McConnell-Obama Tax Cuts For The Rich Enacted

McConnell-Obama
“Mitch, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

Well, after what TPM’s Brian Beutler termed a short-lived “Kabuki Tax Revolt” by House progressives, the McConnell-Obama tax cuts for the richest of the rich have passed Congress. The progressives could have stopped this cold, but they didn’t. The final vote was 277-148. “Yeas” about evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans.

Here’s what we’re getting in exchange for adding $858 billion to the National Debt over the next two years:

An incredible deal. President Obama’s capitulation to the Republicans and the corporations demoralizes the 63 million Americans who voted for him in 2008 (won’t he need them again in less than two years?) and does nothing to help economic recovery. It does deliver a full (and probably permanent) extension of the Bush income tax cuts, plus an extension of the 15 percent rate on most capital gains and dividends. It creates the lowest estate taxes since 1931 (excepting 2010 when there was no estate tax), at a ten-year cost of $115 billion. One quarter ($225 billion) of these tax breaks will go to the richest one percent.

There’s an extra special deal for the corporations (PDF). They can take advantage of 100 percent bonus depreciation and refundable tax credits for 2011. Potentially, this could zero out corporate income tax for the entire tax year.

That’s not all. The McConnell-Obama deal undermines Social Security by robbing $120 billion from the trust fund and converting it from an insurance to a welfare program funded out of general revenues. That plays right into the hands of Republicans and right-wing Democrats bent on destroying Social Security.

Wait, there’s more. A third of working Americans, about 50 million people, won’t get a tax cut– their taxes will go up slightly next year. “It is just kind of an absurdity that we’re making so many low income and moderate income workers suffer,” says economist Dean Baker. Unemployment insurance is only extended for a one year period, inviting the Republicans to take economic hostages again next time.

Satisfaction guaranteed. Republicans won’t take responsibility for the McConnell-Obama tax cuts. Next year, they will blame President Obama for irresponsibly adding to the National Debt. Using deficit hysteria as an excuse, the GOP will demand draconian non-defense spending cuts. Democrats and progressives will be forced into retreat.

This was arguably President Obama’s best and last chance to kill the Bush tax cuts that are starving government of money necessary to run its most vital functions. Why do the news media keep saying President Obama is “moving to the center?” It’s not true. He would have to go far left of his present position to get to the real political center.

Cenk Uygur:

You want to hear something really depressing? If John McCain had won the presidency, there is almost no chance he could have gotten the Bush tax cuts extended for the rich. Think about it. How was a Republican president going to get an overwhelmingly Democratic Senate and House to pass those tax cuts that they hated under Bush?

No, only a Democratic president could get a Democratic Congress to agree to tax cuts for the rich. So, in this sense, progressives are worse off for having a Democratic president than a Republican one.

Richard Eskow on HuffPo:

There’s a real bipartisan consensus in the nation — to protect Social Security, tax the wealthy, preserve Medicare, improve banking regulations, and ban big bonuses at banks which were rescued by the taxpayers. The ersatz ‘centrism’ being peddled in Washington is on the wrong side of every single issue.

A Yale/Rockefeller Foundation report released Tuesday concluded than more than 90 percent of Americans experienced a substantial drop in wealth or income during the 18 months between March 2008 and September 2009. Nearly a quarter saw their income fall by 25 percent or more.

The official unemployment rate has been above 9 percent for 19 months. Long-term unemployment is at record levels. New college graduates can’t start a career. We need help, we need jobs. Tax cuts simply do not create jobs. If tax breaks for the rich resulted in job creation, we wouldn’t be in the mess we’re in a decade after the Bush tax cuts.

Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson point out what’s missing in the bill the Senate and House just passed:

What about a major effort to create jobs to rebuild our crumbling roads, bridges, and transportation system? Nope. What about giving more relief to struggling states that are laying off teachers and first responders? Nada. Perhaps we could step up the implementation of the health care law to provide expanded Medicaid benefits during this weak recovery, when millions of Americans are still losing their jobs and health insurance. Are you kidding?

This is an epic fail if there ever was one. What little economic stimulative effect McConnell-Obama is likely to have will be canceled out by budget cuts next year, as Republicans target Social Security and other social spending.

UPDATE:
Robert Kuttner writes in Politico:

The tax deal negotiated by President Barack Obama and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is just the first part of a multistage drama that is likely to further divide and weaken Democrats.

The second part, now being teed up by the White House and key Senate Democrats, is a scheme for the president to embrace much of the Bowles-Simpson plan — including cuts in Social Security. This is to be unveiled, according to well-placed sources, in the president’s State of the Union address.

…Obama is already in trouble with older voters. Republicans have succeeded in convincing seniors that the health care reform bill diverted money from Medicare.

Consider what the right will do when Obama moves to cut Social Security. Republicans, with no sense of contradiction or hypocrisy, will whack Obama once for not being sufficiently serious about deficit reduction — then whack him again for cutting Social Security.

  1. #1 by Richard Okelberry on December 17, 2010 - 7:10 am

    Something that has struck me as strange for many years and most recently with this debate over tax cuts is the obsession on the left with taxing the “Rich.” I regularly hear from the left that the new Obama deal gives a break to the Rich, but I don’t ever really hear why that is a problem. Sure people will quote the rising National Debt as a need to tax the Rich but in reality, debt has to do with spending, not taxation. If you personally spend more money in a month than you take in is your first reaction to ask for a raise or reduce your spending the next month to live within your means. You will always have debt if you spend more than you take in. To be honest, it feels as if the left have some irrational deep-seated hatred for the Rich. To me there are some serious ethical dilemmas that arise when you expect so few to carry the largest load in society.

    So I’d like to set up some questions for those that oppose continuing the tax rate for the Rich to help me understand why the left feels that higher taxes for the Rich are both justified and ethical.

    1. It is a myth that wealthy people simply have hordes of cash lying around. Most of their disposable income is invested in various ways. If we were to take say 50% of Warren Buffets holdings away today, we would instantly bankrupt a large number of companies sending thousands of workers into the streets. Without such private investment in the economy, business would be left to barrowing money exclusively from the government which currently has to print it or barrow it from overseas. So, if Obama is correct that increasing taxes on the middle class would hurt the economy, then why would the same not also be true for the “Rich?” When we increase taxes on the Wealthy in this nation, aren’t we essentially taking money out of the economy that would most likely be invested in private industry and thus stimulate job growth?
    2. What does the left believe would be an appropriate level of tax on the Rich? 30%? 50%? 75%? Is there any minimum or maximum?
    3. Does the left believe that it is ethical to use the government to take wealth from one group of individuals and give it to another? Why is this not theft?
    4. The term “Rich” has always been relative. By world standards, our middle class is very wealthy. Does the left also condone taxing anyone who has the basic necessities of life (indoor plumbing, 500sqr ft living accommodations, 1500 calories daily) at a rate over 50% of their income and spending the money on the truly poor around the world? If we are for the redistribution of wealth, shouldn’t the very poorest people be the first recipients regardless of which nation they live in?

    I know that some of this may seem rhetorical. But I am serious about trying to understand this obsession that some on the left seem to have with sticking it to the Rich. I’m not looking for a fight but short of any concrete explanations, it seems to me that this whole obsession with the Rich from the left is a prime example of using a common enemy as a rallying point for the masses. To me it seems like nothing more than greed and envy run amuck.

  2. #2 by shane on December 17, 2010 - 8:10 am

    This sounds a lot like your explanation of global warming and inversion. You have left out the most important facts, and then you are shocked that you can’t see what is happening…

    BTW, how is your lawsuit coming along?

    If this is an ethical dilemma to you, I recommend an ethics class.

    First of all, people are not rich in a vacuum. They gain wealth
    (in this case, in America) in a structured society that includes things like laws, services, courts, regulations, and general infrastructure. They use these things to become rich. Bill Gates would not be wealthy if we didn’t have such things. Expecting those who gain the most advantage from services to also pay for them is not hating the wealthy, it is rational.

    1. It is a rightwing myth that the ways in which the wealthy have money invested is a better way to make the economy healthy than government investment in infrastructure. Millions of dollars in a hedge fund is how we got the stockmarket collapse, and the housing bubble. Taxing the same money and then using it for jobs programs, infrastructure, foodstamps, etc, is how we got out of the great depression. Can you see the difference?

    2. No there is no minimum or maximum. The amounts depend upon the levels of far too many other issues in the economy, just as they do for everyones tax rate. A large part of it has to be tied to what is spent. You want to know the best way to cut taxes? Stop wasteful spending on things like irrational wars and no bid contracts for the company of the VP.

    3. See number 1. The price of having a society is two fold, first there are things that must be paid for in a society, and they benefit all members of said society. If one of the things you do with your money is attempt to make more money, then you are taking advantage of those parts of society to a greater extent. Thus you get the benefits and thus you owe more. Secondly, the easiest way to grow that money i for the economy to be healthy. The surest way for that to happen is to have that same infrastructure i keep mentioning. So it is self rewarding. Maybe that is why so many millionaires support the higher tax rate.

    Theft? Do you generally think you should get services without paying for them? That explains the rights approach on this topic, doesn’t it. Entitlement thinking. Brought to you by those who bitch about it the loudest.

    4. Yes, I think the poorest should be the first recipients, regardless of nationality. But that also requires a world wide government. That is ethics. Welcome to the world of morals.

    It doesn’t seem rhetorical. It seems more that you are ignorant of the most basic notions of social ethics (politics in the greek sense) and economics. If you want to look at this as an obsession, well, it is. The right is obsessed with cutting taxes on the richest. Why would they do that?

    Basically because they wish to see the entire government collapse. “Small enough to drown it in the tub” and all that. Which really raises questions about those who vote for the right. Their stated goal is to destroy government, which may often be evil, but remains a necessary evil. Without, society simply ceases. They claim to want this because government doesn’t work. Yet it remains the one thing that has worked. To ruin a famous quote, government is terrible, it just works better than anything else we have tried.

    So ask yourself this: why would any sane person vote for people who think government is evil and should be destroyed, to lead the government? Especially when the “proof” is that government doesn’t work. Why doesn’t it work? Because you keep electing people intent on making it not work.

    I watched one of the late night talk show types once murder a joke. He then said to one of the writers “Did I tell you that joke wouldn’t work?”

    “Yes, you did.”

    “And?”

    “And you made it not work.”

    This is what those who vote for the right do in America. Only they aren’t smart enough to see that they are the ones making it not work…

  3. #3 by cav on December 17, 2010 - 8:21 am

    Everybody…cake for breakfast!

    Then we’ll talk about bailing out the bankers and compulsary support of illegal wars n’ shit.

  4. #4 by shane on December 17, 2010 - 8:31 am

    Agreed! Cake it is…

    Which brings up the obvious proof of who is getting benefit form the government. The multimillionaire hedgefund guys who got bailed out, or the average guy on the street? Who got a bailout? And who caused the mess?

    There you have it!

    So tell us Okels, why do those big mean “librels in de goberment” hate main street so, and love wallstreet…

  5. #5 by cav on December 17, 2010 - 8:49 am

    Seriously, it does seem as though – if there were two applicants for, say the head of the FCC, both equal in every way except for the amount of money their family inherited – there would be no question who get the nod.

  6. #6 by glenn on December 17, 2010 - 9:15 am

    Shane you exclude the possibility of national breakup based upon viable regional economies. This is what generally occurs when an empire that has run its course, and has squandered the good will of much of its citizenry, and their wealth. It happened to Rome, England, and recently the Soviet Union. It strikes me from study that the most successful nations of heterogeneous race, culture and ethnicity find their success at about 45-60 million people. Single race and ethnicities seem to more able to function with greater numbers, they just have more cohesion for those basic reasons. We are already seeing the unwillingness of States to follow unfunded federal edicts, and areas of the country are ceding back to their historical roots, namely the SouthWest.

    However it has come about, the laws which enabled this disaster were arrived at in a bi-partisan fashion. Of the 25 richest members of Congress, 14 are Democrats. What has happened with Obama and the tax bill is certainly no surprise to me given the reality.

    I would submit that the oligarchy and elite rich did not just use the infrastructure paid for by US citizens, they have used the human capital and infrastructures of other nations to do business, keeping a huge military at hand to keep that coercive force in place should any people’s wish to change the colonial deals enacted on our behalf by compromised leaders of these nations.

    We as a nation have suffered economic destruction due to the fact that these products made by wage slaves overseas find their way here with no tariffs, making it untenable to engage in manufacturing in this country. Hence the unemployment and decline into low wage, no benefit service jobs, and the resultant rise in government employment which generally creates little productive. This is all now paid for by a population with lower wages, and lower prospects. There are people we know, you and I, that have made their fortunes on the backs of this very injustice. It’s all “legal” though, and many of them claim to be progressive, or subscribe to the Democrat brand.

    These laws for trade began with Gatt, and then Nafta, all arrived at in bi-partisan fashion. As for the manner in which banks operate Glass Steagal was eliminated by a republican congress and approved by a Democrat president Bill Clinton.

    The wars we have engaged in for hegemony have been started by both parties, and ended by one or another. Vietnam, Kennedy’s and LBJ’s war, ended by Nixon, Bush’s wars not yet over and escalated by Obama. There is plenty to see in all of this and the blindness afflicts either end of the spectrum.

    As for the depression, it was much worse than now with people actually starving, the social programs enacted by FDR kept the people without means from falling off the earth, but the economy itself was truly saved by the advent of WW2. Cash and Carry bankrupted England, and Lend Lease put them so far into debt that by wars end we inherited their empire in their abdication.

    These 2 programs existed before we ever fired a shot. US entry in the war drove the industrialization of America which after the war left the US as sole intact power with a massive industrialized base and trained workforce. While the government managed the affair, it was the working power and ingenuity of the American people that brought this into being.

    From my view of history what with our expansion into nations militarily for control of energy and markets, it is looking like this pattern might repeat itself, though now we are the empire at war, and China is not, lending us the money to continue our conflicts, as we once did for Britain. In this analogy between the US and Britain, and now the US and China, I will leave it to you as to where you think it is headed.

  7. #7 by Brewski on December 17, 2010 - 9:35 am

    It creates the lowest estate taxes since 1931 (excepting 2010 when there was no estate tax),

    You mean during a period of total Democratic domination of the White House, House and Senate?

  8. #8 by Richard Warnick on December 17, 2010 - 9:40 am

    R.O.– Thanks for joining the discussion. If you had listened to the floor debate in the House last night, or perhaps tuned in last Friday for part of Senator Bernie Sanders’ 8 1/2 hour Senate speech, you would already have the answers you seek.

    Before I answer your questions, I have one for you. Do you or do you not support the McConnell-Obama tax cut deal? Right-wing blogs have been very quiet about this.

    Bernie Sanders pie chart

    1. Business is sitting on an enormous pile of cash right now. Corporate profits are at an all-time high. Why are they not hiring? Because consumers are not spending. “Trickle-down” economics does not work. Just look at the last decade of job losses under both Bush and Obama.

    2. First of all, I’m a conservative so I don’t speak for “the left.” We need to have a graduated, progressive income tax system. Right now we don’t have that. The top marginal rate is 35 percent, whether your taxable income is $374,000 or millions of dollars. Capital gains and dividends (no matter how much) are taxed at a flat 15 percent, which is the same as the middle-class income tax rate.

    3. Again, I don’t speak for “the left” (assuming it exists outside Glenn Beck’s imagination). “Taxation is theft” makes no more sense as a slogan than “property is theft.” If you don’t like deficit spending, the money has to come from somewhere. The American middle class is tapped out, 90 percent of the people in this country lost net worth during the Bush administration. Meanwhile, the top 10 percent is sitting on 71 percent of the wealth.

    4. See graph, below. The wealthiest Americans are getting 50 percent of all income, same as the 1920s.

    Income chart

    Now, can you explain the Republican obsession with tax cuts? Experience has proven that tax cuts for the rich do not help the economy. Instead, they create asset bubbles that lead to market crashes, government bailouts, and Wall Street bonuses. Tax cuts also lead to more outsourcing of jobs overseas, and declining wages in the U.S. Furthermore, extreme inequality causes unhealthy, unstable societies. I’ve seen this first hand in the Philippines and elsewhere.

    The only practical route to economic recovery in the midst of a near-Depression is for the government to invest in infrastructure and to become the employer of last resort. Children are writing to Santa Claus this year asking for warm clothing and help with the heating bill. This is a nationwide economic crisis, yet only the wealthiest Americans are getting heard in Washington.

    The Bush tax cuts bankrupted the nation and doubled the National Debt. They contributed to the housing asset bubble that nearly caused a second Great depression. It’s utterly insane to extend them permanently (which is what the Democrats just did, despite Obama’s promise to fight next time).

  9. #9 by cav on December 17, 2010 - 9:49 am

    Glenn, thanks for that erudite expansion of some of the possibilities we face.

    Regarding R.O.s questions, Rich people have proven repeatedly over the last 30 years that they do not spend their windfalls on anything that benefits the bottom 98% of society. They do not create jobs (according to the NYTimes, young people who can’t find work are the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs), or purchase goods (at least, not that much more than the middle class), or even spend it, so it goes into the banking system where it’s used to manipulate and rob the rest of us.

    We desperately need infrastructure and jobs: the money we get from a progressive taxation policy could fund that. As a nation, we have always done better under progressive taxation.

    And here’s one more: We have avoided the major historical pitfalls of the 20th century because occasionally we made real attempts to rein in naked greed. We did not become Soviets because we allowed unionization and corporate regulation in the teens and twenties. We did not become Fascists because we had the New Deal. Etc. We NEED progressive taxation to keep us from becoming the North American equivalent of Saudi Arabia.

  10. #10 by glenn on December 17, 2010 - 9:55 am

    They are not hiring because there is nothing to invest in that has any security. No one holding cash after what we have seen trusts that what they might invest in isn’t bunko. if there was any idea where the direction of the world economy is going investors might loosen up.

    An enormous pile of cash that was given to them in the form of money creation which now exists as debt for the American taxpayer. I this crazy gamble does not pay off, it’s game over.

    Taxation to pay for interest on fiat created money which is being held to no purpose is just theft, it is stupid theft, like robbing a 7-11. Fiat created money diluting everyone’s holdings, even the rich. No one else in the world wants to go along with it anymore.

  11. #11 by Shane on December 17, 2010 - 10:12 am

    I think Richards post is the most enlightening one here, if for nothing else than he feels he is a conservative, and honestly I am pretty damn liberal, yet we manage to get to the same basic ideas by almost the same route, from the same problem.

    Yet the washington set has the exact opposite view. You might say that Richard and I are more interested in being realists than in being political (in the modern sense) and they are more interested in being glenn style bitch but don’t fix it populists than in being realistic.

    Glenn, “they” are not hiring, because as cav points out the “they” that powers trickle down econ doesn’t exist. “They” just keep the damn money. And if they can’t find anything to invest in that actually helps the economy, I have a hint for them, see my first post….

    Reality, it can be a bitch, but it beats the non-existant 10 times outta 10.

  12. #12 by cav on December 17, 2010 - 10:32 am

    FDR was rich, but he understood that he was privileged. I’m not sure your average hedge-fund manager does, or how different everyone else’s lives are in comparison to theirs. I’m fairly certain there is a layer, exceedingly small thought it is, which comprise the very topmost pinnacle of wealth, who have absolutely no concern, who are hidden from us, and who see and manipulate the system in ways most of us cannot even comprehend.

  13. #13 by glenn on December 17, 2010 - 11:16 am

    How long are people going to wait until they General Strike?

    It is though a soporific has been introduced into the water and country is going to wander off in an ambien induced somnambulism and wind up in a ditch and come up missing.

    Shane, if you read my writings on what would happen if Obama was elected none of this would be any surprise. “They” don’t invest here as it is expensive and fraught with regulations, and the NIMBY attitude from all quarters creates instability they don’t have to deal with elsewhere. The primary commodity “They” utilize is labor, and American labor costs more and does not yield any better results for their profits. “They” can do 2 things, sit on the money created out of thin air that is now our debt that Bush, Obama, and congress gave them, or they can take that money in the Gatt, Nafta created world and do their production there with our money. This situation was made “legal” through a bi-partisan effort.

    The progressive partisan bitch fest is predictable, and to no effect, this oligarchy has shoved this down our throats, with all but one man disagreeing. Blaming the right for this might make you feel better, but it denies the facts. Obama is the bankers shill. Progressives were taken in, and now lie in shambles as the world moves on.

    There is no democratic solution to this, that you would like anyway, the system is utterly compromised. You either tolerate being a commodity within your own country, or you don’t.

    Would you elect Obama again, to what end? You say end wasteful wars, Obama can and never will do that, in fact the opposite is in evidence. To this weakness you would trust a one world government?

    As for millionaires supporting the higher tax rate, the millionaires in Congress just disagreed. If the millionaires you believe in are true to their altruism, there is absolutely nothing stopping them from making donations to the Federal government, the means of doing so is right on the tax form. If they pay any at all. What a farce!

  14. #14 by glenn on December 17, 2010 - 11:19 am

    Hey, my comment is in the moderated quo, any reason?

  15. #15 by glenn on December 17, 2010 - 11:29 am

    Shane, if you read my writings on what would happen if Obama was elected none of this would be any surprise. “They” don’t invest here as it is expensive and fraught with changing regulations often politically motivated, and the NIMBY attitude from all quarters creates instability they don’t have to deal with elsewhere. The primary commodity “They” utilize is labor, and American labor costs more and does not yield any better results for their profits. “They” can do 2 things, sit on the money created out of thin air that is now our debt that Bush, Obama, and congress gave them, or they can take that money in the Gatt, Nafta created world and do their production there with our money. This situation was made “legal” through a bi-partisan effort.

    The progressive partisan bitch fest is predictable, and to no effect, this oligarchy has shoved this down our throats, with all but one man disagreeing. Blaming the right for this might make you feel better, but it denies the facts. Obama is the bankers shill. Progressives were taken in, and now lie in shambles as the world moves on.

    There is no democratic solution to this, that you would like anyway, the system is utterly compromised. You either tolerate being a commodity within your own country, or you don’t.

    Would you elect Obama again, to what end? You say end wasteful wars, Obama can and never will do that, in fact the opposite is in evidence. To this weakness you would trust a one world government?

    As for millionaires supporting the higher tax rate, the millionaires in Congress just disagreed. If the millionaires you believe in are true to their altruism, there is absolutely nothing stopping them from making donations to the Federal government, the means of doing so is right on the tax form. If they pay any at all. What a farce!

  16. #16 by glenn on December 17, 2010 - 11:33 am

    How long are people going to wait until they genrul stryk?

    It is though a soporific has been introduced into the water and country is going to wander off in an ambien induced somnambulism and wind up in a ditch and come up missing.

    I do believe those words made the post moderate. Wonder why? Progressives afraid of such an measure?

  17. #17 by glenn on December 17, 2010 - 11:34 am

    How long are people going to wait until they general strike?

    It is though a soporific has been introduced into the water and country is going to wander off in an drug induced somnambulism and wind up in a ditch and come up missing.

    I do believe those words made the post moderate. Wonder why? Progressives afraid of such an measure?

  18. #18 by glenn on December 17, 2010 - 11:36 am

    Ah here we are, the thing that moderated the post was the sleep drug Tiger Woods likes to have sex on. Substitute drug induced for that, and that is all it takes to get moderated.

  19. #19 by Richard Warnick on December 17, 2010 - 12:04 pm

    glenn reminded me of something.

    Does anybody know if McConnell-Obama gave multi-national corporations tax deductions for overseas investments? I omitted this from the post, because I haven’t seen a complete rundown of the final bill that passed.

  20. #20 by glenn on December 17, 2010 - 12:28 pm

    You referring to this? 4 democrats voted with the republicans.

    http://www.dnaindia.com/money/report_anti-outsourcing-bill-dies-a-quiet-death-in-the-us_1445417

  21. #21 by cav on December 17, 2010 - 12:51 pm

    From Glenns link: Corporate America says the current tax rules are aimed at putting US firms on an “equal tax footing” with foreign rivals who benefit from favourable tax regimes in their home countries.

    I’d add that many a corporation also wants to see any remaining vestige of union activity in the U.S. busted, and wages and benefits driven down still further.

    Perhaps that goes without saying.

  22. #22 by glenn on December 17, 2010 - 1:25 pm

    Stick a fork in it, it’s done. I suggested the General Strike a long time ago. It was like pissing up a rope, where is that hope? What the future is to bring is right before us. Even Unions believed in Obama, he paid lip service, and went along to get along.

    And now begins a cautionary tale
    of crazy whims and money fail
    of people once obsessed with houses
    to date are crying as real estate douses
    and onward toward the money creation
    that we are told won’t cause inflation
    as though the public were a child
    with brain of mush and perception mild
    the left with all its power spent
    would claim the house, can’t pay the rent
    and of those wincing in disappointment
    their Prince just shrugs without discernment
    and says, “what did you expect me to do”?
    “go down in flames and follow all of you”?
    the party that emerge from common folks ire
    who paying of tax and bill footing tire
    makes its voice heard to all those a sitting
    accustomed to power, though application unwitting
    long time has passed in nation at war
    as trillions mount and dead, but pray tell, what for?
    there appear to be no common solutions
    and due to the lack, we see retribution
    showing its face for all people do see
    the nation divided, though country tis of thee.

  23. #23 by Brewski on December 17, 2010 - 1:35 pm

    Experience has proven that tax cuts for the rich do not help the economy. Instead, they create asset bubbles that lead to market crashes, government bailouts, and Wall Street bonuses. Tax cuts also lead to more outsourcing of jobs overseas, and declining wages in the U.S.

    Richard, can you please explain this? I’d like to know what the causal effect of taxes are with asset bubbles, outsourcing, etc. Also, please distinguish between cause and effects of tax policy with monetary policy and don’t combine the two.

  24. #24 by Richard Warnick on December 17, 2010 - 1:47 pm

    “Hippie Punching for Dummies”

    “Man up and stop whining. The President isn’t going to pass every last thing on your personal wish list.”

  25. #25 by Richard Warnick on December 17, 2010 - 1:51 pm

    Brewski–

    I’m short on time right now. Increasing income inequality is a contributing cause of asset bubbles, this is a well known economic fact.

    The briefest explanation is that as the middle class sinks into poverty, this leads to fewer investment opportunities in the domestic real economy. Wealthy investors chasing high returns then switch to exotic financial instruments and to overseas ventures including outsourcing American jobs. The tax code still rewards outsourcing via the Foreign Tax Credit.

    The mortgage derivative bubble is still in the process of collapsing, while the banks use foreclosure fraud to cut their losses. The China asset bubble will probably be the next to burst.

  26. #26 by shane on December 17, 2010 - 2:43 pm

    Funny thing is, the inequality/asset bubble thing has been explained at least 7 times that i can think of, on this blog, as the main topic of top level posts…

    …that I am pretty sure Brewski commented in.

    In fact the entirety of a post about how the housing bubble came about was pretty much nothing but an explanation of this fact. I thought brewski commented on that post.

    …and the comment was not TL;DR if i recall.

    Richard, the fact that you are still willing to explain it over and over again to him is a credit to your character.

  27. #27 by shane on December 17, 2010 - 2:59 pm

    glenn :
    Shane, if you read my writings on what would happen if Obama was elected none of this would be any surprise. “They” don’t invest here as it is expensive and fraught with changing regulations often political…

    No, they don’t invest because they generally don’t. They didn’t under other presidents either. And if they did, it wouldn’t matter, see Richard on asset bubbles.

  28. #28 by glenn on December 17, 2010 - 4:43 pm

    Well that of course. Makes you wonder what kind of democracy this really is. Follow the money. Ruled by an oligarchy, and We the People are the collateral and a commodity, and we are broke and obsolete. The asset bubble phenomena is a three card monty, with the public always holding the bag.

    This is why I believe once the full reality of what has been done to us by the oligarchy who sponsors these stooges we call our leaders, there could well be a push for regionalism, and a break up of this nation.

    We are not immune from these forces. What would they do? How sick and violent could they become to keep us as their slaves? TSA, goon squad civilian cops, etc. etc. Check into any war we have had, pretty violent. Consider the formation of this nation or that of any people that demand self control and autonomy. By the time tyranny is upon a people, it cannot be voted away.

    The US military people are sworn to uphold the US constitution from all enemies foreign and domestic, if the government is out of control, they must, and are sworn to remove it.

    After the runaround and despoiling of the military force in causes that have damaged morale, called the motives of America into question, those loyal to their Oaths have to be angry. What must it be like to mix with mercs making 8 times what you are working for a corporation paid by the taxpayer? Then to be wounded and waiting an average of 7 years for the VA to make good on your benefits? I dunno, but what has happened in the last 10 years, is what destroys empires.

    Wikileaks whatever anyone thinks of it, has given fuel to the fire, that those who govern us misrepresent themselves at our expense, and give benefits and favor to those who pay them.

    Then there is the rest of us, General Strike or what?

  29. #29 by Brewski on December 17, 2010 - 5:04 pm

    The tax code still rewards outsourcing via the Foreign Tax Credit.

    Explain to me how the foreign tax credit works and how it encourages outsourcing. Then compare to the US how other countries tax income not earned in their home country.

  30. #30 by Brewski on December 17, 2010 - 5:16 pm

    I just did a quick read of the literature of asset bubbles by the likes of Krugman et al. and no where is it suggested that taxes have anything to do with it.

    So please cite for me the “well known economic fact” of the causal relationship between taxes and asset bubbles. If it is a “well known fact” it shouldn’t take you long.

    So what did we have in common? The authors of the new study suggest four “ ‘deep’ causal factors.””

    First, there was irrational exuberance: in both countries buyers and lenders convinced themselves that real estate prices, although sky-high by historical standards, would continue to rise.

    Second, there was a huge inflow of cheap money. In America’s case, much of the cheap money came from China; in Ireland’s case, it came mainly from the rest of the euro zone, where Germany became a gigantic capital exporter.

    Third, key players had an incentive to take big risks, because it was heads they win, tails someone else loses. In Ireland this moral hazard was largely personal: “Rogue-bank heads retired with their large fortunes intact.” There was a lot of this in the United States, too: as Harvard’s Lucian Bebchuk and others have pointed out, top executives at failed U.S. financial companies received billions in “performance related” pay before their firms went belly-up.

    Krugman’s conclusion on the causes of the US crisis:

    “What really mattered was free-market fundamentalism. This is what led Ronald Reagan to declare that deregulation would solve the problems of thrift institutions — the actual result was huge losses, followed by a gigantic taxpayer bailout — and Alan Greenspan to insist that the proliferation of derivatives had actually strengthened the financial system. It was largely thanks to this ideology that regulators ignored the mounting risks.”

    Not one mention of tax policy anywhere. Zero. Zilch.

  31. #31 by glenn on December 17, 2010 - 6:52 pm

    Guaranteeing bailouts for defunct institutions is a form of tax on the public, albeit a backhanded one. If We the People pay for it, it’s a tax, period. That is why when you describe Reagan’s bailout, We the People are described as “TAXPAYERS”. Aka those who paid for the debacle, and we now stand obligated for a sum that stretches the imagination. Giant taxpayer bailout. A rear end tax, if not a simple crime, as opposed to a front end tax, like that on income and goods.

    Sorry Shane, the caps are to mean it.

  32. #32 by Richard Warnick on December 17, 2010 - 9:11 pm

    shane is right that we’ve gone over this before for Brewski’s benefit (7 times? could be). Same for this:

    Explain to me how the foreign tax credit works…

    White House briefing, May 4, 2009 (emphasis added):

    When a U.S. taxpayer has overseas income, taxes paid to the foreign jurisdiction can generally be credited against U.S. tax liabilities. In general, this “foreign tax credit” is available only for taxes paid on income that is taxable in the U.S. The intended result is that U.S. taxpayers with overseas income should pay no more tax on their U.S. taxable income than they would if it was all from U.S. sources. However, current rules and tax planning strategies make it possible to claim foreign tax credits for taxes paid on foreign income that is not subject to current U.S. tax. As a result, companies are able to use such credits to pay less tax on their U.S. taxable income than they would if it was all from U.S. sources – providing them with a competitive advantage over companies that invest in the United States.

  33. #33 by Richard Warnick on December 17, 2010 - 9:20 pm

    Brewski–

    Here’s some reading material on how economic inequality led to the overgrown (and under-regulated) bubble-prone financial sector that crashed. I’ll note that Congress has done very little to re-regulate Wall Street, and these problems are bound to surface again in another form (real estate is shot, but like I said China could be next).

    There is a documentary film, “The Flaw: Examining the Roots of Economic Malaise” (2010). The title refers to Alan Greenspan’s admission in his testimony before Congress that he had discovered “a flaw in the model that I perceived is the critical functioning structure that defines how the world works so to speak.”

    The film’s thesis is that the biggest driver of the 2008 financial crisis was wage and asset inequality. Documentary filmmaker Stephen Lambert:

    The share of total American income going to the top 1% peaked in 1929 at about 22%. After the Crash and the start of World War II it fell steadily so that by the 1970s the top 1% were receiving only 9% of national income. But then it started to rise again; in the last ten years it has shot up like a 4th of July rocket to about the same level as in 1929.

    …This new inequality can also be seen in the way that the bottom 90% lost out. In the three decades after the WW2 they were getting roughly 65% of national income, but since the 1980s it’s fallen to 50% as the double whammies of the rise of globalization and de-industrialization hit the American workforce. What is often not appreciated is how this upward income redistribution in itself tends to ignite asset bubbles. As you go up the income distribution scale, what people spend their money on changes: there is a relative decrease in expenditure on consumer goods and an increase on housing and financial assets.

    …”On the one hand you have home buyers who are struggling to make ends meet,” argues Harvard economic historian Louis Hyman, “looking for the only way they know how to make money in our economy. They can’t make money through their labor, so but maybe they can make it through buying a house and seeing the value of that house increase. So people look to mortgages, these easy-to-get mortgages as a way to finally get their share of the American Dream. And, on the other hand, the income inequality produced a ready supply of capital at the top to be invested in these kinds of mortgages. So while the top was not willing to pay the bottom higher wages, they were willing to lend them money.”

    …”The reason why the money gets allocated into consumer and mortgage debt,” says Hyman, “is because it actually pays as a better return than investing it in businesses, than investing it in factories or things that make things. And it’s this simple banal calculation that’s behind all of this, it’s not some greedy Wall Street banker. Wall Street bankers and all capitalists are always greedy, that’s the basis of our entire system. It’s that the opportunities for investment are different than they used to be.”

    Let’s remember Bush’s so-called “ownership society” was a political response to rising economic inequality that backfired. Raghuram Rajan, a former chief economist of the IMF, and a Professor of Finance at the University of Chicago:

    [T]he political response to rising inequality – whether carefully planned or the path of least resistance – was to expand lending to households, especially low-income households. The benefits – growing consumption and more jobs – were immediate, whereas paying the inevitable bill could be postponed into the future. Cynical as it might seem, easy credit has been used throughout history as a palliative by governments that are unable to address the deeper anxieties of the middle class directly.

    Politicians, however, prefer to couch the objective in more uplifting and persuasive terms than that of crassly increasing consumption. In the US, the expansion of home ownership – a key element of the American dream – to low- and middle-income households was the defensible linchpin for the broader aims of expanding credit and consumption.

    …In the end, though, the misguided attempt to push home ownership through credit has left the US with houses that no one can afford and households drowning in debt. Ironically, since 2004, the homeownership rate has been in decline.

    Interestingly enough, some economists think that while inequality drives bubbles, the bubbles also further increase inequality. It’s a feedback loop.

  34. #34 by Richard Okelberry on December 18, 2010 - 6:51 am

    Shane,

    “BTW, how is your lawsuit coming along?” – Shane

    So, how’s your Final Solution plans for Christianity coming? Bigotry is still a bit of a tough sell especially around Christmas isn’t it? Well, keep trying!

    Now with the personal pleasantries out of the way, to be honest I wasn’t looking for a response from a leftist but a more mainstream liberal with a more reasonable position. I imagine that it is my fault for not being more specific with my request. While your response began by sounding pretty typically Marxist, you jumped left of even Marxism when you said,

    “No there is no minimum or maximum”

    in response to my question about an appropriate level of tax on the Rich.

    Your answer indicates that you believe in a society devoid of personal ownership where the government is the first owner of all wealth in a collective and the amount given to the individual is at the discretion of the government. Under your belief system a person, regardless of how Rich (or poor) they are, would have no reasonable expectation of being the rightful “owner” of any of the fruits from their labors. This is the only way philosophically to describe an economic system where there is no Maximum amount that the government can take in taxes. If there is no Maximum, you are saying the government is entitled to everything; if it sees fit and the people are left to rely on the benevolence of their government. Even Marx believed that each laborer has a specific right to a portion of their labors. What you are describing is more Serfdom style system akin to Manorialism. Heck, even share croppers had more rights than you would give our citizens.

    Add this to your belief that government is better at building wealth than the private sector investment in a free market, and it becomes apparent that you are not operating within the realm of common thought. How ironic that you would extol such an extreme view while in the same post try and paint all conservatives as being crazed libertarian panarchist bent on the destruction of all government. While you and Panarchist may be exact polar opposites politically, you both share the distinction of being incredibly radical; the very definition of extremists.

    As I said, I am looking for a more reasonable position. Good luck with the Crusades though!

  35. #35 by Richard Okelberry on December 18, 2010 - 7:02 am

    RW:

    I wrote a response to your first post that turned out to be 4 pages long. Give me a bit to scale it down to it’s core arguments.

  36. #36 by cav on December 18, 2010 - 8:07 am

    Take all the time you need – Trim it in every way possible, like a republican approaches a tax – see if it’ll fit down that drain hole.

  37. #37 by glenn on December 18, 2010 - 8:55 am

    The tax credit works this way, go someplace where you can make more money and when you return if you have cooked your books properly in the nation you have moved to, paid and bribed the correct politicians to leave you alone, you won’t have to pay anyone any tax here.

    If it doesn’t work out there will no doubt be a terrorist threat and the taxpayer will pay to send the military and mercs to help you and convince the locals you aren’t making a dime there.

    Be sure to donate often and liberally to both sides of the political duopoly at home, that way your efforts will be rubber stamped with the facade of legitimacy.

  38. #38 by cav on December 18, 2010 - 10:03 am

    Despite the manipulation and rise of the republican wing of the one-sided land of the once free, there are still people who believe that our government should be promoting the:

    Regulation of predatory financial institutions.
    Reining in of military spending.
    Emphasizing education for our young people.
    Making upward mobility in our society easier and freer.
    Taking care of those who are less fortunate – through no fault of their own.
    Making certain people can vote on issues that directly effect them.
    Fairness and accuracy in the media.
    Elimination of privilege in our society to the detriment of the majority.
    A reasonable set of rules for working people.
    Protection of the guaranteed social safety net of Unemployment Insurance, Social Security, and reasonable health care.
    A policy of taking care of Americans first before shipping our jobs overseas.
    And other issues just as important.

  39. #39 by glenn on December 18, 2010 - 12:59 pm

    What is happening in the name of free markets and trade is the result of reducing human beings to a commodity. The cart is before the horse. Economics is meant to rise the condition of humanity, not serve a group who see themselves as clever, and anyone not in their means group as something less.

    Thinking about the last time human beings were graded in such a fashion overtly. It didn’t end well.

  40. #40 by Richard Warnick on December 18, 2010 - 2:57 pm

    With R.O. back in town, Godwin’s Law is never far behind.

    I’m looking forward to Mr. Okelberry’s answer to my question, which would be either “yes” or “no” on the McConnell-Obama tax cut deal. And there was a second question, too: “Can you explain the Republican obsession with tax cuts?”

  41. #41 by Larry Bergan on December 18, 2010 - 8:18 pm

    Godwin put forth the sarcastic observation that, given enough time, all online discussions—regardless of topic or scope—inevitably end up being about Hitler and the Nazis.

    That’s hilarious!

    I’m looking forward to Mr. Okelberry’s answer to my question, which would be either “yes” or “no” on the McConnell-Obama tax cut deal.

    So is that!

  42. #42 by Larry Bergan on December 18, 2010 - 8:25 pm

    RO:

    If money isn’t a tool to measure somebody’s actual worth to his society, then what is it for? Why should there be such a disparity in what one man who works very hard all day and somebody who collects on his dad’s inheritance dough.

    Why do right wingers always freak out about how much a beggar gets on the street, but think it’s just fine to manipulate markets and glean millions?

  43. #43 by Richard Okelberry on December 19, 2010 - 6:45 am

    RW:

    Didn’t you just essentially prove Godwin right by citing Godwin’s Law yourself, RW? (Might as well cut to the quick, eh?)

    Also, so you don’t have to wait at least on your first question; I don’t personally care for the way the tax rates were extended. (Note: it’s improper to call them cuts because they were never allowed to go back up first.) I feel that the deal was nothing more than another pork bill loaded with spending (Yes, even cuts in military spending for those about to ask.) Rather than spending more, the continuation of the tax rate should have been accompanied with across the board decreases in spending. Hope that helps.

  44. #44 by Richard Okelberry on December 19, 2010 - 8:11 am

    RW:

    I believe that you are making some serious mistakes in establishing cause and effect when forming many of your basic arguments. Let me explain…

    “Business is sitting on an enormous pile of cash right now. Corporate profits are at an all-time high. Why are they not hiring? Because consumers are not spending. “Trickle-down” economics does not work. Just look at the last decade of job losses under both Bush and Obama.” – RW

    While consumer confidence certainly plays a major role in the slow down in the economy, from most of what I have read from economists, the primary reason why businesses are hording is the very same reason why people are investing so heavily in Gold. They are waiting for this period of uncertainty to pass. A very strong argument can be made for government being a major source of this uncertainty. Business simply does not thrive when it doesn’t know what the ground rules are going to be for the foreseeable future. Also, the majority of cash being held on the sidelines is being held by non-traditional tech companies that aren’t as reliant on having large traditional physical plants or retail outlets for their products. As such, they are more able to be more conservative with their investments than traditional manufacturing. Quite simply, they don’t necessarily need to spend to make more money. They can ride things out.

    “First of all, I’m a conservative so I don’t speak for “the left.” We need to have a graduated, progressive income tax system. Right now we don’t have that. The top marginal rate is 35 percent, whether your taxable income is $374,000 or millions of dollars. Capital gains and dividends (no matter how much) are taxed at a flat 15 percent, which is the same as the middle-class income tax rate.” – RW

    How would you like to see the taxes spread out specifically and do you agree with Shane that the government should have the right to take 100% of a person’s income if it sees fit? Where do we put the limits on taxes, if any? Also, at what point if any, do you feel that increasing taxes hurts the economy?

    “Experience has proven that tax cuts for the rich do not help the economy. Instead, they create asset bubbles that lead to market crashes, government bailouts, and Wall Street bonuses. Tax cuts also lead to more outsourcing of jobs overseas, and declining wages in the U.S. Furthermore, extreme inequality causes unhealthy, unstable societies. I’ve seen this first hand in the Philippines and elsewhere.” – RW

    Here is where you confuse causation with correlation. At best you might be able to argue correlation as certain sets of variables occur congruently. There is no empirical data that indicates that if the wealthy are allowed to keep more of their resources then asset bubbles, market crashes and government bailouts are the inevitable results. At best you might be able to argue that by keeping taxes low, people are not as “strapped” for cash and therefore less likely to do certain jobs at a low enough wage to keep certain jobs from being outsourced. Ultimately, it is a far stronger argument to blame the incredibly high level of wealth held across the board by the average U.S. citizen relative to those in other nations as a root cause of outsourcing than tax levels for the wealthy. If people aren’t willing to perform certain jobs at competitive wages on the world markets, business will naturally migrate to areas that will improve their bottom line.

    Now, if we apply a little logic and assume that you are correct that tax cuts hurt the economy, then logic dictates that conversely tax increases should help the economy, correct? This brings us back to the question about what limits if any should be placed on taxation and if there is any point were taxes begin hurting the economic system.

    Throughout your response, you are essentially arguing that the government has the moral authority and the ethical right to take the earnings of Americans of a particular class that it feels are not “properly” spending or investing and use that money as it sees fit for the benefit of all. If it is ethical to take money from the Rich that (at least according to you) don’t seem to be doing the most good for society with it, why is it not also then ethical to do the same to the middle and lower classes? Why not leave each individual with just enough to survive and have the government spend the rest on “infrastructure?”

    This brings us back to our point about using taxes as a form of theft. You dismissed this argument outright by using an idiom about “property being theft.” You see, I am not arguing that all taxes are a form of theft; only that taxation can be used as a form of theft when it is not equitably applied. You are not talking about society supporting government as a whole but having a very select, small group of individuals bear the majority of the burden so that everyone else can keep their cash. Essentially, you are taking from one individual so that another individual does not need to pay for the services they receive.

    Let me give a quick analogy to help everyone understand the moral dilemma posed by inequitable taxation. Imagine you are standing in line at McDonalds waiting to buy a happy meal. In comes a group of ten vagrants that surround you. They tell you that if you don’t buy them each a happy meal, they are going to take you out back and pummel you into submission. You capitulate and buy them each a happy meal. The question is; even though these vagrants were in need of a happy meal, are they morally correct in forcing you to buy them each one? Do their actions not constitute a form of theft by intimidation or threat? In case you haven’t figured this out, you are the “Rich” in this scenario and the vagrants are the democratic majority who want to place the largest burden of taxation on a select few. Of course we don’t just see this play out with economic classes. Inequitable taxation is most obvious with liquor, tobacco and other “vice: taxes, where a relatively small portion, especially here in Utah, are essentially paying the taxes of a larger group of individuals in society.

    “The Bush tax cuts bankrupted the nation and doubled the National Debt.” – RW

    This statement probably illustrates the greatest divide between you and me on this subject. While I blame excessive spending for the National Debt, you blame the government for not taking more money out of the economic system. So when a common household goes bankrupt, it is not over spending that is to blame but their employers fault for not paying them more? What gives you the expectation that if the government had not cut taxes that would had lead to fiscal responsibility on the part of our representatives? Can you point to a single historical precedent that would show this to be so?

    “The only practical route to economic recovery in the midst of a near-Depression is for the government to invest in infrastructure and to become the employer of last resort.” – RW

    So much of your argument is centered on the divide in wealth between “rich” and “poor.” While your argument conveniently leaves out the fact that a rising tide raises all boats and that the “Poor” in the US could be considered downright wealthy compared to their counterparts in other parts of the world, I am curious to hear how exactly you believe that wealth is created. Does the investment in “infrastructure” as you have suggested actually create wealth or does it merely transfer it.

    This leads to a pretty basic question that I have for you. What forces do you personally believe gives or removes value from our currency and which do you believe is better at producing wealth and/or raising standards of living, private enterprise or government spending? Or do you believe they are indistinguishable?

    Finally, quick answer to your question about Republicans being “obsessed” with tax cuts. Short answer is; I don’t know if I can say that they are. If this was the case, wouldn’t we have seen this obsession play out during the Republican dynasty? Did this help?

    Ooops, one last question… What specifically does it mean when liberals refer to people as being “under-employed?”

    (Sorry, Cav! As short as I could make it! Notice that much of this is simply quoting RW.)

  45. #45 by cav on December 19, 2010 - 8:34 am

    Guess who else simply quoted RW?

    If you guessed Adolph Hitler, your 100% Wrong.No way, never happened, not, Nada!

    Now, I’ll go read it.

  46. #46 by cav on December 19, 2010 - 10:22 am

    Joseph Stiglitz argues for addressing several key economic inefficiencies.

    The first is that the defense budget has ballooned, so that we are spending an enormous amount overseas—where it doesn’t do anything for our economy—and on weapons with little use.

    The second is that we give subsidies to a wide range of businesses, which makes the market less efficient and is often in violation of our treaty obligations.

    The third is that we invest too little in the public goods like the infrastructure necessary for our economy to function.

    And the last inefficiency is that an increasingly large share—more than 20%—of our national income goes to the top 1% of earners, which means less money goes to the middle class—the real engine of economic growth.

    So, Stiglitz says:

    • cut wasteful military spending, in part by no longer funding wars in Iraq and Afghanistan

    • eliminate corporate subsidies, particularly to the banking, agricultural, and pharmaceutical sectors

    • spend money on high-return public investments, increasing long-term economic growth

    • increase the capital gains tax, which effectively allows the rich to pay a lower tax rate than the middle class

    • raise taxes slightly on the rich—who can afford to pay more in taxes—effectively transferring more money back to the middle class

    http://bigthink.com/ideas/25547

  47. #47 by Richard Warnick on December 19, 2010 - 11:45 am

    R.O.–

    Thanks again for engaging the issues. As far as Godwin’s Law is concerned, somebody brought up the “Final Solution” and it wasn’t me. ;-)

    Other than the extension of unemployment benefits, which Congress would have had to do anyway because the official unemployment rate is hovering near 10 percent, very little of the $858 billion tax cut bill can be characterized as spending.

    Not to mention, the FY 2011 Omnibus Appropriations Act was filibustered to death by Republicans. So we can forget about economic recovery, health care, or much of anything for the next year or two. We’ll be lucky if the Republicans don’t shut down the government again!

  48. #48 by Richard Warnick on December 19, 2010 - 11:56 am

    R.O.–

    Now, let me address your GOP talking points. The McConnell-Obama Tax Cuts For The Rich did not do away with uncertainty. Just the opposite. This legislation set us up for a series of political crises with major effects on policy.

    1. By exploding the deficits by $858 billion and not raising debt ceiling, McConnell-Obama set up a threatened doomsday scenario for next spring when the debt ceiling must be raised to avoid a worldwide financial crisis. And the continuing resolution that funds everything will expire in March. What will Republicans demand then in exchange for not shutting down the government?

    2. Economists predict that unemployment will remain above 9 percent through 2011. McConnell-Obama only extended unemployment benefits for one year (and did nothing to help the 99ers, they are screwed). So we have another hostage-taking opportunity this time next year, just in time for Christmas again.

    3. The Bush tax cuts were only extended for two years, so the 2012 election will be dominated by yet another debate over whether to enact another round of tax cuts. President Obama (somewhat unbelievably) vowed to fight hard next time. Let them all expire? Lower the rates for certain tax brackets and not others? Reinstate the millionaire’s tax? More uncertainty.

    You want certainty? Most economists say there are really only four sources of potential growth in our economy: consumer spending, business investment, trade and government. The first three are barely hanging on. Most state governments are tapped out and laying off employees. That leaves the federal government to try to jump-start a recovery. But it’s not happening because right-wing ideology (in both major parties) stands in the way of the needed spending.

    As for how I would address the Bush tax cuts, you must have missed my One Utah posts over the past year. I said the ideal solution would have been to let them expire on schedule, as planned by the Bush administration. By going back to the marginal tax rates we had during the prosperous Clinton years (which would have required no action at all on the part of Congress), we could have gone a long way toward solving the long-term deficit problem that irresponsible Republicans created. Given that corporations are posting record profits and sitting on large cash reserves, the argument that a small marginal rate increase would hurt economic recovery was laughable. In the short term, the federal government could have had more money for aid to the states– a vital emergency economic recovery measure omitted from McConnell-Obama.

    The theoretical question of taxes versus economy is answered by the comparative prosperity America experienced during past periods of higher tax rates (i.e. every decade from the 1930s through 2001). I would like to see the reinstatement of the millionaire’s tax, so that everybody above $373,650 isn’t in the same tax bracket.

    Your assumption that higher taxes mean less economic growth is totally unfounded. Find any historical evidence for it, I challenge you.

    The correlation between low taxes on the rich and asset bubbles is well established, as you concede. The mechanisms are very complex, so you can find some economists who say that extreme income inequality is not the main cause of instability in the markets. However, you will be hard pressed to find an economist who denies that concentrations of wealth are not at least a contributing factor in all asset bubbles.

    Your moral arguments are the opposite of Christianity, by the way. That’s odd, from someone who wears his religion on his sleeve. What about: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” “As you would that men should do to you, do you also to them in like manner”? Come on, even Bill Gates Sr. and Ted Turner understand this.

    Millionaire Eric Schoenberg, who also teaches at Columbia Business School: “It’s only fair for those of us who have benefited the most from this system to contribute the most.”

    Like most Republicans, you think that the federal government is spending too much. I agree. For example, there is no reason why the Pentagon needs a budget that exceeds the combined military spending of every other country in the world, including our allies. So, let’s make some cuts. Actually, let’s make a lot of cuts, maybe $350 billion a year! That still does not solve the long term deficit problem.

    Even if we pulled out of Iraq and Afghanistan ASAP, the liabilities from the Bush administration’s military misadventures will stay with us. The cumulative costs of Iraq alone will top $3 trillion. Our other unwinnable war in Afghanistan is likely to add another couple of trillion. It’s all deficit spending.

    Here’s a helpful graph from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:

    Budget graph

    Note: This chart does not factor in the extra goodies for the rich in McConnell-Obama, such as the $115 billion they will get from changes to the estate tax.

    Tax cuts for the rich are not the solution to the long-term deficit problem. They are the largest component of the long-term deficit problem, along with the costs of the Bush administration’s economic and military fiascoes.

  49. #49 by glenn on December 19, 2010 - 12:03 pm

    Try this.

    punkerslut.com

  50. #51 by glenn on December 19, 2010 - 2:32 pm

    Already voted, got what we have. Did you peruse the site? Lot’s of interesting stuff in it. Voting these days is like dumping money into a rusting beater.

    Good reading on general strike.

  51. #52 by cav on December 19, 2010 - 2:43 pm

    All I saw was an anarchist scrawling on a wall. There was more?

    I’ll check again.

  52. #53 by brewski on December 19, 2010 - 3:05 pm

    Cav,
    The Stiglitz piece is a good piece.
    http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/stiglitz133/English

    I would read it rather than the paraphrasing by Robert de Neufville.

    In some places Stiglitz says exactly what I have been saying for a long time on this site, and other places I wholeheartedly agree with him.

    Let’s go through Stiglitz’s points in his own words:

    “First, spending on high-return public investments should be increased.”

    I would put education at all levels on this list of high return public investments. However, that does not mean to say that any increase in education spending will yield a high return. It is always possible to spend money badly, and we often do. So along with spending more on education we also should reform substantially how education is delivered and how the money is spent. I won’t go into details here, since I have previously. But in short, we should lift the best practices from those countries which seem to be doing a pretty good job. Finland is a good place to start.

    “Second, military expenditures must be cut – not just funding for the fruitless wars, but also for the weapons that don’t work against enemies that don’t exist.”

    Yes. I think Richard has covered this topic better than I, so I will leave it at that.

    “Following this is the need to eliminate corporate welfare. Even as America has stripped away its safety net for people, it has strengthened the safety net for firms, evidenced so clearly in the Great Recession with the bailouts of AIG, Goldman Sachs, and other banks. Corporate welfare accounts for nearly one-half of total income in some parts of US agro-business, with billions of dollars in cotton subsidies, for example, going to a few rich farmers – while lowering prices and increasing poverty among competitors in the developing world.”

    This is a really big deal. I have written several times about the damage US subsidies for agribusiness do.

    “An especially egregious form of corporate special treatment is that afforded to the drug companies. Even though the government is the largest buyer of their products, it is not allowed to negotiate prices, thereby fueling an estimated increase in corporate revenues – and costs to the government – approaching $1 trillion dollars over a decade.”

    This is also a very big deal. This is why I use “” when I write about healthcare “reform” since the largest actual reform needs were left alone, and instead what we got was an expansion of a very bad system.

    “Another example is the smorgasbord of special benefits provided to the energy sector, especially oil and gas, thereby simultaneously robbing the treasury, distorting resource allocation, and destroying the environment. Then there are the seemingly endless giveaways of national resources – from the free spectrum provided to broadcasters to the low royalties levied on mining companies to the subsidies to lumber companies.”

    Another really big deal which I have written about previously. There is a huge amount of potential revenue here which could be captured by eliminating the fossil fuel subsidies and then taxing their negative externalities.

    “Creating a fairer and more efficient tax system, by eliminating the special treatment of capital gains and dividends, is also needed. Why should those who work for a living be subject to higher tax rates than those who reap their livelihood from speculation (often at the expense of others)?”

    I think I have written about this a bazillion times.

    “Finally, with more than 20% of all income going to the top 1%, a slight increase, say 5%, in taxes actually paid would bring in more than $1 trillion over the course of a decade.”

    What he says here is to raise the amount of taxes paid by upper income people. He does not say we need to do that by raising rates. We could easily raise lots more in revenue from upper income people by broadening the definition of taxable income and by eliminating deductions and other goodies.

    “A deficit-reduction package crafted along these lines would more than meet even the most ardent deficit hawk’s demands. It would increase efficiency, promote growth, improve the environment, and benefit workers and the middle class.”

    I think I have said this a bazillion times.

  53. #54 by brewski on December 19, 2010 - 3:17 pm

    Richard,
    I know you don’t see it this way, but you are unintentionally moving the goalposts mid conversation.

    You first said “tax cuts for the rich do not help the economy. Instead, they create asset bubbles”. Then when I asked you about that you went on a long treatise on income inequality. Your answer never adressed taxes at all. So clearly you see income inequality and the current tax deal as being the same thing. Also, you did mention the effects of easy money and similar banking and monetary causes which are points I have been making with substantial citations including Krugman several times.

    Now, I do not support the current tax deal at all, but to keep it in perspective, it does result in the US having some of the highest marginal tax rates [don't go off on the difference between effective and marginal again] in the world for corporations and distributed profits.

    So in short, no. The tax cut deal does suck. But of its suckiness causing an asset bubble is not one of the ways it sucks.

  54. #55 by Richard Warnick on December 19, 2010 - 4:07 pm

    Brewski–

    Tax cuts for the rich are not the only factor in the rampant growth of income inequality. Maybe I could have been more clear about that, but I’m supposed to be working on my master’s thesis (which has nothing to do with this), not blogging.

    I’m glad you agree with me that the McConnell-Obama tax cuts for the rich are a very bad idea. Deficit spending to give every millionaire an extra $139,000 to invest in derivatives is not my idea of an economic recovery. Also, if you agree that rising economic inequality is a problem, then giving the ultra-rich a break on estate taxes is definitely not helping!

    Perhaps worst of all, McConnell-Obama is a setup for destroying Social Security. That would be a death blow for what’s left of the American middle class, and another wealth transfer to the top. Arun Gupta on AlterNet:

    The wealthy have profited three times off the crisis: from the bubble itself, during the bailouts and from government bonds sold to them to pay for the bailouts. Putting pensions on the chopping block would give them a fourth opportunity to profit off the same crisis.

    Gupta’s whole article is well worth reading, IMHO.

    I don’t know why you keep whining about corporate taxation. Rep. Alan Grayson is of the opinion that the McConnell-Obama deal will basically wipe out all corporate tax liability for 2011. Many corporations will collect more from the federal government in refundable tax credits than they will owe in taxes.

    I know you would like comprehensive tax code reform, but as I’m sure I’ve pointed out this was done during the Reagan administration– and as soon as it was done, Congress re-enacted tax breaks for special interests! Right now, tax reform is so far off the table that no politician is even talking about it.

    One other comment on the above: The capabilities of weapons that don’t work are a perfect match for enemies that don’t exist. ;-)

  55. #56 by brewski on December 19, 2010 - 4:40 pm

    I think my basic point is that there are two different concepts at play here. One is how much we tax, meaning how much revenue do we take in. The second is how we tax, meaning the manner in which we tax. How burdensome is it just to comply, never mind pay. How game-able is the tax code. What unintended behaviors does the tax code drive.

    I think we agree that we can and should collect more revenue. As a metric from this we can use the % of revenue / GDP figure to get an overall level of tax payments.

    But my point is that we can increase the overall revenue collected, we can increase the % of revenue/GDP ration if we rationalize both the corporate and the personal tax codes to broaden the definition of taxable income, eliminate deductions and goodies, and lower the overall rates. This would also help reduce the unintended consequences. As I demonstrated in a mathematical example a while back, we could increase the effective rate that a millionaire pays by doing this.

  56. #57 by Richard Warnick on December 19, 2010 - 5:19 pm

    Yeah, but what was the fate of President Reagan’s Tax Reform Act of 1986? Efforts to roll back the bipartisan tax reforms began immediately. The lower rates for the rich stayed in effect and the loopholes were put back in!

  57. #58 by Ronald D. Hunt on December 19, 2010 - 5:30 pm

    “This would also help reduce the unintended consequences.”

    And what of the intended consequences of the tax deductions and goodies. How do we drive industrial/social/trade policy in this nation within the limits of our current political system without using the tax system? And what of the parts that currently do work well, (crop rotation subsides good, corn subsides bad).

    Now if you think we can have tariff’s, currency conversion taxes, a National sovereign wealth fund, Nationalization of healthcare/resource extraction/utility industries, vat taxes, etc. Good luck getting that passed the republicans or the republican lites(democrats).

    Util we can replace the intended functions of our tax deductions and goodies dumping them would only lead to disaster. Or as I like to call it we don’t impede china’s State owned industries from buying us out, good heavens imagine what the conservatives would say blocking the freedoms of state own industries of other nations shame on us.

  58. #59 by brewski on December 19, 2010 - 6:00 pm

    Richard,
    Yes, we should not make that mistake again. Just because they fucked up in the past does not mean we have to fuck up in the future.

  59. #60 by cav on December 19, 2010 - 8:02 pm

    In response to R.O. – because it really matters.

    Business simply does not thrive when it doesn’t know what the ground rules are going to be for the foreseeable future.

    You do have a point here. I would only suggest, while ground rules need to be established, they needn’t completely disregard the value infrastructure, education of the anticipated workforce (barring an all robot operation), and use of the commons for cheap acquisition of raw material and disposal of waste.

    There is also an element of citizens balking the prospect of working jobs which so severely scratch the Earth that, whatever the commodity produced, such involvement is seen as further aggravating sustainability issues. We’ve gotten to that point.

    At what point if any, do you feel that increasing taxes hurts the economy?

    That would make an interesting study – perhaps there’s already evidence. I believe RW’s comments and charts reflect some of this.

    I believe that aside from the fact that taxes are very often not viewed as the fair price of participation to our society that they actually are, it would behoove the propaganda wing of the establishment to periodically point out that fact. I’ve had occasions of paying taxes enthusiastically, when I felt they were going to further the society. Not so much when the output was congressional squabbling, death, destruction, and pallet loads to the criminally corrupt.

    Ultimately, it is a far stronger argument to blame the incredibly high level of wealth held across the board by the average U.S. citizen relative to those in other nations as a root cause of outsourcing than tax levels for the wealthy.

    Because the wealthy have the communication resources to chase money saving opportunities around the globe at the drop of a dime, while the laborers have no way of so doing, is no reason to afford all of the profiting to a particular strata. It’s a trap, a loop, a con, used for exploitation and should be better regulated or eliminated altogether.

    Why not leave each individual with…enough to survive and have the government spend the rest on infrastructure?

    Because greed-heads have other designs? See also brewski’s reflection on Stiglitz (above). And thanks brew.
    On and on…

    The ten happy-meal-demanding vagrants are really the bankers, the war mongers, and the corporate heads that shake us down with their every pen-stroke.

    The Bush tax cuts bankrupted the nation and doubled the National Debt.” …While I blame excessive spending for the National Debt, you blame the government for not taking more money out of the economic system.

    Here, I need to go into Goodwin’s Law 2.0, wherein every discussion is inevitably dragged to the only conclusion possible – It’s the fault of the policies and bald-faced skullduggery of the previous administration; that of (here I go) G. Bush and associates.

    It’s a breath mint, a floor wax, and much, much more.

    There was also all of the off budget war making, the festering crime and policy making of the repugnant majority at the time, the denial and pretending that official policy could possibly lead to anything other than the Republican standard: FUBAR…but, the likelihood of grandpa and the moose-killer being elected occupied a position of absolute zero – so there was a grim certainty the successful Democratic applicant would have the responsibility to fix it. And rest assured, the repugs had no intention at all of providing the support he or she will need to do so.

    This turd has been polished till it posolutely blinds, graciously and with a massive sigh of relief, handed off to the new administration, all of its supporters and quite frankly, the whole wide world. Gee thanks.

    …overnment spending? Or do you believe they are indistinguishable?

    It’s often a fine line between government being the overseer of corporate activities (among its other responsibilities) and becoming a mere wing of same. Many a winger has for many a year been trying to impose fascism on the world, and I believe they’ve made strides of late.

  60. #61 by Richard Okelberry on December 20, 2010 - 7:19 am

    CAV,

    “Joseph Stiglitz argues for addressing several key economic inefficiencies…” – CAV

    Good stuff…

    Based on your assessment, I think that I would agree with most of what Mr. Stiglitz says with the exception of raising taxes on the Rich. First, Stiglitz is playing the classical redistribution of wealth game which often assumes that if money that is being invested by the “rich” were instead in the hands of the middle class it would be “better” for the economy. This is not necessarily true. In fact many economists agree that one of the major problems with our current economic system is the lack of investment by the middle class. Of course there is nothing that would indicate that if the middle class did receive a small bump in disposable income that their current habits would instantly change.

    Quite simply put, industry/business thrives on public investment. Unfortunately, we have become a society were the middle class is increasingly setting aside the need for personal investment in favor of increased consumerism. While consumerism certainly plays a vital role in our economy, so does personal investment. Here, it appears we are all to quick to fault the Rich for doing what we should all be doing by investing a sizeable portion of our income rather than spending every last dime each month on needless things.

    In fact, it is arguable that it is this tendency of the middle class to live beyond their means and take far too much debt that is the greatest cause for the increasing disparity in the accumulation of “wealth” between the Rich and the Middle Class. The Rich are still investing (as they have plenty of disposable income to do so) and the middle class has stopped in favor of gathering more stuff. There’s no way around it; that new flat screen, ATV or new Ipad only depreciates in value and does nothing to add to your income and overall wealth. Moreover it makes the middle class far less capable of weathering hard economic times which is part of the natural ebb and flow of a free market system.

    Second, there is a line of intrusion into personal privacy and the basic concepts of personal freedom that is crossed when we as a society feel that it is our legitimate right as a democratic majority to assess whether or not they way someone is spending their legally gotten gains is fruitful for us as a whole then use the power of government to take control of their gains for our benefit. Can you imagine the outrage that the left would be expressing if such an intrusion into personal privacy by the government were being committed in almost any other aspect of life besides finance? The left screams about nameless data collection by the NSA but has no problem collecting detailed assessments of the individual holdings of a large portion of law abiding Americans. Regardless of the perceived greater good for society in doing so, I will always argue that far more harm to society is being done by the erosion that such action has on basic liberty.

  61. #62 by cav on December 20, 2010 - 8:55 am

    What’s the creed of the capitalist? Privatize the profits, and generalize / communitize as much as is possible, the costs / effluent? Then, as per the pronouncements of the Supreme court, excercise its vast wealth, the lobbying of corporate ‘personalities’, to purchase it’s own tailored government, IOW, let the misery roll.

    Sometimes I wonder if the ‘middle class’, when it’s done picking up the tab, really has much wealth left to invest. Our flirt with consumerism was an unaffordable sidetrack, that now, only the rich can continue in. Your basic liberty will just continue the divide.

    I can only imagine the outrage, since it is obviously not being televised – but then niether is much in the way of truth, so we’re better off not having even tiny tv sets. Affords more time for soon to be outlawed ‘massing’.

    Oh well, neither coherence, nor chasing the dream being promoted on our massive screens will last for too long. Thankfully.

    I’m up for a cup.

  62. #63 by cav on December 20, 2010 - 9:14 am

    Cheap news is a major reason that every day we are failing in our core mission of providing people with the knowledge they need for our democracy to function.

    http://www.nieman.harvard.edu/reports/article/102499/Its-Scary-Out-There-in-Reporting-Land.aspx

  63. #64 by Richard Warnick on December 20, 2010 - 10:42 am

    R.O. actually criticized the government’s unconstitutional warrantless surveillance programs. But he thinks taxes are worse.

  64. #65 by Richard Warnick on December 20, 2010 - 1:05 pm

    On AlterNet, Joshua Holland explains how we got into this mess: The 9 Biggest Conservative Lies About Taxes and Public Spending

  65. #66 by Richard Okelberry on December 21, 2010 - 3:00 pm

    RW:

    I’d like to point out something regarding your economic downturn chart above. Notice that each of the items listed on the chart represent spending and only one, the Bush Era Tax Cuts, represents tax revenue. As I’ve noted before, it is improper to include taxation (or more accurately, the lack thereof) as an expenditure. Not collecting taxes doesn’t add to the deficit, only spending more than you collect in taxes does. So your chart is essentially saying that we have deficit spending because we are spending more than we take in… Well, No-Duh!

    This is a trick that some have been trying to use for sometime now. It goes along with the insistent reference to the extension of the Bush Tax Cuts as an additional tax cut for the Rich. To be technically accurate it is not a new tax cut for anyone but merely a continuation of the current tax rate. Any attempt to categorize it as anything else is intellectually dishonest. Of course telling your readers that the government has refused to raise taxes on the rich doesn’t carry as much of a negative connotation as saying that Congress and the President are giving the Rich a tax break.

    Also, I have a question for your, Richard. Does your chart report to be showing only the amount that would be collected if just the wealthy had their taxes return to pre-Bush levels or is it showing the entire amount that the government is missing out on? As I understand it, if taxes were raised on just the wealthy the government would have netted $700 billion. If the tax cuts had been allowed to expire completely, revenue to the government would have increased by $4 trillion, essentially taking care of the entire amount that the Bowles-Simpson commission was trying to eliminate.

    We need to remember that at some point, prior to the Bush Tax Cuts liberals had no problem with the middle class paying this pre-Bush rate. So what has changed? If these tax rates were good for the economy then, why aren’t they good now? Regardless, by going after just the wealthy with tax increases, less than one quarter of the orange bar on your graph above would be eliminated. The bar would still look pretty thick and be wider than any of the other bars shown!

    What I find most interesting in this debate is the fact that many on the left seem to have shifted course somewhat on the idea of deficit spending. Two years ago, at the beginning of the Obama administration liberal talking heads and pundits regularly argued that there was nothing wrong with deficit spending and that it was the only way to help turn around the economy.

    “So, $1 trillion in deficit spending to unnecessarily invade and occupy Iraq, that’s OK. And $700 billion to bail out Wall Street billionaires, nothing wrong with that. But he draws the line at spending any money on something “liberals” might think is a good idea, like stopping another Great Depression.” – Richard Warnick, 2009

    These same liberals regularly criticized Conservatives that were issuing dire warnings about deficit spending. Now there seems to be a shift and liberals are beginning to sound much more like conservatives with regard to deficit spending and warning us about bankrupting the country.

    So which is it? Is deficit spending good for the economy or not? If so, why not push for even more deficit spending? If a little deficit spending will stimulate the economy why won’t a bunch of spending on the order of 10 trillion a year over the next 10 years really get things going? Also, if increasing taxes helps the economy and lower taxes hurts the economy as you have regularly suggested, why not have huge across the board tax increases on the order of 75% plus for everybody?

    You see, I’m trying to feel out here, where your limits are on spending and taxation if you have any. (We already know that Shane believes that there are no potential limits on taxation.) I want to know at what specific point even you will concede that higher taxes and deficit spending can become detrimental to the overall health of the economy. At what point will you too become “obsessed with taxes?” Will you draw a line philosophically as many Conservatives do, or will you only do it when it is your turn to kick in; when you personally will have something to lose? Something tells me that regardless of how comfortable you are in you nice big house with all your luxuries, that you will never see yourself as being “Rich.” No doubt, it will always be the guy with more than you that you believe we should stick it to. This is what I like to call Convenient Relativity.

    Finally, to one of your most ridiculous statements,

    “Your moral arguments are the opposite of Christianity, by the way. That’s odd, from someone who wears his religion on his sleeve. What about: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” “As you would that men should do to you, do you also to them in like manner”? Come on, even Bill Gates Sr. and Ted Turner understand this.”

    I know you love to call out Godwin’s Law whenever even the slightest reference to Nazi Germany is made, so maybe we should create a new law that describes how quickly given a particular conversation that a liberal will improperly invoke or insult another’s religion (usually Christianity) in an attempt to gain ground in a discussion. Of course if you truly understood the teachings of Christ, you would know that no-where did Christ say that we should steal from the rich to give to the poor. Nor does it say that it should be the province of the government to enforce such an edict. What you failed to understand in your rush to issue a damnation of hypocrisy is that while Christ called on his followers to care for their fellow man, that calling was something that was to be taken up voluntarily by the individual through Charity. You see, there is nothing charitable about me using influence over the government to take by force from my fellow man to give to the poor so that I don’t have to. Of course, perhaps you belong to a Christian denomination that subscribes to your misinterpretation of the Gospel. If so, I would love to engage you in a public theological debate on the issue. Also, are you suggesting that individuals should use government to institute their religious beliefs? Sounds like it to me. Interesting that you would go there… Does your faith teach you that as well?

    You also reference me wearing my religion on my sleeve, but I don’t think you truly understand what is meant by that. It means that when asked, I will not deny my faith. I will not pretend to be something that I am not. In essence, I will not deny Christ by any level of intimidation. Now if you misinterpret that to mean that I will do what I can to push my religious beliefs on others, then you are dead wrong! For me, a primary part of being a Christian is coming to your beliefs of your own free will without coercion. This includes Charitable Giving and care for your fellow man. You see, it’s not truly “Charity” if you are forced to give. (You know, this Christianity stuff isn’t that hard to understand if you are just willing to open your mind and dig below the surface.)

    Finally, I am going to use a tactic that I have presented in the past to many liberals that argue for higher taxes, always with the same success. If you are so concerned that the government is not collecting enough in taxes, why do you not simply pay more taxes yourself? Imagine the dent that could be made in the deficit if all the liberals together kicked in voluntarily? Why don’t you kick up your tithing to 75% or more? Why are you so reluctant to personally take care of your fellow man? Why are you not following in the footsteps of Bill Gates and Ted Turner in at least asking for your personal taxes to be increased? Not willing to move into a 500sqr foot apartment to make a difference for all those out of work, Richard? Is it because you simply cannot imagine giving up your own personal trappings of wealth? Now there is prime example of hypocrisy!

    (Note that even Bill Gates and Ted Turner aren’t offering to simply pay extra money to the government regardless of the current tax rate. Truly at any point these billionaires can give everything they own to the government, but they aren’t and I can absolutely guarantee that they WON’T!)

  66. #67 by brewski on December 21, 2010 - 3:15 pm

    Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written:
    They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor;
    their righteousness endures forever.

  67. #68 by Richard Warnick on December 21, 2010 - 4:52 pm

    R.O.–

    The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities analysis factored in the deficit consequences of all the Bush tax cuts. You wrote:

    As I understand it, if taxes were raised on just the wealthy the government would have netted $700 billion. If the tax cuts had been allowed to expire completely, revenue to the government would have increased by $4 trillion, essentially taking care of the entire amount that the Bowles-Simpson commission was trying to eliminate.

    You understand correctly. If all the Bush tax cuts were allowed to expire, that would have been the fiscally responsible course of action. And we could have told the Catfood Commission to buzz off. That’s what I wanted, although it never had majority support in the polls because of the way the income tax issue has been distorted in the media.

    The so-called “middle class tax cut” proposal Obama campaigned on was already really skewed towards the rich. Instead, President Obama asked Congress to extend all the Bush tax cuts. This means that Washington is going to descend into a bout of deficit hysteria next year, having ignored the obvious solution!

    With regard to the issue of deficit spending, we need to distinguish between spending that’s targeted at economic recovery (e.g. aid to the states, infrastructure projects) and spending that’s not (e.g. $1 million per year per soldier sent to fight in Afghanistan). Furthermore, it’s necessary to distinguish between short-term deficit spending and the problem of deficits over the long term. Short-term, the federal government can borrow at historically low rates and invest in economic recovery, resulting in a multiplier effect as dollars get infused from the bottom up. Then long term, we have to control health care costs or else Medicare takes the country to unsustainable levels of debt. We have to re-assess our military spending because it’s out of control and may be doing more harm than good to national security. Our National Debt is already almost equal to the GDP.

    On the subject of Christianity, I have said before that the teachings of Jesus Christ are antithetical to capitalism. This is an inconvenient truth that the right tries hard to avoid talking about. But there you have it. In Michael Moore’s “Capitalism: A Love Story,” (2009), he interviewed Catholic religious authorities on this subject. Their answers didn’t surprise me because I was brought up in the Roman Catholic Church.

    I don’t know what “trappings of wealth” you may be referring to. My wife and I are currently unemployed. But as noted above, I wanted all the Bush tax cuts to expire (which might have cost me $1,000 or so per year in extra income tax). Even though I’d be paying for Wall Street bailouts and unwinnable wars halfway around the world that I do not support, I am willing to do that out of patriotism– as long as others pay their share. What I will not do is write a check to the Bureau of the Public Debt in the vain hope of plugging the gigantic hole McConnell-Obama just blew in the budget. That would be stupid.

  68. #69 by brewski on December 21, 2010 - 6:17 pm

    RO,
    You need some context here in discussing this topic with RW.
    RW uses words like “capitalism” even though he doesn’t actually know what it means. He equates capitalism with greed, selfishness, corruption and evil. So he is correct that greed, slefishness, corruption and evil is antithetical to Christ’s teachings. The problem is, capitalism is none of those things. Capitalism is a system of private property with rules whereby people and firms get to choose what to make, what to sell, what to buy, etc. Also, Michael Moore’s crticism of what he calles “capitalism” spends a lot of time criticizing people like Senator Dodd for their use of power and connections for self-enrichment. Again, that is not capitalism. It is people exploiting cronyism combined with Statism.

    So don’t waste your time arguing with RW on this one. You can’e argue with someone if you aren’t speaking the same language and RW has his own meanings for words which are different than those of us who speak English.

    Also, I don’t recall Christ urging the shepherds to collectivize their flocks and put them under the control of the local soviet.

  69. #70 by brewski on December 21, 2010 - 7:10 pm

    State: Top Marginal State Income Tax Rate Seats (lost)/gained
    NY 7.85% -2
    OH 5.93% -2
    MA 5.30% -1
    NJ 8.97% -1
    PA 3.07% -1
    MI 4.35% -1
    IL 3.00% -1
    IA 8.98% -1
    MO 6.00% -1
    LA 6.00% -1
    SC 7.00% 1
    GA 6.00% 1
    UT 5.00% 1
    AZ 4.54% 1
    NV 0.00% 1
    WA 0.00% 1
    FL 0.00% 2
    TX 0.00% 4

    Simple average of losers 5.94%
    Simple average of gainers 2.82%
    Difference of simple average of losers vs gainers 3.13%

    Weighted average of losers 6.10%
    Weighted average of gainers 1.88%
    Difference of weighted average of losers vs gainers 4.22%

    I mean, this just could be some giant coincidence that the states which lost people, lost jobs and lost congressional seats are, on average, the higher taxed and more unionized states. And that the states that gained jobs, gained people and gained congressional seats are, on average, the lower taxed and lower unionzed states. Maybe it’s just a coincidence. But I doubt it.

    What is the lesson here?
    People are mobile.
    Money s mobile.
    Jobs are mobile.
    It is a bad idea to chase them away.

  70. #71 by cav on December 21, 2010 - 8:18 pm

    I’m sure we are all thinking of the meaning of this holiday season, when the three wise puddies came to adore the baby cheetas, who came to redeem us from credit card debt, for whosoever who believeth on him shall charge forever and ever, world without end amen.

  71. #72 by cav on December 21, 2010 - 9:08 pm

    Too bad the latest census data didn’t track changes in IQ for states.

  72. #73 by brewski on December 21, 2010 - 9:18 pm

    You’re right. I am sure the smarter people are the ones that moved. Sort of a Darwinism to economic mobility.

  73. #74 by glenn on December 21, 2010 - 9:32 pm

    One man sows, another man reaps, is the name of this economy.

  74. #75 by cav on December 22, 2010 - 8:31 am

    I find it appalling how, for years now, the Republican line of the moment – not their supposed long-held values, but whatever bullshit they come up with just to be contrary to the Dems – has been the status quo accepted by the media for years and years, no matter how wrong, no matter how counter-factual, no matter how debunked. Repubs have always been considered to be “tougher than Dems”, whatever that means, on military issues; therefore it’s so.

    And Reagan, the actor, is their accepted model of comportment for a president. Never mind his actual policies, never mind his insane staff, never mind his progressive Alzheimer’s; the facade is all.

    Under these circumstances, Obama can never do anything right. The Repubs will always oppose him, and the media will always castigate him. Which is why I find it beyond unsettlingly that he continues to try and work with them,

  75. #76 by cav on December 22, 2010 - 8:47 am

  76. #77 by Richard Okelberry on December 22, 2010 - 10:00 am

    RW:

    Are you seriously going to invoke Michael Moore who was paid $25 million by Disney alone as some kind of authority on the incompatibility of Capitalism and Christianity? From what I have read of Michael Moore’s interviews following the Release of his anti-Capitalism propaganda piece, he like most ignorant critics with this agenda appears to base his opinion about the compatibility of Capitalism and Christianity almost completely on Mathew 19 verse 24.

    “24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”” Matthew 19: 24

    Of course those that have actually studied scripture know very well that the any person who would use this passage to justify such a position is truly doing nothing more than displaying his/her ignorance of the Bible in general. Even today, while there are many Christian Churches whose preachers make the exact same mistake, most all of these faiths are the very same faiths that have little or no form of formal seminarian study. As such, these preachers have rarely had anyone else intellectually challenge their misinterpretation of scripture.

    Now, if you are asking me to defend Roman Catholic Doctrine, you are going to be disappointed. You will have to find a devoted Catholic (preferably a knowledgeable theologian) to do that. I will however tell you what at least one Pope said about the efforts of those on the far left to demonize the Rich and promote class struggle and re-distribution of wealth.

    “The great mistake made in regard to the matter now under consideration is to take up with the notion that class is naturally hostile to class, and that the wealthy and the working men are intended by nature to live in mutual conflict. So irrational and so false is this view that the direct contrary is the truth. Just as the symmetry of the human frame is the result of the suitable arrangement of the different parts of the body, so in a State is it ordained by nature that these two classes should dwell in harmony and agreement, so as to maintain the balance of the body politic. Each needs the other: capital cannot do without labor, nor labor without capital. Mutual agreement results in the beauty of good order, while perpetual conflict necessarily produces confusion and savage barbarity. . Now, in preventing such strife as this, and in uprooting it, the efficacy of Christian institutions is marvelous and manifold. First of all, there is no intermediary more powerful than religion (whereof the Church is the interpreter and guardian) in drawing the rich and the working class together, by reminding each of its duties to the other, and especially of the obligations of justice.” – Pope LEO XIII, 1891

    It should also be noted that the Roman Catholic Church, as with most mainstream Christian faiths, has long been a supporter of personal property rights. Think about this for just one simple moment. If individuals are prohibited from owning property; why then are not one but two of the Ten Commandments (8 & 10) designed specifically to protect it?

    8. You shall not steal.
    10. ‘You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.

    Now you say, “On the subject of Christianity, I have said before that the teachings of Jesus Christ are antithetical to capitalism. This is an inconvenient truth that the right tries hard to avoid talking about.”

    Well, I am right here now and I certainly am not trying hard to avoiding talking about it! Quite the opposite! I am calling you out! If you want to make an intellectual case for why Christianity is incompatible with Capitalism, I would invite you to do so rather than simply making a blind testimony of belief without a single reference (Sorry, Moore is far from a valid reference.)

    Why don’t you go ahead and write up your best argument for your case in a new essay. Be sure to be very detailed in your argument because I certainly will be very detailed in my response. If you truly want to display your ignorance of Christianity the way Michael Moore does I will be more than willing to help you in your endeavor. You see, it is one thing to simply throw out there that Christianity and Capitalism is incompatible, you will find that the truly inconvenient truth on this subject is that it is far harder to defend that position as you have hundreds of years or seminarian study from some of the brightest theologians in history to defeat. Let’s see if you are up to the task! It might be time for you to brush off that old confirmation Bible, Richard!

    Now…

    “What I will not do is write a check to the Bureau of the Public Debt in the vain hope of plugging the gigantic hole McConnell-Obama just blew in the budget. That would be stupid.” – RW

    Yet millions of Christians every year faithfully donate billions of dollars of their own free will to their Churches and various charities with the stall ward belief that even their smallest contribution will help, regardless of whether their neighbors are being forced to contribute in the same manner. If you and other liberals truly held even an ounce of faith that the government truly had the ability to make things right if only our representatives just had a bit more cash, then maybe, just maybe a single one of you would be the first to kick in even the smallest of donations to the government! If you don’t personally believe enough in your cause to put your money where your mouth is first, why in the world should the rest of us believe in you?

    Finally, I am sorry that you and your wife are currently, unemployed. I will pray for you and your family and hope that you have a Christmas filled with joy and hope! Take solace in the truth that we are all blessed to live in a great country where many opportunities exist!

  77. #78 by Richard Okelberry on December 22, 2010 - 10:29 am

    Brewski,

    You are correct. It is very difficult to have a conversation when the proper terminology cannot be agreed to. I was just trying in vane to tweak out of the conversation why some on the left have such a strong aversion to people being wealthy. I wanted to see if any had solid logic reasons for their beliefs. Shane probably came the closest to beginning to make a valid argument. Then he began poring out the Kool-Aid-of-the-Collective. I just can’t believe that most on the left truly believe that there is some broad conspiracy by the wealthy to keep them down and take them for every dime. I guess I will have to continue to chalk it up to cronyism as you’ve said and see it as noting more than deceptive propaganda when used by leaders of the left. I just was hoping for more because you can’t argue against blind belief. It’s like trying to convince a schizophrenic that you’re not just another voice in their head.

    Thanks for the Corinthians quote, very appropriate!.

  78. #79 by Richard Warnick on December 22, 2010 - 10:38 am

    R.O.–

    I like being “called out.” So thank you. But I don’t have the time right now to research theological arguments for you to nitpick. I think we know ahead of time that I have very little chance of convincing you that Christianity is antithetical to capitalism. These beliefs are based on faith, not logic.

    If Jesus throwing the money-changers out of the Temple (Matthew 21:12), or schooling the Pharisees on the duty to pay taxes (Matthew 22:21) doesn’t give you a clue, we’ll have to agree to disagree.

    If you saw “Capitalism: A Love Story” (2009), you know that Michael Moore interviewed several knowledgeable Catholic theologians, including Father Peter Dougherty and Bishop Thomas Gumbleton (Archdiocese of Detroit). I’m not invoking Michael Moore as an authority, but I happen to agree with his position. So does Catholic scholar Anthony Stevens-Arroyo.

    For brewski’s benefit I note that in the interview segment in the comment above, Moore states that he believes “our form of capitalism today” is incompatible with Christianity. He’s not talking about some theoretical ideal state of capitalism where everyone is treated fairly.

  79. #80 by brewski on December 22, 2010 - 11:26 am

    RW,
    The two verses you cite are excellent examples how Jesus taught that there are two worlds. There is the world here on earth and then there is God’s world. So throwing the money changers out of the temple was consistent in that he was showing that one should not bring commerce into a place of worship.

    Jesus did not go into the marketplace and turn over the table and tell them that trading in goods is a sin. If he had you would have a point. But he didn’t, so you don’t.

    Similarly, when he said you should pay taxes as well as pay homage to God, there is no conflict between the two. Yes, we should pay taxes and we should pay homage to God. There is nothing in that verse which says that owning and trading is sinful.

    What is funny about Moore’s film and his guests’ observation about “our current form of capitalism” is that he spent a lot of time criticizing the abuse of power and privilege of people in government who are also Dems such as Chris Dodd and Bob Rubin. So it seems hard to conclude that we need to give more control to the government and more control to the Dems when, as Moore pointed out, they are the ones who are corrupt. So if anything his movie was a criticism of cronyism, power and privilege. I agree.

    So do I think it is wrong that people like Bob Rubin made hundreds of millions of dollars for themselves while driving the economy over a cliff and writing checks to Obama to ensure their access to power? Absolutely! [BTW, he is not a Christian, but that is beside the point]. So the solution to our problems is not now to give more power and control to the Rubins of the world.

  80. #81 by Richard Okelberry on December 22, 2010 - 1:23 pm

    RW:

    Just let me know when your ready to make your case. You will find that while I am generally pretty well studied, this is one area in scripture that I know a great deal about and can discuss at length.

  81. #82 by Richard Okelberry on December 22, 2010 - 1:47 pm

    Brewski,

    Very good point. It always amazes me how difficult it can be for people to see the forest for the trees when trying to understand scripture. The mistake that Mr. Warnick made is typical of those that are trying to force interpretations that will fit their particular point of view or argument rather than trying to understand with an open heart.

    Also, it is worth noting that what the money changers were doing in the temple was not simply changing different currencies. You see Roman currency (and other foreign currencies) were considered unclean, so Jews who were arriving in Jerusalem had to exchange their foreign currencies for a “clean” Hebrew currency that could be accepted in the temple. Also, the money changers had a monopoly on the half-shekel which was the only coin allowed in the temple. This meant they could essentially charge what they wanted for the coins and often did. So what the money changers were essential taking a “cut” of tribute that was meant for God or stealing from the treasury of the Lord.

    Also we must realize that Jesus did this as a point of provocation. We have to remember that Jesus arrived in Jerusalem to make himself the ultimate sacrifice. By admonishing the very powerful money changers with such venom he was setting into motion the events that would lead to his execution.

    Even today, many churches refuse to accept donations via credit cards because they feel that the cut that the card companies take is just too similar to what the money changers were doing.

  82. #83 by Richard Warnick on December 22, 2010 - 2:00 pm

    brewski–

    You may not be aware that for centuries the Church taught that lending money at interest was a sin. For example, Pope Sixtus V condemned the practice of charging interest as “detestable to God and man, damned by the sacred canons and contrary to Christian charity.”

    R.O.–

    I really think the burden of proof is on those who claim that there is no contradiction between Christianity and capitalism. If you can make that case, I would welcome a post from you. I assume you still have author privileges here.

  83. #84 by Richard Warnick on December 22, 2010 - 2:37 pm

    R.O.–

    Here’s my favorite part of “Capitalism: A Love Story.” Michael Moore dubbed “The Greatest Story Ever Told” (1965) so we could imagine Jesus of Nazareth as a capitalist messiah.

    This is the best YouTube version I could find, but the image is reversed for some reason.

  84. #85 by Richard Okelberry on December 22, 2010 - 3:31 pm

    First, no I have never had privileges to publish here and neither do I desire them.

    Second, your logic is backwards with regards to where the burden of proof lay with regard to any contradiction between capitalism and Christianity. As a “scientist” you should understand that I cannot prove a negative. You have leveled an accusation against a very broad section of Christianity, so the burden is on you to now prove that teachings heald within the Bible support your erroneous claim. You see, I cannot tell you where you are either failing to understand, where you are misinterpreting or taking out of context Biblical scriptures until you present them to me regardless of how many filmmakers or Catholic Priests you claim support your position. Instead of simply saying that they support your position, why don’t you try telling us why they support your position?

    I know that this challenge has taken you out of your comfort zone as it requires you to do at least some of your own research. It is very apparent by reading your posts here that you are far more comfortable simply relying on the work of other authors to give you a springboard for your own opinions. Still, if you like I can point you in the direction of some authors whose work might help get you started.

    Austin Cline is a Secular Humanist who in the past has argued that Bible promotes both Communism and Socialism. That might be a good place for you to start. Or you may just want to try quoting Michael Moore some more, but using your own words. I personally would suggest that you simply sit down and read the Bible and tell us all what it teaches you about Christianity.
    Also, the video is ridiculous because it supposes that because Jesus didn’t actively promote Modern Capitalism then he must have been against it. Is this the reverse logic that most liberals use or are willing to fall victim to? Very strange!

    Finally, back to your earlier post, while you are correct that our acceptance of scripture is a product of faith, we certainly are not precluded from apply logic in the understanding of scripture. In fact, I would argue that applying logic to the scriptures is absolutely essential.

  85. #86 by cav on December 22, 2010 - 8:19 pm

    R.O. Do you honestly think it is possible to compare what the money changers who operated in the temples back in the day, and those who conspire to rake every last dollar from every pocket held by non-members of ‘the club’ these days?

    In the day, Christianity didn’t even exist, so I hope you’re not suggesting that it is the fault of the Christianity / Capitalism axis that the bankers are so greedy.

    Seems to me there are all kinds of human behaviors that lie outside of either of these institutions that really characterize what goodness mankind is capable of. But inside of either, you’ve got some pretty wacked out shit. (Stiffling reversion to – I can’t even use the whole word, only the first initial: G’s Law-). So brother, where’s the beef exactly?

  86. #87 by Richard Warnick on December 22, 2010 - 8:31 pm

    R.O.–

    Sorry, I was mistaken about you being an author on One Utah. But I still think the burden of proof is on those making extraordinary claims.

    Saying that Christianity is antithetical to capitalism is not an accusation, as you seem to think. I simply stated a fundamental and widely-accepted fact.

    If you believe that Christian doctrine supports greed, materialism, acquisitiveness, usury, profligacy, stinginess, etc. I consider that an extraordinary claim requiring extraordinary proof.

    Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) is opposed to unemployment insurance (which is paid for by dedicated taxes based on the amount of wages paid to employees). On the subject of unemployment insurance, Hatch recently said, “You know, we should not be giving cash to people who basically are just going to blow it on drugs.” Is that statement in accordance with Christianity as you understand it?

    Recently representatives of Bank of America and other capitalist entities have been caught burglarizing people’s homes and stealing all their possessions. They even stole from a widow the box containing her late husband’s ashes. Christianity, would you say, or not?

  87. #88 by brewski on December 22, 2010 - 9:48 pm

    RW,
    You must circulate among a very limited set of people given all of the six sigma opinions you have.

    Saying that Christianity is antithetical to capitalism is not an accusation, as you seem to think. I simply stated a fundamental and widely-accepted fact.

    I have no idea among whom this “widely-accepted fact” is held. I was married by a gay Episcopalian priest who has degrees from Harvard, Yale and St. Andrews and he certainly does not hold this belief. [I also backpacked around Italy with him getting a pretty great education of the Roman Church]. So going forward you might not take it for granted that what you consider to be a widely accpeted fact is considered to be so by the other 99.9999999% of the people on the planet. Therefore, these sorts of statements require some kind, any kind, of support.

    You also never supported your “widely accpeted fact” that not taxing high income earners enough creates asset bubbles. In fact I was able to cite for you a list of causes of asset bubbles by an authoritive source, and tax rates was not even on the list.

    So what you think is “widely accepted fact” and what everyone else thinks are pretty far apart.

    BTW, I don’t really care what Pope Sixtus V thought or said. It is interesting for historical context of course. But people like Calvin, Luther, Knox and others spent quite a bit of effort getting over the extra-biblical teachings of the Roman Church.

  88. #89 by brewski on December 22, 2010 - 9:59 pm

    You know, we should not be giving cash to people who basically are just going to blow it on drugs.” Is that statement in accordance with Christianity as you understand it?

    I worked across the street from the St. Vibianas homeless mission in downtown Los Angeles. I worked at the LA Times at the time. As a downtown business we were pretty involved in and supported downtown LA issues such as the homeless, who often were literally sleeping in the doorway of the LA Times building. The CEO of the LA Times’ parent company (Robert Erbruru) attended mass at St. Vibianas. I can tell you that the directors of the downtown homeless shelters and homeless service missions often asked us to not give cash to the homeless since they would spend it on booze and drugs. And this was coming from the homeless counselors, the nuns and the directors of the shelters.

    So, to answer your question. Yes.

    Please read this article:
    http://uspoverty.change.org/blog/view/why_you_shouldnt_give_money_to_panhandlers

  89. #90 by Richard Okelberry on December 23, 2010 - 8:34 am

    Brewski,

    To put another one of Warnick’s statements into perspective, people should know that the reason why the Roman Catholic Church outlawed charging interest had more to do with politics than Biblical interpretation. You see during the middle ages the Knights Templar became the center of banking across Europe. In fact, many historians trace back our modern banking system to the Knights Templar. While the Knights Templar themselves took on vows of poverty, with control over so much money came huge political power and influence. Even Kings eventually found themselves heavily in debt to the Templar banking system. One King in particular, King Philip IV of France was particularly laden with such Debt. As such he resolved to pressure Pope Clement V to disband and persecute the Knights Templar as a way of relieving his debt. One of the major charges against the Templar order was Usury. From this point on and throughout most of the middle ages the Church would use the example of the Templar downfall to keep itself at the center of the financial world in Europe.

    While some remaining Templar escaped to Scotland, others retreated into the Swiss mountains where they eventually re-established their banking system. Even today, banking in Switzerland is a primary part of their economy. Today, it is now the official position of the Roman Catholic Church that the Knights Templar were unjustly persecuted by the early Church.

    “The Roman Catholic Church graciously acknowledged that the Knights Templar were innocent yesterday (Vatican Information Service, 4th Oct). The news was reported in the press today, exactly seven days before the 700th anniversary of the persecution of the Order.” – The Insider, http://www.theinsider.org/news/article.asp?id=2623

    It is not strange at all that Warnick would quote Pope Sixtus V, in support of his position as Pope Sixtus V was best known for filling the coffers of the Holly See while bankrupting everyone else. (Sound familiar?)

    “Acting on his favorite principle that riches as well as severity are necessary for good government, he used every available means to replenish the state treasury. So successful was he in the accumulation of money that, despite his enormous expenditures for public buildings, he had shortly before his death deposited in the Castello di Sant’ Angelo three million scudi in gold and one million six hundred thousand in silver.

    He did not consider that in the long run so much dead capital withdrawn from circulation was certain to impoverish the country and deal the death-blow to commerce and industry. To obtain such vast sums he economized everywhere, except in works of architecture; increased the number of salable public offices; imposed more taxes and extended the monti, or public loans, that had been instituted by Clement VII. Though extremely economical in other ways, Sixtus V spent immense sums in erection of public works.” – Catholic Encyclopedia

    Notice how the Church was in charge at the time Pope Sixtus V of public loans or “monti.” Montes Pietatius were essential lending institutions set up by the Church that acted much like our modern day pawn shops. While this “charitable” lending was supposed to prevent Usury, in the end it put many desperate people (since those were the only people they would lend to) in hock and made a pretty profit for the Church.

  90. #91 by cav on December 23, 2010 - 9:19 am

    “He did not consider that in the long run so much dead capital withdrawn from circulation was certain to impoverish the country and deal the death-blow to commerce and industry.”

    So this sort of thinking isn’t new at all. Can we then define it as a ‘feature’, rather than a ‘bug’?

  91. #92 by Richard Okelberry on December 23, 2010 - 9:34 am

    RW:

    Why don’t we let Jesus do most of the talking in this discussion for a moment Mr. Warnick?

    The Parable of the Talents (Bags of Gold)
    14 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag,[a] each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. 18 But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
    19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’
    21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
    22 “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’
    23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
    24 “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’
    26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.
    28 “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. 29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ – Matthew 28: 14-28 NIV

    While this parable is designed to teach Christians about how faithful service is rewarded and is designed to establish the importance of good stewardship among the faithful, Jesus specifically uses what could only be called a Capitalist setting to teach his lesson. Notice that at no time during the parable does Jesus condemn the idea of “making a profit.” Instead he seems to be saying that it is desirable. So I ask you Richard Warnick; if Jesus was so anti-capitalism, if capitalism is antithetic to the teachings of Christ, then why in the world did Christ not instead use such a parable to teach a lesson about the evils of capitalism. Notice that the “Master” in the parable commends his servants that doubled the money entrusted to them while admonishing the servant that horded the treasure.

    Of course this parable is not the only time that Jesus used basic capitalism to convey a greater truth. We also have the Parable of the Ten Minas which essentially tells the same story but with a political twist.

    Parable of the Ten Minas“ 11 While they were listening to this, he went on to tell them a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once. 12 He said: “A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return. 13 So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas.[a] ‘Put this money to work,’ he said, ‘until I come back.’
    14 “But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, ‘We don’t want this man to be our king.’
    15 “He was made king, however, and returned home. Then he sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it.
    16 “The first one came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned ten more.’
    17 “‘Well done, my good servant!’ his master replied. ‘Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.’
    18 “The second came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned five more.’
    19 “His master answered, ‘You take charge of five cities.’
    20 “Then another servant came and said, ‘Sir, here is your mina; I have kept it laid away in a piece of cloth. 21 I was afraid of you, because you are a hard man. You take out what you did not put in and reap what you did not sow.’
    22 “His master replied, ‘I will judge you by your own words, you wicked servant! You knew, did you, that I am a hard man, taking out what I did not put in, and reaping what I did not sow? 23 Why then didn’t you put my money on deposit, so that when I came back, I could have collected it with interest?’
    24 “Then he said to those standing by, ‘Take his mina away from him and give it to the one who has ten minas.’
    25 “‘Sir,’ they said, ‘he already has ten!’
    26 “He replied, ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what they have will be taken away. 27 But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and kill them in front of me.’” – Luke 19: 11-26, NIV

    Jesus isn’t sounding so much like the anti-capitalist described by Michael Moore now is he, Mr. Warnick. Do you see what simply reading the Bible can do for your understanding of Christianity? Do you see how it can expose the types of lies told by Michael Moore? I am truly sorry that I had to make you look like such a fool but you brought this upon yourself. Please don’t take this lesson and dig yourself deeper into a false dogmatic belief. It is far better to recognize when you have been deceived and admit when you are wrong.

  92. #93 by Richard Okelberry on December 23, 2010 - 9:59 am

    Correction: The Parable of the Talants appears is from Matthew 25 not 28 as indicated.

  93. #94 by cav on December 23, 2010 - 10:04 am

    R.O.

    Jesus was reflecting on a man of ‘noble birth’, how he sought to establish ‘capitalism’. I’m not sure Jesus was entirely empathetic to that posture.

  94. #95 by Richard Okelberry on December 23, 2010 - 10:14 am

    Cav,

    Notice here that it is not my position that Jesus was seeking to establish capitalism nor that he was directly promoting Capitalism, only that it is obvious that he was not condemning it as suggested by Warnick and Moore. While it certainly appears that Jesus saw profits from investments as desirable, that certainly is not enough to declare that he was promoting all of Capitalism.

    Also, notice that what you say about noble birth is only true of the parable of the Minas, not the parable of the Talants. Within the parable of the Talants the master is simply referred to as a man of wealth.

  95. #96 by Richard Okelberry on December 23, 2010 - 10:15 am

    For anyone that is interested; a great resource for understanding the Bible can be found in the online version of the Popular Commentary of the Bible by Paul E. Kretzmann.

  96. #97 by Richard Warnick on December 23, 2010 - 10:33 am

    This is starting to remind me of the Alice in Wonderland tag-team discussions we always have with the gun rights advocates, who passionately insist that the Sixth Commandment says it’s OK to kill people. :-(

    Brewski–

    As I stated, and as is clear from the context, Senator Hatch was discussing unemployed Americans receiving unemployment insurance. By definition, in order to be eligible they are jobless through no fault of their own. They are not panhandlers on the street. I submit it was not a charitable remark worthy of a Christian.

    What say you about the actions of Bank of America? Christian or un-Christian?

    R.O. —

    Thanks for your historical analysis, I was a History major at Georgetown University and this stuff fascinates me. I took courses in both ancient and medieval history, and the history of the Byzantine Empire.

    Maybe the Obama administration could follow the example of Pope Sixtus V (don’t you just love that name?) and do more to fix up America’s infrastructure. It would inject money into the economy in a bottom-up approach that beats “trickle-down.”

    The Parable of the Talents is… what’s the word? Oh, it’s a parable. Duh.

    “For the kingdom of heaven is as a man traveling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.” (Matthew 25:14)

    Note that the point Jesus is making refers to the kingdom of heaven. There is no capitalism in Heaven. There is no paying for things with money. The talents stand for something. It’s up to you to find out what. It isn’t money as you know it.

    What does Jesus value? All the material items and money and such in the parables are props for drawing analogies. He’s alluding to other things that are of value in Heaven and ought to be of value here. In this case, it’s about having faith.

    Kenneth E. Bailey offers an interesting analysis of what the Parable of the Talents is really about. Jesus is telling us to be faithful. There is no assurance that the Lord will return, aside from our own faith.

    I sat through countless Sunday sermons as a Catholic, and believe me, this parable is not about money or banking. The faithless servant didn’t fully believe in the master’s eventual return, and decided to play it safe until he knew for sure. That’s the point.

    Just so we’re clear about what I believe, I consider Jesus of Nazareth to be a real historical figure even though I don’t believe in the supernatural aspects of religion. In practical matters as opposed to parables, Jesus was a socialist, or even a communist if you apply a modern definition to his teachings.

    All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. (Acts 2:44-45)

    I’m really beginning to wonder if your knowledge of Jesus’ teaching is as good as you claim. At least brewski gets that Christianity isn’t about money or having more than the other guy.

  97. #98 by cav on December 23, 2010 - 10:56 am

    There are always at least 2 sides to every story – and when the filtering and revisioning occurs over thousands of years, one should only expect the establishment media, whatever form it took over that course, played a very big part in how our memory works. Dig deep and think – History cannot reflect what is claimed – and if it could, It must necessarily run our very, own personalized, media polished filters. Given that, I suggest much of what we are dealing with now is a result of the folks with money asserting their political power, polishing their technique for two-plus millennia, over the folks that were politically or even spiritually effective.

  98. #99 by cav on December 23, 2010 - 11:41 am

    The devil’s in the details.

  99. #100 by Richard Okelberry on December 23, 2010 - 1:23 pm

    RW:

    Looks like you took my advice and looked up Austin Cline. I was wondering how long it was going to take you to bring up the story of Ananias and Sapphira. Before, I correct you again though; I want to ask you some simple questions.

    First, do you believe that this story tells all Christians that to be a “true” good Christian, every Christian must give up all that they own, quit their jobs and travel around preaching the Gospel?

    Second, I am curious about your former Catholic faith that you have referenced. You have said that you were raised Catholic and that now you do not believe in the divinity of Christ. So I am curious about whether you quit believing (and what caused you to lose your faith) or if you never truly believed in the first place.

    Third, while you are a correct that the parable of the Talents is just that a parable. If you had read closely I noted the underlying reason and meaning of the parable (though not in detail), “While this parable is designed to teach Christians about how faithful service is rewarded and is designed to establish the importance of good stewardship among the faithful” I also noted that Jesus certainly could have chosen a different way to teach this valuable lesson than using objects of ownership and capitalism; especially if such objects or ideas were antithetical to his cause. So I want to ask you for your direct assessment. Why do you personally feel that Jesus would use objects of ownership and commerce (capitalism) in a parable if his teachings were directly opposed to these things?

    Finally, you never addressed the reason for the 8th and 10th commandments if we were all meant to live a life of poverty without possessions. How can you steal from someone if no-one actually owns anything? How can you covet someone’s possessions if those possessions are part of the collective? (These are very simple questions.)

  100. #101 by Richard Warnick on December 23, 2010 - 3:41 pm

    R.O.–

    1) No. But lots of Christians did follow this path, and still do today.

    2) Off topic and I’m not interested in satisfying your curiosity. I will tell you I had many years of religious instruction, and attended a university run by the Roman Catholic Church.

    3) Jesus was preaching to people who lived in the real world and engaged in commerce. He chose to explain the kingdom of heaven using analogies they could understand in relation to their everyday life.

    4) Um, Ten Commandments = Old Testament. Sermon on the Mount = New Testament.

    Matthew 6:

    “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

    “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

    If I may venture an opinion here, you are not doing very well in finding any basis in Christian doctrine for your own parable of the Happy Meals. The best argument that can be made on your side is that Jesus was indifferent to capitalism, rather than opposed to it. He certainly never had anything good to say about it. Nor did Jesus subscribe to your idea that taxation = theft.

  101. #102 by cav on December 23, 2010 - 4:10 pm

    I just now remembered the Flying Spaghetti Monster has numerous noodly appendages that flop into the present now and again, keeping the people up to speed on what it means to be human.

    No discernible pattern to these events, but there does seem to be an affection on the part of the FSM for particularly pigmented segments of earths’ population .

  102. #103 by cav on December 23, 2010 - 7:34 pm

    Hey, I mean no offense by any of these comments, I just want to point out there are other ways of looking at things. We don’t all have to think alike. The Greater Spirit will just continue to work its Magic.

  103. #104 by Richard Okelberry on December 26, 2010 - 8:06 am

    RW:

    Sorry for the delay in my response. As you probably remember from your past, Christmas can be a very busy time for Christians.

    “The best argument that can be made on your side is that Jesus was indifferent to capitalism, rather than opposed to it. He certainly never had anything good to say about it.” – Richard Warnick

    What a massive distortion of this discussion! Read carefully Mr. Warnick and you will see that I have not been arguing that Jesus was in favor of any particular social/political/economic model. I have been arguing against your attempt to discredit me as a valid participant in the prior discussion because of my religion by assertion that Jesus was opposed to Capitalism. In the middle of a discussion, completely out of the blue you inserted,

    “Your moral arguments are the opposite of Christianity, by the way. That’s odd, from someone who wears his religion on his sleeve. What about: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” “As you would that men should do to you, do you also to them in like manner”? – Richard Warnick

    Do you seriously believe that this entire discussion has been about me arguing that Jesus was promoting Capitalism? I have been merely pointing out that if Jesus was in opposition to Capitalism he certainly didn’t do a very good job of showing it as he regularly used references to capitalism and commerce in his teachings (always without a single rebuke of it.) The closest I have come in this discussion to supporting the idea that Jesus was pro-Capitalist was when I said that Jesus seemed to find the concept of “making a profit” desirable by virtue of his parable. Of course that is a long way from saying that Jesus wanted us all to be Capitalists.

    I personally, don’t believe Jesus was much interested in promoting any particular political or economic system as he even refused to condemn the high taxes imposed by Rome when he told his followers to “give unto Caesar what is Caesars’.” While I imagine that if he had, Jesus would have found himself a very popular figure among the masses, his primary concern was teaching people about the difference between the kingdom of man and the kingdom of heaven. Instead of involving himself with politics, he regularly illustrated that the kingdom of man is fleeting and should not be our primary concern.

    Even your quote from Matthew 6 illustrates this point as we are being instructed about what perfect faith and trust in God looks like and how our primary focus should be on God not worldly things. Of course someone like you who doesn’t seem to understand the broader context of Christ’s teachings might argue like a child would that Matthew 6 is instructing us all to run around naked and to do nothing to provide for our health, nourishment and safety.

    Now to my prior questions for you.

    1. You declared that Jesus was a Communist then quote Acts 2 which leads into the story about Ananias and Sapphira describing how followers of Jesus gave up their possessions. Then I ask you if you believe that true Christians should follow suit and likewise give up their possessions. To this you say “NO.” In doing so you have yourself discredited your prior argument which attempted to use Acts 2 to promote your position that Jesus was a Communist/Socialist. You see there is a huge difference between living in a large communal family style unit and promoting nationalized Communism/Socialism. While Jesus may have lived for a very short period of his life in a large communal family group that was a necessary part of his ministry, we both know that this is a far way from being a traditional modern Communist/Socialist and is more similar to priests taking vows of poverty and having their parishioners economically support their ministries.

    2. I asked you about your former Catholic faith and you refused to comment. This is perhaps one of the most telling of all your responses. You appear completely willing to pass out judgments over the faiths of others and criticize various religions, but any discussion about your own personal faith (or lack of) is off limits? You asked me to make a judgment about whether Orin Hatch is being a good Christian, yet you refuse to provide details about your own beliefs when quarried? Isn’t this the pinnacle of Hypocrisy? So what happened to your faith Mr. Warnick? Was it something that you might consider embarrassing like an excommunication or were you like Ananias and Sapphira from Acts and simply pretended to be a faithful disciple of Christ for years. Did you spend your youth lying to those around you, your family friends and even your priest about your faithful convictions? I am still very eager to hear your story. Also, I am curious if you can give us any examples of you publically questioning the faith of any non-Christians. Essentially, I am asking if you reserve such criticisms just for Christians; if so, why?

    3. I asked you why Jesus would use objects of ownership and commerce (capitalism) in a parable if his teachings were directly opposed to these things as you say. You answered, “He chose to explain the kingdom of heaven using analogies they could understand in relation to their everyday life.” While this may be true, I want note that you failed to address the underlying question. While it is obvious that Jesus used symbolism familiar to his listeners, why would he choose symbolism antithetical to his cause? Why in the world would he portraying God as a “sinful” capitalist as in our next parable, (Note here that not only is God the Capitalist Master in this parable who makes an investment setting up an “enterprise,” but we also now have the workers who would seek to take the property of the Master by force of death if necessary just as we have seen the “labor force” do against the proletariat in several historical Communist revolutions.)

    “ 1 Jesus then began to speak to them in parables: “A man planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a pit for the winepress and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place. 2 At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants to collect from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. 3 But they seized him, beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 4 Then he sent another servant to them; they struck this man on the head and treated him shamefully. 5 He sent still another, and that one they killed. He sent many others; some of them they beat, others they killed.
    6 “He had one left to send, a son, whom he loved. He sent him last of all, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’
    7 “But the tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ 8 So they took him and killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard.
    9 “What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others. 10 Haven’t you read this passage of Scripture:
    “‘The stone the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone;
    11 the Lord has done this,
    and it is marvelous in our eyes’[a]?”
    12 Then the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders looked for a way to arrest him because they knew he had spoken the parable against them. But they were afraid of the crowd; so they left him and went away. – Mark 12: 1-12, NIV

    Then we have a parable that teaches us about how the gifts of grace will be bestowed on all who come to Christ whether it is though life long dedication or in the final moments of life. Of course Jesus tells us this using a story that illustrates that the master is the owner of his property and may distribute it in the form of pay however he sees fit. This passage should be of particular interest to Socialist/Communists that are always grumbling about equal pay and “fair” distribution of wealth.

    “The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard
    1 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. 2 He agreed to pay them a denarius[a] for the day and sent them into his vineyard.
    3 “About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. 4 He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ 5 So they went.
    “He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. 6 About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’
    7 “‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered.
    “He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’
    8 “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’
    9 “The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. 10 So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. 11 When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 12 ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’
    13 “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’
    16 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” Matthew 20: 1-16, NIV

    4. I asked you about 8th and 10th and Ten Commandments against theft and being covetous of another’s possessions. In a Communist society there is no real ownership of private property, so it would appear that if Jesus was a communist there would be no real reason for a law against theft of “personal” property since all ownership would be shared. Your response seemed to indicate that it is your belief that the Sermon on the Mount essentially did away with the Ten Commandments so that they no longer hold any meaning for Christians. Again, you seem to have distorted a primary position held by much of Christianity. While the “Law” no longer may have power over believers as they are now saved primarily by grace/faith, much of Christianity still holds these commandments sacred as they help to show the sinful nature of man. Rather than fulfilling the law as a path to salvation, many Christians now believe that the Law acts as a guide in their daily lives that should be upheld out of love for God. This is best illustrated by another Bible passage where Jesus is asked how one might attain eternal life. Ironically, this is the same “eye of the needle” passage that many like you use to bolster their “Jesus hates rich people too” argument.

    “ 17 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”
    18 “Which ones?” he inquired.
    Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, 19 honor your father and mother,’[c] and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’[d]” Matthew 19: 17-19, NIV (also see, Mark 10 & Luke 18)

    You see Richard, we can go on and on like this. The Bible is completely loaded with similar references that discount your theory. Of course there is one minor part of this discussion that we have yet to take up.

    Any discussion using logic about a proposed theory such as yours inevitably needs a proof. In this instance the proof can be found through historical observation. Many forms of government and economic systems have existed throughout history. Currently there are two primary forms, Capitalism and Communism with Socialism serving as a transition between the two. Between these two competing systems it can be said that Christianity certainly has thrived more within Capitalism than within Communism. If Jesus was a communist and Christianity is antithetical to Capitalism as you say, then why would our real world observations show the opposite to be true? If you are correct, then it should be within the Communist states of the world that Christianity has thrived. As a “scientist” you certainly should have recognized this before promoting Moore’s false theory.

  104. #105 by Cliff Lyon on December 27, 2010 - 9:36 am

    Okelberry,

    After all your tactical defensive jaw boning, your thesis is that Christianity does better under capitalist governments ergo Jesus was not a communist?

    Amazing.

  105. #106 by Richard Warnick on December 27, 2010 - 11:01 am

    R.O.–

    Actually, pretty much everybody has better things to do over the holidays than blog, and that includes both of us.

    I’m not sure what to make of your epic over-analysis, except to say I think we agree that Jesus didn’t teach anything about economics or politics. He just wanted us to treat each other as we ourselves would want to be treated, and that is the antithesis of capitalism as I understand it.

    “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them” (Matthew 7:12, see also Luke 6:31).

    As for your insistent questions about my upbringing, I have said before that my concept of blogging is to focus as much as possible on the issues, not personalities. Others may disagree, but that’s how I do it. I think that anyone who has to resort to an ad hominem attack has lost the argument already. It says something about you that you would impugn my integrity based on no information! This isn’t the first time, either.

    I don’t question anyone’s religion, but I do like to point out hypocrisy. How is Senator Hatch’s apparent loathing for the less fortunate consistent with Christian teaching? You can’t answer that. I invite you to compare Hatch’s Christmas sentiments with those of PFC Bradley Manning. In the first instance, we have a millionaire Washington insider complaining about jobless people who have never done anything to him. In the second, we have a military prisoner held in solitary with few rights and no power who is concerned for the well-being of others at Christmas time– including his prison guards.

    You are correct, we could go on and on. One thing we haven’t discussed about The Bible is that it was written by human beings capable of introducing their own bias by choosing to include or omit information.

    Your last paragraph leaps into an entirely different discussion from the one we’ve been having. Without going over all the history, I’ll simply observe something about the historical record — it’s as subject to interpretation as scripture. For example, how do you explain the existence of communism under Brigham Young here in Utah?

    I think it’s obvious that oppressive dictatorships often try to wipe out any alternative belief systems that people can rally around, hence the official atheism of the USSR etc.

  106. #107 by Richard Okelberry on December 27, 2010 - 3:41 pm

    “As for your insistent questions about my upbringing, I have said before that my concept of blogging is to focus as much as possible on the issues, not personalities. Others may disagree, but that’s how I do it. I think that anyone who has to resort to an ad hominem attack has lost the argument already. It says something about you that you would impugn my integrity based on no information! This isn’t the first time, either.” – Richard Warnick


    Did you just defend what you saw as an Ad Hominem attack by issuing an Ad Hominem attack? Personally I am not certain about which of my statements you believe was an off subject personal attack on you meant to discredit your position. Is it because I asked if your regular judgments about the faith of others, alongside your own reluctance to divulge your own personal beliefs were somewhat hypocritical? Or was it that I asked if you had been excommunicated or if you had lived your life at one point lying to others about your faith. Notice that at no point did I accuse you of any of these things but was merely asking questions as I felt your personal faith had bearing on the discussion at hand.

    Here, read what I wrote again…

    “So what happened to your faith Mr. Warnick? Was it something that you might consider embarrassing like an excommunication or were you like Ananias and Sapphira from Acts and simply pretended to be a faithful disciple of Christ for years. Did you spend your youth lying to those around you, your family friends and even your priest about your faithful convictions?” – RO

    Notice the question marks at the end of each sentence. If you wrongly took these questions as me somehow impugning you integrity through accusation, then I am afraid it is you who is at fault here.

    Now for your assertion, “I have said before that my concept of blogging is to focus as much as possible on the issues, not personalities. Others may disagree, but that’s how I do it. that you always stick to the topic and never engage in personal attacks” compared to some of the statements you made during this discussion alone.

    “With R.O. back in town, Godwin’s Law is never far behind.” – Richard Warnick
    “Your moral arguments are the opposite of Christianity, by the way. That’s odd, from someone who wears his religion on his sleeve. What about: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” “As you would that men should do to you, do you also to them in like manner”? Come on, even Bill Gates Sr. and Ted Turner understand this.” – Richard Warnick

    “I’m really beginning to wonder if your knowledge of Jesus’ teaching is as good as you claim. At least brewski gets that Christianity isn’t about money or having more than the other guy.” – Richard Warnick

    “If I may venture an opinion here, you are not doing very well in finding any basis in Christian doctrine for your own parable of the Happy Meals.” – Richard Warnick

    Now to describe the obvious reason for these statements using your link from Wikipedia about Ad Hominem attacks.

    “Ad hominem abuse (also called personal abuse or personal attacks) usually involves insulting or belittling one’s opponent in order to invalidate his or her argument, but can also involve pointing out factual but ostensible character flaws or actions which are irrelevant to the opponent’s argument. This tactic is logically fallacious because insults and even true negative facts about the opponent’s personal character have nothing to do with the logical merits of the opponent’s arguments or assertions.”

    None of your prior statements above were truly on topic, but intended primarily to insult and belittle me in attempt to cast a shadow on the validity of my argument. Now to quote you one more time…

    “I think that anyone who has to resort to an ad hominem attack has lost the argument already.” – Richard Warnick

    Note: Even invoking Godwin’s Law is an automatic Ad Hominem attack because it is an attempt to discredit an argument simply because it contains a Nazi reference regardless of the validity of the reference.

  107. #108 by Richard Warnick on December 27, 2010 - 3:55 pm

    R.O.–

    If I wanted to stoop to your level, I could ask made-up obnoxious rhetorical questions about you too. But that would be childish. And not particularly charitable. ;-)

    I think it’s possible to disagree with someone without attacking them personally. I take issue with ideas, not people. And I don’t resort to insults. Apparently you have concluded that I have attacked you personally by pointing out hypocrisy and faulty logic on your part. Well, I’m sorry if that’s too much for you.

  108. #109 by Richard Okelberry on December 27, 2010 - 5:38 pm

    Along with a rediscover of the meaning of Ad Hominem you may want to also research the meaning of a Rhetorical Question. When I asked my questions about your faith initially, it was completely open ended and there was no expectation of a particular answer. Only when you took such great offense and refused to answer did I narrow my questioning. Even then, Narrowing the scope of the questioning was designed to encourage a formal answer.

    “Second, I am curious about your former Catholic faith that you have referenced. You have said that you were raised Catholic and that now you do not believe in the divinity of Christ. So I am curious about whether you quit believing (and what caused you to lose your faith) or if you never truly believed in the first place.” – RO

    Does that sound like Rhetorical question to anyone or an earnest attempt to gain information valuable to the discussion? After all, it was you that first introduced your personal beliefs into the conversation.

    “I sat through countless Sunday sermons as a Catholic, and believe me, this parable is not about money or banking. The faithless servant didn’t fully believe in the master’s eventual return, and decided to play it safe until he knew for sure. That’s the point.
    Just so we’re clear about what I believe, I consider Jesus of Nazareth to be a real historical figure even though I don’t believe in the supernatural aspects of religion.” – Richard Warnick

    Now if you’re looking for a prime example of a Rhetorical Question, here’s a gleaming example.

    ““Can you explain the Republican obsession with tax cuts?” – Richard Warnick

    You see the question assumes that the person being asked agrees that Republicans have an “obsession” with taxes. The question should have read, “Do the Republicans have an obsession with taxes; if so why?” This is what is called a Negative Assertion, Rhetorical Question, Mr. Warnick.
    As for made up questions, consider that it is you that explained how you’ve sat through “countless Sunday sermons as a Catholic” then go onto say that you do not believe in the “supernatural aspects of religion.” These two statements imply one of two things is definitely true. Either you had faith and lost it or you never had faith and were living a lie. I truly hope you can see how topical your answer would be considering your regular charge of other Christians being Hypocrites and your use of Acts 2 to support your argument.

    Have you had enough, yet? (rhetorical)

  109. #110 by cav on December 27, 2010 - 6:54 pm

    R.O., I recently discovered a site you may be interested in – some of your commentary reminds me of this:

    …a very interesting idea that Turner pursues in the course of his essay: The atheisms of most committed, principled atheists are often not more than mirror images—inversions—of the theisms they negate. In On Interpretation, Aristotle wrote, “Affirmations and their corresponding negations are one in the same knowledge”; therefore, one can discern from many atheisms their corresponding affirmative theologies.

    http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/atheologies/3820/way_beyond_atheism%3A_god_does_not_%28not%29_exist/

  110. #111 by brewski on December 27, 2010 - 6:56 pm

    RW,

    He just wanted us to treat each other as we ourselves would want to be treated, and that is the antithesis of capitalism as I understand it.

    The key phrase here is “capitalism as you understand it”, which you have proven that you don’t understand it at all. And you repeat your misunderstanding over and over again.

    In fact, that phrase is exactly what capitalism is. Individual actors making decisions on what to buy, what to sell, what to do and what not do do based on their own choice. Expecting that each other will act in their own interest while we act in our own self interest and finding “the mutual benefits of trade.”

    So according to this quote, Christ was an ardent capitalist.

  111. #112 by Richard Warnick on December 27, 2010 - 8:39 pm

    R.O.–

    Your insistent and insulting questions and speculation, repeated three times above, imply that I am an inveterate liar and worse. Like I said, these personal attacks made up out of thin air say more about you than me. You gave up trying to argue your case on the merits and tried to shut down the discussion, because you don’t want to admit that Christianity is antithetical to capitalism.

    Republicans DO have an obsession with tax cuts. This fact is impossible to deny. If the economy is doing well and the federal deficit is under control, Republicans call for tax cuts. After the economy falls apart, and we have ten percent unemployment, unprecedented deficits, and two wars we can’t pay for, Republicans call for tax cuts. And they won’t settle for a compromise, they insist on having bonus tax cuts and estate tax cuts even for the ultra-wealthy — without offering any justification!

    brewski–

    Your theory of capitalism is very nice. The reality is more like, “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.” Our job is to fight these injustices and correct for the problem that capital has no moral compass.

    President Andrew Jackson, in his 1832 bank veto, said:

    [W]hen the laws undertake… to make the rich richer and the potent more powerful, the humble members of society… have a right to complain of the injustice to their Government.

    Which is the original subject of this post. The McConnell-Obama deal is making the rich richer. We are rewarding the very people who crashed our economy and took away $12 trillion of our net worth.

    Working harder for less is the new normal—for those lucky enough to have a job. Millions of families are giving up comforts they long took for granted, such as restaurant meals, new clothes, vacations, spacious cars, home improvements, and cable television.

    That’s the reality. Why do you steadfastly refuse to recognize it? (That was a rhetorical question.)

  112. #113 by cav on December 27, 2010 - 11:14 pm

    In America, Christianity is much closer to capitalism.

    Look at billboards along the freeways, the way that the new religions, the evangelicals, promote themselves, is exactly the way that banks do. They talk about “extra interest” from God, and it’s all individuals becoming religious because they think they can get a personal benefit out of it—and the people offering the benefit are making money out of it. So it’s a business.

    That crystal cathedral seems to be founded on gold, and there’s no escaping how easy (and lucrative) it is to ‘mistake oneself for Caesar.

  113. #114 by Larry Bergan on December 28, 2010 - 2:43 am

    The crystal cathedral has declared bankruptcy. It’s no secret that gold is easily dented. I’ve never understood it’s general value as a standard of worth. It IS noncorrosive, but cannot be used for most…

    uses.

    RO:

    Why are the rich so envious. Why all this class war?

  114. #115 by Richard Okelberry on December 28, 2010 - 4:54 am

    Cav,

    Very cool stuff.

    When I get a chance, I will have to read more. I’ve recently been very interested in this bit of a public squabble that played out on the news over the holidays between this Atheist group who had been putting up anti-Christmas billboards and this Catholic group opposing them. While we are all pretty used to religions advertising their faith, it struck me as strange that someone would take the time, effort and money to publically advertise against religion. To me it would be kind of like putting up a sign saying “I hate football!” across the street from a billboard promoting a local football team. It’s one thing to promote something you like. It’s a whole other thing to actively promote not liking something.

    Thanks cav! Interesting link. I’ll have to give it a second read when I have time.

  115. #116 by Richard Okelberry on December 28, 2010 - 5:30 am

    Larry,

    “Why are the rich so envious. Why all this class war?” – LB

    Careful Larry, Mr. Warnick may accuse you of using “childish rhetorical questions.” Oh wait, no, he wouldn’t do that because you’re not me! Personally, I don’t know if it can be said that the “Rich” are anymore envious than anyone else. In fact, you might say that those who oppose the Rich are far more envious as they regularly seek to use the power and authority of the government to redistribute the wealth of the Rich to others, including themselves. Isn’t it just a little ironic that those who do seek to use the government to oppose the Rich and redistribute their wealth are often the same people who will complain when the Rich use their influence over the government to grow their wealth?

  116. #117 by Larry Bergan on December 28, 2010 - 5:56 am

    RO says:

    …those who oppose the Rich are far more envious as they regularly seek to use the power and authority of the government to redistribute the wealth of the Rich to others…

    You got me there! I often use the power and authority of the government to my ends. Boy am I ever embarrassed!

    I feel naked – in fact – almost impoverished.

  117. #118 by Larry Bergan on December 28, 2010 - 6:06 am

    Now, can you answer my question?

    What is money for?

    Not a novelette, or an essay please; just an answer.

    I have to work.

  118. #119 by Richard Okelberry on December 28, 2010 - 6:58 am

    Brewski,
    If Einstein was correct when he said that the definition of Insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results,” then I must be completely bonkers. Each time I enter into one of these discussions with Mr. Warnick, I do so earnestly believing that logic and reason will prevail and each time I am proven wrong. You were absolutely correct when you wrote,

    “RW uses words like “capitalism” even though he doesn’t actually know what it means. He equates capitalism with greed, selfishness, corruption and evil. So he is correct that greed, selfishness, corruption and evil is antithetical to Christ’s teachings. The problem is, capitalism is none of those things… …So don’t waste your time arguing with RW on this one. You can’t argue with someone if you aren’t speaking the same language and RW has his own meanings for words which are different than those of us who speak English.”

    It certainly does appear that Mr. Warnick has created constructs of absolutes in his head where he interprets variable elements and subjective reasoning as undeniable facts. This certainly shows that the “progressive” mind is no more immune to dogmatism than any other. It truly is amazing how someone that has held himself up as a “scientist” is so capable of brushing aside pure logic in favor of a delusional construct. Simple take a look at his response to my suggested “proof” that Christianity had faired better under Capitalist societies versus Communist societies. His reaction was to bring up the Law of Consecration and the early attempts by the LDS Church to live collectively. So high are his logical blinders, that even as a so called “scientist” he failed to see that he was trying to create a rule from an exception. In the world of logic this is called an “inappropriate generalization.” He is essentially trying to say that because one section of a group has had at one point in time a specific property then all members of that group have that same property. Of course in making his inappropriate generalization, he must also ignore that there are few Christian groups that have tried collectivism that either still use it or are of any significant prominence today. (The FLDS Church, the Branch Davidians and the Peoples Temple (Jim Jones) come to mind.)

    It just keeps going on and on like this from confusing cause with correlation in our earlier conversation to his Demanding Negative Proof (philosophic burden of proof) to launching Ad Hominem attacks using a person’s faith to discredit their argument while all the time complaining about being the victim of such attacks. Even now he seems to truly believe that I am issuing insults (by asking him about his faith) because I, “don’t want to admit that Christianity is antithetical to capitalism.” Does he truly believe in his mind that I have long accepted that Christianity and Capitalism are antithetical to each other, but just don’t want to admit it? Does he not remember that it was he that interjected not just religion but even his own personal faith into this conversation in attempt to show himself as some kind of authority on the issue? This discussion has such a high level of distorted perspective and self preserving denial that it is absolutely mind boggling.

    Again, I should have known better.

  119. #120 by Richard Okelberry on December 28, 2010 - 7:30 am

    Larry,

    Are you asking for my philosophical definition of money or an intrinsic analysis?

    I personally like to use a battery as a metaphor for money. Like a battery, money can be charged up with a sort of energy and have it’s energy discharged or removed by various interactions or forces. As such any discussion about the value of money should also contain a discussion about what adds to the perceived value of money and what takes away from it.

    In its simplest form money is basically a medium used to exchange worth or perceived value. Of course in discussing money, we must also introduce the idea that not all money is created equal. Money for example in a capitalist society can serve as a reservoir for individual private ownership while in a communist society where private property is excluded; money simply represents a sort of rationing chit. Then on an international level, various forms of money can be seen as a collective assessment of the combined perceived wealth of a nation in relation to other nations.

    Is that short enough for you?

  120. #121 by Richard Okelberry on December 28, 2010 - 7:40 am

    Larry,

    Maybe I should have just quoted Pink Floyd instead…

    Money, get away
    Get a good job with more pay and you’re okay
    Money, it’s a gas
    Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash
    New car, caviar, four star daydream,
    Think I’ll buy me a football team

    Money get back
    I’m alright Jack keep your hands off my stack.
    Money it’s a hit
    Don’t give me that do goody good bullshit
    I’m in the hi-fidelity first class travelling set
    And I think I need a Lear jet

    Money it’s a crime
    Share it fairly but don’t take a slice of my pie
    Money so they say
    Is the root of all evil today
    But if you ask for a raise it’s no surprise that they’re
    giving none away

    - “Money” – Pink Floyd

  121. #122 by cav on December 28, 2010 - 8:49 am

    Larry, no. He hasn’t “Got you there”. – keep reading:

    …complain when the Rich use their influence over the government to grow their wealth?

    Said influence, in the absense of organization among the masses, is easy and effective, given the greed gene, supreme court rulings, and what money is perceived to be these days. And I don’t think there’s substantive difference between ‘redistribute’ and ‘grow’ in this instance – It’s been know far longer than the Einstien definition of insanity that advancing levels of power corrupts – same might be said of the wealth / power complex. These levels of wealth
    simply indicate obsene levels of corruption. Nothing more, nothing less.

    I like the battery analogy, and see Social Security as one of those. Been charging over the years, but ‘austerity’, aka: Get the rubes to ok the cheque – would hot-wire those funds into further buy-outs for the top one percent.

    That ain’t right.

  122. #123 by Richard Warnick on December 28, 2010 - 10:07 am

    You guys don’t need me– 122 comments not including this one.

    I’ll add my 2 cents on one topic that came up, the atheist billboards. These are primarily for people who go to church for social reasons even though they don’t believe in God. No one knows how many “closet” non-believers there are, but it’s probably a lot. R.O. alluded to their existence a couple of times in his comments.

    These billboards are a reassuring message to these folks, so they know they are not alone.

  123. #124 by cav on December 28, 2010 - 10:31 am

    Wrong – We do need you! Very much.

    We’re headed for a thou’ on this one! :-)

  124. #125 by james farmer on December 28, 2010 - 2:26 pm

    RO has a good point re insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. I guess RO would thus agree that continuing with trickle down economics – e.g., tax cuts for the rich – is insane.

  125. #126 by brewski on December 28, 2010 - 5:33 pm

    I would agree that continuing the 62nd ranked tax code in the world, regardless of nominal rate structure, is insane.

  126. #127 by Larry Bergan on December 28, 2010 - 10:50 pm

    RO:

    Thanks for reining your thoughts in a little for me.

    Your belief that money is about perception isn’t off base. Some people perceive themselves to be worth a lot more then the rest of us. One of them is Jack Welsh who is worth almost a billion dollars and once proclaimed that he ‘earned every dollar he ever made’ or something similar. Boy, those people bent over picking tomatoes must REALLY earn every dollar they make since it would take them centuries to “earn” what Jack does. How do you perceive Jack’s belief?

    And I would say that rich people who never had to really work that hard for their fortunes or were given their fortunes are indeed envious of those who really do earn what they make. The success of the Beatles drove many wealthy people crazy because they knew they could never have that kind of adulation. So sad.

  127. #128 by Larry Bergan on December 28, 2010 - 10:52 pm

    The Beatles used the capitalist system to rise, but they poked it in the eye too. What fun!

  128. #129 by james farmer on December 28, 2010 - 11:39 pm

    Poor Jack Welsh. And to think he had to pay the horrible tax rate re brewski in making that billion. Hmmm. Something tells me Jack really didn’t pay the amount brewski otherwise might claim.

  129. #130 by Richard Okelberry on December 29, 2010 - 7:03 am

    “Some people perceive themselves to be worth a lot more then the rest of us.”

    You are correct here. It often amazes me how tightly status can be connected to wealth. Of course that is not only the fault of the wealthy as so many are far too willing to convey such status base purely on wealth. Consider the past popularity of the TV program “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.”

    “One of them is Jack Welsh who is worth almost a billion dollars and once proclaimed that he ‘earned every dollar he ever made’ or something similar. Boy, those people bent over picking tomatoes must REALLY earn every dollar they make since it would take them centuries to “earn” what Jack does. How do you perceive Jack’s belief?”

    This again goes back to the perception of value. As spectators we look at the hard work someone does in a field picking tomatoes and compare it to the far less back breaking job that some executives do in their nice clean air conditioned office building and ask ourselves why in the world it would be that the guy doing the hardest physical labor gets paid the least? One would expect that the worse a job is physically and mentally, the more a person should be paid for said job. Of course this thinking is contrary to basic economics. You see when we make such an observation we fail to see the total value that each individual employee brings to the enterprise.

    The question is, how valuable is the guy picking tomatoes in the field compared to the executive sitting in the office for say Kerry-Heinz Ketchup? Which is more likely to make the company more profitable for its owners and which have skill sets that are more in demand? While certainly Kerry-Heinz Ketchup needs people picking tomatoes, the problem is regardless of how backbreaking it is almost anyone can do that job. Can the same be said for the highly trained and educated executive that is responsible for overseeing the financial matters of the entire enterprise? In essence, can you take any field worker, transport them into the CEO’s chair and be fairly certain that the Kerry-Heinz Ketchup Empire will be as successful?

    You see much like money has a perceived value, so do employees. Each employee contributes a certain amount to the overall fortune of the company. Because of this, labor begins to appear in an economy as type commodity. As such the amount that someone is paid becomes based on how much various companies, each competing for workers in the same labor pool are willing to pay for their labor. Because highly trained and executives are rare like gold they have a tendency to bring a higher price. Conversely, lower wages are generally offered for the less skilled position.

    Ultimately, those with the most unique skill sets are generally considered more valuable regardless of how arduous their labors are. This is not to say that the particular danger or nastiness of a particular occupation isn’t sometimes figured into the rate of compensation. The amount the crab fishermen make for what is basically a highly repetitive job is such an example. This is an example of how the willingness of the labor force to perform certain jobs also affects the level of compensation. Unfortunately, it is this very unwillingness for the current legal workforce to do field labor at the rate of compensation being offered that has led to such a surge in illegal labor coming in to fill those positions. Most certainly, if the rate of compensation for field labor was raised, eventually it would reach a point where the legal workforce would take up those positions. But now I have gotten of course again…

    While I am not particularly familiar with Jack Welsh, I imagine that he likely made his fortune through investment. We have a tendency too look at the occupation of investing as a simple job. Of course if it where so simple, everyone would simply quit their day job and become billionaires themselves. The amount of skill required coupled with the risk to personal fortunes is no greater than it is with investing. If it weren’t, people would not be gathering around and hanging on every word uttered by Warren Buffet at each Berkshire Hathaway shareholders meeting.

    Like I said, I don’t know much about Jack Welsh and his fortune, if you believe that what he has done is so simple that any tomato picker can do it and if you believe that he hasn’t worked for every dollar, then no doubt you are confident that you can follow in his footsteps and duplicate his success. You certainly would not be the first to have tried. There are long lists of people who have lost their business, their homes and their retirements in the quest for such wealth. Personally, I don’t think it’s worth it.

    I hope this answered your question.

  130. #131 by Richard Okelberry on December 29, 2010 - 7:19 am

    I just looked up Welsh and it appears that he not only has a Bachelor in Chemical Engineering (a very difficult study indeed) but went onto get a Masters and even a Ph.D. It also says that he started at GE as a junior engineer in 1960 that rose to the level of CEO in 1981 (only 21 years) even though he suffered from an occasional stutter. Someone, somewhere at GE must have seen him as a brilliant man even though most who suffer from stuttering are often mis-categorized as being feeble minded. Quite an accomplishment if you ask me. This certainly doesn’t sound like a silver spoon story but seems an example of someone who was exceptional enough that many around him saw him as a primary asset to the company.

  131. #132 by james farmer on December 29, 2010 - 8:38 am

    RO: Your point being re Welsh and the far lesser amount of taxes he likely paid than inferred by brew is?

  132. #133 by Richard Okelberry on December 29, 2010 - 8:47 am

    James,
    I’m sorry but I never referenced the amount of taxes paid by Welsh. I was merely trying to answer Larry’s question.

  133. #134 by brewski on December 29, 2010 - 8:53 am

    Jimmie,
    It is the tactic of the loser to make up quotes and positions of your opponents.

  134. #135 by Richard Okelberry on December 29, 2010 - 8:54 am

    Larry,
    Something just occurred to me which goes back to the main reason why I initially entered this conversation; to gleam why many on the left hold such a grudge against the wealthy. I want to quote you one more time.

    “Some people perceive themselves to be worth a lot more then the rest of us.”

    This quote brings up the question; is it possible that people like to demonize the rich because they perceive that they rich believe themselves (and often show it) to be somehow better than everyone else by virtue of their wealth? Is the grudge against the rich possibly a simply reaction to this perception and an attempt to bring them down to size so to speak?

  135. #136 by james farmer on December 29, 2010 - 9:04 am

    brew:

    Your dodge speaks volumes. Clearly Jack Welsh, in accumulating his billion dollars, paid far less in taxes than that based on the nominal rate you so often refer. No need to be snippy per your last comment … it just makes you look petty and small.

  136. #137 by cav on December 29, 2010 - 9:10 am

    Throwing over-the-top extravagent parties, million-dollar, jewel encrusted toilet seats and the like, suggest the sin of encouraging envy. And greed has to fit in there somewhere.

    Of course G.E. would be in a ditch without him.

  137. #138 by cav on December 29, 2010 - 9:38 am

    Here’s the glitch: If I have to afford ‘endlesswar’tm. I won’t be able to afford a giant plasma tv.

    Rock (me) hard place.

    Either way G.E. profits. Thanks Jack and associates.

  138. #139 by brewski on December 29, 2010 - 9:39 am

    What dodge? You make up positions for me that I have not taken. You are arguing with shadows and yourself, and you are losing.

  139. #140 by Richard Warnick on December 29, 2010 - 9:42 am

    As a point of information, I believe you all have been discussing the career of Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric.

    In five years, Welch reduced the number of GE employees by 112,000 (more than 25 percent). He shut down factories, and shifted the business from manufacturing to financial services. Welch’s net worth is estimated at $720 million.

    I had a boss once who idolized Welch. What he didn’t realize was that managers like these produce short-term profits (and big bonuses for themselves) at the expense of the long term survival of the company. Or maybe he did realize it but hoped nobody would catch on!

    Most of the super-rich people in this country got that way by destroying the economy that the rest of us depend on. The extreme inequality we have now is not good for democracy, it causes asset bubbles and crashes, and is making economic recovery from Bush’s Great Recession an uphill battle. Corporations are racking up record profits, and Wall Street banksters are having a banner year for bonuses. Meanwhile 15 million Americans are unemployed, while there are five applicants for every job. That’s the problem.

  140. #141 by Richard Okelberry on December 29, 2010 - 11:07 am

    “When Jack Welch left GE, the company had gone from a market value of $14 billion to one of more than $410 billion at the end of 2004, making it the most valuable and largest company in the world.”

    One has to ask if the success of GE would have been possible if Welch would have followed the short sightedness of Mr. Warnick. See, there are quality reasons why some people like Welch succeed and others like Warnick, well… don’t!

    There seems to be a major difference in thinking between those on the extreme left and those in the middle to the right. Those on the extreme left wrongly believe that the reason for a business to exist is to provide jobs, while everyone else seems to understand that businesses like GE exist primarily to make profits for their owners (shareholders.) If an employee is not seen to be making money for a company, then it is completely legitimate for that company to stop using the services of that employee. While companies do have a moral obligation not to abuse or injure their employees, employees also have a moral responsibility to expect that their services will only be need so long as that company can realize a profit from their labor.

    The reality is, if you want security in your job; make sure that you are making money for your employer. This is usually done by being as efficient as possible and as frugal with company resources as possible. Apparently, Welch found over 80,000 employees that weren’t making the company money (37,000 jobs actually weren’t loss but went with sold companies.) Believe me, if these employees were making GE money, they would still be working there. Regardless of what you do for a living, if you work in the private sector this is your actual underlying job. If you don’t like it, I would suggest working for a government bureaucracy.

    It appears to me that Mr. Welch inherited a company that was far from streamlined and efficient. He set out trimming the fat so to speak. Of course on occasion you have perfectly good and profitable employees but the business still fails due to poor management. It is at this point that everyone complains that they lost their job out of no fault of their own but for the fault of the CEO. Of course it is for this very reason that CEOs can often be paid so much. A good CEO greatly increases your chance of being successful and keeping your employees, well… employed.

    Raise of hands… If you absolutely had to choose between working for two CEOs for a large corporation, which CEO would you be most willing to put your economic future in the hands of, Mr. Welch or Mr. Warnick. I know that I wouldn’t want to be working for the guy that would be hiring people just for the sake of hiring them.

    Worse, if you had to choose between either Mr. Welch or Mr. Warnick to manage all your retirement investments, who are you going to trust your entire life savings too?

    We can knock the guy all we like, but few here or anywhere can claim to have the success in their chosen profession as Mr. Welch. (And I don’t mean monetary success.)

  141. #142 by james farmer on December 29, 2010 - 11:58 am

    RO and RW, I agree with you both. My point to brew, however, is Welsh certainly did not pay in taxes the exorbitant rates that brew continually posits. Because of various write offs and deductions available to the rich, Welsh most assuredly paid far less in actual rates than most of us paid, albeit he likewise paid more in monetary value. The point being, brew’s incessant claim that the rich should receive tax breaks is a bunch of BS … they already have quite the potpourri of breaks as it stands; brew’s nothingburger commentary of late notwithstanding..

  142. #143 by Richard Warnick on December 29, 2010 - 1:05 pm

    Welch changed the direction of GE from a company that makes products people use, and employs middle-class Americans, to what is now principally a financial services company. If you watch TV, you’ve seen the ads for GE Capital.

    If market capitalization is your measure of success, you must own stock in GE. Market cap does nothing for the rest of us.

    It always amuses me that when someone disagrees with a right-winger about anything, they get accused of being on the “extreme left.” I’m on the side of the facts. I’m not pushing some political ideology. You’re not going to see me quoting from Das Kapital. ;-)

    It says something about R.O.’s world view that he regards a morally bankrupt and thoroughly reprehensible person such as Jack Welch to be successful, but wants to denigrate others who are not obsessed with riches above all else.

    R.O. praises Welch’s management style, which was to do away with as much of the GE labor force as possible. The difference between working for that type of CEO and one who cares about employees is the difference between having a job and being out of work!

    The growth of the financial sector at the expense of the “real” economy is just peachy for the Jack Welch’s of the world. The rest of us are paying the price in unemployment, Wall Street bailouts, declining home values, foreclosures, and retirement savings that don’t earn interest anymore.

  143. #144 by Richard Warnick on December 29, 2010 - 1:45 pm

    No doubt some will want to dismiss this as mere class envy, but I found this insight from Les Leopold instructive:

    Nearly everyone on Wall Street sincerely believes that they are “worth” the enormous sums they “earn.” You see, their pay is determined by the market, and markets don’t lie. They reflect the high value our skilled elites bring to the economy. So we shouldn’t be shocked that the top 25 hedge fund managers together “earn” $25 billion a year, even at a moment when more than 29 million Americans can’t find full-time work. The outrageous economic logic of Wall Street compensation has those 25 moguls taking home as much as 658,000 entry level teachers (they earn about $38,000 per year). How can that be justified? It can’t. These obscene “earnings” are the product of 30 years of financial deregulation, as well as the tax cuts and tax loopholes that our government has just extended. The hedge fund honchos get most of their money by siphoning off wealth from the rest of us, not by creating new value. I dare Wall Street to prove otherwise.

  144. #145 by james farmer on December 29, 2010 - 1:59 pm

    Good point, RW. This is precisely why these 25 folks (and folks similarly situated) can afford and should be required to pay more in social security taxes. Most of us pay SS taxes from each pay check year round and never reach the approx. $106k in earnings to maximize the annual contribution limit. These folks, on the other hand, reach the maximum within the first hour or two of the first work day of the work year. How brew/glenn and their contemporaries can defend such a system – e.g., not raising the earning cap for SS payments for such folks – is beyond me … and logic!

  145. #146 by brewski on December 29, 2010 - 2:53 pm

    The point being, brew’s incessant claim that the rich should receive tax breaks

    I have never made this point once.

    is Welsh certainly did not pay in taxes the exorbitant rates that brew continually posits. Because of various write offs and deductions available to the rich

    Yes, I have made this point over and over.

    My 4 year old has better reading comprehension skills than you Jimbo.

  146. #147 by james farmer on December 29, 2010 - 3:42 pm

    brew:

    You have made that point over and again. You might ought to consult with your 4 year old while there is still time.

  147. #148 by brewski on December 29, 2010 - 5:31 pm

    No.
    You misread my point since you are an illiterate idiot. This is not surprising since you have pretty much gotten everything wrong on this site.

  148. #149 by james farmer on December 29, 2010 - 6:46 pm

    brew:

    I always love when you go all ad hominem on folks; it generally evidences your realization that you are incorrect, much like your 4 year old, I suspect, acts when caught in the act or likewise realizes he or she is incorrect.

    PS. On the other hand, maybe your irritability follows that end of year realization that the tax rate you are about to pay is far beyond the rate your billionaire friends are paying. ;)

  149. #150 by brewski on December 29, 2010 - 7:10 pm

    No, it comes with the recognition that you don’t know how to have an evidence based discussion and that you can’t comprehend what other people are saying, so there is no point in providing you with evidence since you are too stupid or lazy to read it and understand it. So why would I?

  150. #151 by james farmer on December 29, 2010 - 7:26 pm

    brew:

    Indeed, so why do you? Apparently, you recognize a hole or two in your own positions.

  151. #152 by Larry Bergan on December 29, 2010 - 7:32 pm

    I’m pretty sure Jack Welsh has already taken his cut from GE and is no longer the CEO, but the new management team sure knows how to keep the stockholders happy. Let’s grab some of that socialism for the rich!

    The Federal Reserve loaned $16.1 billion to General Electric and $3 billion to JPMorgan Chase during the 2008 financial crisis, even as Jeffrey R. Immelt of G.E. and Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan sat on the Federal Reserve Bank of New York board of directors.

    So that’s where my tomato pickin’ dollars are going.

  152. #153 by brewski on December 30, 2010 - 8:35 am

    Jimmie,
    I have already explained how to collect more money from rich people in a way that would actually work. Have you?

  153. #154 by brewski on December 30, 2010 - 8:45 am

    RW,
    So I suppose you think that all those college professors whose retirement accounts are being held by TIAA-CREF who now ownes 77,271,680 shares of GE will happily give back all of their ill-gotten gains since it is the moral thing to do.

  154. #155 by Richard Warnick on December 30, 2010 - 9:05 am

    brewski–

    You’re missing the big picture, which is that the financial sector has devoured the “real” economy. We’re Bailout Nation now.

  155. #156 by Larry Bergan on December 30, 2010 - 9:14 am

    brewski:

    YES! Let’s go after the college professors. You’ve identified the problem!

    I hate sarcasm, but sometimes it’s justified.

    Are you really against college professors?

  156. #157 by cav on December 30, 2010 - 9:25 am

    It is well-known that stocks picked by expert money managers do slightly worse, overall, than stocks picked by monkeys throwing darts. (Good monkey! Here’s your bailout!) The reason for this should be obvious: monkeys produce better results because of the superior quality of ignorance that drives their decision-making process. Similarly, economists who struggle with econometric models and statistical data collected by government and industry are sometimes accidentally correct in their predictions, raising expectations and creating false hopes.

    The numbers on the clock (above) are really quite small, if your terms include the infinite – which they must – otherwise we’d default in a nano-second.

    Easy.

  157. #158 by james farmer on December 30, 2010 - 10:54 am

    brew:

    Yes, I have. Raise taxes on the wealthy, oh, to a rate in the neighborhood of those prior to the Bush tax holiday. Worked pretty well before the Bush tax holiday, it’ll work again.

    PS. I continue to believe your ad hominem and flippant commentary reflects your inability to counter and frustration in countering solid progressive thought. As you have stated before “insanity …..” Yet, all you propose is doing the same over and again, just dressed differently. Have fun with those tax returns next month, and relish the notion that your billionaire buddies will likely be paying lower rates than you. ;)

  158. #159 by glenn on December 30, 2010 - 11:07 am

    Solid progressive thought has the consistency of warm butter, and is just as easy to spread, but it is like cholesterol for your economy, causes hardening in the flow of money.

    Giving the government more money to spend is like giving more crack to a crack head. Should the rich pay more? Sure, but in this day and age and global economy what is to keep them here if rates go up? James you describe the rich as wholly self interested so why would they stay in the US as residents if they can live elsewhere?

    They have done one better, the rich have, they have infiltrated the government and have made so taxes on them won’t go up. It is no mystery, 14 of the richest 25 members of congress are democrats, and they let the tax hike on the rich slide. It’s fascism with a small f. Progressive thought then has the consistency of playing up to liberal oligarchs, who screw them with a consistency that a street walking prostitute generates on a Saturday night.

  159. #160 by cav on December 30, 2010 - 11:17 am

    That’ll all change next week. The future is clear” No fascism (big F or little) with the new, republican congress. That’s fer sure. Indeed. Also.

  160. #161 by Larry Bergan on December 30, 2010 - 11:29 am

    glenn said:

    so why would [the fascists] stay in the US as residents if they can live elsewhere?

    Because we have the nukes?

    If I put words in your mouth, just tell me.

  161. #162 by glenn on December 30, 2010 - 11:36 am

    They own the nation Larry. They don’t need to live elsewhere, but if there were, in a remote circumstance, that the popular would take control of governance and rise their taxes they could simply move, take their wealth with them and pound away through lobbyists and corrupted politicians to right the ship. Then come “home”. Hey,you have read that money earned out of the country held there form years will now be allowed to be repatriated without tax? E.G.

    Fascism with a small f is as Mussolini described it, “Corporatism”. The collusion of cronies and business to take control of the reigns of governance for their benefit. If you aren’t in the group, and are not invested you won’t be represented. Very simple.

    You won’t see their taxes rise, anymore than you can bill your neighbor for your garbage pickup.

  162. #163 by Larry Bergan on December 30, 2010 - 12:03 pm

    glenn says:

    They own the nation Larry. They don’t need to live elsewhere

    Is that why Karl Rove keeps moving to Sweden?

    Seems a little animated in these latter days.

  163. #164 by james farmer on December 30, 2010 - 12:16 pm

    glenn:

    I just gotta ask. Given everything in your view that is so wrong with America, why do you stay?

  164. #165 by glenn on December 30, 2010 - 12:16 pm

    It is nice in Sweden, people are happy, and short bald fat guys are in.

  165. #166 by glenn on December 30, 2010 - 12:31 pm

    Who says I’m here?

    It isn’t so much what is so wrong, it is what it is, you in denial? Looking at it for what it is, I fear you are not, which means building an effective strategy to get what you want out the political society consistently fails. Case in point, you are an Obot, and have voluntarily given your power to a political grifter.

    There’s nothing for it, but you can spout hope and change all you like.

    Things are going ok, The global warming scam is over for all intents and purposes, and the American people have rejected the grifter, as have many democrats, there really is a better prospect than when people were blinded by the grifter a couple of years ago. The economy still is in the crapper, but what is heartening is that the American people are waking up to the fact that their government is a fraud, and owned by corporate elements. It’s a start. Canning the grifter is at hand, and the rest of his entourage.

    Hope and change you can believe in.

  166. #167 by Larry Bergan on December 30, 2010 - 12:43 pm

    glenn says:

    Who says [I live in America].

    Time to change your name – again-, dude.

    I have a real name and I’m in the book – always have been; not afraid!

  167. #168 by james farmer on December 30, 2010 - 12:44 pm

    glenn:

    Why not be a bit more honest. You are here because you cannot find more substantive entitlements – unemployment benefits come to mind – anywhere else. You are here because you can run your RV in “Gore-esq” (your terminology) fashion without care what such does to the environment. You are here because you can run your flap – and bitch, moan and complain – without consequence unlike anywhere else. Grab your jack-boots from the closet, assuming you are not wearing them now, and have a great new year. And put next year’s focus on being more honest with yourself.

  168. #169 by Larry Bergan on December 30, 2010 - 12:47 pm

    Well, maybe a little.

  169. #170 by cav on December 30, 2010 - 1:05 pm

    James, we can’t help having been born where we were, or really much of anything else, but it’s no lie to suggest the US ruling class seems to prefer war as its way out of financial and image straits.

    Oliver Stone interviewed the former president of Argentina, and he quoted Bush. Apparently someone sat Bush down and explained in very simple language what he must do.

    “In front of a film crew, Kirchner confided to Stone that the former U.S. president once directly told him, “The best way to revitalize the economy is war.”

    “We had a discussion in Monterrey. I said that a solution for the problems right now, I told Bush, is a Marshall Plan,” he claimed to have suggested. “And he got angry. He said the Marshall Plan is a crazy idea of the Democrats. He said the best way to revitalize the economy is war, and that the United States has grown stronger with war.”

    Asked to clarify, Kirchner added: “He said that. Those were his exact words.”

    Somehow our image is a bit tarnished, and nobody seems to be able to correctly conclude, despite all of the evidence, just why that could be.

  170. #171 by Larry Bergan on December 30, 2010 - 1:10 pm

    It’s simple. War ends depression.

  171. #172 by glenn on December 30, 2010 - 1:20 pm

    Go Larry, you are in the phone book.

    (laugh) Jimbo the truth hurts doesn’t it? Perhaps you can point that powerful reflector upon yourself. Obot worshipping a political grifter. There is no onus on that, it fairly typical throughout history.

    Under this grifter administration we have seen all manner of restrictions on civil rights, now mindless body searches etc. etc. escalation of wars, creation of astronomical debt. You signed on for that? What is amusing is that you support a president that has allowed the above, and tax breaks for the rich to continue, and you would call me the one with jackboots? Remind yourself that all the tyranny of then last century came about by using the Utopian fantasies of people socially minded, until their idiot usefulness was used up. Then come the fascism.

    You still driving your SUV POS? I am sure you have sucked more gas through that rig than all rigs I have owned combined. They only burn gas when you drive them. Yet you carp on about the AGW fraud

    I don’t have any benefits coming my way Jim. Nothing like working for the government. You do work for them right? Be honest with yourself, the better part of the nation looks on government employees and their benefits as a problem that is making us go broke. They look upon the waste with a jaded eye.

    As for staying there is this,

    Here’s a clue James. I am a sworn American.

    I hereby declare, on oath,
    that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen;
    that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic;
    that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same;
    that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by law;
    that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law;
    that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law;
    and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.
    In acknowledgement whereof I have hereunto affixed my signature.

    I know what it means, and meant it when I swore it. All others sworn to this Oath, but not honoring it, are in the paint, and leaving tracks.

  172. #173 by Larry Bergan on December 30, 2010 - 1:33 pm

    glenn:

    You are only an anonymous sworn American.

    Sad.

  173. #174 by glenn on December 30, 2010 - 1:45 pm

    Anonymity is an American right. The important facts are known to those entitled to know. That you are obsessed with knowing the who and not the content as much, is what is truly sad.

    You then Larry are a prime candidate to be a follower in the cult of personality. As it becomes clear it is more important to you who says something, than what it is a person is saying. This I have learned fully in my “experiment”.

  174. #175 by Larry Bergan on December 30, 2010 - 1:49 pm

    anonymous conducts an experiment.
    heavy.

  175. #176 by anon on December 30, 2010 - 1:51 pm

    It has been, and anon gets to keep what he has learned about human nature.

  176. #177 by Larry Bergan on December 30, 2010 - 1:59 pm

    It has been, and anon gets to keep what he has learned about human nature.

    heavy man.

  177. #178 by brewski on December 30, 2010 - 6:31 pm

    Sweden corporate income tax rate = 26.3%
    US combined corporate income tax rate = 39.2%

    Note: I am not “ignoring” other taxes or “conflating” other taxes. What I am doing is showing examples not only of how much other countries tax, but also what they tax and how they tax. Sweden has figured out that too high of taxes on companies who do socially desirable things like hire people is a bad idea.

  178. #179 by Richard Warnick on December 30, 2010 - 9:56 pm

    brewski–

    Haven’t we been over the Sweden diversion before? They have a 25 percent value-added tax (VAT), one of the highest rates in the world.

    I believe I pointed out somewhere above that the McConnell-Obama deal includes an array of tax credits that might effectively wipe out all corporate income tax liability for the 2011 tax year.

    The bonus depreciation provision allows companies to take a full deduction for equipment purchases that currently must be deducted over time. The proposal would accelerate $200 billion in tax savings for companies in the first year.

    There are also more than $55 billion in other corporate giveaways and tax reductions.

  179. #180 by brewski on December 31, 2010 - 7:23 am

    Yes I know Sweden has a 25% VAT. What is your point?

    I also know that there are more than $55billion (I would put the number at several times that) in giveaways.

    So what is your point?

  180. #181 by cav on December 31, 2010 - 7:42 am

    As the Wall Street Journal reported on December 24, “Traders are also anticipating that index funds will pour more money into agricultural commodities at the start of the year, pushing prices higher, analysts said.”

    In the US alone, corporations and banks are sitting on some $3 trillion in cash which they refuse to invest in production and hiring. A good portion of the global surfeit of cash is being used to ramp up the prices of commodities?from oil, copper, cotton, gold and silver to food staples such as wheat, corn, rice and soybeans.

    On the global commodity markets, wheat and corn have increased almost 50 percent over last year. Wheat prices soared to their highest level in over two years this week. US soybean futures have been rising rapidly since August, and corn ends
    the year at a 29-month high.

  181. #182 by cav on December 31, 2010 - 8:05 am

    And on the housing front…

    Distressed sales—where the homeowner is either in foreclosure or behind on payments—account for about one-third of all US home sales according to RealtyTrac, and these sales were only made based on an average drop of 27 percent in the purchase price.

    Moody’s estimated that 2.1 million families would be foreclosed in 2011, and the Mortgage Bankers Association, the industry trade group, said that the total number threatened with losing their homes is four million.

    That would bring the total number who lost or will lose their homes over the five-year period, 2007-2011, under the combined impact of financial collapse and economic slump, to a staggering nine million families.

    An additional 10.9 million families are “under water” on their homes, meaning that they owe more in mortgage debt than the home can be sold for in the current depressed market.

    Human nature has it all, even ‘greed being good’, (as promoted by, who exactly? ‘capitalists’?). On the humanity pallet, such greed has been and continues to be, one very corrupting feature.

  182. #183 by cav on December 31, 2010 - 9:00 am

    Is that a rising gas price in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?

    (Actually, I really want to see this thread top a thousand, so If any shy, lurking types care to throw their $.02 into the discussion before the calendar tells us it’s simply too late, then, I beseech you – throw it NAO!)

  183. #184 by Uncle Rico on December 31, 2010 - 9:58 am

    Remember the Fud Bubble! (jus’ doing my part cav).

    Happy New Year all.

  184. #185 by cav on January 1, 2011 - 9:49 am

    What “privatization” means, to the typical “free market” wonk at Heritage or AEI:

    Instead of taxing the public to organize a public service through government bureaucrats who operate as a legal monopoly, you tax the public and hire a private company to perform the service. A private company which – thanks to no-bid contracts and all sorts of legal protections – usually operates as a monopoly and has the same outrageous cost-maximizing incentives as a “defense” contractor or public utility. And the tax burden may well actually be greater, because rather than just paying a bunch of white collar civil servants with GS classifications, you’ve got to pay white collar corporate drones – plus the cowboy CEO’s salary and the shareholder dividends. Taxpayer-funded either way, but with “free market reform” you get two layers of parasites instead of just the one.

  185. #186 by cav on January 1, 2011 - 9:50 am

    It’s only “socialism” if you give the money to poor folks. If you give the money to corporations, that’s “pro-business.” And “pro-business,” of course, means “free market.”

  186. #187 by cav on January 1, 2011 - 10:11 am

    But the big news of the day is the launching of the Oprah Winfrey Network.

    Gonna be a great year, fer sure.

    (socialism) heck, might as well send my other comment a little company.

  187. #188 by cav on January 1, 2011 - 10:13 am

    This year, I’m thinking of starting whole threads in the ‘moderation’ que. It can all waqit since it’s so early in the year. :-)

  188. #189 by cav on January 1, 2011 - 10:27 am

    There is actually a scientific explanation for why YOUR checkout line is always the slowest.

    http://consumerist.com/2010/12/efficient-lines.html

  189. #190 by Richard Warnick on January 1, 2011 - 1:18 pm

    brewski–

    Apparently you need to have things spelled out. I’m saying that there is no basis in reality for your complaints about excessive corporate taxation in America. The facts are arrayed against you.

  190. #191 by Larry Bergan on January 1, 2011 - 1:58 pm

    cav:

    Your summation of privatization vs Big Scary Government was short and sweet.

    As for the checkout lines, I have a better solution: no more coupons or personal checks. Also, I like to use the self checkout lane because it gives me something to do, which has the effect of making the time seem to go faster unless the thing stops for no reason and says “please wait for attendant.

    Be ready. If this thread goes over two hundred then number one is actually going to be number two hundred and one. This is what class warfare does for us.

  191. #192 by brewski on January 1, 2011 - 2:10 pm

    RW,
    You do a very bad job of spelling things out for me. You also do a very bad job understanding my point.

    You keep talking about how much Sweden is taxed. I keep saying it matters how Sweden in taxed. Not how much.
    It is the manner in which Sweden taxes vs the US which matters, not how much they tax.

    The manner in which they tax is that they tax buildinging businesses less than in the US, so building businesses is discouraged more in the US than in Sweden. Sweden is able to collect revenue elsewhere rather than by making establishing a business there less viable.

    Do you get that point? Yes or no?

  192. #193 by Larry Bergan on January 1, 2011 - 2:15 pm

    cav:

    According to the two messages that got trapped, you have been using THAT word again. I set them free.

  193. #194 by Richard Warnick on January 1, 2011 - 2:43 pm

    brewski–

    Did you not understand that the McConnell-Obama deal included a generous immediate tax credit for 100 percent of the cost of investments in machinery or other capital expenditures? (What you call “building businesses”).

  194. #195 by cav on January 1, 2011 - 3:04 pm

    200 – 1000 – what’s the diffwerence?

  195. #196 by brewski on January 1, 2011 - 6:40 pm

    I am very away of the tax code. What is your point? Again, what is your point?

  196. #197 by glenn on January 1, 2011 - 6:52 pm

    Bewawe you wascally wabbit! Fun da mental is a bad word,

  197. #198 by brewski on January 1, 2011 - 6:53 pm

    Richard,
    Let me give you a simple quiz:

    Let’s say you are Swiss. Let’s say you own two factories, one in the US and one in Sweden. Both factories have already been bought, paid for and depreciated. Both have the the same pre-tax costs and sale pre-tax profits. But demand for your product has picked up so you need to add another shift of production in one of your two factories. You have the slack, you have the sales, you have the workforce at each factory waiting to be hired to ramp up the new shift.

    So adding a new shift of production will yield the highest after-tax profit in which country?

  198. #199 by Richard Warnick on January 2, 2011 - 10:28 am

    brewski–

    That’s simple. I add jobs in Sweden, pay the Swedish taxes, then take a foreign tax credit against my U.S. tax liability– even though I created no jobs in the USA, and did not even repatriate the profits! (I’m Swiss, but my corporate HQ is in the USA for tax purposes).

    For those unschooled in corporate giveaways, that means whatever taxes paid in Sweden are refunded by the IRS. This is how many multi-national corporations not only pay no U.S. taxes, but actually collect money at the expense of taxpayers.

  199. #200 by james farmer on January 2, 2011 - 11:03 am

    brew:

    Is Switzerland fighting two unfunded wars? You forgot about that part.

  200. #201 by brewski on January 2, 2011 - 11:43 am

    Note: So many comments have been submitted on this thread that a new tier has been created. Comment #1 on this page is actually #201. Click on [previous] to read first 200 comments.

    RW,
    So we agree that the US tax code results in fewer jobs, less US taxable income, and less tax revenue collected.

    James,
    You forgot the part about logic. How does it help to pay for two unfunded wars to encourage companies to not create jobs here and to not pay taxes here? No taxable income means no taxes in the US to pay for your two unfunded wars. Brewski 30, James 0

  201. #202 by james farmer on January 2, 2011 - 11:52 am

    brew:

    How does it help pay for unfunded wars by lowering tax rates to a level below that which we already cannot afford? You lose, yet again.

  202. #203 by Richard Warnick on January 2, 2011 - 11:52 am

    brewski–

    Congratulations. You reset the comment counter. “We agree” that the tax code is no good, except you think corporations are over-taxed and I think they are not taxed sufficiently.

  203. #204 by brewski on January 3, 2011 - 9:14 am

    Wrong.
    I never said that.
    I said the corporations would pay more taxes if the tax code was rationalized, simplified, special gimme eliminatedized and lower marginal rates. All of this would result in a higher effective rate and more jobs. Are you against more revenue and more jobs?

    By the way, by suggesting that we get rid of the whole foreign tax credit regime you are officially in agreement with Cato and AEI.

  204. #205 by Richard Warnick on January 3, 2011 - 10:20 am

    brewski–

    There you go again, comparing reality with a theoretical construct that will never happen.

    I have no problem with being in agreement with the Cato Institute when they are right. Remember, I’m still a recovering libertarian (probably a lifelong condition).

    As for AEI, OMG. Do you have a link to AEI saying the same thing I’m saying about the Foreign Tax Credit, how it encourages outsourcing of American jobs? I thought AEI liked outsourcing. When they’re not busy supporting illegal invasions and war crimes.

  205. #206 by brewski on January 3, 2011 - 11:21 am

    Most countries entire tax structure for multinational companies is not like the US’s. Most countries tax that income which is earned in their country, and if a multinational company earns income in another country then they pay taxes in that other country.

    But nooooo. The US has to take this imperial attitude and tax worldwide income. So the US structure in effect imposes a US tax liability on income earned outside the US. So the US assesses a US tax on income earned in Sweden, but then defers the payment of that tax until those profits are repatriated. As we all know, this leads to companies never repatriating that income so they never pay that US tax on the Swedish income. Also, to avoid double-taxation, the US allows a tax credit for that Swedish income when it is repatriated to offset the US tax applied to that Swedish income. So this is where the game-playing starts, as we know. So yes, the AEI would agree that not imposing a US tax on Swedish income, and therefore not having the whole foreign tax credit structure at all, would be the smart thing to do.

  206. #207 by Richard Warnick on January 3, 2011 - 12:53 pm

    Is there a link to the AEI position? I wonder how they can get corporate sponsors to go along with elimination of the Foreign Tax Credit.

  207. #208 by brewski on January 3, 2011 - 1:36 pm

    The foreign tax credits would go away at the same time as the US stops taxing non-US income.

  208. #209 by brewski on January 3, 2011 - 2:42 pm

  209. #210 by Richard Warnick on January 3, 2011 - 3:32 pm

    From the speech by Mankiw that you linked above:

    During the recent political season, there was the suggestion that some U.S. job losses are attributable to our tax code’s treatment of foreign-source income. I have yet to see any evidence that would support this hypothesis.

    So, it’s the inverse what I am saying. Rule of thumb for dealing with AEI – listen to their policy prescriptions, then do the exact opposite. They are always wrong. You were beginning to worry me, saying that AEI was on my side. ;-)

  210. #211 by cav on January 3, 2011 - 3:56 pm

    The rubes keep paying into Social Security, and we keep taking it, telling them, “You’re alone out there and slackers want to take your stuff.”

    Is this a great country, or what??”

    (DC insiders).

  211. #212 by Ronald D. Hunt on January 3, 2011 - 5:53 pm

    “The foreign tax credits would go away at the same time as the US stops taxing non-US income.”

    Stop taxing foreign income, and all income will somehow become foreign. This would just further enable the games that are being played.

    This would just create a new form of sub shop switch-a-roo where Microsoft Ireland would claim to the Irish government that all the profits are made in American and Microsoft America would claim all the profits are made in Ireland.

    Of course they are already getting away with this, we should be plugging this up not enabling it.

    And frankly why do we even have to give those credits right now, as far as I am concerned, we need to integrate multi national trade functionality with regards to tax code into “free trade” agreements. Force the corp to provide the same books to both nations within the agreement, if they have to report the same cost valuations and depreciation valuation and expense and income to both nations then we can start up create fair tax law around the subject. And frankly until then they can suffer “double taxation”, they are getting a bonus from being able to operate in foreign markets no reason that shouldn’t benefit the whole of America.

  212. #213 by cav on January 3, 2011 - 10:44 pm

    The Greenspan Commission jacked our contribution rates, added more people to the system, screwed granny on her first COLA cycle, raised retirement age, stopped opt-outs, etc., etc. –
    to save Social Security at least past 2056.

    It’s the exact same-same con game that the rich investment class screwed us poor wage earners in 1983. Same reasoning, same solutions, same threat that we must do something or it will be Armageddon.

    And the Greenspan Billionaire Club is hoping you all forgot so they can pick your pocket again.

  213. #214 by brewski on January 26, 2011 - 4:24 pm

    Obama and Geithner received memo from Brewski:

    In his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama called on Congress to embark on a major revamp of corporate taxes: “[S]implify the system. Get rid of the loopholes. And use the savings to lower the corporate tax rate for the first time in 25 years—without adding to our deficit.”

    On Thursday, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner talked to The Wall Street Journal’s David Wessel about the initiative. Mr. Geithner emphasized the administration’s insistence on offsetting the corporate rate, now 35%, by eliminating deductions, credits and incentives.

    Raising more revenue from businesses in light of global competition “isn’t realistic,” he said. But, given the deficit, “We can’t raise taxes on individuals to lower business taxes.”

    He wouldn’t say if the administration wants to move from taxing multinational corporations’ global profits and instead tax only domestic profits, as most other countries do and as U.S. business wants. But he said a “level playing field” is a major goal.

    Timothy Geithner in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 12.
    .The White House isn’t planning to include a specific proposal in the president’s February budget.

    Q. How would corporate tax reform help economic growth?

    A. Lowering rates, removing the distortions in the present system, helps growth because it allows business to compete on the basis of performance and return rather than on their ability to get or protect special provisions in the tax code. If you level the playing field, you allow the market rather than the tax system to drive investment.

    Q. How much does the corporate tax rate need to fall to make a difference?

    A. To have a more competitive system, you want to try to bring down the rate closer to the range of our major trading partners. We have a high statutory rate, which is made necessary by all the special provisions. How low you can go depends on how much of the reform you can achieve.

    Q. What’s the point of going through the political minefield if this doesn’t ultimately lower the business tax burden?

    A. All businesses want lower taxes. But business understands that their success as businesses depends in part on what the government does—on education, infrastructure, national security….Most business understand that we have limited resources, that we can’t raise taxes on individuals to lower business taxes and that unsustainable long-term deficits hurt growth too.

    Q. Given the deficit, what’s the point of going through all this if it doesn’t raise revenue to reduce the deficit?

    A. You’ve had a very broad substantial reduction in corporate tax rates outside the U.S. That occurs at a time when it’s much easier—because of technology—for companies to shift investment and income to take advantage of lower tax rates overseas. We can’t expect to raise significant additional revenue from business, as a share of GDP, from the corporate tax without hurting our competitive position, without hurting growth. It isn’t realistic.

    Q. Half of all business profits go to enterprises that don’t pay the corporate tax. They’re taxed as individuals. Are you looking at them too?

    A. A lot of people have suggested that we look at business income generated outside what we call the corporate sector. There is a lot of income there and many of the distortions in the corporate sector affect them too. It’s worth taking a look at.

    Q. Are you willing to consider a shift away from the current system, in which multinationals are taxed on their world-wide profits, to a territorial one, in which they’re taxed only on their U.S. profits?

    A. We want to find a way to reduce the incentive to shift income overseas, to increase the incentive to invest in the U.S. and to put U.S. firms that operate overseas on a level playing field with their competitors.

    Q. The president also mentioned his interest in pursuing simplification of individual income taxes. Is that as high a priority?

    A. As he said, along with corporate tax reform, we want to explore comprehensive individual reform. There’s a good case for doing both. We want to start the process of exploring what’s possible.

    Q. What are the next steps?

    A. It’s good for confidence if we can find things that both Democrats and Republicans want to do. We’re in the first inning. We’re going to keep consulting—with key committee chairman, with ranking members, with other stakeholders, with architects of past reforms, both ones that worked and those that didn’t. Everybody who looks at the current system says: We can do better than this. And there’s a lot of interest in doing it. A lot of people in the business community are prepared to be part of something that is revenue neutral, broadens the base, and lowers the top rate. Others want to hold out for something better.

    If Obama gets this done, I will vote for him in 2012.

    For Richard:
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703293204576106483031438912.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

  214. #215 by cav on January 30, 2011 - 9:30 am

    Has the GOP lost it’s Mojo – Senate Leadership Backs Down on Key GOP Filibuster Tool.

    Has the two Year Tantrum Finally Come to an End? – Senators AGree to Work Together.

    Is the GOP Finally Ready to Deal with America’s Problems?

  215. #216 by Larry Bergan on January 30, 2011 - 10:22 am

    Has the GOP lost it’s Mojo

    Let’s hope so.

    I’m a poet and don’t knowit.

  216. #217 by Richard Warnick on January 30, 2011 - 3:16 pm

    Historical footnote: Ayn Rand Railed Against Government Benefits, But Grabbed Social Security and Medicare When She Needed Them.

    Now we know that Rand was also just as hypocritical as the Tea Party freshman who railed against “government health care” to get elected and then whined that he had to wait a month before getting his own Cadillac plan courtesy of the taxpayers.

    A question for the Objectivists: Did one of the founders of American libertarianism succumb to the lure of collectivism, or was she being consistent with her own philosophy by simply acting in her own self interest?

  217. #218 by cav on January 30, 2011 - 6:15 pm

    I once had a subscription to ‘The Objectivist’.

    However, my subjectivity always got in the way.

  218. #219 by shane on January 30, 2011 - 6:49 pm

    Rand was always an ignorant lying selfish scum. The tea party is her natural born spawn.

    …but if you really want to piss off a real philosopher, call Rand a philosopher. What a joke.

  219. #220 by Richard Warnick on January 31, 2011 - 9:27 am

    “Everything for me and nothing for you” is a philosophy. Maybe not a fancy one.

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