William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

The “Right” To This, That, And The Other Thing

A good friend of mine, an inveterate lefty who tortures himself by reading Think Progress and other horror sites designed to confirm the worst fears of their readers, posted this picture to my Facebook page.

I'm confused, too

I’m confused, too

My friend is a genuinely nice guy and really (no, really) does care about the poor, the downtrodden, those at the bottom. He, and many, many like him, are convinced the solution to all problems is the government, and that all problems are caused by those who are against big government. The Tea Party, he believes, is filled with creatures far more gruesome and frightening than any Dante ever imagined.

Anyway, I mention all that to show the kind of thing we’re up against. The visceral palpable tangible hate that the left has for any who would reject government as savior can’t easily be reasoned with. Nor can arguments like the one in the picture.

Now it follows trivially that if each person has a right to (say) healthcare, then somebody or some persons have a responsibility to provide it. Rights and responsibilities are inseparable, like entangled particles in some EPR experiment (to use a geek reference). You cannot, it is an impossibility, to have one without the other.

So whose responsibility is it to provide this “right”? Well, the government’s, mostly, with input from “the rich.” Just how the “right” is delivered is not the least interesting to those demanding it. Nor is the truth that the government isn’t a thing, but a collection of people drawn from the populace; people anxious for power, for the most part.

Yet “rights” pleaders make the government a thing: it becomes a real entity with real powers that transcend ordinary physics and boundaries of time and geography; i.e. it is magical, it is a minor deity, a demiurge, a god. A god can be pleaded with, it can be prayed to, propitiated. Sacrifices can be made to it. Not money, but prayers and marches and the savaging of atheists like those in the Tea Party.

The priests of this god, the legacy media, encourage this worship, as priests are meant to. Some priests do this because they genuinely believe in the powers of Government, but others hope by their ardency to ascend to the body of the god, to become one with it. It is they who judge themselves worthy.

The attitude is also found in politicians who believe they are “part of” this “ruling body.” How many men could resist the flattery that they are, at least in some small part, divine? The first election of our dear leader is proof enough that such temptations are overwhelming.

Exaggeration? I don’t think so. “The people”, the ones calling for “rights”, really do see a god who would help them were it not for dark evil forces blocking and clouding the deity’s vision. If it weren’t for the intransigence of the Tea Party (and others like them), “rights” would appear like manna in the desert. Healthcare could be plucked freely from bushes. Sickness would disappear.

Logic and reason are not going to talk the true believers out of their faith. Frankly, I don’t know if anything can at this point.

46 Comments

  1. Briggs,

    This should be required reading Who’s to say what’s right and wrong?. Not that I agree with everthing, but it provides points for discussion.

  2. The ‘rights imply responsibilities’ argument is too abstract. Lefties don’t disagree, they say the responsibility belongs to those with the means to provide it.

    You can sometimes make headway by getting more specific. OK, so you say that everyone has a right to healthcare – it’s not something that should be for sale only to those who can afford it. So must doctors and nurses work unpaid to provide it? OK, you say that everyone has a right to food. Must farmers therefore work unpaid to provide it? Can you walk into the grocery store, load up your basket and walk out with it without paying the shop owner – citing your ‘right’ to food?

    The lefties, while insisting on the ‘right’ to be given stuff, are faced with the difficulty of the obvious wrong of stealing it from those who produced it. If you apply the principle directly, its immorality becomes obvious.

    Their solution is therefore to steal stuff from people who *deserve* to be stolen from, give it to the doctors and the farmers, and then have the doctors and farmers give the ‘free’ healthcare/food to the poor. In order to justify this morally to themselves, their victims have to be dehumanized and hated. They have a duty to pay for as long as they are able, and are to be considered selfish and greedy when they resist giving even more.

    Eventually, the demand grows to the point where the class of victims has expanded to include the people they’re trying to save. They complain about the lack of jobs and the rising prices, not realising that they’re sucking so much wealth out of the economy to pay for the poor that they’re making everybody poorer. You end up with a system in which nobody produces, because producers are universally hated and loaded with an ever greater burden, and ever more consumers who compete in their victimhood for a bigger slice of the pie. Eventually there is no pie left, and nobody who remembers how to make one, and the whole thing collapses.

    And yet, there are still those poor people who cannot afford food or healthcare, and would therefore be left to starve and die if we didn’t get the means from *somebody*. So what else can we do?

  3. “So what else can we do?”

    Minimize the number of people in this situation which which does not include giving incentives for more people to jump in. Modern attempts at compassion often have the opposite effect in the end.

    ===
    I hear claims that “health insurance” is a right, “education” is a right, “housing” and “food” and “internet access” are rights; the list doesn’t seem to have any limits.

    What I want to know is how anyone could have a right to a good or service that trumps a producer or service provider’s right to stop providing the service.

    For instance, if everyone has a “right to health insurance” and an insurance company closes, are the employees forced to work for nothing to sustain the business? That’s what a “right” implies – something universal and timeless owed to every person. If the only Calculus teacher in Cheboygan (if one exists at all) decides to quit his job, what of the “right” his students have to education? Is he forced to provide a math course without pay?

    I figure that absurd outcomes like these are one of the reasons the founders of the United States neglected to include goods and services in the bill of rights. They seemed to take the word “right” to mean something almost opposite of this.

    Ultimately I think people want free stuff and politicians want votes. Its a cynical but simple explanation. Seems consistent with the evidence.

  4. Ye Olde Statisician

    February 21, 2014 at 11:33 am

    I right is something one possesses by nature and defense of which is seen as justified by others. Thus, a right to life means that everyone is seen as justified if he defends his life against that which would take it. Even murderers are entitled to defend themselves. This doesn’t mean that they will be successful in their defense. The same goes for the right to liberty and to property, as William of Ockham wrote in “The Ninety Days’ Work.” Though Thomas Aquinas did state that a man is entitled to steal food from the surplus of others who have more than they need, but only in dire straits. (Summa theologica, II-2, Q66, A7
    http://www.ccel.org/a/aquinas/summa/SS/SS066.html#SSQ66A7THEP1)

  5. I worry about when more than 50% of the voters pay no federal income tax. That is when everything will spiral out of control. We are at about 48-49% currently.

    When the majority of voters can vote to take from the rich – who are after all not paying their fair share – the rich will be defined as those who pay any federal income tax.

    Then the incentive to work will disappear for the minority who are paying all the bills for the majority (at least from a federal income tax point of view).

  6. “The state is that great fiction by which everyone tries to live at the expense of everyone else.”
    ― Frédéric Bastiat

  7. First of all, I’m the guy who cares about the poor, secondly you are all kind of stupid when it comes to the distribution of wealth, what is wealth, where did it come from, where did the resources on our planet come from,where does air, water, food, wind, rain, come from? It all comes from God, who love’s all of us equally, and wasn’t it his son who said give up all your belonging’s follow me and you will be saved? If this is a Christian nation as most proclaim then wouldn’t it be common sense that God has provided these goods to all men/women equally and that it was his intention to have all men women fed, clothed, housed, and to have equal access to health care? One of you mentioned the drain that the poor put on our economy, obviously you haven’t seen pie chart which indicates where most of our wealth goes to and that is the Military, not food, housing, health care for the poor, the military. We spend more than the next 30 countries combined – why? For one reason and one reason only most with common sense would say and that’s to protect the money of the rich and not the poor. Secondly, where do the rich, the Walton’s get their wealth from, they get it from us, we the poor, we give it to them because we don’t have any other choices! If we had choices then maybe some of your theories would be correct but they are far from correct. Each living soul on this planet has a right to food, water, health care, shelter, clothing because it was granted to them by our God! Not by our Govt., not by the rich, not by some charity, but from the God above whom loves all his creatures equally and intended us to be giving, loving, creatures, that share the wealth, take care of one another and not hoard. All others that hoard money, capital, food, water, minerals, have in some way been touched by the evil side of our nature and there is absolutely no justification for their abundance and our empty shelves. Jesus, Mother Therese, Gandhi, Buddha, Moses, and all the other men and women we most admire in this world; even Rosa Parks who knew her right to sit at the front of the bus was given to her by God and could not be restricted by man was her Right! So I say go suck on an egg, all of you, and talk is cheap when you are sitting in the good seats!

  8. Wow Craig.

    If only God mined the minerals, planted the crops, harvested the crops and did all the other work necessary to create all of the resources you are giving away – that would be great.

    But – as you know – god helps those who help themselves.

    That means people have to work.

    If you sit at home, and do no work, God will not deliver the food to your house.

    If everybody had your attitude, we would all starve to death.

    Manna doesn’t fall out of the sky anymore (if it ever did).

  9. It is always challenging to discuss such subjects with those that so joyously love to steal.

    They see the oil companies as robber barons selling us gas at $3.50/gallon, instead of seeing that $3.50/gallon gas as the underutilized resource it is. That gallon of gas has the potential of replacing 33 People days. @$10/hour, 10 hours per day, that is $3300 of potential profit for the industrious person. If it goes up to $20/hour (people in Seattle are arguing for $15 right now), that is $6600/gallon…

    (1 person can in good shape can output 100w continuous for 10 hours. 1 Gallon of gas is approximately 33 kWh.).

  10. Briggs

    February 21, 2014 at 5:25 pm

    All,

    Coming soon to New York: Mandatory state-run parenting classes.

    The Government is mother, the Government is father.

    Craig,

    Sorry it took me so long to answer, but armed guards from Walmart came by and made me buy something from their store. I had no other choice.

  11. Does US have inverted triangular “Give Way” signs at some road crossings? If so, think about the meaning of the “Right of Way” rule; does anyone “have” such a right before it is “given” to them (by the other guy).

  12. Nullius in Verba

    February 21, 2014 at 7:51 pm

    “First of all, I’m the guy who cares about the poor,”

    Good. But we *all* care about the poor. We just disagree on the best way to help them.

    “what is wealth, where did it come from,

    Wealth is the goods and services that we create to meet our individual needs and desires. Some we make for ourselves. Most of it comes from trade, in which people voluntarily exchange goods and services for mutual benefit.

    “where did the resources on our planet come from,where does air, water, food, wind, rain, come from?”

    Food mostly comes from farmers, clean water on tap is delivered by the water board. Air, wind and rain are free, and we do not charge for those.

    “and wasn’t it his son who said give up all your belonging’s follow me and you will be saved?”

    No. He said that to have eternal life one must keep the commandments not to murder, commit adultery, steal, bear false witness, honour your parents, and love your neighbour as yourself. But if you would be *perfect* then sell your possessions, give to the poor, and follow him. Matthew 19:16-22.

    “then wouldn’t it be common sense that God has provided these goods to all men/women equally and that it was his intention to have all men women fed, clothed, housed, and to have equal access to health care?”

    Only if all men/women also contribute equally to their provision. But does it make sense for some people to have to work hard to provide these things, and for others to receive the benefit and give nothing in return? Is that just?

    God didn’t farm the fields, weave the cloth, stitch it together, make the bricks, build the houses, invent and learn about medicines. People did all that.

    Do you believe that doctors and house builders and so forth should be made to work for free? If people are to consume equally, shouldn’t they also have to produce equally, too?

    “We spend more than the next 30 countries combined – why?”

    To defend liberty. So that they don’t have to.

    “Secondly, where do the rich, the Walton’s get their wealth from, they get it from us, we the poor, we give it to them because we don’t have any other choices!”

    They get it in exchange for the enormously beneficial services they supply to all of us. By supplying goods cheaply, they give the poor greater access to this wealth. The wealth they receive is only a tiny fraction of the wealth they have created and distributed to the hundreds of millions of the poor. And for this you think they should be punished, and not rewarded?

    Having one choice is better than none.

    “Each living soul on this planet has a right to food, water, health care, shelter, clothing because it was granted to them by our God!”

    And do they have a right to steal the labour required to supply those things?

    “So I say go suck on an egg, all of you, and talk is cheap when you are sitting in the good seats!”

    Whatever makes you think we all have always been sitting in the good seats? It’s a big assumption.

    Talk is cheap when it is somebody else paying. If the left want to help the poor and pay for it out of their own pocket, I applaud and support that absolutely. Charity is a good thing. But they never do – their idea of helping the poor is to make *somebody else* pay for it, while they bask in their own virtue for doing so.

    Jesus did not tell you to sell somebody else’s possessions to give to the poor. He told you to sell your own. They are the only possessions you have any right to dispose of.

  13. Craig–
    Why does your God use the US Government to distribute wealth? Aren’t these the jerks that created the military?

    RickA–
    That reminds me of the blessing that James Stewart offered in the film “Shenandoah”.

  14. “Consider the lilies of the field they toil not neither do they spin”
    “Give us this day our daily Bread”
    Take no thought for the morrow.
    …………………….
    Both sides in this argument are right.
    Perhaps if every one contributed with a levy of a few cents on every day essentials, bread- milk- petrol and wages etc., and if this were put into a National Insurance Fund which would be invested in safe funds and in utilities help could be available for everyone from the proceeds of the Fund through means of the local authorities and not “THE STATE” , this way taxes on those middle classes who could not afford them would be avoided and the idea that all poor people are hopeless spongers could be eradicated from the writings of demagogues or curmudgeons of both complexions. otherwise people will weary of the bickering and give nothing to anyone anymore. It would not be charity because people do not like to accept charity.

  15. Conrad:

    I checked out the James Stewart clip on youtube.

    I loved that prayer.

    It does similar in spirit to my comment.

    ME Wood:

    The difference between your idea of a levy on everybody and federal income taxes is that only about 51% of tax filers pay federal income taxes. It would be nice to see everybody pay something to support our country instead of 1/2 of the tax filers paying for all the non-social security and medicare portion of the federal budget. It is true that 1/2 of the 1/2 do pay some social security and medicare (about 25% of tax filers), so they do pay some fairly small portion of the social safety net – but the bulk of the social safety net is paid for by the “rich”. The “rich” pay far of the taxes than their share of the total income.

    That is why the flat tax is so appealing to some.

    If everybody paid 20% of their income in federal taxes – then if you made 20,000, you would pay 4,000 in taxes. If you made 200,000 you would pay 40,000 in taxes. If you made 20,000,000 you would pay 4,000,000 in taxes. Doesn’t that seem fair? Everybody pays the same rate. If you make more, you pay more.

    Progressive taxes seems fundamentally unfair to me and results in our current system – in which a little less than 1/2 of the tax filers pay no federal income taxes.

    What happens when 51% of the voters pay no federal income taxes? We will find out in a few years. I am not looking forward to that reality.

  16. Actually, we have a right to food, water, healthcare, and for that matter clothing and shelter, in precisely the same sense we have a right to keep and bear arms or to publish newspapers (despite the former rights not being explicitly enumerated in the U.S. Constitution as the last two are). My right to keep and bear arms does not create a right to compel my neighbor to buy me an AR-15 and ammunition for the same, nor does my right to freedom of the press create a right to demand a subvention from the tax payers at large to furnish me with a printing press, ink and paper.

    Indeed a government which passed laws to deprive persons of food (cf. the Holodomor) or water or healthcare should plainly be overthrown, even more plainly so than a government which censors newspapers or restricts firearms ownership (which is why the Founders did not enumerate such rights, expecting more hardihood from their posterity in the face of tyrannous impositions than Americans have shown of late).

  17. Rick A,

    Have you ever noticed it is those that are the richest that works the less.

    The rich wouldn’t make much money if they didn’t have poor people working for them.

  18. Ye Olde Statisician

    February 21, 2014 at 11:57 pm

    Point of order regarding federal income taxes: those are percentages of households, not percentages of voters. Typically, upper income households consist of married couples (often dual income, which is how they get to be upper income) while the lower income households often consist of single householders, often single mothers. Hence, there are many more voters in the upper half of households.

    However, this is only of households that file.

  19. The government is the solution? Maybe. Try it and see, I won’t oppose you. With one caveat: there must be accountability.

    Perhaps this is best illustrated with an example. Say, Brad’s example above, the movement in Seattle for a $15 minimum wage. I’m fine with that because a) I don’t live there, b) I believe it will fail and I’d like to see my belief tested in the real world, and c), it will encourage any other cities considering it to wait and see how it works in Seattle first. Ok, ok, and d) a bit of schadenfreude, it just couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of folks.

    But try to institute that $15 minimum wage at the federal level, and I will strongly oppose you. Why? Well, remember, I said there has to be accountability, and there is no accountability at the federal level, only differing opinions and endless arguments and powerful vested interests and unchangeable precedents. Words, words, words. Endless words. But not even a glimmer of accountability.

    In my youth, now a fading memory, I was painfully, embarrassingly liberal. It really annoyed me at the time when someone suggested my grand schemes might be best tested at the local level first. No, I thought, I was clearly right, I clearly had the answer, I clearly knew what was best. Yes, I was very young and inexperienced, but that gave me a clarity of thought that was untainted by the failures of the past. No, my schemes just had to be implemented everywhere, for the common good, with no exceptions that might allow some ill-intentioned contrarian to gum up the works. With the benefit of hindsight, you may well ask what I was so afraid of? Well, clearly I was afraid of competing ideas, and, horror of horrors, having to be accountable for my ideas. How insulting!

    Yes, I was a huge *ssh*le in my youth. But I can spot ’em a mile off now. It takes one to know one, so at least I acquired a useful skill that has served me well, especially in the voting booth.

  20. Briggs:

    “Coming soon to New York: Mandatory state-run parenting classes. The Government is mother, the Government is father.”

    This is exactly why folks need to fear the left/right, Democrat/Republican dichotomy. Sloganeering shifts from side to side, depending on which group of Bolsheviki rules the streets.

    Today, it’s the conservatives shouting, “Down with state-run parenting classes!” But under Bush 2, it was the conservatives shouting, “Up with state-run parenting classes!” while the liberals shouted the negative.

  21. State parenting classes have been alive and well in Michigan for decades Matt; it you are not a good parent you will most likely be requested to take a parenting class, if you fail to do so and continue to abuse your child it may then become mandatory, which in many cases it is if you want to keep children or get them back. I think mandatory parenting classes are a good think based on the fact that half this nation raises republicans… lol

  22. Sylvain Allard:

    Yes – I guess it isn’t work to buy the land, build the plant, equip it with all of the machinery, hire all of the “poor” workers, train them, manufacture goods, market the goods and pay the taxes.

    Unless a worker wants to start their own business, they only get jobs from the “rich” people who are willing to invest their capital in order to provide the jobs you are complaining about.

    The worker doesn’t create the job – the plant owner does.

    But for the “rich” person, those jobs wouldn’t exist.

    Creating jobs for “poor” people is work – hard work.

  23. Ye Olde Statisician:

    I was not aware that the number of married filing jointly was greater in the upper tax brackets than it was in the lower.

    But even if you are correct – and you certainly may be – my point still stands.

    When the number of voters who pay no federal income tax exceeds the number of voters who pay all of the federal income taxes – guess what happens?

    Nobody who has to pay any federal income taxes will like what happens in that world – in my opinion.

  24. Sylvain,

    You always seem to find an Enviist (er, Marxist) take on everything.

    Watch me cross country ski and you will quickly note that I expend more energy per kilometer than any Olympic racer. That is the seen. The unseen is the hours and hours of training the Olympian performed to achieve such efficiency.

    To you, I deserve more than the Olympian who would literally (depending on the event) skate right past me. This is the Enviist labor theory of value: since I expend more (seen) labor, I deserve more.

    By the way, once you renounce Enviism, you will quickly see that your statement about rich and work is untrue. Many (most) of the rich work many more hours than the employee who simply clocks out 5:00.

    OF course, along with renounciation is the acknowledgement that one’s own labor determines his allocation (note below). So you can no longer rely on an Enviist ethic to justify theft of others for your benefit. Makes life tough, too tough for some, I suppose. Hey, but no one said it would be easy.

    Note: Instead of Enviism, you should advocate for a movement toward a system that reduces state and the advantages the state gives to its sycophants (both those with and without money).

  25. Ye Olde Statisician

    February 22, 2014 at 1:27 pm

    The rich wouldn’t make much money if they didn’t have poor people working for them.

    By the same token, the poor wouldn’t have much work if they didn’t have rich people to employ them.

    In the real world, matters are more complex than either such stereotype would recognize. Many of those who are working for the “rich” are not actually poor. In fact, you become poor largely by not working. And a great many of those doing the employing are not by most measures “rich.” However, 19th century imagery persists even today.

  26. Jim Fedako

    Strange that you bring up Marx since I’vehad to read some of his text for my class on economic thought and that I pretty much disagreed with all that he said in my reading.

    Rick A

    We don’t seem to have the same definition of what rich really is. The rich doesn’t bother buying the land or any of all the stuff you said. For the rich playing golf is a hard day work and complains on how people that work for him are lazy while he sits in his Jacuzzi.

    The rich created the 2008 economic crisis, sent AIG on the brink of bancrptcy and received a multimillion $ bonus for his effort. Meanwhile in Illinois employee who worked for a plant that was making millions in profit got fire because Bain Capital decided that the product was best made by Chinese .

  27. “Have you ever noticed it is those that are the richest that works the less.”

    Sylvain – I gather you see this statement as an argument or evidence. However, a conservative views the statement as a tautology.

    You can’t get rich by working hard. If I hire you to dig ditches, you can earn x dollars; work twice as hard and you can maybe earn 2x dollars, at best. If you buy a backhoe, maybe you can earn 20x. If you buy a fleet backhoes and hire operators to run them, maybe you can earn 50x. If you are the president of a backhoe manufacturer, maybe you can earn 500x. Patent a new backhoe design, and maybe you can make 5000x. Eliminate the need for the ditches, and, well, you get the idea.

    People don’t get rich by working harder than the next person. People get rich by adding value to people’s lives. Immense value, only a tiny percentage of which goes into the pocket of the rich person.

    If there suddenly were no rich people, believe me, your life would totally suck and you would be very unhappy.

  28. Sylvain,

    “Strange that you bring up Marx since I’vehad to read some of his text for my class on economic thought and that I pretty much disagreed with all that he said in my reading.”

    So you are the negation of the negation. Wow! That means you have risen above Marx in Enviist thought. Congratulations.

  29. Mr. Briggs, please, add LiveJournal share button. I link your posts frequently in my blog.

  30. Milton Hathaway,

    There are many ways that people can get rich:

    The easiest is to simply inherit your money from your father or grand-father. Such example are numerous from Mitt Romney to the Koch brother’s, the Rockerfellers, or the Kennedys, etc the examples include most of the richest family.

    You can have a great idea for a business like Bill Gates and Microsoft or Zuckerberg and Facebook.

    You can have a special talent for sports like Alex Rodriguez, for movies like Spielberg, for acting like Tom Cruise, for writing like J.K. Rawlings, for singing like the Beatles.

    The problem is not that there are rich people. The problem is that the rule are skewed to favor the rich.

    The HSBC bank was caught transferring illegally billions of dollars to Iran. They even taught Iranian on how to proceed with these transfers. The result was a $9 billions fine and no pursuit. It is not a big problem to not sue criminally HSBC since you can’t put a bank in jail. But what about the executives who authorized these transactions?

    http://business.financialpost.com/2012/12/11/hsbc-to-pay-record-us1-9-billion-fine-to-settle-money-laundering-case/

    The highest executive in Wallstreet literally created the 2008 economic crisis. They are the cause behind the high level of unemployment and why the spending on social program increased since then. Yet these guys have received billions in bonuses while the people that lost their jobs became takers.

    http://blogs.wsj.com/deals/2009/07/30/wall-street-compensation-no-clear-rhyme-or-reason/

    An employee that commit a mistake loses is job. An executive that send a company to bankruptcy gets a bonus. Yet, somehow the rich ends up the victims that pay taxes.

  31. Jim Fedako,

    “So you are the negation of the negation. Wow! That means you have risen above Marx in Enviist thought. Congratulations.”

    You must like living in a Black and white world. It must make decision making easy. He doesn’t think like me therefore he is a communist.

    Life is much more complicated than that. Fairness can have different point of view. Often conservative claim that the flat tax rate is fair. While progressive claim that if a person receives 1% of all income in a country, that person should pay 1% of all taxes.

    The conservative way is unfair because the person that doesn’t make a lot of money will spend all of it on basic necessities (food, shelter, clothes and basic services). It only make sure that the poor get poorer and the rich, richer faster.

    The progressive claim is fairer because it doesn’t prevent the rich from getting richer. It only reduces the speed at which they get richer. While permitting the poor to afford the basic necessities.

  32. Sylvain,

    I have learned this from you: you are not familiar with the ideas you espouse, viz. your mention of only recently reading a brief summary of Marx.

    I would venture to say you have not been exposed to enough political economy, philosophy, et al., to know (understand) the epistemological roots at the center of your system of beliefs (not a true system per se, but a collection of thoughts around your so-called fairness).

    To wit: “the progressive claim is fairer…” Fairer than what? Based on which system of ethics?

    I now recognize these are questions you are years from answering. Read more. Justify more. And you will understand that your current thoughts do align with Marx, and communists in general.

    I suggest you read Helmut Shoeck’s Envy: a theory of social behavior (you can find it for free on the internet)and Igor Shafarevich’s Visit The Socialist Phenomenona, an historical survey of socialism by a Soviet mathematician. Or simply peruse the articles, books, etc., over at Marxists.org? And then go over to Mises.org to see the refutation of socialist thought (what you blindly call progressive thought).

    Until then, it’s nonsense to say you do not espouse communism when you have (by your own admission) little understanding of it.

  33. Briggs,

    Seems HTML tags are causing posts to go to spam.

  34. Sylvain says:

    “While progressive claim that if a person receives 1% of all income in a country, that person should pay 1% of all taxes.”

    The problem with your argument is that in the United States the rich pay way more than their share of income in taxes. For example in 2011 the top 1% of all taxpayers accounted for 18.7 percent of all adjusted gross income AGI but paid 35.1 percent of all income taxes.

    Meanwhile – the bottom 50 percent of taxpayers (those with Adjusted Gross Incomes (AGI) below $34,823) accounted for 11.55 percent of total AGI, but paid only 2.89 percent of all income taxes in 2011.

    The top 50% of taxpayers earned 88.5 percent of total AGI but paid 97.1 percent of all income taxes in 2011 (this statistic obviously includes my 1% numbers from above).

    You obviously actually feel that the tax system is flat – since you equate earning 1% of total income with paying 1% of total taxes – while in fact the system is not flat at all.

    I think the tax system would be much more fair if every dollar of income was taxed. If you make only $1.00 you should pay some portion of that for the salaries of government workers, the military, and all the “stuff” the government buys each year.

    The rich earn more and they pay more – as they should. They pay proportionally more than their total share of all income in federal income taxes.

    What I object to is a system in which the bottom 48% or so percent of tax filers pays zero federal income taxes, while the other 52% pays 100% of the federal income taxes.

    Based on trends – it won’t be long before more than 50% of tax filers pay zero federal income taxes and less than 50% of tax filers will pay 100% of all federal income taxes. I believe that will be very bad for the USA.

  35. Briggs

    February 24, 2014 at 8:34 am

    Jim,

    That spam filter has a mind of its own. Comments are restored.

  36. Your right to pursue happiness does not have any contingent responsibility. There obligation that you actually work to hard to actually find said happiness, nor is there any responsibility on my part to aid you in your pursuit of happiness. And if my pursuit of my own happiness interferes with your ability to acquire that which might make you happy, e.g. we are both enamored with and competing for the affections of one young lady, we still both have the right to pursue.

  37. Jim,

    There are many shades of grey, called socialism, between capitalism and communism. Capitalism died a hundred years before communism when the thrust took control of the government and prevented the possibility of any free market. The only thing that prevented the spread of communism, no it is not the US policy of containment that did it, was the building of a middle class, which was created in large through government welfare program and investment.

    You based your entire argument on the income tax. This poses a huge problem since the income tax represent only 46% of the US revenue sources. So the 35.1% income taxes you mentioned really represent only 16.1% of all the US federal revenue.

    The guy that work at McDonald at the minimum wage pays the same percentage of payroll taxes than the guy that work at a job $65k job for Boeing. Maybe even more since there usually are maximums at which point people stop paying for social security and medicare.

    Here is my example:

    Total federal income = $100,000
    Total income in 1 year = 1,000,000
    Top 1% guy had an income of $20,000 or 2% of the total income should pay $2,000 in taxes.

    The top 50% guy who makes $400 or 0.0004% of the total income should pay 16 cents in taxes.

    And so on.

    That money should then be redistributed from the bottom up.

    What would happen is that the poor would still have a miserable life where he cannot put any money aside and where he would go buy something made buy the rich who would again have a bigger income because more people will be able to afford to buy stuff. More people buying stuff also means more jobs are created to make goods.

    http://nationalpriorities.org/budget-basics/federal-budget-101/revenues/

  38. Sorry part of of m’y last post was direct to Rick A

  39. Sylvain Allard:

    Thanks for clarifying that.

    Ok – payroll taxes.

    Yes – they are different than income taxes and they are considered “regressive” because they are flat (even though the rich person pays more than the poor person, because they make more income).

    Social security is capped because the monthly social security payment is capped. In other words, whether you make 100,000 or 1,000,000 USD you only get a maximum of $2642 per month for your social security payment. Bill Gates or Warren Buffet will get/are getting no more than the person making 100,000.

    Medicare is not capped on paying in and I really don’t know how medicare works on paying out (I don’t qualify for it yet – to young).

    I don’t quite follow your example – but it sounds flat to me – which would be great and I fully support a flat tax – where everybody pays the same rate, whether on income or payroll taxes. That is the only truly fair system and will avoid class warfare to boot.

    As soon as you have different rates for different income brackets – people start trying to manipulate which bracket they are in (that is human nature and cannot be avoided). Rich or poor, nobody wants to pay more taxes than they have to.

  40. Sylvain,

    You claim that “middle class […] was created in large through government welfare program and investment”

    Can you explain what the deal is with all the poor black people in America? How many more decades of govt welfare and investment do they need in order to be able to learn how to stand on their own feet? Is it perhaps possible that welfare and govt investments are not the driving forces behind a prosperous middle class?

    Keep in mind that the rising living standard of the so-called “middle class” is a consequence of the increasingly abundant supply of goods in the economy that is made possible by entrepreneurial businessmen acting in an economy that is quick in identifying and eliminating inefficiencies. This necessary dynamic is incompatible with an economy managed via bureaucratic centralized governance. The US Govt is the primary reason why the middle class in America is getting poorer every day – govt bureaucrats are too arrogant to ever admit their mistakes, and they suffer no consequences for their mistakes. They steal from the poor and from the rich, and give to the politically connected and to potential voters.

    A look at the effect of recent Federal Reserve policies on the distribution of wealth should teach you a lot about who is responsible for destroying the middle class, even if you are unable to see what is necessary for creating a prosperous middle class

  41. Ye Olde Statisician

    February 24, 2014 at 8:46 pm

    The middle classes arose during the late middle ages in the merchant and artisan guilds as town and trade revived. They were called the middle classes because they were “in between” the aristocracy and the peasantry. They were Burgers or bourgeoisie because they lived in bourge and Burg.

    The history of their rise is the history of the Modern Ages. From Renaissance to the early 20th century, virtually every major artist and scientist was bourgeois. At first, they supported kings against the fractious aristocracy. (Barons’ Wars were bad for business.) But later as the kings turned themselves into monarchs they turned against them. The Middle Classes were strong enough in England, America, and France that they could overthrow their kings or turn them into decorative accessories in 1642, 1776, 1789. (Arguably, the US never had an aristocracy, at least not a resident one.) In Germany and Italy, the middle class was only strong enough to force a truce, and they had to pass through an intermediate socialist phase. In Russia, the middle class was so weak that it was entirely co-opted by the aristocracy and monarch until finally the lower classes, the workers and peasants, erupted.

    In America and most of Western Europe, the middle class was so successful that the proletariat, instead of revolting under the Leadership of the Vanguard decided to become middle class themselves, and secured cottages or houses with yards wherever they could, cars and boats, and so on — much to the disgust of Marcuse, Gramsci, and others. They felt that workers and unions had developed “false consciousness” and “hard-hats” were now part of the problem. (Hence, the revolutionary emphasis shifted to “students and the marginalized.”)

    But the idea that the middle class was created by some sort of government welfare program is historically ludicrous. Effects do not come before their causes; and those in power do not wittingly create those who would be rivals for that power.

  42. Rick A,

    In my example the tax rate is progressive, not flat. The top 1% percent earned 20% of the money and pay 20% of all taxes. While the people at the 50th percentile made 0.0004% of the money and paid 0.0004% of all taxes. of course since there would be 100s or 1000s of people at the 50% line while their would be few that would pay the 20%.

    This progressive tax though has 100 row instead of the 2 or 3 that there are now. This would reduce the incentive to try to change tax rate since the economy would be small.

  43. Anona,

    “Can you explain what the deal is with all the poor black people in America? How many more decades of govt welfare and investment do they need in order to be able to learn how to stand on their own feet? Is it perhaps possible that welfare and govt investments are not the driving forces behind a prosperous middle class?”

    1-) Do you realize how racist your comment is considering that their are a lot more whites that receives welfare than blacks.

    2-) The welfare in the US keep shrinking since Reagan while corporate welfare is growing. The Party congressmen voted to cut food stamps but didn’t cut a cent from subsidies they are personally receiving. They are also planning a vote to raise their salary while campaigning against raising the minimum wage. They make $170,000 per year while the minimum wage workers makes $15,500, which is less than what the minimum wage worker was making 50 years ago.

    “Keep in mind that the rising living standard of the so-called… “

    You forget how much the US government spent following the war. First, with the GI Bill, research and development, and infrastructure (airport, road, schools). This is all government welfare. This is what helped create the middle class. Government in the 1950s took up to 90-95% in taxes so they could redistribute it. Yet these people kept getting richer because their were always more people able to spend more money.

    But paycheck have stagnated since the 1980s. They haven’t kept up with the inflation. The middle class is getting poorer while the top got 200% richer. While the pay usually followed productivity since the 1980s it has not been the case.

    There is no central planning in any of the developed country. Usually, their are rule to protect the public or employee from the avaricious corporation. You realize that an an Exxon CEO that promoted fracking is now opposing the building of a water tower that will provide water for fracking. He opposes it because it will decrease the value of his $5 million mansion. The same guy does not complain when it is the house of an average Joe that loses value.

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/dispatches/2014/02/24/exxon-ceo-fracking-is-for-the-plebes/

  44. “There is no central planning in any of the developed country.”

    Please explain, then, how the price of money is determined? The central planners at the central banks! And what a great job they are doing! Bubble after bubble, making the wealthy even more wealthy though virtue of inflation (steal from the asset-poor, give to the asset-rich).

  45. Nate,

    The price of money is determined by the different stock exchanges around the world and it depends on offer and demand like gold.

    Agencies like the federal reserves only try to reduce the variation in that value by controlling the printing press..

    I see that you seem to be a fan of the zeitgeist movie

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