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Nonrandom Thoughts
Posted by: Dale Franks on Friday, October 31, 2008

A number of points on a related theme...

Divider


Both McCain and Obama regale us with the huge differences in their tax plans. Obama's a socialist, and McCain leads a parade of the selfish. According to the Tax Foundation, the difference between the two plans isn't as big as you might think, at least in one important respect.

McCain and Obama Planned Tax Liabilities

Look at this very carefully. Think about what it is telling you. Under either of the two plans, nearly half of the electorate will have no tax liability at all. For them, questions about the costs of government will essentially become irrelevant.

That is enormously important.

Divider


Food for thought:
Two men’s lives span the interval from the first admission of popular influence under Solon, to the downfall of the state. Their history furnishes the classic example of the peril of Democracy under conditions singularly favourable. For the Athenians were not only brave and patriotic and capable of generous sacrifice, but they were the most religious of the Greeks. They venerated the constitution which had given them prosperity and equality and the pride of freedom, and never questioned the fundamental laws which regulated the enormous power of the Assembly. They tolerated considerable variety of opinion, and great license of speech; and their humanity towards their slaves roused the indignation even of the most intelligent partisan of aristocracy. Thus they became the only people of antiquity that grew great by democratic institutions. But the possession of unlimited power, which corrodes the conscience, hardens the heart, and confounds the understanding of monarchs exercised its demoralizing influence on the illustrious Democracy of Athens. It is bad to be oppressed by a minority; but it is worse to be oppressed by a majority. For there is a reserve of latent power in the masses which, if it is called into play, the minority can seldom resist. But from the absolute will of an entire people there is no appeal, no redemption, no refuge but treason.

—John Emerich Edward Dalberg, Lord Acton
The History of Freedom in Antiquity
This generation has seen more fundamental change in the nature of our Republic than any previous one. We have come a long way from the mixed Republic, and a long way toward a pure democracy. We have changed from a public philosophy of reliance on individual responsibility to a preference for collectivism. We have not so much disparaged liberty, but we have made security, not liberty, the highest goal of the state.

"Those who would give up essential liberty for a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety," Franklin warned us. We have come perilously close to doing that.

Democracies endure until the citizens care more for what the state can give them than for its ability to defend rich and poor alike; until they care more for their privileges than their responsibilities; until they learn they can vote themselves largess from the public treasury and use the state as an instrument for plundering, first, those who have wealth, then those who create it.

The American people seem to be learning that fatal lesson. The last forty years have seen the United States reject the temptations of empire, but nearly succumb to the seductions of democracy. We have reached the abyss, but not yet taken the last step over it. The survival of freedom itself is at stake, and that future is by no means certain.

—Jerry Pournelle
Republic and Empire

Divider


I've mentioned this in the past, somewhat elliptically, but now I'll come right out and say it. America is fundamentally unwell. By "America" I'm not referring to it's culture, or economy, but its political situation. That's why I think this is a watershed election, no matter who wins.

Consider:

1) James Carville:
But you stop and contemplate this country if Obama goes in and he has a consistent five point lead and loses the election, it would be very, very, very dramatic out there.


2) Gun sales are showing a sharp rise all across the country, which is a reflection of a fundamental social fear—and evidence of at least an inchoate planning against it.

3) In 2004, there was, briefly, some noise about the Blue States seceding after John Kerry lost the election.

4) In the Supreme Court case of DC v. Heller, the Montana Secretary of State submitted an amicus curiae brief to the court that essentially raised the threat of secession if the Court ruled against the individual rights view of the second amendment.

John Edwards was right that there are two America's, but they aren't the Americas he described. Instead, one America is rural, and conservative. The other America is urban and liberal. They increasingly have entirely different visions about the proper role of government, taxation, foreign policy, national defense, and, indeed, about the very meaning and intent of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

There hasn't been that type of widespread and fundamental difference in this country since prior to the Civil War. That doesn't bode well for "domestic tranquility".

Divider


In Europe, when liberalism gave way to leftist social democracy, all of the citizens of those nations were essentially pulled along into it as well—kicking and screaming perhaps, as they are against the new European Constitution, but pulled along nonetheless.

Partially, this is because the European nations have, admixed into their democratic bona fides—of often fairly recent acquisition—a culture of deferring to political authority. Perhaps not initially, but ultimately, the political elites tend to win in the end.

Additionally, the European nations are relatively small and geographically compact compared to the US. Germany has about 80 million people. France, Britain, and Italy around 60 million. Metropolitan France, the geographically largest nation in Western Europe is, at 213,000 sq. mi., about 4/5 the size of Texas (269,000 sq. mi.) Moreover, the nations of Europe are, individually, not exactly culturally diverse.

None of those constraints apply to the United States, in almost any sense. Indeed, despite a broad popular culture, there are still at least five distinct subcultures in the United States: The Northeast, the Old South, the Midwest, the Southwest, and the West Coast. And Texas alone, as an odd mixture of both the Old South and the Southwest, might count as a sixth by itself.

This is not, by the way, a racial thing, either. If you go to New York City, for example, you'd find a broad political and cultural agreement between pretty much any random denizen from above 110th St. and any random denizen from below it. There is, however, and excellent chance that neither of them will agree much with a denizen of, say, Omaha.

Divider


What keeps a diverse and geographically large US together, is a broad agreement about what the United States is, and should be. Unlike the European nations, the US does not have a single traditional culture or ethnicity. What hold the US together is a shared belief in a series of political ideals passed down to us from the Founding Fathers, and the Framers of the Constitution.

If we no longer share that belief—and it is self evident that increasingly we do not—then there's no reason for a unified United States. We simply do not—and do not want to—live in the same country.

If this was case where only 10 or 20 percent of us disagreed, the minority would most likely be pulled along with the rest of the country.

But look at the election results of the last 16 years. Bill Clinton never won a majority of the votes of the electorate. George Bush had a minority of the votes his first term, and a slight majority in his second. And this election, even in a year where every conceivable trend goes against the Republicans, is shaping up to be another nearly even split.

We are a 50-50 nation, and the people on either side of that 50% mark are getting more distrustful, and less tolerant of the people on the other side. Neither side has a large enough majority to compel the other.

Divider


That's why I think that no matter who wins the election on Tuesday, there won't be a "healing of the wounds of the campaign" and calls "for the nation to come together" will be largely ignored.

We don't want to come together, because, for the most part, we all believe that the political goals and objectives of the people on the other side of the political divide are illegitimate.

What's keeping us together now is the inertia of history. Sooner or later, it will occur to people on both sides that living together is no longer going to work, because we don't share the same political values or goals.

And if that happens, both sides will start calling the lawyers to try and figure out how to shape a divorce settlement.

I don't expect a Civil War. Neither side particularly wants one, nor will, I think, either side think it's particularly necessary.

But unless we can come to some general agreement on a fundamental political vision, I don't see how the country can survive as a unified entity for another 50 years.
 
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A depressing analysis.

Depressing because it is true.
 
Written By: docjim505
URL: http://
Wow. Very well written. You hit on so many of the troubles I have noticed in this country, but have been unable to put into words. I’m printing this one out for my family.

When you get something for free, you don’t usually value it very highly. People who don’t pay taxes fit this mold.

"What’s keeping us together now is the inertia of history." This sentence jumped out at me. Sums up a lot. We are two countries. I do not want to live in the liberal version of America, and the liberals don’t want to live in mine. (I think mine would be a heck of a lot more successful!) They do not want to live by the Constitution, I do.

Regarding the increase in gun purchases - Purely anecdotal, but just this week my wife asked about learning to use a handgun, and maybe she wants to buy one. My daughter signed herself up for karate classes. I don’t know whether to be happy that my family wants to do this, or sad that they think they need to do this.
 
Written By: jjmurphy
URL: http://www.allthatisnecessary.com
Heavy stuff here Dale. I have enjoyed your posts immensely lately, and this one is no exception.

I wanted to know if you see any way in which this "divorce" could be avoided and how likely any of these things were. I see two possibilities and wanted to know what you thought. 1. Some large external event could occur. 9/11 seemed like it for a while, but in all honesty did not last long enough to have a significant psychologically changing impact. (This in no way is meant to diminish the importance of 9/11). 2. Child-bearing rates. It seems like, in general, the conservative areas are producing a lot more children than the liberal areas. (Maybe I’m wrong, but it certainly seems true). This could "solve" the divorce issue by itself given time.
 
Written By: Clark Taylor
URL: http://
Very good post, Franks.

I don’t think, as Clark does, that your recent posts have been as good as this one.

Someone described the situation in America right now as a "cold civil war."

The Civil War that began in 1861 did not just burst fully formed from the election of 1860. It was itself preceded by a "cold civil war" that at times was excruciatingly violent (in Kansas, for instance). The rhetorical recriminations between factions were nastier than usual in America, as they are now.

I’ve seen the two mainstream party coalitions nasty with each other in my lifetime, but nothing like this. During the 60s, the antiwar movement — including the Weather Underground — fantasized about revolution and violent overthrow of the government, but they were at the fringe. The founder of the Weather Underground has been a formative political ally of Obama.

It was also out on that fringe, in the black power movement, that James Cone formulated "black theology" (which views violence almost incidentally as a given), which forms the basis of the church that Obama has attended for most of his adult life. (Cf. Cone’s Black Theology and Black Power.)

I would argue that the violence being suggested by Carville has been an inherent part of the Obama candidacy since he solidified his support among blacks and they began to believe that his election was part of their entitlement. Given that Obama was surely steeped in Wright’s and Cone’s "black theology," he knew exactly what he was doing when he began to call out to the "black nation" over the heads of his white supporters.

Since you have a history in law enforcement, you know that police departments don’t just gear up for mass violent because of an election, as was announced a week or so ago. They don’t do it on a hunch, either. They do it because of intelligence that either they dig up or is passsed along to them.

Ironically, I first said "my God, we’re heading toward civil war" during the Clarence Thomas hearings in 1991. (Note the key role played by race in that, specifically black identity, and also the key role played by...Joseph Biden, at the hearings. Also note that at the time of the Senate vote the majority of blacks came to favor Thomas’s confirmation. Hence the need for years of follow-on attacks against him, which have not ceased to this day. He had to be made un-black.)

But I didn’t believe that there was any way that the sides in a civil war could form up, or that they would be able to identify each other. That would seem to be the greatest obstacle, but I don’t think it is that great of an obstacle now.

Anyone on the the right who doesn’t believe that the Left now trembles with violence in this country, doesn’t know the history of the Left.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://newpaltzjournal.com
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it"
The approval ratings of the executive and legislative branches indicate that both side of the 50/50 divide recognize that the problem is not with them, but with Washington. Is it not time to review the original compact that binds these united but individual states?

PS I have been having the same thoughts you so eloquently express.
 
Written By: djh
URL: http://
I am already there, Dale.

I want no part of Liberal and Lefty America. I don’t regard most mainstream Democrats as my countrymen anymore. I can disagree with Republicans in a lot of process, but 99% of my disagreement with leftists is in principle.

And while an amicable divorce is a nice hope - I don’t see it.
 
Written By: The Gonzman
URL: http://
I don’t expect a Civil War. Neither side particularly wants one, nor will, I think, either side think it’s particularly necessary.
Speak for yourself. We already know, beyond any doubt, that the Obama campaign has accepted illegal campaign contributions, made possible only by deliberate disabling of the standard fraud checks on credit card transactions. We know that millions of fraudulent registrations have occurred in key states, and that Democratic officials, such as the Ohio SecState, have refused to carry out their plain duty to enforce the election laws.

An administration put into place by illegal acts is itself illegal, and no one who has sworn to uphold the Constitution can obey it in good conscience.
 
Written By: SDN
URL: http://
How do you have a ’divorce’ when it is urban/rural that is wanting it. It would be impossible to seperate the big cities (liberal) from the rest of any state (conservative).

That is one of the problems I see with the current system. The founders set it up so the bigger states would have the same representation as the smaller states. The states never set it up so the rural areas would have the same representation as the big cities. So even the more conservative states can be ruled very liberally if they have a few large cities.
 
Written By: SkyWatch
URL: http://
Instead of the "blue states" seceeding cant we just get the top 15 blue cities seceeding.

Places like

DC
LA
SF
Detroit
Philladephia
Miami
New York
Seattle

and a few others


That way crime in the US would down about 500%, welfare roles could be trimmed by about 90%, productivity per person would shoot up, and the rest of the country would live in relative peace and harmony.





 
Written By: retired military
URL: http://
The left has made it quite clear over the past 8 years they refuse to stand with us.

If they couldn’t do it for more than 10 minutes after 9/11, they never will
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
While the differences are great between the two Americas, it’s informative to look at young people, who are, like it or not (I don’t) more liberal than their parents. It is possible that the divide will diminish.

Your data on who pays taxes applies to the federal income tax only, I believe. If you include sales taxes, gas taxes, and property taxes, not to mention FICA, just about everybody is funding the government. Also, in the early days of the income tax, only the rich paid it. The Republic survived.

Longer term, there’s another factor. After we deal with the rise of Asian workers, with their ability to do more and more "good" jobs for less, we’ll have to face the rise of the robots. The can walk and run now; they’re getting better at communicating. They’re starting to outperform surgeons now. What happens to our way of life when robots can do most jobs for less than a living wage? Goods and services will not cost much, but how will we organize society? Keep increasing the EITC? Give everybody stock?
 
Written By: Larry
URL: http://
It must be the people in the cities who are buying guns at a higher rate. In the country we already have lots of guns. We are currently stockpiling ammo. Everyone I know on both sides of the political divide are stocking up. Mostly to keep the people in the cities there. Rural America sees the urban as the enemy, not each other. As long as the coming civil war is restricted to urban areas, there will be relative peace in the food producing part of the country. Nobody out here thinks we will have the luxury of remaining neutral. Everyone will want to control the food supply. Good luck with that. We hunt and use our firearms on a regular basis. We are good at hiding in the woods and killing stuff. You are correct when you say that nobody wants it, but I don’t see how it can be avoided. There can be no peace with the left, I wish there was a way. They are willing to destroy anything that gets in their way, including the goose.
 
Written By: Paden Cash
URL: http://
War.
I see no way around it.
Can the red states do without the blue?
Can blue survive without red?

Be prepared.
 
Written By: Greybeard
URL: http://pitchpull.blogspot.com/
If we no longer share that belief—and it is self evident that increasingly we do not—then there’s no reason for a unified United States. We simply do not—and do not want to—live in the same country.
I expect a very great majority of the people in the country want to travel to all the geography that is currently in the country while enjoying government limited by what nominally is our constitution.

And yes, I’m a bit surprised my tongue hasn’t poked through my cheek at my writing that.

We are a 50-50 nation, and the people on either side of that 50% mark are getting more distrustful, and less tolerant of the people on the other side. Neither side has a large enough majority to compel the other.
I don’t know that 50/50 is the way to look at it. A spectrogram of tolerability is I think a more useful an analogy.

If the rightmost 25% plus a little of the electorate steers the Republicans, and the leftmost 25% of the Electorate steers the Democrats, and 50% plus a little of the electorate as a whole steers the nation, the question is whether the 50% plus a little of the electorate which is towards the left is more easily assembled than the 50% plus a little that is towards the right.

Who gets the independents/moderates to break for them?

Or another way to look at it. Would the more central 60% of the electorate more easily tolerate rule by the extreme right 20%? Or the extreme left 20%.

To look at the more extreme ends of the bell curve, whom could the more central 50% of country better tolerate? Ron Paul? Or Cindy Sheehan? I don’t think either of them would finish a term, but I don’t think Sheehan would last a month, Paul might make it a year.

Additionally, I think the Democrats are more easily steered by the extremes of their party than are the Republicans steered by what is nominally the extreme "right", and there is an electoral college advantage to the "small" states, which for now trend right leaning—advantage right.

Winess a "perfect storm" year against the Republicans, and the national level race is in doubt, not locked down.

I don’t expect a Civil War. Neither side particularly wants one, nor will, I think, either side think it’s particularly necessary.
I can only speak for myself, but I think starting a civil war is already justified by any measure but one, which is that the side I want to win is not the one I think would win a war begun at this time. It’s wrong to start a war you don’t think you can win, and it’s not like it’s a matter of a little bad karma either. I do not know that I could permit the assemblage of the local national guard to be unmolested, if their purpose was to assail Montana for it’s adherence to the founding principles of the nation.

I’m really really really glad that question isn’t being asked of me.

But I doubt Montana would follow through anyway.

Also, the distribution of the fractions of the population who could embrace or at least tolerate rule by the more extreme portions of the left are so geographically concentrated in the cities that there is no propitious border to be drawn.

IOW, we aren’t getting away from each other that easily.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Actually, there is a solution. One built into the Constitution, one built into our culture, one that will work. And that’s more State power and less Federal power.

Does California want universal health care? Let California do universal health care. Let Iowa go with private insurance. Let New York ban guns as hard as it can under the Federal Constitution, let Montana legally permit machine guns. Let states define marriages. Let States be the primary drivers of taxes, instead of the Feds. Let Kansas run as libertarian as the Constitution will permit and Vermont run as socialist as the Constitution will permit.

The Red and the Blue do not need to divorce. The Red and the Blue need to stop trying to compel each other into uniformity with the big stick of the Federal Government.

We’ll still have arguments, but they will be of much lesser scope. Arguments are inevitable, even healthy.

And this would be incredibly good for the United States, because we would be able to see who thrives and who flounders. When everybody does the same thing, we all argue over the meaning of the single data point we have.
 
Written By: Jeremy Bowers
URL: http://www.jerf.org/iri
Sorry to post again, but I truly believe that if this idea could get out into the culture it would solve a lot of problems we face right now.

I suck at naming things, but I’ve called this Scientific Federalism on my website before, because I believe that one of the most important aspects of this isn’t so much the solving of the problems in this post, but the fact that by trying many things we can actually find out in practice how various policy proposals work, something so thoroughly lacking in our current system we can’t even see it.
 
Written By: Jeremy Bowers
URL: http://www.jerf.org/iri
The Red and the Blue do not need to divorce. The Red and the Blue need to stop trying to compel each other into uniformity with the big stick of the Federal Government.
Problem is, Jeremy, what you propose would suit the Red mightily. It is the blue that is frothing at the mouth opposed to it.

 
Written By: The Gonzman
URL: http://
Wow.
I heard the same Chicken Little doom and gloom BS back in ’92.

Normally, I just laugh at your sillyness. Now I just feel sorry for you.
 
Written By: PogueMahone
URL: http://
Instead, one America is rural, and conservative. The other America is urban and liberal.
That’s pretty obvious when you look at the red-blue voting map. The uneducated folks who probably never visited another state, much less another country - aka Palin voters - are conservative. The city dwellers who are university educated, well-travelled, and generate most of the country’s wealth are liberal.
 
Written By: TomD
URL: http://
I heard the same Chicken Little doom and gloom BS back in ’92.
Really? I didn’t. I voted for Clinton in ’92. And I was on active duty.
Normally, I just laugh at your sillyness. Now I just feel sorry for you.
Not doubt you’ll be shocked to learn that your pity is entirely unimportant to me.
The uneducated folks who probably never visited another state, much less another country - aka Palin voters - are conservative. The city dwellers who are university educated, well-travelled, and generate most of the country’s wealth are liberal.
Elitist much?

Anyway, thanks for providing the precise attitude that illustrates my point. Even though you probably don’t realize you did so.
 
Written By: Dale Franks
URL: http://www.qando.net
How do you have a ’divorce’ when it is urban/rural that is wanting it. It would be impossible to seperate the big cities (liberal) from the rest of any state (conservative).
You wouldn’t have to. What you’d end up with is three separate regions: a block of Northeastern states, the West Coast states, and the rump of the country.

In the two liberal regions, the conservative rural areas that remained would be a relatively small part of the population, so they’d be pulled along the political path that the majority desired.

Coercing a small minority isn’t that difficult. Coercing 47% of the population is...problematic.

Divider

While the differences are great between the two Americas, it’s informative to look at young people, who are, like it or not (I don’t) more liberal than their parents. It is possible that the divide will diminish.
If so, that would constitute coming to a broad political agreement over time.

The thing is, young people are always more liberal than their parents...while they are young people. Getting jobs, getting married, and having kids seems to moderate that liberality.

Divider

War.
I see no way around it.
Can the red states do without the blue?
Can blue survive without red?

Be prepared.
My presumption is that cooler heads will ultimately prevail and there will be broad free trade agreements that would obviate the need to survive without the other. The red country would supply food, and the blue countries would supply machinery and technology in exchange.

There doesn’t have to be a war over this, and there won’t be, unless one side or the other decides it can only be satisfied by compelling the other side.

Divider

Actually, there is a solution. One built into the Constitution, one built into our culture, one that will work. And that’s more State power and less Federal power.

Does California want universal health care? Let California do universal health care. Let Iowa go with private insurance. Let New York ban guns as hard as it can under the Federal Constitution, let Montana legally permit machine guns. Let states define marriages. Let States be the primary drivers of taxes, instead of the Feds. Let Kansas run as libertarian as the Constitution will permit and Vermont run as socialist as the Constitution will permit.

The Red and the Blue do not need to divorce. The Red and the Blue need to stop trying to compel each other into uniformity with the big stick of the Federal Government.
That would probably suit the Red States just fine, overall. I’m not sure how well it would fly with the Blue States.

It would mean ending all of these grand Federal experiments like Social Security and Medicare, and drastically downsizing the Federal government.
 
Written By: Dale Franks
URL: http://www.qando.net
I am all for federalism, unfortunately, like libertarianism, it makes a lot of sense but seems to be a hard sell to our fellow Americans.

One thing we have to come to grips with, is that no matter who wins taxes HAVE to go up. I don’t like it, but growth is not going to be a factor. we have to raise taxes because we are farking broke. Between the war, the natural disasters, the pork, the ethanol subsidies, and the bailout, we got no more money, we are broke.

A perverse part of me wants the average American to suffer. We deserve it for voting for toads and scoundrels.
 
Written By: kyleN
URL: http://impudent.blognation.us/blog
That’s pretty obvious when you look at the red-blue voting map. The uneducated folks who probably never visited another state, much less another country - aka Palin voters - are conservative. The city dwellers who are university educated, well-travelled, and generate most of the country’s wealth are liberal.
If you are so phucking well educated then why do you believe such stupid shiat like socialized health care will be better, or cheaper, or that state sponsored education is better than giving people a choice, or for that matter, the lunacy of global dooming?
 
Written By: kyleN
URL: http://impudent.blognation.us/blog
The uneducated folks who probably never visited another state, much less another country - aka Palin voters - are conservative. The city dwellers who are university educated, well-travelled, and generate most of the country’s wealth are liberal
Pretty funny to see city dwellers trying to eat the papers they push at their jobs in lieu of the food they don’t produce....

 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
"The uneducated folks who probably never visited another state....etc."

Judging from your statement, you are one of these.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Furthermore, if you were half as smart and/or sophisticated as you think you are, you would know that educated and knowledgeable/worldly/sophisticated are not always synonymous, and neither are uneducated and ignorant.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
War.
I see no way around it.
Neither do I. And considering the military is overwhelmingly Red, I pity the Blue.
Can the red states do without the blue?
They’d do just fine. Especially when you consider how many rural areas of the blue would break off to join Red America.
Can blue survive without red?
Eating could be an issue for them. As well as turning screws. I’m sure the Blue Unions would get disillusioned once they realized it was their labor supporting parasites.

It would be amusing, though.
 
Written By: The Gonzman
URL: http://
That would probably suit the Red States just fine, overall. I’m not sure how well it would fly with the Blue States.
I’m not sure that’s true. Red states are trying to impose their definitions of marriage, their standard of abortion, farm subsidies, and a number of other things. The people you mention mumbling about secession in your post were Blue, not Red. (Plus, this is way less drastic than secession.)
It would mean ending all of these grand Federal experiments like Social Security and Medicare, and drastically downsizing the Federal government.
I think you may be projection an assumption that the Fed will downsize and then the States will stay the same. I’m saying, let the states run SS and Medicare at their own pleasure. Net-net, government would increase if we just outsource everything to the states while retaining the exact same services, due to losses of economy of scale. I think in practice the total government size would indeed contract (and some of that contracting is because the fed is simply too large and many but not all States would discover they are less interested in many aspects of the Fed government), but some states would almost certainly see an increase.

So, it wouldn’t be the end of these things everywhere. Moreover, since I am in fact proposing something that I believe can actually happen and not just talking idle theory, I would observe that in practice, those programs would not get spun out to the States for a very long time, not until this became a successful movement (if it every could).

This can and should be done incrementally; not a sudden blast from Congress (which has 0% chance of happening anyhow), but a gradual process of dumping as much controversy back to the state level as possible. Medical plans would be one obvious sweet spot here.

(Also, I will probably condense this down to a new blog post on my own site at some point.)
 
Written By: Jeremy Bowers
URL: http://www.jerf.org/iri
That would probably suit the Red States just fine, overall. I’m not sure how well it would fly with the Blue States.
So, they are the ones that believe that the flaw of the constitution is it only tells you what the government can’t do to you. Let them do their ’what the government can do for you’ experiment. They think they’re smarter, lead the way.
It would mean ending all of these grand Federal experiments like Social Security and Medicare, and drastically downsizing the Federal government
As Mr. Reynolds likes to say, faster please.



 
Written By: wilky
URL: http://
We are a 50-50 nation, and the people on either side of that 50% mark are getting more distrustful, and less tolerant of the people on the other side. Neither side has a large enough majority to compel the other.

Sounds like the analysis of someone who spends too much time reading blogs and not enough time in the real world. On here, I’m pretty abrasive - a tone set by the constant verbal abuse in the comments section. But my wife’s family is full of rednecks, and we get along just fine. In the real world, the fact that, for example, your friend wants to own a gun and you don’t is not really cause for anger towards the other guy. In the real world, Republicans and Democrats have respectful political conversations all the time; at work, between their families, among friends, on the street. I’ve never had a political conversation in the real world as mean as the ones I have online.

It’s not the differences of opinion, be it on principle or policy, that are the problem. The founding fathers had vastly different ideas about how the government should be run from the moment it was founded. Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton agreed on a lot less than Barack Obama and John McCain.

No, the problem is - and always has been - places like this, that through relentless selectivity and, at best, carelessness with the facts, feed people propaganda - constant cariactures of the other side, a montage of all the failings and none of the genuine logic of the positions, no acknowledgement of shared goals even when they exist, and always the most bitter and hostile interpretation of the opposition’s motives as possible.

Do you really think Q & O is part of the solution, Dale, or part of the problem?


That would probably suit the Red States just fine, overall. I’m not sure how well it would fly with the Blue States.

You know the real "redistribution of wealth" in this country? The federal government takes money from the West and East coasts and hands it out to the South and the interior. Southern and Plains states are net recipients of government money. They get more than they pay in taxes. Blue states pay more than they get. So seriously - I love a lot of Southern and Western states. Liked traveling through them, liked visiting them. But I’d be equally happy to see you fuc*ers in the comment section have a big meet up in there and secede. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
I don’t see secession coming in the short run. Seniors are not going to want to give up their US citizenship and lose their SS/medicare benefits. The only way I see secession occurring is if the Federal Government can no longer raise enough money to pay the entitlements. At that point the States may decide to dissolve the Union and leave the creditors holding the bag. That could sure happen in the next 25 years.
 
Written By: feeblemind
URL: http://
a tone set by the constant verbal abuse in the comments section.
But I’d be equally happy to see you fuc*ers in the comment section
If you don’t like the abuse then stop giving it, hypocrite.

Even so, any abuse here is lightweight compared to the massive torrent of sewage that you get in left wing blog comment sections.

Anyway, as they say, if you don’t like it then don’t let the door hit you in the ass.
 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
Both McCain and Obama regale us with the huge differences in their tax plans. Obama’s a socialist, and McCain leads a parade of the selfish. According to the Tax Foundation, the difference between the two plans isn’t as big as you might think, at least in one important respect.
There’s a lot more here than meets the eye. Old people, students, the unemployed, and the people working low-wage jobs all fall under this category. I suspect this has more to do with demographics than tax policy.

That’s the first thing.

The second thing would be that there’s a large difference between a consistent 44% that never have income tax liabilities, and the fact that a given % does not in any given year. How many of those people will have liabilities next year? Who knows. What percent of folks had no tax liability when unemployment hit 20% in 1935?

Thirdly, every last one of these people pay Republicans’ favorite kind of tax, the sales tax. That’s a lot of stake in government size right there.

Tax liability doesn’t have much to do with the rise of progressivism, Dale. I’ve paid taxes most of my working years, and I’d take a tax increase to see Obama’s plans enacted. I’m actually disgusted by the fact that he feels the need to promise not to raise taxes on vast swathes of America. This country has problems that need solving. Taxes are patriotic. And donating to your favorite charity is no solution, it’s never done sh*t and it never will.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
relentless selectivity and, at best, carelessness with the facts, feed people propaganda - constant cariactures of the other side, a montage of all the failings and none of the genuine logic of the positions, no acknowledgement of shared goals even when they exist, and always the most bitter and hostile interpretation of the opposition’s motives as possible
What a wonderful description of the Obama campaign strategy. Bravo, a true masterwork.
 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
In the real world, the fact that, for example, your friend wants to own a gun and you don’t is not really cause for anger towards the other guy. In the real world, Republicans and Democrats have respectful political conversations all the time; at work, between their families, among friends, on the street. I’ve never had a political conversation in the real world as mean as the ones I have online.
So what?

The problem isn’t that we don’t have respectful personal conversations. The problem is that not matter how respectful you may personally be, you will vote for policies with which I strongly disagree.

And at some point, somebody’s gonna start asking, "Why do I need to put my rights to a majority vote?" And that’s true whether your right is the right to keep and bear arms or the "right" to health care.

The personal respect you may have for the "rednecks" in your wife’s family is irrelevant—despite the high regard in which you obviously hold them.
I’ve never had a political conversation in the real world as mean as the ones I have online.
Because in the real world, doing so is an invitation to get your ass kicked.
 
Written By: Dale Franks
URL: http://www.qando.net
In the real world, the fact that, for example, your friend wants to own a gun and you don’t is not really cause for anger towards the other guy.
For you perhaps. Not for many others on the left. They feel perfectly justified in telling others whether they can own a gun or not. Witness draconian gun control laws in various Democratic-dominated cities.

I don’t like anyone telling others how to live, and I don’t care whether it’s leftists who want to ban guns and force everyone to use the same healthcare system, or conservatives who want to tell others what they can do in their bedroom and what they can to their own bodies. That’s why I’m libertarian.

But it’s disingenuous of you to act as though you don’t want your side to control others. That’s the modus operandi of the left and has been since its inception. Conservatives want to control a small range of activities because of their religion. Liberals and leftists want to control much more, because of their faith in the efficacy of government.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://qando.net
The city dwellers who are university educated, well-travelled, and generate most of the country’s wealth are liberal.
This is laughable. I grew up in a very red state and have lived on both coasts. For the last 16 years I have lived in some of the bluest areas of of blue California (West Los Angeles/Santa Monica/Venice). Most of the people I grew up with have not only been to Los Angeles, New York, Washington D.C., San Francisco, Seattle, etc. but they have actually resided in those places and many still do. I just got back from my high school reunion and we have class mates living all over the United States. However, I can count on one hand the people I know in Los Angeles who have been to my home state. The people I live and work with in LA are some of the most provincial people I have ever met. Sure, they might have visited New York, Cape Cod, Aspen, New York or Miami but they’ve never set foot in Omaha, Tulsa or Kansas City. Funny how that doesn’t stop them from forming very strong opinions about the residents of fly over country. They’ve never set foot in South Dakota but, by god, they will make sure that abortions are available there.

Pogue can ridicule Dale’s commentary but this is a transitionary period and no one really knows whether we are at a tipping point or not. The best that can be said about Obama is that he is so utterly lacking in actual accomplishments that no one can make any meaningful predictions as to how he will govern. Despite his sycophant followers’ denials, Obama has in fact "said" many radical things and he has spent a great deal of time with people who hold radical views (Ayers, Wright, Khalidi, etc.). Perhaps he won’t govern like an Alinsky, but with the Democrat majority I don’t think anyone can reasonably doubt that he will move the United States much further to the left. There has never been another candidate in my lifetime who has so explicitly and forcefully stated that this country is flawed and must fundamentally change. His wife says the country is "mean" and that she has never been proud of it until now. Obama thinks that this is "the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.." Can he really be serious? Have we never yet provided care for the sick or jobs for the jobless? We spend more on healthcare than the entire GDP of most of the countries in the world. We have the largest economy in the world with the most jobs and one of the highest standards of living. What alternative universe does he live in?
Glasnost says: This country has problems that need solving. Taxes are patriotic. And donating to your favorite charity is no solution, it’s never done sh*t and it never will.
This is the scary thing. Glasnost belittles private charity yet he and other liberals refuse to acknowledge that statist programs have never done "sh*t" either. The New Deal didn’t end the Depression, it prolonged it. God knows we have problems that need to be solved but how well have government programs worked? How about entitlements with their approx. $50 trillion dollars of unfunded liabilities? How well are public schools educating our children? How have those great society programs done in eliminating poverty? How effective has campaign finance reform (the post Watergate reforms as well as McCain-Finegold) been in getting the money out of politics? How much lower is the re-election rate of incumbents than it was before those reforms? How well has the bail out package worked so far?

I don’t expect an honest answer out of a liberal but the answers are clear. We’ve got problems but a bigger government won’t solve them.
 
Written By: jt007
URL: http://
I’m not sure that’s true. Red states are trying to impose their definitions of marriage, their standard of abortion, farm subsidies, and a number of other things. The people you mention mumbling about secession in your post were Blue, not Red. (Plus, this is way less drastic than secession.)
Just to pluck "impose their definitions of marriage" out as an example, what most Red Staters don’t want is for someone to come from Massachusetts and then demand their "marriage" from there be recognized. Right now, the only way to do that is at a National level.
You know the real "redistribution of wealth" in this country? The federal government takes money from the West and East coasts and hands it out to the South and the interior. Southern and Plains states are net recipients of government money. They get more than they pay in taxes. Blue states pay more than they get. So seriously - I love a lot of Southern and Western states. Liked traveling through them, liked visiting them. But I’d be equally happy to see you fuc*ers in the comment section have a big meet up in there and secede. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
Fact is, there is a whole mess of "Blue State America" who would be just tickled pink to pull a West Virginia and join Red State America; and they live outside the cesspools that are liberal-governed cities.

And bet me if the parasites don’t gravitate to your welfare state - while the revenue generating businesses you boast of flee it. Factories and Headquarters can be built elsewhere.
 
Written By: The Gonzman
URL: http://
I haven’t paid federal income taxes in several years. In fact, I get a nice, hefty check for a couple thousand that I never put in (or at least didn’t put in this year). But it certainly doesn’t follow that I have no stake in the size of federal government.

Sales taxes aren’t an issue, because there’s no national sales tax. But there are other taxes that the federal government gets that I pay as much of as anyone else. Also, the tax burden is mostly on the people I pay to buy goods and services, and those prices go up whenever taxes go up. Environmental regulation also could significantly lowers my standard of living, especially if Obama gets his way.

Finally, I’m a Ph.D. student with a family, and so I make little enough money teaching part-time that my family of six disqualifies me from paying income tax and qualifies me for receiving WIC, Medicaid for the kids (and a NY state plan for me and my wife), and other government services. But that situation is temporary. It’s because I’m in school full-time and working part-time. When I finish my Ph.D., I hope to get a tenure-track job with a decent salary, and I’ll then be out of the tax bracket that gets paid a couple thousand dollars for filing. I’ll be paying taxes then the same way anyone else in higher brackets does, and it would be stupid for me not to think I have a stake in what will then affect me directly just because right now it only does indirectly.
 
Written By: Jeremy Pierce
URL: http://parableman.net
As I look at the electoral map, I see 10 or so states on the verge of switching from red to blue. Is this an aberration? Defects in the polls? All indicators are that Dems will take Senate and House seats in red states this year. What does that say?

The last time I checked, the net flow of federal dollars was out of the blue states and into the red states, mostly because of military spending and farm subsidies.

I really can’t see secession or violence as realistic. "American" still means something to me.
 
Written By: Larry
URL: http://
Good heavens... There is serious talk here about a second civil war. I have thought about it for the past few years, but I frankly consider myself an extremist and the far right side of the political bell curve.

Is civil war a real possibility? Does anybody actually WANT such a thing? Or are we getting to the point described by Orson Scott Card in his book "Empire", where the two sides start shooting because they each fear that the other side is about to do so?

Jeremy Bowers - The Red and the Blue do not need to divorce. The Red and the Blue need to stop trying to compel each other into uniformity with the big stick of the Federal Government.

I agree, but the problem is that too many of us see the Federal Government as a "big stick" that OUGHT to be used. The libs want it used to ensure "fairness" and all the touchy-feely socialist crap that they think is "good", ranging from gay marriage to gun control to environmental regulation to wealth redistribution. Many of us on the right want it used to enforce some sort of morality: no gay marriage, for example.

Except for a fairly small segment of Americans who are either "true" libertarians, "true" conservatives, or outright anarchists, I don’t think that anybody seriously WANTS a small federal government any more: they merely want it to do THEIR bidding, and not the other fellow’s. This is what causing the tension: collectively, we’ve built or simply allowed the federal government to grow into a "big stick". In 2000 and 2004, the libs were alarmed that nasty ol’ Republicans were going to wield it with catastrophic results for the country. Now, we on the right are alarmed that nasty ol’ democrats (spit) are getting their chance, with catastrophic results to follow.

There’s not much to be done here. Unless and until (A) the size and power of the federal government is much reduced or (B) we reach a stable, majority consensus on the limits of its power and authority, we are stuck in this loop of being scared to death every four years that the other party will gain control and destroy the country.

I also suggest that the difference between the "two" sides is not so stark as perhaps we all think. Yes, there are liberal scum who are every bit the pseudo-communists that we on the right like to imagine, just as their are conservatives who are the sort of theocrats the haunt the nightmares of people like Keith Olbermann. But there is no single, dividing, yes-or-no issue in the country like there was in 1861.

Sigh...

Let’s hope for the best. God has been looking out for the United States for over two centuries; hopefully, He’ll stay on the job. If not... Do you prefer 5.56 or 7.62x39?
 
Written By: docjim505
URL: http://
I don’t think we are going to have a civil war, but I do anticipate more political violence than in the past 100 years.

Right now it really is looking like an Obama win. I expect him to push stealth gun control; you know: ramped up ATF enforcement and lawsuits, aimed at shutting down gun companies and dealers.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
"This country has problems that need solving. Taxes are patriotic. And donating to your favorite charity is no solution, it’s never done sh*t and it never will."
You’re a fool.

 
Written By: Grimshaw
URL: http://
But it’s disingenuous of you to act as though you don’t want your side to control others. That’s the modus operandi of the left and has been since its inception.
There is no fictional "left" that wants to "control others" vs. a fictional "right" that does not. There are only the requirements of a modern state and the neccessary means to uphold the fragile position of relative comfort that we have managed to establish for a small portion of the world’s inhabitants. There is no rightist economic plan that does not involve taxation - a fundamentally coercive act - there is no way to achieve a life expectancy in the 70’s without environmental regulation, no way to achieve widespread availability of credit without financial regulation, etc, etc.

Your generalizations are so vast as to be essentially meaningless. "The left" doesn’t take pleasure in "controlling others" as a virtue in and of itself anymore than "the right" does. There are a lot of bureaucratic penalties and restrictions in the modern world that I personally would like to see the neccessity for tested - not that Q & O ever spends time looking into the need for, say, zoning restrictions, preffering instead to work its audience up into a frenzy about imaginary leftist conspiracies. Having said that, as much as I’d like to see - and would probably vote for - any party seriously interested in, say, reducing the cost and complexity of the legal system for ordinary people, or abolishing abused police powers like "disturbing the peace", or rebalancing the playing field of trade policy away from large businesses and towards small ones - I’m sure that for every imposition upon liberty no longer neccessary (or never in the first place), there would be three found to be seriously harmful to prosperity in their removal.

The most important public policy phoenomenon of the past fifty years has been the gradual narrowing of policy differences between mainstream liberalism and mainstream conservatism. This isn’t happening in a vaccuum, or out of boredom, but because it’s increasingly obvious what works and what does not work.

I’m a strong supporter of fundamental civil liberties for individuals, but I’m more concerned about the preservation of prosperity than the opportunity to practice rights in the abstract in the midst of violent anarchy. And so is the Republican Party. You can’t enjoy your right to unlimited credit default swaps when you have no banking system. You can’t enjoy your right to utter freedom from predictable government confiscation of income when you have no job and armed gangs impose a much more chaotic form of the same, as tends to occur in the states worst at collecting taxes. Folks in China aren’t enjoying their technical freedom to buy any non-polluted drinking water they can theoretically find that heavy industry hasn’t dumped waste products into, because they can’t find it/them. Bottom line, achieving a stable modern economy, to say nothing of social stability, doesn’t allow for the luxury of anything like genuine libertarianism or anything remotely close to it. That may be why Q & O pays so little attention to genuine issues of principle, choosing instead to squawk about the almighty injustice of Barack Obama’s plan to raise taxes from one rate of arbitrary imposed confiscation to a slightly higher rate (and this is in their most principled moments).

And that’s why I prefer to debate narrow issues, rather than get into sweeping philosophical debates; there’s too much territory to cover.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
And at some point, somebody’s gonna start asking, "Why do I need to put my rights to a majority vote?" And that’s true whether your right is the right to keep and bear arms or the "right" to health care.
It sounds good in theory. I can even see the logic that it would be a relatively civil and noncoercive way to maximize the ability of citizens with different preferences to see those respective preferences upheld. The only problem is that there’s very little empirical evidence that such trends exist. Secessionism is not in any way popular as a political movement. Any popular policy idea that gets more than 50% support nationally or in a state is usually adopted, and whatever 30% that wants gun control inside Utah or income tax abolishment inside Massachusetts doesn’t have the votes to secede - if they did, they’d have the votes to pass whatever policy they wanted in the first place.

Any state that actually wanted to secede would rapidly have to deal with the gaping holes in its budgets left by the withdrawal of federal funds. The serious decline in living standards that resulted would probably not endear the experiment to the minds of its voters.

I think the near-total irrelevance of the "Free State Project" in New Hampshire is not a good sign for the potential existence of a seething tumult of frustrated masses, ready to implement your project.
Because in the real world, doing so is an invitation to get your ass kicked.
I think it’s because people meeting face to face - except under highly unusual circumstances, like a John McCain rally - treat each other with a modicum of decency, whereas polite debaters like Scott Erb around here get treated like used kleenex.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
The most important public policy phoenomenon of the past fifty years has been the gradual narrowing of policy differences between mainstream liberalism and mainstream conservatism. This isn’t happening in a vaccuum, or out of boredom, but because it’s increasingly obvious what works and what does not work.
It is actually obvious how well socialism works, anyone who wants to see what moderate Democrats will bring us can look to France or Germany.

We finally have data that proves FDR lengthened the Great Depression by 7 years, and we are likely electing a leftist who will do him one better.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
I think it’s because people meeting face to face - except under highly unusual circumstances, like a John McCain rally - treat each other with a modicum of decency, whereas polite debaters like Scott Erb around here get treated like used kleenex.
Yeah—like a John McCain rally. You are stuck on stupid.

Scott Erb gets exactly what he asks for. He spends part of the time acting decent, then he lays his steaming pile.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
glasnost - There is no fictional "left" that wants to "control others" vs. a fictional "right" that does not.

Really? That’s not what most other Americans believe. Accepting the fact that many Americans are politically ignorant, how is that they are so deceived on this subject while you are not?

glasnost - There are only the requirements of a modern state and the neccessary means to uphold the fragile position of relative comfort that we have managed to establish for a small portion of the world’s inhabitants.

Yeah... And there are competing ideas, vaguely identified as "liberal" and "conservative", about just what those requirements and means ARE. As you go on to note, there are competing ideas regarding taxation, environmental policy, fiscal policy, etc. I think that it’s safe to say that "conservative" ideas on these issues are rather different than "liberal" ideas. Wouldn’t you agree?

glasnost - Your generalizations are so vast as to be essentially meaningless. "The left" doesn’t take pleasure in "controlling others" as a virtue in and of itself anymore than "the right" does.

That’s why they are called "generalizations".

As for the left’s "pleasure in controlling others", I would say that it’s not pleasure per se, but rather a normal human urge that is largely unchecked, the attitude that "I know better than you how to run your life". I would also say that it also stems from the noble but unrealistic idea that life can be made safe and comfortable for EVERYBODY. This is the basic idea behind the left’s ideas on wealth redistribution and other social programs: everybody has some sort of "right" to medical care, housing, a job or at least some minimum income, food, etc, etc. In order to justify taking money from Peter to give these things to Paul (whether he’s earned them or not), the left relies heavily on the idea of "fairness": it isn’t "fair" for Peter to have lots of money while Paul doesn’t. Peter must - somehow - have CHEATED Paul! Peter should be punished! And, in order to see to it that Peter doesn’t somehow go on cheating, the laws must be rewritten to keep him in check, to control how much money he is allowed to make or at least to keep.

glasnost - There are a lot of bureaucratic penalties and restrictions in the modern world that I personally would like to see the neccessity for tested - not that Q & O ever spends time looking into the need for, say, zoning restrictions, preffering instead to work its audience up into a frenzy about imaginary leftist conspiracies. Having said that, as much as I’d like to see - and would probably vote for - any party seriously interested in, say, reducing the cost and complexity of the legal system for ordinary people, or abolishing abused police powers like "disturbing the peace", or rebalancing the playing field of trade policy away from large businesses and towards small ones - I’m sure that for every imposition upon liberty no longer neccessary (or never in the first place), there would be three found to be seriously harmful to prosperity in their removal.

You keep using the word "prosperity". I don’t think it means what you think it means.

"Prosperity" in what way? And for whom? You say, for example, that you would support "abolishing abused police powers like ’disturbing the peace’." I submit that this would impact the "prosperity" of business owners who don’t like seeing customers scared away from their shops by drunks, panhandlers or day laborers loitering out front. It would also impact the "prosperity" of property owners who can’t sell their houses because their neighborhoods are infested with drunks, panhandlers, drug users, prostitutes, gangs of urchins, and the like.

You also want to "rebalanc[e] the playing field of trade policy away from large businesses and towards small ones". How? And doesn’t attempting to improve the prosperity of a small business that employs perhaps a dozen people harm the prosperity of the larger company that employs a hundred or a thousand people?

Anyway, who gets to decide on what such a policy ought to be? And what gives them the right to do so? Here, in my mind, is a pretty glaring difference between conservative and liberal philosophy / policy. We on the right don’t think that the government has much business imposing such regulation on companies; the left would do it as a matter of course out of "fairness". On the right, we tend to think that a business should succeed or fail based solely on the market demand for its goods / services and how efficiently it is run. On the left, you seem to think that a business should be regulated in the interest of some "greater good": taxed to pay for social programs; forced to pay inflated wages and arbitrary levels of benefits; slapped with workplace safety and environmental regulations; protected from foreign competition by tariffs; and ultimately bailed out if things go sour because all those union employees need jobs (to keep paying dues to ultimately support democrat (spit) politicians).

glasnost - The most important public policy phoenomenon of the past fifty years has been the gradual narrowing of policy differences between mainstream liberalism and mainstream conservatism. This isn’t happening in a vaccuum, or out of boredom, but because it’s increasingly obvious what works and what does not work.

ROFL! Are you seriously trying to tell me that politicians base their decisions on what WORKS??? The recent financial crisis was the result of years of refining and honing the best ideas???

What we’ve REALLY seen - to my sorrow - over the past fifty years is an increasing number of Americans come to rely on and indeed EXPECT the government to do more and more things for them. The dems (spit) have had a lot of success playing to and fostering this attitude; many liberal Republicans have mimicked this tactic in the belief that it’s the only way to get votes. This is understandable: "I’m gonna give you stuff" is a rather more appealing stump speech than, "I’m gonna let you keep what’s yours; otherwise, you’re on your own."

glasnost - I’m a strong supporter of fundamental civil liberties for individuals, but I’m more concerned about the preservation of prosperity than the opportunity to practice rights in the abstract in the midst of violent anarchy.

Er... Who wants anarchy? Dale? McQ? Martin McPhillips? shark? Any of the usual conservative / libertarian commenters here? If anything, we conservatives are often accused of wanting a police state rather than anarchy. Here’s a tip for you: the absence of government regulation, especially at the federal level, does not equal anarchy. The country got along quite well for nearly two centuries without a Dept. of Education, for example, or a Dept. of Health and Human Services, and even without an IRS, and FBI, a DEA, a Federal Reserve, etc, etc.

Can we do without a federal government at all? Of course not: this was clearly seen and remedied by Messrs. Washington, Madison, Sherman, Jay, Hamilton, Franklin, et al when they wrote the Constitution. Do we need the monstrosity that we have? I say that we do not.

And let’s talk about those rights that we want to practice "in the abstract". It’s not "abstract", for example, to keep and bear arms to defend ourselves from criminals and (in extremis) modern-day Redcoats. It’s not "abstract" to be able to keep the money we earn. It’s not "abstract" to be able to have a radio program or TV show or website without having to worry about being shut down because somebody else doesn’t think we’re being "fair" in presenting "other" points of view. It’s not "abstract" to have the secret ballot when deciding whether we want a union in our jobs. It’s not "abstract" to have the right to form a company that trades overseas without having to deal with tariffs and other government-created obstacles.

In short, wanting to be left the hell alone is not an "abstract" right for us.

glasnost - You can’t enjoy your right to utter freedom from predictable government confiscation of income when you have no job and armed gangs impose a much more chaotic form of the same, as tends to occur in the states worst at collecting taxes. Folks in China aren’t enjoying their technical freedom to buy any non-polluted drinking water they can theoretically find that heavy industry hasn’t dumped waste products into, because they can’t find it/them.

What??? Are you trying to say that Red China is bad at collecting taxes? Or that it has anarchy instead of a strong government? Or that people have some sort of "right" to clean water? Where is that written?

Consider: the Red Chinese have enjoyed tremendous increases in "prosperity" BECAUSE their government doesn’t give a flying f*** about clean water or clean air or industrial safety or consumer safety.

I think you’ve got the hazy beginnings of a grasp on the real issue: balance. Do I, as a conservative, want my chemical plant dumping crap into the local water supply or belching pollution into the air? Of course not. BUT, do I want my plant burdened with such heavy regulations that they will shut down and move to another country where they can afford to do business? Of course not; I sort of like getting my paycheck every two weeks and want that to continue.

glasnost - Bottom line, achieving a stable modern economy, to say nothing of social stability, doesn’t allow for the luxury of anything like genuine libertarianism or anything remotely close to it. That may be why Q & O pays so little attention to genuine issues of principle, choosing instead to squawk about the almighty injustice of Barack Obama’s plan to raise taxes from one rate of arbitrary imposed confiscation to a slightly higher rate (and this is in their most principled moments).

Sorry, but I would consider the dems’ (spit) plans for changing the tax code, bringing back the Fairness Doctrine, eliminating the secret ballot in union elections, and other items to be very much "genuine issues of principle". And, yes, there is - or can be - an important difference between raising "taxes from one rate of arbitrary imposed confiscation to a slightly higher rate". I must say that I am glad to see a liberal admit that taxation is confiscation instead of trying to convince us that paying taxes is somehow patriotic.

But what genuine issues of principle SHOULD we be discussing in the last days before a presidential election?

I would like to close by saying that a stable modern economy, to say nothing of social stability, depends less on the government than it does on the majority of people deciding to more or less play fair. For example, I don’t assault a neighbor who plays his stereo too loud solely out of fear of the police, but rather because I think that doing that sort of thing is simply wrong. I pay my taxes on time not only because I fear the IRS, but also because... well... I’m a law-abiding citizen. Most people are like that. If we weren’t, we’d have to have many times more police and IRS agents and other law enforcement officers than we already DO have.

I would say that libs have a more negative view: people will lie, cheat and steal unless held firmly in check by the government. In other words, government rules through fear. Government CONTROLS through fear.
 
Written By: docjim505
URL: http://
Conservatives want to control a small range of activities because of their religion. Liberals and leftists want to control much more, because of their faith in the efficacy of government.
Ok to recap, so conservatives want to control a small range of activities because of their religion and leftists want to control a larger range because of their religion as well.

So given that choice, many libertarians align themselves with conservatives because the damage to rights is less that it would be with liberals.
 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
In case anyone actually believed that national disengagement from the federal tax system is remotely like what Dale suggested in his graph, I suggest they look at the following set of graphs:

http://www.visualizingeconomics.com/category/taxes/

The third graph down presents a clear demonstration to the contrary. I also find it interesting to see actual rates of payment, whatever the official brackets say, down at about 20% - for the highest quintile.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
I must say that I am glad to see a liberal admit that taxation is confiscation instead of trying to convince us that paying taxes is somehow patriotic.
Both.

For example, I don’t assault a neighbor who plays his stereo too loud solely out of fear of the police, but rather because I think that doing that sort of thing is simply wrong. I pay my taxes on time not only because I fear the IRS, but also because... well... I’m a law-abiding citizen.
Your attitudes are a product of a (relatively) well-organized system. They were shaped in that system and are not severable from that system. The majority of people in Somalia do something very different, and it’s not because they’re inherently more or less moral people. A system of deliberately imposed restraints provides precisely the stability that allows people to be raised in an environment non-threatening enough to allow, in turn, for voluntary morality.

It’s not at all an exaggeration to say that morality depends on the modern coercive state. 100 years ago, for example, labor-capital relations regularly involved people on both sides being beaten black and blue. That this undesirable state of affairs does not occur is a consequence of liberal restrictions on business behavior, not because of a sudden emergence of human decency in the past 100 years.
What??? Are you trying to say that Red China is bad at collecting taxes? Or that it has anarchy instead of a strong government?
Actually, it has an uncategorizable amalgam of laissez-faire 19th century government and straightforward socialism. The former is great for boosting people from 15’th century misery to 19’th century misery. Not so good for the rest of the journey. Chinese "prosperity" beats starvation, but it’s h*ll on earth compared to an American laborer.

Or that people have some sort of "right" to clean water? Where is that written?

It has nothing to do with rights and everything to do with optimal outcomes. It doesn’t matter whether people have a "right" to it or not. It is enough that the lack of it produces unacceptable outcomes; human misery on an unacceptable scale to anyone with a conscience.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
The country got along quite well for nearly two centuries without a Dept. of Education, for example, or a Dept. of Health and Human Services, and even without an IRS, and FBI, a DEA, a Federal Reserve, etc, etc.
If by "getting along" you mean, "survived at a standard of living that would equate us, in 2008, with Cambodia", yeah, we survived. By the standards of that era, we did fairly well, too. Having said that, you should look at the average life expectancies back in those days. We added the bureacracies you list to solve problems that you, in this modern era, can’t even seriously concieve of. You’ve never lived in a world where every middle-aged family had to either put their parents in their own house, or have them literally die anonymously in the streets. Back then, women didn’t work in order to have time for that kind of thing: I suggest that a return to that state of affairs would seriously impair our economic productivity. And that’s *just* the Dept. of Health and Human Services.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
glasnost,

Your claim is essentially that larger, more instrusive government gave us our present high standard of living. I say that the march of technology did it by providing cheap power sources that, in turn, allowed other technological innovations that have extended our lives. The life expectency of Americans was going up long before the DHHS came along, for example, simply because capitalism and technology combined to provide a higher standard of living.(1) These things also made us sufficiently rich that we could afford the "luxury" of our current welfare state, which is to say the luxury of NOT having to care for our elderly parents because we can get Uncle Sugar to do it for us.(2)

Now, did government play a role in this by (as you say) helping to guarantee safer food, safer workplaces, and helping provide cheap electrical power? Sure. But let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that life without big government is little better than the Dark Ages, and that people degenerate into immoral savages without the guiding hand of Uncle Sugar to keep us in line. As I wrote above, there needs to be balance. I say that we’ve gone too far toward excessive government, and are poised to go even farther. This is not good as it stifles capitalism and the innovation it fosters, the things that REALLY give us "prosperity" and better lives.

———-

(1) According to the CDC, the life expectancy of all Americans increased from 47.3 to 68.2 in the half century from 1900 to 1950, long before many of the alphabet soup agencies I listed came into being. From 1960 to present, AFTER many of those agencies showed up, the life expectency increased only from 69.7 to 77.8.

(2) I refer you to George Orwell’s explanation of the term "freedom is slavery" in 1984 to understand the end result of relying on the government for everything.
 
Written By: docjim505
URL: http://

 
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