US Budget

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Re: US Budget

Postby Dr. McCoy » 17 Apr 2011, 23:20

Gman wrote:Actually conditions in Chile are amung the best in the world. I'd be living there or maybe Argentina now if my wife wasn't from Taiwan.

Chile has the nationalized copper industry which provides a large percentage of government revenues. Without that, would they still be doing so well?
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Re: US Budget

Postby Gman » 17 Apr 2011, 23:46

Dr. McCoy wrote:
Gman wrote:Actually conditions in Chile are amung the best in the world. I'd be living there or maybe Argentina now if my wife wasn't from Taiwan.

Chile has the nationalized copper industry which provides a large percentage of government revenues. Without that, would they still be doing so well?


Honestly I don't know. I only talked about Chile because you brought up Allende. I still don't get the connection between him and free markets / small government. I'll do some digging on the nationalisation of the Copper industry. But from what I understand that is an exception in an otherwise liberized economy. I don't know if it is a legacy issue from a bygone era. I do know that there are other miners owned by both locals and foriegners operating in Chile so I'm not sure if it's a case of having a resource base of the country nationalised or whether it was just a nationally owned company formed to exploit the copper resource. Like I said I don't know. I do know how ever that conditions in Ecuador, Bolivia and Venezuela are very far from the freemarket small government model and conditions there are dreadfull in comparison and, Venezuela has an even more valuable resource that is fully nationalized.

Edit: Sorry McCoy, I just relised I don't get the connection between Allende and free markets because you didn't make one. My mistake. I also found this;

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mining_in_Chile
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Re: US Budget

Postby Vorkosigan » 18 Apr 2011, 06:42

Gman wrote:
Vorkosigan wrote:
And, what do many 'progressives' propose? Give him a raise and a bigger gun.


Actually, no. What we propose is that the "policeman" as you put it, to become an actual policeman instead of a mafioso stealing from the locals and sending it to the 1% who own the town.


Really? So you don't propose more taxes (giving him a raise) and instituting more policies, regulations and other wealth distribution shcemes? (a bigger gun, more powers)


Gman, the current tax code IS a wealth distribution scheme -- it redistributes wealth from the lower classes to the 1% who now own something like 50% of the nation's wealth and 40% of its income. One of the most asinine aspects of the tax "debate" is the constant claim that it is only "redistribution" if the code works in the direction of equalization of income and the distribution of wealth. How long do you think the US can remain a functional and productive democratic society if the economic structure constantly redistributes wealth upward while engaging in massive debt spending for criminal and criminally stupid wars?

Your analogy fails because the government is not a policeman and it is not a "neutral" arbiter in society -- it can't be, because social and economic structures are not neutral between classes of people, so if the government is "neutral" in the sense that right-wingers typically mean (restricted to enforcing contracts) it merely reifies the existing social order (is that what you want? A government that doesn't want to get rid of slavery, prefers women barefoot and in the kitchen, and does not want immigrants to become educated and productive members of society, doesn't regulate businesses, etc etc etc). Policemen don't engage in research funding, social programs, war, national parks, education, energy, etc. Government does.

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Re: US Budget

Postby cfimages » 18 Apr 2011, 07:46

Gman wrote:
cfimages wrote:Here's a few ideas. They may work, they may not but what you have right now doesn't seem to work so why not try.


A strawman argument but, let's see what you got.

a)Make average salary tax free ($40K, 50K, whatever it is). Anything above gets taxed at progressively higher rates.


Brillant, so the average wage earner pays no taxes, pays nothing into the system? Yes very fair, very sustainable.


They do pay into the system, just not out of income, Sales tax, road tax, vehicle tax etc. Without income tax for AWE and lower, those people have extra money that gets spent in other ways.

b)End the practice of allowing essential services (healthcare, education etc) to be run in order to make profits. Prices of both will decrease dramatically saving billions for users/consumers.


Are you sure about that? What is your basis for this? When has the government ever delievered any service in an optimal and efficient manner? If the government was capable of managing these things efficiently we wouldn't be having this discussion!


Never said the govt had to deliver and manage it, just that the profit had to come out of it. It can still be managed by the same people.

c)Raise tax rates on the higher income brackets ($100 000+, 250 000+, something like that) for amounts over the threshold figure. Allow deductions only when it can be demonstrated that earnings above are being used either as charitable donations, or in the case of a business owner, re-invested in your own business in order to expand.


So not only do you want to give the average wage earner a free ride but you want to tax higher income earners (the most productive people) in even more. Yes very fair.


In this example I haven't mentioned average wage earners, only higher income earners. It also won't affect the self-employed / small business owner because they reinvest in their business.

d)Recognize that some people won't ever work, others can't, others have talents that could benefit society in non-monetary ways or skills that need time to mature, and provide everyone a living wage. Not enough to live in luxury but enough to cover rent, food, medical etc. I've seen a similar proposal with full costing done for Australia and it worked out to be about the same that the govt there currently spent on welfare. Percentage-wise, I figure similar should be true in the US. Benefits to the system are that you end up with more people working in areas where their talent and interests lie rather than jobs they hate, which increases efficiency and productivity, reduces stress-related illness etc.


I'd like to see that Austrailian study and the assumptions it made because the within five years you won't have a person working and a vast and flourishing black market. Working in areas where their talent and intersts lie rather than jobs they hate? Interesting Idea except who's going to collect your gargabe? I doubt anyone has an interests lie along those lines. This kind of crap has been tried before and it doesn't work. And it certainly doesn't promote liberty and the reason for this is simple. As I mentioned earlier, very few people have an interest in working in a mine, working in a factory or providing numerous other services a society needs. With out a profit motive (which you so despise) people must be compelled to do those jobs.


Not true at all. Very few people don't want to work because of laziness. Most get bored very quickly. Most want more, in which case they have to work and that'd be no different here. Need garbage collectors? How about instead of incarcerating low-level drug users, you put them to community service collecting garbage?

And this kind of crap as you put it has never been tried in anything other than a few experimental community projects. Certainly not on a state or national level.

e)Recognize that no other country is ever feasibly likely to be able to invade the US and decrease military spending accordingly.


In theory correct. Simply maintain a nuclear arsenal sufficient to make an invasion of the US completely suicidal. Of course the current Military mission and US foreign policy isn't about merely self defence is it and it's not really practical. Right or wrong access to foreign oil is critical to the US at the moment.


There are a lot of ways foreign oil dependency can be reduced in fairly short time. Additionally, the military isn't needed to provide access. Every other country in the world manages to get all the oil it needs without resorting to wars and occupations.

Your system won't survive in a free society. Provide an incentive not to work and the number of people not working will swell. Peanlize the ones that produce the most and they will either cease or leave. If you were to make it a decromacy under these conditions, where the average wage earner pays nothing into the system, and the people will vote themselves more and more goodies the definition of what constitutes a living wage will balloon.


Not at all. You'd more than likely end up with the same number of people not working longterm than you do now. The vast majority want to work, want to be productive and want to contribute to society. There'd be no need for the living wage to balloon because it wouldn't be set in such a way as to allow more and more goodies as you describe it. Basic cost of living in each city for rent, food, etc is all you need.


Gman wrote:
cfimages wrote: others have talents that could benefit society in non-monetary ways or skills that need time to mature


What examples of this can you give me?


The anthropology professor / museum curator who wants to be an organic farmer to give one I met recently. It's taken him until his early 50's to be able to make a start on it via semi-retirement but he still needs to go to a job he hates 4 days a week. How many great rock bands, artists etc have sprung from people working 9-5 and how many from those solely dedicated to music and art? What about the hobbyist inventor who spends nights and weekends tinkering - imagine if he were free to dedicate all week to coming up with new inventions.

All it requires is recognizing that society must benefit society not a select few individuals.
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Re: US Budget

Postby GuyInTaiwan » 18 Apr 2011, 11:57

Homey wrote:My mother has worked for an estate/tax attorney for many years, so she has first hand knowledge of the insane tax system and it's huge holes that rich people use to effectively pay no taxes. It's quite common for extremely wealthy people to end up paying a much much smaller tax rate than the lady that cleans the office! People that cannot even pay their rent and put food on the table pay high tax rates, while the super rich dance away and increase their wealth.


Paying no tax and paying a low tax rate are not the same thing. Someone paying 1% of $1,000,000 is still paying more than someone paying 50% of $19,000, for instance.

Also, having more disposable income certainly helps to increase one's wealth, but only if it's invested, and only if it's invested in things that are good investments. For the past few decades, what have Americans and the American government actually spent their money on? I think they've largely squandered it, personally.

cfimages wrote:There'd be no need for the living wage to balloon because it wouldn't be set in such a way as to allow more and more goodies as you describe it. Basic cost of living in each city for rent, food, etc is all you need.


This would entail setting prices for living items such as rent, food, etc. so the basic living wage wouldn't balloon due to suppliers jacking up basic prices. What would be the flow on effects or unintended consequences of that price setting?

Anyway, I'm not even going to argue an ideology here. What I find interesting is that taxes and spending (and who is taxed and what the money is spent on), like so many other issues in American politics, seem to constitute an enormous ideological gulf that probably can't (not won't, can't) be resolved until a solution is forced via a crisis. One side may be right, and the other wrong. I don't even think it's a matter of one side getting its way and things turning out beautifully versus the other side getting its way and it all going even further to hell in an even bigger handbasket. One side is not going to get its way, at least not for long enough. The massive cultural divide is a large part of the problem, but I don't see how that will be bridged any time soon. In the meantime, the decline will continue and no one will be able to tackle it in any meaningful way. Yet again, each side will blame the other for the mess, as well as the inability to resolve the ideological deadlock. Even if it were determined that one side and its supporters were flat out wrong, how would that get resolved? Shoot them? Send them off for re-education? Disenfranchise them politically? Obviously none of those, so how? How does one solve a deep cultural malaise?
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Re: US Budget

Postby Dr. McCoy » 18 Apr 2011, 12:20

Yes. I think that democracy is more important than capitalism. You can't have strict capitalism in a democracy just like you can't have socialism in a democracy. As long as there's not enough stuff to go around and as long as some people are going to hoard it all for theirselves, there will be division and arguments.
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Re: US Budget

Postby Gman » 18 Apr 2011, 12:50

Vorkosigan wrote:
Gman wrote:
Vorkosigan wrote:
And, what do many 'progressives' propose? Give him a raise and a bigger gun.


Actually, no. What we propose is that the "policeman" as you put it, to become an actual policeman instead of a mafioso stealing from the locals and sending it to the 1% who own the town.


Really? So you don't propose more taxes (giving him a raise) and instituting more policies, regulations and other wealth distribution shcemes? (a bigger gun, more powers)



Gman, the current tax code IS a wealth distribution scheme -- it redistributes wealth from the lower classes to the 1% who now own something like 50% of the nation's wealth and 40% of its income.
Whoa, whose income is it? A tax cut is not a cost to the government (yes it's a reduction in revenue) but it's not the governments money that they are so kindly allowing the citizens to keep. Just as I feel little need for gratitude towards the burglers who broke into my house an stole numerous objects but left my computer. So your characterisation of the tax system as being a system of enriching the top 1% is complete nonsense. While I've heard all the outcry about GE not paying any income taxes, this year. I know of no cases where someone with an income of $250,000 for example was actually sent a check by the government that resulted in their net taxes being negative. As I said, simplify the code. Allow no deductions what so ever.


One of the most asinine aspects of the tax "debate" is the constant claim that it is only "redistribution" if the code works in the direction of equalization of income and the distribution of wealth. How long do you think the US can remain a functional and productive [b]democratic[/b] society if the economic structure constantly redistributes wealth upward while engaging in massive debt spending for criminal and criminally stupid wars?


Well, a democracy is really just legitimized mob rule isn't it? With out a very clear limit and restriction on what the government can and can't do, all the political class has to do is play folks like you on the left against your counterparts on the right and let you distract each other while the country is stolen out from under your asses. It's not the economic struture it's the political and regulatory structure that is redistributing the wealth upwards. America had it's chance. You have a constitution that defined very clearly what the government can and can't do and you had a bill of rights to go with it. They've both been allowed to erode. When the politicians on the left told Boobus Americans that in exchange for some of their financial liberties and, if they would allow the government to confiscate the wealth of their nieghbor the government could protect them from financial risk, they eagerly signed on the dotted line. And when the politicians on the right told Boobus Americans that in exchange for a reduction in some of their personal freedoms the government would protect them from ghosts and boogy men they eagerly surrendered those fredooms. And now tragically the American people are going to reap the consquences. Also, as someone else alluded to on this forum already. When you have a democracy where more people are net benficiaries of the system than pay into it there is little thought given to spending the treasury wisely after all, it's other peoples money.

Your analogy fails because the government is not a policeman and it is not a "neutral" arbiter in society -- it can't be, because social and economic structures are not neutral between classes of people, so if the government is "neutral" in the sense that right-wingers typically mean (restricted to enforcing contracts) it merely reifies the existing social order (is that what you want? A government that doesn't want to get rid of slavery, prefers women barefoot and in the kitchen, and does not want immigrants to become educated and productive members of society, doesn't regulate businesses, etc etc etc). Policemen don't engage in research funding, social programs, war, national parks, education, energy, etc. Government does. Vorkosigan


No, right-winger typically means the government needs enforces a set of values on society most espeically the neo conservatives. They want to influence sexuality, rights to perform abortions and other aspects of morality. They also advocate meddling in the affair of other nations.

I think you're confused with the Libertarians who advocate a government with limited functions. Only one of which you've sighted there are actually 3 or 4 depending on how you want to look at it.

They are;

1. Defend the nation from foreign invasion.
2. Defend the citizens from each other (ie defend the rights of the individaul) That takes care of Slavery, Women's rights ect.
4. Enforce contracts also enforce the rules of the game. (ie maintain free markets)
3. Provide and maintain infrastructure

Incidently, while I typically dislike the right more than the left some of the things you attribute to them are gross misreresentations. The idea that repulicans want to keep women barefoot and in the kitchen or what slavery is pure bullshit.

Now as for some other things you attribute to government;

1. Research funding. This doesn't need to be done by the government. Neither the development automobile nor the steam engine or the vast majority of human advances came from government. They came from private interests. Government funded research is hit and miss. Most of the so called research done in the social sciences is merely done in an attempt to justify some sort of social policy or government interferance in society.

2. Social programs. Again this is not a good thing for the government to be involved in. While intentions may be good you have to jude a program on it's results not it's intentions. Also govenment has proven itself inefficient at dealing with these issue as in the vast majority of cases political considerations trump real need when it comes to allocating resources. Invoulentary wealth distribution is immoral. And like anything else the fact that it is done by the government doesn't somehow make it moral. Governments are not morally superior to individauls. Private charities have proven effecitive in dealing with local issues when not hampered by government.

3. War isn't something government should do. National Parks can fit under infrastructure so I have no problem leaving that to government.

4. Education, well the governments done a great job of that haven't they?

5. Energy, I'm going to assume you mean energy policy. Sorry but energy is something best left to the free markets. Involve the government and you get NIMY. It reminds me of all the outcry last year when a couple hundred ducks died when they landed on the toxic tailing ponds in the Canadian tar sands. While the outcry is justified to an extent, people need perspective. Wind farms kill more birds in a week than died in the tar sands. Where's the outcry? Solar as it stands now is not economic and having the government throw money at it in the form of subsities will not tilt the economics


You've gotten caught up in this phoney Repulicrat vs. Democratican debate. As long as you guys think the solution is give government more money and power rather than demanding accountability you are doomed.
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Re: US Budget

Postby housecat » 18 Apr 2011, 12:56

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Nash

This guy, John Nash, won a Nobel prize for basically figuring out that we all beneit the most when we ALL benefit. Everyman for himself does more harm than good, at least in economics, acording to Nash. The movie, A Beautiful Mind, is about this guy.
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Re: US Budget

Postby Gman » 18 Apr 2011, 14:23

housecat wrote:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Nash

This guy, John Nash, won a Nobel prize for basically figuring out that we all beneit the most when we ALL benefit. Everyman for himself does more harm than good, at least in economics, acording to Nash. The movie, A Beautiful Mind, is about this guy.


Not exactly, He won the Nobel prize for developements in game theory and it's application to economics. He formulated a universal "solution concept" for many-person "noncooperative" games. (Those in which no outside authority asssures that players stick to some peredetermined rules). In fact that very work reinforces the idea behind free markets.

Contrary to what you may believe free markets provide the very mechanism by with each participant benifits. To illustrate this consider this short illustration by Dr. Milton Friedman "the lesson of the pencil".


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ERbC7JyCfU
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Re: US Budget

Postby Jaboney » 18 Apr 2011, 14:45

Gman wrote: with each participant benifits. To illustrate this consider this short illustration by Dr. Milton Friedman...

Do you also know the story of how Friedman et al went to Russia following the collapse of the USSR and advocated the adoption of markets, markets, markets and a minimalist state? His conclusion later? Oops: we failed to appreciate the importance of institutions, formal and informal.

I believe the culture of capitalism over the past 30 years has done much to erode those institutions... including gov't. But gov't for all it's flaws remains the most popularly responsible.
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