off at high income levels due to being easier to substitute leisure hours for work hours at that point. "

Number of hours worked is a terrible way to view productivity, to put it mildly. Person A is sewer that has access to a sewing machine. He works 8 hours in a day and manages to churn out 100 shirts. Person B is a sewer of mediocre talent that doesn't have access to a sewing machine. He can't produce any shirts better than Person B, but because he has no sewing machine, he's much less productive. He toils for 16 hours a day, and still only manages to make 20 shirts in a day.
In what way is Person B more productive than Person A?

Now let's try this. Person A is a doctor who has several years of training and a few decades of experience under his belt. Person B is a teenager that's doing relatively well in school but still has little in the way of useful skills. Person A works 8 hours today and saves the lives of two patients; Person B works 10 hours and fixes some burgers for some people. In what way is Person A less productive than Person B?

Productivity is a function of how much people need what you're producing, what skills you have, and what physical capital you have access to that can increase your efficiency.

Ryan said...

...but in the real world, there are many fields requiring years of training and expense that pay much less than fields requiring less training. In a perfect world, anyone with 6 years of training/college would make more than anyone with 2 (assuming they're both hardworking and talented). But in fact, it doesn't work that way, because the society we live in overvalues some work and undervalues others. And that's ok, because it's just money. But, again, if a social worker with 10 years of education is making half of what a garbage man makes with a high school education, and a tenth of what some MBA 22-year-old is making out of college, it's pretty irritating when that same kid acts like paying a little extra tax is an attack on the constitution.

biomechanical923 said...

"Therefore, the government should regulate those forces to avoid the unjust outcome that results."

They do. It's called subsidy. The government subsidizes certain industries to create more incentive for businesses to produce less profitable goods.

For example, market forces dictate that corn is about one of the cheapest things in the world. Farmers don't want to grow corn, because they could get more money per acre if they grew something else. The government subsidizes corn production, thus giving incentives for more farmers to grow corn when they normally wouldn't want to.

There are all kinds of government subsidies for essential industries. Note I said ESSENTIAL industries. There's no subsidy on janitors and burger flippers because there's no need for more.

Another thing about subsidy.... socialists like to throw a shit fit over them, even if they do manage to regulate unjust market forces (like you wanted them to)

biomechanical923 said...

There is no such thing as a service that's overvalued or undervalued. The value is exactly the price that the buyer is willing to pay for it. said...

Surely, the dude is absolutely fair.